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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.


July 2011

Jun   Aug


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

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Dave Winer's weblog, started in April 1997, bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Either Boehner loses or we do Permalink.

Important: I'm not interested in a debate on this, so please if you have a different opinion, write a post on your blog. Thanks.

I've been watching all the back and forth in the debt ceiling politics, at least what you can see via cable news (mostly CNN).

The wild card in all this is the bit about the constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget.

Boehner tried to get his plan passed without it, and failed. When he added it, it passed.

Boehner said he had a proposal on the table that the President could have accepted last Sunday. That might be true. The President might have accepted it, but it wouldn't have been ratified by the Republicans in the House. Maybe what Boehner means is that with a few Democratic votes, he might have been able to get it passed without the amendment. However you gotta wonder if the Tea Party Repubs would have stayed on board if there were Democrats voting for it.

Ultimately, if there's going to be a bill that passes the House without the balanced budget amendment, it's going to require both Boehner and the President to support it. A fair number of Republicans will jump ship. And it seems pretty likely that Boehner will lose his speakership. There will be a lot of pissed off Republicans in the House (and elsewhere) if that happens.

Maybe the President should offer Boehner a nice ambassadorship or something.

Both Boehner and McConnell appeared quite conciliatory in their press conference earlier this hour. This is reassuring. But also quite possibly career suicide for both of them.

Something is going to have to give.

The reporters have got something wrong when they say Boehner's bill would have them revisit the debt ceiling in January. With an overhang like that, it would never go away between now and then. The brinksmanship would continue unabated.

Also when they recite the song about the bond rating and the effect that might have on interest rates, I am doubtful. The world still needs a place to store value safely. Even after this lunacy the US will still be the safest place to store value. I've been asking people this question, where would you put money to find safety assuming the US credit rating was reduced. There is no other country to switch to. The whole downgrade thing is fiction, reported by people who don't understand it.

I think you're seeing all these machinations because the Tea Party caucus gets their power from the unwillingness of the old guard in the Republican Party to let them run the show. Imagine what would happen if Boehner stepped aside and let Michele Bachmann be the new Speaker. Or Ron Paul. You'd probably find the remaining Republicans (not a majority of the House, but a majority of the Republicans in the House) voting with the Democrats more often than they would vote with the Tea Party Republicans.

So the net-net is that we're seeing the death throes of the Republican Party.

On tomorrow's shows, reporters should ask the Republicans about that. Is Boehner really the leader of your party? If not, who is?

Tea Party in the US House Permalink.

I was curious to see which states had elected the most Tea Party Reps.

Texas 11
Florida 7
Louisiana 5
South Carolina 4
Georgia 4
California 4
Tennessee 3
Missouri 3
Minnesota 2
Kansas 2
Indiana 2
Colorado 2
West Virginia 1
Utah 1
North Carolina 1
New Mexico 1
Nebraska 1
Montana 1
Michigan 1
Maryland 1
Iowa 1
Illinois 1
Arizona 1
Alabama 1

Source: Tea Party caucus members in the 112th Congress.

Longer bike ride Permalink.

Hey I went a bit further today.

Map: 1 hour 12 minutes. 12.67 miles.

Why doesn't David Gregory tell the truth? Permalink.

I watched a bit of David Gregory on MSNBC. He's talking about how angry people are and how this might create a third-party candidate for president. Fine, but how about a third-party version of David Gregory?

See, the story isn't anything like what Gregory, who is supposed to be a reporter, says it is.

This is the story.

1. Raising the debt ceiling is a routine thing.

2. It's never been a political issue.

3. The Republicans decided to withhold their approval.

4. Which is a form of blackmail.

5. The victims of the blackmail are everyone but the Republican politicians, including most of the people who vote Republican.

Until Gregory reports that as the basic story, he's overdue for toppling.

One of these days people are going to figure it out.

BTW, thanks to Howard Weaver for digging up this clip from Season 6 of the West Wing, where they, in a just a minute, explain what the debt ceiling is about.

If a bunch of actors can figure it out, why can't a professional correspondent for NBC? (Answer, of course he can, and has.)

A little truth leaks out Permalink.

Now there are three bloggers, that I know of, that are quotable by CNN, who have written rationally about what's going on in Washington. Written things they would never let them say on CNN. Important pieces.

Two of them are Republicans. One, David Frum, has been consistently critical of his own party.

The other Republican, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has also been critical of Republicans, even mocking them -- but now has written a piece that calls out the Democrats too. His criticism of Repubs makes his criticism of Dems more credible.

Paul Krugman, a Democrat, has been consistently saying, persuasively, that it's madness to cut government spending with the economy in the shape it's in now. A picture named hope.jpgAnd recently, in an echo of past eloquence, explains exactly why MSM reporting is what's creating the problem. Letting the Republicans lie, and then lie when they say the Democrats are lying too. Leading to a mishmash of who-said-what about who, chatty personal stuff, as if the affiars of our complex world can be reduced to the language of a junior high school playground.

What's remarkable about these three writers, what gives me hope that there may be a way out of the bigger mess, of which this month's meltdown is just a sympton, is that finally blogging is effectively routing around MSM. If you want to hear from smart people who know what they're talking about, and who aren't spnning, you can.

This is why blogging is important.

It's the Sources Go Direct theory put into action. Just as Krugman and Holts-Eaken have their theories about how economies behave, and Frum is an expert on the inner workings of politics, changes in media are exerting their influence. It's an equal supporter of dysfunction, but equally capable of correcting it.

This is an important part of our societal corner-turn. It's kind of amazing that Krugman, who has figured out what is wrong with CNN et al, hasn't yet written about what's right about the system he is such an active and artful participant in -- blogging. Waiting for that post, hope to see it soon. :-)

PS: In the HTML rendering of this post, I'm playing around with Google Web Fonts. Thanks to Joshua Johnson for his excellent tutorial on this subject. Still have a lot to learn about making text beautiful on the web, but I'm very anxious to make this stuff look better.

DaveCast #12 -- Don't worry Permalink.

Here's an 18-minute podcast for a Thurs aft. Permalink.

Time for a ride! :-)

iTunes problem solved Permalink.

Just recorded a 20-minute podcast with the iPhone Voice Memo app.

I normally just right-click on the memo, choose Convert to MP3 and then upload the result.

But I must have installed a new version of iTunes and the command is gone.

So I have no idea how to proceed. There's a command in the Advanced menu called Create MP3 Version, but it's grayed-out with the cursor on the memo.

Apple -- why do you keep changing things like this. Oy.

Update: I found a way to do it. I had to dig around in the Finder to find the file (they also removed the Reveal in Finder command). I copied it to the Desktop, then dragged it onto the iTunes icon. Boom. There's the Convert to MP3 command. So they just took it out for Voice Memos. (I can hear their internal discussion. Very few people use it so let's move it. I happen to be one of the people who use it.)

Washington is crazy Permalink.

That's not exactly a front-page story, but it would be smart of the news organizations to base their Crayz-Town coverage on that simple assumption. Instead of getting all dramatic about everything, they should roll their eyes after every sentence. I mean, that is, if they don't want to themselves be crazy. :-)

Lots of eye-rolls and coughs.

One more thing and I'll get back to my real work...

A picture named bird.gifIf you've read about the Boehner bill that's going thru the House and apparentlly likely to pass, you have to see that it's ridiculous that this is what the big deal was all about. Remember to divide the number by 10, because it's a 10-year thing. And forget about anything in the bill after next year, because it's all subject to re-legislating. It's nothing more than a vaporware press release. As if Microsoft made a decision that their operating system is going to have fewer users in 2019. Okay. Thanks for letting us know. (Sarcasm.)

It's all meaningless. Puffed up to make it look big. We might as well have been talking about Angry Birds.

They just do it to occupy the airwaves. To make sure that nothing else can get through.

Now I want to know what else should be coming through.

Not a joke.

PS: To the Tea Partiers, you're the craziest thing to come to Washington in a lonnnng time.

Greenspun and me Permalink.

I've been emailing on technical topics with Philip Greenspun, and am reminded how much I like him, as a technologist.

But the things that I like about him as a technologist are infuriating when he talks politics.

I suppose this is the way some people feel about me.

But we do think alike in some ways.

I posted a link in a comment on his blog, to yesterday's piece about Inspiring GOP Movie Scenes, where I suggest that we let each Representative name five citizens who will pay no taxes.

That's the way to give them what they want without ruining the economy any more than they already have.

Then the rich people can bid on their seats, in essence sharing their windfall with their rep. They can buy and sell their reps as before. But since they pay no taxes, they don't have any say in how taxes work for the rest of us. Seems fair, yes?

They wouldn't have to do anything else. Not hire anyone. Nothing.

Of course they couldn't use our police or fire departments, or sewers, or the military. We'd have to figure out how to segregate them from those of us who pay taxes. Seems that this is applying their values to the situation. What's mine is mine!

Obviously it's none of their business if the rest of us would like to pool our resources and have public education, or buses and subways, for example. Health care.

Yesterday's ride, note to Tea Partiers Permalink.

I seem to be a day behinds in writing up my rides.

Hope this isn't a problem for y'all! :-)

Yesterday's ride was weird. Huge headwind going north. I kept reminding myself how much fun it would be on the trip south, and...

After the turnaround, it was fun, but then something weird happened.

The wind reversed, and the same headwind hit me on the way back.

I thought to myself, well Dave at least you're getting a great workout.

Here's a biker who wears a camera, so he got the cop who doored him on video. Thinking I should be wearing a camera too. Every day people are doing all kinds of stupid shit that could get either of us killed. Might be good to have video of it.

And I had a political thought, as I am wont to do these days.

A picture named teabags.jpgIf you're a Tea Party member, feeling all mighty and full of yourself, just remember. Most of the rest of us didn't vote for you. You're playing a foolish and dangerous game. When the dust settles, you will be denying you had anything to do with the Tea Party. But the problem is all the dumb messages you're leaving on the Internet will prove otherwise.

We're not impressed. And you will be blamed if the US becomes the mess that you seem hell-bent on turning it into.

Might want to think about that before you spout too much of that Tea Party nonsense. :-)

Map: 1 hour 7 minutes. 11.54 miles.

#InspiringGOPMovieScenes Permalink.

My friend Jeff Jarvis had a burst of creativity the other night.

He's a wonderful guy, very enthusiastic, and often his enthusiasm comes with a lot of expletives. I have to admit they make me uncomfortable, and I'm someone who swears liberally myself. (Though I wouldn't consider myself a liberal.) I think you make your point better if you say it directly and leave out the flowery stuff. If you don't, the words become the story, not the ideas.


