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

Placeholder podcast Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I screwed up and lost this week's Rebooting The News podcast.

This brief three-minute solo cast explains what happened and expresses apologies to Jay and everyone for this screwup.


Neutrality in different contexts Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named justice.gif1. In our world we call it net neutrality. It means that all packets are treated equally on the Internet.

2. Among journos, it's the distinction betw editorial and publishing functions, what's often referred to as a Chinese Wall.

In the tech press, back when there was such a thing, they'd sometimes send an ad sales person to visit along with the editor in chief. The editor excuses himself to go to the bathroom, the sales guy says "If you buy an ad he'll review the product." Even if they don't come out and say it, it's often understood. It also becomes obvious to the readers that this is going on, so they stop believing the reviews. It's likely it happens in areas businesses, like movie reviews.

3. In government, it's the separation of church and state. This is one of the ways freedom of religion is guaranteed. If there was a state religion, one which was part of the government, people of different faiths, or ones who don't practice any religion, would have less rights. When someone says the US is a "Christian nation" they're saying they don't believe in this separation.

4. At Microsoft they claimed to keep the systems and apps divisions separate. This became a farce when they claimed that the web browser was part of the system software, when it was clearly an app. This is how they justified their plan to suck the web into Windows.

A picture named dropdead.gif5. You don't want your Internet Service Provider to also provide your cable TV because they might screw around with BitTorrent to keep you from getting your entertainment on the net, protecting their revenue from cable TV. So they make a promise to keep the two functions separate, and there's a scandal every time they fail to.

6. With Google it means that the search engineers don't talk to the advertising people about fine-tuning their algorithms so the biggest customers get the best results. It's because we believe that Google doesn't screw around that we trust their search.

7. I feel very strongly that this kind of neutrality should be the rule on Twitter, and I also know that it's not the rule. They make no attempt to separate operational and editorial functions. In a way this is very honest of them, but it's also long-term going to be bad for business, as people they don't favor look for other outlets for their creative work.

8. Halliburton got some sweet deals from the Bush Administration because the VP was their CEO until he became VP. Did the VP ever explicitly tell DoD employees to favor Halliburton? He didn't have to, the theory goes, everyone knew where he came from.

This idea that you should keep certain functions separate from others permeates all human activities. It's so important we should have a theory for it, and a name that applies everywhere, so when a new thing comes along, no one need debate whether such separation is necessary or good. Unless somehow humans reinvented human nature, it's always both necessary and good.

This is something I hope to discuss with Jay in this evening's Rebooting The News podcast.

When will Twitter start for real? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named twitterbird.gifI've got a new way to view Twitter these days, looking at the collected tweets of people who work at two companies: The NY Times and at Twitter itself. I hoped to see cohesion, discussion between people working on projects together. Not yet.

Last night I added an aggregation of the tweets of the Gillmor Gang, a weekly talk-show podcast about the tech industry. And of course there's the first one, the Top 100 most subscribed to twitterers.

Now it's still really early in all of these feeds, but then that's how we think of Twitter itself. It's still early. It hasn't happened yet, whatever it is we feel is going to happen.

If you look at the tweets, dispassionately, what you'll see is a lot of people broadcasting. There is some shared wisdom, but not much of it is all that useful. One twitterer says you can walk into the wrong gender's bathroom by accident if you're reading tweets while leaving the correct bathroom. Another says he used a line from a movie in a meeting but no one knew what he meant. People wait for taxis, get them or don't get them. Yesterday I went to a ballgame and uploaded a picture.

What will it take for Twitter to advance beyond its potential to be great, to realize its potential? It's been in a holding place, in my experience, for a long time. Last summer we thought first Twitter had to stabilize, stop fail-whaling in order for it to realize its potential. I suppose some thought it would get real when the low-level politicos showed up, then the reporters, then mainstream users, celebs, Oprah.

At some point the potential must be realized. What will it look like then?

Meanwhile, even though some have said blogging was killed by Twitter, or RSS -- I still blog (you're reading a blog post right now) and I get most news from my aggregator. If I depended on Twitter for news it would be very haphazard, completely non-systematic. Today the only real use Twitter has is to explore the potential of a new medium. So far that exploration hasn't turned up much gold. There's the potential of value, that we see.

At some point we will finish this sentence: Twitter is... ?


Last update: Sunday, May 17, 2009 at 8:25 PM Pacific.

A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 54, 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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