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Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, October 26, 2004. Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Forrester Research RSS feeds.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named dubya.jpgGot an email tonight from a Republican reader noting that I hadn't had much to say about the election in the last 24 hours. Okay, let's fix that. Remember when Bush and his spin-meisters were nailing Kerry and his team for not showing enough respect for the puppet government of Allawi in Iraq? Well, from the department of biting the hand that's up your butt, Allawi today blamed the Bush administration for failing to protect the fifty Iraqi soldiers who were massacred a couple of days ago. Now, Dubya, do you mind if we join you in wondering if Iraq is worth the grief? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Five years ago Dan Gillmor's blog started. That was a happy day here too, finally we had recruited a real ink-stained ree-por-tuh to help give credibilty to this new medium. Five years. Man, time sure flies! Regret: We don't have an archive of the first couple of years of Dan's blog. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Marc Nozell sent an audio message confirming that MS is using a descendent of a DEC voice syntheizer on its voicemail system.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Schedule update: I'll be in NYC 11/22-27. Then in early December I'll be on the road again, not sure where I'll be headed this time, maybe back to Canada, maybe south, maybe both. I have to be in Cambridge for a conference at Harvard on 12/10. Where will I fly out of? No idea.  Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named rs.gifWatching Game 3 of the World Series, man the Red Sox look like the new Yankees. Even when there's an error that puts Cardinal runners on second and third with no out, they shut them down. However, even if they win tonight's game and go up 3 games to 0, we can't say it's almost over, that would be asking for it, the way the Yankees asked for it in the ALCS. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Geek News warns not to use an aggregator at a Hilton hotel. Interesting story. Usually those problems seem to be limited to one hotel, not a chain. I've used aggregators at a few Hilton Garden Inns without problems. They're actually some of the best-wired hotels. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

New geekish feature on Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named dietpepsi.gifCapsule review of Feedburner. The cool thing about RSS is that it decentralizes news flow, it levels the playing field so bloggers and pros can compete. Feedburner centralizes RSS without any apparent business model. This is scary because at some point they will need to have a business model, and then what. Will they put ads in your feeds? (Ole Eichorn says they already put ads in the feeds.) What if you don't like them? How do you opt out? Have they said they will redirect users where ever you want them to go? If so, do you really trust that? I've read their terms of service, have you? It seems to say they can discontinue serving your feed at any time, without notice. No guarantee that you can opt out without losing all your subscribers. This is what's wrong with building a network around a centralized node. What are you getting in return? Statistics. That's cool. But we can figure out other ways to do that. They route around the format wars. Yuck. What we need is for the format wars to end, not for profiteers to monetize them. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

FutureTense: "Researchers with the National Cybersecurity Alliance and America Online have found most consumers perceive themselves to be safe online, even when they have no firewall protection, outdated antivirus software and dozens of spyware and adware programs secretly running on their computers. Permanent link to this item in the archive.

It's still raining at Stanford, a little more than 1.5 weeks before BloggerCon. I haven't ordered the lunch yet, because if it's raining, we don't have any place to actually eat it. Everybody, think dry. Think sun. Rain rain go away, come again any time after November 6! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

An old-style Morning Coffee Notes Permanent link to this item in the archive.

BBC says the "search wars" are coming to the desktop. It's hard to believe I was so excited just a couple of weeks ago, fully expecting there was a goldmine of data to be found on my local hard disk, only to find that most of the stuff Google could find was either spam or virus email. I don't use Office, I'm religious about that, I won't use any non-Internet Microsoft product until they start investing again in MSIE. I don't hold out much hope, but it's the least I can do for the Web. Seems Google is just as fixated on Microsoft as Microsoft is, because not only don't they index Radio's object database, they don't even provide a way for me to write a driver to help them index it. Since most of my content is in that format, that's probably what's holding me back from getting any real value from GDS.

But Google, don't rush, because I've already learned, long ago, if I want to be able to search something I just need to publish it, and eventually it'll show up in Google. I just have to be willing to share it with the world. In a way this is a Lessig-like scheme to get me to CC my content so it can be part of his cool new website. But of course the website we all want to be part of is... Google (not the one on my desktop by the way). So basically search is just where it needs to be, after all. We didn't really need it on our desktop where it potentially exposes all our passwords and secret desires, which of course we don't want exposed.

I'm on a roll. This is an old-style Morning Coffee Notes, the kind we did before we were doing audio blog posts, before they were called podcasts, back when we couldn't find any software to record our voices (seriously, PCs came with microphones, but search high and lo, hither and yon, there was no software to actually use the microphones in a most basic way).

[Kevin Marks says I could have found a software tool to record from a mike on Windows, dating back to 1992, by asking instead of searching.]

Anyway, in the podcast with Scoble (rhymes with noble) I noticed he was telling a story about Microsoft (his employer) differently for the public than he had told me privately. I called him on it. Then I observed that I do that sometimes myself. He laughed, he knew what I was talking about. There's a certain book publisher in Sebastapol that you're not supposed to criticize. I've done that too many times, and as a result am not invited to participate in their confabs. They've used this tactic to go into areas I care very much about, sometimes even claiming that open work comes out of these exclusive events.