He came up with a hashtag. I'll let him tell you what it is.

Anyway, the disaster in Washington, which I think of as Republi-Geddon or is it GOP-ocalypse, has certainly spawned its share of humor.

For example, I posted earlier today we ought to give them a tax holiday for five Americans for every Representative. That way the richest among us can pay no taxes, which appears to be what they want, and the rest of us can get on with having an economy. I thought of a problem though. They couldn't use the subways, or even the sewers, and certainly not the airports. After all, those are ours, they belong to the taxpayers. I assume they believe in property. Yes? What's mine is mine, after all. And if you don't pay for it, it's not fair for you to use it. So if you need to take a leak while you're in one of our cities, good luck finding a place to do your business. :-)

BTW, the police and fire departments are ours too. And the military.

The meme I'm having the most fun with is #InspiringGOPMovieScenes. There are so many great Republican-inspired and inspiring scenes in the movies. I keep thinking of more.

There's the final scene in Dr Strangelove where Slim Pickens rides the H-bomb as if it was a bucking bronco.

Later, Vera Lynn sings We'll Meet Again.

Perfect music for the apocalypse.

Then there's the scene in The Godfather where Don Coreleone is meeting with the other mob bosses. Don Barzini, who was clearly a Republican, said the wonderful line: "After all, we're not Communists." Everyone had a good laugh.

Then there was the scene in The Untouchables, where Robert DeNiro, playing Al Capone, illustrates the importance of teamwork using a baseball bat and the head of a mob boss. Obviously this is a scene that House Speaker Boehner wishes he had the power (or cojones) to pull off with the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist.

BTW, where is Karl Rove in all this? Haven't heard much from him.

A picture named nixon.jpgBut the absolute best movie scene of them all for inspiring true Republicans is Anthony Hopkins playing the title role in Oliver Stone's Nixon. He's about to resign in disgrace, and delivers a wonderful Republican soliloquy to the portrait of JFK. "When they look at you, they see what they want to be. When they look at me, they see what they are." Wonderful scene. Grabs you right where it hurts. :-)

Wild idea for the Repubs Permalink.

A picture named uncleSamSuicide.gifHow about a new law that allows every member of Congress to name five citizens who pay no taxes.

They don't have to create any jobs. A free ride. Enjoy!

I think that's what this is really about. Maybe there are 2000 really rich Americans who don't want to pay taxes. Okay, let them have what they want.

Only one catch. We get to find out who they are.

How's that for a compromise! :-)

A picture of a slice of cheese cake.

Yesterday's bike ride Permalink.

Ooops. I never got around to writing up yesterday's ride.

Basically the same one I always take.

Map: 1 hour 4 minutes. 11.53 miles.

The Wolf Blitzer Problem, day 2 Permalink.

A picture named uncleSamSuicide.gifJust re-read Paul Krugman's landmark blog post about the cult that is destroying America.

In the last paragraph he says: "The 'both sides are at fault' people have to know better; if they refuse to say it, it's out of some combination of fear and ego, of being unwilling to sacrifice their treasured pose of being above the fray."

I'm sure they know better too.

I started blogging because the tech press has the same problem. They report conventional wisdom even when it is contradicted by facts.

I was making new Mac software back in the mid-90s. But reporters were writing that there was no new Mac software. I knew they knew that there was. They were all Mac users, and they were using the new stuff themselves. I knew these people personally, so I asked them why they reported this. Here's what they said: Everyone knows there's no new Mac software.

The paper Krugman writes for is better than CNN at exposing important information that we need to make decisions, but they're mostly still reporting conventional wisdom, as opposed to reporting what they know to be true.

If you want to have a sense of what's actually happening, you have to piece it together yourself. Try to get an idea of how much the reporters are echoing what everyone else is reporting, vs reporting what they see with their own eyes.

This is the real problem in our culture, not the fact that crazies are voting in Congress, sending us into the trashbin. That's how the crazies got elected in the first place.

The problem is that we all don't listen to each other. If we stopped giving so much credence to who is saying what on CNN, stopped taking them so seriously (they're all entertainers, basically) we'd get out of this trap right away.

PS: Yesterday's post about why tech news is so boring is on-topic as well.

PPS: This is why I enjoy reading David Frum's blog. A Republican, he reports what he sees, not what his party tells him to see. What's in it for me? I get to see the world from someone else's point of view, without the humiliation of being openly lied to.

PPPS: Another important Krugman post. The non-crazy Repubs could accept the deal the President offered them, approve it (with Democrats voting in favor of it too), and we'd be done. Their political careers would be over. Krugman asks: So? How about some courage. And maybe, just maybe -- their careers would be born again. Maybe the people would be happy they actually stood up for them instead of being whipped into a frenzy by Rush Limbaugh et al. (Another thought, maybe the Republicans want to nominate President Obama for his second term, and we can have a progressive run against him as a Democrat.)

DaveCast #11 -- The Wolf Blitzer Problem Permalink.

Krugman totally nails it in this blog post.  Permalink.

The problem isn't that the Republicans are so nasty.

The problem is that the press won't report what's actually happening. They only know how to report on a certain kind of conflict.

The only thing we can do now to save ourselves is to reform the way we get our information, and it has to be done fast. No time to waste.

That's what this 16-minute podcast is about.

Hope you enjoy. :-)

Tech news *is* boring Permalink.

Adrian Chen at Gawker says that tech news is boring. And he proves it with a great example.

I was just thinking the same thing.

A picture named footsie.jpgHere's the reason. Most of the people writing "tech news" need access to the execs at the big companies, because they pick and choose which reporters get seeded with their new stuff. The reporters all dream of being a Mossberg or a Pogue, and getting everything before everyone else. So they have to be careful and not tip you off to anything real that the top guys at the companies don't want you to know.

Same as it ever was. The press plays footsie with the industry, and the news gets boring, and the industry gets inbred. Until after a few years, a new generation comes out of left field that they all never saw because they were convinced everything important comes from the people they know.

Just another part of the cycle of tech.

If they weren't so concerned about appearances, they could avoid the insurrections and stay in business longer. But that's life.

BTW, I have no access to the execs -- so I don't have to care. (Which is why I have no access to the execs!)

Also, it's wonderful that TechMeme ran Chen's piece. As if to say -- we know we're boring, and that's just the way it is. :-)

Google-Plus is going to be your bank account Permalink.

Where will Apple, Amazon, Google meet up next year or the year after?

They're all going to be banks!

Why do you think Apple is piling up all that cash. It's a lot of cash for a consumer products company. But it is not so much cash for a bank.

Same with Google, and esp Amazon.

A picture named bankLarrySergey.gifSo now maybe that makes it clear why they want your real name on your Google-Plus accounts, and why they don't want to screw around with corporate presences. Not such a problem for publications like TechCrunch or Mashable, which don't move around a lot of money. But for any business like say an oil company (extreme example), they want to have all kinds of flows hooked up to your Google account.

Google plays a huge role today in defining value in Internet commerce. Google-Plus is their integrated communication system. Over time, it's going to be at the core of everything they do, from auctions, to paying for things with Android phones, to their groupon and yelp clones. They're going everywhere, and this is the system that will tie it all together. So, at the outset, of course they need real identities. That Google-Plus account you're playing with today is going to be your bank account next year.

Facebook moved the ball way down the field, but now all the other big tech companies have their clues. Not as if Amazon didn't already have a great way to get user involvement in the definition of value in commerce on the Internet. I can't go shopping at a real world retailer anymore without already having previously made my decision on Amazon. Maybe for a few things, it's still necessary to see them and feel them before buying. But the user product reviews on Amazon are the new standard. Google wants some of that action.

Don't kid yourself about art being part of this, it's not, in any way part of it. Or sociology. Or a "feel" for users. The big deal is who can make the money flow through their networks. And when it's all finished, what that looks like is closest to what we think of as a bank today.

The mother of all meltdowns Permalink.

During the Iraq war it amazed me that there were so few protests or civil action to challenge the war. We just kept fighting and life went on normally. I moved to Berkeley, bought a house, wrote software, spent time with friends, traveled around the world. Everywhere you went, normal life. Except in Iraq and Afghanistan, where there was war. And except at home, where the government, people are just now realizing, was borrowing hugely. Not just to fund the war, but to fund a huge tax cut and a gift to the pharmaceutical industry. There was talk of privatizing Social Security, which would have been a gift to all corporations. Esp considering the market crash that was coming (with the benefit of hindsight).

But most of all the borrowing bought our acquiescence.

Now we're building up to a much bigger crisis. One we've had plenty of forewarning of.

It's like what happened with Katrina in New Orleans. People asked why didn't someone warn us. Heard it over and over, from all kinds of people. But people were warned. Everyone who lived there knew that eventually there would be a big hurricane that the levees wouldn't handle. And it would be disaster for the city.

But there were still people who could come rescue the homeless. People left floating in boats where streets used to be.

Same in the banking meltdown in 2008. There was the government to bail out the too-big-to-fail banks and insurance companies.

This time it's the government itself that's melting down. There is no entity on Planet Earth that can bail us out from this one.

No. Entity. On. Earth. Pause right there. After this meltdown there can't be anything bigger to melt down. This is the meltdown to end all meltdowns. The mother of all meltdowns.

I'm scared. You should be too.

Why Google cares if you use your real name Permalink.

A picture named manInBlack.gifOver the weekend there was a bit of hoo-hah about accounts swept off Google-Plus, because they didn't have the users' real name.

I don't really have an opinion about whether this is good or bad. I don't think it's a moral issue. And I didn't have any illusions about whether Google-Plus was or was not a public utility at the beginning. I can see why people who thought it was not a corporate-owned resource might be surprised. But you wouldn't have been if you factored that in from the outset.

So really, swear to god, for me this is not a matter of moral judgement.

There's a very simple business reason why Google cares if they have your real name. It means it's possible to cross-relate your account with your buying behavior with their partners, who might be banks, retailers, supermarkets, hospitals, airlines. To connect with your use of cell phones that might be running their mobile operating system. To provide identity in a commerce-ready way. And to give them information about what you do on the Internet, without obfuscation of pseudonyms.

Simply put, a real name is worth more than a fake one.

That's really what it's about, money. That's why they want you to use their social network, and why they want you to not use Zuck's. Because they want the money.

Remember, if you want to understand how corporations work, if you think about money, you're most of the way there.

