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Text On Rails Permanent link to this item in the archive.

You could fill an outline... with what some people don't grok about outlines! ;->

Via Scott Rosenberg, a post from a guy who loves outlines, worrying about a guy who doesn't.

Truth is this: Outliners don't force you to do anything, and they are the opposite of rigid, and people who say they are, probably have only written outlines on paper and have never used an outliner on a computer.

I know a lot about this -- there probably are just a handful of people on the planet who have invested any effort in convincing people to use outliners, and I'm one of them.

I still use an outliner, I'm using one right now to write this. I never do any serious writing in anything else. The ability to move stuff around with the mouse is very important to me. It frees me from worrying about order because I can edit it. It has the opposite effect of imposing rigidness on my work, it makes it fluid.

After years of selling RSS, I came up with this phrase to explain it -- Automated Web Surfing.

In the same way, after years of talking about outlines, really decades -- this is what I came up with -- Text on Rails.

Why I care what the Republicans do Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named maynardGKrebs.gifIn technology and government, really everything, I like two-party systems. It keeps everyone on their toes, and keeps the customer front and center (or voter, same thing). That's why I care.

In a comment on an earlier post, a reader asks if the Republicans really deserve to survive or if I have had any Republican heroes. The answer is who cares whether they deserve to survive, that isn't for me to decide. Or looked at another way, if the Republicans don't deserve to survive, neither do the Democrats. Neither party has been any good, not in my lifetime, probably never.

If you doubt me, read Glenn Greenwald's latest in Salon. That should scare the shit out of you if you think the Democrats, even with President Obama, are so great. They aren't. They might be pigs every bit as corrupt as the Republicans have been. We're going to watch this very carefully with a skeptical eye.

Truth is -- like many people, if not everyone -- until Obama, my vote has always gone to the lesser of two evils. Someday I look forward maybe to choosing between two honorable, competent, adult, intelligent candidates. Can't do that without a second party, and right now the Republicans are what we got.

I'm not going to work for them, and I didn't work for the Democrats. I was tempted to go out and canvas for Obama, but I just gave money and wrote what I think here on my blog and on Twitter and FriendFeed and anywhere else people would listen. But I kept my record clean. I am not part of a party, even though I am political.

What should the Republicans do? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named lincoln.jpgAs the Democrats take power and the Republicans move out, it's pretty obvious that the Republicans must decentralize and build and do it using the Internet.

And please emphasize self-respect and respect of others, to attract people with good intentions and brains. The kind of mindless arguing that Republicans have become famous for has chased away all the people who know how to find creative solutions to problems. You need to attract the people with ideas in order to get their ideas.

I said it over and over during the campaign, but I don't know how many people believed me, now maybe you will -- I am not a Democrat. I don't care which party wins, what I care about is that we, as Americans, act intelligently and make the best of the opportunities we have. I think there are a lot of people like me.

I'd like to see the parties compete for our support. We've done pretty well with the Democrats, now it's time to help the Republicans, if they want it. The first thing: you're going to have to give up and disavow the loutishness. No way anyone with self-respect is going to associate with that.

Here's another clue, I was able to get into the DNC twice in the last two cycles, and wasn't able to get into the RNC either time. Maybe you need to take a look at how you've set up your gates and who you're keeping out and why.

Obama's shit sandwich Permanent link to this item in the archive.

On the other hand...

There's this great scene in The Wire, I'm going to have to look it up and at least get the audio online, where Carcetti, the newly elected mayor, is having breakfast with a long-retired former mayor.

He explains that on his first day in office he was kicking back in the beautiful mayor's office thinking how great it was to finally be here when his aides came in with a lovely plate and on it was a shit sandwich. They handed it to him saying "This is for you."

Basically the story is that for the guy on top, every day is a series of eating shit sandwiches in a beautiful office.

I thought of this when I read this WSJ article about the first crisis waiting for the new President, and how the current President said "no deal" when Obama asked him to have a taste. Bush basically was saying: "Obama man that's your shit not mine."

Now, it is a beautiful office. ;->

Is Obama truly world-wide? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Part of the appeal of Obama, at least to this voter, is what our choice said to the rest of the world about us. But there was more to it, and now it's time to talk about that.

Ryan Lizza wrote a fantastic piece in the New Yorker, like all of his campaign pieces for the 2008 election. The closing paragraph sums up something really important about Obama.

After one of the Clinton debates he said: "'I am not a great candidate now, but I am going to figure out how to be a great candidate.' One of Obama's achievements as a politician is that he somehow managed to emerge intact, after navigating two years of a modern and occasionally absurd Presidential race, while also becoming a great candidate. On Election Night, as he once again invoked the words of Lincoln, he seemed to be saying that he was going to figure out how to be a great President."

Lizza was also on FreshAir yesterday. Highly recommended.

So now the question is of course how does Obama become a great President.

The two crises he has to deal with are: 1. The huge financial bubble that just burst and 2. Overpopulation, energy, global warming (all of which are really a single problem).

Neither of these problems have an American solution. Even if he were absolute dictator of the United States, he wouldn't be able to solve them. He could prop up American institutions and home owners, nationalize all the industries, we'd work on infrastructure, education and health care, but he'd still have to make deals with other countries to buy our debt to finance those efforts.

He can and absolutely should take steps to cut our use of oil, of course it makes no difference whether the oil comes from Alaska or Venezuela, that was an outright lie by the Republicans during the election. But, again, it's a world wide thing, in order for our planet to continue to sustain life, we must cut carbon emissions, and ultimately to do that, we must get population under control.

A picture named fonda.jpgSo how can President Obama be a great President, given this scenario? It's pretty obvious that he's going to have to keep campaigning, on a world wide level, and doing it the same way he did it in the US, with everyone, in their own way, pulling together toward a common goal. Sell the people of the world on the idea of a sustainable planet and a fair, distributed economy that serves the people, and then show them how they can play a role in solving the problem.

That last phrase is the most important part. In the last century people may or may not have wanted to be couch potatoes and eyeballs, I don't care to debate that -- but it's not true in this century. Its fascinating to watch so many pundits flail around trying to understand what just happened, when it's obvious. Government became active and inclusive, at least for the moment.

Now the challenge for Obama, that will determine whether or not he's great, is two-fold: 1. Will he get absorbed by the internal momentum of Washington and lose his connection with the people; and 2. Will he extend the momentum of the campaign to the world that's reachable through the Internet, and organize it in the same way he organized the US electorate toward a shared purpose of making life on the planet sustainable. If he can do both, he will not only have been a great President, but will have become the greatest political leader in history. And the amazing thing about our times is that its conceivable, because of our new distributed communication tools, it's possible.


Last update: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 at 7:29 PM Pacific.

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.

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

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"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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