One of the cool things about Florida beaches is that you can drive on them. Today I drove from Crescent Beach to St Augustine Beach. I took a movie from the driver's perspective, while a bunch of seagulls were crusing me. It's not an excellent movie, maybe I'll do another tomorrow.
Press release: "Apple today announced it has teamed up with Mercedes-Benz USA, Volvo, Nissan, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari to deliver iPod integration with their car stereo systems in 2005."
News.Com: "Apple confirmed the upcoming release of a $499 computer aimed to increase its audience."
12 Noon: Checking in from a Starbuck's in Daytona. It's still summer hot here, in the low 80s. Took a walk on the beach here, listening to Tony Kahn's radio drama about blacklisting in the 50s. I'm about to drive one of the most scenic roads anywhere, up the coast to St Aug on A1A.
I've decided to try something new on my proposal, below. Instead of linking to a place to comment today, I'm going to wait until tomorrow. That way people get a chance to think, read and perhaps re-read, before commenting. Of course, I expect the usual suspects to flame, but we're getting really good at tuning that out. But what about the thoughtful people. Want to actually try to solve a problem through community? Nothing hard about it technically. Give it some thought while you're hitting refresh on the Engadget page below.
Engadget is blogging the MacWorld keynote, already underway.
Rogers Cadenhead: "Unlike every other mass medium, the Web doesn't let giant corporations hog the mike." Good point.
To Rogers, therein lies the basis for my 2002 thesis that monoculture may be an artifact of the 20th century.
WebMD gets on board with RSS.
Fast Company: Lessons on Innovation from Microsoft.
The darlings of the podcast world, the Lascivious Biddies, are performing in Cambridge this Thursday night. Wish I could be there.
ABC News has a comprehensive set of RSS feeds, which is cool; and once again the same overpowering Yahoo ads. Yahoo is far from the only aggregator, and far from the best. Not a good trend.
Okay, let's be clear about the problem.
Yahoo sends emails to bloggers with RSS feeds saying, hey if you put this icon on your weblog you'll get more subscribers. It's true you will. Then Feedster says the same thing, and Bloglines, etc etc. Hey I did it too, back when Radio was pretty much the only show in town, you can see the icon to the right, if you click on it, it tries to open a page on your machine so you can subscribe to it. I could probably take the icon down by now, most Radio users probably are subscribed to Scripting News, since it is one of the defaults. But it's there for old time sake, for now.
Anyway, all those logos, when will it end? I can't imagine that Microsoft is far behind, and then someday soon CNN is going to figure out that they can have their own branded aggregator for their own users (call me if you want my help, I have some ideas about this) and then MSNBC will follow, and Fox, etc. Sheez even Best Buy and Circuit City will probably have a "Click here to subscribe to this in our aggregator" button before too long.
That's the problem.
Now there is a solution, but it would require a bit of cooperation, something the so-called RSS "market" is famous for not doing. (Hehe.) Since I'm widely hailed as the Father of RSS (bear with me please) I would volunteer to coordinate this, raise the money, write the software and run the server, and make all the data public.
1. Ask the leading vendors, for example, Bloglines, Yahoo, FeedDemon, Google, Microsoft, and publishers, AP, CNN, Reuters, NY Times, Boing Boing, etc to contribute financially to the project, and to agree to participate once it's up and running.
2. Hire Bryan Bell to design a really cool icon that says "Click here to subscribe to this site" without any brand names. The icon is linked to a server that has a confirmation dialog, adds a link to the user's OPML file, which is then available to the aggregator he or she uses. No trick here, the technology is tried and true. We did it in 2003 with feeds.scripting.com.
3. Develop the software and release it as open source, with a license that permits anyone to operate a competitive service. This guarantees that the result of the contributions in #1 are shared widely, that there is no proprietary technology involved, and should the system we set up falter, it would be easy to set up another.
4. All the data maintained by the server would also be available in XML, publicly, allowing a myriad of applications to be developed by anyone who wants to. Steve Gillmor would hail it as the first step towards attention.xml, and it would be, and it would be cool. Imagine the Friendster-like service you could develop from a large database of people's subscriptions.
Anyway that's it. It's possible to solve the problem. Eventually I'm sure we will try to do so once our sites are sporting 35 different "subcribe here" buttons. Maybe that's sooner than you think.
PS: With all the talk about commercializing RSS, isn't it surprising that the pundits haven't been talking about an OEM market for aggregators. They'll claim to have invented the idea, shortly. Stay tuned.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "Action Engine Corp. spent four years and $35 million developing an innovative technology that lets users of advanced cell phones access sports scores, driving directions, movie times and other information. But like many wireless software companies of the past five years, the Redmond startup stumbled when it came to getting people to actually use the technology."
Imagine a service that reads your podcast feeds, downloads the enclosures on a server you could call with your cell phone. Cursor through the new casts, select one to listen to, put on your Bluetooth earplug, and off you go. Your cellphone doesn't need a hard drive, or the ability to play MP3s. Just the basic web functionality many phones come with these days. (Actually not even that. Just use voicemail navigation techniques.)
Sunday night while watching TV, I was playing with my Nokia cell phone, changed the wall paper and the ringtone, the color scheme, basically everything I could get my hands on. "Time for some changes around here," I said to my phone.
Then, while driving yesterday, my phone started beeping. I picked it up, and a dialog appeared that said "Fuck you." Oh my god, did my phone have a virus, had someone sent me an SMS message, how did they get my number. Then I remembered I had set the alarm the previous night, I didn't remember doing it at first.
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