PS: Unfortunately, most of the hoo-hah was on Google-Plus. I can't point to those articles because only people with Google-Plus accounts can read them, apparently. Remember folks, it's an invite-only system. It's not, in any way, a publishing platform, or the open web. So I'm taking screen shots of the main article, so everyone can read about it. (Update: Apparently it is possible to make posts on Google-Plus public. I was getting complaints when I linked to people's writing on GP from Twitter, from people who weren't able to read the posts.)

Abbreviated ride, signs of rain, a bit coooler Permalink.

A picture named bikesmall.jpgA shorter ride today than usual, was sure the sky was going to open up any minute, but I got home without getting soaked.

Fantastic headwind going north, smooth sailing coming home. Because of the apparent rain, the trail was pretty empty for a summer Sunday afternoon. :-)

And it's waaaay cooler, mid-80s now. The NWS says it's raining in Central Park, but not yet in the Village where my kiester is parked.

Map: 51 minutes, 8.97 miles.

Intel version of the OPML Editor? Permalink.

Bill Rice asks on Twitter -- is there an Intel version of the OPML Editor. (That's not exactly what he asked for, but it's the gist of it.)

Yes, there is. If you download it from home.opml.org you'll find there's a folder named "Universal App" in the Mac download. That's the one you want.

I use it every day, all the time. Works fine.

A couple of other things while I have your attention.

I am working on a new site called Hello Frontier, that re-introduces the OPML Editor for Frontier users. I have recently discovered that a lot of Frontier alumni out there have either never heard about the OPML Editor, or don't know it's a much-improved version of Frontier. Full distro, with a lot of improvements and new tools.

Also I never do support on Twitter. This is an open source project, so you have to exhaust all channels first before you ask me to help you find something, seriously. And Twitter, with its 140 character limitation is a ridiculous environment to do support. Bug reports in 140 characters make no sense, wastes both our time.

The Constitution is not a suicide pact, part 2 Permalink.

Jonathan Schwarz: "Of course, as people with a sophisticated understanding of the law know, there's a huge difference between ignoring the debt ceiling and bombing Libya. For instance: Obama wants to bomb Libya."

Okay, good point. Obama doesn't care about the power of Congress when it comes to Libya, but he's reluctant to challenge them over the debt ceiling. Didn't see through that one.

On the other hand, Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule, writing in the NY Times, think in the end Obama will have to raise the debt ceiling on his own. And the 14th Amendment won't have anything to do with it.

Wouldn't be the first time. Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War saying that "it was necessary to violate one law, lest all the laws but one fall into ruin."

Lincoln is also credited with the observation that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. There are worse crimes than violating the Constitution. For example, letting a minority use the power the Constitution grants them to wreak havoc on the world economy. If that's what the Constitution says, then the Constitution needs to be fixed, but first we need to survive.

A picture named uncleSamSuicide.gifPosner and Vermeule continue: "Franklin D. Roosevelt saw this problem clearly, and in his first inaugural address in 1933, addressing his plans to confront the economic crisis, he hinted darkly that 'it is to be hoped that the normal balance of executive and legislative authority may be wholly equal, wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be,' he continued, 'that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.' In the event, Congress gave him the authorities he sought, and he did not follow through on this threat."

Bike ride, smelly city, tailwinds, Katrina, Jane Permalink.

Who was it said that there is nothing that stinks worse than NYC during an extended summer heat wave?

Everyone who's here during a summer heat wave!

It's an old city. With lots of leftovers. They stay out of site, but not out of smell during the dog days. And folks, we're officially in the dog days.

No matter. Still have to ride the bike. I swore I'd be up at dawn to beat the heat and the crowds. Didn't make it out until 9AM. There weren't any crowds cause it was already disgustingly hot. And stinky!

And man what a headwind going uptown.

Was talking with my bud Dave Jacobs, back in SF where it's not so hot, about headwinds and tailwinds. I think in the west we spend our lives in a tailwind. The thing about tailwinds is you don't realize you're in one until you turn around and head in the other direction. The headwind informs you of the tailwind. So when the Repubs deliberately turn us around, which they seem intent on doing, we'll all find out how well we were doing. But then it'll be too late to turn around.

I learned this when I visited New Orleans a few weeks after Katrina. I had just been back there a few years before and was totally impressed with how the city had joined the rest of the culture, with Starbuck's, Barnes & Noble, etc. Internet did it. And Katrina wiped out a hundred years of development.

A civilization is a build-up of a lot of momentum. Think of that as the tailwind. When you knock it out, it takes a long time to come back. If it ever does come back.

Anyway. Today's plaque is very simple.

A picture named jane.jpg

Map: 1 hour 5 minutes. 11.61 miles.

Obama can't make it personal Permalink.

A picture named president.jpgWatching his press conference, he needs to say to the camera to the American people "Help me out here. Call your Congressman and ask him please let's get the debt ceiling cleared so I can get you your Social Security Check."

On the other hand, he has been listening to Lakoff at least a bit, acting as the stern disciplined father.

It's time for him to close the deal with the voters. He's missing it.

Google Toolbar and Firefox Permalink.

It seems Google reacted to the new plan of Mozilla's more or less the same way I did.

People overlook that it costs developers to re-test their apps every time the platform changes.

Possibly Google looked at what it would take to keep up with Mozilla and decided it wasn't worth it.

Yet another feed for moi Permalink.

I already have too many feeds. Here's another.


In this feed you will get updates of all my development work as it progresses. Usually two or three notes per day.

A subset of my worknotes, in RSS form, derived from OPML.

A picture of a slice of cheese cake.

The future of following Permalink.

I was having lunch yesterday with Jon Glick of Sulia.

Smart guy. We always have interesting conversations.

One thing we talked about, at the end of the lunch, was the future of following.

A picture named boxFrontier.gifI follow someone on Twitter, when they post to Tumblr or GooglePlus I should be seeing that as well as when they post to Twitter or whatever new place they want to post to next week. The whole Circles thing just highlights how boring it is every time you want to startup somewhere new, informing them and your friends that you're here and figuring out what to do with them.

I have a list of feeds on my Google Profile. Seems they could match that up to users. It seems a search engine could do that.

They also have this verification process for my sites, so they know scripting.com really is mine. I've proven it to them.

Revisiting the same problems every few years ought to make things better. Being into open data doesn't mean just exporting yours, but being willing to import mine. If I use a common-enough format.

Just some random ideas that haven't yet formed into something specific yet.

I don't use Google Toolbar in Firefox Permalink.

But if I did, this announcement from Google would be chilling.

John Paczkowski: Google Kills Toolbar For Firefox.

Nothing like being a pawn stuck between two giants that are fighting.

Bonus link...

Webmonkey: "Imagine trying to build a house and your hammer decided to re-invent itself every couple of weeks, sometimes disabling your screw driver in the process and other times adding a pair of pliers you don't need. That's pretty much where web browsers are at today."

Hot-hot oooh did I say hot bike ride yaha Permalink.

Yes indeed it was hot.

A picture named jorgeAndAdrianne.jpg

Dripping sweat as I write this but feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

Map: 1 hour 4 minutes, 11.77 miles.

Cowboy-up and pay your taxes Permalink.

I don't want to brag, but the Bush Tax Cuts made me a bunch of money.

Sometimes I can't believe how little you pay in taxes on what I think of as windfalls.

A windfall is fruit that's laying on the ground. The wind blew it off the tree. Pick it up and sell it. Hard work! (Not.) And believe it or not the taxes you pay on that kind of stuff can be a lot less than you pay on "ordinary" income. The money you work for.

A picture named cowboy.gifMy parents and grandparents were refugees who lived through the Great Depression, so I know the value of an honest day's work. Too well. It was drilled into me at a young age that being productive was everything. My parents wouldn't ease up on me until I got with it and worked. And even then I was still a bum.

We never had long pondering talks about the meaning of it all. Work. Work. That was what it was about. Are you working? Why not?

When my grandfather, Rudy Kiesler, asked how's business, I'd say "Busy." He said "Gut" (which meant good in his Eastern European way of speaking). So I'm not one of those elite dudes who doesn't know how to work. I do.

And I know the difference between work and a windfall. :-)

I got news for you. If you make more than $1 million a year, almost all of it is windfall. No one can work that hard.

The best piece I read recently on all the crap about taxes from the Repubs came from AnnMaria who does business in North Dakota. Stop reading my stuff and read her piece: Quit Being A Dick, Cowboy Up and Pay Your Taxes.

Then think about that as an ad we can produce and run on the cable news shows, esp on Fox.

Cowboy-up and stop being a crybaby. Your country needs you to give more, so you know what you do -- you shut up and give more.

Maybe those of you in JesusLand whose families came here in the 1800s have forgotten what a blessing this country is. Now would be a good time to remember. Tell your congressman to let Uncle Sam off the hook. And we'll live to fight another day.

The 1997 Mac web is going Permalink.

A note on Google-Plus today from Chuck Shotton that MacHTTP won't be making the transition to Apple's new OS, Lion -- released today.

Also, Eudora will go away too.

These were two of the mainstays of the Mac web world of 1997.

A picture named chickenRoosting.gifI was at the Apple press conference when Steve Jobs announced they were bundling Apache and all kinds of other open source Internet stuff. They thought it would make me happy, that's why they invited me. I get that. But it did not make me happy. That was the real end of the line for the suite of developer-created software that made the Mac the best server platform and best content development platform for the web. Apple didn't understand that, or didn't care. I, unfortunately, did. I learned once again that the only platform that works is the one with no platform vendor.

Anyway, I wonder what other mainstays will breathe their last with the advent of Lion?

BBEdit is very much still around.

Anarchie? We had an email server, I don't remember it's name..

I can say this much, Frontier will continue to run. We have an Intel-native version. It's still got a few bugs. But I use it every day. It's my main text editor and programming environment. It's just a different distribution called the OPML Editor.

The Universal version is in the Extras folder in the Mac download.

Hot-hot bike whew it was hot ya Permalink.

Can you see the heat?

A picture named heat.jpg

And a huge headwind going uptown.

Nice tailwind coming back. :-)

Map: 1 hour 6 minutes. 11.49 miles.

The first web-based RSS feed reader Permalink.

Over on Google-Plus, Tantek Celik asks if Bloglines was the first web-based RSS feed reader.

The first was my.netscape.com, which according to Scripting News, was first available on February 11, 1999.

We launched our competitor, my.userland.com, on March 27, 1999.

Archive.org has a snapshot UserLand's site from 1999, but seems to have lost their archive of my.netscape.com.

Netscape took the approach more like the one My.Yahoo, Bloglines and Google Reader took.

Our reader took the approach eventually adopted by Twitter and Facebook.

Dear Scoble: Twitter *should* be boring Permalink.

