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Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 29, 2008. Friday, February 29, 2008

Fear bombs of 2008 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named ronaldMcDonald.jpgThe first time this year I heard Lakoff talk I asked how the Republics would attack Obama. Without hesitation he said three words: Barack Hussein Obama.

From his confidence I gathered that this was like asking if the 49ers would use a passing offense when Joe Montana was the quarterback. Or that the Oakland A's with Canseco and McGwire would depend on home run hitting. There's a certain logic to the Republic machine, Lakoff understands it.

In 2004, when they ran the Swift Boat ads, claiming that John Kerry, a war hero, lacked integrity and courage and was disloyal (ads run on behalf of a draft dodger and recovering drug addict), the candidate and his campaign said they hated the ads too, and the loophole in campaign finance laws that allowed them should be closed. But they did nothing to stop the ads or counteract them (they could have run opposing ads, for example, saying they want a campaign on real character issues, not lies). Of course they didn't do that because the Swift Boat ads were central to their strategy for winning.

2004 should have been a referendum on the war in Iraq, instead the focus was on the campaign itself. The swiftboat ads were run over and over, for free, on all the networks. They are so easily manipulated. You think this wasn't in a Republic Party plan from Day 1? If you said no, you need to go back to the school of hard knocks for a refresher course.

A picture named chicken.gifSo now we have the H-bomb, Obama's middle name, and the Republics are starting early. Sure the candidate disavows it, even though the words were introduced at his campaign rally. No one interrupted the speaker. McCain waited to apologize until after the event was over and the audience had left (they might boo him, why take a chance). Karl Rove, meeting with Republic strategists cautions against using Obama's middle name. The national Republic Party slaps the wrist of the Tennesee Republic Party for using Obama's middle name in a press release. This is an exact replay of 2004.

Michelle Obama calls this the "obvious, ultimate fear bomb."

Josh Marshall says it's "channel conflict."

Like 2004, the Republics must be betting that the Democrats won't respond, because, as in 2004, their candidate is more vulnerable to this kind of mischief than Obama is. One could point out that there is a child from a Muslim country, Bangladesh, living in the McCain house, his adopted daughter. It's true isn't it? Obama himself would say he abhors this kind of politics, and no doubt he does. The child is Asian, but she's pretty dark-skinned. I wonder what that means? It's just a question. Can't we ask questions?

What I don't get is people who support Obama, old enough to remember swiftboating, and still willing to wait to "see what happens." There's no waiting. They're using exactly the same play that worked so well in 2004.

It is early, but it is almost too late to stop the escalation.

And it seems the power to stop the escalation belongs to McCain and him alone.

A picture named chicken2.jpgLook, he's the new leader of the Republic Party. Apologies don't cut it. Is that how he's going to deal with foreign leaders? Is he going to apologize at the first sign of trouble, or does he have the courage and will to solve the problem. Either he's the Republic's leader or he's a wimp. There's no inbetween. He is responsible for what his party does. No amount of double-talk will absolve him from that.

The correct answer, which he did not give, is threefold:

1. Apologize first to Obama and his family, at a personal level, for allowing his podium to be used to imply that he's anything but a patriotic and loyal son of America. You want some extra credit, say you're proud that he has a chance to be President, that it says to the world that the United States is diverse, and we practice our stated philosophy of being open and democratic. (There's nothing wrong with this. Do what the Dems have been doing, say no matter what the US is going to get an excellent leader this time around. It's time for Americans to unite as the Dems have united.)

2. Apologize to the American electorate, liberal and conservative, on behalf of some very nasty people who call themselves Republics, but don't come close to reflecting the values of the party of Lincoln. They are free to vote for whoever they want, but your campaign, which is an American campaign, will stick to the very real differences between the candidates, not lies or implicit lies, for example, that Obama is a Muslim (he's Christian).

3. The hardest part, but the one that really matters -- Take control of your party and commit to us that it won't happen again. Again, if you want extra credit, bring Obama on stage with you, and Hillary Clinton, and all three of you say that this isn't the America you want, and that swiftboating will not be part of this election.

It's rare that history presents one such an opportunity as the one being presented to McCain. He could be a rat and dishonest and might just win the election, but this way of winning is not winning at all. In the end he'll hate himself for what he has become. I believe that McCain is a good enough human being to understand this. He's at a crossroads now, and which way he goes has a lot to do with which way the country goes.

Update: Cross-posted on Huffington.

PS: A frequently asked question -- Why do you call McCain's party "The Republic Party?" It's my small way to remind members of his party that the correct name of their leading opposition is the Democratic Party. That so many Republicans trash the name of their opponent, esp ones like McCain who claim to be honorable people, says that well, they have no honor. I noticed that McCain started doing it shortly after he became the presumptive nominee. I think Democrats and their supporters (like myself) have to get used to balancing this out, even though it may be embarrassing to appear so illiterate.

PPS: For political news I read Memeorandum several times every day. It's great!

Spin Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Links for 02/29/2008 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

RWW on XMPP as the foundation of collaboration. What this Tweet points to.

Clinton aides threatened lawsuit over Texas caucuses, officials say. What this Tweet points to.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, February 28, 2008. Thursday, February 28, 2008

Links for 02/28/2008 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

"They threw in the obvious, ultimate fear bomb..." What this Tweet points to.

"We're at that moment in the campaign that reminds me of a horror movie." What this Tweet points to.

Guidelines for competing with Twitter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named twittybeerd.gifEvery time Twitter goes down I think of how can we create something to use when Twitter is down.

There's a difference these days, because there's serious talk among developers about whether or how to compete. Earlier this week at lunch with one of them, I said I didn't know how great the opportunity was, given that Twitter has been staying up, through heavy use during the debates and primaries. Then, as if on call, it started going down. In the last 24 hours it's been down more than up, or so it seems.

And of course that has re-kindled the back-channel. ;->

Some guidelines for potential Twitter-competitors.

1. I don't like names with the word "killer" in it -- even in private. It's the wrong idea. No one will kill anyone. And names you use in private have a way of leaking out in public.

2. Don't use the term crowdsourcing -- it betrays a perspective that's arrogant and wrong. I am not part of a crowd, I am a creative important person. Most Silicon Valley companies have this attitude. It's a good vector for competing. Our users are sentient human beings, individuals. Important not just as a collection of people.

3. Most important, any service meant to compete with Twitter must be 100 percent compatible with the Twitter API. Porting of apps that build on Twitter means making the domain an option, where you call it must be possible to change it to, for example.

4. It must be possible to use your clone when Twitter goes down and then switch back to Twitter when it comes back up with no loss of data. If you want smoothe entry into the market you must serve as a backup, earn your place with the users. Everyone will love you because it gives Twitter a very real concrete incentive to become more reliable.

5. To everyone, included -- this is a utility like email or IM. Reliability is key. If it's going to be used in business (very powerful idea) then auditability is essential. To assume that users love the product is not a good idea, any emotional connection becomes a negative if you can't keep the system up.

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Links for 02/27/2008 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bloomberg op-ed in tomorrow's NY Times. What this Tweet points to.

Times they are a changing Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Last night's debate really shifted things for me, esp after my talk on Monday with George Lakoff.

First, I'm going to help George and his thinktank, the Rockridge Institute, build their presence in the blogosphere. They're from a different world, they write books, something I'd like to do, but it isn't in my nature. In the same way when they look at communication they think big and longer-term. Instant communication, blogging and podcasting, is not their first impulse. But Lakoff and his associates understand politics in a way that Democrats don't get, but Republicans really do. That is, until Barack Obama. If you really want to understand why the Obama campaign is working and the Clinton campaign is fading, Lakoff understands it, and if you press him, he'll get out of professor mode, and tell you how it works in words anyone with a brain and an education can understand. That's his gift.

Lakoff tells a story about Dick Wirthlin, Reagan's chief strategist, in 1980. Lakoff met him at a conference after he had retired, and the two hit it off. He explained to George that when he started he did a poll, and found out that most people don't agree with Reagan, but they planned to vote for him anyway. I've seen the same thing with Obama. In a comment thread here, Phil Windley, who I like and respect (we have a technology bond) but whose politics and mine couldn't be more opposite, said he might vote for Obama. What! I asked why and he said that Obama seemed to him to have integrity. That's what Wirthlin uncovered. People don't vote on policy, they vote for leaders, for people whose values seem American to them, for people they feel they can trust.

