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Scripting News -- It's Even Worse Than It Appears.

About the author

A picture named daveTiny.jpgDave Winer, 56, is a software developer 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 and NYU, 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

scriptingnews2mail 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.

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Here's a picture.


March 2012

Feb   Apr


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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.

Mom's TV Permalink.

A picture named tv.gifIt was a good thing I went to visit Mom today. She says it's time to get a new TV, because this one isn't working anymore. I said that's great because it's an old TV, one that I bought in Boston in 2003 and gave to my parents when I moved back to Calif in 2006. It was super expensive then, but it was a flat-screen LCD, and was a revolutionary product. But it's 9 years old. They make much better TVs for much less these days. And I love buying electronics. So I was excited to get to buy a new TV for Mom. A chance to learn what's new in TVs, if anything.

So we went to lunch and talked about lots of things. I asked what was wrong with the TV. Turns out her remote needed new batteries. So no new TV now. She's happy with the one she has.

Then we sat down to watch basketball and she put on CBS and I thought this picture really sucks. I know she has FIOS and I know they have HD. So I looked at the channel lineup and we switched from Channel 2 to 502. What a difference!

So Mom got the big upgrade anyway. :-)

Moral of the story -- it's a good idea to visit your mother from time to time. She may have HD and not know it, and her remote might need new batteries.

Paul McCartney Permalink.

The more I learn about Paul McCartney, the more I believe we have misunderstood our music. At least in the life of someone, such as myself, who grew up with the Beatles while they were still The Beatles.

It relates to the piece I wrote a few days ago, about living the life you dreamed of when you were young. Paul McCartney is doing that, and his dream wasn't to be a rock musician. He dreamed of making popular music. Rock came along later.

The latest installment is this week's Terry Gross interview with McCartney, who is at a piano in his studio in England. I wish he would do more interviews like this. Tell us the story of the music.

As I write this I'm listening to The Long and Winding Road. It sure is! :-)

Republican hyperbole Permalink.

The latest Republican hyperbole making the rounds is that the US has the highest corporate tax rate.

Now how likely is that?

As we NYers like to say -- give me a fucking break.

Here's how it works.

Let's pass a law, in two parts.

1. Corporate tax rate == 100 percent.

2. You don't have to pay it.

Why did they do such a silly thing?

Probably so they could put out the kind of bullshit they're putting out now.

Republican philosophy, day 2 Permalink.

A picture named sadElephant.gifYesterday's Republican Philosophy piece was a big hit.

I have to admit it was something of a breakthrough for me. Though they've been upfront about both pillars of their platform. They are all about money. And they don't like you.

Nothing wrong with money, btw. I like it too. But I'm not all about money. I am therefore, not a Republican.

So in the blowback from this, I learned even more about Republicans. Again, things I knew before but hadn't seen very clearly.

Observation: Republicans act like pricks and then complain when you don't love them. It sounds crazy when you say it like that, but it's totally observable. I wonder if they know they do it.

And you have to give credit to Romney and Cheney and even the Bushes because they aren't like that. It's as if it never occurred to them that it mattered what you thought. Cheney, bless him, says it directly, clearly and unambiguously.

These are some cold-blooded people. Who hire good marketing people who have them hold up banners saying they're really compassionate. Good guy to drink a beer with. How much you want to bet we see pictures of Mitt Romney drinking a beer. Relaxing after a tough primary fight. Wearing jeans. Being a human being. A Republican version of a human being.

All of this is preamble to an idea that needs a warmup because it's so chilling.

Getting rid of health care is an effective voter suppression technique. Why pay for health care to maintain the lives of people who are going to vote against you. Sick people have trouble getting to the polls. Dead people even more so.

Like I said, it's pretty cold. But knowing the Republicans, yeah -- they are that depraved.

One more thing. I know some people who vote Republican are good people and would never support anything like this. If you want to stay a Republican, then you have to stop it. You can't have it both ways, vote along with these people, and disclaim responsibility.

The Republican philosophy Permalink.

A picture named hello.jpgI think I finally understand. And the understanding came from listening. Listening to Mitt Romney, who, whether they like it or not, is the leader of the Republican Party. And here's what he said.

I have a lot of money. I got it the right way. I inherited a lot of it, and then I made a lot more. Every year I make a hundred million or more. Money is a big deal for me. And in that way I represent Republicans everywhere.

Now I know what you all want. You want my money. Hey if I were you I'd want my money too.

Here's what I have to say to that: Fuck You.

I have my money and it's mine and you can't have it and that's that.

In summary.

1. My money is mine.

2. Fuck you.

Those are the two basic tenets of the Republican philosophy.

PS: I also listened to the Republican members of the Supreme Court.

How long a story are you telling? Permalink.

Is there a plot to your life?

Did you have a theory about the future when you were in your twenties?

How much of it came to be and how prepared were you for it?

The people I admire most are the ones who know where we're going, and do what they can to make it come out well.

That's the kind of public service I admire. I had a hard time putting this in words when I was younger because I lacked the perspective. It was my beef with Bill Gates, who could have done so much more good as CEO of Microsoft than he can today as a philanthropist. Yet all the while he was saying he would spend the latter part of his life doing good. While he was holding back the tech industry. (And that's being kind to his legacy.)

Same with Larry Page, btw. Do good now. You already have more money than anyone could possibly use. If he had an idea for his life when he was in his twenties he wouldn't be such a menace now.

I see this over and over, people who achieve great financial success and then have no idea what to do. It's like that great line from the Joker. He's a dog chasing a car.

I'm about to achieve a goal I had when I was 22 years old. It gives me chills to write this.

What I'd like to say is that it's good to think big, and think really well about it, and as you get more data adjust where you're going. And as you face setbacks, if the vision is still valid and still useful, and if you're healthy and are eating well, why not go for it.

Steve Jobs, like him or not, was one of these people.

And he could tell the story of his life, even at a young age.

Good for him!

Every news org should have a river Permalink.

A picture named helloMyNameIsDave.jpgTo me it's self-evident that every news organization, like every blog, should define a community of bloggers. People who write with passion about their expertise. I've been writing about this, evangelically, since the mid-90s. Still there are very few rivers out there. Someday they will be a fixture. It will be self-evident to everyone else too.

So here's the pitch.

1. News organizations are shrinking, but readers' demand for news isn't. This has been true for the last 15 years, and shows no signs of letting up.

2. The tools of news are available to more people all the time. Blogs, podcasting, video, audio, realtime distribution, low-cost networking, cloud servers, mobile devices. And meanwhile the software keeps getting easier to use.

3. News organizations have to redefine themselves. Yes, their mission is still centered on what it has always been. Getting valuable and timely information to people in their community. Some define community in terms of geography, others in terms of a common interest like photography, travel, food.

4. Users have a special kind of insight that most news orgs don't tap. You can get a review from a famous columnist, a Pogue, Mossberg, Gruber or Levy, and you can get a review from a user, later -- perhaps in more depth (they had more time) and more likely to relate to experiences a user would actually have with the product (because they are users).

5. Therefore, the challenge for news organizations has been, for the last couple of decades, to learn how to incorporate the experience of these users and their new publishing tools, into their product -- the news.

6. Like anything else related to technology, this will happen slowly and iteratively. It takes generations for the kind of change that is happening in news to be fully realized. So if you see this coming, take whatever steps you can, when you can. This is an attempt to reserve a seat at the table for yourself when the revolution is finished sweeping through news.