Scoble, my longtime friend, and someone whose chutzpah I admire, says that Google-Plus is making Twitter boring.

A picture named elmersGlueAll.jpgYes, I agree -- and that's a good thing.

He says Twitter should evolve to be more like Google, but I disagree. Twitter could tweak a bit here and there, fix performance bugs, clean up the UI where possible, remove limits. But beyond that, they should just add hooks and callbacks that allow new stuff to be integrated to what they have. And they should do what all maturing tech companies should do -- get into services and investment banking.

It isn't until a technology becomes boring that it becomes truly useful. Because it's the things people do with tech that are interesting. Tech for its own sake doesn't go so far. What I want is tech that fades into the background, serves as a stage for the ideas of the performers, the people.

Who ever said that the stage at Lincoln Center is interesting? Maybe for the first few days. Then you think about the acoustics. The comfort of the audience. The way the creative people feel about it.

Same with a baseball stadium. I went to my fourth game at Citi Field this weekend. I'm starting to get over my bitterness over the thoughtless destruction of my beloved Shea Stadium. I appreciate the cushioned seats, and the beer they bring to your seat, and the great views you get. I don't like so much the money you pay for your seat, but what the hell, you can't have everything.

As with Twitter, you want the stadium to be boring -- so the players can be exciting!

Twitter has been interesting for far too long. What they should want now is to be used as an almost invisible, taken-for-granted but indispensible piece of the workings of the Internet.

It's way past time for it to be the precocious upstart. It's used for all kinds of mission-critical communication. Reliability would be a better measure of its success over interestingness.

PS: We should all write posts that begin Dear Scoble.

Possible bug report for Tea Partiers Permalink.

Read a piece on Salon that gets right down to it about the Tea Party Repubs in the House. (Sorry for the awful ads on Salon.)

They don't worry about re-election because they come from solidly Republican districts, and won their seats in primaries, not in the general election. The voters in their districts agree with their belief that a default would be a good thing for the US, would help us bring our fiscal house in order.

So when the Republican leadership, who are thinking about things like winning the Presidency or the Senate, or even holding onto the House next year, press them on the risks they're taking on behalf of the party, they don't care. Their seats are safe, they reason.

But they might want to think again. Seriously. If there was an economic collapse, maybe the voters back home might change their minds about whether defaulting was such a great idea. Voters have a way of punishing reps even if they agreed with them, if they turned out to be wrong.

A picture named teaParty.gifAlso, even if they get re-elected -- what exactly will they get re-elected to? We live so high, we have a long way to fall. They might have other problems to worry about, like feeding their families. I can't imagine the govt will be very anxious to pay their salaries. Wouldn't it be something if they expected to get paid even if the US defaults? (Hey I bet they do expect to get paid. Someone should tell them that's not how it works. Might change a few votes.)

And btw, if you're worried about the government's deficit, corporations are borrowing much more heavily, and are even more leveraged than before the big collapse of 2008, and more concentrated. Even without the US govt defaulting, we're headed for another round of too-big-to-fail failures. If you're tired of this stuff, there's a lot more to come. :-(

I got Spotify Permalink.

Just got Spotify and already I love it.

It found every song I asked it to.

Including some that I had not been able to find, for years, anywhere else.

Recalling that in Napster days it was called the Celestial Jukebox, I get the same experience today from Spotify.

It's about playing "what if" with music. The serendipity of finding one thing when you're looking for another, and opening a door into part of your past. Music and memory are very close in humans, music is key to finding our past, and healing.

I remember in Napster discovering music I listened to with my father when I was a very small child. As far as I know there is no other (or better) way to unlock those memories.

Or listening to a song you shared with your first lover. How can anyone be so crass as to put a pricetag on that? (They can, they can.)

I am glad that it only took the music industry eleven years for them to let us have this.

Just one thing: My poor eyes go crazy with white-on-black text. It makes my brain spin. Not kidding. And grey-on-grey is even worse.

There must be some way to tell Spotify to cool it with the weird contrast of text.

Is there??

PS: What does the name Spotify mean?

Google Webmaster Tools accept RSS feeds Permalink.

My world outline now has a feed.


As you would expect, when I post new documents to the outline they appear in the feed.

The reason I did this today, what led me to this right now was something at Google, whcih is why it is of interest on Scripting News.

I was looking into how I could get Google's search engine better looped-in with changes in my outline. Along the way I found out why the connection between the two was broken, why none of my pages were showing up in Google's search engine. This was a good bug to fix! :-)

On the way to fixing this, I noticed two things:

1. They're saying that you don't need to do sitemaps if the navigation system of your site takes you to every page. With the World Outline that is certainly true.

2. They will take RSS in place of sitemaps.

So I spent the time adding a feed, which is of course useful in many other contexts.

So now I have this feed hooked up to Google's back-end.

I love it when things like this just plug in. Boom!

The Constitution is not a suicide pact Permalink.

Amy Fried, writing in Salon, says the Republicans are still the impeachment party.

I agree. And it seems possible that before the election, Obama will be impeached by the House then tried in the Senate.

Here's how it could happen.

1. We get close to the debt ceiling deadline.

2. The President announces that he's told the Treasury to mint the money needed to run the government through the election. Or he's invoking the 14th Amendment and ignoring the fact that Congress has failed to raise the debt ceiling. A picture named uncleSamSuicide.gifEither of them would be the responsible thing to do. He will say to the people, the Constitition should not be seen as a suicide pact. And he'll be right about that. All adults will agree.

3. Further, he says the 2012 election can be a referendum on how the people want their money managed. Do they want Medicare, Social Security, an army, to pay its debt, support infrastructure, the environment, law enforcement, fire protection, etc. If they don't want all that, they can vote Republican. If they want to keep it, vote for Democrats. Then once and for all we can get past the bullshit about how the American people want what the Republicans say we want.

4. The Republicans will then play the next card in their hand. Impeachment. With a majority in the House, they could impeach the President at any time. Remember they came into office saying they believed in the Constitution as an absolute. All they have to do is provide some theory under which he has been guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. Going around Congress on the debt ceiling seems likely.

Whether they have the guts to do it, your call.

Watch what happens to Murdoch's news Permalink.

Simple thought: I bet a bunch of tech companies with booming valuations are licking their lips at the possibility of picking up some of those news orgs, as Murdoch's empire comes under attack from those who it tormented.

With their stock prices so high, and the value of news orgs so low, they could staff up to compete in the upcoming social network wars very quickly for very little equity. Especially Twitter and Facebook.

Where we're at on the World Outline Permalink.

We're going much further with this than the last time around.

Which was in 2004, if I'm not mistaken.

Here's the deal. Outliners are ways to edit hierarchies.

Given the Internet, we should be able to join our hierarchies, pretty seamlessly, so when we cross the boundary from my space into yours, it might not be so easy to see we've gone from one place to another.

With this effect, we create huge multi-author places, where everyone retains ownership of and control of their own work.

It worked out really well, in 2004, when I was working with Adam Curry on the bootstrap of podcasting. If you ask me, and I bet if you ask AC, the World Outline will, long-term, be a bigger deal than podcasting. Because it relates to how we collaborate on the organization of the information we all create. If we can just entice other people to do this! :-)

Anyway, here we are seven years later, and seven years older, and more relaxed with a greater appreciation for how huge this job is, we're going slower, but yet reaching much further.

For example, the number of nodetypes has grown. We now support these types, in alphabetic order:

blogpost, code, howto, html, photo, river, rss, redirect, include and plain text.

And more important, there's a callback structure that makes it easy to add new types to the system. Or to override or subclass the defaults.

And it's open in the only way that counts. You don't have to export your data to gain access to it elsewhere. You can include mine in yours and it continues to live in both places (with only one original so changes flow in a natural way).

You'll recognize that these are problems that many others are working on. But I think we're uniquely working on it from this point of view: There is no business model, in fact no business at all, that's trying to capture anyone's content. I might offer to host it for you, but there's a pref setting that allows you to store everything in an S3 bucket that you own. Just give me write-access to it, which you can take away at any time for any reason (some have already done this) and we're still friends. :-)

What I'm going to do, over the next few weeks at least, is post stories to Scripting News that show you how this works. It'll be as if you're a passenger on a plane. Eventually, soon -- I want to teach you how to fly one of these planes. But it's complex, and if you try it without knowing what's going on, you will either: 1. Fly your plane into a mountain, killing everyone on board. Or, 2. You will flap the wings once or twice, wonder what the big deal is about and go on. Neither outcome is acceptable to me. So I'm opting for a third approach. A fairly long tease period, with a few real-world seminars here in NYC and elsewhere (Toronto and Boston, probably first, maybe San Francisco). The only way this can work, in my experience, is with a slow build. If I were doing this inside a tech company, I would just use the people of the company to boot it up. But I'm doing this work on the open Internet. So I have to be a bit more clever about it. :-)

Anyway, here's the first tease.

Today I did some development work, which naturally I wanted to narrate for all interested parties.

The work: I improved the error message for Amazon Route 53 when you try and can't create a "blorkmark." The previous message was fairly incomprehensible. The new message, less so.

I wrote-up the changes in my outliner, set the type to "blogpost" -- added some details as sub-heads, and saved it.

This is what the web page looks like.

And this is what it looks like in my outliner.

Suggestions for Google-Plus Permalink.

I was going to post a question over on my Google-Plus account, and thought since very few people would see it since my circles are so sparse, it probably is a good idea to post it here, too.

A picture named phone.jpgA suggestion for Google in case anyone is listening. Add a feature that defines a circle as everyone who has me in a circle. This makes reciprocal following a snap (automatic). Judging by behavior in TwitterLand this is going to be something a lot of people want and expect. You can send the check to my Adsense account. :-)

The question I was going to ask: Is there a bookmarklet for Google-Plus? Everyone else has one. There are a billion for Twitter, Facebook has one. It's the secret killer feature of Hacker News. It will make it easier for people to post links, and will help fill things out. I did look for it, and came up empty.

Next one. I just posted a bunch of stuff. But the Posts section of my profile is empty? Why?

Finally, things won't get started for me until you have an API. I am not remotely in the ballpark of switching off all my other network use in favor of Google-Plus. Too many people following me elsewhere. And I have a great system for writing stuff and I'm not giving that up either. So if you want my posts (no charge, really -- free for you Google) there has to be an API. Hopefully not too hard to support. :-)

Also, why not convert colon-dash-right-paren into a smiley? :-)

A picture named curly.gif

Beautiful day for a ride Permalink.

No wind, low 80s. Streets empty.

But the trail was full!

