I admit I'm corny but I can't get this song out of my head.
Fran: "I talked to over one hundred occupational therapists, and only 3 had ever heard of podcasting."
Jaron Lanier: "The problem is in the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force. This is different from representative democracy, or meritocracy. This idea has had dreadful consequences when thrust upon us from the extreme Right or the extreme Left in various historical periods. The fact that it's now being re-introduced today by prominent technologists and futurists, people who in many cases I know and like, doesn't make it any less dangerous."
Martin Schwimmer: "If you coin and promulgate a term, you can sell it as a buzzword or you can sell it as a brand, but under trademark law, it's virtually impossible to do both."
Lots of interesting comments following Tim O'Reilly's post.
Imagine™ what™ the™ world™ would™ be™ like™ if™ everyone™ trademarked™ every™ word™ that™ was™ ever™ added™ to™ the™ language.™ It™ would™ get™ pretty™ tiresome™ really™ fast.™
Don't forget, dinner tomorrow night, Henry's Hunan, SF.
PR Week on Share Your OPML.
I had my pre-BloggerCon talk this morning with John Palfrey, who will lead the pivotal How To Make Money session. I learned my lesson, last time we tried to steer the conversation in a direction away from where the room wanted to go. This time I will put duct tape over my mouth and let JP follow the room. My talk with Elisa Camahort changed my thinking about this session. Let's see where the room wants to go. Previous DLs on this topic were Doc Searls and Jeff Jarvis.
Also spoke with Lance Knobel who is leading the discussion on Blogging and the 2008 Election. This is another of our perma-threads, the political discussion has been part of BC since the first one in October 2003 in Cambridge. Back then the idea of blogging in politics was in its infancy, today, in 2006 its commonplace; and who knows where it will be in 2008. That's what we'll cover in late June in SF.
Here's what's great about Berkeley in the summer. The weather is perfect, and there's no one here. The streets are empty because all the kids have gone home, yet the weather is the best in the entire United States. While its hot and steamy back east, the high today in Berkeley will be 71 with a very nice breeze coming in from the Bay. The main question is do I want to take my walk in the morning when I have to wear a jacket (temp in the mid-upper 50s) or in a t-shirt, in the afternoon when it's in the high 60s. Meanwhile in Florida it's 82 degrees, climbing to a high near 90. Thunderstorms in the afternoon. Air conditioning weather. Yuck!
I had my pre-BloggerCon talk yesterday with Chris Pirillo. He's going to lead a discussion about the power of users.
Sam Ruby spotted a problem with SYO, which we fixed. He also suggests that we disclose, again, that Mike Arrington has, in the past, represented me as an attorney, which is true. I also appreciate the support received from Dare Obasanjo and Gabe Rivera in the thread on Ruby's site.
I've not commented on the Web 2.0 trademark issues because I didn't want to be part of the flood of discourse. I've been on the receiving end of that kind of "feedback" and it's not very productive or pleasant, and runs a predictable course, and I'd like to see us be a little less predictable, and a little wiser, here in the blogosphere. So I waited, and now that things have settled down, I would like to weigh in.
1. The blogs seem to have a knee-jerk opinion that everything involving lawyers is wrong. I don't agree. There are times when people can't settle their differences without legal representation. There are also times when all discussion must be handled by lawyers. Just because we have an Internet and blogs doesn't change this simple fact. We have lawyers because we exist in the context of a legal system. It's got flaws, but in my limited experience, it usually seems to come to the right conclusion. Lawyers provide important services, which we need to keep our economy and society working.
2. Everything O'Reilly, CMP and Battelle said about protecting trademarks is true. If you want to keep your trademark, the law requires that you challenge all infringing uses of it.
3. However, if they wanted to protect the trademark, it seems to me that they should have been sending demand letters from the beginning. It appears they started when it became clear that the USPTO was going to grant their application to register the mark. That said, I am not a lawyer, so I don't know whether the lack of consistency weakens their ownership of the trademark.
4. Key point: O'Reilly is a business and it behaves like a business. It is not a political cause. Its purpose is to achieve ROI for its shareholders, and it does this very well. They've made millions of dollars commercializing ideas that others gave away for free, while the blogosphere, naively, has bought into the idea that O'Reilly is something other than a business. This is illustrated perfectly by Cory Doctorow's defense. They created the Web 2.0 name, perhaps (some dispute this), but that's all. The ideas behind Web 2.0 are other people's work, and those people, for the most part, haven't made any money from it. If O'Reilly were to lose control of the trademark they still would be way, way ahead. There's no reason for their arguments to gain sympathy at an emotional level, even if they gain sympathy at a business level. There's an important distinction here.
5. The shock came from naivete being awoken by the reality. I don't think the O'Reilly people fully understand how much the blogosphere has bought into the idea that O'Reilly is sort of a non-profit for great ideas. To see them act so boldly in a commercial fashion is something they needed to be prepared for, and there was no preparation.
Postscript: Jason Calacanis also waited to comment, and came to similar conclusions.
Tim O'Reilly responds.
Everyone loves TinyUrl. It really works, it's almost like magic, but it's often a bit too much work. Even so, sometimes you have to use it, for example, when sending a link to a Google Map page in an email message. You never know how the various email handlers are going to deal with the long URL when transferring it.
But what if, when you click on Link To This Page in Google Maps, it generated a short URL as a proxy for the long URL it would normally generate? That is, what if they baked in the TinyUrl functionality? Wouldn't that be great?
And for extra credit, offer to license the TinyUrl name for say $2 million, as a gesture of goodwill to all the users who love nice little (tiny!) web services that are useful, but want it all to be even more useful, without feeling the guilt of helping a giant to wipe out a cool little company.
Scoble's mom's house. Wow!
Mike Arrington grapples with rumors about integrity.
Suw Charman wonders how many news staff read their own RSS feeds.
Dan Fost reports on WineCamp.
Paolo wishes it were easier to share.
Security will be extra tight at FU-Camp 2006.
Barry Bonds hits #715 to pass Babe Ruth.
8/28/96: "I wonder if the bees are philosophical about their condition in the last minutes of life."
TechCrunch: "Share Your OPML is already a good blog ranking system, and over time it has the chance to become the definitive ranking and recommendation system for blogs. And when I saw that, I'm thinking the very long tail of blogs, not just the top 100 or even 1,000."
I really appreciate that Mike Arrington is taking another look at SYO.
For people who are new to the process of innovation in RSS, it's a bootstrap, it's how RSS got started in the first place.
There was no chicken and egg at first, we needed both a chicken and an egg (and a frying pan too).
The three parts were:
1. A tool that could generate RSS (that was Manila, and then Radio);
2. An aggregator that could do interesting things with the RSS (Radio) and
3. Content (first Wired, Red Herring, Salon, Motley Fool, Scripting News, a handful of blogs, then a torrent, followed by the BBC and the NY Times and then a flood of BigPubs).
