Scripting News


Rube Goldberg would love this

Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and contortionist. He invented machines that would never work in the real world, but worked in his imagination, and he had the gift to be able to make them appear in our minds. Here's an example.

A picture named RG_52.gif

So here's my Rube Goldberg machine for today.

1. My feed.

2. Flows through IFTTT.

3. To Evernote.

4. To

The result is a blog. Okay it looks terrible but there are a lot of steps in there. But it works, and no one wrote any special software.

Standards, man. Gotta love it.

 9/30/13; 1:09:31 PM.

What I learned at the Evernote conference

The state of the market

At the Evernote conference last week we had a session where we talked about the future of "content consumption," which to me means the future of RSS. The room was fairly well packed, and I got a chance to ask some questions of the audience and then explain where I thought we were at.

1. Asked for a show of hands, how many people were using Google Reader this time last year? Almost every hand goes up. Obviously no one is using it now.

2. I asked how many people, today, are using Feedly. Most of the hands go up. Not quite as dominant as Google Reader, but close. Obviously this is not a scientific sample, but it does correspond, mostly, to what I thought was happening in the market.

I said that it had been about ten years since any innovation had happened in RSS. It's obvious why. Any new idea had to get through Google, and they weren't interested. So nothing happened.

It seems to me that now we're in much the same situation, though it is somewhat better, because Feedly has no other products to distract them. But they have to welcome competition in order for there to be a market of new ideas. It's possible that they could view RSS as a captive market, but that wouldn't interest me, and it isn't something I'd support. I'd keep on using my own River Of News software to aggregate (my hand didn't go up either time, btw).

How to open up the market with one small feature

1. There is one highly desirable feature, and if Feedly supported it, it would open up lots of new possibilities. The feature is this -- allow people to subscribe to OPML subscription lists.

2. This would enable entrepreneurs to build services that stood alongside Feedly and provide specialized aggregators. You wouldn't have to switch from Feedly to try out a new approach. You could use both at the same time.

3. Subscription managers could come about. There could be a non-profit that offered a one-click way to subscribe to a site, and have that subscription be available to any service you wanted to give it to.

4. Experts could manage lists of feeds the way stock analysts manage mutual funds. This is perhaps the most exciting new possibility.

5. It would also force any newcomers to be open in this way, so would prevent a replay of the Google Reader ownership of the RSS market from ever happening again.

My suggestion to Feedly

1. Raise a lot of money.

2. Open the market with the dynamic OPML feature.

3. Invest in almost anything that starts moving in this market.

4. Be an enabler of huge change and profit from being at the center of it.

5. I've always suggested this strategy for dominant players. Even though Feedly has less than 20 people, they're well on their way to that future.

6. RSS has always had the potential to a crazy, innovative, decentralized market. I'd love to see it happen.

7. However, I'm not holding my breath because it would be virtually unprecedented in the tech industry.

 9/30/13; 12:02:37 PM.

Linking Radio2 to Evernote via IFTT

The idea

As I was listening to one of the speakers at the Evernote conference, I was doing what I usually do while listening -- reading my river and passing on links to my linkblog feed. They flow through RSS and to Twitter, and other places.

Brian Caldwell at Evernote suggested I look at IFTT, and I just set it up and it works! It's great. Not perfectly easy, it can't be, but it worked after a few minutes of dust-settling.

Hooked up to

I took it another step, and hooked by Evernote notebook to a blog, as a test.

After a few minutes none of my stuff has made it over there yet.

But each of these entities is polling only so often.

It might take a while for all the new stuff to get across?

I'm going to take notes

Clearly there's going to be a lot of learning here.

I'm getting extra stuff in the Evernote notebook, as if someone in the chain is reading the story I'm pointing to and picking up stuff from there that's not in my template. I don't think this is useful.

To get it to publish through

The item has to have a published tag.

I'm going to add the published tag in the IFTT recipe.

You can manually get to synch on its control panel.

 9/29/13; 6:33:54 PM.

Kindle UI problem solved

See yesterday's piece for background.

To get to the Home page, which was previously gotten to by clicking the Home icon in the upper-left corner, this is what you do:

1. Click on the three-horizonal-lines icon which is where the Home icon used to be. For some reason this is called a hamburger.

