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

Why our customers are smart Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I often tell stories about companies who treat their customers or developers as if they were idiots. But that's not to say my own company, the one I started, didn't do this too -- it did. It's human nature, but it's bad human nature, it's self-defeating, it's dysfunctional.

When I heard someone say a customer was stupid, I said if that's true we're really fucked.

Here's how I reasoned...

1. We have to believe our customers are the smartest people, because they were smart enough to choose the best product.

2. If they were stupid, then they chose the wrong product and we're dead, so you'd better start looking for a new job

The only logical way to proceed is to:

1. Make the best product.

2. Find the smartest customers.

3. Treat them like the geniuses they are.

4. And earn their respect. (Which they never failed to give us, as long as we did 1, 2 and 3.)

Our customers really were the smartest people -- we made products that you had to be smart to want. But I think every company has to feel their customers are the smartest, or else why bother coming to work?

Further, we don't look for "feedback" from customers, we look to learn from them. Feedback is what you ignore. Learning is how you build.

RSS as the foundation for realtime Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named bonehead.gifSteve Gillmor has been on a campaign to get Feedburner to wake up and make his Feedburner feed more responsive. I support him in this. Now that Feedburner is pwned by Google, there's something kind of sneaky about a big company that prides itself on keeping its servers up and responsive all the time to be asleep on this.

To be fair to Google, it's not 100 percent clear if Steve's website is pinging them on the feed update. This is something we could look into because the protocol for pinging is something we're all pretty familiar with, since its been around for a long time and it's pretty simple. There's an XML-RPC interface, even a REST interface. Google operates a compatible ping server. You don't even have to know the protocol, since Matt Mullenweg kindly put up a server that pings them all. Just tell him what changed and let him make the call for you.

However, it is the very end of the Christmas holiday, so that may be the reason. A wire-trip, and no one is watching the store. That's the danger of centralizing a decentralizing technology like RSS. Like the Internet itself it can route around outages, but only if you let it be distributed. This points out the need for an open source easy to install version of Feedburner. Now with cloud services like Amazon and Microsoft's upcoming Azure, and Google's own AppEngine, it would be a simple matter to put something together in any number of different languages that would provide all the benefits of Feedburner (stats mainly) without the problems of excessive centralization.

Steve called a few minutes ago, and I volunteered to write about this. I also volunteer to help get a Feedburner competitor on the air, whether it's a small independent project or something run by Microsoft.

Update: Feedsqueezer.

Twitter in 140 characters Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jay Rosen asked: "Write a 140 character post that explains what you find Twitter useful for."

DW: "Twitter is my shared notepad. If I want to remember something and I don't mind if everyone else knows it, I just post it here."

Only 126 characters. ;->

Why Twitter *can't* be conversational for me Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I've tried to use it conversationally, but it quickly falls apart.

Consider an example.

Suppose I say the sky is blue.

Someone says: "What do you mean by that?"

Now I have three choices: 1. Ignore it. 2. Ask what they're referring to. 3. Assume they mean my statement that the sky is blue, and explain what it means for the sky to be blue.

Suppose I choose #2. Because I might have said 5 things in the last hour, and how do I know which one my correspondent is referring to. So I respond: "Which item are you referring to?" But before my friend can respond someone else asks "What are you talking about?" Now to that one I have three possible choices, the same ones as before.

Back up a step. I could have chosen #3. How do you explain what it means for the sky to be blue in 140 characters? And if you try, someone else will ask you to explain your explanation. But how will you know which twit they're referring to!

Right around this time someone chimes in with a political objection to something I've said. By trying to cram real conversation into 140 character snippets, you're bound to offend someone, because in order to be politically correct you have to allow for the possibility that you're talking about a man or a woman, someone who is young or old or inbetween, or if you assume they're American you'll get a lecture on how all Americans think everyone is an American or somesuch.

Honestly don't see how anyone gets past the first step in a conversation, but as I've gotten more people following me, the opportunities get narrower. When I try to satisfy everyone, what happens then is someone tells me I'm posting too much and I should STFU or they're going to unsubscribe. Ohhh.

So when someone asks me a question that I want to answer, I DM them. But usually I choose option #1. For me it's not and can't be conversational.


Last update: Sunday, January 04, 2009 at 9:00 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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