I talked with Lakoff about how the word "liberal" had been destroyed by the right wing, and asked if that was going to be a problem for Obama. He said it wouldn't, because Obama had figured out how to say what many of us believe, that the values people label with the L-word are actually American values. When your neighbor's house is burning down, you don't lecture him on how incompetent he is (though there are Americans who would do that), you get out your fire hose and do everything you can do to help. After you call 911 to get taxpayer-funded fire department to come put out the fire.

We look forward to the coming election believing that this time the "tax and spend" label won't stick for a couple of reasons. Our candidate sees it coming this time, and understands that it's a frame, it's a way that Republicans get you to accept their point of view by letting them frame the discussion in their terms. Do Democrats tax and spend? Sure of course they do. So do Republicans. Nothing wrong with it. Imagine if we all had to hire our own fire departments. Instead we pool our resources and buy fire insurance, in the form of trucks and buildings, and brave men and women who protect our lives and property.

A picture named elephant.gifOur government provides the context, the legal system, the services, that make it possible for businesses to flourish. It's naive to think that government doesn't play that role, and the Republicans obviously believe it too. In the seven years Bush has been in office government spending has grown. Have taxes grown too? Maybe not, but borrowing surely has. The money to pay for the war came from somewhere. As it has for many Americans who borrowed against the equity in their homes, there must be a day of reckoning for our economy as a whole. We've been charging our collective lifestyle, this luxury of an occupation of Iraq which is a lousy investment for the American taxpayer (where's the return?) but a great investment for Bush, Cheney and friends in the oil and defense industries. We won't know how much money Bush gets after he leaves office and becomes a private citizen, but I bet he becomes a billionaire from kickbacks he gets from selling us out. This is a tax, and it's our future they have been spending.

While the Republicans have been in office America has become much less competitive in the world economy. Those jobs we lost while Republicans ran the show aren't coming back. And the inefficiency of our health care system, believe it or not, is an important reason industrial jobs are going across the border to Canada, where they have a no nonsense health care system that works like this -- if you get sick you get health care. Geez, does that seem fairly American to you? It does to me. It's kind of like the fire department. We all hope our houses don't catch fire, but when they do, we're damned happy we don't get an argument when we call 911. Why should cancer, diabetes and heart disease be any different? I don't get it.

All of this is part of the story Lakoff tells. You can get a taste of it starting midway through Monday's podcast. Listen to the last half hour if you're short on time. And I'm going to keep pestering him to do more, shorter podcasts with me, responding to current events, as they happen. We'll apply his model to the political system, and watch how Obama openly captures the best of the Republican playbook. It should be something to watch, something marvelous.

A picture named futureBillionaire.jpgThere was a grand moment in last night's debate; they played a clip of Hillary Clinton's sarcastic speech about the light shining down, the heavens opening, angels singing, etc. The camera goes to Obama -- he's beaming. He says it sounds pretty good. And it does. America works when we work together. Being American is simple, but people like Bush and Rove and Cheney made it complicated. Americans get shit done, and Americans don't argue when their neighbor's house is on fire. We roll up our sleeves and we can do great things. For better or worse now we need to do some great things. We're lucky that now we have the leadership we need to get started.

And there was the shift in thinking that came from last night's debate. We already have more leadership from this man who hasn't even won the Democratic nomination yet than we have from the actual President of the United States. Further, in the last two campaigns, I have exhorted the candidates to use the money they raise to solve important problems, and realize that Obama had done exactly that. He's uniting us as a country. There's nothing more important, once we remember that we're all Americans and that that means something, we can do so much more than when we're divided by the "wedge issues" of cynical political hacks. We always have had the option to take back our country, now we seem to be doing that.

When we put aside our differences, and I'm not talking about the heads of companies and lobbyists and government officials, but the people, they really can't stop us. We have the means to pass laws that they have to obey and we have police and military to enforce those laws. The founders of our country believed in this, and believed in us, we're not fools to agree with them, we're just using our power.

Update: Cross-posted at Huffington.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, February 26, 2008. Tuesday, February 26, 2008

IRC for tonight's debate Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I started a chatroom for tonight's Democratic debate.


The debate starts at 6PM Pacific.

The Wire winds down Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Warning: Spoilers follow...

The best TV show ever, imho, is The Wire on HBO.

I'm such a fan, I've bought all the DVDs and watched the series in its entirety three times. After the last season, the fifth one, which is winding down in the next couple of weeks, I'll probably go through the whole series again, because now we know how it turns out for many of the characters.

A picture named beautifulFriendship.jpgUnlike The Sopranos, there are several main characters in The Wire. In the early seasons there was Avon Barksdale, Frank Slobotka, McNulty of course, Omar and dozens of supporting characters. When Entourage winds down they won't have to kill off the main characters, but in violent shows like The Sopranos and The Wire, that is the main question. That, and who's left standing after all the killing is over. The Sopronos punted on this question, whether Tony dies or not was not clear. Not so in The Wire. They're killing their main characters decisively and unceremoniously, without rock classics playing in the background. One character dies with a shot to the head, which we see, no imagination needed, delivered by the most unlikely assassin (but if you were paying attention over the years, in retrospect, not so unlikely).

The big question in The Wire is who is going to be the next Marlo Stanfied, because Marlo is surely going down. And we're getting the answer, with just two episodes to go, it looks like it's Michael. I predict the last scene of The Wire is like the last scene of the first Godfather movie, with the door closing and a new Don holding court with the new lieutennants. Or maybe Michael is meeting with The Greek, like the closing scene in Casablanca, where Bogart says his famous line to the police captain played by Claude Raines after watching Ingrid Bergman leave on the last plane out of town.

A picture named kids.jpgOr maybe the final scene of The Wire will be a reprise of the first scene. McNulty chatting with one of the neighborhood kids, doing a eulogy of another kid, lying dead in the street. This image has been in the opening credits every year of The Wire. It's practically the symbol of the show. It seems fitting somehow that the opening scene would also be the closing scene.

We'll see, but it's great drama, stories woven together beautifully, wonderful acting, and what appears to be an honest wrap-up, coming in two weeks. I can't wait!

6/11/07: "In this age of blogs, podcasts, unconferences and level playing fields, it's sometimes nice to just be in the audience. Let someone else do the work. Relax and reach deep inside our emotional being, and yank out something beautiful or horrible, and have a look."

Permanent link to archive for Monday, February 25, 2008. Monday, February 25, 2008

Interview with George Lakoff Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I spent an hour this afternoon talking with George Lakoff, professor at UC-Berkeley, about the 2008 campaign and language.

I'll write more about the interview tomorrow, but wanted to get the MP3 out right away.

Links for 02/25/2008 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Karl Rove puts his opponents in jail. What this Tweet points to.

SNL debate betw Obama and Clinton, with special appearance by The Obama Girl. What this Tweet points to.

Quinnipiac poll shows Obama gaining on Clinton in Ohio. What this Tweet points to.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, February 24, 2008. Sunday, February 24, 2008

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Bijan says content synching is a mess. What this Tweet points to.

How to make plants talk... with Twitter! What this Tweet points to.

Andrew Sullivan sings his goodbye song to the Clintons. What this Tweet points to.

The Dems are playing hardball with McC! Lovin it. What this Tweet points to.

New Gallup national poll, Obama 47, Clinton 46. What this Tweet points to.

More test posts coming, adding new features to my new toy. What this Tweet points to.

Just made a few changes so this is just a test. Please ignore. What this Tweet points to.

Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) on This Week, making a lot of sense about Cuba.  What this Tweet points to.

Frank Rich's scathing postmortem of the Clinton campaign.  What this Tweet points to.

What am I up to? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I have a neat little app that runs in the OPML Editor that, every five minutes, gathers all the new twits from people I'm following, and runs them over a set of "callback" scripts, that can do whatever they want to with them. The first one I wrote looks for an exclamation point at the beginning of one of the ones I wrote and routes it to a special place on Scripting News.

This is quite visible because 4700 people follow me on Twitter, and they all see the exclams at the beginning of some of my twits, and some have asked for the script. Not much point in that, because it only works with my one-off CMS. It could be made to work with blogs that use the OPML Editor outliner, but there aren't many of those. If someone in that community asks, I'll upload the app, and keep it updated, that's easy, but without support (not easy).

I may add the ability to put callbacks in a folder outside the OPML Editor, written in AppleScript, if there's enough interest. But that's not a promise.

