Home >  Archive >  2010 >  February >  14

Previous / Next

Christmas Tree
This site contributes to the scripting.com community river.
About the author

A picture named daveTiny.jpgDave Winer, 56, is a visiting scholar at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and editor of the Scripting News weblog. He 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 New York City.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

"Dave was in a hurry. He had big ideas." -- Harvard.

"Dave Winer is one of the most important figures in the evolution of online media." -- Nieman Journalism Lab.

10 inventors of Internet technologies you may not have heard of. -- Royal Pingdom.

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.

8/2/11: Who I Am.

Contact me

scriptingnews1mail at gmail dot com.




My sites
Recent stories

Recent links

My 40 most-recent links, ranked by number of clicks.

My bike

People are always asking about my bike.

A picture named bikesmall.jpg

Here's a picture.


February 2010

Jan   Mar


A picture named warning.gif

FYI: You're soaking in it. :-)

A picture named xmlMini.gif
Dave Winer's weblog, started in April 1997, bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

The 20-minute rule Permalink.

A picture named airbus.gifI have a rule, formed by many years of experience, that I wait for 20 minutes, then I leave.

Before I had the rule, I'd never know when to leave when someone was late because it's impossible to know how late they're going to be.

A couple of extreme examples.

1. In 1990 or 1991 (approx) I had a meeting with a vice-president of Apple. It was hard to get the meeting, and my company desperately needed their cooperation because Apple was fudding our product, basically keeping developers from building on it. I flew back to Calif just for the meeting. I was on time. His secretary kept calling the restaurant saying he was on his way, but he never came. I waited three hours before giving up.

2. A few years later I had a meeting with a division manager of Microsoft at a Portola Valley restaurant. I waited and waited. A half-hour after the appointment I ordered. Ate my lunch, left an hour after the appointment. An hour after that I get a call from the restaurant asking where I was. (This was a meeting I totally didn't need, I was having lots of success without Microsoft. I felt I was doing him more of a favor than he was doing me.)

Those were two extreme examples, but people are regularly late. I am late too, sometimes, and sometimes I'm more than 20 minutes late, but it's very rare. In my experience you have to mean it to be that late. So I have a hard and fast rule. After 20 minutes I leave. That takes the guesswork out of it.

There's a very practical reason. If someone is very late, all they're going to talk about is how sorry they are. The person who was on time says "It's no big deal," but nothing ever gets done at those meetings. Much better if you just say "I have a rule" and blame the rule for the fact that you weren't there when they finally arrive.

I thought this kind of disrespect was just a west coast thing, but it's part of east coast culture too. I've never written this rule up, now I have. Please, if you make an appointment with me, try to be on time. And if you're more than 20 minutes late, you'll find I'm not here.

Google did something seriously wrong Permalink.

"Privacy" seems like such an abstract concept.

So your privacy was violated. Get over it.

A picture named buzz.gifHere's what happened. When Google rolled out Buzz last week they activated an unknown number of users and chose people for them to follow automatically based on who they email most frequently with. Presumably these people had to also be on Gmail. And the list of people you follow is public. Therefore the list of people you email with most frequently is now public. They are now trying to close this hole as quickly as possible. But the damage is done, people have to realize that -- the information was already disclosed. You can close the door after the horse gets out but that doesn't get the horse back.

This never should have happened. But now that it has, it requires a CEO-level apology and statement of contrition and an explanation of what policies he's putting in place to be sure this never happens again.

That has not happened, and does not appear likely to.

What if it were Eric Schmidt's privacy. I wonder if he'd feel differently. I wonder if he uses Gmail, and if he does, did they reveal the list of people he emails most frequently? I can think of all kinds of problems that might cause, with the stock market, or the SEC, partners, wives, despots, girlfriends. I imagine Nick Denton at Gawker would like to see that list, and that Schmidt would not want him to.

We all have those kinds of concerns. People might get the wrong idea if they saw the list of people I email most frequently. Or they might get the right idea.

Sometimes as I'm entering a message into Gmail, I wonder if the ethics of Google prohibit them from reading the mail. Sometimes I email with execs at companies that compete with Google. I think "They'd probably like to know this." I wonder if they look.

Yet Google, so far, has only said they're sorry for the "concern" they've caused. That shows that they're not owning up to the breach they caused. They can't possibly be so stupid as to not understand what they revealed about users of Gmail. It's just the kind of weaselly response to a building crisis that PR pros tell you not to do, that covering up will only make it worse when people realize what's really been going on. But that assumes a competent and vigilant press. That would be too much to assume in the case of Google and its coverage.

The Don't Be Evil smokescreen was pure brilliance. As Michael Gartenberg said on Twitter, if Microsoft had done what Google did, there would already be lawsuits. It would be a scandal of huge proportion.

The NY Times won't call it a breach of trust by Google. Instead they attribute the claim to "privacy experts." I raised this point, and predictably people say that the Times shouldn't make factual statements about companies who screw up anywhere but in editorials. That's ridiculous. A fact is a fact, and belongs in reporting. It's a fact that Google revealed sensitive information about millions of users, and now they're scurrying to try to cover it up. And the press is helping them buy time. Why? I have no clue, but I don't like it.

© Copyright 1997-2011 Dave Winer. Last build: 12/12/2011; 1:47:10 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

RSS feed for Scripting News

Previous / Next