It's all about where you're lookin at it from.
Did you see all those digital cameras?
Did you wonder what their pictures look like?
Watching them watch Obama watching Obama watching them.
0. Here's a blogger doing what a blogger should do.
2. Marshall says (and so far is right) that the press will, during the campaign, say the ads are controversial and hard-hitting, and after the campaign, as they did with the same tactic used against Harold Ford, a black man running for the US Senate in Tennessee, will say that what they were doing was transparent and unfair. (So far the attacks on Obama are tame and mild compared to what was run against Ford in 2006.)
3. It's good to have bloggers in the mix, being listened to, because the candidates and their backers should be held accountable for what they say and do, while the campaign is going on. McCain should take the hit now, not after the election.
4. The press has done some nasty sleazy hits of their own in recent elections. The Dean scream was manufactured by the press; only after he withdrew did the mea culpas come. The Swiftboat ads, unsubstantiated smears, were run nationally, for free, by the networks. That should not be tolerated.
5. The ads were backed, we find out, by people who now want our respect. Shouldn't smears be two-way? Why not expose the people who created and financed the ads while the ads are running? Isn't the job of the press to seek the truth? Isn't that what we're told they do better than mere bloggers do?
So thanks to Josh Marshall, who has the attention we don't, for using it for a good cause.
It solves a problem we all have.
I want to send a big file to someone who may or may not be very tech savvy. Look at all the steps they save, assuming you have a place to store a 2GB file, which most people don't.
Luckily it was a cooooooool song.
If so Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia looks like the choice.
I listened to part of Fresh Air today in the car and they were talking about arms control in Reagan's presidency, and were throwing around terms like liberal and such as if they were technical terms that had well-established definitions.
Then I realized I had no idea what it meant. What makes a liberal different from a conservative? What I'm looking for is an explanation that takes into account the derivation of the words. Aren't conservatives liberal too? Forget the labels -- explain the words.
BTW, it's an interesting question because in the United States the term liberal and conservative ought to mean the same thing. We are a liberal country. Our philosophy is that if it's not illegal you can do it. In an older country to be a conservative means you want to bring back the king, pope or ayatollah. The United States is what conservatives in other countries hate.
Wikia is Jimmy Wales' dream of doing to Google what Wikipedia did to Britannica. Unfortunately for Wales and his investors, Google had a 10-year lead, and a huge ecosystem had been built up around it. Google is a thriving coral reef, and one doesn't just show up one day with an idea and compete with an ecosystem. That's why Wikia didn't, and isn't likely to work.
It's amazing how balanced the arrogance is, because the same thing that makes it so hard for Wikia to gain on Google is going to make it virtually impossible for Google to catch Wikipedia with Knol.
The thinking is likely just as superficial and greedy as Wales' hypothesis that the approach that could unseat Google is the secret sauce that makes Wikipedia work, as if that had anything to do with Wales. It doesn't, anymore than Google needs Larry and Sergey to keep on rolling as a coral reef ecosystem. See, Wikipedia is a coral reef too, and you don't just open shop one day and think that because you can drive flow into your version of Wikipedia that the coral reef will magically assemble on your plot of ocean bottom. Instead what you attract are spammers, as Duncan Riley observes in his writeup on Inqisitr earlier today.
Google is going to keep being the coral reef for search, and Wikipedia is going to be the coral reef encyclopedia. Ironically, Knol probably would have fared better if instead of having the appearance of Google tilting the table in its favor, search engine-wise, they had put something in its robots.txt file that kept the Google crawler away, so that the opportunists would have stayed away too. That would have given them some time out of the spotlight to build up some real momentum, giving it a chance to compete with Wikipedia. Not sure what Wikia could have done, the idea seemed doomed from the start, because search isn't like a Wiki, and human-authored search results are something of a contradiction.
I added VMWare Fusion to my Amazon wishlist last night, just as a reminder to myself, and this morning got an offer for a review unit from a product manager there. I accepted, of course. It'll make it much easier for me to prepare the Windows version of the OPML Editor, and of course I will write about it here, exactly as if I had paid for it. (I installed the Beta of v2.0.)
It's really cool that Amazon wishlist items are reflected on FriendFeed.
Wasn't last night's season premiere of Mad Men fantastic!
Fred Wilson thinks blog comments should make it on TechMeme. It's true that some comments are better than many blog posts, and I check TechMeme several times a day, but I'm hoping we escape the grips of centralized thinking and remember that what made blogs work was that everyone gets their own platform to speak their mind. TechMeme takes us back to the place that didn't work, where everyone fights for scarce attention. Aside from that, as Wilson notes, TM has made its mind up about us, relative to others, and what's important, vs what's not. (To which I add we're the sentient beings, and TM is a piece of software. What irony that we care what something that is incapable of thought thinks. We'll wait a long time for recognition that way!)
I posted yesterday, in desperation: "So far I love the Sprint 3G EVDO modem. Works great on Mac and Windows, no install CD, comes built-in. But... It takes over my wifi configuration on XP, keeps popping up dialogs that don't mean anything to me (and there's no reason for them, everything's working)."
The 3G Store support staff provided the answer.
To disable the Sprint SmartView as your default WiFi utlility:
1. Open SmartView.
2. Click Tools.
3. Select Settings.
4. Choose the Client tab in the settings window
5. Un-check Use this tool as my default WiFi Management Utility.
6. Click OK.
The screen on the Asus EEE PC is very short, so the OK button was hidden under the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. If you right-click in the taskbar, choose Properties and uncheck Keep the taskbar on top of other windows you'll see the OK button so you can click it.
After that, whew, the normal Windows way of managing wifi is back.
All in all, it seems it would be smarter, if Sprint has to interfere with wifi management, to have it default to off, so the first-time user experience would be a little more focused on the wonders of EVDO and less on how to disable its interference.
At first it was a little unsettling getting used to a new way of watching TV, but I'm beginning to like the way DirecTV works. The coolest feature so far is the ability to program the DVR over the web. I don't know if Comcast has this, I never found it (if it does), but it works really intuitively on DirecTV.
Here's a screen shot (click for a larger version):
I'll let you know if it works.
Scoble writes about Silicon Valley VC disease. I almost wrote a comment there saying that I've tried many times over many years to get VCs to invest in ideas I had for products, some of which turned out to be quite successful, but I thought better of it. Why single out the VCs, when the problem is much broader. Here's what it is, from my point of view.
There's not enough respect, listening, or teamwork.
After years of banging against the brick wall, one day, in a meeting with a VC, it came to me, clear as a bell. This person wasn't listening to my pitch. Every time I'd pause to take a breath, he'd start taking the story off in some other direction toward some vision he had.
The VCs are the superstars, not the entrepreneurs, even though the hype is the other way around. So far everything I've said coincides with what Scoble said. Here's where we diverge.
The entrepreneurs have the same damned disease. They don't want anything from the VC other than their money.
The reporters have the disease too, so do the bloggers.
Silicon Valley is a really small place, getting smaller all the time, but it hasn't figured that out yet. To make products that sell, it has to reach out into the world for wisdom, and that requires a lot of listening, respect -- teamwork.
Listening, respect and teamwork.
Back when Scoble worked at UserLand, when I wanted to ship a product, I made everyone at the company listen to Al Pacino's fantastic speech in Any Given Sunday.
When you think that way, VCs, entrepreneurs, developers, everyone --> You'll start making really great products that mean something to real people. Until then, everyone will just be trying to be heard over the din of everyone else yelling how great they are.
Update: Here's a podcast that explains why, if I were David Hornik, I'd invest in iPhone apps and wouldn't worry about other platforms right now. (Later, yes, but not now.)
Posted on FriendFeed: "Most routers give you a way to see a list of attached devices, a feature I need to locate some devices with web interfaces on my LAN (like my receiver). Recently I switched to an Airport Extreme, but it doesn't seem to have this ability. Does it? If so how do I access it?"
And of course, the answer came thanks to Paul Grave and Jamie Wilkinson.
I'm guessing that there aren't many people using the OPML Editor on a daily basis, but to those who are, I'm about to make some changes in the menu structure and the default behavior. I don't expect anything to break, what worked before will continue to work, however, what someone gets when they download the app will change, it will be simpler.