7. The first thing you can do is show the readers what you're reading. The Times is starting to do this, and it's good -- but it should be systematic, and it can go much further. And once you've shown them what pubs you're reading, a natural next step is to aggregate them into a river, a newsfeed of postings from all the blogs and news orgs you follow. This accomplishes many important things. It gets more news to flow through your site, which makes your site more valuable to more people. It also tells the people you read that you're reading them. And it gives them something to kvell about. It creates a bond between you and them, and it cost you almost nothing to do this. It will give you access to their ideas. And it will help their ideas get heard. And it will make your venue the place people go to get the latest and greatest ideas. Look at how many ways you win! :-)

8. Having the river will also focus your mind. You'll see trends you wouldn't otherwise see. You'll get ideas for stories you wouldn't otherwise get. Seeing things from other people's perspective always does that. You see things you didn't see before. Seems almost self-evident, but until you do it, you don't experience it, and experience is very important here.

9. Then, once your river is up and running for a while, have a meeting with all your bloggers. Get someone who is respected and well-known in your community give a keynote. Sit back and listen to what people talk about. Again, your mind will open, you'll get tons of new ideas.

Starting a river is the first step down the road to the future. It defines community. Gives you a way to experience it. And honestly, it gives new power to your role as gatekeeper.

How do you start a river? For the first few pubs, I'll get you started. I have a server I've started that can run five to ten of them. I'm already doing one for my friend Jeremy Zilar at the Times. I've got a project started with the editors of Wired. I'd like to do a few more. Because for me, as a software developer and evangelist, my community is publishers of news. By helping you get your rivers started, if you choose to do it, I will learn from your experience, learn how to improve the software to better meet all our needs, and help further the integration of all kinds of news gathering into the flow of news.

How do you start a river, from a content point of view? It's just a list of feeds. You can add to the list, or remove from the list. You're the curator, though you're not just curating stories, you're curating flows. The software is easy to use, I've spent many years working on that, but for some reason people are scared of it. So I will get it started for you, and when you're ready, you can take over.

BTW, of course I have a river for my blogging work. Think of it as the river associated with my news feed and blog.

I know I'm seen in news as a radical, but I am also a conservative. I want to conserve the value we already have in news, enhance it, and help all of us make the transition into the fully-networked future.

RSS for microblogging Permalink.

A picture named loveRss.jpgIt's not quite an explosion yet, but there do seem to be a lot of new blogging tools popping up this spring. And thankfully they all seem to be supporting RSS.

I've been pretty quiet about my own new blogging tool, called Radio2. But I've been using it, as have a handful of others. You can install it on your own server, on EC2 or Rackspace, or a spare laptop in your living room. It's a content authoring system, the hits come into your feed, which is stored in S3. It's really rational technology for 2012, and beyond.

Along with Radio2, I created a new namespace for features that weren't in RSS 2.0 when it was completed almost eight years ago in 2002. It's called the "microblog" namespace.

It understands full links vs shortened links. It defines a calendar-structured archive, so you can store all your posts in RSS format. This has been a long-standing problem, and this solution really works. There's a provision for including a readcount with each item.

I want to address two other long-standing issues: feed-is-finished for special event feeds (e.g. a feed for the Olympics, which will stop updating shortly after the Olympics is over) and feed-has-moved for redirection.

If you know of other long-standing needs, I may try to address them in this namespace. If not, you can of course define your own namespaces. RSS 2.0 is fully open that way.

PS: Here's what my linkblog feed looks like. It implements the microblog namespace, of course, as well as the RSS 2.0 <cloud> element.

Grouping and alignment and the web Permalink.

I finally understand CSS, I think.

The "I think" part is due to the feeling that "this can't be all there is." They must have finished this thing and I'm just not getting it. By now my "I think" voice is pretty quiet. I wish it were louder. Because I wish there was more.

Fact is, we know how to do this better, at least two generations better.

That's what this post is about.

The first major improvement to CSS would be grouping and alignment.

If you use Draw programs, you know what this is. Grouping is what happens when you take two or more objects and form a new object which includes of all of them. Then you can repeat the process, creating groups of groups and groups of groups of groups.

CSS has something like grouping -- divs. But there are some weird rules about what you can and can't do with them. That's the thing. In a really good system there would be no limits. A group would be a first class object. Anything you can do with a simple non-compound object could be done with a group.

Alignment is what happens when you take two or more objects and say I want to arrange them in a certain way. Usually by an edge. So you say, align these objects so the tops are the same. Or the left edges. You can align objects so they are centered relative to each other, or centered only in one dimension, vertical or horizontal.

That's the first level of improvement.

A picture named animatedcerf.gifThe second level is something that, as far as I know, has never been done in a commercial Draw program -- make the relationships persistent. So I could say "align the tops of these objects" but make that a rule. And maintain it so that it's always true. So if one of the objects moves, if they were top-aligned, their tops would remain aligned. And centering is especially nice for presentations, when objects contain bits of text and the designer doesn't know in advance how long they are. These days this is what's called "responsive design" although it's a real huge honkin mess. The idea behind rules-based grouping and alignment is that it can be made easy for both the designer and the writer, because the computer does all the heavy lifting.

The thing is -- I've used such a program. We came up with the need for this at Living Videotext when we were working on presentation programs in the era of MORE and PowerPoint (the former was my product). After we left the company, my brother Peter worked on the side, in his spare time, on a recalculating graphics app he called PowWow.

I often think how much better all this would be if I could just use PowWow.

Oh well. Maybe someone will resurrect this idea. I would of course happily work with them.

That's why I'm putting the idea out there. :-)

I'm glad I went to college Permalink.

I was a high school student in a time of unrest. There were protests and marches and student strikes, mostly about the war in Vietnam. But there were other good causes, and I was in on all of it.

I thought of school as prison. Or a baby-sitting service. Most of the classes were boring. I liked English and history, and hated science and math. I started an underground newspaper, promoted concerts. Did a little engineering work for bands (so much for hating science, eh?). I also experimented with drugs and sex, and then dealing drugs, and had my own apartment, and in the midst of all this activity, this very interesting life, I stopped going to school. First I skipped Tuesdays and Thursdays. Then I skipped Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Then I basically stopped going. At the end of the term I got a report card with D's across the board. My high school had a nice rule that in the middle of the year they gave you D's if you were meant to get F's and they wrote them in pencil, so if you got your shit together and starting taking school seriously, the D's would change to something else. If not, they would turn to F's. I knew this because they sat me down and told me. They didn't tell me I had to come back to school. But they let me know it was an option. This was a school for smart kids, so they assumed I had the ability to get my shit together if I wanted to.

So I had a decision to make. Would I go back to school, or drop out.

I was young and dumb, but not so dumb as to not investigate what my life would be like if I didn't go back to school. I did not like what I saw. I could work in a donut shop. I could wash dishes in a restaurant. I didn't want to deal drugs anymore, because that had other problems (like the people you had to deal with). The picture I saw was not very nice, so I moved back to my parents' house and went back to school. My teachers were surprised to see me there, but they helped. And I graduated.

The other students in my class had been applying to colleges while I was having fun, so I didn't have anywhere to go but the City University of New York, which had a rule that they had to take you if you had a NYC high school degree. Another good rule that saved my butt. I went to Lehman College, and got lucky and got a math prof who was good at teaching. It turned out that I liked math, it was just that the teachers weren't very good at engaging with young minds. I guess I was something special for this teacher too.

