Steve Gillmor: The Attention Operating System.
I talked with Jeff Barr at Amazon last night, and he said the bit I posted about supporting XML-RPC on S3 got through and they're looking at it.
Scott Karp: "Navigating Google ads feels like Yahoo circa 1997."
Today and tomorrow are officially RSS Days in Washington.
I'm in the conference center, and haven't been able to get online through the wifi, but luckily my EVDO modem works. People around me are getting on, maybe it has something to do with the fact that I'm using a Mac? If you're in the room and have an idea, please send mail.
Tom Forenski: "I've been working with the PR industry to figure out a better way to create press/news releases that are more useful to reporters and others, in this multi-media channel world we live in."
Looks like I have more to do at Gnomedex than the 15 minutes on Saturday. This morning during Chris's opening remarks, I'll read a document signed by a Washington political leader. And then during lunch I'm doing a live hour-long podcast with the temporarily unemployed Robert Scoble.
The other day I reported that I thought the server that's running the OPML Community was running smoothly, but now it's clear that it isn't. I can't do anything about it during the conference, but I'm getting another server provisioned, and will try to figure out how to split the load between two servers. It may not be too hard. Realistically I won't get to that until the middle of next week. I'm really sorry for the poor performance, but I'm going to do what I can to make it better.
Frank Barnako: Why is John Edwards at Gnomedex?
Melodeo looks good, but isn't its name too close to Odeo?
Good afternoon from the Seattle waterfront where the nerds and geeks of the tech blogging world have gathered for Gnomedex 6.0. The opening party is tonight, 7PM-10:30PM. Me, I don't have anything that I have to do, other than talk on Saturday morning for a mere 15 minutes at 9:45AM.
According to Business 2.0, Vic Gundotra, the guy who hired Scoble at Microsoft, is jumping ship, to Google, after doing a year of charitable work (Niall Kennedy says, to honor a non-compete). It's interesting, he was trying real hard to keep Scoble at Microsoft, but all along he must have been negotiating the job at Google. Meanwhile, Mini-Microsoft, in Microsoft-speak, says a downsizing is coming. "Shuffling of the executive deck chairs today, but the iceberg hits tomorrow."
In Gundotra, Google is hiring someone who believes in RSS.
Betsy Devine on people who "support our troops."
It's come to my attention that some people didn't learn The Golden Rule when they were young. Perhaps that's why discourse on the Internet can be so unpleasant.
Today Google announced the innocuously named "Google Checkout" but it's so much more than that, and if we've learned anything about identity and trust, it won't work for Google, as it didn't work for Microsoft.
First, we could all benefit from a common identity system for the Internet. Think about all the times and places you enter your social security number, date and place of birth, mother's maiden name, credit card number, the secret number on the back of the credit card. If you had all that information about someone else, and their bank account numbers, you could probably have all their money. And every day we hear stories of companies we trust with this information, losing it. Note the big word in there is trust. Trust a company? Hah. Now which companies do you trust? Are companies trust-worthy?
Yesterday I got my credit card bill. There was a charge of $1017 for a hotel stay that was supposed to be picked up by a company. I actually only stayed one night, the rate was $400 a night, so not only were they were mistaken in charging me instead of the company, they overcharged us. How much you want to bet that I end up paying the $1017? In this case there were two companies not worthy of trust. (When told of the problem the first company should have let me know immediately that they would cover the expense, but they didn't. Ooops, there goes the trust.)
Microsoft asked for our trust with Hailstorm. But they were behaving very badly. They claimed their bad behavior was legal (it wasn't, it turns out) but that wasn't even the point. If we sense that a company is bad, the first thing they lose is our trust. It turns out the concern was totally justified, many times over. As they were screwing Netscape, they were screwing us, their users, even harder, sitting on the browser, not making any improvements, as malware of all types rendered our computers more and more useless. Now Microsoft is paying for their sins. (They never even apologized for all our wasted time.)
Now we turn to Google. I remember when my idea of Google soured, it was an instant flip, one day I thought these are good people who love the web, when they grow it's good for me. Really, we used to think of Google that way. But then they started acting like Microsoft, stupidly doing things that undermine the rare priviledge they had won. It was hard to argue that losing the trust hurt them or their shareholders, until today, when their intention to be the identity czar of the Internet became apparent. It won't work for the same reason it didn't work for Microsoft, they screwed with our trust too many times.
It's sad that we can't launch companies in the tech industry that deserve our trust, it's sad because it holds back progress and innovation. But you can't trust who you don't trust, and I don't trust Google.
New header graphic. Taken at BloggerCon IV in SF, last week by Scott Beale. Noteworthy for a few reasons. 1. It's the first time I've used a picture taken by someone else as a Scripting News header graphic (I asked for permission, which Scott graciously gave). Of course, using a photo taken by someone else at BloggerCon is totally appropriate, and symbolic, since it's entirely a collaborative thing. 2. What a fantastic picture of two people, Ponzi Indharasophang and Jory Des Jardin, who are totally engaged, in the loop, in the room, minds turned on, and getting something done. This is what I'd like people to think of when they think of BloggerCon and the unconference format. 3. Ponzi's conference, Gnomedex, starts today. Jory's, BlogHer, is in July.
Today was Scoble's last day at Microsoft.
Scott Rosenberg: "The absence of ads is one of the key factors behind Craigslist's phenomenal success."
Martin Green: "Haystack is designed to provide a very scalable, reliable and cost effective platform for object storage and delivery to the Internet."
John Edwards will speak at Gnomedex on Friday. There's no doubt he's running for President. I saw him speak a dozen times in the 2004 campaign, so seeing a stump speech, which is certainly what we're getting, no matter how much it's positioned as a candid conversation, is really nothing special. Further, it should not be seen as an endorsement of his candidacy by any of the bloggers present, unless they specifically say so. Like it or not, blogging is political now, even at Gnomedex.
Jason Calacanis is wondering, out loud what I've been wondering in private emails to Om Malik, Mike Arrington and Staci Kramer, this morning. What's going on in Content Blogging Land? I've asked for meetings with Om and Mike at Gnomedex. These guys must be using each other as comps in their plans, so what do they know about each other that the rest of us don't?
The OPML Editor, which was brand-new at last year's Gnomedex, is now in good enough shape that a reasonable experience can be had by a first-time user. It includes a great aggregator, NewsRiver, which is one of very few that support OPML reading lists, and of course it has a blogging tool, and instant outlining, and a fantastic community that loves it to pieces.
Freedback: "A folksonomic Bat-light..."
This table lists the most frequently read HTTP resources by applications running on the opml.org server. I needed this to debug the server yesterday, and as long as I had it around, I figured what the heck, I should share the data. No guarantee that I'll keep maintaining it though.
I'm caught up on Season 3 of Deadwood.
And I gotta say, it's the new high water mark in serial drama.
Big Love hit some snags in the middle of its first season, ended on a high note, but Deadwood is rising to a crescendo, and changing the way I think about everything in business.
They redefine evil, what I used to think was the height of depravity now looks rather innocent. If you've been following the show, you know what I mean.
PS: One of the downsides of being a Deadwood devotee is that I now think of everyone as a cocksucker.
Knock wood, Praise Murphy, I am not a lawyer and my mother loves me. With all those disclaimers out of the way, I am willing to proclaim that I think I may have found the nasty table that was overflowing on the OPML Community server that was causing the performance problems. The server has been performing very well for 24 hours, so with any luck at all it should perform well in the next 24 hours and so on. In the meantime another fire has started which I am now trying to put out. Welcome to life on the server side.
For users of the OPML Editor, the software Doc was using at BloggerCon to take live notes.
I met so many interesting people at BloggerCon this week, it's impossible to tell the story of every one of them. Further, there were combinations of people who would not likely have met otherwise, who I saw talking and thought "Wow that's power." Anyway, at dinner on Friday night I sat near a couple of guys from a company in Bellingham, WA, who do all their work in Frontier. A 40-person company. I didn't know such a thing existed. I suggested that we might fund some work on the Frontier kernel to make our servers run more smoothly, and they were immediately receptive. This led me to start thinking of projects I would commission.
It took a nano-second to know where the focus would be. Tools for debugging performance issues. Right now if you ask the OPML blogging community what their number one priority is, it's getting the performance problems worked out on blogs.opml.org. Same if you ask me. I'm struggling to figure out what script is causing the flatlining behavior on the server. This has been the problem in Frontier for years. I've got very limited tools to figure this out, but with a little cooperation from the kernel, it could almost certainly dump the information I need, pointing me to the table that's getting too large, or the script that's looping infinitely. That we've been stuck here for so long is an indication of poor communication in the community, and a lack of incentives. The technology is very simple.
I'd like the kernel to maintain a log, in a text file, on the local hard disk, of exceptional events. I get to define, to some extent, what is exceptional. I'd like it to dump the addresses of tables containing more than 10,000 elements, when the table is initially brought into memory. thread.getStats is nice for stack dumps, but not much else. I really want to know how many cumulative CPU cycles each thread has used. If I dump this table every minute on a server that has performance problems, it would tell me which thread to look at for an idea of why the server is getting hung up. The key to debugging these servers is to reduce the number of places I have to look.
David Berlind asks if RSS is the new Intranet protocol.
Rex Hammock picture from BloggerCon II.
People are still downloading the famous Dvorak movie.