Now there's no good reason for me to accept a conflict of interest here, it's not like they're offering me a life-saving medical treatment in return for my silence, and even if they were, I would be required to disclaim that. So, no more of that. If you go to their conferences, and don't mind that they're closed events, only O'Reilly friends welcome, well, then you and I belong to different Webs, that's about all there is to say about it. But if they excluded you, I'd stand up for you, by not going, and saying clearly why I wasn't. Too many people who think of me as a friend look the other way. That hasn't been cool for quite some time, now it's not cool publicly either. I'll sleep better knowing I've leveled with you all, and I really don't care if O'Reilly, Dougherty and Dornfest don't like it. They obviously don't care what I think (or maybe they care too much).

Scoble stays up late Permanent link to this item in the archive.

He sent me an email, reminding me that I had ordered a copy of Streets & Trips with GPS for my new Sony laptop (which runs Windows XP). Okay, like you, like Scoble, I'm full of shit, but at least I'm honest, so I'll return it as soon as it arrives. He's right, I can't support Microsoft and as much as I'd like to have the new toy, it'll be better for the Web if I don't have it.

He also says they're upgrading MSIE, but it takes 12 months for the work to complete. I've been led down that path so many times before, no matter how much I like Scoble, I just don't believe it.

Which leads me to the next, probably most important, point. One of Scoble's bosses, Vic Gundotra, once asked me why I'm so harshly critical of Microsoft but generally stay away from criticizing (his example) Apple. I gave him an honest answer, but a coward's answer. It's because there's no support for being critical of Apple, and there's all kinds of support for being critical of Microsoft.

Well, this is about as dishonest as you can get, and we've got to stop this if we have any hope of creating a useful medium here. The medium we've set up is far too easy to control through intimidation. If we ever tread outside of the safe territory of trashing Microsoft, we lose all support, at a time when we need much more support.

And Scoble can do his part to help his employer. When I read his glowing reports from O'Reilly events, it's really hard to think of him as a friend. Sylvia Paull, who's helping with BloggerCon, and has been a friend for 20 years, once said this: "I don't go to parties my friends aren't welcome at." This is a good principle, and as good a definition of the spirit of the Web as I've ever heard. And if Microsoft wants to be treated fairly, and who doesn't, they have to start by treating other people fairly.

And there's a practical side of it. If we agreed that no one is above examination, then we'd see more truth, and we'd get somewhere instead of just looping around and around. Doc Searls is both a proponent of the Cluetrain, and a big looker-in-the-other-direction. At BloggerCon, one of the things I'd like to talk about is meaning what we say and examining our own bullshit. If someone says "Look I found a bug in your software," is that good news or bad? The Cluetrain says it's good news. So does programming culture. So does Microsoft's old culture (one which almost doesn't exist anymore). We have a few among us who don't want to be talked about, yet want to dominate the conversation. We must tell them no.

Further, when they tell you there's more to it, there isn't. And when they say there's a flaw in my personality, perhaps they're right, but listening to Air America yesterday for the first time, I heard a caller say that Jesus was a liberal. She provided a few quotes, including this one. "Let the one without sin cast the first stone."

Judith Miller Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Don't be shocked, there's more!

A couple of weeks ago, Martin Nisenholtz at the NY Times asked me and a few other bloggers to look at the case of Judith Miller, a reporter at the Times, a famous one, who may go to jail to protect a source. He asked me to read an editorial, written by the publisher of the paper, and say what I think. I only told half the story then, wanting to think before presenting the other side.

Last night on the CNN program NewsNight, Aaron Brown, the host, interviewed Miller in a very long segment. I didn't time it, but I think it was probably ten minutes. He said at the outset that he and Miller are friends, and judging by the friendly nature of the conversation, it's a good thing he disclaimed it, because it was completely apparent.

I've been watching a lot of CNN and MSNBC lately, with the election so close, and this presentation was striking in its calmness, and thoughtfulness. Two intelligent people, talking about an important issue with big implications, with plenty of time, talking slowly, explaining themselves carefully. There was something disturbing about it, they weren't shouting. There was no opposition. No one was disagreeing with her. How unlike CNN. How wrong of CNN. How wrong of the the Times to support this.

On examination, where does the Times derive its right to deny the court order? Does the Times feel that I, an ordinary citizen, would have to comply with such an order? If I would, then what's the legal difference between a Times reporter and a blogger? Does that mean that Times reporters would have to be licensed by the state? Does the Times really support this idea? I hope not.

Fact is, sometimes the public need for information trumps a writer's guarantee of privacy to sources. Why should Miller be able to offer anonymity if a blogger can't? The Constitution does not give special status or protection to reporters. The First Amendment applies to all, not just people with a press badge. They were right to bring this to the blogosphere, but they were wrong in assuming we wouldn't probe and ask the questions they likely don't have answers for. They should join this discussion. They haven't so far.

And even now there's more to it, but this is where I want to stop and see if there's a response.


Last update: Tuesday, October 26, 2004 at 9:22 PM Eastern.

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