Okay we could bail out the newspaper business, I'm sure that's what the owners of the newspapers are thinking, but this can't happen -- not in the United States. The day the government owns the newspapers would be the exact moment there stopped being a news business. If it happens we will immediately be on our own.
Anyway, after all the perspective-altering news last week about the economy, reading Jeff Jarvis's essay on how to cure the ills of the news business was a bit of nostalgia for the good old days and showed me why Jeff has good attendance at his conferences among people who want to believe in The Long Tail, and in the primacy of the 20th century model for news and entertainment, but it was very clear to me why that point of view is now completely irrelevant.
This is the point of view of news that's relevant: the point of view of the user of news.
A user wants to know how he or she is going to get news.
And when they see lies and BS in the news, they think about how they can get accurate information.
Watch the Frontline episode on the life of Lee Atwater for a reminder of the value of what we call news. In 1988, the Republicans figured it out -- the industry view of news is a story, the story need have nothing to do with reality. The news organizations don't care. When a series of "facts" about Michael Dukakis scrolled in front of a video of him riding in a tank wearing a funny helmet, the news guys made a note they should check out these facts, but they never did. They have a news reporter on the record saying that. They turned out to be nonsense, yet the news guys played the ad over and over for free cause they enjoyed making fun of Dukakis who they thought was pompous and they wanted to take him down a notch. Some way to choose a President, eh?
Think about news as its constituent components, not in the bizarro news world we live in, think about news in the actual world. The components are: sources, facts, ideas, opinions, readers.
The challenge of the news industry, to the extent that there is one, is to connect the first four items with the last item. I don't think you need a reporter and editor to do that. I don't think they were doing their jobs anyway, they were being very selective about what sources, facts, ideas and opinions we could have.
I want it all, and I don't want anyone saying what I can and can't have.
That's why Jarvis's outline of the salvation of the news industry is a nightmare, an old nightmare, one that we're finally waking up from.
And luckily, just at the moment the news industry is breathing its last breath, we have the tools to build our own. I hope we have the will to use them. They are the tools we call Web 2.0 -- blogs, Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, Delicious, wikis, etc.
Now, I'm not glad to see the news industry go that way, I've been pleading with them to embrace the future, to stop fighting it, to accept the changes, to give up their point of view. I think it's still possible to do it, and save some of what they've built, but not so much anymore. But it's going to take some major shifting of point of view to get there. And us users don't really have much reason to care anymore.
Bloomberg says the US bailout so far is costing us (the taxpayers) $7.7 trillion.
I just had to type that number in it's so astonishing. Where are we going to get that much money? Are the Chinese really going to lend us that much? And when we come back to them in April looking for $77 trillion, what will they say?
One plus to all this michegas, it makes the Iraq debacle seem like an absolute bargain! Good going Bushie and Cheney. Look at how much money you didn't waste.
It's really hard to laugh about this. Oy.
Of all the techniques offered for stopping and starting Apache on Windows, the one that worked the best was using a batch command: net stop apache2.2 to stop it and net start apache2.2 to start it.
It's not perfect, because the batch file runs asynchronously from my script call, so it's hard to know when it's okay to proceed, since the call to stop Apache returns long before Apache is stopped; same thing with restarting. But this approach is much better than all the other suggested approaches. Still wish there were a program I could send a message to, which waits until Apache is stopped before returning. And it, predictably, took hours to sort through all the options.
Another problem in switching servers to EC2 is getting a mail relay agent running, so NewsJunk can send emails to people following it via email. When spam became a big issue it became harder to set up mail servers as they tried to defend against people using them for spam. So I thought I had stumbled across something excellent, Godaddy, which is registrar for many of my domains, offers SMTP mail relays. So I set it up and tried a one-line script calling tcp.sendmail but I'm getting an error message that's hard to parse.
553 Sorry, that domain isn't in my list of allowed rcpthosts.
I called their support line, but they have no clue what it means. They say I should use Outlook or Entourage or AppleMail. I said I'm doing it from a script inside my web app. They say they don't support that. Okay, but they're a registrar that doesn't serve people who run websites? They usually have smart, polite support people -- but this time they were trying to BS me. Not appreciated, Godaddy.
Anyway, I trawled around looking for a clue what that error means, and it's hard to parse. It could be that something hasn't propogated through DNS or it could mean their defenses think I'm a spammer (I'm not).
So I may be back to zero again. Can't run the IIS mail server because of a weirdness of EC2, life gets more complicated if you depend on configuring the OS and I want to keep it simple, using an off the shelf image of Windows rather than customizing one.
BM stands for Business Model, not what you think.
Steve Gillmor has the Gillmor Gang and he uses that pulpit to push a future of ideas and truths flying around the Internet, our ideas -- with all kinds of pipes and funnels to catch the stuff we want and let the other stuff flow by. We're going to need it now that the newspapers are evaporating at the same time as the banks. Unfortunate timing.
Steve wants Track. The FF guys say they'll give it to him, and I believe them. Their philosophy is to pass back everything they suck in. Good philosophy. So far they've stuck to it, more or less. Meanwhile, reading the tea leaves I'd guess that Twitter is going to sell track to consumer marketing companies, based on the model that we're eyeballs on couches and there's $$$ value in selling what we're talking about to BigCos. To me, this is very sad old thinking and doomed to fail, like people living off the rise in equity in their houses. Much better to go direct, get and give money to and from users. There are a lot more of us, and we've got better ideas.
Here's my recipe for Twitter's business...
1. Acquire a couple of the add-on vendors, to send the signal to developers -- they're looking to buy.
2. Open up the APIs fully, limited only by technical realities, don't hold anything in reserve.
3. Offer the add-ons to users at a price. The basic service remains free forever, but the add-ons cost. Kind of like wordrpess.com. It works for Apple with their app store. Amazon charges for their web services. We're in the period after the second Internet tech crash now, thinking must be adjusted.
4. Go to step 1, acquire more add-on developers. Then go to step 2, add more APIs, then step 3, offer more for-money features to users, who then can (likely) build businesses off the new features.
This is Twitter as coral reef, an idea that held promise many months ago but has faded as things have more or less stagnated in TwitterLand.
Observation -- everyone who has a website that survives will be in competition with Amazon. Start now, don't be thinking about competing with Google for ads, that model is disappearing, just like people who were paying credit card bills by taking out third, fourth and fifth mortgages, only to make their next down payment with a credit card!
Otherwise, I'd advise the S3 people to get a Twitter-like notification system ready asap. You know what -- I'm pretty sure they have one in the pipe.
Update: Steve also has a nice pulpit at TechCrunchIT.
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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