Rex Hammock's multi-part post-BloggerCon essay.
Scanning Greg Reinacker's latest roadmap for NewsGator, they support SOAP and REST, which I know from lots of experience means I have to work real hard just to try their stuff out. Too hard.
Amazon's S3 service took this approach and their uptake is too slow, there's no visible momentum (I know I'll get lots of links for saying that). Go to a developer event, no one is talking about S3. That's terrible because it's a good idea and it deserves attention. I wonder why they are so cheap with the interfaces. Get over your religion Greg, and support XML-RPC, I bet it makes a difference. I won't dig into your stuff unless you do. Too much work for me, and I don't think you're going to get the uptake.
That said, my first post-BloggerCon development project will involve S3. We have working code, even though it was a lot harder than it had to be to get there.
Speaking of open APIs, I got an invite to join Marc Canter's People Aggregator today. I bet you did too. Marc is a paradox to me. He makes such a big effort to support open standards, and I'm told they do support XML-RPC, and the MetaWeblog API, unlike Reinacker and Amazon. But when I offered to build a bridge between the OPML Editor and his aggregator he lectured me on how he was doing an outliner and how much better his vision of outliners was than mine. All the time I'm thinking to myself, if that were really true, if the tables were turned, I'd encourage support for those interfaces, so he could build a market for my superior product. Marc is a smart guy, but he could learn a trick or two. I imagine this note will appear on Phil Jones's Platform Wars site.
Let's see, I bet there's a law here, or a life lesson. Either you're going to be a platform vendor or not. If you choose to push a platform, don't go half way. Platforms that are picky usually don't gain traction. If you got a platform you must be open to all comers, enthusiastically, without reservation. I think this is what we were saying to Stewart Butterfield last week about Flickr's APIs.
Doing a conference like BloggerCon is exhausting work. First, you work around the clock the week leading up to the show, spend a lot of time waiting for stuff to happen, for people to call back, etc. You make lots of lists, do things on the list, scratch things off, move undone tasks from one list to another, and in the end, there's plenty of stuff you never got to do, but somehow it all works anyway.
Human beings are amazing at filling in the blanks. And the people who show up for an event like BloggerCon are the most generous, optimistic, and rewarding people to work for. In the end, it works. After it's over you're tired. So there's lot of sleep and lounging around and letting the head empty out. Yawning, watching TV, mending, healing, and then waking up.
My to-do list has a different sort of task on it now. Do the laundry. Pay bills. Renew my car registration. Hardly any phone calls to return.
I noted that my email link has been broken for some time. If you sent me mail in the last month or so by clicking on the mail icon in the upper right corner of this page, you might try again. I didn't get the mail. A table overflowed somewhere in a mail server. I went looking for it today and gave up. I pointed it to another server, and went on with life. The mail is being delivered once again.
Were you at BloggerCon IV? (Either physically or tuned in over the webcast and IRC.) If so, please add yourself to the Frappr map, and let's see where we all are from.
The MP3 collection of audio from the conference is complete. Amazing turnaround from the CNET folks.
On Friday, Jay Rosen asked for a show of hands of people who had been to all four BloggerCons. Only two hands went up, Jay's and my own, so I made an official report on Saturday. Later, Frank Paynter, who wasn't in the room at the time, said that he's been to all four. So let me amend that. Three people have been to all four. There's a certain roundness, a balance and symmetry, to that.
10/19/94: "Once the users take control, they never give it back."
The room during the Core Values discussion.
A video of the hands of Doc, blogging the Video blogging discussion at BloggerCon.
The next conference on the Summer of Love Tour of West Coast Blogging conferences is hosted by Chris Pirillo, seen (making faces) in this movie during the video blogging discussion in the waning hours of BloggerCon IV in San Francisco.
The speaker's wiki. "A listing of speakers, their websites and affiliation, contact information, past speaking engagements and other important information to help conference organizers choose speakers to talk on important topics."
Amyloo: "Technography is a revelation to me."
Phil Jones: "Good software creation, like any other creative activity, requires a deep knowledge of the nature and constraints of the medium."
Wired: BloggerCon Boosts the Blog Boom.
Nick Bradbury: "What I'd like to see at a future BloggerCon (or Gnomedex) is an open, respectful discussion between users and developers. Even though public speaking terrifies me, I'd still be willing to moderate a session between users and developers if it would make the discussion less adversarial."
All the DLs and monitors were awesome. The right people showed up, the right people stayed home.
Phil Torrone was every bit as good as I imagined he would be, esp given that this was his first BloggerCon, Jay Rosen who now is officially the only person aside from me who has been to all of the Cons, was of course, a monster super star.
Chris Pirillo and Niall Kennedy had the hardest sessions, which didn't go the way I hoped they would, but then I've learned that my expecations aren't what's important. That's a basic life lesson. Niall was a hardass with people who tried to cross the no-commercial line, and was a hardass with me, and I apologized for not respecting him well enough.
The smoothest session was also the riskiest, Lisa Williams kept the Emotional Life session going along. And I got to play technographer while Doc led a discussion asking people to ask how we're changing the world.
Special hat tip to the BlogHer people who added so much to Day One. And of course, thanks for the incredible support from CNET, esp Marianne and Jason, who did a great job of producing the show, kept the mikes working, the music playing, and kept us on time.
I'm linking to the MP3s as they become available (about 20 minutes after each session, thanks to CNET).
Kevin Marks' video webcast feed.
The song: The Hokey Pokey.
Movie of the room during Phil Torrone's session.
Dan Farber is blogging the conference.
Phil's photos for the Tools discussion.
SF weather: "Highs in the 60s to lower 70s." Cooool!
I switched to Colloquy, which is a much nicer IRC client.
Chris Pirillo: Users vs Developers.
Scott Karp: Digg vs the NY Times.
Mike Arrington: "No one crafts a sentence like you, Steve."
Two years ago today: "This time the pros beat the crap out of the blogs in a story about blogs. Something to think about. This time they fact-checked your ass. "
Whether you're remote or local, you can participate in BloggerCon in many ways.
1. Tune into the IRC at irc.freenode.net/bloggercon.
2. Or the webcast. (Murphy-willing.)
3. Doc Searls is the technographer. If you're in the conference room, you'll see his outline projected on either side of the room. If you're coming in over IRC and/or the webcast, you can view the outlines in a web browser through the table of contents. They are also available in OPML, so they are viewable in any environment that works with OPML. One interesting idea to try out is to follow a discussion using the Instant Outliner in the OPML Editor.
4. Listen to some funky music and get yo rear end in motion!
5. Listen to the MP3s as they become available.
6. Kevin Marks's video webcast feed.
Jake is producing the BloggerCon webcast.
With Robert Cox in the background.
It's 4:20AM, I'm awake, drinking coffee, and running over in my head, one more time, the checklist of things we still have to do, which of course are largely the things we won't do. And then there are the things we didn't do at previous BloggerCons that I must remember to do at this one. And the things I'm worrying about, because I know theny went wrong before and I'm wondering what will go wrong this time.
1. What if no one shows up?
2. What if the air conditioning doesn't work?
3. We didn't get signage, will people think that's tacky?
4. What if no one shows up?
5. What if the wrong people show up and the wrong people don't show up?
6. What if we can't think of a song?
7. And on and on over and over.
Face it, I'm a worrier. Someone who doesn't worry can't ship software. But that isn't why I feel unsettled. I actually know why. There's a little bit of a story to it.
About two weeks before BloggerCon I, in September 2003, I returned a call from to brother, he was boarding a plane in Chicago (I think) and he said I'll call you back when I get to my seat. That's when I knew something bad had happened. In the two minutes my mind raced. Was it my mother, my father, was someone sick, had someone died? It turned out it was my uncle. He was young, just 58, and had died suddeny in Jamaica. I decided not to go to Jamaica to participate in the settling of his affairs, I stayed in Cambridge to make sure BloggerCon came off. It was one of the most hyper-real couple of weeks, every minute of it in shock, depressed, but also participating in what would turn out to be a great event.
Now I don't remember the unsettled feeling, trying to sleep at night in the last days before the first conference, or should I say I don't usually remember; but last night at the party, someone unexpected was there, Mark Stahlman, who I had last seen in Negril with my uncle, and he had stories to tell, and didn't know that Ken had died. It stirred up everything, and that's why this morning, there are unresolved feelings to feel, and it's totally appropriate to process them in the hours before the fourth BloggerCon.
BloggerCon party: 6:45PM tonight, Jillian's, 4th & Howard.
Don't forget to sign up for a Friday night dinner.
Doc Searls movie. It was a looooong hot day, setting up and getting ready for technography and webcasting at BloggerCon.
This morning's webcast was great, and got a good WMA file.
Music courtesy of the Carnival Cast.
BloggerCon monitors. "There are two monitors for each session, each of them 'owns' a wireless mike, and moves around the room partially at the direction of the discussion leader, and partially in response to requests from others in the room."
BART is free today. Almost all public transit in the Bay Area is free too.
Ken Sands, the online publisher of the Spokane Spokesman Review, on citizen journalism. He'll be part of the citizen journalism discussion, tomorrow morning, at BloggerCon IV.
Bill Gates: "This social-networking thing takes you to crazy places."
David Pogue: "Some people remain cynical about the timing of Mr Gates's exit."