Here's the thing. The OPML Editor as it ships today comes in one of two forms: 1. The app that was released in 2005, that has a blogging tool, an upstreamer, instant outliner, and a few other gadgets. It hasn't received a feature update since mid-2007, and that was just to add Twitter support to the blogging tool. 2. FlickrFan for the Mac, which was released early this year, and is doing fine, not taking the world by storm, but it's useful.
Now I want to do some more stuff with the OPML Editor, and history is in the way, so I'm going to do a house-cleaning of the menubar and of the Tools folder. Ideally the new editor will ship with an empty Tools folder. Pretty sure I can get there. There will be an easy way to view the available tools through a web interface, and quickly download and install them. So it will be possible for the same platform to serve many purposes without any one of them getting in the way of the others.
This should make it possible, for example, for there to be a FlickrFan release for Windows, since it's the original functionality (the 2005 stuff) that's preventing compatibility with IE7.
Now, on the downside, if you have become used to the Community menu and the NewsRiver menu, they will not be there after the update. There will be a new Misc menu (name might change) that contains some of the commands from the ProgrammersMenu tool. There may well be other changes.
So if you see these menus go away, that will mean that some digging is going on, and (we hope) some cool new stuff you can do with the OPML Editor, as well as new uses and users.
We're all on our own when a BigCo decides to throw its weight at us, but being a well-read blogger has its advantages, esp when a columnist at a big newspaper believes you. Thanks to Charles Arthur for the air cover. Contrast this to the NY Times piece that describes bloggers as "complaining" and makes Comcast out to be a hero. The Times didn't do their homework, giving them the benefit of the doubt. Eliason isn't empowered to circumvent Comcast's native hostility to its customers.
Note: This time it wasn't about FlickrFan, as Arthur says, I had scaled down my home use of it. That was the cause of the first deliberate Comcast outage. This time it was probably because I was backing up lots of content from scripting.com on local hard drives and had made some mistakes and had to download stuff twice. Lots of gigabytes up there, I've done a fair amount of podcasting over the years.
The disruption caused by the outage is over, thanks in part to the fact that I planned for it, and had backup TV service and Internet service from DirecTV and AT&T respectively. I was able to configure the SlingBox to work with with DirecTV and now I have John McCain giving a speech on my second monitor (the sound is turned off, he's hard to listen to). The only difference is the image of a DirecTV remote control instead of one from Comcast. I also have to learn the new channels.
An astounding AP photo of Barack Obama waving to his fans in Berlin earlier today. I saw this one scroll by on a large HDTV and couldn't believe my eyes. There's so much detail in the picture, so many stories, so many cameras!
This is the really cool thing about FlickrFan, btw -- the best photographers in the world, with the best equipment, at the most interesting events. And lots of pixels. People who think it's just a screen saver must think that Obama is just a politician (and many do of course).
But when you see this picture, think about all the pixels your displays have today, and how much of the photography that comes to you takes advantage of it, and you'll realize why I pushed so hard to get the AP and AFP to partner with me to get these photos for you. Yet so few have taken advantage of it.
Anyway, this picture gives you some idea of what you're missing.
PS: All those American flags, in Germany, give me goosebumps.
Technology is fragile. Systems go down all the time because someone forgot to maintain something, or someone deleted a file or a variable that they thought no one was using. In other words with Murphy's Law there are plenty of opportunities to put all the pieces together again after all hell breaks loose. Just ask the Twitter folk, who are doing the best they can to hold it together.
But there's a special place in hell for vendors who deliberately knock their customers off the air, without warning, just to get them to call. The thought is as abhorrent to a computer professional as it would be for a surgeon to leave a scalpel in a patient to be sure they pay their bill.
Comcast is going to get sued some day for what they do, and they're going to lose billions because of it. I tend to be an outlier on the leading edge. If they're shitting on me today, you can bet they'll be shitting on hundreds of people next year, and thousands the year after that. One of those shittings is going to cause an oil spill or a nuclear accident, or some horrible thing we haven't imagined yet. Maybe soldiers will die because of their deliberate outages. Maybe children. You just don't fuck around with some things, the kinds of things Comcast is fucking with. If you're going to turn a paying customer off deliberately, it seems you should do it slowly and carefully and covering every part of your anatomy while you do it, not the roughshod way they do it now. (And what would be so hard about slowing down the connection so it's impossible for someone to use too much bandwidth?)
That there are engineers inside Comcast willing to do the bidding of some very poor thinking business people says we don't have adequate professional standards. Some professions don't allow their members to do harm. You can't find a doctor who will administer the death penalty, or even advise on what would be a humane form of the death penalty.
Oy. This is probably the end of the line for me and Comcast. About an hour before today's Obama speech, I was upstairs, with Slingplayer on the 2nd monitor, Audio HIjack Pro ready to record, when the net went down. I figured it was another outage, we had one here in Berkeley last week.
Net-net, it's some kind of "security" thing, so says Frank Ellison, the comcastcares guy. I told him if this isn't a legitimate security issue, then please close my account, both Internet and TV (for which I now pay $183 per month). I have redundant service for both, with an AT&T DSL line and a DirecTV dish, I'm hardly watching any TV at all these days, other than MSNBC and a little CNN, and while their Internet sure is fast, if they keep taking it down and insisting that I grovel and listen to lectures to get it turned back on (or worse, who knows what they have planned for me this time) -- no thanks. I don't think groveling and being a valued customer go together.
Ellison also volunteered that he liked me. My response was you're a company rep, you don't get to like or not like me.
It's with a little bit of anger and frustration that I realize that Comcast paid $175 million to get Joseph Smarr to work on their network, and their answer to me is: 1. Pay $183 per month. 2. I should care whether they like me or not. 3. They'll shut me down when they want me to call. 4. They don't care if it's right before Obama's speech in Berlin or not. 5. Fcuk off Dave. (I threw #5 in there for attitude, they didn't literally tell me to fuck off, it's more in the body language.)
Oh yeah, they paid $75 million for a bunch of newsletters today. I'll end this piece the way I began it. Oy.
PS: Here's the writeup of the issue with Comcast in April.
Update: Their issue isn't with the security on my net, it has to do with how much bandwidth I use. Can't work with them when their method of getting me on the phone is to shut off my service, without any warning. I told them to close the account. I'm no longer a Comcast customer. I'm sure they'll send me another bill, adding insult to injury.
I have a problem that a lot more people are having.
I use three "micro-blogging" platforms.
Each has strengths. FriendFeed can thread a discussion under each mini-post. It works better for me than the discussions on Twitter. Twitter is still where most of the people are, but -- well you know the rest. It's become unreliable. Leave it at that. And while Identi.ca has fewer of the people I care about, it's catching up, and its commitment to be open, and the fact that I can get Evan on the phone and he's easy to work with, well that makes me want to invest in it.
So in my mind, as of July 2008, Twitter is waning, Identi.ca is rising and FriendFeed is useful.
But using three systems presents a problem to which no one knows the solution. When I post on one of these systems, should the other two get the post too, and if so, how?
Right now, today I'm using an approximation to the ideal system. I try to enter my original post on FriendFeed, then I have an agent script running on one of my machines that routes it to Twitter and Identi.ca, with a pointer to the discussion thread on FriendFeed, shortened by bit.ly.
But this is temporary, it's not the last word in how this will work. Somewhere in here is nirvana, a system that makes sense, that makes it possible for people who base their work on one system to communicate effortlessly with people who base their work elsewhere. When we reach this nirvana, we will have the federated network of micro-blogging systems. To the extent that we're confused about this, and we are, is the extent that we're not ready yet to say what federation means in micro-blogging.
I stopped keeping track of the number of people following me on Twitter, I know it was pretty high, but I also know it wasn't a true measure of how many people were paying attention to what I said there.
Some of them, I assume, are people who tried Twitter and for some reason didn't become a regular user. I can tell beause when I post a pointer to a picture on Twitter, somewhere between 100 and 500 people click through. How many people are reading the stuff? I don't know, but it's less than the reported number would suggest.
