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Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 28, 2003. Friday, February 28, 2003

Jim Allchin: "Google's a very nice system, but compared to my vision, it's pathetic." 

Google CEO Eric Schmidt is presenting at PARC on March 6. Wonder if he thinks Allchin's vision is pathetic. 

The Blogger-Google FAQ. "The people at Google have done a great job over the years making sure their search results are honest and objective and there's no reason they would change that policy for Blogger or anyone else." 

A picture named esther.gifPaul Nakada points out that the Crimson archive goes back to 1873. Wow. Wait. It gets better. Esther Dyson wrote for the Crimson in the early 70s. Thanks to Brian Dear for that bit. It's one of the few publications whose archive goes back to the 70s, and it's utterly amazing that it goes back to the 1870s. 

Tim Bray has a weblog. Good idea! 

Ernie is keeping a list of attorneys with RSS feeds.  

Ralph Nader: "The United States spends more than $1 billion annually to examine patents. Despite this expenditure, the Patent Office has become a glorified diploma mill, routinely granting rights that should never have been issued. The patents wouldn't stand up in court, but they're expensive to litigate. So why are we forcing developing countries to follow our lead when we don't do a good job ourselves?" 

A picture named sony.gifI treated myself to a beautiful new laptop yesterday. I'm setting it up now. Yes, it runs Windows XP. I'm now no longer an XP virgin. Okay Microsoft, you win. Uncle. Wish me luck. BTW, this is a replacement for my desktop computer. It's more capable. I'm donating my desktop to UserLand, so I can give friends some free Manila sites even if they aren't at Harvard.  

I treated myself to a copy of SimCity 4 to play on my new computer, but Nelson Minar says it's not a very good piece of software. I used to waste so much time building cities. I'll still give it a try, but I suspect he's right based on my experience with other follow-ons to SimCity. (Postscript: I installed it, the program launched -- very confusing. Couldn't figure out how to quit the app. Ctrl-Alt-Delete worked.) 

Harvard Crimson on weblogs 

This morning, the Crimson, Harvard's student newspaper, has an article about what we're doing with weblogs. The author, a freshman named Sam J Lin, interviewed John Palfrey, Matthew Yglesias and myself.

One factual error -- we don't need to install servers all over the campus, the one server we already have can do about 1000 weblogs, so it'll be a while before we need more hardware.

I loved the closing paragraph, the author of the piece has a weblog, so he's a believer (I added him to the directory) but his editor must have insisted that he get a negative spin on it. Matthew of course, immediately blogged it, demonstrating the power of the medium. I wouldn't be surprised if Sam blogged it too. (Postscript: he did.)

Now of course I have to wonder -- does the Crimson have an RSS feed?

Another possible itinerary 

Writing about my cross-country drive is good for the soul. I talked about the northern route, below, now let's talk about the southern route. Stop in Phoenix where I have a dinner invite, catch some baseball, then cross New Mexico and Texas, swing into New Orleans for some gumbo with Ernie the Attorney, drive across the Florida panhandle and stop in to see Rogers Cadenhead, south of St Augustine and then dump my body in the Atlantic Ocean and body surf. That's the soul part. Then drive north up I-95 and do a North Carolina tour, maybe even have dinner with Howard Coble! Then on to DC, put on my warm winter clothes and head north to New York and swing into Boston.

Sweet man 

A picture named misterRogers.gifShed a few tears today for Mister Rogers. He's one of those guys you just take for granted until he dies. On NPR I heard a comment from a mother about the stressful lives her kids live, and how they found Rogers so relaxing at the end of a rough day at school. Now there's something that hadn't occurred to me. Rogers sure was relaxing. Thanks.

Middle of the night wakeup 

I read comments from Jason Kottke and Martin Schwimmer yesterday that changed my thinking about Google. Also two reports on News.Com, one about a new ad program on Google, and another on a new patent that has been issued to them, apparently their first one. Then I read the excellent Google Village commentary (that site is so good).

Put it all together, and Google has changed. Kottke is right, it is no longer a search engine. He gets one thing wrong, there is nothing more they can do to improve the search engine with Blogger content, unless they ignore changes.xml from, but I bet that's exactly what they're doing. I suppose it's not immoral, but get this -- it's not web-like.

Google started as a response to bloat and non-weblike-behavior among the search engines. At least that's what we hoped they were. They never actually said. This is what their success is built on, we perceive their love of the Web. Now it becomes clearer, thanks to Martin's comments, that they just want to put ads on our stuff. Why didn't I see that before.

Joi Ito sent me an email last night saying that UserLand should insist that Google include Radio and Manila (and Movable Type) sites in their ad program. I responded by asking Joi if he wanted ads on his weblog. He said no. I thought that was interesting because I don't want them either. I don't know why I don't want them, perhaps if I could make some real money doing it, but I don't think anyone is going to offer me that. And if they did, I would wonder what they want in return. Really, no kidding.

And in a way I didn't like to be asked the question about UserLand, because I'm going the other way. Google came out of academia, so did I, a generation before. Now I'm going back. What has become of the commercial world is a mockery of my dreams for it. It's going around in loops. Now what the world needs to replace Google is a Google like the one that we fell in love with, one that's working for the greater good, that points off site for no reason other than it's the right place to point to. Now with their patents, and their captured content, Google is no longer that. It's a loop because five years ago you could have said exactly the same about Alta Vista or Infoseek, after they became more than a just search engine.

Anyway, as with all middle of the night screeds, it's quite possible that I'll see the light in the morning and realize this was wrong or paranoid, or whatever.

Postscript: Another possibility -- we could just ignore the ads.

A northern route? 

I've now got dinner invitations in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana. This suggests a northern route for my cross-country drive. There would be some closure to stopping in Madison on the way back east. When I moved to California in 1979, my departure point was East Johnson Street in Madison.

On my way out of town I happened to stop at a light and saw a former landlord. I gave him the finger. At first he didn't see it and he waved with a smile. Then he did and returned the gesture. So if there's any unity or balance, perhaps Bill Kozak will be standing on East Johnson when I drive back in to Madtown, with his middle finger raised, and when he sees me, he will smile and wave.


Last update: Friday, February 28, 2003 at 7:17 PM Eastern.

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