SYO is not a new idea, it's actually the third implementation of an idea that started with the Radio Community Server, circa 2002. We tracked the subscriptions of all Radio users, and published the results. In 2004 came the first SYO site, the first to introduce rudimentary collaborative filtering. It hit a scaling wall and had to come down, until we could get up a LAMP implementation, earlier this month. We've basically matched the functionality of the 2004 edition and are ready to grow.
Now, at this point, I'm looking for co-investors and a handful of developers to work on the software. If you find the prospects intriguing and have resources to contribute, think about it, and let me know. I'm interested in working with people with deep experience in collaborative filtering, to balance my understanding of RSS, OPML and the various communities involved.
We're going to build all three legs, again, and when it's done, there will be a new layer on the RSS activity, and it'll be interesting and fun. I know this because it is already interesting an fun. Now we need to make it easier, and more automatic.
The Frontier web programming environment moved fast in the late 90s, but maybe a bit too fast, and some ideas that came later didn't get pushed back into the earlier stuff.
An example is the very neat way mainResponder mapped domains to content. This is something we never did with XML-RPC, yet it's very easy to do.
A few weeks ago, I needed it, when implementing the ping handler for SYO. After doing it in a one-off fashion, I then did it in a general way, and released it for the OPML Editor.
I'd like to see it make its way into other distributions of the Frontier kernel.
Tom Morris: "If you know how to automate tool updates (like Dave does with NewsRiver etc.), I'd love to talk to you."
Wellll, if you haven't heard from anyone Tom, I'd be happy to show you how to do it.
The first requirement is that you have a server online 24-by-7, running the OPML Editor, so it can be the subscription server. That may not be possible. But if you can, I'll outline the steps for you, maybe even write a script that automates the process.
You also have to learn how to use WebEdit to check in new parts that will be received by your users when they update. It's not hard to learn how to do this. I can show you how.
The only thing I ask in return is that when the next person comes along wanting to do this you will help them.
Tom Morris responds. Okay, I'll start assembling some docs, in a little bit.
Steve Gillmor has the summertime blues.
Ryanne Hodson did a video explaining the Videoblogging session at BloggerCon IV.
Cory Doctorow: "If you're going to name the next direction the world will take, you have to be prepared for the world to take that direction. Industry shifts become public property -- or rather, things that are privately controlled can't shift a diverse industry."
A very simple editorial on yesterday's decision by the Sixth District Court of Appeals that bloggers are entitled to the same protection as print journalists; that a rich corporation can't control the bloggers that cover it.
1. The day a U.S. court comes to a different conclusion will be the day the First Amendment dies. As long as the courts continue to uphold the principle that the First Amendment applies equally to online media, we're reasonably safe. And by "we" I don't mean the practitioners, I mean the whole society.
2. It's unwise and hypocritical of Apple Computer, to profit from the expansion of the online community -- the latest Mac comes with promotional material touting its ability to write blogs and create podcasts -- and at the same time trying to control it to suit its corporate purposes. Someday there will be a company that not only has inspiring advertisments and products, but will actually have a philosophy that is consistent, that returns the generosity it received by feeding and nurturing the environment in which it exists. A consistent Apple, with integrity, would stand up for free speech on the Internet, not try to destroy it. Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet.
3. Blogging won, again. Someday we will form our own computer company, from this environment, one which we own and fully control. Apple thought we exist in its environment and that the courts would back it up, and in doing so proved that their hearts are cold as cash, and their love of their users is a marketing strategy. Eventually we will replace Apple with a company more compatible with our values.
Again, thanks to the courts. We certainly can't depend on the executive and legislative branches of government, or the companies that profit from the Internet. The courts, and a free press are our last bastions of hope, such as they exist.
Steve Jobs: "If you always want the latest and greatest, then you have to buy a new iPod at least once a year."
I had lunch today in Berkeley with George Coates, the creative mind behind Better Bad News. I'll have lots more to say about this, for sure. Possibly some theater for BloggerCon IV. I wasn't sure which of the guys on Better Bad News he is, turns out he's none of them. I asked why his picture isn't on the web somewhere, he said it is, but it's on page 4 of a Google image search. Well, there are only 3 pages. Heh. There is a picture of him in this interview, but it's a very old pic, he doesn't really look like that today. We talked about 9-11 and what blogging would be like after civilian government is suspended in the US. He told me to read this book by David Ray Griffin.
One of my Sims 2 characters all of a sudden has a cloud of bubbles around her head, all the time, everywhere she goes. I can't figure out what this means! What does it mean?
Julian Bond asks, humorously, if we can't call it Web 2.0, how about Web 0.92. Hey how about that, it's an RSS joke.
O'Reilly corporate response to the "Web 2.0" controversy.
John Battelle: "This is not some evil plot to 'own' Web 2.0."
Apparently CMP filed for the trademark on 11/26/03.
Marc Canter wants to know what Cory Doctorow thinks.
PC World's 25 worst tech products of all time.
3 years ago today I asked who would pay for software.
OPML Support is an "extension for the Mozilla Firefox Web browser that adds OPML import/export functionality to the Firefox Bookmarks manager."
I called him up last night after I read on his blog that his mom had died. It wasn't unexpected, she had a stroke a couple of weeks ago, a bad one, and that didn't leave much of Mrs Scoble alive. Not enough to make it. So he's had a bit of time to catch up, but then I guess you never get a chance to really prepare for something like this. When it happens, it hits you like a ton of bricks, changes everything, forever.
We chatted about stuff, this and that, I mentioned that I was shopping for houses in Berkeley, and he asked if this was a good time for that, and I said, at 51, you stop worrying about things like that so much. By the time it's a good time to buy a house again maybe I'll be dead, or sick, or whatever. Now is the time to shop for a house. Is it time to buy? We'll find out.
He decided to buy his wife a new car, not a cheap one either. The one she wanted. Good move. Now she'll have to deal with a new reality, a husband who gives her what she wants. Everyone gets to give up all the old struggles. Will they find new ones? Not this week, probably not next week either. But now it's time for change, a big tree falls, old struggles are over, forever, it's time for dreams to take hold, new ones, creativity, maybe some happiness.
Mothers and fathers are our teachers, a few years ago when it looked like my dad was going to die, I was still learning from him, and he survived, to be an inspiration, again and again. You never know what's coming next in life, that's the great thing about it. Scoble's mom, even after her life is over, continues to teach. Not just Scoble, not just Maryam, but me, and if you're reading this, you.
Namaste Mrs Scoble and her family, and thank you.
Top Podcasts is a new readout of the most-subscribed-to podcasts among Share Your OPML users. Obviously just getting started, with only 117 subscribers for the top-rated podcast, but numbers are interesting, imho.
Randy Morin: "The coolest new happening in Web 2.0-land in that last month is Share Your OPML."