Huge numbers of people out riding, running, walking, being tourists, getting on and off cruise ships.

Still I got a great workout. Feeling great.

Today's park bench plaque is for Sean B. Fegan.

A picture named seanBench.jpg

Map: 59 minutes. 11.32 miles.

A trillion dollar coin? Permalink.

A picture named salmon.gifFelix Salmon: "Coin seignorage, if you're wondering, is the right that Treasury has to mint a couple of one-ounce, $1 trillion coins and deposit those coins in its account at the New York Fed. It could then withdraw cash from that Fed account to make all the payments it wanted."

I like it. Currency hacking. :-)

Where did the Social Security money go? Permalink.

AndI am not an economist, but I do have savings and invest in the stock market, and have a bit of education, and I read a lot, so I have a little knowledge of how things work.

So when Merrill Mathews, writing at Forbes, asks what happened to the $2.6 trillion Social Security Trust Fund, I know the answer, and so does he.

He says the US government "borrowed" it, as if there were something wrong with that. But there is another, more understandable way of saying the same thing:

1. They bought T-bills so it could earn a little interest.

A picture named gold.jpgBoth statements are equivalent.

You see Mr Matthews, until the Republicans came along and played house with the world economy, the safest place to put your money was in US govt securities. It's exactly where you would want the government to store our nation's retirement money. You think it would be safer to keep it under the mattress or perhaps in Fort Knox?

that highlights one of many new problems we are rapidly coming to grips with. If not US govt securities, where should we put the money we don't want to put at risk? You guys are supposed to be such capitalists over there at Forbes, how about cutting the hysteria, and start talking to your readers like the adults they are.

One more note...

I read a bunch of "right wing" columnists, and once in a while one of them has something to say that isn't completely childish and dishonest.

Example: Megan McCardle, writing in the Atlantic, suggests the Republicans in the House pass a 9 month extension of the debt ceiling and dare the President to veto it.

He won't.

Then the Republicans get to do this all over again next spring, during the Presidential election. With nine months to lick their wounds, play Monday Morning Quarterback, and get ready for next season in the grand game of Destroy the United States of America. :-)

Bonus: Felix Salmon has a must-read piece at Reuters.

The Angry Bird Party Theme Song Permalink.

If we ever get the Angry Bird Party going, this could be the theme song.

The walk-on music.

Imagine we're singing it at rallies! :-)

Our new National Anthem.

Uncle! I joined Google-Plus Permalink.

Not entirely happy about this, but I re-joined Google Plus today.

Here's my thinking.

A picture named fatladysinging.gif1. Do you, Dave, think you will ever join Google-Plus? If so, why not join sooner than later. You'll get more followers this way. And in the future you'll be able to talk about the good old days on Google-Plus and how all the noob's suck.

2. How many times in the future will you feel like resigning in protest because of some nasty shit Google did? Many times.

3. So why not get it over with and resign now, before you even start? Seems that would save a lot of trouble.

4. Will you want to push links to Google-Plus the same way you do through Twitter now? Probably.

5. Do you think they'll have an API? Yes. They say they will.

6. Do you expect to be able to work with it? Probably. I was able to support OAuth on Twitter, after much pain and suffering.

7. Do you think Google could come up with something more convoluted and hard to implement? Of course! They're Google. They can be more anything than anyone. Esp when it comes to freezing out developers they don't like.

8. Isn't it a bit paranoid to think they might dislike you over there at Google? Well, no. As a matter of fact. They are infinitely capable of silly shit like that, in my experience. And they hired Chris Messina. :-)

9. WTF.

You can follow me if you want.

Ain't makin no promises. :-)

A picture named curly.gif

DaveCast #10 -- The Angry Bird Party? Permalink.

A rambly podcast about Abraham Lincoln, science fiction, Mike McConnell, David Frum, politics, Democrats and Republicans, birds and pigs. Permalink.

A picture named fido.gif

A big diff betw Google-Plus and Facebook Permalink.

A picture named dave.jpgThere are many differences between the two, but this one I haven't heard discussed before.

Facebook came from Harvard, and grew among college students on other campuses, way before anyone in Silicon Valley used it. Everyone from the tech industry feels like a late-comer, not an early-adopter. Something that makes all of them feel a lack of ownership.

Google-Plus is starting from Silicon Valley, the usual insiders have the most followers long before any of the usual Facebook users are allowed in. Probably before most of them are even aware there is such a thing as Google-Plus.

Things like this tend to matter a lot more than you think they should.

Nice ride, big wind, another plaque Permalink.

Huge cross-wind today so it was hard work in both directions.

Three consecutive days riding, can feel it in my legs and butt.

There are lots of plaques on the benches lining the Hudson.

Today I hung out on Richard M. Kossoff's bench.

A picture named richard.jpg

Who Finds Sustenance and Renewal in the Timeless Joys of this Park.

Map: 1 hour 3 minutes. 11.44 miles.

Yours in timeless joy,


Connecting Blork and the World Outline Permalink.

A picture named try.jpgI popped one off the bug list this morning. Since March 30, Blork had not been archiving my feeds as it's supposed to. How did I know? Well, that's where the archive stops.

So I went back to look at my change notes from March 30. Nothing obviously the cause of this behavior.

Started to investigate in the source, and found a bit of commented code. The comment explaining the commenting-out didn't match what the code did. Big clue. The date on the change? March 30! Heh.

That was too easy. So I had a bit of "extra" time. I had already swapped in all the reality surrounding archives, and figured -- I've always wanted my linkblog to appear in the World Outline. So I did the hookup.

Had it generate OPML for the RSS archive.

And then included it in my World Outline under My Sites.

Of course I gave it a nice blorkmark. Released the feature. Announced it on the respective mail lists.

This new system is starting to shape up. I think I should be looking for some new users.

The first people I'd like to work with are outliner people. So if you used one of my outliners, ThinkTank, Ready, MORE or the OPML Editor, and are interested in trying your hand at building a world outline of your own, send me an email. The address is in the blogroll outline, in the right margin at scripting.com.

Another in my series of wacko ideas Permalink.

I have a feeling I've written this up before but what the heck.

I get a fair number of people who leave comments that are basically complaints. I want them to know that I hear them, but I don't want them to feel offended if their comments don't appear on my site.

I'm much more interested in informed discourse. If you disagree, no problem, but give us some information to reward my readers for listening. Teach us something. Really. I'd like to act as a filter for my readers, to A picture named elephant.jpg make sure only stuff that offer really new perspectives are on the page. Or if they say something in a creative or zingy way. Let's not be prudes (so many are).

In the early days of Scripting News, we had something like this that worked great, the Mail Pages. People would send email responses to my stories (which went out via email, then appeared on the web), and I could respond personally, or add it to the site for that day. Or sometimes both. And often I would pin a short response in what was posted on the site. And I could select a paragraph or two, out of a much longer piece. Keep it peppy. (People sure can ramble.)

It worked socially too, people didn't expect their comments to be published. And generally they were happy when they were. It was switched around from the way things work today.

I'd love to have something that worked like that now. I'd try it at least for a while as the commenting system on Scripting News, so you'd have a good testbed.

Dropbox at (a jaw-dropping) $5 billion Permalink.

A picture named training.jpgWhen Dropbox started messing with the terms of service on the Friday before the July 4 holiday, it didn't seem very likely it was a random event. You know, one day the CEO woke up and said I know what I'll do today -- I'll screw with the terms-of-service. That'll liven things up a bit. That's not how life is for the CEO of young booming tech company. Usually they're too busy putting out fires.

It seemed equally unlikely that a lawyer who works for the company decided to stir up some trouble with the users. True, the FTC was giving them some grief. But on the other hand, they had just suffered through an embarassing security mess. The timing seemed strange, unless they were going public or getting acquired. Cleaning up the terms-of-service is a likely checklist item before either of those events.

I didn't believe it was a random event.

And it turns out, it wasn't!

Yesterday there was an announcement on TechCrunch that Dropbox is raising money at a jaw-dropping valuation of $5 billion. Hey I knew they were doing good, but.. $5 billion? That's really good. :-)

Also yesterday, a story on Hacker News asking how much is a user worth? Interesting question. Every user should read this, when you tihnk about how much you're worth to the company who's providing "free" service. When you have an issue, how much listening will you get? No more than what you're worth to the company, or else they're losing money.

This is, btw, the user-as-hamster business model. The one where you sit in a cage and make the wheels spin around. Either you're watching commercials while doing your workout, or you're generating information about yourself which is used to decide what commercials to show you. Either way, your value to them is a very very small fraction of your value as a human being. And quite a bit less than if you were paying for the service yourself.

The hamster business model has to be the way Dropbox gets to the $5 billion valuation. Unless a high percentage of their users are paying for the service. I kind of doubt they are. That means they have to be looking inside your box to get the data they're going to aggregate, to get to that astronomical valuation. That's why they didn't just go with the enterprise-y user agreements that Microsoft and Amazon use. They don't want your money. They want the advertisers' money.

What's inside your Dropbox says a lot about you. And that, of course, is what Dropbox users (like me) are afraid of.

Doc Searls wrote a great piece this morning on the commercial-ness of Google. He's in Venice now, with his family, and Google Maps will show him where the nearest McDonald's is, but doesn't tell him the names of the streets. Seems you're a hamster even when you're trying to soak up old culture in the former business capital of the world. There must be a joke in here about the Merchant of Venice, but I can't think of one.

The message is very clear. Learn how to set up a server. It's not so hard. And it's worth learning how to do so you can be more than just a hamster. The Internet is a very powerful communication medium, but if you depend on $5 billion companies to give it to you for "free" you're not going to be getting much of the freedom it has to offer.

Looking for an XXL Mets cap Permalink.

I've got an XXL head, and I want a Mets baseball cap.

The best-fitting hat for me is a Flexfit.

A picture named mets.jpg


Anyone know where I can get one??

Update: I bought one at BigHeadCaps. Thanks to Seth Mason for the pointer.

Want to ride alone? Permalink.

Go out when it's 93 degrees.

Serious heat wave in NYC, and the bike lanes were a lot easier on the nerves.

A picture named hot.jpg

But one bottle of water was barely enough.

Still the muscles stay nice and loose in the heat.

Now seems a good time to mention that, at my turnaround point, there's a park bench, with a plaque: "In memory of Renee Glaser. Passionate journalist, citizen, reader and Yankee fan. A dear colleague and mentor who will not be forgotten."

A picture named reneeGlaser.jpg

Her bench is in an absolutely wonderful spot. Behind it, a picnic area, with shade trees, and a path that leads up the hill. It's just north of the 79th St boat harbor, and a nice restaurant. It must be lonely there in the fall, winter and spring. But in summer it's bursting with life.