I thought I would be a political science major, but instead I took more math, and then applied to colleges, and to my surprise, I got in most of the places I applied to. I wouldn't say college saved my ass, or gave me any kind of career. It didn't. What I got is that I learned the discipline of studying. Who knows when your mind will be open to it. For me, it didn't come until a few years after high school. After college I got a job programming, but decided I wanted to go to grad school in the then-new discipline of computer science. To me that was like playing video games. It was something else to get a degree in playing. I think for everyone who discovers something they love it's like that. My mind was made to make software, to network and to write. So I learned to make networked software for writing. Or more accurately I learned how to learn how to create the software I was born to make.

The thing is, you don't know in advance if going to college is going to be worth it, so you don't know if you should or shouldn't go. Like I said, everyone has to decide for themselves. But for me, not only was it worth it, but it gave me the life I wanted. I wanted to be creative. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted people to know me, and I wanted to be self-sufficient. I didn't like what the adults were doing, and I still don't like what most of them do. But some of them were looking out for me, and I was lucky enough to find them when I needed them.

PS: The original title of this piece was "Should you skip college?" Later I decided to make it just about my personal decision, and to move all the preamble stuff under this node.

Blogging newness is goodness Permalink.

I love this -- people are competing to write new blogging platforms based on simplicity. Yes. That's good! Competition, energy, ideas, simplicity.

There's Svbtle and Obtvse and lots of debate.

And the best thing, they all have feeds, so they show up in my river. Bing!

What's so great? It's all happening on the open web.

Let's have more choices, fewer silos, more interop. Goodness.

NYC cops and NYC people Permalink.

A picture named lennon.jpg NYC cops will hit you if you get in their face. They're not warm and friendly like midwest cops. However, you can jaywalk in front of them and they don't care. Imagine my surprise as a Calif transplant to get a ticket for crossing Univ Ave in Palo Alto on a red light -- walking! Different places, different cops.

People in Calif give me grief for being such a NYer but here in NY I'm more like a Californian. Waiting for a table the other night, first in line. The NYers that came after all had a reason they should be seated before us. And they paced, and looked and fidgeted and complained and made their presence felt, and some actually did get seated before us. Inside I'm thinking, NYers are such assholes.

Anyway on Twitter today all kinds of people wondering why NYC cops are so mean. Two reasons: 1. They just are. 2. They have to deal with NYers every day of every year, until they retire. Think about it. :-)

Studying icons Permalink.

A picture named icon.gifAs you may know I'm a big fan of the Bootstrap Toolkit. I like it for the same reason I like standardized user interfaces on desktop computers. The more apps have in common, the more apps people can use. There are also esthetic reasons I like it. Design for the sake of design is not good. Design should enhance the utility of the thing being designed. Too many websites are substituting style for design. I don't want my tools to be examplars of style. I want the to be tool-like, i.e. useful.

The Mac was the first popular computer to standardize its user interface, going so far as to publish user interface guidelines. One of the nice things it did was establish iconography. Symbols that mean the same thing when used in all software. For the most, those icons came to mean the same thing in Windows and Unix apps, as well as web apps. (Apple famously sued Microsoft for using the trashcan icon in Windows, so Windows doesn't use the same icon as the Mac here.)

Now, with Bootstrap 2.0, they introduce the idea of standardized icons for web apps. It's a nice start.

First, here's a list of all the icons we're using.

It's a bit of a puzzle to try to match these up with the Bootstrap icons.

A picture named icon2.gifThere's one I'm still looking for. It was a cool little icon they had in the Alarm Clock on the original Mac. It looked like the flags you see on mailboxes in the country. The flag goes up and down. When you flip it down, the window expands to reveal the settings for the clock. Flip it up and they're hidden and just the current time is visible. I want to use this pair of icons in the menubar in Bootstrap. I'm trying to find a picture, but coming up empty.

We used this same icon in the early versions of Frontier/Mac. The About Window could flip down to reveal buttons that would do stuff. But normally you wouldn't need them, so the flag would hide and reveal them.

World Outline Podcast #8 Permalink.

Adam and I did another podcast yesterday. I think it's a good one. Mostly about the software I'm working on called The World Outline. But lots of other stuff in there, some of it even funny, I hope.  Permalink.

If you have a little time this weekend it would make me happy if you listened! :-)

A repeat of Wednesday's ride Permalink.

Today I went back to the park.

Gotta figure out what time of day it's relatively empty. Too many pedestrians on the bike path, as usual. Paying no attention. It's like skiing slalom at times. But I had fun and I feel the pace improving, even though the numbers for today are almost exactly what they were on Wednesday.

The map: 33 minutes, 5.48 miles. (I turned the meter on a little late.)

PS: Knicks playing Raptors in Toronto tonight! Going for six in a row.

PPS: I looked at the mile-by-mile numbers and today's ride was faster in all miles but one, and that was where I caught a light at the beginning of an uphill and lost my momentum. So I was riding stronger today. Still a long way to go.

No-Knicks ride up the Hudson Permalink.

Another great riding day, in the mid-70s. Nice tailwind pushing our tails uptown and keeping pedaling hard coming back.

Discovered 59th St is the best entrance to the Hudson Bike trail from the park. You go under the highway, and get right on the path. No messy traffic to mess with.

Today's map: 46 minutes, 8.18 miles.

Pre-Knicks ride in the park Permalink.

It's a new season ladies and gents, boys and girls.

I'm in a new riding venue, parked right on The Park.

Big diff -- hills! :-)

Today's map: 33 minutes. 5.54 miles.

Many ways to be a Knicks fan Permalink.

We have a very small informal mail list among the four guys who went to see the Knicks beat the Mavs at the height of Linsanity.

Jeremy Zilar commented: "So now that the coach is out of there, the Knicks are back to winning again, right?4 straight wins. Or is #Linsanity dead?"

To which I said...

I think this is a very fragile thing they have going now.

A picture named knicks.gifIt's a very talented team, that's not in dispute. Amazingly talented. Unlike a lot of other NBA teams, the talent is distributed. That's powerful. Because they can rest while the other team is knocking themselves out. Lin said that last night in an interview. Why were they able to surge defensively in the fourth quarter? Because the entire starting lineup was resting in the third quarter. When they came out in the fourth, the other guys didn't know what hit em.

The problem is that the supposed leaders are fragile. I don't mean their bodies, I mean their *being*. When things turn in the other direction, the energy that's pushing them forward now will drop out.

I don't think that's a problem for the former non-starter Lin, and the current non-starters. They have a lot of upward mobility. But where do Carmelo and Amare go when the bottom drops out next time. Do they let Lin drive?

I think that's why Woodson's rap that Lin is a young player with potential is actually pretty brilliant. Set the expectation low, leave him lots of room to impress. He ain't saying that about Carmelo and Amare though.

And I love what Chandler does. No one says he has to do a thing. But he's doing his share of dishing and whishing.

BTW, the strongest asset the Knicks have now is CLyde!!!

Zilar went on to say "And as a side note, I don't think New York will be able to swallow Tebow's personality. He''l be out in a year."

Who the fuck is Teobw? Does he play for the Nets? Islanders?

David Jacobs, also on the list said he might be the new center fielder for the Mets.

On Twitter, Jason Samuels asks "Do we still need to get rid of Amare and Melo?"

To which I responded "I'm loving what's happening with the Knicks, watching every game."

Which of course doesn't answer the question. :-)

I don't know what's coming. But what's done is done. Look forward not backward. Etc etc.

Yeah we're in another era with the Knicks. They seem to happen every couple of weeks. Makes things really interesting.

