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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.
Permanent link to archive for Thursday, October 12, 2000. Thursday, October 12, 2000

Pointers of the day 

The Mets game isn't on TV here, but you can watch the play-by-play in text on CNN.

Salon: SDMI Cracked.

Reuters: Ben Rosen leaving Compaq.

XML fans who use Manila are really going to like this. We're starting a project with SoftQuad to get XMetal working with Manila, alongside Radio UserLand, through XML-RPC. I had a great phone talk with Michael Fergusson, their Director of Advanced Technology, and they've already started working on it. Cooool!

Do you dare interact with the Interface of Mystery?

Jacob Levy, who is no stranger to Scripting News, is working on an open source project called e4graph.

Chris Locke: Build a better buggy whip. "Iíll come aboard if youíre planning a major emphasis on HTML. This Web thing is going to be really big." He looked at me sorta funny and admitted that, yes, heíd heard of HTML. "But it isnít ISO-compliant, is it?" he asked.

MacWEEK's QuickLinks is quickly becoming one of the best weblogs. I read it every time it updates.

Even the Weblogs.Com DG looks good in the new design.

We ordered two new servers yesterday, adding 2 gigahertz to the UserLand cloud. They'll arrive in a couple of weeks.

Tipster is getting interesting.

Ray Ozzie 

I got a thoughtful email this morning from Ray. We're meeting later today, I'll get a briefing on their new software. Ray wanted to be sure that I could accept an embargo, and of course I said yes. So I may gush with enthusiasm as others have, I guess that's OK, but you won't be able to find out what their product is on Scripting News or any other UserLand service, until they announce it.

However, at this point, I can comment without fear of violating a trust. I hope there's a way for us to embrace Ray's work and keep true to our users and our mission. Groove is going to be a big product, whatever it is, I can hear that from the comments I've heard from other people who have been disclosed, people who I respect.

Ray and I are both veterans. He's a rich man, and has a long track record in the software industry. Unlike many people who cashed out quickly, Ray stayed with his product for years. I assume he's taken a similar long-term view on this work.

We want to more than co-exist, we want to leverage their work, and vice versa. I think we can change the rules in the software business, so much lip service has been paid to partnerships. I only want to work with other technologists on real cooperative terms, ones of empowerment, not disability.

I don't see signs of trouble, quite the opposite. But if I do, that will wait until they announce their product.

Postscript: We talked for three hours, exchanged demos. Here's what I can say. Ray has a philosophy, a good one, and nice software. They run a Manila weblog internally, and he's been reading Scripting News since 1997. I will certainly write about their software when it's announced, it could be very big, maybe as big as Netscape 1.0. It's different from what I expected, but I understood it immediately.

O'Reilly, Kool-Aid, Real and Me (And you?) 

At the same time, O'Reilly has offered to let me write a chapter in an upcoming book about P2P, a book with chapters written by lots of other people I respect, including Ray.

This is too good an opportunity to pass up, even though I have regurgitated the P2P Kool-Aid, what the heck, so much of our stuff is P2Pish, I can write about that, right?

That's the good news, and thanks to O'Reilly, it's a sign that the freeze may be thawing. Now, it's 30 pages and due at the end of the month. Oh geez, I need a ghost-writer. That's a lot of copy.

I have so many ideas. I'd like to write about the humanity of P2P, how it's about people, community, empowerment, breaking down barriers to people working together. If we want it to be, it could be the next layer of the Internet, less formal and easier than writing for the Web. If I work for one company and you work for another, how do we connect our work even though our companies have all kinds of firewalls, technical, administrative, legal, political, emotional, economic.

Here's an example. A few weeks ago a person from Real Networks signed on the Radio UserLand mail list. I saw the registration float by and made a point with my team that now the competition is using our software, but that won't change anything we say, but we should all be aware of it.

Well this morning, the Real guy, Brian Lenihan, posted a message on our discussion group introducing himself and explaining how much he likes our software. "Today, we make the MS Word of audio players. I find myself longing for simpler times. RU has rekindled the excitement for me. If the RealJukebox was slimmed down, bug free, and had an embedded scripting language such as Python, I would be delirious. Failing that, RU is my medium of choice."

Now there's a door opening, and it's a lot more than just two companies exploring compatibility. It's a new system made possible by the Internet. There's the spirit of P2P, it's People working with People. Brian is a person, so am I. We work for different companies, but there's no reason we can't appreciate each others' work, points of view, and do things to enhance each others' products. That will be the true revolution of the Internet, if it can happen.

So it occurred to me that the People could be my ghost-writer on this project and produce a very interesting chapter for the O'Reilly book. What do you think?

Please, no shortcuts 

Uplister is sending email to Radio UserLand people with offers to get them to use their software. This is not a very solid philosophy. It's easy to send an email, it's hard work to build community.

A better approach would be to work out a way for Radio UserLand people to get a benefit from using both our products. I think everyone would appreciate that. Standards, compatibility and respect for users, and for each other.

FYI, we approached Uplister privately as soon as they came out and offered to work with them on compatible formats. They said yes, through one of their advisors, a longtime friend from Apple. We didn't hear anything more, until last night when I started getting emails from users saying that Uplister was approaching them directly.

Dear users, please understand that when you ask us to be open, we want to do it, but we also know that there are leeches looking for shortcuts, not particularly wanting to work with you or us. Business is war, to many.

Postscript: The Uplister people sent an apology to the people they spammed. I also spoke on the phone with an exec there, and we began a dialog on compatibility. Good outcome.


Last update: Thursday, October 12, 2000 at 8:36 PM Eastern.

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