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

Why it matters that Twitter is a news platform Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Because here's a second shot that traditional media has at usurping the control of the tech industry over the future of news. They've been like kittens up till now, and of course there's no reason to believe they could get their act together anytime soon. But the major media companies should think of Twitter as another Napster, not as a threat (that was the mistake they made in 2000) rather as a Hulu-like opportunity to build their own platform that's more friendly to news.

What do the media companies do well? Have they innovated even a little in the new electronic media? What right do they have to demand our support if they won't take any chances?

I think it's clear that Twitter-the-Company has proven it doesn't understand news. Do the media companies understand it? If they did, they'd be all over this.

And if I were advising FriendFeed, I'd make a platform for Twitters, make it really easy for a developer with a minimum of programming, almost all UI coding, to develop something that does exactly what Twitter does. And of course let them add whatever else they like from the FF bag of tricks. Think of a thousand flowers blooming instead of being so vertically integrated.

Is Firefox slower than other browsers? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named gecko.jpgIn the last few days there's been a discussion in the blogosphere as to the future of browsers, and the continued charm of Firefox, or whether there's any serious movement to Chrome. My original piece basically said that no matter how attractive Chrome might be, I can't switch because so much of what I do depends on plugins that are only available in Firefox.

But part of the the discussion centered around whether or not Firefox is slow relative to the other browsers. David Naylor posted a series of tests that show that, if anything, it's getting more efficient. His numbers are impressive. Less than half a second to launch. I've never measured the performance of Firefox or any other browser, and I don't plan to. But when people talk about the speed of a browser, I don't think of how quickly it launches or even how fast it renders a page right after it launches.

Here's what I do care about -- how slow it gets after it has been running for a number of hours with a full complement of tabs. That's the A-B comparison that we should be looking at. I think that's the subjective measure people use to say whether a browser is fast or slow. Ideally you only launch a browser once every time your machine boots. But how often do you have to quit the browser because it has become so bogged down and is using up so much of the machine's resources? I wonder if most users know that you can make the browser faster by quitting and relaunching?

It's also possible that people who use Chrome fit a different profile and don't load it up with a lot of tabs, or the UI of Chrome discourages lots of tabs -- I don't know since I have only tried Chrome, I have not used it as my daily browser.

I get ideas when I ski Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'm taking the day off skiing cause my legs hurt and it's snowing like a mofo outside. And I'm writing post after post, finding they're already written. How did this happen? I went skiing yesterday. It's been so long, maybe as much as 15 years -- I don't remember the last time I went skiing. But it all comes back, esp the part about how many new ideas come from the simple act of going up and down the mountain.

I think it's because of the pace of the sport. Going downhill everything is in motion and your brain is processing data at a huge rate. Emotionally it's exhilirating, no matter how you're skiing. If I'm skiing poorly, like the first run of the day, I'm fearful of breaking something or looking terrible and wondering why I even came. But if I'm hitting all the marks, as I was toward the end of the morning, I'm feeling svelte, alive, on top of everything, important, masterful -- all kinds of very positiive stuff.

And then there's the ride up the mountain. The blood is rich with oxygen, the muscles have this incredible sense of well-being, endorphins are flowing, and that's when the ideas come!

I know how long it's been since I've ski'd -- I've never blogged about it. So I stopped skiing right around the time I started blogging. I wonder why.

Anyway tomorrow I'll be back on the mountain, so expect some more good stuff after that. ;->

Me, Amazon, Scoble Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Gosh it's almost as if I work for Amazon. How the heck did that happen. There was a long time I didn't like them, because of the 1-click patent. I was afraid they were going to be a big black hole in the middle of the net, where open ideas went to die. But they haven't seemed to be bullying people with the patent, and then an off-hand comment by Matt Mullenweg about how he was furnishing his whole life with Amazon got me to try them out and I was hooked.

The thing I like best about shopping at Amazon are the user comments. They really are good. And I often base purchasing decisions on what the other users say. It got so bad that when I went shopping at Fry's for some sound equipment I fumbled around until I realized what I was missing was the advice of other shoppers. I did the unfair thing, listened to a bunch of stuff and then went home and bought what I liked and what the others liked, from Amazon.

Now onto Scoble.

I've been reading Scoble for a very long time, but he never wrote a post as insightful as the one he wrote about where Facebook is going. He says the goal of Facebook is to improve on the experience that Amazon provides (he didn't say it that way, but that's how I read it). Not only will I be able to rely on other users to tell me which products are good, but I'll also know what products my friends are buying and liking. Scoble's example was picking a sushi restaurant on University Ave in Palo Alto. I could find Scoble's favorite, and Mike Arrington's, and Steve Jobs's, etc. That would carry extra weight, if I knew who the people doing the recommending are, even though Amazon's reviews are generally so good, I can get by without knowing who the people are.

