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Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 16, 2001. Friday, February 16, 2001

Here's David Galbraith's idea for bringing metadata to the World Wide Web. Let's say you have an editor for HTML content. Note, this is not XHTML or any weird schema or CSS or namespace or (god forbid) RDF, or anything that Zeldman Must Have Right Now, just plain old garden variety HTML, blockquotes and tables in all their gory misery. (Which is pretty much all the HTML I know.) OK, in your editor, right after the Style menu, the one that boldfaces, italicizes and underlines, add another menu (or sub-menu) called Metadata. In that menu would be a command called "Corporation", followed by "Person", then "Relationship", and other common things that we human beings know about. The juxtaposition relative to the Style menu would get people to think "Hmmm, this must be something like a style." Now when you select some text, and choose one of these commands, it wraps the selection in the chosen element. So if I mentioned UserLand, it could be wrapped in a <corporation> element. Or if I mention Juan, he could be wrapped in a <person> element, and if I mention Juan and Alice, each would be wrapped in a person, *and* in a relationship called <siblings>. Voila. A user interface for the Semantic Web. 10 points for David. I had never heard this idea before and I like it.

Now for an exercise to see if you get it, read this David Singer essay about his trip from San Jose to Hartford and see how you might mark it up using Galbraith's Neat Meta-Markup Feature. It's not hard to see the utility in this, either, because Singer recommends a restaurant in his essay, and gives us lots of data about airlines and cellphones, etc. How would Galbraith's screen scraper (Moreover) be able to get this data from Singer's essay without this?

Now, even more interesting is Nick Arnett's idea for mining gold in all the relationships in the blogs. Wow he really got me thinking, but I'll have to add that to the queue of Other Neat Things To Write Up As Soon As I Can. (Reminder to self, make sure Nick knows Alex Cohen.)

More evening notes. I had a wonderful meeting with a Microsoft person today about next steps for interop in the SOAP world. His name is Marshal Goldberg, obviously a very Jewish fellow, a few years older than me, reminds me of Bernie DeKoven, a very sweet man, we talked about a lot of things, mostly SOAP and XML-RPC and the community of independent developers gathering around these protocols. We have some ideas for a project we can do to help get interop sooner, but we're both sensitive to the politics (actually we love the politics, if I may be so bold as to speak for Marshal). Still kicking around ideas but as soon as they gel I'll talk about them here. But there's a problem, in my world, it's hard to shrug off the shitstorms that come when a Microsoft exec like Jim Allchin says something overtly hostile to an operating system that many of my friends love (Linux). This is like Java all over again. There's no point screaming and barking about it, it won't go away, and no one is going to feel sorry for poor Microsoft for a long long time, and esp not Jim Allchin, who must not love politics as Marshal and I do. Politics is like an operating system. You want to keep some extra disk space around. Things run smoother if you do. So you don't want to always run at empty, as Microsoft seems to. Sometimes it's best to say nothing. To my friends at Microsoft, who are Good People, get Jim in a room (ask Charles to join you too) and explain to them that we have important work to do, and these bombs are felt by The Little People, and it's better to just stuff a sock in your mouth sometimes and don't say everything that pops into your head.

Craig Burton offers advice to Microsoft's Jim Allchin, a former competitor (Burton was at Novell, Allchin at Banyan), then as an analyst and consultant. Burton tells an interesting story about Microsoft, MAPI and the commoditization of Netware, and relates it to the problems Microsoft has with open source.

7/7/99: "If you have a winner, the ones you leave behind will always make barking noises. The trick is to know when you have the winner, and stick with it and ignore the barking."

Doc: "For a year or two, Netscape looked like it could do no wrong. It was a Miata being chased down a mountain road by a tractor trailer. As long as moved fast and looked ahead, there was no problem with the truck behind. But at some point, Netscape got fixated on the rear view mirror. That's where they were looking when they drove off the cliff."

Tech Interview: "Two MIT math grads bump into each other at Fairway on the Upper West Side. They haven't seen each other in over 20 years."

Jeff Walsh asks about integration of Flash and Manila.

It's a snow day in Seattle.