I wrote this for myself -- not to solve a problem for others.

I think the right way to deal with this, btw, is for the developers of Wordpress, Movable Type, Blogger, etc to do the polling of Twitter on behalf of their users. I think Twitter makes a decent linkblogging user interface. People with blogs are using it that way -- I am. Now I don't have to feel so guilty because the links make their way back to Scripting News, where they started. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, February 23, 2008. Saturday, February 23, 2008

Today's links Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Where my Twits that begin with exclams end up.  What this Tweet points to.

Obama lets his confidence show.  What this Tweet points to.

Today's song: El Paso by Marty Robbins.  What this Tweet points to.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 22, 2008. Friday, February 22, 2008

Random questions for the day Permanent link to this item in the archive.

My mind is buzzing with lots of interesting little projects/ideas.

1. I want to find a way to flow some of my Twitter updates to Scripting News, into a Today's Links section, or Random Questions for the day (like the post you're reading right now). Here's an example. I'm using the exclamation point to delimit an update that I want to appear over here. Maybe that's not the right special character. Equal sign? Slash? Backslash?

Update: Sol Young has been thinking about this too.

A picture named hebrewHunk.jpg2. Do people use AppleScript these days? I honestly don't know. I'm thinking of making a tool to run in the OPML Editor that calls one of your scripts when a new Twit from someone you follow comes in. The script would be in a special folder on your desktop and could be written in AppleScript. It seems to me people want to script Twitter, and I know how to make it easy. Not sure if AppleScript is the way to go in 2008.

3. Scoble is really into the BlogTalkRadio zero-config podcast tool. That's so cool. Scoble is a useful guy to have around. Want to know what a user thinks or likes? Ask Scoble. ;->

4. I went to see There Will Be Blood today. I had to see it cause everyone says it's going to win a boatload of Oscars on Sunday. I liked it. Great acting. Not exactly a feel-good movie, but that's okay. Adults like movies that aren't necessarily feel good. (But I still think Juno is the best movie of 2007, and I'm a big fan of Michael Clayton.)

A picture named us.gif5. The talking heads on cable news don't get the point in yesterday's USA 2.0 post. The Dems should be aiming at running the table, taking solid majorities in both houses and a mandate-level plurality for President Obama, an LBJ-level landslide. We need a government, not more bullshit. The Republics need to move over for four to eight years so we can resume our position of leadership in the world, the new world, not the old one. The one where our workers have to compete for the business. We used to get all the business by default. That's not the world we live in anymore folks. The Republics don't get that.

6. Most people seem to be missing the substance in NY Times story about McCain and the lobbyist. It's not really a scandal, what happened is that the lobbyist was going around telling people she had special access to McCain, which seemed to be substantiated because she was seen around town with McCain a lot. Whether they were having sex or not is a distraction. That his aides met with her and told her to stop saying she had access was perfectly natural and appropriate. It happens in Silicon Valley too.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, February 21, 2008. Thursday, February 21, 2008

United States 2.0 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

During the debate my friend Lance Knobel wrote a post wondering if perhaps Hillary Clinton was conceding the nomination to Barack Obama.

By the end of the debate, I too thought that's what had happened.

Maybe we can see our way to something wonderful, instead of a continued struggle. She gets to be a major figure in the US Senate supporting a Democratic President. Not bad. Maybe she's the new Majority Leader.

Maybe the goal isn't just to win the White House but to get a strong majority in both houses.

A woman Speaker and a woman Majority Leader.

And a black President. What a way to roll out USA 2.0.

PS: I'd like to see Obama pick Senator Jim Webb of Virginia for vice-president.

PPS: Webb gave the Democratic response to the 2007 State of the Union.

A picture named us.gif A picture named us.gif

Campaign conference call MP3s, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named diggin.gifLots of leads for the MP3s of campaign conference calls after yesterday's piece, but so far not one actual MP3 has been squeezed out of MSM or the campaigns.

I made official inquiries through the Obama and Clinton websites, no response yet. At least the Obama website seemed to understand that I wasn't offering to stuff envelopes or drive people to the polls.

Hillary explained, in an email response, that she gets a lot of email and can't respond to each one individually. Then she listed all the ways I could help her campaign, including giving her money. That's a pretty incompetent way to respond to a press inquiry.

One professional reporter explained that they don't publish press releases so why should they make the MP3s of the conference calls available. Oy. They clearly don't understand that as voters we might have an interest in unfiltered access to the actual words of the campaign. It never occurs to them, apparently, that not every voter sees their spin as a total value-add.

Four years from now we'll look back at this in amazement that there was a day when campaigns hid their words and ideas behind the filters of the press.

Anyway, until we have a regularly updating feed with MP3s of the campaign conference calls, I won't stop beating the drum.

Steven Mays: "I'd love to hear these calls, raw and unedited."

Where did the 35 years come from? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

William King asks how Hillary Clinton justifies her claim that she has 35 years experience in government.

It boggles my mind how Hillary came up with a grand total of 35 years of political experience. I know she has seven years of being a senator. Now she has never served in a political position, or a public office, prior to that. Neither has she had a high profile job in the government: she wasn't a secretary of any department. So where has she gotten the other 28 years from? That I would truly like to know.
Good question. Looks like a real stretch.

Where did Dave go? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Over time, I'm using Twitter more and more, and posting less to the weblog. I'm still posting lots of links, but you have to follow me on Twitter to get them. I'm looking at ways to cross-post some of them here.

I'm also considering ways to centralize communication in the FlickrFan community, which is growing nicely. I'm concerned because mail lists almost always turn into platforms for people who don't use the product to sneer at it. So I'm looking for some way to strike a balance. I like hearing from users, but I don't have the time to deal with others.

If you have questions about the podcatcher, for now, please post them here:


Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, February 20, 2008. Wednesday, February 20, 2008

AppleScript to add a podcast Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I had dinner on Sunday night with an old friend, Andrew Grumet, who now works at PodShow. I met Andrew when we were both in Cambridge, MA. He was one of the people who showed up at Berkman when we started the bloggers group that meets every Thursday night (and still does as far as I know).

Andrew went on to lead the development of iPodder, which became Juice, the open source podcatcher written in Python that Adam Curry started. I told him about my efforts to create an AppleScript that would copy an MP3 to a (possibly new) playlist in iTunes. Andrew pointed me to the code they developed for Juice.

I had a few minutes to try it out today, it took a little clumsy tweaking and fiddling to get it to work (I don't really "get" AppleScript), but it works! I just copied a new episode of Face The Nation to my New Podcasts playlist in iTunes.

Here's the code.

Screen shot.

Onward! ;->

MP3s of candidate conference calls? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

They talk about them all the time on the news shows, every day the major Presidential candidates have conference calls with reporters.

It seems much of the real action in the campaign happens here, but we (voters, taxpayers, citizens) have no access.

I listened to an MP3 of one of the calls, with the chief strategist and communications director of the Clinton campaign. It was fascinating, gave me a picture of how the press and the candidates relate that I had never seen before.

Now I want more -- I want it all! ;->

I've been asking around, where can I get MP3s of all the conference calls, the day they happen, in full, not spun through the reporters, and so far have come up with nothing. So I'm bringing this issue to as many people as I can think of who might either know how I can get them, or apply pressure to one or more news organizations to make them public.

I'd of course like to see them made available as an RSS 2.0 feed with enclosures, so it will be accessible to everyone with a podcast client. I would help create this, even host the feed if necessary.

Anyone at a major media organization would have access to this content. I'm pretty sure it's all on the record. Any help would be much appreciated.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, February 19, 2008. Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Podcatcher for FlickrFan users Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named bucky.gifIf you're using FlickrFan, you should have a copy of podcatcher.root in your Tool folder. If not now, at the top of the next hour (launch the OPML app so it can do the update).

I want to get started with a small group of people, develop features, and then figure out how to broaden it, if that turns out to be the right thing to do. For now, I just want a testbed to develop, and a group of interested users.

I've put together a brief cheat sheet for FlickrFan users.

If you have a question please post it there and we'll try to get you the answer.

Hope it works, and hope you like it.

Busy day Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm working today on getting the first release of podcatcher.root out to FlickrFan users.

In the meantime, the BlogTalkRadio people are responding to support questions and updating the service in response to feedback in the comments on yesterday's post.

