Click here to show or hide the menubar.

Home >  Archive >  2012 >  July >  17

Previous / Next

RSS feed for Scripting News
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.


July 2012

Jun   Aug


A picture named warning.gif

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

A picture named xmlMini.gif
Dave Winer's

Speaker for the Dead Permalink.

I recently read Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and enjoyed the book, and I'm reading another of the Ender series now, Ender's Shadow. After that I will probably read Speaker for the Dead, which I've already purchased, and have read the foreword to.

The idea of a Speaker for the Dead is versatile and powerful. It basically says that when you remember someone who has died, don't edit their story. Try to stick to who they actually were. Obviously the story must be told from the teller's perspective, there's no way to avoid that. But don't change the story to make the person seem different from who they were.

We don't do that of course.

You can see it clearly when relatives talk about family members differently after they die. No need to mention names, because it's pretty standard practice.

Personally I'd like to be remembered as I am.

It also gives people an incentive to get to know people before they die. I think sometimes people already figure they know your story, and they're ready to say goodbye, long before the person dies. That's a shame, because we miss a richness of life. I've tried to say that to a few friends, but they don't understand what I'm saying. They say they respect me for who they think I am, but that isn't who I am, I say. They don't get it.

And there's an interesting twist to it, Speaking for the dead provides a nice framework for saying something I've been trying to explain about how people tell their own stories.

If you find yourself telling the story of you as a happy camper, always anxious to please others, being a great friend to everyone, and you leave out the parts where you dive into depression, or knowingly screw someone who trusted you, or the time you did something that you later regretted, you're not doing anyone a favor. If you're a real friend, I know you have bad days. You've also said things that hurt my feelings, and of course I've said things that hurt yours.

The story you tell yourself about yourself should be grounded in truth, as much as possible. If you're always chirping friendly things to others, and never balancing it with other moods that you actually have, you're trying to tell yourself that you're someone you really aren't. If you have a bad day and won't give voice to it, equally with your good ones, then you're not speaking accurately for yourself. To me that's even worse than being remembered at your wake as a saint, when you were anything but.

I once had a close friend, I thought, who was always happy, with a big smile on his face, as if he lived in bliss. But I saw him do things that made my soul wilt. Once I asked him -- where's your rage? He never talked to me again. It was in his actions, but he never put it on his face or in his voice.

OSC's idea is a powerful one. And it would be good if it didn't just apply to the dead, if we applied it to ourselves, and how we talk about ourselves to ourselves.

BTW, I didn't go to my father's funeral. I would have been asked to speak. And while I edited the story of my father's life in his last days, so we could spend time together without the past getting in the way, it was different after he was gone. In all the writing I've done about him, I've tried to tell the truth, not embellish it, or change the story. I have left out a lot of it, the bad parts -- but I have said they were there. At his funeral, I would have been called on to tell a story and would have had an impossible choice. The people wouldn't have understood if I told the truth, even a very abbreviated truth. It would have been unfair to make them listen to it. They don't need to know. But I am a writer, and I plan to, at some point, write this story. Without having a name for it at the time, I can now say I wanted to Speak for the Dead, and not tell a fake story. So I chose not to go.

Why the Library of Congress is wrong to archive Twitter Permalink.

It was announced a couple of years ago that the Library of Congress was archiving all posts to Twitter for historic purposes.

I thought I had written about why this is wrong, but I searched, and couldn't find it. So briefly here's why it is wrong.

1. Twitter is a private company, with a corporate API.

2. The Library of Congress has not, as far as we know, done anything to archive the open web. (Note: I mean bloggers. The equivalent content that's on Twitter, but not in a corporate blogging silo.)

3. By archiving the flow of Twitter, they are providing an incentive for people to post to Twitter over the open web because their writing will be presumably available to posterity as part of a historic record.

4. The government should not favor the service of a private company over an open service that is accessible to any entity, private or public. It amounts to a taxpayer subsidy, and makes Twitter more competitive over the open web.

5. Twitter already has ample advantages over the open web. We don't need the government tilting it even further in their favor.

July 20: More on the Library of Congress and Twitter.

What is a Public Editor? Permalink.

The NY Times, as far as I know, invented the idea of a public editor, so I suppose it's up to them to decide what one is. That would be fair. But life isn't fair. :-)

A public editor should be, imho, the representative of The Public, on the payroll of a news organization. The editor should have the ability to publish stories alongside news reports, with equal prominence, without editorial interference or oversight. No review. Perhaps some space limitations, that seems reasonable, but no one filtering what they write.

This person must not identify with the people who write the news. He or she should probably not even work in the same office. Should not go to lunch with them. It should be impossible for them to be promoted to a news function. This is an outsider's job.

