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

How we look vs Who we are Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I was talking with a friend this morning, part of an ongoing conversation about how people are judged by their outside image and how this may be at odds with how they see themselves. I think we spend our whole lives studying this.

A few stories...

1. About 15 years ago I took a picture of my father and showed it to him. I thought he looked good, happy and fit -- I thought he would be pleased, but instead he winced. I said "Dad that's what you look like." And he said one of the sweetest things I remember him saying -- that inside he still feels like he's 19 and this picture reminded him that he was not (he was about 65 at the time).

2. A friend got rich, quickly, and then just as quickly got poor. Never saw anything like it before or since. I formed a theory that inside he felt poor and the riches were at odds with that. It was easier to get rid of the money than to get rid of the feeling of worthlessness. (None of this is conscious by the way, it's all about the subconscious, which is much more powerful.)

3. I was dating a very attractive woman. I got invited to see the world from her point of view, and man, what a difference. She thought everyone was always trying to get in each others' pants. I told her this was not true! But I don't think she ever believed me.

4. A friend tells a story about very gentle person, a man, who has very dark eyebrows. He explained that everyone always thinks he's angry even when he's happy or wistful or curious or sad. Everyone reacts to him all the time as if he were angry. To him the world looks like a very defensive place.

5. Me, I was always a tall boy growing up. But there came a time when I shot up and went from 70 or 80 pounds to 150 or 170, probably in two or three years. From 60 inches tall to 72 inches. Inside I was still a child, but outside I was scaring everybody. I know that now but I didn't understand it when I was a kid, because I was inside the body looking out. I remained more or less constant, but the effect I had on people changed dramatically. This left me confused for years! A lot of people must go through this, we all grow up and the people around us remember us as a cute little kid and all of a sudden the cute kid is gone, replaced by a strapping young man or a shapely young woman. Maybe they never forgive you for stealing the cute little kid?

A picture named accordion.gifAnyway, back to my friend who started this thread. I had asked her to tune into my Twitter feed and she did, and we talk about it when we get together. Today she wanted to know why my icon is King Kong. I said it's a joke -- that's what people say about me, but it's not really me. Inside I'm nothing like that, but on the outside, often it seems to me that the world is relating to me as if I were. She asked why not change the image. I laughed and asked -- what should I change it too? Ballet slippers? A pink tutu? No, she said, how about a teddy bear or Gentle Ben? Hmmm. Well, I'm not quite ready for that, after giving it some thought. I don't see myself that way, and it's important that the iconography not only reflect how you'd like people to see you, but also reflect how you feel inside. So I looked through my archive and settled, for now, on the accordion player. He's a very frequent guest here, and in many ways I identify with him. Playing a tune, giving people a song to sing, but folksy -- even schmaltzy -- that's how I'd like to be seen. Not too heavy, but not all cuddles either. Maybe someday I'll feel okay with Gentle Ben, but not yet.

So I'm archiving my Twitter imagery today and replacing it with new stuff. Here's an overall screen shot of what it used to look like, and here's the old avatar, and the background image. I'm replacing it with the accordion guy and a picture of the SF skyline taken from my perch in the Berkeley Hills, roughly what I see when I look out over the world while I'm twittering or blogging.

Of course while I was trying to make the change I had a visit from the whale. I'll have to wait till he let's me do my thing. :-(

Twitter *kills* Google in real-time search Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Matt Cutts: "The real-time web is not the threat. Google can index data in seconds.'

He's the head of webspam team at Google, and a man who, obviously, knows a lot about search.

That was 17 hours ago as I write this at almost 2AM, Twitter's real-time search has had a story, a few thousand night owls were up, in LA and around the world, and news was breaking, the kind of sensational prurient goop that Twitter loves, a LA car chase, covered by helicopter. As I write this, Twitter is about 1 hour ahead of Google, that is, Google's latest news is 1 hour behind Twitter's.

Here's a screen shot of a Google News search done at 1:50AM Pacific.

Granted, this is not (likely) an earth-shaking story. But if it were, the same technology would apply. It's a good test case, a good dry run.

Also granted, the Twitter result is scattered and disorganized. If you weren't watching the event unfold in realtime you would not be able to piece together the story. However I was watching realtime while it was happening, hitting Twitter's realtime search and watching my incoming twitstream. I follow over 800 people, and a lot of them were fascinated with the story of the slow-speed chase through LA of the police by someone driving a white Bentley. Who is it? Why is it taking so long?

We watched as a helicopter hovered over the scene where the driver was apprehended. Ominously one Twitterer says the driver killed himself on camera on ABC. Now there are some published mainstream reports that say this too.

At 1:57AM, Google has a link to an AP story with an update about the driver being taken away in an ambulance. The story has a post time of 1:34AM, about 25 minutes ago as I write this at 2AM.

Now all this is likely to get washed out in a few hours when the reports are filed and there's been a press conference. My point is that Twitter is doing something new and with all due respect to Google, something that Google isn't. However, there's a lot of room for improvement, and connections between the various parts of the news ecosystem.

Every serious news outlet should have someone monitoring Twitter 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They should be following at least a few hundred people, feel free to clone my follow list, if you like. It got me in the loop on this within minutes. When a story breaks, a reporter should be dispatched to cover the news that the Twitter community uncovers. The first news organization that does this well is going to get a ton of flow and attention and be well-positioned for the new 24-minute news cycle. Google clearly needs to get their hooks into the Twitter flow, but it's not clear that Twitter wants them in there, hence the last part of @mattcutts's quote, which is ominous: "The larger issue is when search engines can't see data." As we often say "Bing!" -- that's the crux of the biscuit.

As happens so often in tech, we're coming up to a repeat of the sitdown scene in The Godfather where the heads of the other families tell Don Corleone that he must share his Senators, which he keeps in his pocket, like so many coins. (I'll look for the exact quote.) Twitter is holding some valuable coins in its pocket. But Google need not sit on the sideline, they're a big force, and they're moving into social networkings like an aircraft carrier, slowly and deliberately, one step at a time.

Another note -- this is a thread we've been following here on since 1996. Today we call it "real-time search," back then I called for JIT-SEs or Just-in-time search engines.

One more observation: Sometimes having insomnia pays off. ;->

Update: At 2:25AM, the LA Times has a lot more detail.

Update: The full Godfather quote from the screenplay by Mario Puzo. "Don Corleone is too modest. He had the judges and politicians in his pocket and he refused to share them. His refusal is not the act of a friend. He takes the bread out of the mouths of our families. Times have changed, it's not like the old days where everyone can go his own way. If Don Corleone had all the judges and politicians in New York, then he must share them or let others use them. Certainly he can present a bill for such services, we're not Communists, after all. But he has to let us draw water from the well. It's that simple."


Last update: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 at 6:04 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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