Map: 1 hour 7 minutes. 11.56 miles.

I'm not left or right Permalink.

The hype in this country is if you're from the "left" you want something, and if you're from the "right" you want something else. And that's all there is. Either you're one or the other.

But if you're not, you have no say in what happens to your country. This is so fucked up. It's not in the Constitution. It's complete fucking bullshit.

I could be a member of the Green Party or the Skier's Consortium or the Urbandwellers or the Cowtowners. And no one would care what I think. Supposedly.

A friend asked what would be my call to action.

Thanks for asking.

Here it is.

1. Cut the fucking drama.

2. Pass the debt ceiling. No new taxes. No cuts to anything.

3. STFU.

4. Do your fucking jobs.

5. Maybe we'll let you go back next year.

That's my program.

PS: I'm a member of the American Voters Party. How about that.

Own your identity! Permalink.

Marco Arment wrote a post that he was sure I'd like. He was right about that. I did like it. Very much. Go over there and read it, and thank him and David Karp for making a Tumblr good blogging silo, one that allows users to own their identities.

In comments on TechCrunch, Anil Dash explains why he blogs. As does Fred Wilson. I am their brothers on this. I blog because I have an impulse to write. I also do short linkblog posts because I have an impulse to share what I find, and a photo feed, and a subscription list and a river of news.

A picture named webdead.gifI gave pointers to all these things to Google, in my profile. It'll be interesting to see if they have or write crawlers to use this information and distribute it to others.

Also, many years ago, I wrote an invitation called the Googlish Way to do Directories. It would still be a good idea if Google found a match in an OPML file to display it as a directory. But I suspect that since Google didn't invent it, they won't support it. They're a lot like Microsoft in that regard.

Not like Apple, though. I don't like a lot of things about Apple, but one thing I do like is that they've generally embraced formats I've created when they gain traction. Probably mostly because they employ Steve Zellers. :-)

There are a handful of people in our midst, I think Apple called them round pegs in square holes, that may make a difference in the rush to corporate blogging silos. Marco, Fred, Anil, Steve are some of them.

Own your identity.

Have the courage to stake out your spot on the open web.

Fill it with delicious treats, and connect it to others.

That's creativity.

Strong tail wind uptown Permalink.

Pushed my MPH over 13 for the first time. Yeha!

Map: 1 hour 3 minutes. 11.45 miles.

What will happen if the US defaults? Permalink.

They're not telling us the truth about this. Someone should.

They say interest rates will go up. That might even be a good thing if that's all that would happen, but it's not.

With no safe place to store value, the financial system are going to get crazy.

Gold and silver will probably shoot up, as will commodities. Anything that might possibly hold its value is going to become dear.

Are you going to take your money out of the bank? Well, as August 2 approaches, you'll probably have lots of company.

But that's just the beginning. Truth is no one knows what will happen because nothing like it ever has happened.

A picture named hell.jpgOne thing that will happen for sure is that the government will shut down. If you value stability -- food on the shelves of the supermarket, electricity and air conditioning, garbage pickup, police and fire protection -- you're going to be unhappy. As much as some people think govt is the problem, we'll find quickly how indispensible govt services are to the lives we lead.

You support the military you say? They won't get paid. How will they get home? You think the airlines are going to run with no banks or police? I think the air traffic controllers work for the government if I'm not mistaken. Pretty sure the airports are government-run. Trains, bridges, tunnels.

You think Iran and North Korea aren't watching? Might be an interesting time for them to do something.

Sometimes being scared is correct. This is one of those times.

The moment when the US tosses its cards in the air.

DaveCast #9 Permalink.

My iPhone wanted to be rebooted, so I was able to do a new DaveCastPermalink.

Hope you enjoy! :-)

DaveCast status Permalink.

All of a sudden the Voice Memo app on my iPhone won't record voice memos.

I did a long podcast yesterday, when I looked to see how much time had elapsed, it wasn't recording.

No matter what I do, I can't seem to get it to start recording.

Just wanted y'all to know I haven't forgotten. :-)

If I had a Like button this is what it would look like Permalink.

I stumbled across this page on the Facebook site.

It tells you how to put a Like button on any page.

I had some warnings. But let's see if it works anyway. :-)

Hooking Google-Plus to my linkblog feed? Permalink.

On Twitter, Steve Rubel asks: "Where is @davewiner on G+??"

Right now I feel pretty good about my decision, last year, to move my tweeting into my linkblog feed. Because of that, I don't have to think about how to get my flow off Twitter so it can be part of other services. And I get to ask a very important question of new services, like Google-Plus: When will my feed work over there?

Twitter's answer, at first, was to use TwitterFeed. Which I tried, and liked, but found to be too slow. So I wrote my own app to connect my feed to Twitter. It's plenty fast. And reliable. What's not to love? Well, I have to keep it running. So far that hasn't been a problem. But given Twitter's propensity to change their API, I'm pretty sure at some point that connection will break. Murphy's Law and all that.

So the answer to my good friend Steve Rubel is this. The ball is in Google's court. If they want my flow to come through their service, it's available to them in the form of a feed.

A picture named beetlejuice.jpgHowever: There are no titles on the items. That's the way it works in TwitterLand, and I support that. Some bits are too small to have titles. I know that's a problem for Google Reader. Hopefully it isn't a problem that Google-Plus inherited.

I work this way because my linkflow is and has always been a work-product of mine. It doesn't gain anything by being in Twitter or in Facebook or Google. It exists independently of all these things (it predates all of them too). I think I'm making a good offer. I don't charge for this product. But I don't give away my independence. I place a lot of value on it.

My feed is stored in my space. Which I archive. The items can go anywhere anyone wants them. But I stay independent.

Does Google-Plus have feeds? Permalink.

If so, I'd love to see some of them and see what it would take to hook their output into our input.

And btw, here are my main feeds:

1. My blog.

2. My linkblog.

3. Photos.

It would be interesting to see if there's a way to hook those into Google-Plus.

And here are the feeds I subscribe to. And the river that generates from that collection of feeds.

Reserve currency Permalink.

A picture named dollar.jpgI don't think people appreciate how much our way of life is subsidized by the fact that the dollar is the reserve currency. Once that's gone, and a default will kill that for good, we're hosed.

As is the rest of the world. People are so hungry for a safe place to park their money they're willing to loan it to the United States for virtually no interest.

Once that option is gone, where will they go for safety? There really is no other place to go.

The President and the Republicans keep likening our economy to a family. Tightening your belts in hard times, and all.

Well, if you like that analogy, it's as if our family is in the bagel business, and we don't even know it. And we're about to store a bunch of used Porta-Pottty's in the same place we make the bagels. What do you think that'll do for the family business??

Why Twitter may have trouble monetizing Permalink.

Because I started with Twitter so early, I know something that later-comers might not.

Twitter was better when there were fewer people there.

Before it was so random. Before there was so much spam. When everybody on Twitter was likely someone I wouldn't mind hearing about, and from.

It's probably why people are liking Google-Plus now. It's small. Approachable. Filled with people you know.

If they make Twitter too unpleasant with ads (sponsored tweets) it could fracture into a Twitter for tech, a Twitter for NYC, perhaps a Twitter for the Lower East Side, even. A Twitter for me! :-)

I had this thought when I looked at how competent Twitter is these days. But the question is, do we really need something that does what Twitter does. Do I need a service that can serve people with 6 million followers? (No, I don't follow anyone with that many, and I myself have less than 40K followers.) Do I pay attention to the tweets of even a fraction of the people I follow? (No, no one could.) With Twitter, I think there's no doubt that it would be better if it were smaller.

But who cares as long as there are no ads. But they're coming, soon. Maybe they'll solve the problem by letting people pay them, say $25 per year, for an ad-less Twtter.

That would help keep it from fracturing.

Maybe Obama will withdraw from 2012 race Permalink.

I'm just old enough to remember LBJ withdrawing from the 1968 Presidential election, opening the door for Richard Nixon to become the next President. His reasons were pretty clear, he had bet his presidency on Vietnam and lost. The war was getting worse, and would get worse-still.

A picture named lbj.jpgObama is so deeply mired in this mess with the deficit. Perhaps the best thing to do is resign himself to being a one-term President and let the Democrats nominate someone else, who can run on a different platform. "I'll kick ass for the voters," instead of what Obama would have to run on "I sold out to the Republicans." Then 2012 can be a referendum on whether we want to turn the country over to the chaos that the Republicans have wrought, or fight back.

We're getting close to the point where the kindest thing the President could do for his country is to become a lame duck. Not quite there yet. But the next few weeks should tell. If he lets the country default, there's no way he gets re-elected. We're going to need someone really strong, with great leadership skills and someone who can say no to the Republicans in a way that they get the message.

God forbid he doesn't move aside, we could be singing Hail to the Chief to President Romney.

Mid-conference bike ride Permalink.

Since I live nearby, I snuck out after 1/2 hour of talk about advertising on blogs, which was very interesting (no sarcasm) but got rather detailed. As I was sitting there I was thinking that I probably could use the time better on my bike, so I got on my wheels and rode crosstown then uptown.

Big headwind on the way up, so that's where I got my workout. Took a really nice video of NYers out on the trail at the usual turnaround point, just north of the 79th St boat basin.

Big tailwind on the way back, so smooth ride. Feel great. The conference resumes at 2:30, just enough time for me to have a snack before heading back. Funny how it doesn't make a diff whether it's headwind or tailwind or nowind, my rate on the trail is betw 10.5 and 12.5 mph.

Map: 1 hr. 11.19 mi.

Notes from today's Hyperlocal conference Permalink.

We're having a hyperlocal conference at NYU today, and it's good!

Hard to get a word in, so I'm going to take notes here.

A picture named nyu.jpg

In defense of hyperlocal, communities have long-term issues, just like cities and countries do.

For example, in the East Village, there's gentrification, a sense that the history of the area is being deleted. For me safety of bike riding is an issue, as it is for other residents.

There are a lot of journalists here, and they tend to think journalism is the big deal. I think blogging is a big deal. And no, I don't think they understand what blogging is. But that would take a lot of talking to explain and probably wouldn't create much understanding.

The question of how to involve the community is still the wrong way to look at it. The site is of the community. Give everyone who lives in the community a blog of their own and make the front page a curated aggregation of the blogs. At first yours will be the only one, but if you gain traction it won't be that way for long.

Jay asks people to think in terms of 100 percent coverage, a familiar theme of his. The people who think it's all about journalism grab the mike and snap right back that it's important to "involve the community." Bzzzzt. Wrong.