That said I think there are many different kinds of Knicks fans. I wasn't a fan before Linsanity. Straight. So I have nothing invested in the way things were before. I just know they sucked. Intuitively, when you have a chance to grab greatness, and it means saying goodbye to the past, I think it's good to go for it. Esp when I'm just kibitzing. And as a new Knicks fan, I very much am there. People with something invested in the way things were, see things differently.

I've never believed there was just one way to be a fan, in other words. :-)

PS: My previous Knicks post.

Not a proud moment for T-A-L Permalink.

I just listened to the episode of This American Life where they issue an apology and mea culpa for having presented what actor Mike Daisy said about his experiences in China with workers at Apple factories.

I just said, in three tweets, that I couldn't make it through the whole podcast.

A bunch of people asked me to explain, so I'll try, but it's not a huge deal, so don't put a huge amount of time into it.

1. I am a regular listener of T-A-L. I expect to continue to listen.

2. Everyone fucks up. I get it, you fucked up. I forgive you.

3. I also would like to know what really happened. Thanks for telling me.

Having heard an apology, and having heard what happened, through the interview with Daisy's interpreter, I now have all the information I need. I am not a regular listener of Mike Daisy's podcast. If he does a podcast in the future, I doubt if I'll listen to it. Therefore I have almost zer0 interest in hearing him squirm, being confronted with alternate versions of his story.

What is especially crude is listening to Ira Glass interview him. Don't you see how self-serving that is for Glass? Feels to me like he's trying to qualify the apology and mea culpa. Whooooaa there. That's too much for me to handle. I'm just a fan. I'm not into hearing the precise truth. Because it is so awkward and embarassing. And I'm an adult and I know that truth on subjects like this doesn't get that precise. It all happened two years ago. Memories are embellished, details forgotten. Happens to everyone.

A picture named wileECoyote.gifIt was worse than one of the most horrible interviews with Sarah Palin. We had to watch Palin, because of the job she was running for. Mike Daisy? He's not running for anything. I don't care about his lies.

Ira Glass, do I have to care in order to continue to listen to your podcast? Because you put it on your show you seem to be saying that I do.

So a simple apology and mea culpa would have sufficed. Unless it can't suffice. Unless there is some reason I should care about Mike Daisy. Will I still listen? Yeah. Not only did they fuck up but they fucked up the part where they said they fucked up. Oh well. Life goes on.

Now, if that's too subtle for you -- have a nice day. It's not that important.

World Outline Podcast #7 Permalink.

The seventh World Outline podcast I've done recently with Adam Curry.

A picture named moneytruck.gifIf you were listening to Rebooting the News, you might want to pick up this thread. And if you loved outliners and the early days of presentation tools, you definitely want to listen this episode. I talk about a product we were working on at Living Videotext around the idea of recalculating graphics. We still need this, it's crazy that we don't have it yet.

The MP3 is here, and the feed is here.

We're going to keep doing these for a while, it's really help build the development community. And there's no reason other people can't lurk! :-)

My first iPad 3 report Permalink.

First, I'm calling it an iPad 3 for now. Maybe later we'll forget the "3" part of it.

I got mine yesterday. Been using it for almost 24 hours now. Here are my thoughts, based on that much use. People always tell me I should wait to write these things until I know as much as Gruber, Mossberg or Pogue, and maybe I will when I've had mine as long as they have. But first impressions are important. And they will be forgotten quickly, unless I write them down.

1. The screen is not amazing. That's too bad because I was hoping it would blow me away. Kind of like the screen on the iPhone 4. I know the iPad 3 has the same density screen, and it does look sharper than the old iPad. But not so much so that you go "that's a whole new experience." However I do imagine that it would be hard to go back.

2. I just took it out for a spin in Central Park. As you can see the pictures are really nice. This is where the density of pixels is very much visible.

A picture named fountainsmall.jpg

3. I got the Verizon LTE plan. And here my friends, is the reason to get one of these mofos:

A picture named speed.gif

That's FIOS-level performance on a wireless connection. I did that test in Columbus Circle, presumably one of the best hotspots around. But man, that's impressive. Much more so than the screen.

4. It's heavier for reading in bed. Your arm gets tired faster. And it does heat up as others have reported. Not so as to be uncomfortable, but it is noticeable.

Before I use Branch Permalink.

I was recently invited to discuss a topic of interest on a new service called Branch. What is Branch? I'm sure they think it's more than this, but to me it appears to be a simplified version of Disqus that can't be embedded in other sites. Discussions are invite-only. Like Twitter, it seems to be about what it doesn't do more than what it does.

I didn't respond to the invitation. Instead I pondered how I wanted to respond. I decided to write a blog post. More often than not that's how I respond, because I am a blogger.

If I used it I would be breaking a rule, one that keeps me from using services like Quora and Google-Plus. I'm not going to put my writing in spaces that I have no control over. I'm tired of playing the hamster. The business models of these companies, if they become successful, keep them from being part of the web. And it's not in my interest to support what they do, that's the broad reason I don't use them. Further, I am creating an archive of my writing, over many years. And if I scatter my writing all over the place, even if these services were part of the web, it would be against my interest to do that. Having it all in one place is value, to me at least.

But every time one of these services comes along, before they've become established, there's a chance to incentivize them to give me what I want, and thereby open their services up. To give us our cake, and view us not as hamsters in a nice fun and colorful and entertaining cage, instead as citizens of the web, sentient and powerful beings who create in a variety of ways that they can enhance by combining it with other people's writing. And if other people want to be hamsters, god bless. I don't.

The technical answer is to accept contributions in the form of URLs that point to content source, which can then be rendered in their space. To the reader there is no difference. To the writer, there's a world of difference.

My writing is already available in such a format. If they would rather use a different format, I'm open to suggestions. To see how it works just view-source on this page, and you'll see a link to an OPML document. It reflects the text of this piece, before it was rendered. That same text could be rendered in any context.

This is the only way I can participate in these discussions.

BTW, people ought to take a look at a system developed at Berkman Center called Harvard 2.0 or H20 for short. It's truly different from all the discussion systems I've seen elsewhere, and I believe it's likely to work better because the ideas are very good. It was designed, as far as I know, by Jon Zittrain and Charlie Nesson.

Why the JOBS act? Permalink.

A picture named hubbaBubba.gifI see VCs and successful entrepreneurs promoting the JOBS Act, a bill with a confusing name. It doesn't seem to be about creating jobs, or that isn't the reason the investors like it. What it does is make it easy for startups to sell their stock to the public.

If you were a very trusting individual, you'd think -- what could be wrong with that? Everyone knows that investments are risky propositions. You could win big or lose everything, or somewhere inbetween. And if you could guarantee that every investment was legit, there would be nothing wrong with it.

But when you take all the regulations off public offerings, the same thing that happened in the unregulated financial services market in the lead-up to the crash of 2008, seems likely will happen in tech. Unscrupulous people posing as bankers ripped off a lot of ordinary people. People assumed that someone was covering their back, and no one was. And when the bottom dropped out, a lot of people were left bankrupt and homeless.

That whole mess was the result of the assumption that all the regulations established after the crash of 1929 were misguided, unnecessary, socialist, wimpy or whatever. In the lead-up to that crash everyone was betting on stocks, the same way they will be if this law passes. Everyone assumed stocks could do nothing but go up. Sound familiar? Yeah, that's what everyone thought about real estate, not that long ago.

I assume the investors of 2012 who are pushing for this law are well-intentioned people who are just unaware of history, or optimists about human nature. But we've been through this before, very recently. We should not have to go through it again.

Knicks did the wrong, predictable thing Permalink.

