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Permanent link to archive for Saturday, October 06, 2001. Saturday, October 06, 2001

The Onion: A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bullshit Again. Amen. 

NY Times: "The European Union appears to be moving toward unified regulations for software patents that would be less encompassing than regulations in the United States and Japan." 

Guardian: "Alcohol advertising is beginning to return to US TV stations as broadcasters desperate to boost revenues are swallowing their principles." 

Doc Searls: "If you want to add value to the Web, do it for everybody. Not just for yourselves. No strings, patents or anything else attached." 

Washington Post: "No network TV series takes itself more seriously than The West Wing does, but even by its own standards, the episode, called 'Isaac and Ishmael,' came across as pretentious and pietistic hubris." 

Weblogs.Com corner-turn continues 

Now there is a third way to "ping" the new bootstrapping Weblogs.Com. First there was the XML-RPC interface, then SOAP 1.1, and now there's an HTML form you can use to ask Weblogs.Com to have a look at your site.

NewHome.Weblogs.Com: Ping-Site Form.

If it's new or changed it will appear in changes.xml. From there it will appear on our Updates page, and new places yet to be designed. It's a publicly accessible file. Read it once an hour. Build a marvelous user interface. Customize. Add favorites. Share your inspiration. Be a hero to the webloggers.

Aaron Cope created a bookmarklet for the new form. Coool.

Discuss on the weblogs-com mail list.

David McOwen 

I got an email from David McOwen. "The State Attorney General got a Grand Jury to hand down 135 Years 9 Felony count indictment, each count carrying 15 years and $50,000 fine for each plus the $415,000 restitution and damages they are seeking for the install of RC5 client. I can't even think of any words to say."

Richard Koman: "In December 1999, David McOwen -- a system administrator at DeKalb Tech, part of the Georgia state university system -- installed a screensaver from on some of the computers at DeKalb. That was his mistake -- but he never could have guessed how big a mistake that would turn out to be. As it turns out he will likely be arrested in the next few weeks on charges that have a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison."

BusinessWeek: A Martyr for Distributed Computing?

News.Com: "David McOwen is losing a lot of sleep these days over his decision to participate in a distributed computing project two years ago."

XML-RPC business development 

Things are returning to normal in the software industry, and that means that the analysts are starting to ship articles they have been writing about Web Services, SOAP and XML-RPC.

Now on reflection, I agree with Clay Shirky that the BigCo's are promoting a crock. The idea of a WSDL-UDDI network bootstrapping and connecting sources and destinations is a marketing nightmare. There's no way the developers at the BigCo's can deliver, even though the customers would like it if they did. It's another in a continuing series of snake-oil propositions that programmers are not needed, and nothing could be further from the truth.

To me, as one of the inventors of this technology, it's always been about Working Together, not magic. Go back through the archives of DaveNet and Scripting News, you'll see this pitch over and over. Roll up your sleeves, drop your egos, and find a friend to work with, hopefully someone who's quite different from you.

When software development works, it's because people worked together, not because someone blew everyone's mind with their greatness and got everyone to stop competing for mindshare. No single solution works for everyone. We need lots of minds working to create the systems that users want.

Yet the analysts continue to focus on proving the BigCo's wrong. I suppose that's better than if they were trying to prove them right. But the analysts, imho, are failing to get the Work Together message.

What's the take-away? I'm not sure. I'd love to see a regular flow of first-person testimonials from real developers using SOAP 1.1 and XML-RPC to improve their systems in non-amazing ways. I'm thinking of starting a new mail list for business development of these protocols, staying away from the deep technical issues (there really aren't any) and focusing on how we can help each other build the systems our users want.

My prior art goes back to 1988 

BTW, a note -- the path for XML-RPC and SOAP 1.1 goes back to 1988 when I worked with Don Park on UserLand IAC Toolkit. It was a transport-independent API for distributed computing. Then Apple took over the market and eventually we deprecated our toolkit in favor of Apple's. We wanted to bring the transport to Windows, Bill Gates agreed, but Apple balked. In the early-mid 90s, Microsoft deployed COM, which did what Apple's toolkit did; and then DCOM which allowed COM messages to move over networks. In 1998 we revitalized the cross-platform vision as XML-RPC. It worked, and now both Microsoft and Apple are building on the same networking foundation, validating the initial premise going back to 1988, things work better if the networking interfaces are consistent, if platform differences are hidden behind the programming interfaces.

And of course as many will point out (and will be correct) the underpinnings of this work can be found in Unix dating back to the mid-70s. A patent in this area is going to run into an big old wall of prior art that's not patented. If there's any justice in the US legal system they'll lose. But that's a big if.

Zeldman, Werbach and Shirky 

Over the last few days I've been emailing with each of these people, Jeffrey Zeldman, Kevin Werbach and Clay Shirky, and have wanted to share with each of them that the weblogging world changed dramatically in the last three weeks. I realized that they're all in NY, and possibly missed some or all of what went on.

I have messages for each of you, but they come down to this -- the same revolution that's happening in weblogging (it's not just hype, change your pov please) is happening in the XML world. (It's the same thing guys.)

Zeldman sees it in the face-off in the W3C over patents. Since when do independent developers push back so consistently and eloquently on the greed of the BigCo's? When did this ever happen before? Perhaps in the context of the WTC events it hardly seems stunning. But if you put back on your old filters about the technology world you'll miss that there's a new sense of can-do among indies. We have more in common with the unheard people in the third world. And we can take the power we've always had, the power that comes from not waiting for instructions from the BigCo's. This level of courage isn't much of a barrier when we're at war.

"Oh there goes Dave again," say Clay and Kevin (in my imagination). Zeldman is probably puzzled.

Please take a moment and read what Charles Cooper said about weblogs coming of age. There were similar themes in Fortune, Wired and the NY Times, but no epiphany as clear as Charles's. Now, the same thing is happening in XML. The article hasn't been written yet.


Last update: Sunday, October 07, 2001 at 6:23 AM Eastern.

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