NY Times: "Viacom now has an explicit policy. In a section on confidentiality, it states that the employee is 'discouraged from publicly discussing work-related matters, whether constituting confidential information or not, outside of appropriate work channels, including online in chat rooms or blogs.'"
4/26/06: "Of course what I wanted to talk about is Rather becoming a blogger. He said that [Viacom] discourages it."
Nick Bradbury: Pick a Format (Any Format). Agree.
Instructables is a "community for showing what you make and how others can make it."
Ross Mayfield says that Nick Carr is the new Dave Winer. I imagine he intended this as an insult, but I'm happy to be compared with Carr, if he's going to keep challenging the sloppy thinking so typical of technology hucksters.
The comment thread that followed Nick Carr's piece about Wikipedia illustrates the mistake of the most zealous Wikipedia advocates, they fail to set expectations accurately, and then, when someone like Carr takes their hype at face value, they attack him for not knowing how Wikipedia really works. It's a Catch-22, they attack because he believed them. Sort of makes people reluctant to discuss Wikipedia.
In this case, Carr said that anyone could edit any piece at any time. That's certainly the core element of the hype around Wikipedia. Now we find out that there are limits. The advocates say this was always true. Carr thought it was a change, and he can be forgiven for that, because the very same zealots told us it was so.
This is the dangerous anti-intellectual side of Wikipedia.
It's valuable, it really is, I point to Wikipedia articles regularly, but always with an implicit caveat. I can't be sure that the article I point to today, that I believe is accurate today, will be accurate tomorrow.
Now if the strongest advocates of Wikipedia would start talking realistically about the weaknesses of the approach in addition to the strengths, the utopian stuff, we might be able to work together to improve it. But there's no evidence of that in the latest round.
Postscript: Carr says it's time to bury the mythology surrounding Wikipedia, and I couldn't agree more strongly.
The Chinese have a saying that if you sit by the river long enough, the dead body of your enemy will come floating by.
New Flickr set: Giants vs Cardinals. Live.
The moving picture view from AT&T Park.
Steve Gillmor: "I'm having the time of my life."
I didn't know that there was an official Lost podcast.
Nick Carr says Wikipedia is over. "The end came last Friday. That's when Wikipedia's founder, Jimmy Wales, proposed 'that we eliminate the requirement that semi-protected articles have to announce themselves as such to the general public.'"
Lee Gomes: "What Apple has, and what Wintel badly needs, is a design tyrant like Steve Jobs."
Ross Rader expands on this point.
A utility script that runs in the OPML Editor (or Frontier or Radio) that lists the enabled threads and everyMinute scripts that might be slowing your system down. It found a few problems on my system.
New Flickr set: After a long rainy spell, the sun came out, and so did the flowers, and walkers. (Flowrs, walkrs?)
The Mac equivalent of the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.
Movie version of the Mac equiv of the BSOD.
Another good Top Ten Lies Of list would be the Top Ten Lies of Apple Computer. They say in their TV ads that Macs work better with Japanese cameras. This is not true. Windows XP understands them every bit as well as Macs do. I wonder why Microsoft doesn't respond to Apple's ads. Apple is just regurgitating the (mistaken) conventional wisdom. They're kind of doing Microsoft a favor, because they're marketing against where Windows was ten years ago. (And actually Windows NT had already solved many of the problems they're talking about.) A Microsoft ad with a spinning color cursor would be pretty interesting. Love that user-friendly Mac. Sitting there waiting. And waiting. Hello Mac. Fair is fair. If Apple can say Windows is nerdy, MS can say Macs are stoners.
Niall and I are also co-hosting a pre-BloggerCon dinner in San Francisco next Wednesday, May 31.
Guy Kawasaki: The Top Ten Lies of Guy Kawasaki.
Thanks to Matt Deatherage for the link.
BTW, when talking with Elisa this morning, I asked her who she thought I should ask to lead the discussion on making money with blogs. She brought up Guy's name. I said I didn't think Guy would make a good DL, but I do think he'd be an excellent contributor. I would love to have him at BloggerCon, and I mean it, and I hope he doesn't think that's hypocritical (one of the problems with calling unnamed people names on your blog is that everyone tends to think you're talking about them). And Guy, if I'm an A-lister, what does that make you? Your Technorati rank is much higher than mine. For the record I don't care what my rank is (or yours), and it's up to you to figure out if that's a lie.
This morning, I had my pre-conference talk with Elisa Camahort, who will lead a discussion at BloggerCon IV. Over the next few weeks I'll talk with each of the discussion leaders at least once.
I'm going to a friend's birthday party on Saturday in SF, but if I weren't I'd certainly be at WineCamp, in Calaveras County. What a great idea. Get away from the city, the traffic, and hang out with some smart people and drink wine and camp out under the stars. Excellent!
Marshall Kirkpatrick writes that even if Feedburner dies, we'll live. Okay, I didn't say otherwise and it's hard to argue we'd all die if they did, so I won't (but sometimes people's lives do depend on technology working, more often than perhaps we'd like to admit). On the other hand, why should we give up anything for the convenience of some more statistics? Why can't we have it all? And if we're giving something up (of course we are, they aren't a charity) shouldn't we know what we're giving up?
My mother has a letter in today's NY Times.
Business 2.0: "In an ideal digital world, we'd be able to buy copyrighted music and videos wherever we wanted, not just on a designated store. But that's been the fate of iPod users, who can only buy content off of Apple's iTunes Music Store."
Not true. I've been using an iPod since they came out and I've never bought a song from their music store. Further, we would never have been able to develop podcasting if this were true.
Perhaps the mistake is in the use of the word "copyrighted," which is not the same thing as copy protected.
Either way, they need someone with a decent education to review their articles before they publish them.
I suppose it's possible that they're deliberately trying to conflate the two terms? If so, that's kind of corrupt.
NY Times: "Personal electronic information on up to 26.5 million military veterans, including their Social Security numbers and birth dates, was stolen from the residence of a Department of Veterans Affairs employee who had taken the data home without authorization."
My drawings are more popular than my pictures on Flickr, and Big Life Lesson #1 is the most popular of them all. It's a good thing to remember when you get mad at someone, that you probably don't have a clue what they're thinking, even if you think you do. The converse is also true, an outside observer has a better perspective on how you look than you do. But there is no objective truth to this, because the spec of crud that one person might see might go completely unnoticed by another observer. An interesting discussion followed the intro.
BTW, I'm going to try to sneak some of the HyperCamp ideas into BloggerCon IV.
MSN's search engine is allowing sites to opt out of the DMOZ descriptions by using a META tag in the HTML source. I've included the tag in the source for Scripting News.
Welcome to BloggerCon IV planning week on Scripting News. I don't have any more trips planned between now and June 23 when BloggerCon IV begins. I'm going to hunker down and make this a kickass and very unusual BloggerCon!
So here, in no special order, are the foundation ideas that make this BloggerCon different from the three previous.