So this insight led me to wonder if Amazon, being the smart, ambitious, rich company that it is, has already figured this out and is lying in wait to pounce on Facebook, or maybe buy them if the price gets attractive. I can't imagine that they're not on top of this.

The point is this -- if you're not thinking of Amazon as a social networking company, you should.

Poet's Guides Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I'd say EC2 for Poets was an unqualified success.

Its purpose was two-fold: 1. To see if intelligent people who have never put up a server before could do it with EC2. 2. Having given them the experience, they would then see new applications for servers that people who usually put up servers don't see.

There were requests for more Poet's Guides -- one in particular -- OPML Editor for Poets. The suggester realized toward the end of his request that the last person to write a Poet's Guide is the person who is immersed in the details of the thing being written about. The guide has to be someone who, like the reader, is a newbie -- who knows just enough to get it to work, and not a whole lot more.

One thing people were disappointed about was that the instance you start doesn't retain its state when you shut it off. It would be highly desirable to have a hosting service where the image of your virtual server was retained and could be restarted just like you restart your laptop or desktop computer. But you would only pay for the time the server is actually running. This could be a lucrative business, it seems, esp if the launch times could be shorter (say the same speed that a virtual machine launches on a desktop). It would also be nice if there were a way to do this with Mac OS.

How about a Kindle for Poets? As you may know -- I got a Kindle recently, but haven't had a chance to use it for real until I took a plane flight earlier this week. I bought a copy of the NY Times for $0.75 and read it on the 2 hour flight to Salt Lake from SFO. I liked it. In ways it was better than reading the paper Times. Not so unweildy, easier to remember my place if I get distracted. No paper to throw out when I'm done.I didn't have to stand in line at the news stand, or have exact change for the vending box. And it's cheaper than the physical paper. Good deal.

Now what I'd like to do is run a script on my netbook to load up my Kindle with lots of content from bloggers I read, without going through Amazon's servers. I don't want to use their limited web browser. I want the content to be first class, as pleasant as reading the NY Times. In other words, I want it to function like an iPod -- I only use iTunes for the last step in loading content onto my iPod, I manage all my podcast subscriptions myself with my own podcatcher. I want the Kindle to work largely the same way. I bring this question to the Scripting News readership -- how do I get started? And if successful I may well write a Kindle publishing howto, if there isn't already one.

I would, of course, use Scripting News as a guinea pig for the process -- I'd love to make it available to Kindle readers, but I'd want to be able to tinker with the user experience if it's at all possible to do so. I see a new reading device as a learning tool not for me, as a writer, but also as a media hacker.

Also I invite others to write their own Poets howto's for things they're interested in or passionate about. You learn a lot from the process. As they say -- people teach what they most need to learn. ;->

Is Twitter a news system? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A piece came out in yesterday's LA Times that quoted from my podcasts with Jay Rosen and blog posts here. The piece was a bit all over the map, the author was having trouble coming to grips with a premise that I take for granted. Twitter is a news system, today, it will be more of a news system in the future, and whatever becomes of Twitter the company or their web service, the essentials of what Twitter does is an integral part of the news system of the future.

Let's try turning the question around -- if Twitter isn't a bootstrap of or a dry run at the news system of the future, then what is it? A fad with no significance? People said that about CB radio, something that I never did myself, but it seems vindicated now -- it was a dry run at Twitter. People said the same things about blogging, but I don't think anyone doubts that blogging is part of the news system of today and the future.

An example...

The other day I was shopping at Target in Berkeley, and noticed that the parking lot was full, and wondered how this could be, if there was a recession going on. I noticed that the parts of the store that sold supermarket-like products were jammed, and the parts that sold durable stuff, clothes, luggage, toys, sporting goods, electronics -- were empty. When I got to Starbucks after my stop at Target, I reported this on Twitter, along with a picture I had uploaded from the parking lot (it goes to Flickr and is automatically pushed to Twitter). Soon after reports came in from around the country about Target parking lots where other people lived. Now here's the point -- that's what network news used to simulate, by sending reporters to all the locations to find out what's going on. Instead we got the reports from the shoppers. Not a whole lot of difference. And Twitter was both the newsroom and the delivery medium.

I'm sure some willl argue that what's going on in the parking lots of shopping centers during a recession isn't really news; then I would point those people to the first reports of the USAir flight that landed in the Hudson, which didn't appear on CNN or ABC -- it appeared on Twitter, with a picture, in much the same way my picture of the Target parking lot did. The technologic channels can report small stuff or sensational stuff, with equal alacrity.

I wonder why press people have trouble seeing that news is what's happening there. Sure there's a lot of other stuff on Twitter -- they focus on that instead. I leave it to the investigative journalists to figure out why.

Gone skiing Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Storm brewing over the Wasatch

Taking some time off! ;->


Last update: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 at 5:30 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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