A picture named armstrongSmall.jpgI was lucky to get to see one Linsanity game -- the game with the Mavericks at the Garden. It was wonderful.

I hadn't been into basketball for almost 40 years, if you can believe that. The last team I was so enthralled with was the Knicks of Walt, Earl, Bill, Dave and Willis. This team had a different charm. It was youth, and brilliance, and so what if maybe they wouldn't make the playoffs. I really don't care. I just loved watching them play. It was pure love. It was the kind of sports event that seems can only happen in NY, and only happens every 40 years. Last time it happened I was in high school. And at the same time the Mets were winning the World Series, we went to Woodstock and men landed on the moon. That's how big these things can be.

But the Knicks are a corporation, and the players who had moved aside so the magic could happen came back, and when they did, the air went out of the balloon.

Apparently the coach saw clearly what was going on and wanted to do the only right thing -- trade the corporation for the youthful optimism. And the corporation did what corporations do -- stayed with the safe bet, and fired the coach.

I'll put my stake in the ground. Pretty soon Lin won't be the starting point guard, and soon after that they'll trade him to another corporate mess. Of course I could be wrong. I desperately hope I am. It would be great if they let Carmelo go. I don't care if they get anything for him. Sure he got up for one game, he had to. But this is going to wear out quick, and the mediocrity will win.

How I organize with my outliner Permalink.

I'm really getting good at organizing development projects with the outliner.

Here's the screen shot.

Thought it would be good to show to any MORE or ThinkTank users who might be lurking.

And this is what that same document looks like on my website.

Of course what you see when you click on the web link will be different from what you see in the image, which is just a snapshot in time. The outline is dynamic and develops with the project I'm doing.

BTW, to people who develop outliners, the interface is OPML and HTTP. It will definitely be possible for any outliner to hook into this content system. And that's the plan, to bootstrap the writing tools and the website in tandem.

Some projects only work if you are systematic about note-taking.

Moving to Bootstrap 2.0 Permalink.

I'm converting from Bootstrap 1 to Bootstrap 2 this week.

It's very revealing, when you see how a platform developer, and Bootstrap is definitely a platform, evolves the platform. The kinds of problems they fix that cause breakage in apps. In this case, they break a lot of stuff, for seemingly esthetic reasons.

A picture named boot.jpgFor example, in Bootstrap 1 they define a "twipsy" -- which is a little popup that emanates from a link as you roll over it with your mouse. Someone must have noticed that this is very much like what a "tooltip" does, so they changed the name. Not a big deal, you say -- perhaps -- but it is breakage. In my world, I probably wouldn't change it. My philosophy is the worst name is the best name. This is to prevent discussions like this one. If someone said "tooltip is a better name" I would say "give me a worse name and I'll change it." It's a joke like "we make shitty software," but like all jokes it's an eloquent statement of the truth.

If I had to change it, I would continue to make the name "twipsy" work. Avoid breakage and people who develop on your platform will love you, if they actually notice. Okay, they won't curse you in their sleep at night. :-)

I adopted this philosophy largely because I develop on my platforms too, and there never is a day when it's cool to have everything break. Especially because a programmer on the other side of the API decided "tooltip" was sexier than "twipsy." And btw, I think twipsy is a wonderful name! So clever and cute. Maybe it was a legal problem? I don't know, but it is disconcerting, esp since I haven't gotten tooltips to work and twipsies worked great. Oy.

The charm of Bootstrap is its simplicity. You can get a feature running in minutes sometimes, if you stare at the code the right way and get lucky. But it's getting less simple in version 2.0. They did a lot of factoring in some areas, combining types. Not sure what that gets us -- literally, I'm not saying it doesn't get us anything, just that I'm not sure what it is. But one thing is certain, factoring makes the theory harder to grok for the newbie.

By the time Bootstrap 3.0 comes out, we'll likely be deployed with users of our own. Since we pass through a lot of what Bootstrap does, there will be breakage, if 3 is as radical a departure from 2 as 2 is from 1. My goal will be to try to insulate people who develop on my platform from changes in Bootstrap, to the extent I can.

A heretofore untold Steve Jobs story Permalink.

I'm going to say it was 2005 or 2006.

A picture named loverss.jpgI was having lunch in San Francisco with Dean Hachamovitch and Robert Scoble. This was when Scoble was working at Microsoft. We were probably talking about RSS, because Hachamovitch, who I've known for many years, was then running Microsoft's browser team, and they were making a big push into RSS. They wanted my endorsement, which I sort of gave, even though they didn't take my advice. :-)

Anyway, as we were leaving the restaurant, all of a sudden we're talking with Steve Jobs. I have no recollection of who saw who, or who said what to whom to get this conversation going. And it wasn't really a conversation cause Jobs did all the talking. He was telling Dean how they were doing all this cool stuff that Microsoft was certainly going to steal so they should pay attention. Jobs complained that Microsoft never does anything original and is always stealing ideas from Apple.

I tried to stay out of Jobs's line of sight.

You know what he was ranting about? Podcasting.

Actually a reallllly nice moment, in a Jobsian way. :-)

Maybe Dean or Scoble remember some other part of the discussion.

It's all bubble gas Permalink.

A picture named waterWithGas.jpgYahoo sucks. They sued Facebook for patents. Sigh.

I would be up in arms if that's all there was. If patents weren't already gumming up the works in other areas.

And anyway, why should I care. It's not as if these companies, all of them, Facebook very much included, aren't just bubble gas, top to bottom.

Twitter is all bubble gas too. The money is real, to the extent that money is real -- but the companies are jokes. The whole thing is based on doing to users what Yahoo is doing to Facebook.

Sell products and services to people, and then you have a right to get indignant when a sorry crippled hand-me-down like Yahoo turns into a patent troll.

There are only a handful of companies in this industry that are set up to survive the bubble pop. Apple and Amazon, are probably the two strongest ones. Why? They earn profits from selling products to users. Bing.

Goodbye Posterous Permalink.

First, congrats to the team at Posterous for two things.

1. Posterous is an excellent software product.

2. They are joining a team at Twitter that will likely make them rich.

For a software entrepreneur these are the two really major things, imho. The feeling of a accomplishment that comes from doing good work, and the prospect of making a shitload of money. :-)

To users, a reminder that nothing is forever, but services you pay for will likely last longer. Eventually this will happen with every free service we use. This isn't the only way they wind down. And it happens a lot.

Some news is slow Permalink.

A picture named clock.jpgThere's a big bug in our news system.

We like to say it's a 24-hour news cycle. And maybe it is, but there's real news, stuff that effects our lives, that happens over a much longer span of time. Boring or not, we have to keep cycling back to it, for our own good.

Clocks have slow hands, it seems we need a slow hand for news too.

For example, the Dems and Dem-leaning pundits can't sell an idea if their lives depended on it. Unfortunately, some people's lives do depend on health care reform. And we're losing ground with health care reform because the Repubs don't mind selling, even lying, to get it repealed.

If the tables were turned, and ObamaCare were a Republican idea (it actually was, believe it or not) you can be sure the idea of repealing it would have been shouted down long before it had a chance.

Another slow-hand story is one reported by Alexis Madrigal at the Atlantic. He says that "frictionless sharing" could undermine your legal right to privacy. I'm no lawyer, but I am a technologist. He's got a point, one I hadn't thought of until I read his piece. This is not a 24-hour story. It's going to be with us until we completely lose any rights to communicate privately.

Privacy doesn't matter, you say.

Can I have the password to your bank account? :-)

How to sell ObamaCare Permalink.