It's a podcast. Previous BloggerCons were about defining podcasting, now I'd say it's pretty well defined, so we're going to break new ground in the art of podcasting. The goal of this BC is to produce a webcast and a podcast, along with a IRC channel. It's less about the venue and more on the net, and even more, a record that can be listened to in any order, at any time in the future. The podcast is the focus (not the room, the IRC or the webcast). The room will be live with mikes, and everyone will be encouraged to say meaningful and unusual things. Not the ordinary.
We're including other conferences. Since conferences have become unstuck in time and geography, with year-round parties spread around the globe, and constant presences on the web, we decided to invite three conferences to be part of BloggerCon this time, and they went for it! The three: BlogHer, Vloggercon, Gnomedex.
The DLs choose the experts. Each discussion leader is charged to create the panel they would if this were not an unconference, however, these people will not sit at the front of the room, and the normal BloggerCon discourse rules apply. The DL isn't limited to calling on their ten people, by no means, this is how we get an interdisciplinary mix. The room therefore will be filled with the panels. Everyone will rightly be able to claim to be a speaker. I will not have editorial say over who they invite. (This is likely to be the most controversial part. Not everyone who wants to go will be able to. We have very limited space, and different goals this time. To not be able to go to a conference is something I have to deal with too, from time to time.)
What won't change. It's free of charge. Lunches and dinners are at local restaurants, and there are lots of them in the neighborhood. We will organize Food For Thought dinners on Friday night. There will be lots of room for schmoozing outside the studio at all times, and this will be open to everyone and anyone. Free wifi. Totally non-commercial, leave your business models at home.
Thanks to Dan Farber and CNET for providing the facility!
Tonight's CyberSalon looks to be pretty interesting.
Thanks for all the links to the FeedBurner piece below. I've been thinking about this for quite some time, and talking about the idea with as many people as will listen. I think it's important because it cuts to the core of how important identity is, and how simple it can be. I also think it foretells of what the users are going to be demanding of the vendors pretty soon, so if you're a tech investor, you should pay attention. There's definitely money to be made here, but there's a fair way to do it, and that also, imho, will turn out to be the correct business approach.
A rough version of this post appeared as a comment on Mike Arrington's latest on Feedpass.
I don't like it when a decentralizing technology like RSS is centralized. What happens if Feedburner goes out of business? How many feeds would we lose on that day?
I certainly don't approve of newcomers doing what Feedburner does, without even asking for permission to do so! Who are these people? How do we know whether we should trust them? Why should I have to trust them?
Further, it's not good business, long-term, to take advantage of the naivete of trusting users. Eventually what was once mysterious becomes commonplace, and they figure it out. I was there when they figured out copy protection in software in the 80s, and boy did they make our businesses rock. Rightly so.
It's like the backup issue that comes up every time Typepad goes offline, whether or not it's SixApart's fault, the users all of a sudden start to worry about what would happen if the company went offline permanently.
The beauty of RSS is that it doesn't depend on any one company, until stuff like this comes along. The fact that they might put ads in the feeds is only a small issue relative to the larger one, the fragility of a centralized network.
BTW, I'm aware of the major competitor coming into the market that Mike talks about, ominously, in the last sentence in his post. I don't know what their policy is on this. I am available to help them, but so far am not in the loop. It's a good time for us to be looking at this stuff, because I'm sure it's going to be much-discussed when the new system comes online (or when Mike leaks its existence, whichever comes first).
If I were going to launch a competitor to FeedBurner, here's how I'd do it.
First, I'd either do a deal with a registrar, become a registrar, or merge or partner with one. It's absolutely essential that the user own the domain that their feed is hosted at, so that, in case of emergency, they can switch to a different hosting service. If they don't own the domain, it doesn't matter how many promises the vendor makes, or how well-intentioned they are, an act of god could result in a blackout of a huge portion of the RSS network. It's irresponsible to host a large percentage of the net's RSS feeds at one domain. I would set it up so it's the other way around. My hosting service won't host your feed unless you own the domain.
Further, it would have to be very easy to set up, that's why we'd bake in the registrar functionality. We'd even suggest a domain name if you can't think of one, something like oe913qvijj.com or zeu5ba5wv.org.
The reason this works is that the domain name system has already been set up so that one registrar can take over the registration of a domain. No need to invent a new system. Your feed goes where ever you want, whenever you want.
Then, once you have a domain registered, you can check a box (which would be on, by default) that allows us to host your feed for you. Sorry, you will have to pay something like $7 a year for the hosting service, but you get to act like a customer, and we will treat you like one.
Further, I'd allow readers to become customers too. When they subscribe to one of the feeds we host, if they're willing to pay a flat fee, we'll eliminate the ads in the feeds we serve them, and share the revenue with the people who author the feeds. I don't really like ads myself, so I'd pay the fee, happily. Some people want to put ads in their feeds, and for them, we'd offer a competitive price, with the added advantage that we allow readers to not have to see the ads if they're willing to pay to not have to.
It's a little bit more complicated, but it's a sustainable business. When FeedBurner's users are up in arms when some media conglomerate has bought them out and is starting to redirect their feeds to Viacom and Fox properties, or inserting their own content alongside yours, like adding a idiotic liberal bedwetter post alongside your rant about immigration policy, or generally messing around with your ideas, we'll be above it, because you'll be able to opt out of our system any time you want. We won't be able to screw with you, because you'll be able to switch, easily, without our help. (If you've ever tried to get off AOL, you know why that's so important.)
Disclaimer: I'm not starting such a service, this is just to illustrate a point. But I likely would invest in a venture that was taking this approach.
Okay, despite my decision to wait for the DVD, I went to see The Da Vinci Code yesterday, anyway.
What a shitty movie! Wow. It was so not fun.
I had read the book, so I knew what was coming, it's a clever story, at least I was looking forward to the punchline. (The book has a great one.)
Instead, as all the reviewers have said, they chicken out, and the ending isn't an ending at all.
So you suffer through two-plus harrowing hours of bad acting and even worse directing, and in the end nothing at all happened, except a bunch of money was spent.
There are no lessons in this movie about antiquity, but an unintentional but clear message about the spineless lackluster times we live in.
Yeah it was worth seeing, if only to understand how dead popular culture is.
Marshall Kirkpatrick: "FeedPass makes RSS subscription and monetizing other peoples' content easy."
Editorial: I'm not sure I understand what FeedPass is doing, but I don't want them republishing my feed, and I especially don't support them putting ads in their version of my feed. Is that really what they're doing? I don't think their offer of an opt-out is very convincing. My feed is copyrighted, so they need my permission to republish it, and they don't have it. I'm glad that Mike Arrington, a lawyer, is looking into this.
NY Times: "Barry Bonds matched Babe Ruth's career total of 714 home runs by hitting a solo homer Saturday against the Oakland Athletics."
