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

Tim O'Reilly should speak for himself Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Tim O'Reilly says: "At the end of the day, folks like Scoble and Winer are unhappy because they aren't on the list. It doesn't feel fair to them, so they do the next best thing, seeking publicity by complaining about it."

That's not true.It's far more complex than that. O'Reilly should stick to speaking for himself.

I'm writing this on a plane that's boarding now, heading for Frankfurt from San Francisco, so obviously this is not a debate I will be able to take part in, but I did want to clear this up.

PS: Sprint MiFi is wonderful. I left it on in my knapsack which is in the overhead compartment. Scoble called on my iPhone to alert me to this. I whipped out my netbook and launched my editor and quickly wrote a blog post. We live in wonderful times. ;->

Heading to Europe Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named donkey.gifI'm leaving tonight for Copenhagen to participate in the Reboot conference. This will be my third Reboot. It's a very nice group of people, very far away from Silicon Valley, and I always have fun. Looking forward to partying with Thomas and his posse and Paolo, Stowe, and everyone else. I'll be leading a talk on Thursday evening on Rebooting the News.

After Copenhagen, I'll spend three days in Berlin, then head back to the US via Chicago on July 1.

See you on the other side of the world, tomorrow night!

PS: I recorded a podcast with Phil Windley of IT Conversations last Monday. A little bit of time has gone by but I think it's pretty good. We talked about the technical side of Rebooting the News.

River of News in CSS, designer's release Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I wrote my first RSS aggregator in 1999.

Believe it or not the core of that aggregator is what's behind the aggregator I've been shipping in the OPML Editor. Since then I've written all kinds of specialized aggregators, and it turns out it's not that much work these days.

Rather than live with all the decisions I've made over the last 10 years, I started over. The result is River2.

I just completed the first version, which I'm calling the "designer's release."

Every design element can be changed through CSS.

You just save your change, refresh the page, see the result.

The web server runs on your desktop, inside the OPML Editor.

To get an idea of what you're working with, my copy of River2 saves its home page to a public server every ten minutes. Yours will look like this too, until you change the design! ;->

So if you're interested in designing the look of a River of News aggregator, it's ready for you to try it out.

If you have questions or comments, leave them here, or in the comment section on the page above.

Be sweet, don't retweet Permanent link to this item in the archive.

That's like Be Kind Rewind.

And of course everyone retweeted this and everyone clicked.

Nothing here. Move along. ;->

A picture named cheesecake.jpg

Why 140 chars is like 48K Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I love telling stories, especially ones with happy endings. ;->

Once upon a time, way back in the early 80s, a young man (me) had written a program called ThinkTank. It ran on the Apple II, which only had 48K of memory -- not very much when you consider that an average PC today has 1 gigabyte -- or 21,845 times the memory if you can believe that!

That's like comparing a single 140-char tweet to the Library of Congress.

The Apple II had an infintesmally small memory, but its disk was a little larger. So the operating system I used, the UCSD P-System, did "overlays," which allowed big chunks of code to stay on disk until they were needed. When code in an overlay was called, the OS would throw out another chunk of code and replace it with the one you called. So, in the worst case, if a command needed code in two overlays to solve a problem that involved looping, the disk light would stay on for a long time while the computer "thrashed" out the answer.

This isn't unlike the way an Amazon Kindle keeps part of your library on its computer and part of it on the Kindle itself. When you want to read one of the books on their computer it just downloads it again, replacing something you haven't read in a while.

This business of writing code in overlays was very taxing to the developer, because thrashing wasn't very good for the usability of the code, so you're always moving code between overlays, or making a copy of an often-used routine, all to prevent the disk light from coming on and thrashing the app (and its user) to a standstill.

This clever code-writing is a lot like writing 140-character tweets today. You delete and abbreviate, throw out important ideas, all to fit into that tight little space. And then your readers, like the disk light, thrash with confusion, and think you're a fool, because you have to be a genius and a mind-reader to figure out the gibberish you wrote to fit in 140. Oy!!

So, with the app in the Apple II days, it was often too much trouble to add the feature. With Twitter, it's often easier just to say nothing. And that's not the goal of blogging, macro or micro. The goal is to provide a platform for saying what you have to say, not for not saying what you have to say! ;->

Anyway, the Apple II story had a happy ending. It was called the IBM PC. Instead of 48K it had 640K. So when I recompiled my app for that machine I just threw out the overlays and let all the code reside in memory and the thing ran like a bat out of hell! I was finally able to finish the features I wanted, and instead of thinking the program just had potential, people loved it, and it sold, and we raised money, and everyone was happy.

The End.

Update: If 140 is too little, what's the right number?

If 140 is too little, what's the right number? Permanent link to this item in the archive.

Jonathan Edman tweets: "I deeply understand how crippling 140c is, but what is the right number? Don't you run into the same problem at almost any num?"

Since my answer is too long to fit in 140 chars, I answered here.

Jonathan, I don't know what the "right" number is, but I have some ideas.

First, almost anything above 140 would be seen by power Twitter users as an improvement, and a cause for celebration. It would be a sign that someone is listening. And it would immediately give us relief. It's as if, in 1981, Apple found a way to give us 72K instead of 48K. There would be a burst of creativity like the Summer of Love. ;->

Now, here's what I would do first, to try to come up with the right number.

Read the feeds of the NY Times, BBC, and a few other professional news sources for a few weeks, and count the characters in the <description> elements of each <item>. Average the number. Double it. That's what I would go with.

The theory being, if professional writers can summarize a whole news article in, X characters, then the average person should be able to express an idea in 2X characters.

In my new River of News, I cut the intros off at 280 chars, arbitrarily, and it seems to work pretty well. Previous versions included full posts, and that was a problem, because some sites, like OpenLeft, write whole books in their posts. I also strip out markup. I'm tired of all the huge pictures people are throwing into the river. I see it as a gimmick to try to get more attention. I say let their ideas compete with everyone else's on a level playing field.


Last update: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 6:50 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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