I read an article on Slate this morning about psychologist Jonathan Haidt who looks at how politics and psychology connect. He has observed that the Repubs are good at selling their ideas in an emotional way, and the Dems tend to explain how things work. The Republican way is more effective. People respond much more strongly to emotional pitches than factual ones.

One of the reasons I voted Democratic in 2008 is that I wanted to see health care reform get implemented. What we got is a weaker form of what we need, but at least we got something.

Had the Dems been willing to do an emotional sell on this, which would have been easy, we not only could have gotten a stronger law passed, but it wouldn't be so easy for the Republicans to attack it.

The pitch goes like this.

In the current health care system, if you are uninsured and get a catastrophic illness, we, as a country, will care for you and help to cure the disease, if we can. This is a freebie. If you take advantage of this, and you can afford insurance, you are a leech, a freeloader, a bum. You are receiving welfare. And since no one can know if they will need this care, everyone who goes without insurance, who has the means to buy it, is freeloading off the rest of us who pay our own way.

Further, this only covers catastrophes. So for those people who are uninsured, some by choice, and some because the insurance industry won't sell them insurance (so much for the free market) there is no preventive care, no care for chronic conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. We'll save your life, but we won't do anything to help you be healthy or live longer.

So you've got freeloaders and grifters everywhere you look. The people who think they can get by without health insurance, who really have insurance that rest of us are paying for, and the insurance industry who only wants to insure healthy people, because they make a lot of money from them, and not so much from people who need help to stay healthy and/or alive.

A picture named guns.gifThe purpose of the health care reform law, also known as ObamaCare, is to take the freeloading out of the system, to force people to pay for their own insurance. Yes, we are forcing them to do that, because we don't want to pay for them. Seems to me these are very conservative values. In fact, before the Republicans went crazy, these were their values, this was the health care reform they proposed. It's the law that Republican Mitt Romney implemented in Massachusetts. This is not in any way amazing, because it's a very rational approach to health insurance. The fact that it isn't already in place nationwide (and it must be nationwide, because people can move to different states very easily) is one of the big weaknesses of our social and economic system.

This idea that everyone should pay their own way is the "mandate." It's not a tax the government is imposing on people, it's a tax that life imposes. You could even see it as god's will, if you're a religious person. The randomness of health. No one knows what their future holds, or the future of our family and friends.. You could get hit by a car while you're walking down the street. Really how can you say that's your fault. Or you could have cancer right now and not even know it. The basic principle is that if you can afford health insurance, you must buy it. And if you're in the health insurance business and someone wants to buy a policy from you, you must sell it to them. Or if you insist that you can't or don't want to, then the government can sell it to them (something the insurance industry got removed from the law, known as the public option).

Health care is for people who are healthy and for people who are not.

This goes back to the post I wrote a few days ago about how campaigning is a 365-day-a-year proposition, and not just during election years. The government must always be communicating with the electorate, and vice versa. So we know what we, as a society are doing, and why.

Twitter rake in big bucks during SXSW Permalink.

A picture named beetlejuice.jpgI would pay $50 for this feature.

A temporary unfollow.

There are quite a few people at SXSW right now who are tweeting endlessly about stuff that gives me major butt hurt, so I'm inclined to unfollow them.

But then I have to remember to follow them again, once SXSW is over, and they regain their perspective (i.e. not everything is about SXSW). I know I won't remember.

Isn't that the kind of thing software does well? (It surely is.)

Isn't Twitter just software? (Yes.)

So wtf, sell us a freaking feature. It's worth money to do this for us.

Also while you're at it, give us a command to delete a single tweet. That can't be very hard. I don't want to delete it everywhere, just in my @connect tab. That way when someone says something they probably shouldn't have said, rather than be reminded of it over and over, I can just remove it from sight. Been waiting for this feature for years.

Frictionless expectations of privacy Permalink.

These two items came across my river at the same time.

1. Five Reasons Not to Hate Highlight.

2. How Frictionless Sharing Could Undermine Your Legal Right to Privacy.

These two items totally belong together.

Highlight is the current frictionless sharing leader. It's constantly broadcasting your location back ot the mother ship, without you having to do anything to make it happen. No check-ins as with the Foursquare generation of sharing apps. And Highlight is connected to Facebook, so it seems likely you're sharing at least some of that with Facebook as well.

Less friction. And friction is bad. So less is good. Right?

Well, not so fast.

A picture named can.jpgThere's a big test in the law around privacy. Did you have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Then if the government wants to invade your space they need to get a warrant. However if you didn't have a reasonable expectation of privacy, they can go ahead and watch you. Without you knowing.

This is a big deal these days. The government doesn't necessarily believe you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in your email inbox and outbox. Therefore they think they should be able to have a look, whenever they want, without a court order. The companies that provide email service, at least some of them, disagree, for now at least.

And whether or not you have a reasonable expectation of privacy probably doesn't depend on whether you use these frictionless sharing apps. It may only matter if a lot of people use them.

If I were Twitter Permalink.

Part 1

Part 2

Scifi plot Permalink.

A picture named enterprise.gifA hyper-intense, short-lived solar storm is making its way to earth. It's much more powerful than anything that has ever hit earth. But it is also just a burst. It will hit earth and be done in five minutes. The side of the earth that's facing the sun will be wiped out and the side that's dark, will be completely unaffected. But it isn't moving at a constant rate, so scientists don't know where it will hit. Mass migrations take place but people don't know which way to go. As the storm gets closer to earth they can predict with more certainty where it will hit. The President of the United States doesn't want to tell everyone where it will be. He's hiding, presumably himself moving away from the part of the planet that will be destroyed. Everywhere scientists are sought out, first with respect, but quickly held as prisoners. Should they tell the truth or not? Families are split apart. Lovers are torn between saving themselves or spending their last moments with the people they love. Finally the storm hits, half the planet is hit, some of the stars survive. BTW, the storm only kills people. Trees and houses and cars and factories and movie theaters are unaffected. The human race gets a fresh start with almost half the population gone. And of course the United States is wiped out. So they don't have to deal with our arrogant asses anymore. So it has a happy ending. :-)

Update: Brent Simmons writes to say that there's a book with a plot very close to this. He says it's a "fun read." $7.99 for Kindle.

Obama's biggest mistake Permalink.

I read this article in today's NY Times about the Obama campaign wanting to reconnect with supporters of his 2008 candidacy. The mistake is that they never should have lost touch.

In fact, the level of contact should have gone up after he took office. That was when their connection with the electorate could do the most good. When it wasn't about getting elected, rather it was about implementing what it is they wanted to do that caused them to want to be elected.

These people say they understand the Internet, but they don't.

A picture named prez.gifIn the future, which could have been the last three years, the campaign will be a 365-days-a-year affair, and not just one year out of four, every year. Hopefully this is something the President now understands. You have no power in Washington if you aren't working with, moving and being moved by the people who voted you into office.

Further, the people have political business all the time too. We need leadership and we need to influence. The Internet is the most powerful tool for organizing we have today. If you're President you can't turn off your Internet connection. Hopefully he understands why that no longer works, if it ever did.

The President is a campaigner. And while he or she is in office, the campaign never stops.

The bug in our process Permalink.

A picture named nickel.jpgThe biggest bug in the structure of the US govt is the way we allocate Senators and the way we define states.

There are a lot of states in the west with tiny populations, but they all get two Senators, whether they're California or Wyoming. This means the small states have much greater power per capita than the large ones.

In the Senate, with its filibuster rules, forty percent of the votes can stop everything from happening. It's not that hard to put together forty percent of the votes in the Senate with much less than forty percent of the populace.