Pogue gushes "when you step back far enough, Mr Gates's entire life arc suddenly looks like a 35-year game of Robin Hood, a gigantic wealth-redistribution system on a global scale."
Look, I'm willing to give Gates his due. As long as I've been listening to him, he's always been clear that he would at some point give away his fortune.
But in creating his fortune, he wasted the creativity of a generation. This isn't something that should be washed out of the history books.
Also, it shouldn't be missed that Gates claimed to see what had eluded his predecessors, the founders of DEC and the other mini computer makers, and the management of IBM when he was dealing with them in the 80s. In fact, he fell into the same inevitable trap all big technology companies do. They get big, the leader's assumptions are rooted in the past, and they spend their capital trying to keep the world from changing, instead of embracing change, and staying out the way of the inevitable evolution of technology.
Gates did some really nasty shit that cost us all a lot. He could have, instead of saving his generosity for his fifties, practiced it in his late 30s and 40s, and then I wouldn't be so cynical about his motives. You can find my public pleading with him to ease up on the destruction in the archive of this blog and DaveNet.
Further, I think it's buying into a lot of PR hype to call Gates a scientist as Pogue does. We've already devalued "innovation" to please Gates, now will we do the same to science?
Sign-up page for Friday night Food for Thought dinners.
What if your number is greater than 150?
Technography and OPML at BloggerCon IV.
Peter Merholz on tech conferences. "Same old people singing the same old song."
Kevin Marks has set up an IRC channel for BloggerCon. It's the same one we've used at previous shows. I've listed it on the Webcast page if you need to find it later. I am using Ircle on the Mac, and was stumbling around for an hour, frustrated with the user interface, until I found this howto, and now I'm on the BloggerCon channel. Whew.
Jared Benedict: "It is my position that hyperlinking to publicly accessible MP3's is perfectly legal."
Awesome Frontline last night on the face-off between Vice-President Cheney and former CIA Director Tenet, and then complicity in the deception that led to war in Iraq.
Doug Kaye: Interviews via Skype.
I promised it would be chilly, but I was wrong!
We're having a heat wave. It was 93 in Berkeley today. Not much cooler in SF. On Saturday the Bay Area's natural air conditioning kicks in, with a more reasonable high. But we'll sweat tomorrow and Friday.
At 9:30AM Pacific, we'll do a live Morning Coffee Notes, via webcast.
I can't Skype people in, but I can respond to things people say via IRC.
We'll do it for 1/2 hour. Then I'll upload a WMV archive, and if someone can figure out how to convert it to an MP3, I'll redistribute that, or if not, I'll work on it later.
How does that sound?
PS: The archive didn't happen.
BloggerCon party: Thurs at 6:45PM, Jillian's, 4th & Howard.
BloggerCon update. Thursday night party. Lunches. Parking. Giants. A's. Gay Pride. Dr John. What's the song??
BloggerCon webcast page.
A question for Windows podcast pros. We've got Simplecast running on my Sony Vaio, works great, even saves a WMA file as an archive, but I'd like to be able to include a Skype caller. The Simplecast software only runs on Windows so running it on a Mac is not an option. Any ideas on how we can get me on a mike (locally) and Steve calling in on Skype to go out over Simplecast? If you have an idea, please post a comment on the Wordpress annex.
Slate rates Apple ads: "If you're a PC user, these ads are more likely to irritate you than convert you."
Foo Camp 2006 wiki. You're (probably) not invited.
Tim O'Reilly: "If you didn't get invited, it doesn't mean you're not a 'Friend of O'Reilly.'" In my case, I think it does.
Jakob Nielsen in the WSJ on blogs, RSS, feeds.
Engadget: USB teddy bear holds data, scares children.
Jon Udell received a takedown notice from PRI (which is related to National Public Radio, here in the US, a subtle distinction).
Google is having serious amnesia problems tonight.
When the top executive of a major company steps down, even gradually, we are too easily distracted by the emotional arguments, and Microsoft plays this sleight of hand better than almost anyone, but come on, do you think Bill would be stepping aside if the graph were inverted?
Why do they need two guys to take Bill's place? Even he admits the "software architect" thing was bogus. The only new architecture to take hold at Microsoft during Gates's tenure was RSS, and we all know where that architecture came from.
How effective has Microsoft's capital expenditures on software R&D been over the last decade? Doesn't all the revenue still come from R&D that was done in the early 90s? How can Microsoft justify employing all those programmers? What exactly are they doing?
And will Brad Silverberg be vindicated now that Firefox is forcing Microsoft to make their sites work with another browser? How do they like dancing to someone else's tune? After they bet the company on Bill Gates's aggressive vision for the net, and then let the investment rot in a mess of malware, now where is the company?
Why doesn't Gates leave now, so that the new management can start fresh and make the adjustments that are needed to reverse the slide? And who's going to take Ballmer's place when they realize they need more than a sales guy who can lead a pep rally to run the company? Ballmer understands the software business in the same way that Gil Amelio did, in a very last generation way. He lacks the confidence in himself, rightly so, to make agile bets on behalf of Microsoft's share holders.
Microsoft has been expending huge resources for over a decade in an effort to remain in place. Clearly now the giant must change some of its basic philosophy about who it is and what it does, and stop trying to stay in place, a place that barely exists now, and won't exist at all in a few more years.
I guess the question is why is Gates taking so long to get out of the way?
Jay Rosen: "All sites become equidistant from the reader."
Jon Udell picks "user generated content" as the most offensive buzzword.
Jeff Veen: "The mob mentality of the blogosphere turned it's wrath on Tim O'Reilly for taking a vacation..."
A few years back I wrote that the P in P2P is people.
It got widely quoted, by O'Reilly even.
Now we need to hack and mash again, to put the focus back where it belongs because it has wandered, again.
Web 2.0 is wrong because it's about technology, and the importance of the tools are that they empower people.
Luckily, it's easy to fix, just drop the B and it makes sense again.
Paolo is on his way from Italia! And thus begins reporting on those traveling from far away to be with us this week. Paolo is just the first. Meanwhile, our to-do-list overfloweth. I'm way behind on lots of things including the software Doc will use to take notes while we have our informative and respectful user-focused discussions. I think we're going to buy lunch on both days. Probably nothing too extravagant, but there are lots of great restaurants nearby, even on Saturday. We think we have the webcasting nailed. First, John Furrier at PodTech volunteered to pay the $8K, for which we were very very grateful, but it turns out we don't need it, we found another way that's free. I'll tell you more about it as we get closer. We're going to do some live webcasts on Wednesday and Thursday to check it out. So if you haven't been getting your fill of Morning Coffee Notes, we should make up for that, amply, this week.
Steve Gillmor writes about his dreams. Renee Blodgett writes of dream catchers. I had a funny dream myself. Sitting in a crowded movie theater, probably in NY, someone's cell phone rings, and the fcuker not only answers it, but he starts a conversation, in full voice. An usher, who for some reason was seated in the audience, gets up, grabs the phone, and walks out of the theater, with the guy following. Somehow I know who the usher is, it's Saddam Hussein! I wonder if the guy knows who he's about to get into an argument with. The crazy thing is that in this dream, Saddam is a smiling, friendly old guy, with a nicely trimmed beard, wearing a clean well-pressed usher's uniform. I guess everyone needs a job, and what's he going to do now that he's been deposed by President Bush and Karl Rove with his fat backside.
I decided it's time to unsub from feeds that have those annoying little web bug graphics in each item, masquerading as "useful" stuff -- they're really there to send messages back to the publisher that the item was displayed in my browser.
This means that every time I read the newest stuff, my machine sends hundreds of stupid messages to ComputerWorld, Fast Company, WNYC, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor and other sites with these bugs.
Enough. I'm on a campaign to eradicate these Feeds Of Evil from my subscription list.
PS: Ze Frank's feed, whose show I love, has these stupid bugs in it too, so goodbye my dear friend, I'll have to get my knowledge by hand. Maybe I have to think for myself now.
PPS: I got an email from Erik Gavriluk and from Ze Frank himself. They showed me how to work around the problems with the web bugs, and gave me a pointer to a feed with enclosures (the one I was reading didn't have them) so now I'm happy! My podcatcher is busily downloading the episodes I missed, and will automatically copy them to my video iPod so I can watch them on the subway. Awesome.
NY Times: "Representative John Murtha, the Pennsylvania Democrat and Vietnam War veteran, on Sunday mocked Karl Rove, the president's senior adviser, for championing the war while 'sitting in his air-conditioned office on his big, fat backside.'"
Movie of my plane landing at SFO today. Uneventful.
Rene Blodgett notes that the air smells different on the two US coasts. I have to say I noticed this too, on this trip. And I like the smells of both coasts. I esp like that at 8:45PM here in Berkeley, the temp is 57 degrees, and when I go out in a few minutes I'm going to have to wear a jacket.
Nick Carr says lock-in works, that's debatable, I have been around that loop a lot of times, but that wasn't the point of my piece. Lock-in may or may not make sense for vendors, but it clearly is not in the interest of users. I was writing as a user, since BloggerCon is a conference for users, not vendors. But I also believe that any business whose interests are counter to those of their customers doesn't have much of a future.
Scott Rosenberg says the results you get often depend on how you ask a question. For example, you could ask if people want to aggregate RSS feeds, or if they would like to try automated web surfing. Scott says asking it the first way would be like asking if you want to access web pages with HTTP.