2. A menu drops down. The first item is called library. If you click on that you will get to the Home page.

Not too complicated, now that I know how it's done.

When I was fumbling around I did click on the hamburger. As my eye skimmed it, I concluded it was for hopping around the current book. I didn't study it carefully enough.

On the other hand, I had gone through my fumbling around with the Kindle app many months ago, and wasn't prepared for something that had become second nature to require more fumbling. I still think they were wrong to pull the rug out from under me. They probably won't make any less money, but I think they're not friendly to their customers, something I think Amazon really goes out of their way, usually, to try to be.

 9/28/13; 7:08:41 PM.

Kindle changed their iPad UI


I just bought a Kindle book for the trip home, but the Home button in the iPad/Kindle software is gone. There's nothing on the screen that looks like it leads to the home page of the Kindle, the page where you navigate between books.

Here's a screen shot of the Kindle app on the iPad.

I'm constantly amazed how software designers pull the rugs out from under their users. Learning how to use this software took a lot of time because it was so frustratingly designed. It's not something I want to repeat over and over. Why!

So fucked up. When I figure it out I'll let you know.

In the meantime, by fumbling around looking for it, I managed to lose my place in the book I'm reading now.

Seriously if you're in a meeting where someone proposes completely redesigning your app such that an existing user will have no idea how to use it, fire that person. This is someone whose salary you can pass on to your shareholders as a dividend. Or whatever. Have a big sushi party with their salary. People should have serious fear about undermining the users, especially for a real product that they pay real money to use, like Kindle.

Thanks for listening.

 9/27/13; 8:11:27 PM.

Marc Canter office hours in SF

I've been friends with Marc Canter for many many years, through lots of ups and downs. I have tons of Marc Canter stories. As I'm sure do many other people who have been in tech as long as Marc and I have.

Brief background: He started a company called MacroMind, which became MacroMedia, which created a great animation tool called Director, followed by another called Flash. Marc didn't do Flash, that was created by Charlie Jackson, another friend from the early Internet. When MacroMedia went public Marc was rich, and became an intellectual and creative leader of the industry in the days of CD-ROM, but Marc always said that it wasn't about the actual medium used for distribution, and when the web started booming Marc got on board really quickly.

Marc has a roadmap of tech in his head that's as good as any I've seen. When we talk about where things are going, he might see something I don't see, so that's why I love talking with him. He's one of the few people who I think has a deep understanding of how all the media fit together. I get good ideas when I listen to Marc, so that's why I do it. He's also a lot of fun to hang out with.

He's been offline for a few years, raising his second family (two wonderful girls) with his wife Lisa, in suburban Cleveland. But now he wants back in the game. I also want him back in.

So he got a place up in Mill Valley, and was hanging out there, surfing the web and I said Hey Marc you're never going to get plugged in that way. Go downtown and sit in a coffee shop and hold office hours. It took a few pitches finally he got off his butt and he's hanging out in the Creamery on the corner of 4th and Townsend across from the Caltrain station. I went down there to see him yesterday, and in the time he was sitting there, a bunch of people showed up, including Andrew Keen and David Rose.

Here's the idea. He's going there every day. He'll be there if you want to talk with him about what you're doing. He's got a new blog,, he's going to use it to write about who he sees and what he learns. So if you don't want him to write about you, make sure to say that very carefully.

He's got a great mind, and is hugely creative, and has decades of experience in tech. He wants to load up his mind with all he can about what's going on now. And in return he'll give you ideas, tell you stories, and help you gain a little visibility. It may turn into a lot of visibility, because it's the same pitch I gave Mike Arrington when he was doing something similar in 2005, which became an empire called TechCrunch. That's what happens when you interact with great minds like Marc and Mike.

He'll be there later today, and Monday, Tuesday and so on. I'll be reading his blog, as I'm sure many others will and will pass on links I find interesting. So go downtown and check it out!

 9/27/13; 12:03:44 PM.

Demo for Brett

I'm sitting on the floor of the Evernote conference demoing Fargo for Brett.

 9/26/13; 7:13:12 PM.

Notes for today's Evernote panel

Later today I'm on a panel at the Evernote conference to discuss the future of "online content consumption." Three very neutral words for a topic that's actually pretty exciting, imho.

