I went to a meeting of the ICE working group today. I'll have a full report probably sometime next week. It was a very good meeting. A room full of people who understand content management and syndication. After going in different directions in 1998, now we seem to be headed in the same direction. I would have met with them earlier if the RSS community hadn't been locked up, now I regret not meeting with them earlier. I think there will be some good forward motion, we agree on the need for simplicity. Good group of people, powerful companies, professional and respectful and open to new ways of thinking. There was even some humor! Go figure.
Robin Cover has a page outlining ICE with pointers to various ICE-related sites.
Interested in MySQL and Frontier/Mac?
New Radio UserLand app. Major new feature -- working offline.
Reuters: "The US Supreme Court handed Microsoft a victory on Tuesday, agreeing with the giant software company that its appeal of antitrust violations should first be heard by a lower appellate court."
SJ Merc: Dot-com blues.
I had a little extra time this morning so I updated the home page of our backend site, to point to the backend features of Radio UserLand, which is basically OurFavoriteSongs.Com.
Tim Paustian: "I have the web server working on OS X. To my complete surprise I made the required changes to the open transport code in Frontier and it just worked on the first compile. I kept trying to break it, but it wouldn't fail."
Inside.Com: "According to the complaint, the decision to use StoryServer was based on four attributes Busby had claimed for the software: the ability to automatically syndicate digital content, full workflow support, the ability to develop a Web site in one to two months and support for all standard scripting languages."
If you think I'm a hypocrite
OK, I acknowledge that. I am just a human being, and as such, I am tired of people I don't know telling me what my opinions are. I find it boring, irrelevant, powerless and humiliating. I have a lot of practice with this, for some reason strangers often want to define me, and usually not in nice ways.
This is one of the flaws of the human mind. When it doesn't have enough information, it interpolates, filling in missing details, and very often getting it wrong. Evolution created us this way, it was a necessary skill to survive in a hostile environment when animals could eat you if you couldn't anticipate their motives.
Unfortunately this evolutionary skill is out of date. There's no chance that an email message is going to kill you, or a post on this website about Dick Cheney. In fact it can't even hurt you, so it's not something you have to defend against.
David McCusker says "Hypocrisy is interesting."
Does your university define you?
Talking with James Hong yesterday, we got around to the subject of universities.
How did we get there? Well I said there are two types of smart people -- ones who think everyone else is stupid, and ones who think everyone else is smart. (This is of course an over-simplification. No need to flame me, I already know it.)
Anyway, both attitudes are wrong. The former cuts you off from good ideas and insights from other people. And the latter leads to disappointment, as you bet on the intelligence of other people, only to find out that most people aren't as smart or kind or good as you think they are.
However, if I have to choose, I'd rather be in the latter group, not the former. Occasionally you meet a bright person and they're just a delight to know. James is one of those people.
Then I told him a story about a Harvard professor who spoke before me at Davos. He's very celebrated, lots of prestigious awards and titles, presumably lots of people telling him how smart he is. But what an arrogant man! So dismissive of other points of view. So frustrating to talk with.
James said that's the Harvard attitude. (He went to UC-Berkeley.) This morning I spoke with Alex Cohen, who introduced me to James and his brother Tony, and he verified that Harvard is famous for producing Category 1 smart people. I didn't know this.
Alex is a professor at Berkeley. We talked about school culture, I said I went to UW-Madison and asked what Madison is known for. "Community," says Alex. "Maybe that's why I liked Madison so much," I said.
We agreed that the cultures of Madison and Berkeley are compatible.
Two written pieces
As we approach the end of September, I have two writing projects, one easy, and one not so easy.
The first is to choose a recent DaveNet to appear in XML Magazine. In the current issue we ran Why I Like XML. It was a good kickoff for my new column, and I wrote it specifically for the magazine.
Now there are several choices for the next issue. There are a lot of music-on-the-Internet pieces since July, but those aren't on-topic for XML Magazine. My editor, Steve Gillmor, really liked this piece, but it's not about XML. This piece is about XML, but it's not clear that it will be relevant in a few months when the print magazine goes out.
My top three choices therefore are: #1, #2, #3.
#1 is cool because the issue focuses on open source, and there was a lot of work behind that piece, lots of flames and discussions and surveys, and I think it really got to the core of what open source is. There would be a lot of value in getting that piece broader exposure, and it's likely to stand up over time.