I'm back in California, watched a really good movie on the way back, a thriller with lots of twists and turns, great acting. It seems I can't not like any movie with Nicole Kidman.
Ze Frank in the NY Times.
Great picture of Lisa Williams who's leading the Emotional Life discussion at BloggerCon later this week.
Interesting issue to discuss at the 2008 Election session.
There's actually a neater solution, especially if you've put a piece of software on the user's desktop to facilitate uploading and editing of the data -- keep a copy of all the data on the user's desktop, and just mirror it in your web app. There goes the problem (or is it an excuse) that your competitor would be using your CPU cycles to grab a copy of the user's data (with the user's permission, I should add, you need a username and password to get access, so the argument that they're protecting against scrapers and abusers doesn't hold water).
With a local copy, the user can point any service at the data, and it can suck up a copy, and the competitor's app would run on the user's desktop too, using their (abundant) CPU cycles. The vendor's server (in this case Flickr) wouldn't even know that a copy of the data has been made, and since it's the user's data, that's exactly as it should be.
Yet another reason to use rich clients. I use Flickr Uploadr, always. It's just a bit easier to work with than the browser-based method of uploading, and that bit of easiness has proven to be worth it. Then of course the competitor has to offer a desktop tool as well. We do it with the OPML Editor. The server components, the directory browser, blog renderer, work with a copy of the data, the originals reside on the user's machine. It also protects against a system failure, or a company failure.
Niall Kennedy: Standards for Users.
Continuing the theme for this year's BloggerCon, empowering the users, Jay Rosen has written the description of his session, the second one of the first day, which is about users and journalism. He says it's a "put up or shut up" moment, asking how we can use the tools of the two-way web to realize the promise of citizen journalism. His session follows the opening discussion led by the how-to man, Phil Torrone, where we will explore the tools used by the blogger of 2006.
I had lunch today with Andrew Baron of Rocketboom, it's the second consecutive Saturday I've had a meal with Andrew, last week it was in San Francisco at Vloggercon. We will continue the discussion next weekend back in San Francisco, because Andrew will be coming west to be part of BloggerCon. Must be something karmic about it.
TechCrunch reports that Flickr's APIs are not open to competitive sites. This means closing the APIs to Flickr users who want an easy way to use their content in another, competitive environment.
This will be on-topic in two back-to-back sessions at BloggerCon next week, Users In Charge, led by Chris Pirillo; and Standards for Users led by Niall Kennedy. My goal is to help raise awareness that standards are for the users. They are not just a marketing checklist item, there are real, important reasons why users benefit when vendors don't hold the users' work hostage. It's why Web 2.0 with its focus on vendors controlling "User Generated Content" creates problems for users.
This comment from Flickr creator Stewart Butterfield shows clearly why we need a user's conference to resolve these issues, because, like all other tech vendors, he's only focusing on his competitor, Zooomr and ignoring the interests of his customers. Yes, I know Flickr has an export function, but by making it harder than it has to be, you're holding on to something you have no right to hold on to.
When users wisen up, and that day is inevitable, you will have lost the battle, it'll be too late then to give them their entitlement. If Zooomr isn't reciprocating that's their problem (or more accurately their users' problem) and they'll pay for it. My job, as the guy who started BloggerCon, is to help you get recognition for giving all the power of choice to your users. The only criteria for winning that should be tolerated, by anyone, are features, performance and price. Lock-in is not an honorable or sustainable way to win.
Another observation. Every time there's a competitive market like this, the vendors learn something that seems counter-intuitive. Users who are attracted to Zoooomr will not stop using Flickr. The core users will use all the tools, even competitive tools that seem to be clones of each other, because some are strong in one area and others are strong in others. In the Mac graphic tools market, for example, people who used PageMaker got Quark, but they never stopped using PageMaker. And they also used Canvas and Illustrator and even MacDraw and MacPaint, because they all did things the others didn't. What made this possible was file format compatibility. So Stewart, let your users try Zooomr, make it easy for them! We won't stop using Flickr, unless you stop moving it forward, and you know because you have integrity, that if you stop moving it, you have no right to hold on to the users.
Sometimes I feel like putting the picture of a commercial product on my blog because I'm enjoying a seasonal beverage, for example, in its place of origin. This morning, the beginning of what promises to be a sweltering hot day in NYC, I am enjoying a tall Dunkin Donuts iced coffee. Yummy! It's a tradition I started when I lived in the Boston area a few years ago, where there is a Dunkin Donuts on virtually every street corner. In Boston they're staffed by young Brazillian emigres, they work fast and efficiently, and the line in the morning is often long, filled with teachers, cops, students, moms, sales people, postal clerks, working class Boston people. The line may be long, but it moves fast. The point of this little screed is that every commercial site should have easy to crib clip art of their most famous products, to make it easy to give them a free plug on my blog.
Nowadays at the beginning of each show Steve inserts a 3-minute rambling advertorial for Earthlink. After listening to it twice (the first time it was actually entertaining) I learned to skip over it, but then Steve implemented a workaround, he went to six minutes (I made the mistake of telling him I was skipping over the 3 minute version). Then, after a short break, he splices in the recorded banter between himself, Mike Arrington, Doc, and whoever else happens to be on the Gang that week, you know, the entertaining stuff, the stuff I came for. It's mind-numbingly stupid, but it's funny and stupid. A perfect companion while eating Vietnamese noodle soup in downtown Berkeley.
So then I had a brainstorm, why not force Doc and Mike to listen to Steve's bullshit about Earthlink, and let them tease him, on-air, while he reads the ad. Doc loved the idea. Then we flipped it around, and decided that we're not doing Earthlink any favors, because this advertising thing is just making us hate them even more than we already did. I said to Doc, it would be better for Earthlink if we got some users to talk to them in the podcast, explaining how they could make Earthlink better. After all, their ads say how much they love us and how they're just like our camp counselor or kindergarten teacher, or our moms, and they really care what we think.
So let's tell them what we think. Earthlink sucks, and we don't appreciate you wasting our time before we get to listen to the Gillmor Gang.
I rest my case.
Paul McCartney turns 64 on Sunday (which also is my father's 77th). It's interesting because he wrote a famous (and great) song about being 64, back when he was in his 20s. "When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now."
Had a real interesting all-day meeting today with Jeff Pulver.
John Edwards is keynoting Gnomedex.
Rex Hammock, who's coming to BloggerCon from Nashville, blogs on the Dallas Mavericks and their blogging owner, Mark Cuban.
Jeff Cheney tells an "Emotional Life" story on his blog today. Jeff will be at BloggerCon.
I was flying from SF to NY today, and missed Microsoft's big announcement. 1. Steve Gillmor gets a big I Told You So, when he was saying that Ray Ozzie is taking over for Bill Gates. 2. Just when you thought Scoble was the biggest story to ever come out of Microsoft. Seriously, congrats to Ray, I have always enjoyed working with him, and maybe there's something to be optimistic about on behalf of Microsoft. It's probably time for a podcast on this subject, but it may have to wait until next week when I'm cooped up in a studio at CNET with Steve G for hours on end.
This Music Gremlin is an interesting idea, but it's totally a DRM thing, therefore totally a disappointment. I want a Wifi-enabled MP3 player that uses RSS 2.0 with enclosures as its infrastructure. That would be a killer product. To hell with the DRM. I want podcast nirvana. Such a product is part of that. Ray Ozzie, now that you're in charge at Microsoft, how about it? Want to turn the ship in a fantastic new direction? Did they give you the power to do some audacious stuff? I have a few more ideas. Let me know.
BloggerCon is an unusual conference. We don't have speakers, panels or an audience. We do have discussions and sessions, and each session has a discussion leader.
Think of the discussion leader as a reporter who is creating a story with quotes from the people in the room. So, instead of having a panel with an audience we just have people. We feel this more accurately reflects what's going on. It's not uncommon for the audience at a conference to have more expertise than the people who are speaking.
The discussion leader is also the editor, so if he or she feels that a point has been made they must move on to the next point quickly. No droning, no filibusters, no repeating an idea over and over.
The discussion leader can also call on people, so stay awake, you might be the next person to speak!
Think of the conference as if it were a weblog. At the beginning of each session, the leader talks between five and fifteen minutes to introduce the idea and some of the people in the room. Then she'll point to someone else. She may ask a couple of questions to get them going, then she'll point to someone else, then someone else, then make a comment, ask a question, etc. Each person talks for two to three minutes. Long enough to make a point. About the time someone would take if they called into a radio talk show.
We have a limited amount of time, and a group of participants whose time is valuable. The leader's job is to make sure the show stays interesting, even captivating. If it gets boring people will go out in the hall and schmooze, or focus their attention on the IRC channel, or read their email, or whatever. So the leader's job is to keep it moving. Sometimes this means cutting people off.
Since every person in a session is considered an equal participant, everyone should prepare at least a little. Think about the subject, read the comments on the BloggerCon site. Follow weblogs from other people who are paticipating. Think about what you want to get out of the session, and what questions you wish to raise, and what information or points of view you'd like to get from the session.
BloggerCon is an unusual conference in that almost everyone participating writes publicly. So we assume that everyone present is a journalist. Every badge is a press badge.