A picture named accordion.gifI think people are beginning to get the idea that this is an API, not an end-user service, although if you don't mind reading XML, it can be a pretty handy way to create a podcast when you're caught in Bay Bridge traffic or riding on a bus, or happen to have an idea while you're talking with a friend on your iPhone (it's really easy to turn a call into a conference call with the iPhone).

I hope people build apps for end-users with this back-end. I plan to use it to facilitate communication between people who use my podcatcher. And of course any other app that can read RSS 2.0 feeds with MP3 enclosures.

It's not meant to be a replacement for high quality studio-created podcasts, rather it's very good for instant note-taking type casts. I want to use this with Scoble to talk about some of the media hackery we hash out when we have brainstorming talks.

Not revolutionary, or earth-shaking, but easy, and a nice thing to have.

Anyway, if you use FlickrFan watch your Tools folder for podcatcher.root. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Monday, February 18, 2008. Monday, February 18, 2008

The simplest podcast API ever Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A new service from BlogTalkRadio...

Call their special phone number: 646-200-0000. It records the call. When you're done it creates an RSS 2.0 feed with an enclosure that's an MP3 of the call.

The address of the feed is a function of the phone number you called from. I just called in a podcast from my Nokia N95, which they added to this feed:

That's all there is to it! No registration. They have a web page for it, but it's completely unnecessary.

It's the new application of RSS that I wrote about on Saturday. It's brilliant because of it's so simple.

A picture named love.gifSome people think innovation in technology is about how hard it is to implement, or how long it took, or how complex it is, or convoluted. They see innovation as wizardry. I see it differently. I'm impressed by the ratio of functionality to complexity. I like that number to be as big as possible, because the less complex it is, the fewer moving parts, the less likely it is to break, and the easier it will be for others to build on the idea.

Hats off to the BTR guys, they've come up with something truly useful that's also very simple.

Could it be simpler? I don't see how. ;->

A picture named loveRssSticker.gif

Ain't too proud to beg Permanent link to this item in the archive.

The Obama Express. My latest piece on Huffington.

If you like it, please feel free to pass it on. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, February 17, 2008. Sunday, February 17, 2008

Maybe Flickr should have a Twitter? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named spiderman.gifLast summer, when I was exploring the edges of Twitter, and building a voicemail service that hooked into Twitter with BlogTalkRadio, and then hooking my digital camera up to Twitter through Flickr, it seemed inevitable that Twitter would eventually support "payloads" so that objects like pictures and MP3s could hitch a ride on a Twitter message without using up any of he 140 characters, and with a neat url-less display.

The idea just kind of sat there, we've been quietly using the services, accepting their awkwardness, but without direct support from Twitter, they probably won't become mainstream.

Along comes Twitxr, in a post by Mike Arrington on TechCrunch, and I go -- why? This doesn't seem right. Too many steps. I have it much easier, Twitter is hooked right up to my camera, I never have to get my desktop or laptop in the loop when I want to post a picture. To prove the point, I'll now take a picture of this post, and shoot it up to Twitter.

So now Twitxr basically says it's time to give up the wait for Twitter, and maybe they're right, but for this??? I don't really think this is what I want. If I have to use a whole new Twitter for photography, I probably want it to be Flickr, which I already use, whose API we've already mastered, whose scaling we trust, and even though Yahoo's future is in doubt, it's more certain than that of a startup.

Choice #1, if the Twitter guys are listening, is to go ahead and help us, your developers, create something seamless out of what you already have. No matter what it's easier for users to stay with what they're already using. It really isn't, it seems to me, in your interest to have users switch??

Twitxr throws down a challenge to both Flickr and Twitter.

To Twitter: Scale, scale, scale and add payloads to the API.

To Flickr: Go ahead and do an event streamer for pictures.

Alan Jones: "Twixtr seems to do a pretty fair job of guesstimating my location with each image I upload from my iPhone."

The Obama Express Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Last night a bunch of us on Twitter watched the C-SPAN broadcast of the Democratic Party dinner in Milwaukee where both Clinton and Obama spoke.

Clinton was unusually good, but as Frank Rich says in today's excellent NY Times column, "It's hara-kiri for a politician to step into the shadow of even a mediocre speech by Barack Obama."

Obama was far from mediocre last night. His speech was of such high caliber, so motivational, even in anger Obama is the man, he keeps getting better and now he's in league with the best American political oratory. The man is only 46 years old.

Last night's speech is archived on the C-SPAN site. We're having trouble with it on Macs but it's reported to work well on Windows.

So many of us want to get on board the Obama Express. This is the America we want. This is the leadership we've been lacking. You have to go back to Kennedy's "Ask Not" plea to find a leader as inspiring as Obama.

And inspiration matters -- totally.

How else are we going to get past the wedge issue politics of the last N years. We need some good strong glue to connect us again.

A picture named roveBush.jpgThe last eight years have been so terrible. The US government did more to help Iraqis than it did to help Americans. 49 percent of the electorate was held in contempt and then after the election the other 51 percent was held in contempt as well. No one but the cronies of the Bush family were given access to power. Iraqi politicians had more influence on our government than Democrats.

Yesterday I heard that 5 percent of the homes in Detroit are in some form of foreclosure. It's almost as bad in parts of the sunbelt, California, Arizona, Florida. And the mortgage crisis isn't over. There are more cliffs in the coming months, more junk mortgages whose payments balloon in the summer and fall, so there will be more foreclosures, more families going bankrupt. Those who think the government will bail them out should think about how effective government help has been in Louisiana and Mississippi, American states that are still economically under water, almost three years after Katrina.

Fred Wilson is concerned about the superdelegates thwarting the will of the electorate and ratifying the wrong candidate for President. I'm not worried. Read the Frank Rich article I linked to above. Obama is a freight train. The superdelegates aren't stupid, they can see, better than you and I, where the power is flowing. They want to be on the right side of history. And Obama is not naive, he's running a campaign on them now, just as he ran campaigns in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, etc.

Obama will sweep the remaining primaries, and by March 4 it will be apparent to everyone but perhaps Bill and Hillary that it's over. The superdelegates will adjust to get in line with reality.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, February 16, 2008. Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Gallup poll Permanent link to this item in the archive.

For the first time Barack Obama has a statistically significant lead over Hillary Clinton, 49-42.

Draft Lessig Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Draft Lessig for Congress.

1-2-3 fix for boring conferences Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Most conferences are brain-numbingly boring, right?

All the good stuff happens out in the lobby.


Want to fix conferences? Easy!

Just move the speakers out into the lobby.

You could put some mattresses in the meeting room for people with jetlag to catch up on their sleep.

It's just Scoble! Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Talking on the phone with Steve Gillmor.

Another call comes in.

"Hold a sec Steve."


"Never mind, it's just Scoble."

We had a good laugh.

I said it would be a good name for a Scoble TV show.

We both agreed. Even better, Scoble would probably like it.

I called Scoble back.

Sure enough, we were right! ;->

A picture named justScoble.jpg

Another application for RSS Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On Monday, a new application for RSS.


As far as I know, it's never been done before.

And no, I didn't invent it. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 15, 2008. Friday, February 15, 2008

I heart EyeTV Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named ohRudyIsntThisAFunPlace.jpgOne of the neatest gadgets I've bought in the last year is a high-def receiver to work with the EyeTV software. It plugs into a USB port on my Mac, and it receives digital high-def programming over the air.

I put it in my upstairs study where I've got a clear view of San Francisco Bay, and the reception is very very good. I get all the big networks this way, was able to record last night's episode of Lost in full HD fidelity, for example. Just for the cost of the disk space.

And the best thing is that I get a half-dozen different PBS broadcasts. I've recorded somegreat stuff. My favorite so far is a special from 1967 Monterey Pop festival. Wow. So many heroes of the rock revolution when they were young and dewy. I'm watching Grace Slick and the Jefferson Airplane singing one of their classics.

I forgot how optimistic those days were.

There's this moment where the camera moves to Mama Cass watching, studying -- in awe of Janis Joplin, performing Ball And Chain. There's art, and media, networks, and the future viewed through the lens of what's now relatively ancient history.

Scoble wrote the other day of technology so great that it made him weep. I know the feeling. ;->

Why Valleywag doesn't work Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Valleywag is mostly puff pieces. I guess they're writing about people who, for one reason or another, they don't want to offend.

Typical of business press. Don't screw your sources or else they'll dry up. Don't speak ill of Steve Jobs or else no cover picture for you.