A new kind of outage started on Twitter last night, it started losing track of the connections between users. I haven't seen this quantified yet, just various posts that indicate there's some kind of problem. I'm sure as the days goes on we'll learn more about it. I started this blog post in part to try to gather information.
Tech.NewsJunk.Com was born on the 4th of July, just like the United States of America. I chose a holiday so the expectations wouldn't be too high, cause I knew at first it would be hard to find the kinds of stories I was looking for, news about products. Not interested in mergers or trends or personnel changes at tech companies. Just product news and reviews, that's all.
Well, it's starting to pick up. Maybe we're learning where to look.
And if you know a good source of tech product news, please post a comment or send me an email. Thanks!
PS: A frequently asked question is does the news have to come from a famous blog or blogger -- and the answer is an emphatic no way! I want to hear from real users, and when possible from the designer of the product. I care about what people think. Now, that said, it's okay if you write for a big publication too. There's just no bias against individual bloggers.
I was on a cleanup and backup binge today, and came across a folder on one of my disks entitled Trade Secrets in a place where it didn't belong. I did a search on my LAN and found it was my only copy, not just here, but on the net too.
I had made a point of blogging about this folder in October 2006, that much showed up in Google, but the folder was on a machine that I shut down some months later, and it pointed to a folder on the new owner of the IP address's machine. There was no evidence of the files anywhere on the net.
So I'm rescuing it again. Back shortly with more info.
The links work again.
http://secrets.podcatch.com/ is the folder.
And http://secrets.podcatch.com/tradeSecrets.zip is the archive.
But this highlights something. Even when you make an effort to make something permanently available, less than two years later, it's gone again.
If we want the web that we're creating to last, we're going to have to be deliberate and systematic about it. It's not easy.
One of the benefits of writing this blog is that when it's time to make a technology decision, I get advice from the best informed most opinionated and smartest people in the business -- you!
Anyway, last year I got a Sprint EVDO card for my MacBook laptop. It was probably the wrong decision, I figured the card version would be faster, but then I wanted to use it with my new Asus EEE PC that of course just has USB.
So the question is this...
What should I get to replace the card?
I want something that works with both Mac and Windows. USB-based. Reasonable price and performance, for the occasions that I'm out of range of wifi but want to connect to the net.
Here are the products the 3GStore is recommending.
I think they all look pretty interesting esp #3.
I know this goes without saying, but it keeps coming up.
Remember when our troops marched into Baghdad, took the place over, drove Saddam into a hole and arrested or killed the government. Then we disbanded their army.
When you go to war that's what victory looks like.
Then came the occupation. There is no such thing as winning an occupation. You either continue to occupy or withdraw. It's semantic nonsense to apply the verb "win" to the noun "occupation."
Winning in war or sport is not vague or ill-defined. When the clock runs out in football the team that's ahead wins. When two runners are in a race the first to cross the finish line wins. When you fight a war, when you take the other guys' capital and disband their government and army, that's winning.
As I said it goes without saying, but it keeps coming up in the news, this weird idea that there is such a thing as winning an occuption, when there isn't.
Update: Cross-posted at Huffington.
Click here for the story.
I have a surplus of disk space, so I decided to give Time Machine a try.
I have a 500GB disk that's empty. I designated it as the Time Machine disk.
I have one external disk that I want to keep backed up. I don't care about the internal disk, but there doesn't seem to be a way to tell Time Machine not to back it up.
The internal disk has 95GB of data on it.
The external disk has 193GB. Its name is Ohio. This is the only disk I want backed up. I don't mind copying things onto it to be sure they're backed up.
Yet Time Machine reports that there is 1.4 terabytes of data that it wants to back up.
Of course it fails when it tries to do this. (Only 500GB on the backup disk.)
The Help docs don't cover this circumstance, nor do any of the articles I have found on Google. What gives. Hasn't anyone had this problem yet? Where is it finding the 1.4TB of data to back up and how do I tell it not to bother.
Here's a screen shot of the Options panel for Time Machine.
Never mind. I didn't understand the UI. The + in the UI means exclude something from the backup. Dumb old Dave. I thought a plus would mean "add it." Why would I think that? (Sorry for the sarcasm.)
It was very gratifying to see Twhirl support Identi.ca yesterday. They got some glowing press for it, but let's make sure a fair amount of the credit goes to the two companies that went for compatibility and helped create what's beginning to look like a standard -- the Twitter API.
First, to Twitter for having the guts to put an API on Twitter, and making it open and clonable. And second, to the team it Identi.ca who made complete compatibility the goal, so much so that you just need to change the address in a client and everything "just works." My initial testing showed that they did attain that level of compatibility, and it was confirmed by the experiences of the developers.
When people say they don't care about APIs, they miss the point that if developers do it the right way, as these guys did, then compatibility is not a competitive issue, users have choices, and products compete on virtue: performance, features and economics, not lock-in. It's the exception not the rule in the tech business that APIs and format compatibility is respected by the vendors, and it should be celebrated when it happens, as it did here.
Bravo! Everybody who made this happen. Good show.
There's much speculation about a refresh on Apple's laptop line, a permanent thread in tech bloggerland, we've been waiting for it for a long time. Here's my bet. The MacBook Air was the leading edge of a new form factor at Apple, the low-end of a new lineup of super-thin laptops.
In the next round you'll see one with two or three USB ports and a removable battery as well as a tablet version. Both will run the iPhone software at least as an option. The tablet might run it as its only option.
BTW, my guess is they extrapolated the same thing, and their challenge is a clever way of getting an I Told You So when Apple announces the tablet MacBook Touch™ in Sept.
Friends close to both campaigns say the announcements of the Republican and Democratic choices for vice-president are likely coming within the week. At that the announcements will be unusually late.
No speculation on the choices from the sources, however -- I have a strong feeling that McCain will pick Romney. Seems like an obvious balance to McCain. Younger, but not too young. Tall and healthy, conservative. He might be smarter than McC, but not by too much.
Obama will pick someone safe, not too famous, not flamboyant. Easy on the eyes and easy to forget.
McCain, who is the full-hour guest on This Week on Sunday may choose that venue to make his announcement, opposite Obama who is the full-hour guest on Meet the Press.
I don't know about those guys over at TechCrunch, they always get me with their April Fools jokes. Now here comes this piece that announces they're getting into the hardware business! Could it be for real? I don't know!!
I'm reminded of this post by Mike this weekend where he reviewed a service by the former editors of Uncov, and said, quite accurately that you always understimate how hard something is when you look in from the outside. Making something easy to use is a lot more work than making soemthing that's not, although to the non-engineer this seems counter-intuitive.
Now, Nik is an engineer, so I don't want to be appearing to talk down to him, cause that wouldn't be appropriate. But this does either seem completely utterly unrealistic or a damned good off-season April Fool joke.
PS: This post suggests that it's serious. In which case it's a good thing -- thinking big is how you get big things done. Best of luck. I'll buy one for $200 for sure. Maybe even more.
A couple of minor updates from the Land of Junks.
As you can see, we host most of our images on Amazon S3. As do many other sites.
It's been a marvel of uptime, until it goes down. And today's outage is the worst so far (there have only been two others). I'm sure they're working their butts off to get it back on the air, but as probably a lot of others are doing today, I'm thinking of ways to avoid these outages in the future.
It seems there is a business opportunity here -- it would be easy to hook up an external service to S3, and for a fee, keep a mirror on another server. Then it would be a matter of redirecting domains to point at the other server when S3 goes down.
It would be a smart service to combine with a DNS service, or a registrar.
That solution would work for Scripting News, since all the images are hosted on Amazon through an alias called images.scripting.com. That could easily be pointed to a different server that hosts a mirror. Of course that will have to wait until Amazon comes back.
Update 6:30PM: S3 is working again.
"Like" Is a FriendFeed feature that Twitter should have. It's a misnomer, it's not about liking something. When you like something that means you recommend it. Everyone who follows you gets the recommendation.
How it would work in Twitter.
1. You're reading something I wrote in Twitter.
2. You say you "like" it -- which is like adding it to your Favorites (same UI).
3. It goes on your output stream. All the people who follow you see it too.
People are doing this manually now -- "retweeting" -- but this is one click and the system remembers where it came from. If it were possible to hang stuff off a tweet (as it is in FF) then there would only be one place.