All conversations, whether to the entire room or one-to-one, unless otherwise stated, clearly and up front, are on the record and for attribution. You do not need to ask permission to quote something you hear at BloggerCon. Of course you may ask for permission to quote, and you may choose not to quote things you hear.
Where I come from, the technology world, most conferences are centered around the vendors.
This is not like those conferences. Here, vendors are welcome, and we hope they will help by sponsoring a party, dinner or brunch, but they participate mainly by listening.
Most of the people who are talking are users. In my opinion, these are the revolutionaries. Vendors make a living by creating tools that these people use to change the world. So much attention is focused on technology, too much imho. At this conference we turn it around and focus on what people are doing with the technology. So if you hear someone say it's about the technology, expect me to challenge if I'm present. If not, stand up and say "That's not correct."
Further, if they say the technology is too complicated for a user to understand, ask them why, and if they could simplify it so we can understand. And if not, why should we use it? Perhaps a new user-centered philosophy will emerge.
Sometimes conferences bog down in meta-discussions, discussions about what it's okay to discuss. I want to try to head some of that off in advance by stating some assumptions, and asking people who want to discuss these things to either discuss them here on the Web beforehand, or to find another venue to discuss them.
1. Weblogs are journalism. Not all weblogs, and not all the time. People have said weblogs aren't journalism, and that seems foolish, as strange as saying telephones aren't journalism. It's kind of a moot question. Weblogs can be used for journalism, or not. When people say they're not journalism, I think they haven't thought it through well enough.
2. What is a weblog is an interesting question. At the Jupiter conference when the question of what a weblog is came up some people would say it's not a good question. At BloggerCon if you have an idea that requires you to say or ask what a weblog is, please go ahead. It's totally on-topic. I would consider the conference a success if that's the only thing we figured out. (Chances are we won't, btw.)
This is a user's conference, it's non-commercial, you may not promote products. If a discussion naturally turns to products, it's okay to talk about them, but it's probably not okay to talk about your product, unless the discussion leader asks you to. No matter what you must ask for permission, and don't be surprised if the answer is no.
There are good reasons for this, if one person talks about his or her product, then their competitors will feel they are entitled to, and pretty soon the user's needs are drowned out by the needs of the vendors. The point of this conference is to focus on users.
Wireless Internet access will be available.
With luck, each session will be webast, audio only. You are welcome to bring your own recording equipment, cameras are allowed, basically the rules allow Grateful Dead/Phish style recording. Bring your microphone or camera and recording device, and record it and broadcast it any way you like. Be innovative. Have fun. Share. Be cool. Still diggin. Etc. (But please don't interfere with the sessions.)
There will be one IRC channel for the conference. Other people may start channels for topics. If so please send a pointer to a page describing how to get on.
Gizmodo: "Something so simple that we wish we'd have thought of it." Me too!
Check out beta.netscape.com. Instead of buying Digg for $50 million, Jason Calacanis convinced AOL management to let him turn Netscape into a Digg-alike, with a small editorial staff that does unique reporting on the stories readers vote most interesting. I sat next to Jason at the dinner on Friday in SF and heard the story, among many others.
The webcast has always been the hardest part of BloggerCon, it's an expensive proposition to do right, we thought we had it covered this time, but I found out late this afternoon that we don't. We need some organization to provide the webcast transmission for us (we will provide the production and engineering), or find $8000 to pay a vendor to do it for us. We're only doing audio, not video. If you want to make a contribution, you can use the Paypal account, or contact me directly. For donations of over $1000, we will find an appropriate way to thank you during the conference. Basically, if we don't raise the money, there won't be a webcast.
BloggerCon IV: Preliminary Schedule.
Notes on the upcoming conference, a place to comment.
Elisa Camahort: Building Bridges.
Chris Pirillo and Jake Luddington have received a cease-and-desist demand to take down the Vista BitTorrent tracker, and of course they have complied.
Tom Yager: Why Apple snubs its open source geeks.
I begged and pleaded with Doc Searls to be part of BloggerCon, and ultimately prevailed. Doc will do a couple of things for us at this con. 1. He will lead the end-of-day discussion on Friday, summing up the day's events and getting ideas from people while they're still fresh in our minds, and 2. He will be the official note-taker for the conference, in outline form, projected in real-time for everyone to see. His notes will be rendered in HTML and OPML and uploaded to the web, also in real-time. (I will provide a specification of where the OPML files will be, if people with OPML tools want to show off their wares.)
Paolo Valdemarin, who will be traveling from Italy to be at the conference, offers a first impression of the Flock browser. Marc Barrot is coming from London and Richard MacManus from New Zealand. Lots of people coming from Canada and other parts of the US.
James Vornov is trying an experiment I've been thinking of trying myself, he's put both a Windows and Mac verison of the OPML Editor on an iPod Nano that goes with him everywhere. The software needs some tweaking to make that work really elegantly, but I bet it's not very much.
Another Sims user is experiencing intense bubbles, this time coming from the butt of one of his characters. I feel your pain, but I never did find a workaround. The character lost the bubbles when she became an elder.
Marc Barrot: "ActiveRolls are just like regular blogrolls, with a twist, active outline wedges uncover underlying levels of information."
Amyloo's car roll viewed through Marc Barrot's tool.
Bob Wyman on the not-bright future of PubSub.
Mike Arrington: "What a waste."
Scott Karp says that Google is killing the economics of content, which is sensationalist, and only important if you care about "content," not so important if you care about accurate transmission of information and points of view.
First a little history. The print publishing industry, and the print-inspired electronic publishing industry, made it possible for information to be transmitted back when the transmission equipment was expensive, but it was always a very lossy transmission, subject to manipulation by the person doing the reporting, and the person doing the editing, the owner of the publication, etc. In the process, a little truth leaked out, but not much; and nothing that that the publishers didn't want out there (and there was no visibility at all into the motivations of the publishers).
If you had an idea you wanted people to hear you either had to convince a reporter to write about it or pay the publisher to let your idea hitch a ride on his transmission, and even then they might refuse to carry it. What a horrible system!
So if your point of view is of someone who isn't a publisher, like the vast majority of us in the 20th century, and almost nobody in the 21st, then something was lost. But if, instead of living in the past, you live in the present, it's much ado about not very much.
Four years ago today: "Lots of non-Internet stuff going on."
Scott Karp: "I say a little prayer for Om."
Now that Dvorak is on the record as a self-declared troll, maybe we should start a directory of "troll spammers," people who, if I succumb to the temptation to link to them, my CMS would automatically remove the link for. BTW, the person laughing on the Dvorak video is Scoble, not me. I was disgusted by the guy. (Dvorak, not Scoble.) I take this stuff seriously. People who lie and call it journalism are scum. That they win awards for this crap something for the award-givers to deal with.
I had my phone talk this morning with Lisa Williams, who will lead the Emotional Life discussion on Friday at BloggerCon IV. It'll be the third instance, the first was led by John Perry Barlow, the second by Julie Leung. The idea is simple, blogs aren't just about tech or politics or business, sometimes they're about people, and sometimes they play a big role in helping us get through difficult times. Sometimes it's real simple, here are the lives we lead and how they relate to others. Sometimes the truth is so close to the surface, there can be no masks, who we are comes out through our online persona. This is the riskiest topic we tackle, it's the double-diamond slope of BloggerCon, but it's also potentially the most rewarding.
Technology Review: "Until the limited beta launch of Google Spreadsheets on June 6, technology bloggers and other early adopters greeted each new Google service with enthusiasm -- seeming to relish the possibility that Google was contemplating a serious move against Microsoft Office."
WSJ profile of Jeff Pulver.
Another great video blog post from VloggerCon.
I've been using the SanDisk MP3 player for about a week, and think I have discovered the way to use the device. Every day, before my walk, I erase all the content and add the podcasts and songs I want to listen to on the walk. It's the only way to find the stuff I'm looking for. I'm not saying there isn't a sensible way to locate stuff on the SanDisk while walking, but I haven't discovered it yet. It seems to have all the options that an iPod has, but for some reason much of the content I'm looking for doesn't show up in the menus? It takes time to figure these things out, but time isn't one of the things I want to spend on these devices. I really want it to "just work."
I tried recording a podcast with the player at Vloggercon but there were a couple of problems: 1. It produces a WAV file as output. I'm sure I could figure out how to convert it to an MP3, but I'm not likely to do that because... 2. The recorder distorts the speakers voice, it comes out more high pitched. You can barely recognize my voice. You can make out the words, but it doesn't sound like me. Same with other men with deep voices who I interviewed. Oy.
It's nice to have an FM radio. Not much more to say there.
And the nicest thing is that it interfaces as a disk drive, so to get stuff on the player you just copy files. That's the only way to go. It has DRM support, if you insist on using one of the fascist services, but you can ignore it. Whew.
On the downside, not sure what they use for a playlist format. I wish there were an XML-based standard. I also wish it ran Windows or Mac software so I could copy my favorite scripting environment over there to manage the user interface. That would be something. I'm sure it won't be long before someone figures that out, but then again, I doubt Microsoft would license Windows cheaply enough, and Apple has its roadmap and its working, and it doesn't include players that run software.
As Ze Frank says: "Asshole."
More. The player is beautiful to look at, and it has a nice weight, it feels good in your hand. But the buttons are too small for a guy with big Polish potato farmer fingers (like me) and there are frustratingly stupid design decisions, like putting the lock switch so close to the headphone jack that you have to use a nail to slide it over. Hard to describe in words, but unless your fingers are shaped like the tip of a pen, you're going to feel awkward locking the unit.