"This is radical," said Zeldman, "and not every site can participate. Yahoo and Amazon, for instance, can't afford to risk alienating a single visitor. We recognize that many sites are in that position." That's the bug.

BTW, we *do* alienate a few visitors here. Old browsers by Netscape won't render Scripting News very well. We wanted a sexy look. But we also provide a low bandwidth version. Content management helps.

Good morning sports fans! Today is a recouperation day (is that the correct spelling, of course not). I didn't drink or smoke anything but boy do I have a hangover. I'm not as young as I used to be I guess. Ohhh well. La la la. Chatted with Danny O'Brien of NTK yesterday, he commented on my editing of the home page. I said that's Web. Don't you wish you could take back some things you say in email. Oy. In a few minutes after coffee I'm going to wipe out this whole paragraph. Now that's power! I decided to leave it.

Tim O'Reilly did a great job in putting together the sessions at the P2P conf. It was inclusive. I think we see something similar. I see version 3.0 of the Internet. Version 1 was the pre-web Internet, the playground of techies and geeks and professors and programmers. Then came the dotcommies. San Francisco turns into a cesspole of business models and exit strategies. Now we've got a generation of Young People who were Raised On The Internet. Last night at the OpenCola party, so many happy people, doing XML and HTTP. Are they there for the money? I'm sure most of them wouldn't mind being rich. But the prospects of that are dimming and the carpetbaggers are going home, and what remains is bright and solving problems, and their hair is weird and they're pierced in weird ways, but these are Nice Kids, and that's so cool. Version 3.0 is going to be fun and big.

During Bill Joy's little on-stage advertisement he took a bunch of cheap shots and I couldn't help myself from saying to my fellow audience members "what an asshole." (This morning Scripting News is a cesspole too.) He still thinks SOAP is a Microsoft-only thing. I wonder if anyone believed him. I hope not. Later, in the Web Services session audience members asked where the low-hanging fruit is (someone had mentioned that there was lots) and none of the panelists had an answer. I wanted to get up and do the agent provacateur thing which I have sworn off. Had I done so I would have said PUB-SUB. Low-tech. Much needed. A pleasure button. Someone asked each panelist to point to an example of a web service today. Only Lucas Gonze had an answer. I was sitting behind Tony Hong of XMethods. He's got a few. I would have pointed them to Manila, which is a fully scriptable Web application. Tim was talking about Web Services in exactly the same way we talked about scriptable apps in the Mac in the early 90s. It would have been interesting to play a tape of WWDC in 1991. As often is the case it happened first on the Mac. Of course it didn't matter, for some reason that I'll never understand.

Another thing that didn't appear to matter on the Web Services panel is XML-RPC. It didn't even get a mention. SOAP is great, but don't forget the Distributed Computing Protocol For The People. No no no, we won't forget.

Now I had a great talk with Anne Thomas Manes after the panel, which lead me to say late last night on SN that we had won with Sun. In version 3.0 of the Internet the developers are independent. No concentration camps. No big lies. Come play with us, even lead us, but we stay free, as we always were, imho.

I was really struck by how serously Doc took Allchin's comments about Linux. In a perfect world a top exec at the Largest Software Company In The World would only say politically correct things. But Doc man, now maybe you can understand how I feel about some of the nasty shit the spokespeople in the Open Source World say about people like me who make software for a living. I'll make a deal with you Doc, I'll say Allchin is a Bad Man if you'll have a talk with ESR about this same subject.

I swore off posting to SlashDot a couple of years ago. What a cesspool. What a strange thing to have the same thing happen on stage yesterday with Commander Taco (spelling?) who was commenting, in real-time, in not nice ways, on virtually everything I said. At one point I asked him what's going on here? He said it was like Beavis and Butthead. I guess I was the rock video and he was *both* B&B, cause his partner Jeff was very sweet and positive, a nice guy who I'd love to have a beer with sometime. I asked Taco if the flaming DG on SD had warped his personality. Ever since I shut down our DG I've been more true to myself. Vacations from other people's fears are good things. Make em permanent. I gotta get some coffee.

Check this out. Evan is getting ready to kick butt. Let's make some software. I like this approach, a lot.


Last update: Friday, February 16, 2001 at 9:37 PM Eastern.

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