This is something the founders couldn't have anticipated. There were 13 states when the country was founded. Today there are 50.

This single fact is why our political system is so out of whack, why the extreme right has so much power, in proportion to their numbers.

Update: A crazy idea for the Occupy movement. Pick a low population state, occupy it, and send two Senators to Washington. It's a start.

Update: Here's a list of states ranked by population.

Death penalty and contraception Permalink.

A picture named dime.jpgFirst, I am not a member of the left or right. I don't like the labels. I vote based on my own process, and I don't do what any political party says. I have values that you might consider left and some you might consider right. But they aren't either -- they're mine.

That said, the left pundits and pols let the right walk all over them. For example in the latest ridiculous shitstorm about contraception. The basic argument of the Catholic Church is that they shouldn't have to pay for something that's against their values. The Republicans see a chance to fight with Democrats, so they grab it. They say it's a question of liberty. No one should have to pay for something they don't believe in.

But they obviously don't really believe this, even if the Catholic Church does.

A simple way to corner them would be to raise another issue that the Catholic Church has a moral objection to -- the death penalty. Why should members of the Catholic Church be required to pay for killing people when it's against their values? Why should any of us be forced to pay for it?

If the issue really is liberty, why does one group deserve liberty and the other must be enslaved? I'm a law-abiding tax-paying natural-born citizen of the United States of America. I hate the death penalty. If you want to kill people in the name of justice -- you pay for it. Count me out. I have a moral objection.

The Republicans are so much better than the Democrats at forcing their will on the rest of us. Remember all those cute slogans that allowed them to prolong the war in Iraq? Don't cut and run. Don't micro-manage. There were so many of them.

Democrats have to look for opportunities to pivot major debates to force the Republicans into corners they don't like. They are pure hypocrites when they talk about liberty. They don't care about liberty. They care about winning control of the government so they can pay off their backers and retire comfortably, on our dime.

Someone should talk to the Catholic bishops, and make sure they remember there are issues they side with liberals on too. They're not just working for the Republicans. I would be surprised if the Catholics didn't welcome an opportunity to express their independence.

PS: The Republicans always made a big deal about listening to the generals. As long as they were agreeing with them. Now that they want to start a war with Iran, who cares that the generals think it's a suicide. They see a chance to fight with the President, even humiliate him. Do they care if they're being traitors? Apparently they don't. Anything to get elected.

PPS: I am not a member of the left, or the Democratic Party. I voted for Ford, Reagan twice, Bush, Dole, Bush, then Kerry and Obama. But I am now an anti-Republican. I think the party should die. Let's start over.

Why Bootstrap might be *very* important Permalink.

A picture named mac.jpgI was a software developer before there was a Mac, so I remember something not a lot of programmers do. I remember how the tech industry reacted to it. And for the most part, it was with a fair amount of skepticism. And the interesting thing is that the negative things people say about Bootstrap today sound exactly like the negative things people said about the Mac in 1984. And in both cases, the things that people didn't like were what made them important.

What the Mac realized is that there are a set of things that all software has to do, so why shouldn't they all do them the same way? If they did, software would be easier to develop and debug, but more important -- it would be easier to use. If there was only one way to do menus, then once a user learned how to use the menus of one app, they'd already know how to use the menus of all others. Same with scrollbars, windows, the keyboard, the mouse, printing, sound.

The reason programmers didn't like it, and I was one of them, was that they took what we did and commoditized it. Further, there were limits to the one-size-fits-all approach. There were some apps that didn't take to the UI standards very well. What to do about them? Well, you adapted, that's what you did.

This is a well-known technical process called factoring. If you see yourself doing something over and over, do it one more time, really well, and work on the API so it's really easy and flexible, and that's it. You never do it again. It's how you build ever-taller buildings out of software.

The same patterns are observable in the web. In fact, it's kind of sad how much of a repeat it is, how backward today's development environment is compared to the one envisioned by the Mac. But at least Bootstrap is out there doing the factoring. If I want to put up a menu, I can just use their code that does menus. Sure, my menu looks like all the others, and that's a good thing, for users. No need to learn a second or third way to use a menu.

That this is needed, desperately needed, is indicated by the incredible uptake of Bootstrap. I use it in all the server software I'm working on. And it shows through in the templating language I'm developing, so everyone who uses it will find it's "just there" and works, any time you want to do a Bootstrap technique. Nothing to do, no libraries to include. It's as if it were part of the hardware. Same approach that Apple took with the Mac OS in 1984.

Update: A lively Hacker News thread with this post as a starting point.

What I work on Permalink.

I found myself describing what I do in an email. It came out pretty well, and thought it would make a good blog post.

I have a bunch of projects I'm working on. The thread that joins them all together is the idea of relatively normal people running their own servers.

I've been working on this idea for about three years, actually a lot longer if you include projects that weren't ostensibly about people running their own servers, but involved them running them, even though they usually didn't know that's what they were doing.

So with good docs and appropriate UI, there's nothing hard about it. And the rewards can be as important as freedom.

That's the idea. Permalink.

I'm doing what's turning into a series of podcasts with Adam Curry.

Now we have a feed that you can subscribe to.

You can put an rss.xml at the end of that but you don't need to.

It always returns the feed.

What kind of blogging do we want? Permalink.

Yesterday we got a look at a new software service called Branch, and a discussion between several people who used to work for Blogger, and Anil Dash (who, as far as I know, never did).

Daniel Bachhuber, a friend who works at WordPress, ooohed and ahhhed. I asked him why he liked it so much and he said a couple of things.

The discussion was focused on this topic: How do blogs need to evolve?

I wasn't asked to be part of the discussion, but since this is the open web, and they made their discussion public, I can say what I have to say. It's up to them if they want to include it in their discussion.

I've even provided the "source code" for this post -- just the text with a little bit of structure, and some attributes, with an open architecture for more attributes. So they can do more than link to it. They can "include" it.

The advantage of doing it this way is:

1. I maintain the original.

2. It can be included in as many places as it's relevant.

3. If I want to update it, I can, and it would update in all the places it is viewable.

4. Because I can update it, that means relative writing will be kept to a minimum. People can say what they think without making an issue of who's right and who's wrong. Because they might not stay right or wrong for very long! :-)

In the thread Evan Williams says that Twitter has a big advantage because it already has all the integration tools people want. It's understandable he would think that, I suppose, having participated in creating Twitter, but I don't agree. Here's why.

1. When I quoted Daniel in the second paragraph, you wouldn't believe the dance I had to do to get a link to the tweet onto the clipboard so I could link to it from my post. Even though I've done it dozens of times, I still made three mistakes for every action that worked.

2. Twitter has a 140-character limit, which means that for any kind of complex thought, beyond a grunt or snark (which is likely to be misunderstood because there wasn't room to explain it) I'm going to have to include a link, which of course must be shortened.

3. As they point out in the thread, Twitter is a company town. The archive belongs to them, to do with as they please. I have no say in the future uses of my own writing.

4. Finally, the strongest point -- even Twitter agrees it's not self-contained, because they support oEmbed, which allows them to include content that's hosted on other servers. However, they aren't even open about being open. You can only participate if you're a "partner." I don't know who pays who for this, or if anyone pays, but they admit that being open to content hosted elsewhere is necessary, but it isn't available to the people. In other words, we've given up all the beauty of the Internet, for what exactly? What did we get in return?