But they have to cover a lot of ground because the speakers are from Feedly, Pocket, Evernote, and me -- I guess I'm from RSS. Kind of the elder statesman of the group? Content consumption guy emeritus? It's a role I'm happy to fill.

Google Reader

The big event in this world is the abdication of Google Reader. It leaves a wide space to be filled. It also creates opportunities to add new features to the "content consumption" world, ones that were stopped by lack of interest at Google.

Writing for mobile

One of the questions our moderator, Rafe Needleman, wants me to address is this: "Do we need to write differently for the modern online, device-using audience?" Maybe this is trick question, and I'm missing the angle, but my answer is an emphatic no! Writing should be done to express an idea from one human mind to another. The minds aren't changed just because you're using a variety of devices to read. The scaling of the content to fit the varying sizes of our devices can all be done in software.

Writing doesn't change, but software design for our writing and reading tools is radically transformed by this process.

We've been having a hell of a time getting our outliner software (used primarily for writing) to work well in a tablet and phone form. The biggest problems are the lack of a keyboard and on the phone the small screen (tablet screens are fine for writing). The virtual-keyboard writing environment is a big step backwards from the richness of the desktop and laptop environment.

For example, until recently I didn't know there was an Undo gesture on iOS (you shake the phone or tablet). Undo was a big innovation in Mac software in 1984, almost 30 years ago, and it's invisibility to users today means you can't rely on it in your design. And there's no good icon for it either. At least Delete has the trashcan. So designing writing software for the mobile environment is still an unsolved problem, and probably will remain that way.

You can do simple notetaking for course, and that's why products like Evernote have been so popular (maybe that's what Rafe was getting at). And you can save a link for later, which is why Pocket works so well. And there's no trouble reading in the mobile environment, making products like Feedly work really well. But writing? Not so easy!

One approach we've used in Fargo is to create an arrow-pad add-on to the keyboard. It's used for navigation and reorganization and works well. But you have to know it's there, and remember to bring it up. Still working on this.

Choice for users

The lesson of Google Reader is that we'll all do better if there is no dominant vendor who captures the whole market and who everyone is forced to use, even if their product doesn't evolve to meet their changing needs.

RSS started with that basic "open" idea, with RSS itself being open to be read or produced by anyone who wanted to use it. It offered a level playing field for bloggers and professionals, and this allowed all kinds of combinations to come about. A lot of the variety in the online world was made possible by all the choices it made available.

But RSS locked down before it was finished. There are still a bunch of remaining unsolved problems. The question is whether today's vendors will fight each other for dominance, or accept that it's going to be a multi-vendor market, and provide an upgraded user experience that's available at all sites, not viewing upgrades to the basic RSS feature set as a competitive advantage.

Based on experience, I wouldn't say it'll go either way. It'll depend on what the goals are for the vendors, and how much they value the freedom of users and writers.

 9/26/13; 11:32:35 AM.

Rebranding feminism?

I subscribe to the Vitamin W Twitter feed, and I like it.

I especially liked this piece about a contest they're running to rebrand feminism.

I support all the goals they outline there, and especially the way they talk about men (because, in case it's not clear, I am one).

They see us as part of the audience, and want us to "care that there are two genders, and want to see [us] work together, for a future with true equal opportunity." Everything about that is perfect. I'm one hundred percent in. I especially like the "working together" part.

Note that they didn't say I have to hate my gender, or my race, or apologize for who I am, or how I was raised. If you aren't me, or weren't in my family you don't know anything about it. I don't have to explain myself or shut up. I am not an xxx (fill in any number of awful names). I don't have to stop oppressing anyone (because I'm not).

I'm not bad because I'm male. I'm a potential friend, someone who believes in your cause, because I believe we are one species, that men and women create each other, and no change can happen without everyone on board, and everyone benefitting.

There's no "turnabout is fair play." No recitals about the importance of understanding how we got here. No more lectures about how we are mansplaining (one of the most awful conversation-disabling concepts ever invented).

The focus must be on getting out of the mess we're in. And I would add, the sooner the better, because we have huge urgent problems to address that require everyone to be on board. Like a government that's turning the United States into a police state. Like a climate that's threatening to make our home planet uninhabitable, within our lifetimes.