Twitter should have this. It's a very important feature.
PS: From now on when I say something should be in Twitter, it should also be in all Twitter clones, for now that's identi.ca.
PPS: I'm sure Twitter-only people are sick of hearing it, but FF has mystical qualities that I'm not sure anyone fully appreciates. It reveals little bits of itself to you slowly over time. Not sure it's always the best way, but it's like a puzzle, a story that you want to know how it will turn out. You can't get it from a quick look, you have to immerse yourself in it. Not saying everyone should, but I'm glad I did.
PPPS: I'm started to develop systems on top of FriendFeed that I initially thought I would develop on Twitter. Their reliability and performance make it thinkable, where Twitter has become flaky, not only technically, but also in the way it deals with developers. Could happen with FF too, but then my fallback is identi.ca, where worse comes to worse, I could operate my own net.
PPPPS: I am however using identi.ca for something I thought I would use Twitter for. As a lightweight identity system. For the project I'm working on, I'm requiring users to have an identi.ca login. This little thing has huge implications in the identity space. A lightweight low-security login that's accessible via API, it's something I've been asking Google and Yahoo to do for ages. They can't seem to wrap their minds around it. Along comes identi.ca and boom, problem solved.
I never agreed that Twitter is what some people call a micro-blogging service. Just didn't feel much like blogging to me. But FriendFeed is another story. I am using it more like a blogging tool than Twitter. For example...
1. Yesterday I snuck out to see the new Batman movie on its opening day. I wrote my first review on FF. In the morning (now) I have more thoughts. If Heath Ledger hadn't died, and if there were two other big performances like his, it might have been on the same level as The Departed, and that's high praise. The other characters and the actors who portrayed them weren't anywhere near as interesting as Ledger's Joker, who unlike Nicholson's or Romero's -- wasn't funny, at least not in the normal way. He is a pathetic character, wonderfully pathetic. Really something to see. So my first impression last night was pretty lukewarm, but after a few hours it seems more masterful. You could have cut out most of the other scenes and made a movie just about the Joker and that would have been great. Too bad Ledger died. He was becoming a really fine actor.
2. As you may know I bought a cute little Windows laptop on impulse the other day. It was a good move. And on FF last night I asked for help networking it with my Macs. Glad i bought it. Gotta keep up on what the other guys are doing. Apple has been doing pretty well, the iPhone was risky, and they pulled it off, not easy to do. Microsoft usually takes three tries to get it right, Apple got it right the first time. But in ultra-portable laptops, Apple isn't cutting it. This little EEE PC thing is a marvel. There are some really crappy things about it, like the uncontrollable trackpad and the keypad is tiny, and squinting at the tiny screen hurts my eyes, but it really is a joy of a product. If only it ran Mac OS.
Publishing keeps getting cheaper.
That's been the constant push, the practical application of Moore's Law in my neck of the woods. I've always been a publishing guy, and that's always been how I viewed computers, and it's why I got into them in the first place.
Most people don't get this, the real story of blogging is just the continuation of the process. You could just have easily focused on the laser printer, Aldus Pagemaker and local area networking in the 1980s, or the web browser and Netscape in the 1990s. Blogging is the leading edge in publishing in the first decade of this century.
Here's what Clay Shirky says on the subject. "Forget about blogs and bloggers and blogging and focus on this -- the cost and difficulty of publishing absolutely anything, by anyone, into a global medium, just got a whole lot lower. And the effects of that increased pool of potential producers is going to be vast."
Well put, and definitely worth passing along.
Highly recommend this post by Marc Canter, it's filled with ideas. Much the same as my thinking. I have a post planned for tomorrow or Sunday that should blow out some assumptions about identity and federating these micro-blogging services. Low-tech, worse is better, re-use what's already out there, as Marc says it's all happening now, and I'm loving the way it's turning out.
More movement in micro-blogging!
Recall that Gnip is a ping syndicator, sort of weblogs.com on steroids. Not the simplest of APIs, but apparently quite powerful. I tried to get some code running with it, but hit a hard wall that I couldn't get past. No matter, others are successfully adapting to Gnip.
I just read this announcement on Twitter from Eric Marcoullier pointing to a TechCrunch piece. Eric says: "It's official: Twitter is pushing to Gnip and Gnip is pushing it the fuck out to everyone!" But this is kind of contradicted in the TC piece, which says you can only get updates from users you specify. You can't connect up on the same (firehose) basis that Summize was connecting before they were acquired by Twitter (earlier this week).
Like I said: So much movement. (There's more coming.)
One thing's for sure is that being open to developers is very much a competitive issue. This is why two-party systems work in technology and one-party systems stagnate. Why, when Netscape dominated browsers nothing moved, and it was fun while Microsoft and Netscape were competing, and why we returned to stagnation when Netscape folded, and why it's once again interesting now that Firefox is flourishing. Same thing in the competition betw Twitter and identi.ca.
When I talked with Evan Prodromou yesterday he said they would open up their XMPP back-end to anyone and everyone without limits. Now it's up to them to make good on that, and this shoudl give Twitter the incentive to go all the way with Gnip. BTW, Gnip should be agnostic, they should work with identi.ca as well as with Twitter.
Recall that identi.ca is an open source Twitter-like "micro blogging" service. When it appeared, earlier this month, I wrote: "First thing --> looking for an API." I wanted to see an implementation of the Twitter API, so that all the code that I had written for Twitter would automatically work with identi.ca.
Being compatible with Twitter is the developer-friendly thing to do, it means we will only have one code base to maintain. It's good for users, because they have choice, they can use either Twitter or identi.ca, and not have to make a choice on tools. It's good for identi.ca because they instantly get a base of apps that work with their service. I'd argue that it's even good for Twitter, because it helps to solidify a standard with them as the market leader. The second guy into a market sets the standard, by ratifying the API designed and deployed by the first to market, who is in this case, obviously, Twitter. Had identi.ca blazed their own trail and made an API that did what Twitter's did, but was gratuitously incompatible, everyone would have suffered. Too often in the tech business, this is what happens, even though it's such a disrespectful and non-optimal thing to do.
Yesterday I got an email from Evan Prodromou at identi.ca saying that they had implemented the Twitter API; he asked if I would test my apps against their implementation. I did, and I'm happy to report that I was able to run all my code, unmodified, except for substituting identi.ca/api where ever twitter.com appears in an address. That's what I call compatible! It all "just worked" (so far, knock wood, I am not a lawyer, Murphy-willing, etc).
So we can check a very important item off identi.ca's to-do list. Next items: 1. Allow any developer to hook into the full flow of identi.ca through XMPP, and 2. Demonstrate interop across a federation of identi.ca deployments.
See also: The docs for the "Twitter-compatible API."
I like it -- it's fun getting a new tech toy.
Most irritating thing about it is the way the trackpad works. Hesitating while positioning the cursor is interpreted as a click. This has already resulted in wrong information being transmitted to Netflix, the default name being given to the computer (something really convoluted). I have to figure out how to turn this off or it's going to screw with my using all the other computers I use.
On FriendFeed, Kevin Tofel suggested looking for a Trackpad control panel. I did, but...
1. There is no Trackpad control panel, and no Trackpad settings in the Mouse CP. 2. There is a feature called ClickLock, which appears to be the cause of this horrible feature. 3. However it was not checked by default. 4. I checked it and chose Settings and set the delay to the longest possible value. 5. Seems to have fixed the problem. 6. As usual in Windows, you have to lie to make it work properly.
Nik over at TechCrunch wrote a post yesterday where he wondered why people who love open systems and open source are willing to wait in line for an iPhone 3G which is one of the most closed systems ever. And why they're willing to use software from the Apple store, a store you can't get into if Apple doesn't want you there. These are good questions.
So far I have no interest in iPhone apps, and I haven't bought an iPhone 3G, though I have upgraded to iPhone 2.0. I never unbricked my phone, and I still think of iPhone apps as web apps, just like Steve told me to in the early days when I wanted an API and an SDK. I got in the habit of thinking of it as a phone and nothing more.