I did get up and speak and said all this, and added that when the comments get to be too much it might be time to offer everyone a blog on your domain, and gradually transition to a Kos-like approach. That's what we did in the early days of Scripting News. A lot of the original blogs formed out of the discussion group on userland.com.

During the break the question came up about this bit from a previous post: "Be sure you control your own publishing and distribution. It must be tempting now, and it's likely to get more tempting in the future, to accept the offers of the big tech companies." Did I mean that people shouldn't do syndication? No, that would be a weird thing for a guy who pushed RSS as much as I did to say. I meant don't depend on Facebook, Twitter and Google to be your publishing and/or community system. For all the reasons in the piece. These are not good platforms for journalism or blogging.

Yeah, I'm still yawning Permalink.

Thanks to totnuckers for asking if I'm still yawning re Google-Plus.

Executive summary: Yes.

The details...

First let me congratulate Google on a successful launch.

It's good for them, bad for the Internet.

I don't care what it means for Facebook.

Bad for users.

Neither good nor bad for me.

Thing is, I don't use Facebook or Google-Plus. I quit smoking too. (I still use Twitter, and drink coffee though.)

I don't believe in putting my best work into corporate blogging silos.

The last bit of interest I had in that, a willingness to believe in the goodness of companies (though it was more like putting blinders on) went down with Friendfeed.

I just did a review of the preferences system in the OPML Editor. There's a page in there for Friendfeed prefs. When should I take it out? It probably already should have gone. It's a joke to think at one point I was willing to build features in my product that depended on their servers.

I thought Friendfeed was pretty good, in some ways excellent. Ironically, given the name, they didn't really do great things for and with feeds. It was more of a discussion server. And it had some very nice back-end features, like stay-alive connections you could build stuff on top of. Since then I've built my own, based on their example. So net loss isn't very great.

The question is, why are you pouring your creativity into Google's box? Do you really think it's going anywhere good? Maybe you'll want to read what you were writing in 2011 someday? They're just starting, and there's sure to be rock and roll. And I'm not sure anyone there really knows how to evolve online communities. If they do, I don't know who they are.

Anyway, what they're providing isn't so hard to do, and there are plenty of programmers willing to step up and do great work that might plug into theirs. Question is -- do you think they really want our stuff to connect with theirs? I mean really want. You know, like Twitter wanted our creativity! Sure. :-)

A picture named cage.jpgI wanted to develop Internet software ever since I knew there was such a thing. It wasn't until the web that I could actually do that. I've never been able to do great work, long-term, within corporate platforms. For that reason alone, I think we'd be nuts to give over our future to Google. Or Facebook or Twitter, or Apple, or whoever. They really only make one kind of corporation, and our role, at best is to buy stuff from them, or make the wheels in our cages spin. If you want to be really creative, you can't do it in their context. Luckily we have the open web. Why don't we do our work there, instead?

Anyway if you want to give them your future, go right ahead. I'm going to work on the web where the sky is blue and the air is clean, and I don't have to worry about getting crushed by no big tech machine. :-)

Is Dropbox a privacy revolution? Permalink.

Writing on GigaOm, Derrick Harris asks if Dropbox's changes to their user agreement will create pressure for other tech companies to do the same.

I don't know -- maybe it makes a difference that the FTC was looking at their user agreement before all the changes came about. Maybe Dropbox is so much bigger than the others, maybe that makes the difference.

But they are not leading here, not by a long shot.

Microsoft and Amazon already offer better terms than Dropbox. I don't see why Dropbox doesn't just copy them. Very clear on the limits on what they can do with your data. So if anyone is doing the leading here, I'd say it's Microsoft and Amazon.

What I'm looking for here is a a consumerish product with enterprise-like service. Happy to pay for the service, in fact I insist on paying. The kind of service I want is one you pay for.

I like Dropbox's ease-of-use. Always have. I declared it product of the decade, for a reason -- not because I like them (or don't, I don't know the people there). I did it because they have a great product.

That said, if there were a really simple box I could buy from Amazon that added a file server to my LAN that "just worked" -- that could be accessed from my servers in the Rackspace and Amazon clouds, you know what -- I'd buy it immediately.

I thought my old Asus netbook might be perfect for it, but you can't put a password on shared folders on the version of XP they include with it. Amazingly lame. I've tried setting up one of my Macs here, and same problem -- I can access the volume from my Windows servers without a password. WTF.

Meanwhile I'm looking at Wuala and SpiderOak, along with others in the community at scripting.com.

To GigaOm, this industry needs more than a privacy revolution. It needs to begin understanding that their users have legitimate needs to keep their data safe.

I'm reminded of the time, in 2007, when I went into an Apple store in Emeryville to get a new hard drive for my Mac laptop, and they wouldn't let me have my old drive back. The one with all the passwords on it, and account numbers. Eventually I did get it back, but I had to write a letter to Steve Jobs and talk with someone in his office. It was a huge privacy issue. I'm sure it's happened to many other people, for all I know it's still happening.

BTW, product advocacy has always been an issue in the comments on blogs. People appear to love the products or hate the products. It's a fine line between emotional advocacy and spam. I'm getting tougher on the line. If you make Dropbox or competitive products a moral issue, I'm calling it spam. It doesn't belong here. I honestly think sometimes the companies hire consultants to shut down discussions of their product that they don't like. Even if they don't -- I'm interested in shedding light, not casting shadows. :-)

Anyone using Wuala? Permalink.

In a comment on yesterday's post about Dropbox, Tim Green suggested looking at the Wuala service from Lacie.

I took a look at the site, and it's quite encouraging. "All files are directly encrypted on your desktop."

Net-net on Dropbox, for me Permalink.

A picture named curly.gifThinking about what I was actually using Dropbox for. Never mind the conveniences, the main thing: it was a place where all my servers could read and write. The speed of synchronization is not important. In fact only one machine needs to read, all the others write. Everything else was just nice-to-have. Getting copies of important files on multiple servers was what I needed.

How hyperlocal has a future Permalink.

We're having a mini-conference here at NYU on Saturday to discuss hyperlocal blogs. In preparation, I've done a little thinking about what it must be like running one in the summer of 2011. And thinking if I had any advice for people running hyperlocals.

The number one bit of advice -- is to be sure you control your own publishing and distribution. It must be tempting now, and it's likely to get more tempting in the future, to accept the offers of the big tech companies. They're just now beginning to realize that their platforms have a role to play in the future of news. As the larger publications are jumping into bed with them, without thinking very much (imho), it would be just as mistaken for the small ones, the locals, to do the same.

All offers sound great on the way in. Great stats, publishing tools, discussion tools. Monetization perhaps. The problem is that the way out is unknowable. And where are these companies going? They probably don't know. But in the past they've made their money through lock-in. And it's pretty obvious that over time more of them will be in competition with you. AOL already is. At that point, you're going to want to know how to get out.

A picture named espresso.jpgA better way forward would be to stick with the boring stuff and stay away from the platform du jour in techland. Focus on your users, learn from and about them. Think clearly and imaginatively, find new ways to be relevant to them. If new technology is needed, either develop it, or make your needs known clearly to developers. In a city like Berkeley, for example, there are lots of programmers. Go out and find them. There are independent developers everywhere who are willing to work to create free environments outside the large tech companies, so there's a natural partnership with hyperlocals. Don't be afraid to make the connections. And don't be afraid to ask for help. :-)

I'd also try to come up with projects that can be directly, financially supported by the community that your hyperlocal can facilitate, but aren't directly related to your business model. There's no reason you personally can't make money from the growth of your community. It's the one interest every local publication accepts. You have an interest in the success of your community.

No matter what, there is no formula for relevance in hyperlocal, and no guarantee either. The winners here, if there are going to be any, will have to be imaginative and courageous and really smart. And good at working with others.

Bonus link: BloggerCon format.

How Washington is like Silicon Valley Permalink.

The growth in Silicon Valley, which has been huge, happens in fits and starts. Periods of expansion, followed by stagnation, and out of the remains rises something new. Often bringing along very little of the best of the previous generation.

When stagnation is on the rise it's because the industry has become too introverted. The leading companies only listen to each other. They fight "wars," viewing the users in aggregate, as numbers, as powerless individuals. Tactical pieces to be moved around and used to attack each other.

I've been trying to figure out what's going on in Washington because it's so dramatic and frightening. On one level, I think the Repubs and Dems work for the same bosses, the people who pay for their campaigns. In that model, what we're seeing is a giant stage play. And at the other end of the pipe, trillions of dollars that were supposed to flow to the people, through health care and social security, now won't. Maybe they flow somewhere else. For a long time I was pretty sure that's what was going on. The same kind of footsie that often happens in the tech industry (for example, the animus between Apple and Google, at least somewhat serves both, by forcing Microsoft into a lower less-relevant tier).

So maybe it's all a play. But lately I don't think so. Because if it is, I just don't see what could possibly be going on behind the scenes that makes any sense for anyone. It just seems dysfunctional, self-destructive in the extreme, and likely to finally wake up the sleeping electorate. (I hope.)

More likely, I believe, it's just the same thing that the tech guys do. The actual world is too complicated to comprehend in total. So as a company gets bigger and bigger, it focuses more and more inwardly, to keep the complexity manageable, on a human scale. Instead of worrying about a new generation of voters, focus instead on defeating the other party. The press that travels in their circles views the electorate the same way.

In the tech industry, the stagnation cycle often ends with a user-started venture that gives the people what they actually want, not limited by what the industry is willing to give them. I wonder if that can happen in politics as well?

Mr President: Invoke the 14th and go on vacation Permalink.

A picture named sadElephant.gifAfter the Supreme Court intervened in the 2000 election there was some talk of the incoming Bush presidency being more bi-partisan, more inclusive of Democrats, given the horrible way the election was decided. I forget how the Bush people communicated this, but their response was basically forget it. We're going to govern as if we won in a landslide.

If you were reading Scripting News at the time you would remember that I was a supporter of Mr. Bush. One of my many mistakes.

Katrina vanden Heubel, writing in the Washington Post today, said something I've been thinking. The current president, supposedly a Democrat, should invoke the 14th Amendment, now. Instruct the Secretary of the Treasury to continue borrowing. He should probably give a speech, maybe something of a campaign rally, where he says the Republican Party isn't participating in government, they've lost their way, trying to harm the United States, and there comes a point where you say enough is enough. His first job as President is to protect the country from terrorism. He can cite any number of Republican presidents.