What Marc Canter said. "I'm honored to be associated with those dudes."
Six years ago on this day, a picture taken on a lovely walk in the red light district of Amsterdam.
SYO also now fully supports the ping server I implemented last week, so now it's time to show everyone else how to do it. The pings work exactly as they did for weblogs.com (which is pretty much the standard for pinging in the blogging world), you send the message to rpc.opml.org, it verifies that the file has changed, and if so it apears in its changes.xml file, which is open, as it was with weblogs.com.
We're also working on some interesting podcast-related features for SYO and looking to hire another developer, maybe two, to expand the service. I'm pretty happy with the way it's going, and want to invest more. Looking for people with PHP, MySQL, WordPress and XML experience.
David Berlind wonders if Yahoo has bought Technorati.
Apple advises not using their laptops on lap tops.
Wired award winners for 2006.
MyTunesRSS: "Enjoy all the songs in your iTunes music library on any device that has network access to your iTunes computer."
Paolo wonders if the MacBooks will age well. "Plastic laptops tend to wear on the corners and scratch easily," he says. Funny thing is, I don't think they're plastic cases, or if they are, it's a very strange kind of plastic that feels like a hybrid of metal and plastic. It's warm to the touch, unlike metal, but it definitely has a different feel from the iBook G4.
Two years ago: "It's got a very conservative mission, to answer questions about RSS, to help people use it, to promote its use. It's basically a support function."
Micki Krimmel and Al Gore, lookin marvelous!
Podcasting at MIT.
The black MacBook is a very nice computer, a clear upgrade from the earlier iBook G4. People have expressed concerns about the keyboard, but so far it's fine, no problem.
Well, that was too good to be true. I hadn't installed the memory upgrade when I wrote the bit above. The people at the store said they couldn't do the installation for me, and it would take me five minutes, and it couldn't possibly go wrong. They actually say things like that at Apple stores. So I was feeling positive (see above), tried to install it, and now the computer won't boot. I tried re-installing, still wouldn't boot. I tried going back to the old memory configuration, and it wouldn't boot. Conclusion: the computer is fried. I got lucky when I called, the person I spoke with was only slightly arrogant. That's the problem with Apple's culture. They teach their people they're so much smarter than we are, but at the same time they design computers that require you to do these upgrades for yourself, and I'm fairly technical, and I managed to break the computer doing it. Bad design. In any case, I'm paying for it with my time today, I'm heading back to the store in Emeryville to see if we can't get this resolved. I feel really stupid for having bought this computer. Yeah, they are the geniuses. They got my money, and I got a time-sink and headache.
Postscript: I brought it down to the Apple store and they were able to install the memory. The tech said "You really have to force it in there." I'm logged on to the net through EVDO. Happy again.
Dan Gillmor via email: "How's the keyboard? In the photos, the keys look a little weird."
Well, the keyboard is weird, and takes some getting used to. The fingers don't normally seat themselves in the right place, there's more space between the keys than on the keyboards I normally use. I've done just a little bit of writing on the new keyboard (I'm using it now) and it is difficult to use this one and the one on my Mac desktop. I can see this is going to be a problem, and it's not clear how it's going to get resolved.
On the other hand, the keyboard has a nice feel to it, contrary to some of the reports I've seen. It doesn't feel cheap, and it is quite usable, if it weren't for the non-standard spacing of the keys.
After visiting the Apple store in Emeryville, I went for a black MacBook, with 2GB of memory. Here's the MacWorld review. I went into the store not knowing what I would buy. After looking at all the laptop choices, I bought the one I wanted. There was no hesitation.
Along with Steve Gillmor and Marc Canter, Valleywag calls me a "crazy uncle of New Media."
Gartenberg says the black Mac is not like a ThinkPad.
I got my ears cleaned out.
VeriSign has shipped a beta of their identity service as part of their "bigger plans around blogosphere infrastructure."
Reminder: The Best of Rocketboom is available via BitTorrent.
Now that I've seen a picture of the black iBook, I want the white one. Looks just like the IBM ThinkPad that I already have and never use.
Here are two events, you can decide for yourself, if it's a coincidence, or a marvelous example of planned obsolescence.
1. Last night before dinner I logged on to check my mail, and my Mac laptop said very politely, in several languages: Please reboot me. So I did, and I started to write a blog post about it, but it asked to be rebooted again, so I did it again. And again, and again, and again. Until I realized, sadly, that the Mac is broken.
2. At almost exactly the same time, Apple announces a new consumer laptop, the replacement for the Mac that broke, with a faster CPU, a slightly larger screen, and it comes in black too. Normally I'd lust after this machine, esp in black, but maybe Apple sent a message to my Mac, to seal the deal. "Tell Dave in your own Mac-like way that it's time to cough up another $1500 for Uncle Steve. Love Apple."
So, dear reader, do I decide that I've gotten enough use out of this lovely laptop (no sarcasm) or should I try to have it repaired? Should I drive down to the nearest Mac store and buy a new black one (but they're probably sold out) or should I try to install a fresh copy of the OS on my old machine?
All the data (knock wood) is backed up, in case you're wondering.
I'm leaning toward driving to the Mac store.
I went for a walk yesterday along the beach in Coronado, across the bay from San Diego. Nice beach, and there are some nice houses on Ocean Boulevard, which is adjacent to the beach. One was for sale, a kind of ordinary semi-run-down ranch house. They had brochures, so I took one. I was more than surprised when I saw the price.
I agree that Al Gore would make a great candidate in 2008.
This is one of my favorite pictures. I love the colors.
Salon epitaph of the West Wing (warning, spoilers here).
Goodbye West Wing. Did you know what Mallory's gift was? Seemed kind of obvious. Fitting end. Corny, for sure, but it worked. Almost like the ending of Gone With the Wind.
Speaking of the obvious, when is Guy Kawasaki going to list the ten biggest lies.. of Guy Kawasaki?
Are we onto something here, are the ideas behind Web 2.0 real, powerful, going somewhere, or is this another bubble like the one that grew in the 90s and then popped in Y2K?
I think the answer to both is Yes. But there are a couple of catches. Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 are the same thing. A lot of people seem to think there's something new, but there isn't. All the two-way technology of Web 2.0 was invented and pioneered while the 1.0 bubble was building and popping.
So Web 2.0 is every bit as real as the original web was. Ask TBL if there is such a thing as Web 2.0. He should be able to tell you that it was always part of the vision of the web that it be open to everyone to write and publish. If you go back before the web, to word processing and spreadsheets, who could imagine a one-way word processor? A graphics program that could only view but not create graphics? Feh. PCs were very much two-way things too.
Now, will there be a bubble? Yes, of course, read the VC blogs, they're basically telling you they're running out of deals they're willing to fund. And who doesn't think the growth of Google is going to slow at some point? Don't we all know that web advertising is a scam? A friend who writes for a very big news site said the other day that he had never clicked on an advertising link. Even people whose salaries are paid by the advertising industry think it's a scam. And scam is just another word for bubble.