My iPhone's camera is broken. The iPod never worked (I hate earbuds and none of my headphones fit their non-standard jack and buying an adapter would be ridiculous for me, I'd have to buy 5 cause I lose little chotchkas like those adapters.) It played videos for the first few weeks, then no matter what I did iTunes refused to copy videos on to the phone. Paying the price for Apple's paranoia that says the only way to move stuff back and forth to the iPhone is through their software. I could write my own scripts, and would be happy to. The damned thing should just look like a disk drive when you plug it into a Mac. (I know I know there are ways to trick it into being that, but I have no patience.)
The address book still works, and the phone, and that's about all that I care about. I carry a huge PowerMac with me when I travel, but I'd consider replacing it. Developers tell me that soon, in an upcoming software update the OPML Editor, which I depend on for all my work, will break unless we get cracking on it. That's so Apple. As a developer you have to keep spending money just to stay in place.
Somehow for some reason buying into the Apple culture has been something I've resisted, where some people embrace. I won't wait in a line, or oooh and ahhh at a Stevenote. I just don't like the smarmy marketing attitude of Apple, he's kind of like the teacher's pet in music class, pretending that he's a connoisseur -- I see flaws and bugs everywhere. Fix the bugs and STFU about how great the product is. Sorry. I want to use Apple's products the same way I use a Canon camera, as a product I respect, but if they ever start screwing around the way Apple does, I'd switch to a Nikon or whatever. Problem is there is no Nikon or whatever in PCs and iPods. All the other products suck. Hugely. Apple's just suck a bit less. Not a huge accomplishment for an industry, imho.
Anyway, over the years I've got to watch platforms that work and ones that don't. The ones that work usually only work for a short while, then something happens that screws it up.
In order for a platform to work, the owner of the platform has to be a provider; the developers compete to create wonders for the platform. After all these years the platform as Chinese household model still seems the right one to me. Developers make babies. The husband (the vendor) provides the house, food, and pays the utility bills. In Steve Jobs's Apple, it's all screwy. The vendor makes the babies and the developers make little cupcakes they can sell to people who come to admire the babies. A lot of people love the babies, so in theory it's possible to make good money selling cupcakes.
But starting and running a cupcake stand isn't really what gets most developers up in the morning.
All I can say is that Nik is right, it's ridiculous, and people who believe in open systems who bet heavy on such a closed system are going to learn again why they love open systems.
BTW, this is why I have a blog, so I can write pieces like this. I'm not running for office. Don't vote for me!
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Watching Obama give his big Iraq speech today, I told myself a joke that got me laughing so hard, I couldn't stop. Maybe you'll enjoy it too.
Imagine Obama looking into the camera saying "Fuck it, we all know why Bush and McCain want to stay in Iraq. All this talk about waiting for this or that to happen -- it's all bullshit, they know it, I know it, the press knows it, and if you think about it you know it too."
We're not going to leave Iraq because if we did, it would become a province of Iran. It's pretty close to being that now, even with 150K American troops camped out in bases spread through the country. The President, Maliki, is Iranian (for all practical purposes). Al Sadr is Iranian. The only guys who aren't Iranians are the remnants of Saddam's government and the guys we call evildoers who call themselves Al Qaeda. They're all equally evil, and we're no better. We fucked that country, hard, killed huge numbers of Iraqis, wrecked the country. The Arab world will be cursing us for a long time for what we did to Iraq, and we'll deserve it.
If we pull out, Iraq and Iran will merge, combine the countries with the 2nd and 3rd largest oil reserves, and a huge army, run by people who are serious and they're not the idiots the Republicans keep portraying them as. They're astute politicians, much more sophisticated than Bush or McCain. In the game of chess they're playing with the US, a country that's many times its size, they're pretty close to taking our queen.
The American president who leaves Iraq is going to be blamed for the oil debacle that's coming (even so, it'll be unrelated to Iran taking over Iraq). $4.50 a gallon is nothing. It's going to get a lot worse. Everyone knows it, that's why the stock market is tanking, why there are runs on the banks, why the govt is furiously printing money to shore them up, which only feeds more inflation.
The lines at banks with people waiting to draw out all their money aren't being shown on TV, cause if everyone knew what was going on the panic would likely turn into a 1929-like collapse.
Outside the US no one wants to call us on our bullshit because we have this huge army, navy, air force, with aircraft carriers, bases all over the world, and an unbelievably huge stockpile of nuclear weapons. If we get scared enough we might just use em. That's the only reason the Saudis are willing to still meet with Cheney, and why they keep sending us oil which we pay for with dollars that they all know are a joke.
Obama knows this. He can't leave Iraq and he won't. Of course McCain won't either. He was actually telling the truth when he said we'd be there for 100 years. We will, if we can. Obama can't and won't change that.
If Obama really meant to leave Iraq, he would have looked into the camera today and said: "Look, it's all about the oil, it has nothing to do with terrorism." Of course if he said that he wouldn't even get the Democratic nomination and his political career would be over. Telling the truth about the terrible strategic position the US finds itself in is not a good idea. Get the votes some other way.
We're going to need a new infrastructure, lots more mass transit, all our cars are obsolete. It's expensive, and we have some unique problems. It's a huge country. Getting from one coast to the other isn't ever going to be cheap again. Is our military mighty enough to get the rest of the world to give us enough credit to make the transition? Is our population resilient enough to put up with the hardship that's coming without demanding more wars to take oil by force from the Indians, Chinese, Brazilians, Russians? (And come on, some of them have big armies too and nukes.)
See, that's the joke. We all know it's about the oil, we want the oil, we're taking it by force and we know it, no one wants to say it, and no one is complaining.
BTW, this is why I have a blog, so I can write pieces like this. I'm not running for office. Don't vote for me!
The campaign was getting pretty dull until this New Yorker cover appeared.
At once funny, provocative and inspiring, it captures the personalities of the two Obamas, and how the Republicans would probably like us to think of them.
I don't think there's any doubt that this cartoon cover is one of the icons of our times. That's how powerful art can be.
There's lots of macro news, but what about your neighborhood? Are people losing their homes? Many For Sale signs? If so, are they selling? How do you feel about your investment in your home, in your town? We don't talk much about this in the tech blogosophere, life here pretty much goes on as it always has, but I'm wondering if underneath that, there's lots that's changing.
As far as my neighborhood, North Berkeley, goes -- I bought my house at the absolute peak of the market. According to zillow.com my house has dropped 10 percent in 2 years. A pretty terrible investment from that point of view (I love the house and the neighborhood, so I'm happy). Even though property values are dropping fast, there aren't many For Sale signs, and when they appear, they sell quickly. There don't appear to be any foreclosures, all houses are being maintained as far as I can see. So the crisis hasn't hit the East Bay yet, even though I hear other parts of California are being hit hard.
Update #1: Follow the discussion on FF.
Update #2: This blog is focusing on the mortgage meltdown.
To Jay Rosen, here's an example of two people collaborating to make an interesting story that neither of us would likely make on our own. Notice that nothing like "crowd sourcing" is taking place.
When I was flying back from NY last Wednesday, the plane was equipped with a live Google Maps display so I could see in advance that our path was likely to take us over Denver, so I prepared, and took several pictures as we passed over the south side of the city. When I got home I uploaded one of the pics to Flickr along with several others.
Then, unexpectedly, yesterday, a person named Paul Wicks added an interesting caption to my picture in a comment. I learned a lot about what I had flown over.
See, we're not acting as a crowd -- we're acting as two curious strangers from (presumably) fairly diverse backgrounds (I have no way of knowing) whose paths crossed and were able to make an intellectual exchange thanks to a collaborative service. No one made any money off it, but something good happened anyway.
For another example, see my piece earlier today asking people for their experiences with foreclosures locally. When it's "done" if it ever is, I'd say it'll be as good as any story written for a national newspaper on how the foreclosure crisis is hitting the average American. In one way it's better -- no one edited the sources' words, we're getting it straight, no "telephone game" errors introduced (which is why sources say they never are quoted accurately in the press, something reporters always deny, funny how that is).
Update: A podcast to go with this post.
First, the conservative pundits who say that Obama turned his back on the extreme left by voting for the new FISA bill have it wrong. He turned his back on people of all persuasions who believe in our form of government.