So, it's reasonable to conclude -- if you read something unbelievably nice about someone in Valleywag, that person is a source.

Thing is, they're reduced to attacking about five people. And the flow is miniscule. A pointer from VW is worth about 20 hits.

In other words, hire a business reporter to do VW, and you get Infoworld, about 25 years too late.

Senate roll call on FISA renewal Permanent link to this item in the archive.

President Bush is going all the way to get amnesty for the phone companies who assisted the government in what appear to be illegal wiretaps of American citizens.

The Senate, even though it's controlled by Democrats, went with this nonsense (roll call). The House acted as a firewall, and voted for FISA renewal without amnesty. Good for them.

Among the Presidential candidates, Obama voted against amnesty (thanks), McCain voted for, as did all other Republicans, and Clinton didn't vote, even though she was in DC and could have.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, February 14, 2008. Thursday, February 14, 2008

What if you were a criminal President? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

President Bush wants to give the phone companies immunity.

Who would you like to give immunity to?

What crimes are you willing to excuse?

Putting outages to good use Permanent link to this item in the archive.

If you're a regular user of Twitter you're probably quite familiar with this image.

A picture named smallswearscreen.gif

They've tried lots of variants, making it funny, or cute, with pictures of LOL Cats, doing cute things with screw drivers, but the pictures aren't funny for long, the more you see them, the more tiresome they get.

Then I had an idea they could be used for a good cause.

Yeah that does it! ;->

How to get Twitter to declare your love Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Those little devils who keep the gears turning inside the Twitter machine added a toy that's got the community sending public love missives whizzing around. You can figure it out yourself, or you can cheat and read this howto.

@lovelyperson <3

Substitute the name of your lover in place of "lovelyperson" and you've just broadcast your love to all of TwitterLand.

While we're on the subject of Twitter, a couple of other items.

1. A must-read piece in today's NY Times, gives a clue why kids don't go for Twitter if their parents use it. No kid wants to be observed by his or her parents. Would they go for it if their parents weren't there? No one knows.

A picture named hebrewHunk.jpg2. Conventional wisdom says you can't build a scalable distributed Twitter out of RSS. At first I accepted this, as a puzzle, then I remembered that's why we put the cloud element in there. I felt that for some applications polling would be too much. Since the cloud element has been largely ignored, most of the the apps of RSS couldn't scale to do what Twitter does. But if RSS desktop apps like NetNewsWire or FeedDemon were adapted to understand the cloud element, and if a proxy system was worked out to get through firewalls and NAT, it might just work.

3. Or you could use XMPP. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2008. Wednesday, February 13, 2008

For the Twitter FAQ Permanent link to this item in the archive.

This Meg Fowler post should be part of the Twitter FAQ.

"I even love the people that unfollow me because I won't shut up. I support your efficiency and realization of my inherent freakiness."

That pretty much sums up the mutual laissez-faire-ness of the culture that forms around a tool with the feature set of Twitter.

About my Seesmic investment Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Today, Seesmic, the company founded by Loic Le Meur, announced their initial $6 million funding. Several people noticed that my name isn't on the list of investors.

A picture named chicken.jpgI'll probably end up kicking myself when Seesmic becomes the next Google or YouTube. I remain a fan of the company and Loic and his team and will be rooting for them.

Why did I get cold feet? It has nothing to do with the product or the company, both of which appear to be outstanding. It's the stock market. I had to make the final Seesmic decision as I was getting out of stock, at a significant loss.

The only stock I hold now is AAPL, and sadly, it's way under the price I paid for it on October 8.

Like a lot of other investors, right now stocks give me the willies. I will likely get back in, slowly, a little bit every week to average out the price, hoping the market has found a bottom.

I don't care if Roger Clemens is lying Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm a lifelong baseball fan, and I don't care if Roger Clemens took steroids, or if he is lying or if McNamee is lying.

News is stuff that's important. If it's national news, it's stuff that is important to everyone in the nation. Whether Clemens took steroids or not is a proper topic for a 60 Minutes, Fresh Air or Nightline segment. To take a whole day across all the cable channels the day after three pivotal primaries is very wrong. (And what if they do it again tomorrow? Oy.)

A picture named mcnameeTestifies.jpgSo it's ridiculous that all the cable news channels are broadcasting the full testimony of Roger Clemens and his accuser. Hours of repetitive questions and the same answers, over and over, while there is news happening in the world. I know because I'm subscribed to the MSNBC and AP feeds on Twitter. I have a Google Alert that shows me results of all the campaign conference calls. (There have been a couple this morning, from Obama and McCain, I'd love to get MP3s, and still looking for a feed.)

It's time for some serious routing-around, or for the cable news programmers to get back on the job.

Elisa Camahort: "Oh God, I so agree."

Cross-posted at Huffington.

The mind of Yahoo Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday while we were waiting for returns from the Potomac Primaries, some disturbing things started showing up on the wire. Layoffs at Yahoo, long planned, were now happening. People we knew were leaving. This morning we have a better idea of how wide the layoffs were.

You have to wonder what they're thinking at Yahoo.

Odds are that Yahoo is going to be acquired, even though they rejected Microsoft's offer, it's not clear that there's another way forward. The possibility of going it alone seems even slimmer after the layoffs.

Why would Yahoo want to self-inflict more doubt about its future at this moment where doubt is its worst problem?

There's only one explanation. The layoffs were planned before Microsoft made its bid. "Business as usual" may be the order of the day, but this order should have been held until the Microsoft situation has cleared. If Microsoft is the new owner, let them decide who should go and stay, and whether Yahoo as a whole can operate with less profitabiity. As a division of a larger company they have less direct responsibility to shareholders. If they're going forward alone, then perhaps the layoffs still make sense, or maybe not. When tech companies are acquired the people are the primary asset.

You gotta wonder what Microsoft thinks about this. Maybe it's the ultimate poison pill. Let's get rid of the talent that Microsoft wants to acquire. Of course that's a poison pill that would surely kill the patient.

A hint in a postscript Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Dare Obasanjo works at Microsoft.

In his blog post about the Yahoo layoffs, in a postscript, he indicates that Microsoft is interested in creating a Twitter clone.

I've said openly, on Twitter (and now here) that I would like to be part of a venture that aims to create a scalable Twitter. I've had several conversations with people who are attempting to do this. I haven't done a deal yet.

My bet: There will be a lot of growth in Twitter in the coming years, and it seems likely that the Twitter company will not be able to scale their systems to meet the demand. There are features that should have been in the product and in the API months ago that are on the back-burner, likely due to Twitter's constant battle to meet meet demand (scaling).

As a user, I'd like to view the product and the company as a black box, but that's impossible with the system glitches and outages. What users are doing now with Twitter is far more important, imho, than the servers, or the company. The company, understandably, thinks their issues are most important, but that's a matter of perspective. We don't own any stock in the company, so our perspective reflects that. To us, they're a utility.

All this is a verbose way of saying that Microsoft applying their resources and scaling knowhow to this problem woud be an interesting development.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, February 12, 2008. Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Resolving the super-delegate issue Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named chesapeakeTuesdayShowdown.jpgMichael Markman asked his rep to support Senator Obama, because his district went for him in the Washington caucus last Saturday. The response he got is one we've heard frequently. What about Kennedy and Kerry, will they vote for Clinton because Massachusetts went for her?

What I said: "They're independent questions. It's a rhetorical trick to try to invalidate your opinion or confuse you. You want your rep to support Obama. Period. Let's send emails to Kerry and Kennedy saying the same thing."

In any case...

I don't think it's going to be such a big issue.

The remaining primaries are a referendum on the two candidates. The voters of Virginia, Maryland, DC, Wisconsin, Vermont, Rhode Island, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, et al, will decide. Whoever they choose will be the nominee. The super-delegates who invalidate that decision do so at considerable risk. In the age of the Internet, we have excellent communication tools. There will be no way to hide such a decision. That's what makes 2008 different.

A possible Democratic ad for the fall Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Best Buy sued for losing laptop Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A customer filed a $54 million lawsuit against Best Buy for losing an $1100 laptop she took in for service. The reason, exposure to identity theft.

A picture named sony.gifIt's about time vendors were forced to recognize the value of customers' data. I recall how the chief genius at the Apple store in Emeryville complained that they would have to eat the cost of the drive in a deal they made with the manufacturer. Someday they'll have a clue that the data on most drives is worth far more than the hardware, and that their potential liability, if the data ends up in the hands of an identity thief, is also much greater.