But the two-wayness of the web will continue after the VCs leave us, again, after missing the point, again. The purpose of this place is not to make them money, no matter how much they believe it. The first time around we believed them. This time around, they look like just another self-centered group of bloggers, oblivious to all the other self-centered groups of bloggers in their midst. It's all those groups that's the real story of the web, no matter what version number you put after its name.
The next development project is a connection between NewsRiver and the Share Your OPML community server. I've written code that allows you to set up NewsRiver to automatically ping SYO when your subscriptions change. Of course, by default, this feature is turned off; and it's open, any aggregator will be able to connect its users to the SYO system in exactly this way. The code has actually been released, if you're using NewsRiver, you can poke around the Prefs system and turn it on. The SYO side of it hasn't been programmed yet, but hopefully that's coming soooon.
Platform Wars on Web 2.0.
SquatCrunch: What I can do with OPML.
Mark Cuban: "99 percent of blogs are about what someone has to say. 99 percent of traditional media is about making money." Bing!
Four years ago: "Perhaps monoculture has run its course. Maybe what's happening now, but it's hard to see, is that each of us is taking more responsibility for getting our own information, for creating our own entertainment, and not giving that power to the centralized entertainment and information industries."
Scott Mace: "Google Co-Op seems similar to Share Your OPML, only it's not open and interoperable with other such concepts, but gives Google users one more reason never to leave the Google site."
An imaginary conversation between Bill Gates and Mike Arrington.
Bill Gates plotted against Mike Arrington. Looks like Mike has some catching up to do.
It depends on how you look at it. Most bloggers would be very happy to have 10,000 readers, no matter how they got there. Mike Arrington is a great guy, but he can only introduce an idea to people. If you capture the imagination of 10,000 people enough to get them to use your service, I think you've done something important. A venture capitalist might not think so, but they're not the only people whose opinions matter.
VCs may have a good perspective on what makes money, but they weren't around the blogging world when the total size of the blogosphere was measured in double digits (i.e. less than 100). In hindsight, you'd have to agree that 25 users was a significant number in 1997 and 1998, when they were busy courting couch potatoes and their eyeballs.
Now, I'm starting to invest myself; maybe I'll lose my shirt, but I'm going to bet on startup-size ideas, and help nurture them into big ones that shape our culture. If you can't get a VC interested in an idea that has attracted 10,000 users (or less) don't give up, they aren't the last word on whether an idea has potential.
News Hounds says that Karl Rove will be indicted. "Within the last week, Karl Rove told President Bush and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, as well as a few other high level administration officials, that he will be indicted in the CIA leak case and will immediately resign his White House job when the special counsel publicly announces the charges against him."
I just signed up for both days of Vloggercon.
There's more. My.AOL, an RSS reader which appears to be competitive with My.Yahoo.
Josh Kopelman: "If we could get access to the usage logs of the top 10 Web 2.0 properties, I would bet that their 10,000 most active users would all be the same."
Scott Rosenberg on MSM's reluctance to give credit to journalists who work on the Internet. It's not just journalism. NY Times columnist Tom Friedman said that podcasting was interesting because nobody invented it, "It was an application that just emerged from the network." All the news that's fit to print.
Ed Cone on the LAPD blog.
A particularly good Ze Frank today.
John Furrier interviewed DNC chairman Howard Dean.
Amyloo: Cutely warped brain cells.
New header graphic, 437 West Wilson St, Madison, WI.
Mike Arrington says Google's Notebook is a "flat-out del.icio.us competitor."
Ryan Tate says that Google plug-ins have arrived.
Amanda Congdon was on NPR today.
I'm determined that, for the upcoming BloggerCon IV, we have webcasting that works. At previous events at best the webcasting worked intermittently. This time we have a couple of factors working in our favor. 1. CNET has excellent networking, so there shouldn't be a problem getting a high-quality stream coming out of the site. 2. We've had a couple offers of financial sponsorship for the webcast, so we can spend at least a little money. Now, I only want to do audio, video is too high a hurdle. If we can get quality audio this time, we can try video next time. I don't see any problem miking the room well enough so that at least the audio will be understandable for people tuning in over the net. Now, what software should we use? Looking for creative advice.
I went for my four-year post-op stress test and checkup today, and I'm pleased to report everything is fine, knock wood, praise Murphy, I am not a doctor (or a lawyer). No blockages, the bypasses are working fine. With any luck I should live for a few more years.
One of the next projects for SYO, is an aggregated newest-first list of articles from the Top 100. Before you say that this isn't new, that the old site had this feature, it's true, it's not new, but it is better. The old version was dynamic, this one is static, so it's fast. And it scans every ten minutes, not every hour. And it uses the Top 100 as a reading list, so it automatically unsubs when a feed falls off the list. The previous version accumulated feeds. You can monitor the project, as it develops, through this page.
A couple of observations. 1. The top feeds seem to update more often than most others. 2. I'm finding new stuff to subscribe to in the Top 100. Some people say it's all the same, but in my case that's not true. There are quite a few top feeds that I'm not already subscribed to.
The NY Times has a wireless smart rabbit that reads you the news. It signals by moving its ears. We live in the future.
Jeff Jarvis: "They treat us like idiots."
NY Times: "Microsoft bristles at being cast as a laggard."
TechCrunch: "If AIM Pages launched today as a stand alone company with no affiliation to AOL, I'd be ripping it apart."
Marc Canter: "It'll all be worth it. Once the ducks have lined up, the fat lady sings and the shit hits the fan." Quotable.
Jay Rosen is on board for BloggerCon IV. It's shaping up in an interesting (and different) way. One track, two days. CNET's facility is smaller than Pound Hall and the building we used at Stanford in 2004, but it's also better equipped, there's a hotel next door and lots of restaurants within an easy walk. The weather should be pretty fantastic, not a concern as it was in 2004 at Stanford.
Google Trends "analyzes a portion of Google web searches to compute how many searches have been done for the terms you enter relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time."
But then podcast vs blogs shows something different.
Also interesting that in this view, Jesus is actually bigger than RSS, but not by much. Maybe Google should come to RSS? Okay, that's kind of a joke. Religion and RSS. Heh. Okay.
Of course Google blows away both Jesus & RSS.
Which raises the question that's on everyone's mind.
Endless hours of fun await us!
Mickipedia: The education of Micki Krimmel.
Sad news from the land of Scoble.
I did a podcast with Dan Farber while I was at CNET today.
Dan MacT explains problems we had on the SYO server.
Movie: I did a walk-through of the conference facilities at CNET that we will be using for BloggerCon IV. It's very high-tech space, with room for about 100 participants. Great net connectivity so we should get a good webcast going.
New Flickr set: Sunny Spring San Francisco.
