Click here to show or hide the menubar.

Home >  Archive >  2012 >  May >  9

Previous / Next

This site contributes to the community river.

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.

A picture named bikesmall.jpg

Here's a picture.


May 2012

Apr   Jun


A picture named warning.gif

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

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

Finally, a spring bike ride Permalink.

A picture named parkride.gifI've been getting into a groove, doing the same ride every day. Enter the park at Columbus Circle. Ride around the park drive, but take the cutoff before the big hill at Harlem Meer. To make up for that, I do an extra circuit around the front part of the park. So I actually get more mileage than one circuit. But I'm getting stronger. Pretty soon I'll start going the full route.

The difference between this year's standard ride and last year's is this -- hills! At first I swore I'd never get used to it. But when I rode in Menlo Park/Woodside in Calif, I did a lot of hill riding. So I can do it. I just have to get in shape.

My rides are getting me more oxytocin or whatever it is that you get high on. Because I float after I ride. And if I miss a day, as I did yesterday, I get very grouchy. I think it's called withdrawal.

One more thing. It's wet and humid today and the park is filled with smells. These are magic smells. I'd get this experience when I lived in suburban Boston, because these were the smells of childhood, the good ones (there were bad ones too, like the smell of the incinerators burning garbage, they used to do that in NY when I was growing up). Boston was close, but these are the exact smells my brain is programmed to recognize as "home" -- proof that our lower brains are programmed just like all animals, to find comfort in being in a familiar place, even at a sub-conscious level. Another reason my heart is activated on these rides (the other being, of course, exercise!).

This makes me feel good. Happy to say. :-)

Map: 7.5 miles, 43 minutes.

Can you tell if a company is crazy? Permalink.

Farhad Manjoo, one of my favorite tech writers, has a stimulating piece today about Amazon. He says he can't figure out what they're doing, how they intend to make money. What's the razor and what's the blade? He wonders if they know.

In the old days companies offered the same deal to everyone. They had to because they didn't have all this information about us and computers and actuarial tables, and years of experimentation to guide them. That's not true anymore, and especially not true of Amazon. That's the first thing you have to realize. They're blazing a new trail in selling things. No one has been down this path before. Yet there are others that are on the path.

They made me the same offer they made him. Because I pay $79 a year for Prime, I can have one book a month for free. They pay the publisher on my behalf. And it's not all books.

They might make me an offer on one book and another to Farhad. You just don't know. One thing's for sure, their algorithm has a hunch that if it does this, I might do that. And if I do that, maybe I'll do something else. Somewhere on that path I will trip over the wire and Amazon will make $100. That's how they make money. They can't explain it, any more than a hedge fund guy can tell you why his algorithm just decided to buy 214,203 shares of Podunk Mining Co and turn around and sell it five minutes later. He might, if he did a lot of data dumps, be able to trace back and see how it made the choice, but by then it'll have done 813,329 more transactions.

More and more you and I are hamsters. They're making money off the pellets. That's the best we know.

BTW, I asked my friend NakedJen, who is a serious dog person, what she thinks her dogs think she's doing when she picks up the prizes they leave in the park. She carefully puts them in plastic bags. Later it appears she is depositing them in a bank. What must the dog think about her relationship with Jen?

Sorry if that's too vivid an example, but hopefully it makes the point. :-)

BTW, he thinks Apple has a straight relationship with us, more straight than Amazon's, but I bet he's wrong about that. They've just managed to make us feel more comfortable about it. They hire from the same talent pool as Amazon.

Is Twitter right? Permalink.

Twitter is getting all kinds of kudos for not turning over the tweet history of a user in response to a New York State subpoena. But what are the facts of the case, and is Twitter doing the right thing?

Here's a BBC story on the issue, and one from the ACLU.

Here's the question -- were these public tweets? If so, that's like asking for the archive of a blog.

Which raises another question. Yes we know that Twitter's archive is unreliable, that after a certain period of time tweets become inaccessible unless you have a direct link to them. What that period is is uncertain. And why you can access them when they are inaccessible is another mystery.

Is the State of New York just asking for help working around a glitch in Twitter's software?

What is Twitter's explanation?

Now, if this user's tweets were private, that's another matter. I would say it's still a gray area, that the tweets are somewhere between public and private. Does Twitter's terms say what's a permissible use of a private tweet that you have access to?

A picture named nypd.gifNeither of the two articles dive into this story in enough depth to ask these questions, which imho are crucial to deciding whether or not Twitter is acting correctly.

Also, btw, to NYS which I happen to be a resident of -- this is ridiculous. These people are citizens exercising their First Amendment rights. There were a lot of people at the Brooklyn Bridge that day, and it wasn't clear what the police instructions were. Why don't you work with the citizens. These are the people you work for -- aren't they? Please. Pick your battles.

Another btw to NYS, even though I think what you're doing is wrong, you might check with the Library of Congress. They have a complete archive of the flow of Twitter. Our tax dollars at work! (He said sarcastically, the government has no business investing taxpayer dollars in private companies.) Thanks to @dannyhorowitz for the link.

Death in the news Permalink.

The only time the world "dead" belongs in the headline of a news story is when something that was formerly alive is no longer. A person, animal or plant. That's a legitimate use of the word in news. I can't think of another use that isn't some kind of revenge or spite. Because things that were never living can't be dead.

A picture named mike.gifFred Wilson has a blog post about this today, which means it will probably be picked up on TechMeme, where a lot of former TechCrunchers, especially Mike Arrington, Steve Gillmor and MG Siegler will probably see it. These three people went on a campaign to plant a meme about RSS that I still hear about every day, usually in the form of a well-intentioned person saying that RSS isn't you-know-what. Every time this happens I put a pin in virtual voodoo dolls of each of their spirits, esp since two of them are former friends. For some reason they decided to put this bell around RSS's neck. Their idea worked. It didn't hurt RSS, it just gave it a smell that isn't very nice. And this for something that never did them any harm, and that they still use on their blogs, and for all I know in their reading of the web. If they don't they're not very well-informed because the news still flows through RSS, and honestly it's hard to imagine a day when it doesn't.

It's shit like this that makes me cry for tech. That such carpetbaggers have gotten control of the flow of ideas. It's very much like the world that we encountered before blogging. And then I remind myself that we marginalized that generation of gatekeepers, and we can do it again. We will do it again.

© Copyright 1997-2012 Dave Winer. Last build: 5/10/2012; 8:25:30 AM. "It's even worse than it appears."

RSS feed for Scripting News

Previous / Next