The Republicans go home with nothing but their vote to kill Medicare on the record. Then, if I were his campaign manager, I'd send him to Nantucket for a vacation with the family, while the Republicans fume. I don't think there's any doubt that the American people would back the President. And there's really nothing the Republicans can do about it but complain. Powerlessly.

We're getting the worst of both worlds with President Obama. Every day he acts more like a Republican, but he does so without their resolve. If there were a Republican in the White House and the Democrats in the House pulling a stunt like this, do you have any doubt that the President would invoke the 14th Amendment and then go on vacation? Of course he would!

Frankly: We'd like a President who was a little less compromising.

Biking vs skiing Permalink.

This weekend there were two notable bike deaths in NYC, and I gotta say that spooked me. But this afternoon, I got on the bike anyway, and ten minutes into the ride, I was in the zone, and at the end of the ride, as usual, I didn't want it to end.

I realized the other day that for me biking is like skiing, but only the good stuff, none of the schlepping and none of the pain. Skiing is a lot of work and relatively little time enjoying the thing you like about skiing. Okay biking isn't quite the rush of a great run down a steep mountain with great snow and a clear blue mountain sky, when you've done enough working-out during the off-season.

And there's nothing like the view from the top on a bright Utah day.

A picture named parkCity.jpg

But then again biking isn't struggling to get the boots on, or the feeling of lameness in your legs 3/4 the way down the slope realizing even if you don't want to you have to make it down the remaining 1/4. And it isn't shivering on the lift on a cold snowy day, trying to cover every square inch of your skin, and realizing there's a place you didn't get (but it's too cold to take your gloves off to try to fix it). Or trying in vain to keep your goggles from fogging up. Or ice. Or crowds. Or snowboarders.

And in all my years of skiing, and there are a lot of them, I don't recall ever feeling at the end of a day that I wish I could keep going. Usually I'm exhausted and in pain and totally ready for the end. And we joke that the best feeling of the day is taking the boots off. :-)

And biking is a lot cheaper. A whole lot cheaper.

On the other hand, it seems it's easier to get yourself killed biking than skiing. But that's not to say you can't get yourself killed skiing. It can be done. But you only need to get killed once to spoil the whole thing.

You don't share the slopes with skiers who weigh tens of tons. On your bike you do share the road with trucks and buses. (Buses are the worst!)

But both sports give you the feeling, in the best moments, of weightless soaring. But biking can be done with five minutes of prep, starting right outside your front door.

Today's ride was perfection. The weather simply could not have been better for riding. Low 90s. Nice breeze across the trail from west to east. No head wind or tail wind. Not too crowded. The best.

Map: 1 hour, 2 minutes. 11.36 miles.

DaveCast #8 Permalink.

The next in a series of podcasts about stuff going on in my nerdly world. Or is that worldly nerd? I have no idea. Permalink.

In this one I decide to take the bull by the horns, and start to explain why the new approach to outlining is working out so well for me, this time.

The last ten years have been the era of Edit This Page. Now we're escaping the limits of the page, and bouncing around between whole sites in a single document.

When our machines grew to 1/2 gig of memory we forgot to recalc our assumptions of what a document is. Our thinking is about 15-20 years behind the capability of our hardware. Pushing fear aside, we're now ready to grow! Hey.

A little more, at the end, about Dropbox.

The worknotes are mentioned, as are the placeholders.

This podcast is 37 minutes long.

Developers and Google-Plus Permalink.

Saw a note from Ross Mayfield on Twitter about a Google-Plus vanity URL shortener, gplus.to. He says it will go viral because it fills a gap. I thought the same thing when I looked at it.

Usernames on Google-Plus are long strings of numbers. Obviously names should be mnemonic and memorable. Bravo for the entrepreneurial spirit for fixing this so quickly.

A picture named wwgd.gifSo -- what will Google do? (To paraphrase the title of Jeff Jarvis's book.) They are active acquirers. Maybe they'll buy these guys? Viewed from the developer's perspective, do they expect Google to buy them? Could be a marriage made in heaven.

Or, perhaps Google will re-invent? After all they must have thought of ways to give users short memorable names? It's not that hard a technical problem, evidenced by the speed at which gplus.to showed up (less than a week after launch).

If they bought them how much should they pay? And how will Google employees feel about a developer getting rich from what they will surely see as a few days' worth of work, when most of them aren't likely to get rich for working much harder for much longer.

These are the usual face-offs between developers and corporate platforms.

It'll be interesting to see how Google deals with these questions.

Also if you're aware of any instant add-ons to Google-Plus, please post a link in the comments, below.

Dick Applebaum would love this Permalink.

I'm pulling all my data flows, in and out of the World Outline. I'm really narrating my work. Finally. :-)

Today I got RSS rivers to flow through there! Really spacy. Actually wonderful.

It's really something to see. And it's the realization of a vision Dick Applebaum had for outlining back in 1981 or so.

Dick was co-owner of the main computer store in the Apple community, Computer Plus in Sunnyvale. All the Apple people shopped there, and so did the developers of the day. Any Saturday you could go down there and be sure to see a few people you knew. It was like WWDC before there was a WWDC.

Lots of stories about that place. One of the reasons we were all down there so much is that our hardware was always breaking. We're really spoiled these days. Computers used to be a lot more fragile.

The store was also owned by Mark Wozniak, Steve's brother.

All the Woz's are nice people. :-)

Anyhow, Dick loved outliners. He and I used to talk about them all the time. I was working on one, it eventually became ThinkTank, but in the Computer Plus days we called it FYI. The idea was that all your information would flow through your outline.

Thirty years later, the vision is achieved. We needed computers with 1/2 gig of RAM, and terabyte hard drives, and FIOS-level bandwidth, and cloud services like S3 and Rackspace. Back then we were trying to make all this fit in 48K memory and 10MB hard drives (which were considered exotic).

I think he's out there somewhere -- if so, Dick -- we're getting there.

Not a moment too soon! :-)

What is Dropbox good for? Permalink.

Here's a question I'd love to hear the CEO, Drew Houston, answer.

In light of the proposed changes to the Dropbox terms of service...

What kinds of data should we trust to Dropbox and what kinds of data is too sensitive to trust to Dropbox?

What's the intended use of Dropbox?


DaveCast #7 Permalink.

The seventh in a series. Permalink.

This one is about why I opted-out of Dropbox now, and why they might be cleaning up their TOS, and what that might mean for users.

Also lots of activity today on the world outline project.

The features should roll out a lot more quickly now, most of the foundation work is done. Lots of cleanups and tie-offs. And docs.

I've deleted my Dropbox account Permalink.

First, it's ridiculous that Dropbox made a major change to their Terms of Service during a holiday weekend in the US. Right off the bat that tells you something very bad is happening.

Near as I can tell, they've changed their user agreement to be like Twitter's. Unbelievably, they claim rights to use the stuff you store on Dropbox. Breathtaking. It's one thing to cast your 140-character tweets out there into a hamster farm, quite another for the kinds of stuff we've been using Dropbox for.

I pay them $99 per year for the service. I felt it was wrong to accept this kind of service without providing them with compensation.

There is a delete account command. I used it.

Now I have to wonder if there's some way to get them to flush my archives.

To people who say I over-reacted. How could you possibly know?

Might re-approach once the dust settles. Can't afford to have my stuff be a test case.

My "no interviews" policy was working Permalink.

A picture named batter.gifI decided a while back to become scarce with the press, hoping if I did no interviews, they would still find my ideas compelling, and see me as giving good quote (something I've always prided myself on) by accepting that my blog was a fine source for said quotes.

It was working. I found that I generally liked how I was being quoted. The words mostly represented what I believe. There were times when they made my opinion sound more harsh and unforgiving than it was. But I think most readers know they tend to exaggerate that way. I must admit, that when I quote people I tend to go for the "money line" the one that's likely to excite or even enflame a bit. So you factor that in.

This week I found out that it's possible to massively mis-quote, yet actually use words emitted from my keyboard. It was more of a ransom note than an actual quote. As if by cutting and pasting actual words and adding elipses where it suited them, they could hack out whole paragraphs, even reorder ideas to make it seem as if I was saying gibberish.

Who is that fool who doesn't even know how to express an idea! Why his name is, is -- it's me! Oy.

I thought I had seen it all. Apparently there was still more to see. :-)

I'll keep writing. And ask a certain "editorial" organization to please, don't quote me. Ever. Thank you.

7AM ride becoming a tradition? Permalink.

I was up at dawn again today.

It's a fantastic time to ride.

Map: 1 hour 1 minute, 11.49 miles.

Why Google's "circles" are likely to fail Permalink.

I write a lot. More than most. And I've been doing it for a long time.

I have good tools that allow me a lot of flexibility over user interface. And I have a lot of time to tinker.

I have a hard time finding things. It would be great if everything were in its proper place. If it all were, or even just most of it, I might be able to turn all this writing into a book.

So I have an incentive to get organized.

In 2003, I did a project called Channel Z. Its goal was to build a blogging tool that made it easy to categorize stuff. So easy, that I would actually do it. And if I did it, maybe I could figure out how to get other people to do it.

I'm the kind of guy who likes to categorize things. I made a tool, an outliner, a long time ago that makes doing that very easy. I still use the outliner to this day, and love it, and I keep finding new ways to use it to be more organized. With excellent results.

A picture named circles.gifOkay, so how did the whole categorizing blog posts thing turn out? It was a bust. I would start out with a burst of energy but then get busy with something more interesting, and would never go back to it.

Being stubborn, I hacked some more to make it even easier. Came up with the idea of a text router, a right-click menu that instantaneously categorized the bit of text I'm pointing to. Couldn't be easier. Right-click, choose a category, save. Boom.

I had a rush of a few days when I was categorizing like a mad man. Showing everyone "Look I cracked the nut, it works!"

Only to find out that a week later -- drum roll please -- I was no longer doing it.

Dan Bricklin explained it as follows. "Instead of making you feel bad for 'only' doing 99%, a well designed system makes you feel good for doing 1%."

Once you fail to do it, that's it. You'll never do it again.

So apply that to Circles. You might feel a rush to organize your friends into categories when you start to use it. But you'll give up after a dozen or so, as soon as you hit one that defies categorization. You'll say to yourself "I'll come back to this later." You won't.

From then on, you'll have a guilty feeling every time you think of it. And you'll check Twitter and Facebook which you can use without categorizing people.

Again, I'd love to be proven wrong. Maybe Google hired a team of crack psychologists and found the secret sauce that makes people get over this hump. We'll see soon enough.

© Copyright 1997-2011 Dave Winer. Last build: 12/12/2011; 3:06:34 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

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