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Permanent link to archive for Thursday, April 17, 2003. Thursday, April 17, 2003

Harvard Gazette: "He's a preacher with a projection screen." 

A picture named allaire.jpgI had an interesting lunch today with Jeremy Allaire. After a bit of chitchat the conversation swung around to the relationship we each had with Microsoft in the late 90s, and how we had been played off against each other by competing factions inside MS. He was promoting WDDX as the glue to connect Internet apps, and I was promoting SOAP (albeit a simpler form of SOAP than the one in use today). I remembered, anew, how much I respected him then, in the way you respect a worthy competitor. There was a moment when the pendulum had swung so far in favor of WDDX that my rabbi called me up to Redmond to tell me it looked like we had lost. Eventually SOAP did win, and Allaire and company got behind it, as I would have gotten behind WDDX had the MS chosen it. Anyway, true to form, this afternoon Jeremy had a brilliant idea. One so damned simple and so do-able, and closes a loop that's existed for years. I don't want to spoil the fun by leaking what it is, but when you hear it, you will slap your hand on your forehead, as I did, wondering why you didn't think of it. Stay tuned. 

Philip Greenspun on the death of the MIT Media Lab. 

Jon Udell: "After I posted yesterday's note about RSS redirection, Dave Winer wrote to remind me that there is a mechanism known to work for both Radio UserLand and NetNewsWire." 

John Palfrey: "Perhaps the most famous living American historian, Bernard Bailyn, has weighed in on blogging -- sort of." 

BBC: Diet guru Atkins dies. "He had suffered a severe head injury on 8 April after falling on an icy pavement while walking to his office in New York." 

News.Com: Software rams great firewall of China

I'm fed up with CSS in News Item Templates. 

Sheila has pics from Las Vegas! 

An update via email from Hossein Derskhahan, who writes from Toronto, about blogging in Iran.  

Macintouch has an RSS feed. Nice. 

Chilly this morning. Highs today around 40. Brrr. 

Interview With a Lawyer 

A picture named vampire.jpgThe other day I was browsing in a local bookstore and came across a book called Interview With a Vampire, but my mind read Interview With a Lawyer. I have lawyers on my mind. I work on the campus of a law school. I boast that people should be nice to me because I have all these lawyers around. It's hard to spit in a crowd around here without hitting a lawyer. And like cholesterol there are bad lawyers and good lawyers. I work with the good ones.

One of the good guys is Larry Lessig, who works at Stanford now. He used to work at Harvard, in the area I'm working. You can feel his presence everywhere. Look at Donna's pictures linked to yesterday. Yup there's Larry. There's a picture of Larry in Diane Cabell's office. I see his mannerisms in some of the young lawyers. His spirit is here, even if his body is not.

Yesterday I was interviewed by Lessig on the phone for a new book he's writing, which at least somewhat is about weblogs and democracy. He asked a lot of great questions. Essay questions. Not easy ones. So I said I might answer some of them in essay form. Here's one.

What will weblogs look like in 15 years? 

My first impulse is to say who could possibly know, but then on further thought, I looked back instead of forward to see what 15 years had done to graphic personal computers, which were about where weblogs are today. The first commercal GPC had come out in 1984. By 1998 the form was pretty well set. How different is Windows XP from the Macintosh of 1988? Not very. It's faster and bigger, but basically does the same thing, in much the same way.

But on the other hand, the use of GPCs has grown enormously in 15 years. In 1988 you had to be a very special person to use a Mac. They were popular with people who did design and layout and people who think for a living. But now, people in all walks of life have a Windows or Mac PC (mostly Windows).

Weblogs are just part of the evolution of personal computers. Over time our expectation for information has risen. The late 80s were the end of the age of information poverty. Today we can look back and laugh at how inaccessible information was way back then. I did an experiment one evening after dinner, probably in 1989 or 1990. I wanted to find out the score in the Mets baseball game. I called the local radio station in San Francisco, they didn't know. I called a New York radio station, they didn't know. I called the NY Times, no idea. I called a radio station in San Diego where the game was being played, they didn't know either. That was a little more than ten years ago. Today it would take you mere seconds to get the answer.

But none of this was what Lessig was asking about, I presume, because he was asking about democracy, not technology. Having written this as background, I want to come back to that shortly.

Two years ago: "All programmers want to tell you How It Works. In excruciating detail. As if you cared. Try to be patient."


Last update: Thursday, April 17, 2003 at 7:21 PM Eastern.

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