Susan Kitchens: "The arrogance just takes my breath away."

A list worth studying Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Here's the Wikipedia list of Democratic super-delegates.

A peek behind the screen Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jim Posner sent me a link yesterday to an MP3 of a conference call between the press and two members of the Clinton campaign. It's really illuminating.

There are controversies the press isn't reporting, esp betw the Clinton campaign and NBC. Will there be a debate on Feb 26 and will CNN host it or MSNBC? There's some doubt, but you can't see it when you watch the broadcasts.

I'd love to subscribe to a feed of these conference calls, but we only happened to stumble upon this one. This morning on MSNBC they were talking about a conference call with Hillary Clinton, they said she sounded tired. I'd like to hear that for myself.

There's a difference in 2008, the campaign is not just being covered by the professional media, the people are doing it too. Even if we don't have our people on the calls, I'd still like to hear them.

So, if you have an idea how we could catch a stream of these, please post a comment. Thanks.

PS: I archived the MP3 in case the link above goes bad.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, February 11, 2008. Monday, February 11, 2008

Scripting the iPod, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Continuing the thread from yesterday.

I got absolutely nowhere, some people suggested I use a smart playlist, missing the point that I'm a developer working on a podcatcher, not a user trying to use iTunes as a podcatcher. I'm sure it's an excellent way to subscribe to podcasts, but I have my own ideas how podcatchers should work, and I want to integrate them with other stuff I'm working on. Integrating with iTunes is proving to be quite a challenge, or maybe it's an art, we'll see.

As usual Mac users are superior sumbitches. ;->

(Quoting the James Brolin character the first time we meet him in the third season finale of The West Wing.)

Anyway, the search continues, I tried another more direct tack, and looked for glue for iTunes for UserLand, and bingo, there's a match, from 2001, a well-known Frontier programmer Sean Elfstrom, apparently converted glue for the Sonic SoundJam app that iTunes used to be, before Apple acquired it.

I installed the glue in the OPML Editor. It's daunting, for sure, but let's see what I can get working.

Permanent link to archive for Sunday, February 10, 2008. Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy birthday XML Permanent link to this item in the archive.

According to Tim Bray, and he ought to know, today is the 10th birthday of XML.

XML is good basic technology that we've built lots of stuff on.

It's certainly not perfect, but nothing is, it's a good example of Less Is More and Worse Is Better.

It has also been the subject of many dramatic political battles. But thankfully, that seems to be behind us now. Today, we just use XML, and it serves us well.

Thanks to the originators of XML and the W3C for seeing it through. ;->

PS: My branch of the RSS tree was 10 years old in December, and XML-RPC will celebrate its 10th in March. This period in 1997 and 1998 was, in retrospect, a very productive period in web tech.

Scripting the iPod Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A Sunday morning exploration...

I want to write a script to move podcasts from my Mac hard disk to my New Podcasts playlist on my iPod.

More simply: A script to add an MP3 file to a playlist on an iPod. If it has to go through iTunes, so be it. It must be relatively simple and reliable.

I can write the script in AppleScript, but I'd prefer to write it in UserTalk so that porting to Windows (if possible) won't be a completely new project.

Update #1: I found this tool from Peter Breuls. (It doesn't contain any code for copying to an iPod.)

Update #2: This 2003 post from Adam Curry mentions a script created by "Marcus" that does what I want.

Yahoo + Microsoft, reloaded Permanent link to this item in the archive.

If you search for Yahoo Microsoft, this page is the second hit. I like that of course. It's generating a fair amount of flow, since the combination of Yahoo and Microsoft is a pretty hot topic.

Keeping the topic going, I think it's pretty amazing that Microsoft wants to buy Yahoo, but then again, which of all their web efforts has captured our imagination? At least Yahoo has Flickr, and when they try something new, we all try it with them (often with not the greatest results).

The rambling continues...

If Yahoo is into poison pills, try this one out.

Reserve 5 percent of Yahoo's common stock for blogger options. Put us to work to find new businesses for Yahoo, ones that are relevant to our world. When we find them, reward the bloggers with a significant upside stake in Yahoo's future, not the airy-fairy kind, but real stock that we can trade. Handled properly, it could raise shareholder value by much more than 5 percent. Just the kind of deal they pay you to do, oh Yahoo gods and board members. ;->

Of course it'll never happen. It's an idea like the one I keep proposing for newspapers -- that they hire their public editors from the public, independent bloggers with no journalism experience, with no undue reverence for the institutions so revered by journos. They're going away, just like Yahoo is (sad but true). Now what will rise in their place? Imho, something that's home grown, with the integrity of the people, in our interest. The more they invite the public in, the more clued in they will be when we figure out where we want to go with news on the web.

It's why I'm excited about the Obama campaign and why I keep giving to it (I'm up to $400 now). I'm excited because so many other people are excited.

I like his idea about tuition for public service for college students. It's so simple. People want to be involved, they want to use their energy and creativity to solve problems. In the 20th century we were couch potatoes. In the 21st we do it for ourselves.

The first tech company that fully embraces this, not just in the form of User Generated Content (what an insult) but by giving us power (that comes from stock) will rule the world. If Y! had the guts, it won't be long before they're making tender offers to buy out Ballmer.

BTW, I think I understand why Ballmer wants Yahoo!

When Yahoo engineers wake up they program stuff like Yahoo Live, which is pretty cool and runs on the web, and while it steals ideas from smaller companies, it adds some pretty cool stuff of its own.

When Microsoft engineers wake up they program stuff like Vista, a multi-year, multi-billion dollar waste of money, time and customer goodwill. They can't do another Vista without wrecking the franchise. Now the question is -- where do they go for growth? That's what Yahoo is for.

Mini-Microsoft: "Give me that dream and a milkshake and at least I get to enjoy the milkshake."

Greenspun: "If I were a Yahoo shareholder, I would be looking at purchasing an old battleship, sail it into San Francisco Bay, and lobbing some shells on the Board members' houses in Atherton.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, February 09, 2008. Saturday, February 09, 2008

Debating health care in 2008, day 2 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named bushBushClinton.jpgYesterday's piece on health care and the presidential election got a great response, and some of it from Republicans, using the slogans and logic I hoped they wouldn't.

But that's okay, it helps me focus my rhetoric on the precise point of disagreement, and hopefully by illuminating it, I can either convince some of them to come over to my side, or help eliminate some of the confusion on both sides. Or maybe it'll just keep the argument from slopping over into all kinds of irrelevant issues.

The basic Republican argument goes like this. Why should I pay for the health needs of people who are so irresponsible as to not have health insurance.

If I got it wrong, please set me straight.

Now I'd like to answer this, very carefully.

The Democrats aren't proposing that you should pay for the uninsured. Key point. They either agree with you, or know that they're not going to get their proposal passed unless they take this into account. The Obama plan says you don't get care unless you have insurance. His proposal aims to get a lot more people insured. Clinton goes one step further, by requiring everyone to have health insurance.

Also, you already pay for the health needs of the uninsured. Whether you or I like it, we don't look the other way when someone is in need. You may feel the system should work differently, but that's not responsive to the proposal the Democrats are making.

The debate is how health care works for the non-indigent.

If you have property, a car, a house, or if your kids go to private school or college, or if you want to take a vacation, or have a baby, or exercise between jobs, getting sick without insurance is a sure way to go from being middle class to being poor, quickly. This is why we have health insurance, to smoothe out the risk, to protect our family's lifestyle. It seems to me it's a good thing. It's the market solving a basic human need.

So this is what we should be discussing, how can we get insurance for all the people who want it, or should we require it for everyone -- this is the debate of 2008. This is what the Democrats are putting on the table, and what McCain, or whoever is the Republican nominee, will have to respond to, if we're going to have the respectful debate everyone is talking about having.

Why is this such a problem?

A lot of people, even healthy people without pre-existing conditions, can't get health insurance. And what if you have a pre-existing condition? Do you really think it's cool for the insurance industry to refuse them coverage? Why is that a good thing? I honestly don't get it. Consider the penalty for not having insurance. (See above.)