Today's song: "Put your hand on your mouth when you cough that'll help the solution."
Phillip Torrone is sharing his OPML.
Staci Kramer reports on AIM Pages from AOL.
NY Times: "Warner Brothers plans to announce today that it will make hundreds of movies and television shows available for purchase over the Internet using BitTorrent software."
Chris Pirillo announces that some guy with a grey beard is going to lead a discussion at Gnomedex in June.
Don Park: "You are looking down the barrel of my mental or emotional shotgun."
SmithAtlanta works at Turner, and manages the website I just pointed to. He's a Scripting News reader, of course.
Stowe Boyd suggests that you "randomly drop 20% of your RSS feeds every month."
Amyloo: "Blogosphere coverage of Share Your OPML looks overwhelmingly positive."
How does Ze Frank do it? He's travelling in Europe and doing these funny shows mit de European agzends. It seems he must have people doing the production work. How could one person do so much?
Share Your OPML is an instant hit. I can't believe how much traffic the server is taking, lots of new users, lists, feeds.
Naturally there's a RSS 2.0 feed for the weblog.
TechMeme coverage of SYO. Lots of great ideas!!
159 links on Technorati as of 9:30AM.
Steve Gillmor: "Some of my best friends are linkers."
Tim Berners-Lee: "Anyone can build a new application on the Web, without asking me, or Vint Cerf, or their ISP, or their cable company, or their operating system provider, or their government, or their hardware vendor."
4/4/02: "XML-RPC is being delivered, in the wild free spaces of the Internet development environment, the platform with no platform vendor."
Preview of the Share Your OPML top 100.
8 years ago: "Have the courage to laugh."
Randall Stross: "What consumer would voluntarily buy a television designed to charge fees for using it?"
Chris Pirillo is leaking the Gnomedex discussion leaders one at a time. Smart. Tease.
Kent Newsome is selling some of his Second Life land at discount prices to get the kind of neighbors he wants.
George Holzer sends a link to an article in German about Internet heroes. There's a picture of me on the page, along with a lot of other people, much more famous.
Heather Green: Steven Soderbergh to Use BitTorrent.
MeshForum starts tomorrow in SF.
Steve Rubel: "iTunes has started to offer PDF enclosures subscriptions in the podcast section of the store."
Here's one way to get a free upgrade when flying.
Remember the Share Your OPML application that was so popular in 2004 that I had to take it off the air? Well, it's coming back, and it's almost ready. We're testing it with some adventurous souls, over the next few days, and if all goes well, it should be ready to launch early next week. It was a fun thing to have around, and I'm glad it'll be coming back.
At least two cool things happened at the Internet Identity conference earlier this week. First there was a very nice dinner on Tuesday night, that ended with a birthday cake, singing of the song and the blowing out of the candles by yours truly. Kaliya Hamlin said "We love you Dave" and you know what, I could feel it. Very nice way to spend a birthday. It was also great to catch up with Doc Searls, Jeremie Miller, Don Park and Mary Hodder. And the second cool thing was that at the OPML & Identity session, we discovered a problem with the ownerId element in OPML 2.0. At first I thought the newbies didn't understand how OPML works, but it was I who was missing the important bit. Good thing 2.0 is still in its review period!
Scoble: "A high percentage of influentials are Firefox users."
If you enjoy sites that make fun of Scientology and Tom Cruise, then this one may be just what you're looking for!
9 years ago today: "Everyone you've ever known or heard of, everything that's ever been invented, every story or song that's been sung, everyone you've every loved, everyone who anyone has loved, came from that imperceivable dot that your unaided eye can't even see."
Lance Knobel: "The odd case of Erik Ringmar, a tenured lecturer in government at the London School of Economics, shows that even in liberal societies there are plenty of forces ranged against free speech."
Michael Paul Gray: "Is any of this sinking in? Well, if not, then it sucks to be you!"
The latest header graphic is from a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway in Saskatchewan.
I got the final answer from Hotwire. Sheraton sells rooms through Hotwire on nights they're oversold. Hotwire doesn't tell non-smokers they might end up in a smoking room. Net-net: they're keeping the money. I lost $384.85. Ouch.
BetterBadNews deconstructs Guy "Who Gives a Shiitake" Kawasaki.
Gizmodo: "I will keep telling people how much I love using my Mac while silently questioning my devotion to a company who would rather use the law than service to assuage their customers' complaints."
Skypecasts are "live, moderated conversations allowing groups of up to 100 people from anywhere in the world to talk to one another."
Chris Pirillo: "Face it, folks -- WinZip is dead."
Next conference: Future In Review, May 14-16.
Harvard Gazette: "Lots of people at Harvard Law School's Bloggership conference were busy tapping away on their laptops while the presenters spoke at the podium."
There is something about Ponzi that brings out the love.
Apple's new TV ads are great, incredibly irreverent and cleverly produced, and Macs are easier to connect than Windows machines, but the bit about PCs getting stuck is way off base. My Macs, even the super-high-end desktop machine, do exactly what they say the PCs do. Okay, I'm still using PowerPC Macs, but that's all they sold when I bought these machines, less than a year ago. And that's another thing not to like about Apple. They're always making you feel stupid for having bought their latest and greatest. I'd like to see Microsoft fire back with ads of their own about Apple's planned obsolescence and how much it costs, really, to keep up with them. You have to be rich to love Apple. PCs, even if the OS and apps are butt-ugly, and the viruses are just awful, are computers lots of people can afford, people who couldn't afford Macs. And dollar for dollar, Windows machines perform better than Macs.
Another one -- the apps Apple bundles are marvels of lock-in. Try to get your data out of them. No no, says Uncle Steve. We own your ass. Or at least your data.
And the ad about viruses is just plain STUPID. Man are they asking for it. What happens when users who bought Macs thinking they couldn't get viruses all of a sudden are getting them. The Federal Trade Commission is going to love that. Can you spell Class Action Lawsuit?
Meanwhile, here's what I've been saying to people I see, so I might as well say it here. Microsoft better get it's shit together soon. Apple and Google are clawing at them, and winning. I figure they have a year, maybe two, to start having some products that make sense on the net and the desktop; and offer the media stuff Apple does, and solve the malware problem (and also bake-in BitTorrent). They're falling behind, seriously. It's not about marketing budgets, Apple and Google have great piles of cash too. That used to be Microsoft's security blanket. Not no mo. At the same time, one of these three companies might want to try to make some friends among the bloggers. It's not in Microsoft's DNA, Apple sues the bloggers to keep them from talking about them, and Google is the most arrogant self-absorbed company to hit Silicon Valley since Netscape. None of these companies do community marketing efficiently, and they all really need to be great at it.
Mac OS Rumors: "Mac OS X 10.5 will include a system-level BitTorrent filesharing client that can be user-customized to donate upstream Internet bandwidth for things like pushing Software Update packages to Leopard users, delivering iTunes Store content."