Also, the wheel should be used to scroll through individual songs or podcasts. What a missed opportunity. Instead, you have to hold down the ultra tiny fast forward button for what seems an eternity. Don't these guys look at the competition? Or do patents prevent them from using these ideas? Either way, the user loses.
Postscript #1: There's a firmware update for the Sandisk, but it requires a Windows machine to install it.
Postscript #2: Phil Miseldine says that we should blame capitalism for the patent mess, because without patents, companies wouldn't invest in "innovation and research." I'm familiar with that argument, of course, and know something about innovation and research, and I promise you there are plenty of reasons for companies to innovate and do research, without patents. And there isn't a lot of money spent to research the kind of stuff that they're issuing patents for these days. How much do you think Apple spent to figure out that the scroll wheel should navigate through individual songs and podcasts? For that matter, how much did Apple spend on podcasting itself? (Hint, they got it for free, no patents.)
Wouldn't it be nice to have awards for the best video shot at VloggerCon?
I got an interesting interview with PC pundit John Dvorak, explaining how he lies, knowingly and repeatedly, in his articles about Macs, and therefore has no integrity as a supposed award-winning journalist.
This video was shot at the opening party for VloggerCon.
Postscript: Schlomo, one of the organizers of VloggerCon, apparently, thinks awards are a dumb idea.
Steve Gillmor: "Life is good."
Mike Arrington's TechCrunch was one year old yesterday. That's quite a run. I knew it was a hit, the first day I saw it, and I'm proud to say that was pretty early. Mike has a rare talent, and enormous energy. He deserves much success, and I'm sure he's on his way to achieving it.
And Om Malik is taking a chance on himself. He's a talented man with a big heart, and I'm sure he'll do well too.
Later this week I'm off on a quick trip to NYC on business and to celebrate Father's Day with my dad. He had another close call in April, but once again the Miracle Man pulled through. Three times we thought that was it, but each time he comes through, and each time he's a happier dude, and each time I'm more grateful we got to share these years.
For me, tomorrow is a big milestone, which I choose to remember as the four year anniversary of no more smoking for Dave. My record is still perfect, I haven't smoked since June 14, 2002. Not one puff.
I am still an addict, and once in a while, very rarely, and for a very short period of time I think it might be nice to have a smoke. But more often I curse the smoker who makes me breathe his or her poison.
On Sunday I found myself walking behind a mother, smoking with her two pre-school-age children. I didn't say anything, because in this country in 2006, it's not allowed. But there ought to be a law.
Hey, but Steve Gillmor said it all. It's good to be alive! Nothing like almost losing it make you appreciate what you got.
New feature: Easy stylesheets in your OPML weblog.
Daniel Bernstein: "Is Scoble's departure the beginning of the end for honest corporate blogging?"
Okay, I bet Bill G was a little bummed when he heard Scoble was leaving, but this is too much. Did he really have to fight back the tears? Talk about tugging at the heart strings.
Scoble's move has garnered lots of press outside the blogosphere, but most of it will evaporate soon, behind for-pay firewalls. The BBC has a great open and permanent archive and their piece is fairly typical of the kind of respect he's getting, which is nice to see. It's good that it will (probably) be visible for many years to come, Murphy-willing of course.
Talking with Doc Searls this morning on the phone, I drew an analogy to a mountain in the middle of the ocean. Until the water goes away you don't really get a sense of how big the mountain is. In Scoble's case, the mountain is pretty big.
At lunch yesterday, in Berkeley, my companion asked what's the big deal about Scoble. I had to think for a minute, back to when I first met him, about six years ago. I had been retained to keynote a Fawcette conference, and Scoble was the editor of the conference. I was struck by a couple of things. First, he actually called me to talk about my role at the conference, a practice I had never seen before (and one which I have adopted for BloggerCon). And then, over the months leading up to the show, he'd send emails to all the speakers, sometimes just with a link to an article he thought we'd find interesting. I thought to myself, this guy is already blogging and he doesn't even know what blogging is.
Another different thing about Scoble is that he's unimpressed with celebrity. He seeks out interesting people, and then spends time with them, if they'll let him. When he worked for me at UserLand, he would open doors for me, find me interesting people to talk with, and then he'd often just kick back, and listen. This is smart, it's how you absorb information, how you get people to teach you stuff. (The one exception to Scoble's celebrity coolness was Bill Gates. When he interviewed Gates for Channel 9 he was nervous, no question about that.)
He also is generous with credit. I can't tell you how many times he's reminded me of the things I've given him. That's very unusual. As time goes by people tend to forget, myself included, who created the opportunities that made their achievements possible.
I also think that Scoble is the prototypical evangelist, in league with the other great evangelist, Guy Kawasaki, but in a very different way. He understands the role of developers, but more important, he learned how to be a sales person early in his career, and he never forgot the basics. You sell yourself first, that's how you get in the door. Once the prospect is sold on you, you can close the deal anytime you want. And like all great sales people, Scoble wears his heart on his sleeve. Whether or not you buy is a personal thing to Scoble, but he always smiles, no matter what, because I don't think he ever gives up on closing the deal.
So, in retrospect, Mount Scoble was a lot higher than I thought. He's sold a lot of people. Did Furrier get a good deal? Well, let's see if he can contain Scoble. The man was big, even in relation to a huge multi-national company. Will his persona swamp a small startup that virtually no one has heard of? Should they change the name now, after all, who's heard of Podtech, versus who's heard of Scoble? Kind of a no brainer, don't you think?
With VloggerCon officially behind us, BloggerCon IV is now next-up on the summer of love West Coast blogging conference circuit, followed of course by Gnomedex and BlogHer.
Over the weekend the BloggerCon IV sign-up list crossed the 150 mark, so it's now "officially" sold out. I put that in quotes because a free conference with open sign-up usually has at least a few no-shows. So if you missed the call, today might be the last day to sign up where you could actually hope to get in.
Next thing on my agenda is to work on the Friday night dinners, and then of course announce the schedule.
Less than two weeks to go!
Orcmid welcomes himself to the OPML Editor.
Jeff Sandquist was Scoble's boss at Microsoft.
Doc Searls: "Scoble may turn out to have been the most human resource Microsoft ever had."
Fred Wilson: "I think something is wrong with the link counting system that Technorati uses."
I'm downloading a copy and seeding it here, just to help the community. It's a perfect illustration of something we want Microsoft to see -- get embraced and extended by the blogosphere, instead of the other way around, and all kinds of goodness follows.
Right now, as I write this, there are only 2 seeds. By the end of the evening there should be hundreds.
Ask not what the Internet can do for you...
Chris Pirillo says it's "100 percent true" that Scoble is leaving Microsoft and joining Podtech.
I've been hanging with Scoble all day, had dinner with him and John Furrier last night (also Jason Calacanis, Leo Laporte, Steve Gillmor, Janice Fraser, Maryam Scoble, Chris Alden and Amber Dawn MacArthur). I've been all around this deal, so close to it, it's hard to comment.
Scoble is my friend, has been for many years. We've had ups and downs, lately it's been up after being really down. I didn't like how Microsoft was changing our relationship, and I told him so, really clearly. You can only be at such a large company for so long before it changes you.
Scoble really is a big generous guy, but not when he's in such a large stifling organization. When he finally decided to leave, it's as if a huge weight came off him, and all of a sudden, the old Scoble is back. I'm sure that losing his mother had something to do with the changes as well. One big change begets others.
I'm glad that Scoble and Maryam will be moving back to the Bay Area, I've been encouraging them to try the East Bay. I'd like to see Furrier open a studio in downtown San Francisco, I have some ideas about that, and may open one myself, or use theirs. I think the new media that's formed around RSS 2.0 with enclosures has become even more interesting. And it'll be great to have Scoble back, in more ways than one.
It's too bad Microsoft couldn't bend more. I know that sounds arrogant, but I'm not modest about the changes brought about by blogging, RSS, podcasting, unconferences, etc. I've said it before, it's not possible for Microsoft to embrace and extend this time, yet that's how they're playing it. It's more likely to happen the other way, RSS will embrace and extend Microsoft, but I guess Microsoft is going to put that day off even further into its future. It's already way late to acknowledge that the ideas that are shaping technology aren't coming from Redmond, they aren't even coming from companies.
A person like Scoble can have enormous influence just by adopting some very simple ideas. It's the ideas that have power. But Microsoft hasn't let the changes waft over them. They still think in old terms. I'm glad to see my old friend didn't go down with the ship.
Silicon Valley Watch: Scoble is leaving Microsoft.
Marc Canter and Amber MacArthur thought they were posing for a picture, but I was actually taking a movie. Pretty funny!
There are four T1 lines coming into the VloggerCon building, which is why there's good bandwidth. Remember, this is a video blogging conference.
Rex Hammock on John Dvorak: "He's a troll."
DefectiveByDesign.org is the "campaign to eliminate DRM."
I just met a radio guy named John Hammond, who is also a famous pianist. He has a radio show on 1550 AM in SF, but he lives in New York. Grew up in Berkeley on Euclid Ave.