#2 is probably the best-written piece I've done in quite a while. It uses a corny technique to add authority to my voice, it's quite "columnar", a touch arrogant, but as some have said, it works, and if P2P isn't somewhat of a hot issue in a couple of months I'll eat my hat. These hype balloons have a way of radiating, at the core of the industry we might have moved on, but in Peoria they'll still be talking about it, if it works like hype balloons of the past.
#3 needs a rewrite. My editor thinks the homage to Doug Engelbart will probably go over most peoples' heads. But the innovation described in that piece belongs in a magazine devoted to XML. As some have said, OPML represents a true divergence from the current practices of the W3C, and that makes it interesting. It's a readable format, simple, and a good follow-on to the first piece. Now I favor the path that means less work for me. Editing old pieces is not one of my favorite things to do.
As I'm thinking about this, the tougher writing job, but one totally worth doing, is an evangelical piece for WorldLink Magazine. Lance Knobel offered me a spot, to write about anything I want to, but more formally than the writing I do for Scripting News and DaveNet. That's OK. I adopt the tone of the venue, but I still keep my Madison attitude.
This project is interesting because the audience is so influential. I envision them as the staff people of the leaders who attend World Economic Forum meetings. I want to tell them something about the Internet that will shift their point of view, get it focused on the real benefits of embracing the Internet, not the shallow "dot-com" agenda -- making money off hype balloons. My country, the USA, exports this kind of thinking, and some of it is even in the How To Make Money piece, which I wrote for the same audience and is now out of date, since floating an IPO on enthusiasm for the "business models" of the Internet is waning, probably all over the world. It's time to look for indirect economic rewards of having an informed and participating citizenry. Investing in the Internet is like investing in an education system. As Shimon Peres says, it's part of the necessary infrastructure to attract the dot-com yuppies, Israel wants them, so that's one of their motives to make peace with the Palestinians. I like this kind of thinking.
Anyway, I hoped that by writing about this on Scripting News that I'd solve the problem, and I think perhaps I have. In both cases I have editors who I respect deeply and enjoy working with. They both read this site, so the conversation will go forward.
BTW, at the same time Wired is doing a profile of me. That's also a form of collaborative journalism, I have to envision what such a profile would look like, and focus the writer on those things. We've talked about opening a weblog just for the profile, so other people can contribute their thoughts, hopefully not along the lines of these comments. He's a smart guy too, and in a way, my editor, but different, because he's going to write the piece and put it through his editorial process, which is quite different from mine.
My Napster use has declined
It probably has more to do with the speed of my net connection, which went down about a month ago when I switched off the T1 line, and onto a slow DSL. But it's observable, I hardly ever run Napster now. And when I want to get a new song, it's so slow I usually give up. Is it worth $1K per month to get a fast T1 line to come to my rural home? I think one of my neighbors has a super-high-speed line. Should I become friends with them? Such problems.
One more time to the music industry. If only there were a legal supported way to get music from your server to my hard drive. I'm actually thinking $1K per month might be worth it. If you can't make money with that model, get another job.
Disclaimer on politics
I am an independent, not a member of any political party. I view both the Republicans and the Democrats with equal contempt. In my humble opinion, both parties chose the worst candidate to run for president. Bradley is an intelligent thoughtful man. Gore is an actor. McCain, while I don't support most of his political views, at least got a good discussion going. Why do either Bush or Gore want to be president? I don't have a clue.
I saw two PBS programs recently that shifted my view. One was on the history of televised presidential debates. Interviews with all the living candidates. Ford, Carter, Reagan, Dole, Mondale, Bush, Bentsen, Quayle, Dukakis, Clinton. I was most impressed with the meanness of Bentsen, and then four years later, Gore. Believe it or not I sympathized with Quayle. Sure he's Republican scum, but the Democrats were just plain nasty. There you go again!
I didn't like Dukakis, but he had a good explanation for his response to the "What if Kitty were murdered?" question. He had been asked the question so many times, he had no passion for it, but he forgot that most of the people watching had never heard him answer the question before. A good actor would have broken down in tears and then said "No death penalty." Hey, at least Dukakis had the right answer, even though there were no tears. (And it was just hypothetical, Kitty was alive, she hadn't been murdered.)
As I was writing this, I got an email asking me to confirm that I support Gore! Oh geez. I sent an email back saying I do not.
The second PBS show that made an impression was one on popular movements that toppled dictatorships. They covered Solidarity in Poland and the movement in Chile that removed Pinochet from power. Watching both these segments exposed something within me. I want to be part of a movement with that much meaning. It took great courage in Poland and Chile for ordinary citizens to want freedom so much to be willing to die for it. I want to see courage in my own country, in my time, but I don't see it.
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