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Back from Dartmouth, busting with new ideas.  

BlogTalk, the European weblog conference, May 23-24. 

Interesting thread on RSS profile on Sam Ruby's blog. 

Ben Trott of Movable Type on RSS.  

According to Tommy Williams, Microsoft's CMS has Edit This Page. He also says that Wikis do it, but unless I'm mistaken, they don't have a concept of user identity, which I would have to say is part of ETP. Tommy works at Microsoft.  

Hey, it's pretty cool that there's a real blogger at Google now. Evan Williams, commenting on the controversial idea that Google might eliminate weblogs from searches, says: "As far as I know, Orlowski is full of crap." That's it, I'm happy.  

Viswanath Gondi is a design grad student at Harvard who has been a regular at the Thursday meetings. He figures lots of things out before I do. Last week I found out that he has a weblog, duh, and it's great (no surprise either).  

Can you come up with a caption for this pic? 

Phil Ringnalda and Dave Hyatt on CSS. 

Let's get ready, now 

One of the things we talked about at dinner last night was the stupidity of forking RSS among the little guys. In the future we're going to look back at that as the most bone-headed thing since Marc Andreessen called Windows a bunch of device drivers.

Here's how Microsoft is going to fuck all of us. Their blogging tool will support RSS 2.0. Basic stuff like title, link, description, and maybe to be nice, a few extras like guid, category, and generator. Then they're going to define a namespace with poorly documented stuff the rest of us don't understand. Some of us will support Microsoft's extensions, others won't. Either way it won't matter. They'll be able to say they're supporting the standard and we won't be able to say they're not. And they'll add and subtract features unpredictably until users get the idea that it's safer just to stay with MS, and they'll own yet another market.

Now get this -- it doesn't have to be that way. We could establish a profile of RSS 2.0 and implement strict compliance with that profile in the major blogging tools. We could give that profile a name, and jointly market it to users. Then when MS comes in, the users would know what to insist on. It would make history, it would be the first time a market anticipated Microsoft tactics, and took effective, preventive measures against it. Re-inventing RSS was a bad thing to do. I forgive you. Now fix it, quickly and let's get ready to survive the onslaught.

Starting weblogs at universities 

Here's how you get weblogs started at a university like Harvard or Dartmouth. First, know that universities thrive on having their experts visible outside the university. Not just publishing in academic journals, which most alumni don't read, but being called in as experts on radio talk shows, esp NPR. That's how you reach into their wallets, show them why they should be proud of their alma mater. Pride gets the money flowing.

So how do you get your professors on the radar, as acknowledged experts who can communicate to everyday people? With a weblog of course. And then realize that other bloggers (like me!) are consumers of expertise. We need experts to turn to just like the radio guys do. So there's lots of value in staking out the still largely virgin territory of expertise flowing through weblogs. This was one of the key epiphanies at the dinner we had last night. But that's not all.

Dartmouth is in a special position to flow information to and from the rest of the world about the New Hampshire primary. Student volunteers (aka interns) can train the people to use the software, and read what they write and find the nuggets for the rest of us.

Edit this Page, in desktop text editors 

Three years ago today we had a conceptual breakthrough called Piking Behind Firewalls making it easy for people to use our outliner (then called Pike, now called Radio) to edit their weblog even if they're behind a firewall. The release was called Firewalls with Piking Sauce.

The other Web content management systems don't even have Edit This Page buttons yet. I'm amazed that people think Movable Type is so advanced. They have a long way to go before they catch up to Manila. And Blogger is totally not in the game and neither product, architecturally is suited to easy connections to editing content. Too many steps, too much memorization.

Go back to May 1999 for an explanation. "When I'm writing for the web, and I'm browsing my own site, every bit of text that I created has a button that says Edit this Page when I view it. When I click the button, a new page opens with the text in an HTML textarea. I edit. Click on Submit. The original page displays with the change. Three easy steps."


Last update: Saturday, May 10, 2003 at 6:11 PM Eastern.

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