Apparently the invites to Foo Camp are going out. Someone just asked me what I think of it. Here's what I think -- there's a big difference between a chaotic disorganized event like VloggerCon, that's open to everyone; and an invite-only event where only people who don't offend a couple of control oriented people. This one is noisy and creative. People at Foo Camp waste a ton of energy congratulating each other that they got the invite. But nothing useful actually comes out of the invite-only event, because the most creative people aren't there. It's practically algorithmic.
I'm at the back of the main ballroom at VloggerCon in SF. If you're here, the people on stage are asking the audience for questions after they did presentations. Folks, that is not an unconference. Please. No audience, and don't ask questions, say things, tell stories. Most of the smarts are in the room not on the stage. If you're here come by and say hello. I'm wearing a black hat and a black polo shirt. And geez, people are lining up at a microphone and making speeches. There should be a session here about what an unconference is. Maybe we need to do one of those at BloggerCon. (And there's a dull roar from the hallway conversation.)
Pictures from last night's Vloggercon party.
Steve Garfield, one of the organizers of Vloggercon.
Download the Dvorak movie via BitTorrent. My server was getting slammed, this method is so much more rational.
I don't think I've ever seen a torrent with this many seeds.
I got a report from Jeff Powell that he is having trouble downloading the Dvorak movie via BitTorrent. I see a lot of people are successfully downloading it, and I was able to myself (using Azureus on a Mac). If you have any clues, please post a comment here. (However, there's not much I can change because Amazon is hosting the Torrent.)
I was talking with Dvorak at the Vloggercon party this evening, and he started telling a story about how he deliberately pisses Mac users off to get flow for his stories, and I said, hold a minute, I want to record this, and shit if he didn't stop and repeat it for me and my video camera. I guess now I'm an official video blogger.
NY Times: Liberal bloggers gather in Las Vegas.
My EV-DO cell phone works again, I'm posting this from the lobby of the Mark Hopkins Hotel on top of Nob Hill. Pretty great view. Nice to be mobile again. It was a wire-trip at Sprint, the phone needed to be re-provisioned. Lots of time haggling with Sprint people. But I get to use it until October. Happy.
Cory Doctorow: "JPod is the anti-Microserfs."
We had a pre-BloggerCon meeting at CNET today with Dan Farber, Rebecca Doran and Marianne Wilman to go over everything from webcasting to food and power strips. I also took new pictures to give people a way to visualize the conference, coming up two weeks from today. Gullllp.
Based on who signed up, this BloggerCon is going to be great. I sometimes forget, or maybe I never really knew, that BloggerCon is itself a community. There are people who will travel across the country, or from Europe or New Zealand, to be part of the community. Three people from Nashville are coming, Rex Hammock, Nick Bradbury and Terry Heaton. I've got an offer out for a DL to lead an Emotional Life discussion, following in the footsteps of John Perry Barlow and Julie Leung. Let's hope that one comes off. Blogs are about more than brands and business models, we hope. I had another talk with Jay Rosen about his session, he's planning something really special. And then Mike Arrington is going to lead a discussion on a topic that might surprise some. I want to find our idealism again. The video bloggers never lost it, their conference is this weekend, also in SF, I'll be there. Think of BloggerCon perhaps as the "original" or old school blogging culture. Yeah, we've been kicked to the curb and dragged around. Starved and hooked up to scams and schemes. But we still stand for something. Later this month, for the first time in SF, we hope to find out what that is.
Notes for people who had problems testing the new build of the OPML Editor for Windows, released yesterday.
Public sign-up page for BloggerCon IV.
BloggerCon mail list, moderated by yours truly.
Steve Gillmor saying he has a bad attitude is kind of like the Pope admitting that he's Catholic.
Playboy: "First there was podcasting, and now there is bodcasting." Nudity.
John Palfrey will lead the How to Make Money session at BloggerCon IV, June 23-24 in SF.
Betsy Devine wonders, had there been VCs before Christ, would they have hyped an ad-supported business model for user generated food? Also known as Figs 2.0.™
This is why I like John Robb, he gets excited about cool ideas. Actually, Jeremy Allaire proposed something called RSS-Data a few years ago, it was basically the XML-RPC serialization format, unbundled from the transport. It's still a good idea, moslty because there are so many implementations of XML-RPC, in basically every environment known to scripters. I still think if Amazon provided an XML-RPC interface for S3 it would help drive adoption, and I think Google should support it in their spreadsheet. The two were designed for each other.
NY Times: "Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed in an American air strike on an isolated safe house north of Baghdad at 6:15PM local time on Wednesday, top United States and Iraqi officials said today."
The fully updated Windows build of the OPML Editor is ready for testing. The Macintosh build has been available for a few days, and has more or less checked out. This is the first release to include the NewsRiver aggregator with reading list support, and may turn out to be milestone for the RSS community as well as the OPML community.
New podcast. Dan Gillmor and I participated in a moderated discussion about the future of blogging. I think it came out pretty well. Esther Dyson asks a pointed question, Om Malik gets a plug, Dan Farber sums it up.
Does Google's spreadsheet have XML-RPC function calls? Oh man, what an opportunity to tie things together. Way beyond AJAX. So potentially exciting.
Once again Seth Godin is a source of clarity. Good product names are not descriptive, they are evocative, imaginative, new. Podcasting is a fine name, as is RSS. In the end it doesn't matter what the name is. Television, automobile, watch, sneaker, chimney, mouse, cellphone, speaker, screen, lamp, MP3 player, DVD, baseball, mitt, stamps, bottle, cup, flashlight, menu, router, Mac, cable, printer, glass (made of plastic of course), wallet, these are just some of the things in eyeshot of me right now. Which of them have "funny" names. Is there any confusion about what they are? How inane is it that marketers at Microsoft balk at entering the podcasting market because they think the name helps Apple. Geez get a life -- it undermines Apple, you losers! Bill Gates, fire those idiots, now. Unfucking real.
Show this picture, quickly, to any kid on the street and ask them what it is. I bet they get it wrong.
Learning how to control the SanDisk MP3 player is an exercise in frustration. I wonder if there's a legal reason they can't just adopt the conventions of the iPod. Trying to figure out how to scroll through a podcast to (for the sake of argument) minute 23, I certainly would know how to do it on an iPod, but I can't figure it out on the SanDisk. I read the docs, no clues there. On the iPod, click in the middle of the wheel and then scroll. Hardly intuitive, but sheez, about 50 million people know how to do this. Must be a patent, eh. If so, thanks for the lock-in.
Steve Rubel reports on integration between TypePad and FeedBurner. More monetization of User Generated Content.
There's a difference betw 1. Creating easy to use blogging tools because you want to empower non-technical people to use a new medium to share what they've learned and believe, and 2. Writing yet another boring mashup tool because you want to make a million dollars with flipmeat based on a business model of tricking ordinary people into creating User Generated Content so the company that acquires you can put ads on it, as Lee Gomes has expressed so well in his WSJ article.
Silicon Valley Watcher reports that Craigslist is being blocked by Cox Interactive. "This situation does not look good in the context of the net neutrality debate. This is exactly the kind of scenario that many people are concerned about, that the cable companies and the telcos will make it difficult for their internet users to access competing services."
Great Arrington rant about Google and their fans.
I've had some second thoughts on the way we're inviting people to this BloggerCon. The plan where each DL gets 10 invites and chooses them as if they were panelists at a non-unconference, was interesting, but imho, it didn't work as I hoped it would. So one of the hallmarks of BloggerCon planning is, when something isn't working, don't be afraid to change it. The new plan is very simple. Tomorrow morning we'll open a Wiki-based signup page. There will be space for 125 sign-ups, and the first 125 people to sign up will be part of the show at BloggerCon IV on June 23-24 in SF. There's lots of room outside the meeting room, and wifi everywhere. The weather is likely to be great. There's also BarCamp going on in SF on Saturday, so there's lots of blogging schmooze available South of Market during the conference.
The NY Times writes about Netflix. What they say in general is true for me. I love Netflix for the breadth of their catalog. I can explore Woody Allen movies over a period of a month, loading up my queue with every Woody Allen movie they have, and then playing with the queue as the month goes by. Simultaneously I'm exploring movies directed by George Cukor. As far as I know this is the first time a regular person like myself has been able to do this. But there still are a lot of old movies you can't get on Netflix. I'd like to see a partnership between Netflix and Turner Classic Movies, a process whereby I could get any movie on TCM delivered via Netflix. I also think the key to longterm survival of Netflix is giving people incentives to connect up to their friends' movie history so I can easily recommend movies to people I care about and they can tell me what they thought.
The blogosphere view of Silicon Valley is completely out of whack with the reality- based version. The Valley is history, it's over, the VCs cashed it all in, in the bubble of the 90s and the cars that used to fill the parking lots on Central Expressway are now filling lots in Ireland and Bangalore. Trust me Toronto, you don't want to be Silicon Valley unless you want to be a bedroom community for who-knows-what. I honestly can't figure out who lives in Santa Clara County nowadays. Maybe Valleywag can tell us. Perhaps it's time to do a photo tour, to show the rest of the world how dead it is down there.