This was a fight he should have welcomed, one that could have provided substance to this election, instead of playing a superficial game of percentages and gotchas and gaffes, it could have rallied people, brought the revolutionary spirit onto the streets.
If you recall our country was founded in revolution. The problem is we don't recall. Some of us hoped (there's that word again) that Obama would lead us some place worth going.
He was right if he assumed he had our vote. I will not vote for McCain to prove this point. But I'm also not going to give him any more money. I'm going to save that for causes I believe in.
I no longer believe there is a cause to Obama other than getting Obama elected. It's up to him now to prove otherwise. The FISA vote can be undone, but he has to actually do the undoing.
Update: Follow the discussion on FF.
On Twitter, Jay Rosen asks why I don't like the term crowdsourcing. (He says hate, but that's way way too harsh.) Anyway, he's right -- I don't like it -- because it betrays a not-useful point of view. I am not part of a crowd, I am an individual, I'm a one man band by the quick lunch stand, playing real good for free. When you mash us all together you miss the point.
I don't like it cause it's cheap, it's always used by people who want something for nothing.
Tell me Jay, how does your wife feel when you tell her she's part of the crowd you were thinking of marrying.
If you want people to like you, and who doesn't, try seduction. Don't tell us about your greed, say how much you love and respect our individuality our originality.
Bottom-line: I don't think of myself as part of a crowd when I write on the Internet. When you describe me that way I don't like it.
I don't like it for the same reason I never liked "The Long Tail." The person using the term is never in the long tail, he or she is the head! It's the rest of us that are in the tail. Well excuse me but I'm riding up front with you. Been locked in the trunk many times by Microsoft, Netscape and Apple. It sucks!
One more reason -- it's not useful because it doesn't actually model what's going on. In the 20th century everything was about mass markets and centralization. You could explain things with concepts like crowds. In this century we're going the other way. The technologies push us there in a positive way, because the cost of communication is so low it doesn't need to be financed by moguls the way printing presses and TV stations were. And in a negative way because while our desire for information is increasing, the ability of professionals to provide it is decreasing. So we have to fill the gaps ourselves.
Hope this helps.
PS: I didn't reply on Twitter cause 140 chars is way too limiting for an idea like this.
PPS: I have even more to say, the industry you cover keeps trying, even clutching desperately to an idea that we can go back to the world they grew up in. It's not going to happen, imho. Better to accept things as they are and try to figure out how to make the best of it, for all of us. My own industry got decimated by the forces at work in publishing, so I've been through it. I'm still here, knock wood. But no one gets to have it easy. And the individuals you want to turn back into a crowd won't go for it, also imho.
These monolithic, upgrade the world in a day rollouts of Apple may not be such a great idea. And this is a reminder to myself never to be tempted by them.
Lured into the iPhone 2.0 rollout timed to happen the same day as the iPhone 3G rollout and a day after the rollout of the new app store, I decided to updgrade my 1st-gen iPhone (purchased on June 29 last year) and fell into the same brick-hole as have many other iPhone users.
Surprise, the store couldn't handle the traffic. Sound familiar? Same thing happened last year.
Oy. This should the last monolithic shake-the-world rollout Apple does. Apple makes serious products that people use seriously. The idea that so many people lost their phones on the day of the rollout is just plain unacceptable.
And I may not be shit-out-of-luck. I forgot I have a trusty and boring Nokia N95 here that should work, its only problem is its battery is run down. I've got it plugged into my wall socket, which thanks to PG&E still works, even though Apple is rolling out its wonderful new world-changing products today.
Update: Persistence pays off. Keep your iPhone plugged in, power it off, power it on, wait for it to fail. If it doesn't you're done. If it does, repeat.
I'm back in California, feeling pretty good.
Listening to the original version of For Free by Joni Mitchell from Ladies of the Canyon. There's a later version from the live album -- Miles of Aisles, but I like the original better.
The one man band by the quick lunch stand. He was playing real good for free. Nobody stopped to hear him, though he played so sweet and high. They knew he had never been on their TV, so they passed his music by. I meant to go over and ask for a song, maybe put on a harmony. I heard his refrain as the signal changed. He was playing real good for free.
Everyone is so confused about blogging. You don't blog to build an audience or have a conversation. You blog because you have something to say. There's nothing more to it.
I saw the story about the librarian who wasn't allowed to wait for a McCain event because she held a sign with a political message, a subtle one, a thought-provoker. She was playing real good for free, her instrument was our political system, but the cops passed her good music by.
When you put on your plastic lapel pin, you should think about the Government of the People, by the People and for the People -- people playing real good for freedom.
McCain could give a speech about that librarian, that would be truly impressive. Here's something he can fix right now. Tell the people who watch the people lining up to let people express their political thoughts, esp those who do it legally and peacefully.
The spirit of America, imho, is not the flag, not the government, not our pride -- rather it's the one man band by the quick lunch stand.
PS: Here's a live version of For Free, performed by Joni Mitchell on the BBC.
I was part of the team that defined the product, the development was done at Betaworks in NY (where I am right now), the team led by John Borthwick, and a bunch of ex-AOLers. Betaworks is also an investor in Summize.
Here's the official blog post.
The idea of bit.ly is that a lot more could be done with url-shorteners. I found I needed to develop my own for the NewsJunk project. They asked what it would take for me to use bit.ly, I said: data. I need to know how many clicks each pointer got and where the clicks came from.
They gave me that, and thumbnails, permanent caching of the pages I'm pointing to (goodbye linkrot) and a lot of smart stuff going on behind the scenes that we're not ready to talk about yet. (Though we told Marshall and he explained.) Here's the info page for this post.
I'm a minority shareholder in this project, so know that I have a considerable interest in its success. Of course I think it's a great service, and I hope you give it a try.
Over on ReadWriteWeb, Allen Stern asks if there's a way to make money, and there is. We'll hopefully be ready to talk about it in a couple of weeks.
Biz Stone posted yesterday about the status of services connected to Twitter via their XMPP gateway. We knew about Summize, suspected that FriendFeed had a deal, and learned that there are two others.
We'd like to see Twitter connect their full output to anyone who wants it, but without directly saying so, Stone implies that there are technical reasons they can't.
I am not an expert on XMPP so I have to defer to others who are. They say it would be possible for Summize to allow anyone to subscribe to the flow they receive from Twitter, and this would be transparent to Twitter.
This is a clear indication that it is an economic issue, not a technical one.
I wrote yesterday that identi.ca changes things, offering a public utility model to compete with Twitter's company-owned model. It is built around the assumption that anyone can hook into the stream of any server, allowing a "federation" where being a citizen of one community means that you're a citizen of every community.
It seems then, long-term, there are three options for Twitter.
1. Open up their XMPP interface to all interested service providers, with the help of the community, so that it has no impact on the scaling of their servers. I'm almost 100 percent sure the developers would rally around such an idea, and help Twitter get this going.
2. Wait, and support the same federation protocol as identi.ca, allowing Twitter users to participate in that community, on equal terms.
3. Build AOL-like barriers around their service, to force users to connect to Twitter users only through their software.
Obviously, from the way I've written it, you can tell that I think #3 is not really an option, not if they want to learn from the experience of instant messaging.
It seems to me that blogging, which came after IM, set the precedent for Twitter-like services, and while the compatibility between blogging services isn't perfect, it's pretty good. Because of RSS (and RDF and Atom), and the two blogging APIs (Blogger and Metaweblog) you have fairly good interop. I wish it had come out better, but it's still early for Twitter-like services, compatibility could still, theoretically, be perfect.
I hope that Ev, Jack and Biz remember this, and build a business we can all respect, not built on locking users in.
There's now a Replies tab so you can see who has directly commented on something you've twitted (er identic'd). To see it, log in, click on the Home link in the menu at the top of the page, and you'll see it.
Now Twitter has had that for a long time, so what's the big deal. And there are still a bunch of features that identi.ca will need to bring it to parity, feature-wise, with Twitter.
Yet every step it takes is a victory for users and developers, even if they don't know it is.
Perhaps an analogy will help.
