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

Live from Virgin America #24 Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named airbus.gifI'm flying back to NY to be with the family.

At first I thought -- sheez no big deal, I'll do the live podcast with Jay at 4PM at the SF Hilton. Then I called Jay and he said I should get to the airport and head home. I gave it a second or two of thought and realized he's right. This is no time to be talking about rebooting the news. It's time to reboot the family.

An aside, if anyone is at ONA09 and can record the event, it would be great. Of course I was going to do that, but I'll be over Wyoming or Nevada when it happens.

I thought of Bruce Sterling's inspirational talk at the Reboot conference in Copenhagen earlier this year. I'll try to paraphrase what he said. 1. If you could travel lighter you'd be happier. 2. Most people know this and wish they could get rid of stuff. 3. But you won't do it until something huge happens to disrupt your life. A divorce, you lose your job. A parent dies. Yup. Sterling goes on to say that you should make a list of things you'll drop when the disruption comes. I don't have a list.

Usually I have a day or more to prepare for a trip, and I usually don't forget anything major. Heck I usually don't forget anything at all. Not this time. I left a bunch of things on the dining room table. And I realizedI left my iPhone in the car about 1/2 hour before the flight was due to start boarding. So I made a dash out to the parking garage, got the phone and went back through security. With plenty of time to spare.

So much for my iPhone divorce.

It still hasn't hit me.

Life still feels pretty normal, even though I'm flying cross country again after returning home two days ago. I got a call from Andrew Baron who lost his father in similar circumstances earlier this year. There's some kind of bond between Andrew and myself. I wonder if his father and my father are hanging out where ever fathers go after they die.

If there is an afterlife, I guess it's timeless. Or time flashes by really fast. In the time it takes us to live a day they live three centuries. So for my dad and Andrew's dad it must be 2300 or something like that. To my father I'm already long-dead. A few days ago he said that soon he'd be pushing up daisies. I told him I'd be there a few days after him. In the virtual sense.

Who knows what comes next. I have a feeling there's a lot of that coming up.

Susan Kitchens and I live parallel lives too. Guess what, her father was born in 1929 too. And he's in hospice, as my father was. And she predicts he won't make it through 2009. There have been other big parallels in our lives.

The person sitting next to me on this flight, a nurse who lost her parents years ago, said it really hits you three months after it happens. Maybe. Right now I'm still standing at the plate with the bat in my hands and the pitch is coming out of the pitcher's hand in super-slow motion and I'm waiting for it to come at me so I can swing. Will I swing and miss, or hit a line drive, or hit it out of the park? Or something we don't even have a word for.

I know this -- when I was a little kid and realized that someday I'd lose a parent, it froze me with fear. Now, decades later it has happened. I'm not frozen at all. I'm in motion. Flying across the country on Virgin America #24.

A Flickr set of photos taken out the window of the flight.

Father's Day Permanent link to this item in the archive.

I spent most of last week in NY, visiting my parents.

My father has been gravely ill, and as it turns out this was my last visit to see him.

This morning he died.

He's had a long decline and plenty of time to prepare for the end. This week we talked honestly and openly about the big things. In June, on his 80th birthday I wrote to him that he was my hero. There was a lot of forgiveness in that statement, over the years, we had focused too much on the bad times, and not enough on the time at the beginning and at the end, which were good, loving, generous and fair.

There's no doubt my father loved the little boy who looked up to him. There's no doubt we both had trouble adjusting to the man who took the little boy's place.

I was lucky that my father lived so long. Yet today there is a huge void, a puzzle, an unknown. How do you fill the space occupied by someone who looms so large.

My father fought for my life when I was young and had a ruptured appendix.

When he discovered the beauty of outliners he said the nicest thing a father can say about a son -- "Every day is father's day."

We searched for my father, lost in the melee after the 9/11 attacks. His picture only appeared that once on Scripting News.

Leon Winer was born on June 17, 1929 and died on October 3, 2009.

He will be missed by his family.

My web site is my space Permanent link to this item in the archive.

ThirdVoice was small and never got large.

As long as very few people used it, it was no threat to free speech, but...

What if Microsoft, who made the dominant web browser at the time, decided to either acquire ThirdVoice or create their own?

Then almost everyone who read my site would see the commentary first. Imho, that most definitely would have changed the web, for the worse.

If we hadn't objected to ThirdVoice that would have provided all the excuse Microsoft needed.

And Microsoft did try to muck around with web content. But they backed down when the web community strenuously objected.

Now fast-forward to Google and its Toolbar and the cutely named SideWiki. Clever trick. Could have named it PuppySidebar. Now we'd be seeming to criticize puppies. Some people must think that Google's neo-ThirdVoice is actually a wiki, but of course it's nothing like a wiki.

And Google has more staying power than ThirdVoice. And they have ambitions to be the leading browser vendor and they have a chance. Then someday soon we may have the ability to annotate any page on the web. Sounds great that way, but do you want everyone viewing the annotated view of your writing? I don't.

Phil Windley, who is (I guess) a libertarian, thinks everyone should have the right to view the web any way they want. Who could argue with that. He says my website is not a place, instead I should look at the components. It's actually a collection of documents that can be transferred from one machine to another over a network. But his bank account, like my website, is just a collection of documents that can be transferred from one machine to another over a network. I doubt if Phil thinks we ought to be able to use his money any way we'd like. Maybe he does. He's surprised me before. ;->

We buy into illusions that virtual things are real all the time. Our way of life depends on it. The pieces of paper in our wallet used to be redeemable for bars of gold. They were virtual then, now they're not even that because the linkage to gold no longer exists. Even the wood, glass and concrete that makes up a "house" is something that is given meaning by a piece of paper that says Phil owns it, and not a poor family in downtown Salt Lake City. Why should he get to live in that collection of wood and concrete, stay warm in the Utah winter, when other people are cold and go hungry? Because we have conventions. And Phil, even though he doesn't trust government, depends on government to keep him in his house. Otherwise he would surely be out on the street. (Not saying that would be right, it just illustrates that the world isn't so harsh as to say that we have no say in how what we own is used.)

I don't mind if a small group of people wants to annotate my writing, off on the side, without effecting how other people read it. But that's not what Google is proposing, long-term, to do here. We have to object at the beginning, or we'll have no standing later. My website expresses my point of view. I get to take risky positions, ones that are complicated to explain because I know that here, unlike almost everywhere else, I get to finish a thought. There are so many places for "conversation" -- virtually everywhere. I like my website because it is not one of those places. And yes Phil it is a place, every bit as much as your collection of wood and concrete is.

This really is my intellectual home. And I think the government should protect it, the same way the government protects my bank account. If Google wants comments, great, put it on their own site. But unless I ask for it, stay out of my space.


Last update: Saturday, October 03, 2009 at 4:50 PM Pacific.

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Leon Winer

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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