I had lunch today with Toni Schneider. He used to work at Yahoo, and before that Oddpost. Now he's part of Matt Mullenwegg's company, whose products include Wordpress.com and Akismet, both of which I use and recommend. It was a good meeting and pretty ordinary (but interesting) until the end, when it got a bit heated. I had noticed that he was listed as a featured speaker on the Web 2.0 conference, and mentioned it as kind of a tease, but then it occurred to me, we're on different sides on something that I've been overlooking, but I guess I don't want to overlook it anymore. How can we be friends if he's friends with people who are selfishly trying to monetize our work, without giving anything back. I say "our" work, because Toni represents many thousands of WordPress users. There's an arrogance around Battelle's conference, they're the insiders and we're the poor schnooks whose work they monetize. I'm one of those people. Anyway, I think this is beginning of a valuable discussion. Perhaps we can help Battelle and O'Reilly straighten this out, if that's what they want. If they don't want to, then we shouldn't be supporting their conference.
As Lou Josephs points out, at some point, very quietly, Google started providing RSS 2.0 feeds for Blogger sites. They use Atom elements to provide capabilities not provided by core RSS elements. Very rational.
I'm still amazed that when Google's search engine finds something in an RSS 2.0 file, it says the format is unrecognized. If it's taking this long to do something intelligent with RSS, how long before they "recognize" OPML? The other search engines aren't any better, btw.
My Sprint Ambassador cell phone trial has expired (after less than two months) and I'm hooked, I love the BlueTooth EV-DO capability. They say it'll cost at least $50 per month to get it reactivated. Is that a reasonable price? Or, could I get it from my current cell phone service provider, Cingular?
Gil Sharon says Sprint is the cheapest.
Meanwhile the SanDisk MP3 player has arrived. Out of the box it needs a charge, which is not a good sign for attention to detail. Every iPod I've ever gotten (I think I'm on my fourth by now) has come with a full charge, ready to plug and play. So, I was going to take it with me on BART today for my lunch meeting at Yank Sing, but instead it will stay here in Berkeley and charge up, while the video iPod accompanies me.
When I got back, the unit was all charged and ready to go, but it didn't show up on my Mac desktop. The answer was in the FAQ, I needed to set the USB mode in the Settings menu on the device, and voila, there it is, ready to copy files onto it. It plays Quicktime video. Voice recorder, FM tuner. Nice.
iJot is an Ajax OPML editor. Lots of strange words.
Brent Simmons: "Whenever I imagine the anti-Christ, I imagine a super nice guy, universally beloved. Well-dressed, clean-shaven -- he won't look like he's from Hell."
Chris Pirillo begs for an OPML of all of NPR's podcasts.
News.com: Google spreadsheet due tomorrow.
Nov 1999 PC World article about Halfbrain. "Halfbrain.com's first offering, a spreadsheet written in pure dynamic HTML and called BrainMatter, was released to the public in a beta version this week."
Tim Bray: "Sometimes the world has new things in it and you just have to deal with them as they are." Very true. Analogies are great, but some things are truly new, and have no analogies.
I spent the day in Palo Alto, doing normal things, seeing my doctor, getting a haircut, hanging out in a Starbucks. The economy is in a strange place. The parking lots of the office parks are empty. Central Expressway is quiet, as is the road connecting 280 to El Camino by the Stanford Shopping Center. Used to be bottlenecks and traffic jams. The commercial tax base isn't generating enough money to operate city government. While the economy seems permanently shrunk, the housing prices are higher than ever. A townhouse in Sharon Heights goes for $2 million. There are no houses for less than $1 million, even in modest neighborhoods.
I've been on Google's shit list for years, so this exchange with Jon Udell contains some new info. Seems they've now got the PR dept of Sun Microsystems. They used to have the best PR in the world. Now it's just a slice of Silicon Valley.
Richard MacManus calls for a moritorium on defining Web 2.0™. Maybe we could go further. It's just a scam by some VCs to get "user generated content" to generate bubble money for them. It's pretty gross of them to try to hijack the 2WW this way, but I sort of understand why. What I don't get is why we support them. Most of the rest of us aren't going to be invited to ride their gravy train. Imho, the web is a platform for idealism. It's not a conversation, it's not a business model, it's so big it's basically everything having to do with human knowledge and communication, at least for the forseeable future. Let them have Web 2.0™, it's not important. What is important is that the users are running the show, and if you want to get behind that, be a user, and leave it at that.
BTW, if the VCs don't like this, they can distance themselves from the scam. It's PR 101. They're always telling us how they're so smart about business, but the smart thing now would be to show the discipline needed to build real businesses that make customers happy. Some of your colleagues are trying to profit from self-induced irrational exuberance. Make it clear you're not one of them.
TechCrunch: "The inevitable is starting to happen -- a few new web startups are starting to close up shop as they find that building an application is a lot easier than getting users to try it out."
Dowbrigade: It's all Dave Winer's Fault.
Seth Godin: Why I don't have comments. Bravo, amen.
Interesting thread at Don Park's on Web 2.0 trademarks.
About once a week a bunch of other tech bloggers, including yours truly, get an email from "TheoDP." I don't know who he or she is, but the emails are consistently anti-patent.
Recently he's been sending email bulletins about the bang-up in the blogosphere over the "Web 2.0" trademark.
The following was written by TheoDP, who I've encouraged to get a blog, so far without success.
"On the same day Tim O'Reilly publicly pooh-poohed the legal fears of the target of a CMP cease-and-desist letter, CMP quietly appointed an L.A. Super Lawyer - one of 'World's Leading Trademark Practitioners' -- to handle the controversial Web 2.0 trademark."
The brilliance of Steve Gillmor, in an open letter to
One of my Sims characters is named OPML 2.0 . He was born around the time the spec was being made public. He's now an adult, and really into money. Having a character with such a funny name has led to some odd dialogs.
An interesting essay on the BART website explains that the system doesn't run 24 hours a day because some maintenence can only be performed when the system is down. They say that the London Underground and Paris Metro don't run 24 hours either. It's the one thing that Bay Area BART-lovers agree is keeping BART from becoming a standard method of transport. If you're staying out late, you still have to drive.
Scott Beale was at Thursday's opening of the Long Now Foundation's public space at Fort Mason in SF.
Yesterday I pointed to an SYO-like feature from Odeo, then Biz Stone added an update that spices things up quite a bit. Here's a look at bizstone's inbox which is a list of the podcast feeds he's subscribed to. If you scroll to the bottom of the page you'll see that this is available in RSS, which is really interesting, it's a reverse-chronologic list of items from the feeds he's subscribed to. Very nice. They also have an OPML rendition of this data, which is basically a list of feeds. He says they still have some work to do to get it in form for SYO, which is true, but when they do, it will also work as a reading list. It's good to see this stuff converging.
Steve Rubel reports on eBay and blogging.
CNN: "The names and credit-card numbers of 243,000 Hotels.com customers were on a laptop computer stolen from an employee of accounting firm Ernst & Young."
Scott Rosenberg: "History isn't dead knowledge."
Don Park says that the Web 2.0 riot continues.
Bart McPhatree: "I am not a real person."
Four years ago today I wrote a piece explaining how Google will support OPML. I'm sure someday they will, and it will be great; and so will all the other search engines. Then everyone will say it's a trivial idea, but then you gotta wonder why it's taking so long.
Rafe Needleman writes about wifi-based MP3 players, which of course is a great idea.
We brainstormed about this many times in the golden months of podcasting, Adam and I. Basically when your player comes within range of a wifi signal, it synchs up with the cloud, pulling down all the new podcasts you are subscribed to. Same approach would work just as well with music.
Of course Needleman describes an infrastructure with DRM, and that's when everything gets complicated and fragile. All the wireless infrastructure you need is RSS 2.0 with enclosures. Anything more complicated is bad news.
BTW, a similar approach would work with cameras, but the flow is in the other direction. A server subscribes to the output of my camera, and whenever it gets in wifi range, it pulls the new pictures into the cloud. I thought this might have been the substance of the Nikon partnership with Flickr, but it seems not.
Engadget reviews a new MP3 player that's not from Apple that sounds like it's worth a try, the 4GB SanDisk Sansa e260. It's an iPod Nano competitor. The two things I look for are user interface and the ability to play non-DRM content. This baby passes on both counts. They're selling them for $195 on Amazon,
Tom Foremski: "It was two years ago today that I left the comfort of the Financial Times San Francisco bureau, the six-figure salary/benefits package, the six-weeks of vacation, and the generous sabbaticals every four years, to become a journalist blogger."
Technorati: "Leave a quarter in the collection tray on your way out."
For the last week or so the tech blogosphere has been obsessing about a trademark, and missing an opportunity to refocus. The purpose of the two-way-web is not to make money for conference promoters, esp conferences that are structured around the old model -- "they speak, we listen."
The VCs only listen to other VCs, and would turn us into users who generate content that they wish to monetize. Not too exciting for you and me.
Tim Bray started a new thread which he calls Credit 2.0, which is worth continuing.
I'd like to add an excerpt from an essay I wrote roughly seven years ago, called Edit This Page. "Writing for the web is too damned hard. It turns you into a bookkeeper. I've got files all over my hard disk and their counterparts on the server. I can't keep track of them! When I'm reading a web page that I wrote, if I spot a mistake, I have to execute 23 complicated error-prone steps to make the change."
As a software developer, that was the challenge, that we rose to, and solved, and the result is a vibrant medium for expressing ideas and information. Let them argue about who owns the trademarks and how the advertisers from the last century can hold on for a few more years. The future we're living in isn't just like the past.
© Copyright 1997-2006 Dave Winer.