Anyway, even if I was invited to participate, all I would do is post a pointer to this blog post. Because here I own the editorial tools and can make them work any way I want to. There is no 140-character limit. There's no problem getting a permalink. I own the archive. Sure if you want to participate it's a bit of work, you have to set up a blog somewhere. That's okay with me. For a little bit of work you get a whole lot of freedom. That's a good deal.

What kind of Knicks do we want? Permalink.

I know this is "supposed" to be a tech blog, but let me tell you something. I was a rabid Knicks fan long before I had any interest in compilers or outliners or blogging tools. And the Knicks I loved were the legendary team that won two world championships and had the kind of depth and character that today's Knicks are showing. So I have some thoughts about today's Knicks, and I want to write them up.

A picture named knicks.gifI could write a long piece and I started to but it's really a simple idea.

I don't care if the Knicks win the championship this year or any year. What I care about is this team of young people who are shining. And the spirit of the team is something to behold. And there are two players that really don't belong. These are the two guys who, going into the 2012 season, were supposed to be the stars. They weren't doing it before, and they haven't gotten on board, and I don't want to wait. Because magic isn't something you screw around with. The Knicks have it now, but they need to clean up, and get focused. They have enough talent on the team that they can afford to do some grooming.

Bottom-line: Trade or put on waivers the two stars -- Stoudemire and Anthony.

And let's get on with the new Knicks.

Ever-shorter urls Permalink.

A picture named bird.jpgWe shouldn't have to shorten urls. It's only because of a fairly selfish and unwise company in San Francisco that we're adding an extra layer of fragility to an already loosely-coupled network. Introducing another point of failure.

But with all that disclaimed, we still need url-shorteners.

And the point of url-shorteners is to be short. :-)

The shorter the better.

Today I have got something working I've wanted to play with for a long time. Instead of using pages inside a site, like all other url-shorteners, I wanted to try having hostnames as short urls.

So here's a short url: Try it, it works! :-)

Now with an even shorter domain, is not optimal, the names can be even shorter. But they're already 4 or 5 characters shorter than urls. So it's off to a good start.

What Sandra Fluke is saying Permalink.

An open challenge to PandoDaily Permalink.

I mentioned this in passing in an earlier post, but it deserves special attention.

A picture named hillaryShirt.jpgPandoDaily, a new publication spun out of the ashes of TechCrunch, ran a piece mocking the concerns about the lack of security for personal data on iPhones.

So, if they're really so unconcerned, considering that they probably use iPhones too, would they be willing to publish their address books, now -- today -- in entirety, without any editing. Every contact, phone number, address, email address, every bit of data they have put into their iPhones. So that everyone can see it?

Please include your calendar, and all photos. Remember, no editing, no selection. Everything on your phone is public, now.

And available for everyone to download.

If they do this, I will give $100 to Sarah Lacy's favorite Kickstarter project and express my admiration for the consistency of their philosophy.

Update: Hacker News thread on this topic.

15 years of Scripting News Permalink.

Sometime in the spring of 1997, the date is subject to discussion, a blog first appeared at

The one you're reading right now, Scripting News.

You'll find that no other blog has yet claimed 15 years on the planet. Just as five years ago we were first to reach the ten-year milestone.

It's tough being first because people don't know what to make of it.

Whether you think the first day was February 1, as Rudolf Ammann does (and he has done the research) or if you think as I do that it's April 1 (maybe because it gives me something non-idiotic to do on one of two blog holidays), the fact is this blog both has been here for a long time and has (the thing I'm most proud of) inspired many others to open their veins on the Internet for all to see!

BTW, my first blog-like site was DaveNet, started in October 1994. And there was also the Frontier News page, and the 24 Hours of Democracy site, all of which led to Scripting News. In terms of blogging tools, there was a parade of those as well. AutoWeb, Clay Basket, NewsPage, the website framework, Manila, Radio.

Dewey Defeats Truman

A picture named deweyDefeatsTruman.jpgThe random rotating header graphic for today is one of my favorites. Harry Truman holding up a newspaper saying he had lost the election, one that he had just won. I love it for so many reasons. First, don't be upset when everyone counts you out. I've had people say that my career was over, so many times, and so far they've always been wrong. You'd think by now they would stop predicting it, but nope -- they still think you can't be innovative, even when you've spent a life studying and practicing innovation.

They also said Truman was a shit president, but what did they know. Turns out he was one of our best presidents. He got us through all kinds of tough binds, and did it with an understated purely American grace. He looked meek, but he also gave em hell, and had something funny to say about it.

No one thought he could follow the great Franklin Roosevelt, who was indeed a great president. But he held his own and gave geeks all over America hope.

PandoDaily needs a clue

Read this piece if you're suffering from low blood pressure.

This is what a company town looks like. What matters is what the money people want. Our private info? Oh come on, lighten up.

Well, the problem is they're users too, in Silicon Valley, and their competitors, now that they know it's open season on contact info, photos and calendar info, are probably going to start going after it, if they haven't already done so.

Can't wait to see their tune change when they finally get a clue. Unless they're all willing to publish their address books now, in entirety, without editing? If they were willing to do that, well I'd eat my words. :-)

Funniest picture ever?

I think this might be the most funny picture ever posted to this blog.

Repubs and male sex Permalink.

Lately Republicans have gotten deeply intimately involved in female sexuality. I think they have a problem however, because they're being very gender-biased. I think it's time for us men to demand equal attention!

Men use contraceptives too. Let me explain how that works. Never mind. I assume we're all adults here.

Does the Catholic Church object to paying for vasectomies? I guess that gets right to the point.

How could the Republicans have missed this. If this is not about women, why are they always talking about female birth control?

They really drove themselves into a deep corner here. Hard to see how they dick their way out of this one.

iPhones and your photos Permalink.

A picture named mac.jpgWhen we were looking at iPhones and address books, it turned out that every app on the iPhone was allowed to take a copy of the address book and upload it where ever it wanted without permission and without even notifying the user. It's hard to believe that Apple could not have seen this as a problem for users, if they empathized with users. How could they not? Don't they use their own devices?

I hate to think that all these companies have the names, addresses and phone numbers of pretty much everyone I've dated in the last few years. Every member of my family, every friend. I don't think there are any kids under 13 in there, but I'm sure some people keep contact information for their children, nieces and nephews or grandchildren in their address books?

The blase approach the industry took to this issue is only surprising if you assume they were surprised. I'm sure they weren't. When you think about the business models of most of the companies that get funded these days, you can see what a gold mine this information is. I read yesterday that Google doesn't care if you use Google Plus for anything, if you never come back. They just wanted your biographical info so they could target ads at you better. How much would they like to know the names and contact info for everyone who's important enough to make it into your address book.

When we were doing the investigation, it also turned up that photos were just as open to apps as contact info. Do you have any pictures on your phone of things you haven't uploaded because you don't want to share them with the world? Too bad. They're pretty much shared. Don't use your phone to take pictures of anything you wouldn't want everyone to see.

I'm not installing any software unless I personally know the developer and have heard them say in their own words that they are not doing anything mischievous with the data, and won't as long as they work for the company in question. And I sure as hell am not installing software from any companies whose business models are vague to me. Because I assume they will grab as much info as they can. Because I assume that's their business model. Better safe than sorry. Forewarned is forearmed.

BTW, one more thing -- the tech press is covering this story in slow motion. You should also be aware that any iOS app can access your calendar and your cellular carrier info. I haven't seen ths appear in any story that's been linked to from TechMeme.

PS: The camera on Android devices is even less secure.

© Copyright 1997-2012 Dave Winer. Last build: 5/26/2012; 8:12:16 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

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