Instead of "All the news that's fit to print" the Public Editor's motto is "I bite the hand that feeds me."

The job of the Public Editor is to challenge the news function when they report as fact things that they don't provide any evidence of. To challenge the news function when it does He Said/She Said reporting, on questions that are not in dispute. Or when they fail to present a legitimate point of view, or relevant facts because they would anger a faithful source, or would buck conventional wisdom. Or would ask, for example, why tech reporters report glowingly about companies that might employ a tech reporter after they are laid off by a publication such as the NY Times.

The Public Editor would report when one of the staffers goes to work for someone they previously covered, especially if the coverage was favorable. That would be big news.

It must be someone who regularly reads the stories and yells at the screen that these people are idiots or assholes or sold out.

Reporters should hear the voice of the Public Editor as they're writing their stories. It's okay, even great, if they hate that voice. But they must anticipate it. This is where the Public gets the benefit from the existence of the Public Editor.

The Public Editor runs a linkblog that points to others who are critical of the news organization they work for.

A good Public Editor is over-the-top critical of the news organization. He or she errs on the side of being fair to the Public and unfair to the news organization.

The Public Editors the Times has hired have flipped it the other way around. They are way too understanding of the foibles of a professional news organization. And they have a career path that prevents them from saying anything too controversial. As a result, the Public Editors have basically been Seat Warmers. Their job seems to be to make the news people feel good about themselves, which is a poor excuse for a job in a news industry that's struggling to stay afloat.

And it further angers a Public which is a lot more sentient than the news people give it credit for.

iPad with LTE is POTY Permalink.

It's still just July but I already have my hardware product of the year.

It's the newest iPad, with the retina display and LTE.

Why is it such a great product? I love the convenience myself, but more importantly, it's opened up computing for my mom, like nothing else before it. She's an on-the-go grandma, always out-and-about and doing things. So the ability to connect, without hassle, without having to understand wifi, or needing to use the Settings system, has made the biggest difference.

A picture named ipad.gifShe uses GMail in Safari. We're trying to get her up on Glympse, so her family can follow her travels, but we haven't gotten that working yet. This is important not just for sharing her experience, but also because she's not such a spring chicken anymore, and if she were to get in trouble, we'd want to know how to find her. This will add to her safety, and thereby make more adventurous explorations possible. (I'm sure she doesn't want me to say how old she is, but I'm 57 and she's my mom, so you can figure it out. On the other hand, I'm her first-born and she was quite young when I was born.)

There are still opportunities to make things easier. I don't think Apple has yet designed the perfect product for a non-technical user. And product designers still don't seem to understand that a fair number of users have friends or family members who set up their computers for them. There's no way most people could set up their own iPad, imho. As long as that's true, they ought to make more of it "set and forget" -- with more comprehensive defaults. For example, in Glympse, it would be nice if I could set it up so that it always shared with me, and that it always shared for four hours. Then she could launch Glympse, and just click the Start button. And make it big, and put it in the middle of the screen. Then the instructions could be: 1. Launch the app. 2. Click the Start button. That's something she could do without getting nervous. And when she gets nervous she starts clicking everywhere, usually with not-good results (though the iPad is better at handling random clicks, it's a total disaster on the Mac).

But on the whole, this is a pretty big milestone. An always-on always-connected, easy-to-use device, that's not all that expensive. We've arrived.

PS: If this continues to work, she will not need her iPhone. That'll eliminate a $70 per month service plan. We'll put Google Voice on her iPad, and port the old number to that. Of course it would be great if there were an iPad version of Google Voice.

A picture named leak.gifPPS: Also it was a bitch buying this wonderful device at the Apple store on Broadway and 68th St. I bought it online for store pickup, and went there an hour after I got the email saying it was ready. So they had ample time. Or so it seemed. Apple stores used to be marvels of efficiency and crisp customer interaction. Nowadays -- not so much. They made me wait, and wait and wait, and had all kinds of excuses. In the old days, when someone they sent to get the product didn't come back, they'd go and get it for you. Now they say it's not their fault. Who cares whose fault it is. When I said "that's an excuse" the store person got really upset. But it was an excuse! I paid the money, now I want to go home. With the product I bought. Geez. They sent me a survey via email when I got home, good move, and I explained all this. Hire a management consultant and teach your store people how to make customers happy. It's really not that hard. I remember Apple aspired to give a Nordstrom-like experience. This was not even KMart.

PPPS: Did you ever read the Chaos Manor column in BYTE by Jerry Pournelle? His approach to tech is my inspiration for pieces like this one. Hey he's still writing the columns on his own website now.

© Copyright 1997-2012 Dave Winer. Last build: 7/20/2012; 2:04:05 PM. "It's even worse than it appears."

RSS feed for Scripting News

Previous / Next