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Permanent link to archive for Thursday, March 06, 2003. Thursday, March 06, 2003

Ben Edelman's account of action at the US Supreme Court in the case to decide if the Internet is to be filtered in libraries.  

Leslie Walker reviews news aggregators and RSS. 

Dave Aiello wants a pure RSS search engine. 

The SJ Merc interview with Marc Andreessen (founder of Netscape) asks if he has a blog. "No," he said. "I have a day job. I don't have the time or ego need." People used to say stuff like that about email, believe it or not. 

A picture named patrick.gifPatrick Scoble brought his father Robert over to visit last night. They both got some goodies. I gave Patrick a much-cherished statue of Giants slugger Barry Bonds, and a magic noisemaker from Game 4 of last year's World Series. That was the game the Giants won 16-4. Patrick tried to get away with my copy of The Sims, but I caught the little guy. Robert got the monitor from my Mac. I'm moving the Mac, but will get a new flat-screen monitor when I get to Boston.  

Don Box gave a speech saying enough specs, let's focus on apps. That's something I can get behind. That's been my song for quite some time.  

I admire gall.Warning -- if you install SimCity 4, keep the disks. It won't run without them. Arrrgh. I threw them away. Last night I tried to launch the app. It asked for the disk. Oy. I suppose I could go dig through the dumpster. But that would be humiliating. I guess the whole copy protection thing is kind of humiliating. 

Click on the image of Worf, above to see what the actor looks like without makeup. Now, a question. I've always wondered what the actor behind Homer Simpson looks like. I don't even know who it is. Is it Hank Azaria? Or Dan Castellaneta? Or Harry Shearer? I should know, but I don't. And what does he look like? Can we see a movie of him playing Homer? Hello. Oh man it seems like that would be interesting. (Postscript: Castellaneta is Homer. Bo Williams writes: "Keep an eye out for a rerun of the 'Inside the Actor's Studio' that featured the cast of the Simpsons. I don't know which was more the mindfuck -- seeing Dan, this sort of scrawny little guy, belting out 'Doh!' and drooling 'arahrgahrgahgrahgr', or seeing the woman who does Bart's voice. Or remembering that Marge used to be on Rhoda." Actually she was Rhoda's sister.) 

Weaning off Google 

Pete Prodoehl: "What about a Google-Free Friday?"

BTW, I am making an effort to wean myself off Google. It's hard to do. To be honest I wish it wasn't the prudent thing to do. I'm using AllTheWeb. Also going to check out AltaVista. But I still think of Google as authoritative. And when I look in my logs, I see it's delivering the traffic, not the others.

A picture named edelman.gifThere's an essay lurking in here, but I've been reluctant to write it. Here's what it would say. Up till now Google has done really well with the low-key, we-let-our-software-speak-for-us approach to public relations. But that method doesn't work now. People are confused about what Google is.

Now the vast majority of people don't know enough to know that anything has changed. So it's not really a problem, unless you believe that word spreads. That's how Google became famous, because people who really understood the Web understood how good it was and told their friends, and they told their friends and so on. But I don't know what to say.

I've seen Blogger as a respected competitor for almost four years. I've seen Google as a valuable utility, but never as a competitor. I have no words from Google to explain how they want me to understand that.

And as a user I'm confused. I thought of Google as a search engine, not a portal. I thought that was the point. Search is important enough to make a company that just does search. But hosting? Site creation? Blogging? I don't see the connection.

There's been so much speculation, but none of it makes sense to me. The Web doesn't require or even support this kind of integration. It could be that I'm missing something, but I don't think so. To think that Google would do something unweblike -- that's hard for my mind to believe. But there you have it. Confusion.

And to think that when I have chosen in the past to link to a Google query that I was helping a competitor against search engines that don't compete with us in writing tools, well there you go -- that's my motivation to explore the other search engines, and that's why I feel my trust was betrayed by Google.

Postscript #1: I've gotten a couple of accusatory emails from people inside Google. They insist I must have an axe to grind, that somehow what I've written here can't be what I really think. I hate to disappoint, but these are actually my thoughts, I haven't withheld anything important, there's no ulterior motive. I have had concerns about Google for quite some time, as I would about any Silicon Valley company that attains the kind of success they have. They were the last company I thought would turn into a competitor. I regret that I tilted the table to favor them over their competitors. I truly do.

Postscript #2: Paul Nakada writes: "I added this to my c:\winnt\system32\drivers\etc\hosts file,, made the change, restart. Now my Google toolbar and Google searches go right to Alltheweb."

Sinking in 

It's finally sinking in that I'm moving. Tomorrow the movers show up. Then another couple of days with very minimal furniture. No TiVO. No dishes or silverware. No coffee maker. Only the clothes I don't pack. Meanwhile the land across the creek has been cleared. It's shocking to look at it. I guess the house will come down as soon as it's empty. I called the gardener and the pool guy to tell them not to come again. It's really happening now. And it's cold this morning. Brrr. I thought it would be fun to see what it's like in Boston. 30 degrees. I guess that's not too bad. Another snow storm on the way. Like I said it's cold here too. But later today it'll probably get to 70. Okay, no earthquakes in Boston.

Going to war 

Of course all this is a distraction. The US is going to war. Compared to that it's not a big deal that I'm moving and driving across the country or trying out other search engines. There are Americans, lots of them, in the Middle East, and on their way there -- whose lives are in jeopardy.

Our European allies say we don't need to go to war. But what do they say to the families whose kids are going there to die? They say that they love the American people but hate our government. They don't understand the US. Read the Constitution. Check out the first three words. It's our government. You can't like us and not like our government, and vice versa.

I'm a reasonable person, and I vote. I want to understand the European point of view. Tell me what you'd do here. You've drawn a line. You've said that Saddam must disarm or be disarmed. You did say that, there was a UN Security Council resolution, the vote was unanimous, not vetoed by France, Russia or China. Okay he didn't disarm. Now what?


Last update: Thursday, March 06, 2003 at 6:54 PM Eastern.

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