Twitter is to identi.ca as an exclusive country club is to a public swimming pool. We might be denied access to Twitter's platform for whatever reason, stated or unstated. This isn't hypothetical, they actually put it in writing. However, they've said they'll recind it. But then they could rescind the rescinding. It's a lot like Apple's policy with developers for the iPhone which might go something like: "We can't let just anyone develop for this."
identi.ca is different, like the Internet itself, no one gets to say whether or not you can develop for the platform. Sure one particluar instance of identi.ca might block your app, but they can't all block it. (Not entirely true, by the way -- just a lot less likely. Email, an open protocol, does effectively block some spammers from dumping mail through open relays. The real world sometimes forces across-the-board restrictions.)
To understand where we're at, remember that software is a process, you can't judge it by where it is today, you have start with that, and judge how it's evolving. Twitter is struggling with finding a happy scaling place and a business model that sustains it after venture capital. As a corporation, they have incentives that an open source project doesn't have. They're more likely to pay attention to users' needs than an open source project that's more likely to tell you to fix it yourself. Though the lack of a business model has made it less likely that the company views its users as customers. They've been polite, even playful, but the service has been pretty awful.
I believe we need both. Single-party systems suck, I like (at a minimum) two parties. Everyone benefits from competition, users, developers, even the entities providing the service or product.
The tech blogosphere loves to study itself in a herd-like fashion.
Back in the old days we used to call this "Watching us watch them watch us watch me watch you watch them watch us watch ourselves watch everything."
It's a big house of mirrors.
A chorus of fooles and puppets.
Today the alpha bloggers woke up and realized a lot of people are following them on FriendFeed. From that some of them conclude that FF is better than Twitter. There's another possible explanation.
First, let me tell you a story.
I was a laggard when I started using Twitter. A lot of people started using it before I did. I figured I'd forever be lagging behind them, but it didn't work out that way because as soon as I started blogging about it here, my subscriber numbers over there zoomed past others whose blogs have fewer readers.
Also, the same thing happened when Mike Arrington discovered Twitter, even though he didn't use it much, he had more followers than I did because his blog has more readers. Today he has twice as many followers as I do on Twitter.
And FriendFeed is tacking in the draft behind Twitter, it's growing faster than Twitter did in its early days because people are talking about it not only on their blogs (as they did with Twitter) but also on Twitter itself. It's bootstrapping off Twitter. Same with identi.ca.
It's the coral reef thing I was talking about last year.
We noticed this with the growth of podcasting in 2004 into 2005. Once we had the right combination of features and content, it grew like a weed, growing in four months what it had taken the blogosphere four years to do (probably more, depending on what you want to call the start of blogging). It's all part of the same bootstrap. Blogging, podcasting, twittering, friendfeeding, and whatever "ing" comes next.
It's all part of one cosmos (not a mere sphere), and there will come a day (I hope) when it all is unified, otherwise we're forever going to be chasing our news from place to place as it gets replicated in ever more awkward ways.
There's a new site on the net today:
It's the counterpart to the political NewsJunk, which is focused on news of the 2008 presidential campaign. The Tech site is focused on technology product news.
I created the site because I wasn't getting enough news about products. It's that simple. I'm interested in the other stuff too, the finance, trends, parties, puppets -- but that's adequately covered on TechMeme. What wasn't getting through is the stuff I, as a product developer, care the most about -- news about products. And the interesting new products I'd find wouldn't make it onto the bus. If it got bought by Google or Microsoft, that would likely show up on TM, or if a VC invested a lot of money in it. But I like to find out when things are small, before other people invest.
It's important to note that the Tech NewsJunk, like the political one, does not have original content, it just points to the sites that are producing the relevant stories.
I did it so I could learn, and in the spirit of the web of course I wanted to share and hopefully people will forward me links to product news that isn't already on TechJunk (please, no press releases) and even better, pointers to feeds of sites that regularly review products.
A couple of notes. I'm not just interested in new products, I'm also interested in how the products evolve. So if Flickr were to (for example) add a bunch of new features tomorrow, we would defintely link to that.
I also want to hear about products from the people who design and implement them. Their point of view is very important to not only understanding their work, but to understanding the market.
I expect and hope other people will compete with this site, so we can focus more attention on products, so maybe there will be more products that fit user's needs better.
Now, as with the political "junk" site, there are many ways to consume the flow.
1. The old-fashioned way -- you can refresh the site manually.
2. There's a feed, of course, for your reader, or aggregator, or whatever.
3. You can follow it on FriendFeed.
4. Or on Twitter.
5. Or read the mobile version on your iPhone or Blackberry.
And soon you will be able to follow it on identi.ca (as soon as we figure out how to do it). And there will also be an email interface.
PS: One of the great things about this site is that I learn which sites are providing the best product coverage. So far they are (in no special order): ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat and Webware. This is just my opinion of course, and it could change. I wish some of the sites would cut down on the cuteness and add more hard info.
PPS: The counts page is getting interesting.
It's the day when we say we're not dependent on Great Britain.
Of course that part of the holiday long ago lost its meaning. But maybe the whole thing, maybe the concept of America has lost its meaning. Matthew Yglesias, a surprisingly young blogger with a lot of influence yesterday wondered if the US really had more integrity in 1974 when our outrage forced Richard Nixon from office. Not just Democratic outrage, but Republican outrage too. I was alive then, Yglesias says he was not, and I remember, as a college student, how remarkable it was. But it's sad if it's true that today's America cares less about its ideals than that one did, because that one didn't care enough to stop the outrage from happening, we only cared when it was too late.
As we learn more about our current President and Vice-President, it's never been more clear that we sold ourselves out -- for nothing -- to a handful of people who are raping not only Iraq for its oil, but our own country's treasury and integrity. They say they're not raising taxes, instead the dollar keeps declining relative to a barrel of oil. In just one week the price of gas at the pump has gone up 10 percent at the local station where I took the picture last Sunday. 10 percent! This is an unbelievable tax that hits everyone equally, which is to say it hits people just barely making it the hardest. And it's going to effect the cost of everything as the increase ripples through the economy, the cost of food, clothing, medicine, keeping our houses warm.
Then comes the amazing story that we may be about to provoke a war with Iran so the oil industry can take Iran's oil, after taking Iraq's. How many more hundreds of thousands of people will die, how many millions will be displaced, and how much more of what's left of our leadership will be foreclosed so the oil and defense barons can make a few more euros (they're surely not taking their loot in dollars).
When we look for someone to blame, we should look in the mirror -- we did this to ourselves, first by electing Bush, and then amazingly, re-electing him. But it would feel much better if I believed we were about to start undoing the mess, but I've been walking around with an undercurrent of depression this week, and I haven't been able to pinpoint the source, yet, but I have an inkling it has something to do with the evaporating hope that we're about to turn the corner. We may have created an unprecedented mess in the 8 years of Bush, we may have wrecked our economy and reputation, but at least we're about to start heading in the right direction. It seems perhaps not.
From gun control to abortion, to illegal wire-tapping and funneling government money to religious organizations, the man who sold us Change You Can Believe In, it's sad to say, appears not to have believed in it himself. To find out it was just a marketing slogan is too much to bear. It's so hard to accept that Ted and Caroline Kennedy stood up for him and said he represented the same hope as JFK, well, maybe we misunderstood what they meant. Or maybe it's time for them to take him aside and ask "What did you mean again?"
I'd like to get Aaron Brown back on the air. I'd like Keith Olbermann to be tougher. And if this is just a case of Obama getting comfortable in his new skin, with his new stature as presumptive nominee then I look forward to him re-finding himself, because we need leadership now more than we need a new president. A humbled Obama is worse than a proud McCain.
This post on the Twitter status blog, gives hope to developers wanting to hook into the full Twitter flow, the same flow that now only Summize has access to. Here's what they said: "We're hopeful that once we've improved the stability of the service we can bring back IM. It remains the highest priority feature weÕre working to restore." OK. That sounds hopeful.
I note that a number of programmers I respect are trying to launch instances of the software behind identi.ca.
If they're successful, and if there is a decent way to connect them into a federation (meaning we can communicate even if we're using different hosts), then we're getting somewhere.