A picture named byeByeSaysDubya.gifSo far the leaders of the Republican Party have managed to keep health care off the national agenda, but this year, it's there. If you doubt me, just ask a few people you know, and don't just ask poor people or Democrats, ask Republicans. Disease isn't a party issue, and while poor people tend to have poorer health, even well-off people need health care. And most people can't afford to pay for a catastrophic illness, and enough of them can't get health insurance to make this an important national issue. If you disagree with this, please let me know why.

PS: Phil Windley asks where it stops. Should we provide free housing for the homeless? And what about free cable TV for people without cable TV? (He provides other examples.) No, this is only about health insurance. It's not about any of the other things mentioned in Phil's post.

$99 down or $99 per month Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named 99downor99permonth.gif

Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 08, 2008. Friday, February 08, 2008

Debating health care in 2008 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named science.gifI hope the Republicans come prepared to debate health care this year, and they leave the platitudes and slogans home.

Enough of us have been seriously sick, or know someone who has, or have family members who have been or are now. The way the Republicans describe health care, it's as if they've never been through it or don't know anyone who has.

I got some pushback, not much, from a casual mention of universal health care a few days ago. Some think the problem can be solved through the "private sector" but that's nonsense. There is no such thing in health care. It's not a free market, as anyone who's been through it can tell you. There's nothing free about it. (Free as in freedom, not as in free beer.)

When you check into a hospital you turn over your whole being to the health care system. I can't imagine anything changing that, nor do I think it should. When you're dangerously ill, decisions must be made about you. To people who have never relinquished control, it's a big trip, because that's what you have to do. You spend huge amounts of time waiting. You can't sleep because hospitals are 24-by-7. You're much more likely to get an infection in a hospital, and infection on top of other disease can kill. Even so, people are treated and some even are cured by the system. Lives are definitely prolonged, pain is eased.

Whether we have universal health care or not, it won't change the basics of how health care works, and how unfair it is to be sick and fighting for your life. But there are some things we can change, and if you have a heart, and think about it, I don't see how anyone could be against universal health care and still sleep at night.

One commenter said that no one is ever turned away from an emergency room, as if that's all there was to health care. First, emergency rooms do turn people away, and some of them die. But most disease is not treated in emergency rooms. If you need drugs to treat cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, AIDS, heart disease, depression, arthritis, emphysema, to name a few common chronic diseases -- you're out of luck if you don't have insurance. You could die years before you would with treatment, or might suffer, where if you had good insurance, you wouldn't.

I'm lucky I have good health insurance. It's lucky that I lived in Massachusetts when my COBRA policy expired, it's the one state in the US that has liberalized health insurance. I'm lucky that I can afford the monthly payments. I'm lucky. But why should getting the care and treatment you need depend on luck? We can do so much better. And I think our country would do better with a healthy population that knows if they, or someone they love, got sick they'll the help they need.

It'll be interesting to see if we can get McCain to talk about this, if he turns out to be the Republcan nominee. The Republicans have never been responslble about this issue. It's of huge importance to Americans, and McCain presents himself as an honest person. He must understand how the health care system actually works. He's been through it himself, probably many times.

BTW, Hillary's passion for computerizing medical records is a good thing. She's right, a lot of money could be saved, the system could be made much more efficient, people would get better treatment, and lives would be saved. The sooner we get busy doing this, the better it will be for all of us.

Update: Cross-posted at Huffington.

McCain's baggage Permanent link to this item in the archive.

McCain's baggage.

McCain loves him some baggage.

Permanent link to archive for Thursday, February 07, 2008. Thursday, February 07, 2008

That's right the women are smarter Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Not sure where I heard this, but if Bill can be the first black president, then Barack can be the first woman president. ;->

Pass it on.

This could be a nightmare Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named users.jpgIn a year the Democrats should win the White House in a walk, we've got a perfect storm that could put a Republican there.

With the Republican nominee all but decided, the Democrats are split down the middle across racial, gender, economic and age lines.

So we have three parties, not two, and the Republicans are spouting the same old fear about war and security while they advocate raping the Constitution and spending us into oblivion. Four more years of spitting and swearing while our economy goes from second rate to third world.

How will this get resolved?


Alex G: "It will get resolved same way all other elections are -- with Americans getting shafted in the ass."

Paul Ding: "I think Hillary will drop out of the race long before Pennsylvania votes."

I am not angry!

Shall we spy on Valleywag? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

We know who they go after, but who won't they touch and why?

It would be easy to put together a scorecard and a list of Web 2.0 luminaries who haven't graced their pages.

We might find out who's sleeping with the editors of Valleywag. ;->

Permanent link to archive for Wednesday, February 06, 2008. Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Should Yahoo accept Microsoft's offer? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Mike Arrington is doing a great job of laying out the options for Yahoo wrt Microsoft's offer to buy them out. He's written two pieces that helped put it together for me. Mike clearly has great sources in the investment banking community and among potential buyers of Yahoo, and is actively talking with them. He's got a business lawyer's mind and, as you know I'm sure, he's spent the last few years immersed in web applications.

Bottom-line: Yahoo's three choices are: 1. Tough it out alone. 2. Sell advertising rights to Google. 3. Accept Microsoft's offer.

Mike argues that option 1 would result in shareholder lawsuits and in the end would get Yahoo nowhere because they'd end up selling to Microsoft eventually. Option 2 would enable them to pay a major cash dividend to their shareholders, making up for the lost windfall coming from Microsoft's offer. Options 2 and 3 have the risk of being rejected by government regulators.

A picture named loverss.jpgNow, as a member of Yahoo's developer community, and generally a respector of Yahoo (is that a word) -- I say take the deal. I don't think Yahoo has ever had leadership that has been up to navigating the treacherous waters of tech industry economics and politics. At least with the Microsoft acquisition they would get one -- Ray Ozzie. He's a guy you can sit across the table from and plot something out and he can deliver. I've had many good meetings with Yahoo people, but rarely have they resulted in action. From my own selfish point of view, Microsoft owning Yahoo might mean that Ray makes more trips to the Bay Area (figuratively) and when he sits down, we can talk about new open interfaces and developer programs for Yahoo properties.

I've read most of the commentary on the Yahoo deal, and the other piece that made an impression was Mark Cuban's. He says that Yahoo should accept the Microsoft deal because it would give them the breathing room they need re Wall Street. He argues that the market has always allowed Microsoft to sink resources into developing markets, and that's exactly what Yahoo needs to become the organization that it has been trying to be. Instead, the market treats Yahoo as a comp to Google, but Yahoo doesn't have the economics of Google, so that's, long-term, a losing battle.

There's one more reason I think Yahoo should sell to Microsoft -- the fatigue of the people. The company has been wobbly too long. If they don't take the Microsoft offer it's going to be a long wobbly decline and the shareholders will be right to be angry. Here's their chance to get out, it's time, so just do it.

PS: Open postscript -- Turn Yahoo into The RSS Powerhouse in every way. Build all new systems around RSS. If it isn't RSS it doesn't fly.

Update: Henry Blodget spots a glitch in the Microsoft offer.

Permanent link to archive for Tuesday, February 05, 2008. Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pay now or pay later Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Paul Ding: "You don't have to change the oil in your car. You can always replace the engine instead. Works the same way with health care."

Great essay on the cost heath care.

Been here before Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Allfacebook: "Last night the MySpace platform went live. This follows the launch of Bebo and Google will begin providing support to OpenSocial developers."

I've had a long career in an industry with incredibly short cycles. I've been to this place before.

As O'Neill says above, platform wars are raging, this time the front line is in social networking. 20 years ago the front was in basic networking protocols, before that software to operate laser printers. What always happens is a low-tech winner emerges, a consensus platform, usually not from the biggest company.

Guidelines: Simplicity rules. You'll know it when you see it.

Until then, I'm going to keep doing what I've been doing.

It would be great if someone developed a network address book with a simple API that everyone could build on. An event system built on it. Either fully distributed or hosted by a company we trust. That's what we're waiting for.

Permanent link to archive for Monday, February 04, 2008. Monday, February 04, 2008

Agence France-Presse in FlickrFan Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named afp.gifWe have some big news today for FlickrFan users, a major new source of high-def photography for the networked living room. They come from Agence France-Presse, one of the world's great news organizations, and a fantastic source of high-resolution news photography.

I met with Agence France-Presse when I was in Paris in December, introduced them to FlickrFan and explained what we were doing with the Associated Press. They got excited, it took a little while to work out the technical details, but now we're ready to go. The updates are all out, here's the howto for FlickrFan users.