Lifehacker: "Ponyfish lets you create an RSS feed for sites that have none."
NY Times: "Faulty evidence masquerading as science sent two men to death row for arson in Texas and led to the execution of one of them, a panel of private fire investigators concluded in a report released Tuesday in Austin."
This year's Gnomedex, which I am participating in, will be an unconference.
PubSub reading lists.
On Sunday I talked about an idea and a project that would be good for the Internet, and now it's time for the goodness to start. It's also something for folks to talk about at the OnHollywood conference that's starting today in southern California.
You've heard about Rocketboom, hopefully good things. They've been written up in all the major publications. They're cool, and are making video entertainment and news work entirely in the context of the Internet. They aren't a product of television making the transition, Rocketboom is entirely from the digital world.
Rocketboom has been distributing the daily show through BitTorrent, but not with much uptake, so far. What's needed are more and better download clients that are tuned for BitTorrent distribution. It's the ideal content for BitTorrent distribution, because there are a huge number of downloads all at once, at 9AM Eastern every weekday, when the new show is available.
So it's a bit of a chicken and egg thing. When we met in April in NY, we talked about what can be done to drive more use of BitTorrent, in this non-infringing application, and arrived at an idea that we felt was worth trying. Produce a "best of" Rocketboom, a large download, and put it through the normal BitTorrent distribution system.
So here it is. A Mininova download of the Best of Rocketboom, a 659MB movie, ready to go. I'm downloading it now from one of my machines. They're seeding it at Rocketboom headquarters. And you can help:
1. Download it yourself and enjoy the great Rocketboom entertainment experience.
2. Leave your copy up so you can help feed the distribution network.
3. Talk about it to your friends, write about it on your blog, if you're at OnHollywood, tell the entertainment industry how the blogging world is moving forward using this technology in cool and entertaining ways. Tell them we're having fun and the users love it. Tell them they'll love it too, when they start distributing entertainment (with commercials if they want!) this way.
4. Think of new cool ways you can use BitTorrent to distribute entertaining podcasts that you create yourself for your friends and for the world. Let Rocketboom be a model for your creativity, a great Pied Piper that gives you ideas.
CBS News: Would Dan Rather Be Blogging?
Om Malik: File sharing is the new email.
Today's song: "Will you carry the words of love with you, will you ride the great white bird into heaven? And though you want to last forever, you know you never will, you know you never will. And the goodbye makes the journey harder still."
I'm leading a lunch discussion today about Identity in RSS and OPML, particularly OPML 2.0, which has a element for the author's identity. It's specified in 2.0 as a URL, and should plug into the work being done in this community.
Anyone know where I can get a copy of the Hollywood Revue of 1929?
I thought I'd save some money and stay in a nice hotel at the same time, so when I booked my stay for the Identity Conference, I used Hotwire. I've booked through them about a dozen times, and once before had a bad experience, but thought I had finally figured out how to get a good room from them, until tonight.
Here's what happened. I booked a room through Hotwire at the Sheraton Sunnyvale. I arrived a little before 10PM, they confirmed that I had reserved a smoking room. I said "non-smoking." They said that Hotwire had requested a smoking room for me, and that's all they had left. I won't stay in a smoking room, as a former smoker, they smell horrible, I've tried once before sleeping in a smoking room, I couldn't do it. I had to get up in the middle of the night, switch to a different hotel. Since I quit smoking in June 2002, I've never slept a full night in a smoking room. They make me ill.
The Sheraton people said that since Hotwire had requested a smoking room, there was nothing they could do, and the hotel was oversold. I think this is a key point. Hotels that sell rooms through Hotwire are getting rid of what they call excess inventory. Seems to me what they are actually doing is hedging their bet, they take the reservations through Hotwire, but when they can get enough full-price customers they throw out the Hotwire customers by giving them the smoking rooms. (Hotwire denied that they had requested a smoking room.)
I called Hotwire. They couldn't get me a non-smoking room at the Sheraton, and they wouldn't try to get me a non-smoking room at another local hotel. They said they'll let me know tomorrow whether or not they'll refund my money. I was lucky that I was able to find a non-smoking room at another local hotel (much more expensive) by driving around. It was too late to book a room online through another service.
Needless to say I won't be booking any more trips with Hotwire or Sheraton. What an awful customer experience!
Good night and good luck.
Thanks everyone for all the very kind birthday wishes!
Arrived at the Identity Conference. No traffic. Easy drive.
Postscript: To be clear, I drove to Mountain View. BART's southern terminus is Millbrae, about 25 miles north of Mountain View.
Nick Carr: "If Google wants to fully live up to its ideals, to really give primacy to the goal of user choice in search, it should open up its home page to other search engines."
A year ago yesterday my first thunderstorm podcast.
This afternoon I'm headed down to Mountain View to participate in the Internet Identity Workshop. It's going to be a long drive through nasty Bay Area traffic.
Riding BART is so much better. I finally can put my finger on why. When you're driving, you're in a metal and glass box, by yourself, having to deal with other people in boxes mostly by themselves, and dealing with the aggression of a small number of the people in boxes who are cutting in, and weaving, trying to optimize their trip. I doubt if they actually make it there much before the rest of us do, but you have to watch out for them. They make the trip more dangerous, or so it seems.
On BART, I'm sitting in a moving room with a bunch of my fellow citizens, with no boxes around us. It's possible to strike up a conversation, or make friendly eye contact, to wonder about the stories of each of these people, why is he dressed that way, I wonder where she's going to ride her bike. Human beings were meant to experience other human beings, and mass transit makes travel a bit more human.
When you're driving you can listen to an audio book, or NPR or some music, but you can't read or watch a movie. On BART, if it's above ground, you can browse the web, post to your blog. If it's underground, you can read a book, or the newspaper, or if it's a long trip, watch a movie.
A kickass West Wing again last night. Santos is really getting interesting. Every week it seems more of a shame that the trip is over in two weeks.
There was a piece in yesterday's NY Times about how all the networks missed American Idol, at first, before Fox picked it up. Now it's the number one show.
Maybe West Wing will be like Star Trek. Cancelled, then brought back. Cancelled again, and brought back one more time.
Or maybe it'll be like Law and Order, with all kinds of spinoffs.
Or like the Beverly Hillbillies, with a funny wacked out almost psychadelic spinoff (Green Acres) and a corny cheescake spinoff with a little 60s soft TV porn (Petticoat Junction).
Mrs. Santos is a kick too.
Who could have forseen that Arnie Vinick would remind you of Leo McGarry, but in the end, he does.
It's sad to think the end is near just when it's getting so good again. Maybe we didn't do our jobs well enough, I keep thinking. Maybe we were supposed to tell our friends who left the show when it started getting stale that all it needed, it turns out, was some fresh blood. The new cast is awesome. It's a shame it's almost over.
© Copyright 1997-2006 Dave Winer.