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

Flickr in hindsight Permanent link to this item in the archive.

You know what they say about hindsight being 20-20. It's that way with Flickr, which was way ahead of everyone else in the social network thing. With a few tweaks three years ago, with active entrepreneurial development and the resources of Yahoo, it could have been everything Twitter or Facebook is today.

I don't know enough about what goes on behind the scenes to know if it really was possible. It could be that the code is a mess and that the last engineer who understands it left five years ago. If so, the previous paragraph is probably nonsense. But if there are still some good people working on it, it may not even be too late for Flickr to act as a backbone for at least part of the future realtime web.

The thing that Flickr does that Twitter doesn't is, as I said a few days ago, payloads. In Flickr a payload can be a picture or a video. Another thing Flickr has going for it is a great API with lots of developer support. And while Flickr does go down sometimes, it's a lot more reliable than Twitter. And there's no Suggested User List.

What it's missing is a Twitter-like timeline. But I honestly don't think that's so hard to do. I think they already do the hard stuff. Maybe when Carol Bartz gets over the flu we could meet to talk about giving Flickr a lot of independence and a bunch of cash and letting it be free to compete in wild, free of the constraints of corporate Yahoo. Then, once it's flying, the various Yahoo properties can latch on to its growth as any other developer could.

It could be a terribly bad idea. But I still love Flickr and use it all the time. I even pay them money every year for privilege. I bet a lot of other people do too.

Bruce Sterling at Reboot Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named sterling.jpgBruce Sterling gave a wonderful talk at the Reboot Conference this summer in Copenhagen. At the beginning of the talk I wanted to strangle him, but as it progressed, it made more and more sense. By the end I thought it was one of the best speeches I'd ever heard, a story that I think everyone should hear. I've made an MP3 of his talk because I want to make it available to people in my family as a podcast. I hope Bruce and the people at Reboot don't mind.

He talks about clearing your life of posessions, how you should divide everything into four categories: 1. Beautiful things. 2. Things with emotional value. 3. Functional things. 4. Everything else.

Divide each category into the things you keep and the things you get rid of. In category 1, you can keep it if it's on display in your house, if you show it to your friends, if you share it. If not, then you don't need it, it's taking up space and time, which you're paying for with your money, time and health. Take a picture, put it on a thumb drive, take it everywhere with you and get rid of the original. In category 2, if it has a compelling story, one that you actually tell people, you can keep it. In category 3, unless it's very good at what it does and it does something you do a lot of, it goes. And of course everything in category 4 goes.

He says you shouldn't try to do this in normal times. Wait until a spouse dies, a divorce, a child is born or a child leaves home. Wait till you move. It pays to figure out now what you want to do when that time comes.

I know Sterling is right because I've had things like that happen and I've done it both ways. Most of the time I don't clean house, and miss the opportunity to improve my life. But sometimes I do make the changes and it's always, in the end, been a good thing. Most people advise you not to make changes in times of great life turmoil. That's exactly the wrong advice. Those are the only times you can make change.

This is a hot topic in my family because of Father's Day. It just happened, and the shock is just now beginning to set in. It's strange that along with the pain and sorrow, there's also a new sense of freedom, of possibilities. It's palpable. And it doesn't take a second to locate the source -- it's the changes Sterling talked about so eloquently.

Anyway, most of the time most of us are not in position to do anything about the mess in our lives. But listen to Sterling's talk. It's only 43 minutes. It might be the best 43 minutes you've ever spent.

How to learn to love the Fail Whale Permanent link to this item in the archive.

A picture named ninja.gifWhat if your Twitter client stayed up when Twitter is down?

Believe it or not -- it's possible. I'm sure it's crossed the minds of the people who run Tweetdeck, Tweetie, Brizzly, Seesmic, et al. What if users could keep communicating with people who used the same tool you use and have all your tweets flow out through Twitter when they're back on the air?

Even better, what if Tweetie and Brizzly got together and worked out a way for their users to stay up and communicate with each other, even if they used the other guy's tool? (See where this is going?)

An rssCloud case study: Brizzly & Seesmic.

Most of the time people don't think this way, except when the Fail Whale is showing up, as it has been for the last couple of days. Then creativity kicks in and you start wondering if it's possible, and if it were, what's in the way?

Maybe Twitter wouldn't like it if the client companies got too independent? Maybe they have some way to punish those who stray and reward those who don't? Some people think they do, with the little ads in the right margin of the Twitter web page. They say those ads really work, and if you don't play ball the way Twitter wants you to -- no soup for you! ;->

I know how the Twitter clients can become free from Twitter, yet still work with it. You might have to give up your tasty Twitter soup, but you might be able to find new users you wouldn't otherwise, if word of mouth started carrying the message that your client doesn't go down when Twitter does.


Last update: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 4:22 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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