Change #30: Agence France-Presse photos in FlickrFan.

There were unique challenges in this project because their flow is huge. Yesterday we got over 3000 new photos. Because there are so many, I asked my friend Matt Mullenweg, if his company Automattic could help us out with server space and bandwidth, and he said yes. The AFP pictures are hosted on Many thanks to Matt and his company for helping us out. To the extent we're bootstrapping a new use of the net, which I hope is what we're doing, Matt's company has made the kind of contribution we'd like to see more companies make. Usually the companies are happy to make the money, but not willing to help out with the bootstrap, which often costs money. Matt has always been a great guy and a visionary. I thank him and hope that FlickrFan users find an appropriate way to thank him too.

A picture named ap.gifAnd also, please consider the generosity of Associated Press and Agence France-Presse. We all hope that there's a market here, a way to monetize the flow of high-resolution photography to enrich and inform. Other content companies have been reluctant to take a chance on the Internet, we saw that in the early days of RSS and podcasting. I feel that these two media companies are playing the same pioneering role that the New York Times played with RSS 2.0 and NPR played in podcasting. Associated Press and Agence France-Presse deserve our respect and admiration for steping out, for going first, this is how new Internet activities get going. This is what we call market leadership, the real kind. Bravo!!

And this couldn't come at a better time, with tomorrow being Super Tuesday here in the USA. Think of all the great photographs we're going to get in the next few days!

Kevin Tofel helped test the feed over the weekend.

Philosophy in Boston Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Tim Jarrett understands what I'm saying.

What a great Superbowl, and what an opportunity for Boston sports fans to learn the value in losing.

What? Value in losing? You bet.

It wasn't that long ago when Boston was one of the best cities in the USA for sports precisely because Boston teams were such spectacular losers. I'll never forget the misery of the Dowbrigade after the Red Sox lost something (or did they win, I forget). They must have lost because he swore he'd never let them break his heart again the way they had for his whole life (he's about my age).

Losing teaches you that there's more to life than winning, and that's the best lesson possible and it's the one lesson you keep needing to learn over and over until you lose everything, which like it or not is what we all do in the end.

People write poetry about losing, great music is composed about lost causes. Who writes an ode to winning? They're too busy getting drunk or getting laid. ;->

Never have I loved a team more or felt more kinship with my fellow fans than when our team goes down in flames after a season of great ups and downs. No doubt there are no smiles or tears of joy in Boston today. But there is hope. And that, even when you win, is all that's left after a great season.

Campaign moments Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Yesterday CNN's Ballot Bowl, which continues to be an excellent and very useful program, ended with Caroline Kennedy at a campaign rally in Los Angeles. She was introducing Oprah, and they had to cut to a tape of Thursday's debate, which struck me as odd. I totally wanted to hear what Oprah had to say.

Update: Oprah at UCLA on YouTube.

Later in the car driving to a SuperBowl party at the Scobles in Half Moon Bay, I listened to the debate which was being broadcast on KQED, the local NPR station, and I was struck by how intelligent the two Democratic candidates are. I had totally missed that the first time, when I watched it live, I was paying too much attention to Twitter, and I was looking for the zinger. They had a thoughtful debate, both candidates were very well-informed. At one point I imagined Obama saying, "There you go again, see that's what I'm talking about" and saying how lucky he was to have an opponent who is so intelligent and thoughtful.

We are lucky. After eight years of Republican appeals to our naivete it is refreshing to be talked to as adults on TV by political leaders.

In contrast, the Repubican field is a mess. The front-runner, McCain is a petulant angry sore-winner, he argues about nothing. Ron Paul tells the truth, and they laugh at him. Huckabee cracks jokes about how irrelevant he has become. While the Dems were talking about real stuff, and arguing the fine points, the Republicans have been reduced to talking about nonsense like being a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution and waving the white flag of surrender. Obama is right when he says the wheels have come off the Straight Talk Express.

I want Obama for President. I'd love to see Hillary as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, so she can drive the effort, this time for real, for universal health care. The difference this time is that it's one of the central issues of the campaign. It's going to happen this time if a Democrat is elected. We have to make sure of that.

This piece is cross-posted on the Huffington Post.

Permanent link to archive for Saturday, February 02, 2008. Saturday, February 02, 2008

Obama live in Boise Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Permanent link to archive for Friday, February 01, 2008. Friday, February 01, 2008

Blogs win the LongNow bet Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Decision: Blogs vs. New York Times.

For the last couple of weeks I've been emailing with people from the LongNow Foundation and Martin Nisenholtz of the NY Times, to determine who won the bet.

A picture named uncleSamWeWon.gifUltimately we asked the foundation to consider all the arguments and make the decision.

They published their decision today. It's well worth reading because it answers some of the questions raised by the bet, for example, what is a blog, and how does Wikipedia relate to blogging. I don't agree with everything in the decision, but I do like the result -- we won. ;->

The beneficiary of the bet? The World Wide Web Consortium. I chose them as the charity to receive the proceeds if I won the bet because web standards are what make it all work and the W3C is central to standards on the web.

Best feel-good picture of 2007 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Okay, a few days ago I wrote a review of the Diving Bell and the Butterfly saying it could be the best picture of 2007, but even so you might want to skip it because the truth it reveals might be something you don't want to look at. It's a fine picture, but a tough one.

Another wonderful but tough picture is No Country for Old Men. It's one of those movies that leaves so much unresolved that you walk out of the theater not sure which foot goes in front of the other. On a second viewing it makes much more sense. The world isn't necessarily as crazy as it at first seemed.

A picture named juno.jpgBut there's a movie that is also incredibly well crafted, and gets better every time you think about it -- Juno. I didn't realize how much I liked it until I heard someone compare it to Little Miss Sunshine, a movie that I did not enjoy, unlike everyone else it seems. I loved Juno because it organizes its sweetness into love for one person, the star of the movie, Juno. But everyone, no matter how dorky or clueless (and some of the adults are truly dorky and clueless) shares the love. The movie has a wholeness, an unqualified goodness, you not only walk out of the theater in love with Juno and everyone else in the movie, but your heart is warmed for everyone, including yourself. It's that good.

All three remind how good movies can be.

And there were some not-too-bad movies at the end of 2007, for example, Atonement, which some didn't like, but I did. 3:10 to Yuma is a well-crafted genre picture. Michael Clayton was a perfect showcase for the talents of George Clooney. Great acting and a simple story in The Savages.

Which one was the best? I'd hate to have to choose!

Yahoo + Microsoft Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Should Yahoo accept Microsoft's offer?

Sure. What else do they have to do?

Most tech companies are pretty aimless, people think there's a grand plan to Apple or Google, but I bet there isn't. They just throw stuff up on the wall, if it sticks, do version 2.0. ;->

Does Yahoo + Microsoft make sense?

Nahh. It's like the dead leading the blind.

The only reason the deal makes sense is because it's the only thing either company could do that anyone might possibly care about.

It would make more sense for Twitter to acquire Yahoo. At least then they'd get some servers that could stay up for 24 hours straight. ;->

Anyway, I might have been too hard on em. But then again...

PS: To those who think Twitter couldn't acquire Yahoo, I might have agreed until we saw NeXT "buy" Apple.

PPS: Scott Rosenberg sees it as "a path to failure for both companies."

PPPS: Scoble thinks it's interesting.


I'm a California voter for Obama.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 52, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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On This Day In: 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998.

February 2008
Jan   Mar

Lijit Search
Things to revisit:

1.Microsoft patent acid test.
2.What is a weblog?
3.Advertising R.I.P.
4.How to embrace & extend.
5.Bubble Burst 2.0.
6.This I Believe.
7.Most RSS readers are wrong.
8.Who is Phil Jones?
9.Send them away.
10.Negotiate with users.
11.Preserving ideas.
12.Empire of the Air.
13.NPR speech.
14.Russo & Hale.
15.Trouble at the Chronicle.
15.RSS 2.0.
16.Checkbox News.
17.Spreadsheet calls over the Internet.
18.Twitter as coral reef.
19.Mobs of the blogosphere.
20.Advice for Campaigns.
21.Social Cameras.
22.The Next Big Thing.
23.It's time to open up networking, again.
24.Am I competing?
25.Time to shake up conferences?
26.Bloggers working with journalists.

Teller: "To discover is not merely to encounter, but to comprehend and reveal, to apprehend something new and true and deliver it to the world."

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