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Permanent link to archive for Thursday, October 05, 2000. Thursday, October 05, 2000

I had dinner this evening with Doug Engelbart. I wish I hadn't waited so long to do this. Until this evening I didn't realize how much my career was a replay of his. We're still re-doing things he did in the 1960s, even after 20+ years of digging. He had a lot of good ideas for Radio UserLand and the World Outline. Not superficial ideas, but to-the-core, why aren't you doing this type stuff. I hope he gets really involved with what we're doing. The next step is to exchange demos. I'm sure I'll write more about this. What a score!

Flipping your home page just got easier.

Mail starting 10/5/00.

John Dvorak: Killing the Web. "The elegant simplicity of plain HTML is being shoved aside in favor of the increasingly complex XML scene."

This morning we did the photo shoot for the Fortune article about the dot-coms after the boom.

I missed the vice-presidential debate.

Well, the Giants can wait till next year. And there will be many opportunities to learn deep philosophic lessons in NY later this week.

Wired Magazine interviews Napster attorney David Boies.

Weblogger.Com has a hilarious Manila theme.

Wow, I must have missed this one.

A fan site for the Creative Labs Nomad MP3 player.

MP3.Com did a survey on CD owner's rights. "America's frequent Internet users have a great deal of respect for an artist's and record company's right to keep their product from being illegally disseminated. However, they do not believe that as consumers they should be forced to pay additional royalties when they listen to their already purchased music over the 'Net."

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Court skeptical of Amazon's claim. "The notion of cutting out steps doesn't seem to me to be very new," said U.S. Circuit Court Judge Raymond C. Clevenger III during yesterday's 90-minute hearing.

Another weblog piece that doesn't include Manila. Grrr.

The Biermans and baseball 

UserLander Bob Bierman went to the Yankees-As game yesterday and got his picture in the SJ Merc, along with his son Alex. I thought Bierman had a philosophy! Sigh.

Wait it's even worse than it appears. Bob tells me that Alex is both a Yankees and Giants fan, and Bob is a Mets fan. Now it's OK, I guess, for a father and son to have different teams, but to be a fan of two teams indicates philosophic dysfunction. Let's hope Young Alex finds his True Inner Fan, he's a smart independent young man, with lots of time.

And Bob tells me that their picture is also in today's NY Daily News! He's trying to find a copy. Now most of us go to a baseball game and somehow our faces don't get in the paper. Bob and Son hit a double. And who says there's no god?

Positioning of Radio UserLand 

I believe that the positioning of Radio UserLand as a music system isn't working anymore, if it ever did.

Consider the current position: "Radio UserLand combines the organizational flexibility of outlining with the power of Web services and community, providing easy-to-use tools to manage the Internet music revolution, for individuals and organizations."

Now, I like that, if only because it is sassy, ironic, and true. But it's merely a portion of what Radio UserLand does. I would like to have The Killer App that does this for music on the Internet, but at this time, I don't believe we do.

So I hit the reset button. What the heck is this thing that we created? Take a deep breath. The answer comes.

The Internet Outliner 

The Internet side is easy. Radio UserLand supports every Internet protocol, old and new, that's in current use. FTP, SMTP, POP, HTTP, XML-RPC, SOAP. It has deep support for HTML and XML. This piece of software communicates like no other software ever has, out of the box, it's a node on the Internet, client and server.

The Outliner side is easy too. Outline elements can be expanded, collapsed, reorganized, deleted, copied, sorted, searched, joined, split, promoted, demoted, hoisted and dehoisted. It's the first UserLand outliner that's as easy to use as ThinkTank, Ready and MORE.

And the two sides are joined, in a beautiful way, through the World Outline concept and others, such as the Weblog and Live Outline tools, even the Chat tool takes advantage of the outliner.

The one element that is not accessible through the Internet Outliner position is its nature as a platform for Internet applications running on the desktop. This is the core reason why we did Radio UserLand, to elevate the desktop to peer status, to soften our dependence on "the server" -- to allow power users (a forgotten concept) to manage their own information, in recognition of a rebuilding of the Glass Palace concept, one that begs to be routed-around. The glass palace isn't just in music, it's in the centralized servers operated by Yahoo and eBay, as examples, and their inherent scaling weaknesses. Radio UserLand is the Fractional Horsepower HTTP Server I've been talking about for years. It is to Apache as the Apple II was to mainframes.

Radio UserLand, and other "P2P" products, put the power of the Internet into the hands of users. Perhaps that idea is communicated through the UserLand part of its name?

As I talk with other developers I respect who are working on actual products in the P2P space, and are building on SOAP and XML-RPC, as if they were real protocols (pinch me) I feel an urgency to clean up our positioning, so our software can play a role in this emerging market, in a friendly way. The people I'm talking with are all people who have great track records producing hit products. A market is happening. We don't want to dominate it, that's not the nature of this market (thankfully) -- there should be no dominant product that overshadows all other products. So when I look into the heart of Radio UserLand I see that there's an Internet Outliner beating, steadily.

More on the debate 

Two op-ed pieces in today's NY Times help clarify it.

Bob Herbert: "Mr. Gore, as he closes in on his dream of winning the White House, might consider tempering his fighting style with a touch of modesty and grace."

William Safire: "The eye-rolling, snorting, head-shaking, moaning, derisive displays of disbelief struck me as puerile and disrespectful."

Gore does seem more presidential than Bush, after all he is is a sitting vice-president. He's more presidential until you get to the chortles and deep sighs. Imagine Gore doing that with a head of state.

I wanted to hear what both candidates had to say, Gore got in the way of that. There will be two more debates, I hope to hear more about Bush's tax proposals, without Gore reciting his slogans over and over. And when his adversary is speaking, keep your mouth shut and listen attentively, as if what he was saying is important, because it is.

If he's going to be the next president, start showing respect for the electorate, and that begins with showing respect for his opponent.

Did he? 

Scott Rosenberg: Did Gore invent the Internet?

The literal Gore quote is: "During my service in the United States Congress I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Josh Lucas wonders whether "creating" and "inventing" are the same thing. I don't think they are. Invention is greater than creation. I can create something, like a sandwich, but that doesn't mean that no one has created a sandwich before I did. So to quote Gore as claiming to have invented the Internet is a stretch, and inaccurate.

Now, analyzing Gore's statement, grammatically, there's not much to take fault with. It's a very confusing statement. The verb is "took," which in this context, is kind of a no-op. What did he take? An initiative. OK, that is something that politicians do. Did Gore play a role in the Internet "initiative" that created the Internet? It seems so.


Last update: Thursday, October 05, 2000 at 9:34 PM Eastern.

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