Is there some place where someone is monitoring the status? A wiki? A discussion thread?
I'm not planning on running one until the trail has been well blazed, maybe not even then, but I don't mind helping track the progress.
Update #2: laconica.kamleitner.com.
I was catching up with On The Media earlier this week, and who comes on but my friend and former Berkman colleague Rebecca MacKinnon. I love those kinds of surprises, it lets me catch up, in a multimedia sort of way (it's better than reading an essay or blog post). A former CNN correspondent in China and Korea and founder of the Global Voices blogging network along with Ethan Zuckerman, now she's a prof at the University of Hong Kong. I got a really funny picture of her at the end of a movie in Nashville, a few years ago.
She has become an expert on freedoms on the Internet because of her connection to China; that's what she was talking about on OTM. Toward the end of the interview she said we even have issues with freedom on the net in the US. I thought she was being a little too kind.
This morning I saw a judge had let Viacom have all of Google's user data from YouTube, a very shocking thing for a judge to do. I thought RMack, with her perspective on Chinese freedom on the net would have something to say, and it turns out she does...
Rebecca MacKinnon: Corporate responsibility and the Internet.
A Twitter clone that's all-the-way open?
Did Christmas come early this year?
Marshall has a writeup.
I am dave over there. Follow me!
First thing --> looking for an API.
It supports the OpenMicroBlogging protocol, which I had not heard about until now.
evan appears to be the author of the software, or at least the authority on it.
From the FAQ, it will support the Twitter API, but doesn't yet. There is RSS here, but I haven't found it yet.
Here's the RSS. http://identi.ca/dave/all/rss Just add "/rss" after anything.
I've hooked it up to FriendFeed, but it looks (much) less than optimal (and I'm being kind). They really need to work on the RSS, it's the first really lame thing I've seen in identi.ca.
Bijan got a preview of the iPhone 2.0 software, which adds location to the camera.
When you come back from vacation where there are lots of other people taking pictures, go to Flickr 4.0 and enter the location and the time, and voila, vacation pictures and you're in all of them. :-)
It's bad news for people cheating on their spouses. Now it'll be easier to follow your trail and who you were with. (I had a preview of this, when I was on a date, walking down the street the other way was Justin with his camera mounted on his hat and his broadcasting laptop in his knapsack. It was a long time ago, if you want to see who I was out with you're going to have to search through a lot of archives. Enjoy!)
A feature like this (which was obviously coming for years) will reshape what it means to take a picture. That's why people are confused, because we all come from the past, and this product exists only in the future (for everyone but Bijan, who I hate).
Just kidding of course. Heh.
My Internet writing is so distributed these days, there are five main places I write, and a host of others where I write peripherally. Here are the five:
1. Scripting News (and its RSS feed).
2. The comments here (managed by Disqus).
3. Twitter (used to be a lot, now much less).
4. FriendFeed (links, comments).
5. The OPML Editor (for software dev work mostly).
My writing style differs in all the places, it depends on its newness, who's there, what the tools let me do, what I'm doing there.
None of them are what I want them to be, but I'm happy because I feel like things are shifting, and I'm almost ready to understand what I really want.
First, like a lot of people, I have either found or invented systems to connect the five places. When I write something here, I ping Twitter. FriendFeed has been programmed to automatically pick it up. My writing sometimes but rarely flows through the NewsJunk website and out to FriendFeed and Twitter because it's like a radio station, again, pushing links and content where we want it to go. We're all set up for new destinations. The NewsJunk software (which is a major undertaking, like Manila was in 1999) is all about moving ideas around.
But movement isn't really what we want.
For a moment think about TechCrunch. Okay let's say one of the editors writes something longish over on FriendFeed and then realizes that would make a good post on TC. So he switches over to WordPress (the editorial software they use) and pastes it in there, makes some corrections, adds a picture, some links, edits some more, adds a few thoughts, then publishes. A few minutes later an update, he spots a typo and fixes it. Now what happened to the FriendFeed article? It's still there, unchanged by all the improvements. But what should have happened?
It seems there should only be one copy of the story, and when it changes on TC, it should also change on FF. Further, when he adds some pictures, or links to a podcast, or embeds a video, that should happen in both places as well. And of course there shouldn't really be two places, there should be one, with two views. TechCrunch is a flow of articles grouped around a name, with the judgment we assume comes with it. But the idea originated somewhere else (it seems all of them do) and after it migrates it still exists there.
I go through a similar process with pieces that flow to the Huffington Post. First, I get the piece in perfect shape over here, and then copy it over there. Of course it never is perfect, and then I'm stuck making changes in both places.
Now should the comments in both places be the same comments? Ahhh, at that point I'm nto so sure. We'll have to try it out and see what happens. (In the Huffpost case, definitely not. I don't feel like a member of the community there, even though the comments I see are in response to my writing.)
If you want to get more ideas about this, revisit Web 2.0 Gas Prices, a piece that tells the story about how an idea sprouted in one place and then bloomed in another. Lots of data were integrated from pictures to maps to MP3s. Try to ignore the issue of wheher it's fair to McCain. That was the point in the discussion on FF, over here on SN, what's interesting are the editorial techniques and what kind of software will be needed to support them.
A few weeks ago for the first time a reader noticed the double-entendre in the name of this weblog. People always assumed it meant "News About Scripting." Sure to some extent that's what it means, but we all know, not so much these days. But it's main meaning was "The application of technology to news." Scripting is the verb, not the subject. You always have to be looking for that with me, I have a devious mind and sometimes (not often I hope) I lead you in one direction, when the action is in a different one.
PS: I've been working on a new "junk" site, this one for tech news. I'll have a writeup here soon.
PPS: What I've learned from the political NewsJunk, the MSM guys have figured out blogging, and generally do as good a job as the amateurs, though some of the pros are just running linkblogs and not much more. They typically don't like NJ, for some reason. Go figure.
PPPS: It seems postscripts should have lives of their own too. The next one should live here, and also live in the FriendFeed Feedback room.
PPPPS: The Reshare command in FF, it seems to me, shouldn't create a copy, rather should add the item to my flow, at the top of the list, and any comments that appear in either place would be seen in both. It's understandable that copies must be made when things move among silos, but within a silo why not deal in pointers? (Or give the choice to the user.)
I caught up with Eric Marcoullier and Jud Valeski of Gnip in Eric's car, this afternoon.
Earlier today, on Scripting News, I asked Twitter to use Gnip to communicate with developers so the network can come back on. I wanted to find out if anything had come of it.
Meanwhile, the guys believe there's no technical reason that Twitter can't turn back on all the services that were hooked into the XMPP gateway -- the protocol is designed for that kind of syndication.
It seems, therefore that the reason must be economic -- which leads to the conclusion that Twitter, which was founded as an open platform, with a Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom philosophy, is now headed in the opposite direction.
We know where that leads, to the place where Instant Messaging foundered, which motivated the development of XMPP to route around the problem. (Oh the humanity!)
Gnip raises the question in about as clear a way possible, will Twitter come back to developers, or are we looking for a new platform to do the wonderful things we were hoping to do with Twitter.
Eric, like me, is friends with Bijan and Fred, on Twitter's board, so we're posing this question, which is potentially controversial, in a friendly way.
Here's the smiley to prove it:
Yesterday I wrote a teaser piece masquerading as a vision piece. The vision is not mine, it's Eric Marcoullier's, a very affable and brilliant entrepreneur from San Francisco, who founded MyBlogLog and sold it to Yahoo for big bucks a few years back.
As we know Twitter is having scaling problems, and in fact, some of the problems are related to people pounding their API when they should just be getting the data through Gnip, Marcoullier's new startup.
But Gnip didn't officially exist until 9AM today, but as of now (9:20AM) there is no excuse. Twitter, what are you waiting for? Call Eric now, and do a deal and let's get on with building a fantastic network of wired-up Internet apps that scale.
And if you want to get details, get the full scoop from my amigo Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb.
Here we go!!
Update: Mike Arrington seems to agree. "Notably absent from the list of partners is Twitter, which may be the one service that needs something like Gnip the most."
Dave 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.
My most recent trivia on Twitter.
© Copyright 1997-2008 Dave Winer.
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