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

Should Twitter charge high-spew users? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named barf.jpgOm Malik asks if Twitter should charge users like Scoble who have huge numbers of followers.

It's a fair question because these users are super-expensive for Twitter, much more so than users with modest numbers of followers.

To get an idea, I have a little agent script that counts and ranks people I have followed in the recent past to get a rough idea of how much work they generate for Twitter's system software.

You can see that Scoble tops the list with a "spew factor" of 308,359,436. I'm #5 with a spew of 77,174,172.

Imho, they shouldn't charge these people because they're feeding the growth of Twitter. If you charge them a competitor will come along and might actually pay them to use their system because it will attract so many other users.

Right now Twitter doesn't need more money. They need a design that works, and an implementation of that design. They have lots of money and can get lots more.

How to do data portability Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named tramp.jpgI've heard a lot about data portability conferences and workshops, I've even been criticized for not going to one which happened on the west coast while I was in the east earlier this month. I don't plan to go to any of them, I don't see what's accomplished by having public meetings about this stuff. People who control users' data can accomplish a lot more by finding ways to give them the power to use it more effectively. Talking about principles of data portability only achieves talk. It gives people a sense of propriety over talking, not data, and people giving up propriety over talking are just yielding the floor, not yielding any power over users.

The best way to achieve data portability is to just do it.

I know that sounds silly, or obvious, but there is so much pretending that there's more to it, that it has to be said.

If you want to accomplish something by talking, call up a friend who works at Netflix or Yahoo and ask them if they'll let users move around their movie rating data. I've been asking about this for years. No one's email addresses are involved. All I want is the power to give Netflix permission to read an XML file on that contains my movie rating data (assuming Yahoo goes first). Anyone can see how much power this would give Yahoo. Why don't they do it? I honestly don't know. If I were them, I would.

Another example -- if Twitter wanted to buy itself some time and growth, and give developers something exciting to do, they would store as much user profile data as they can off servers and on Amazon. Simple XML formats, use some of their ability to raise investment capital (which they have proven) to grow the human network while they patch up or rewrite their system software. The more data they can move off their outage-prone systems, the more the network can grow around them, but not dependent on them. Amazon has proven they can keep their servers running. Leverage that.

A picture named tr.jpgThe discussion about data portability so far has fixed on the hardest most vexing technical, privacy and economic issues, the ones that probably don't have a resolution. My advice is to instead pick a few relatively easy data portability problems and solve them. Flying around the world to go to conferences to talk about the hardest problems won't actually achieve any data portability.

Update: Brad Feld argues for APIs. A few months ago I would have agreed, but today I don't think an API is enough. As we've seen with Twitter, when the service goes down, there is no API and there is 100 percent lock-in. We need more. The most vital data must be stored off-site, so it doesn't go away when the service goes down.

The 16-year rewrite Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In February 1992, I started work a piece of Frontier called the scheduler. It's the equivalent of what they call "cron" in Unix-Land. You can put scripts in four different places: 1. everyMinute scripts, 2. hourly scripts, 3. overnight scripts and 4. threads. It was a simple bit of code that's been running now for 16 years, on every copy of Frontier, Radio, or the OPML Editor.

It was built on the foundation for background processes that existed in 1992. A few years later a better foundation was built, but the scheduler was never adapted to run on that.

It's always had a certain flakiness, and I never had the patience to track it down. It's old code, written before I learned a lot of things about the Frontier environment, what works and what doesn't. I just lived with the flakiness.

Yesterday I got tired of it, and I did what programmers like to do, I rewrote it. It took a few hours, but the new version is *much* cleaner, and already runs much more reliably.

Proving the point that sometimes code rewrites are the way to go.

I've released the new part to OPML Editor users. There's no code that uses it yet, but there will be soon. ;->


Last update: Monday, May 26, 2008 at 5:46 PM Pacific.

I'm a California voter for Obama.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, 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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My most recent trivia on Twitter.

My Wish List

On This Day In: 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997.

May 2008
Apr   Jun

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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