Archive >  2009 >  May >  28 Previous / Next

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

Google's killer app Permanent link to this item in the archive.

In May 2001 I went for a visit to Google, which was then a very young company. I offered a list of ideas that we could work on together that would help bring their search engine closer to the blogging world, which was also then, quite young.

Then as now I saw the challenge as shortening the distance in time between a post and its appearance in the search engine. I called the idea then just in time search, it's the same idea that people call "real time" today. The term "just in time" was borrowed from the manufacturing world, where the goal is to have the components needed to build a product ready at the exact moment they are needed.

The meeting was cordially breathless, we loved Google then, it felt like it was our company, they were on our side in keeping the web open and the playing field level. But the ideas discussed that day weren't implemented. I don't think this was anyone's fault because then it wasn't so easy to see exactly what was necessary. This was quite a bit before RSS solidified behind version 2.0, and hadn't fully bloomed yet. It may not have been obvious how to do it then, but today -- I believe it is.

I described it to Michael Gartenberg in a phone conversation this morning. It took me about five sentences and less than a minute. That deserves a blog post, I thought.

Here's what I'd like to see them do:

1. When my blog updates I ping their server with the address of the RSS feed.

2. They read the feed, note the changes from the last time they read it, update their index.

3. On the other side, they allow users to subscribe to a set of RSS feeds they maintain, either on Google or elsewhere (using OPML subscription lists). Google provides an RSS feed that can be read every minute to get all changes to the aggregated feeds.

I know they already have elements of #3 implemented in Google Reader, that's good!

The whole thing needs to be tested, burned in and tweaked with clients that do more or less what Twitter does. How it works on the back-end is Google's business.

If they want to do more, I don't have a problem with that. This is the part my software will use.

I would like to see #1 based on the ping protocol, which included a REST interface. I'm not wed to any particular format other than it be as simple as it possibly can be and not dependent on toolkits or having any particular software installed. No opportunities for lock-in, nothing that isn't completely transparent and simple.

Then Google gets to do what Google does best, and what we depend on them for -- run a great search engine. They get all the updates flowing through their servers. Believe me, everyone will support this. And the advantages for users are manifold. Wide choice of software to use. You can have a 140-char limit if you want, or not, if you don't, again -- your choice. You can include media objects, RSS fully provides for it, or you can choose not to. The whole point is to keep it super lightweight and give you all the choices. Let the market figure out where it goes, so we don't have to wait for any one person or group of people to figure it out. That's the Internet way of doing things.

I can be happy that at least I've written down the idea where all can see it. I don't know if anyone from Google reads my blog, or cares. Microsoft or Yahoo could do it, I would be happy to work with anyone with the search and scaling ability.

Twitter as coral reef, cont'd Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named reefFish.gifI've been feverishly experimenting some new ideas this week, the most interesting of which is a mashup between Twitter and Disqus.

This should make Fred Wilson happy, since he is an investor in both companies. But that's not why I did it.

Here's why I did it. The 140-character limit is driving me crazy.

I need a place to express ideas that just don't fit into 140.

There are some, believe it or not.

So here's an example. Early this morning Mike Arrington posted a teaser on his exclusive personal Twitter account. "Get ready for a very, very big news day." Well, Mike ought to know, everyone's telling him stuff they tell no one else.

So I wanted to post a comment asking What's up? What does everyone think this means.

So that's what I did.

Note the URL. Cute, huh? It's a pre-shortened url. No need to push it through any of the commercial shorteners. New trend started by my friend Andrew Baron with his new superhot beta startup

Anyway. So far there are 11 comments with some very interesting theories about what's up. If nothing else, it's an inventory of ideas out there that people are expecting as announcements any day now. Google's realtime search engine (would be great if it supported RSS both ways and compatible pinging). Microsoft's new search engine Bing (for which expectations are really low, so it should be easy for them to impress). And on and on...

Add your own two cents.

And my next sub-project is to create a bookmarklet that makes it super-easy for anyone to start a comment thread on any Twitter post they like.

So Fred, whatcha think? ;->

PS: Proof again that Twitter is the great coral reef of the latter part of this decade. It's so easy to attach something to it, that might turn into a branch or perhaps an entirely new species!

PPS: I'm working my way through James Burke's fantastic series Connections. Just watched episode 4, which ends with the beginnings of the modern computer. Hollerith, who invented the famous card that many people used to program Fortran and Basic (such as yours truly) decided to make them the same size as the dollar bill of the day. Because there was already so much machinery that existed to process them. Oh yeah. That's the kind of tech I love. Build on what's out there. More coral-reef thinking! Yehi.

Update: The big announcement is Google Wave. How much you want to bet in 5 years it'll be as famous as OpenDoc is today.


Last update: Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 1:24 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.

Dave Winer Mailto icon

My most recent trivia on Twitter.

My Wish List

On This Day In: 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997.

May 2009
Apr   Jun

Click here to see a list of recently updated OPML weblogs.

Click here to read blogs commenting on today's Scripting News.

Morning Coffee Notes, an occasional podcast by Scripting News Editor, Dave Winer.

Click here to see an XML representation of the content of this weblog.

Click here to view the OPML version of Scripting News.

© Copyright 1997-2009 Dave Winer.

Previous / Next