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

Goodbye to an icon Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Doc Searls writes that Out Of Town News on Harvard Sq in Cambridge is going out of business on January 1.

There are efforts to revive it as a print-on-demand business, but come on, that's not going to work.

I think at some point you have to take a picture, have a ceremony, put up a plaque and let it go.

When I was a student in New Orleans in the 70s, I used to take the streetcar down to the Quarter every Tuesday to get the Sunday NY Times and sit by the river if the weather was good and catch up on the news from the world outside the bayou.

I imagine that's the function this news stand used to play for students in Cambridge of the same period. The stuff of stories, but it clearly not part of anyone's future.

Is a netbook a cheap laptop? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Two people I respect enormously, John Gruber and Michael Gartenberg, both joined in the discussion of what netbooks are with the same theory.

"What is the difference between a 'netbook' and a 'really cheap laptop that runs something other than Vista?' -- asks Gruber.

On Twitter, Gartenberg asks the question, and answers it. "Are netbooks a new category of device or just small, cheap laptops? I think the latter."

Not so fast!! ;->

First, I agree that a netbook is a cheap laptop, although of course I'd prefer "inexpensive," but let's not quibble. It's that, and it's a new market category. As usual I have a story to go with my opinion.

A picture named vaio.gifBack in 2004 I was living in Seattle and one day I was hanging out at Microsoft, and Jeff Sandquist showed me a computer that changed my life, a small netbook-size Sony Vaio. It was an instantly charming computer, it spoke to me -- it said, no it screamed -- YOU WANT ME. It was like meeting the most beautiful woman in the world, an experience I have had, btw. When that happens the only thing the alpha male psyche knows to do is GO GET IT. ;->

I went home and ordered one the same day, and when it arrived my then-favorite laptop became a desktop and the Vaio went everywhere with me.

Then one day in 2006, the Vaio broke. I tried to get it fixed, but it wasn't possible. And search as hard as I could, I couldn't find a replacement. It seems Sony had decided that this model Vaio had been a failure and apparently stopped making it. I literally couldn't find something in that size, a sub-12-inch laptop. They didn't make them, at any price.

Until one day I saw a comment on FriendFeed about the Asus Eee PC 901 and what a lovely thing it was. As with the Vaio I bought one on impulse, and it was everything I hoped it would be. They had picked up the baton from Sony.

The point to both John and Michael is that until the netbooks came along this was an empty category. That they are cheap is a great bonus, but I would have bought one at two or three times the price. The small footprint laptop has always been a market imho, and it hasn't been served fully until the netbooks came along.

Update #1: Apparently they do still sell the Vaio I liked so much. But the price is $3199.99. That's almost ten times the price of a decent netbook!

Update #2: This picture illustrates the difference between a laptop and netbook computer. Which would you throw in a knapsack?


Last update: Thursday, December 18, 2008 at 2:41 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.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

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

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

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

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

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

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