My experience with feminism in the last month has been terrible. Maybe I was wrong, or maybe I was right, but nothing justifies the name-calling and put-downs. Childish, powerless taunts and lectures. Inability to see things from multiple points of view. It may feel good for a moment or two, look we made Mr Man pay, but what good did it do you in the end? You turned away someone who could help. Someone who wants to help.

Not to worry, I wasn't actually turned away. A bunch of online name-calling and bullying isn't that impressive or fear-inspiring.

My only criticism of the Rebranding Feminism contest is that it isn't rebranding that feminism needs, it's direction and leadership, worthwhile goals, working toward meaningful change that will improve actual lives, now. Because today's feminism as I've experienced it doesn't have any of that.

 9/25/13; 11:00:13 AM.

Connecting Concord and Ghost?

I see that Ghost is starting to ship.

It's an open source WordPress workalike that's written in node.js.

Looking for a way to hook Concord into a mainstream CMS so people look at it as an easy to use editorial tool that requires a minimum commitment.

We will eventually get it working well with WordPress, but it might be quicker with Ghost, and we may find a market more ready to try something new.

I'm starting this thread to see what people think.

 9/23/13; 6:30:40 PM.

Celebrating ten years since BloggerCon

October 4-5, 2003 -- the first BloggerCon.

The first blogging conference in the United States, and one of the first in the world.

Lots of amazing people were there, connections made, friendships established, ideas explored, and I think the world changed in some interesting and significant ways.

So with the 10th anniversary approaching, how should we co-remember it?

Co-remember being another way of saying co-memorate.

What would be an appropriate way to celebrate?

One thing I want to do for sure is get the BloggerCon site back on the air.

I still have the content and the domain, but for some reason it's no longer accessible.

I'd love to link to blog posts people wrote about the first BloggerCon.

And encourage people to write their own remembrances, ten years after.






What surprised you about the way the blogosphere developed?

What did you anticipate that actually happened?

Are you still cynical, or do you still feel idealistic about open media?

It's time to start thinking about it.

I probably have a list somewhere of all the people who were there.

Who was the most surprising person there?

Did you make any lifelong friends at BloggerCon?

I'll try to reach out to you all but if you were there and have ideas, in the spirit of BloggerCon, please blog about it!

Comments and suggestions are very much welcome.

I will write some of my own thoughts, of course.

And I'm going to gather links to various pages here.

Here's the grid for Day 2.

Heath Row blogged each of the sessions. Prolifically.

Pito Salas was there and blogged it.

Jay Rosen wrote a post.

PS: One of the things that's changed since 2003 is that you can write blog posts from airplanes. I'm writing this on a flight from NY to Chicago! It's still kind of amazing to me, even though the wifi doesn't work that well -- it's one of those things that's surprising that you can do it at all.

 9/21/13; 9:24:12 AM.

This dialog is torturing me

A picture named pagesUnresponsive.gif

This wins the award for the most annoying dialog in existence.

It pops up in Chrome/Mac dozens of times a day.

It's like a cyber-mosquito.

I think it's a plot to get me to provide input to algorithms guiding one of their driver-less cars. When the car has to make a decision it farms the task out to one of its slaves (i.e. me). If I choose to click Wait, the car makes a right turn. If I decide to kill the frozen tabs, it makes a left turn. If I leave the dialog up, well, I don't know what it does.

I hope I'm doing something useful. It's hard for me to believe that this is just a bug they haven't gotten around to fixing. No it must have some greater meaning. It must. It must. I'm talking to myself now.

 9/20/13; 6:50:25 PM.

Writing in fresco

You know what fresco painting is?

Basically the artist spreads plaster on a wall and then paints quickly. Whatever is there when the plaster dries is what you see. That's what blogging is like. And that's why you can get in so much trouble with what you blog!

For example, I just posted something on Facebook that I think bears repeating. I haven't done any studies, I've just used a couple of products, and have some experience to report. Fanboys of the platform that I think is stagnant are likely to say I haven't done my homework, or I don't know what their experience is, and damn straight, that's totally true. But I'm doing a fresco here, not the Mona Lisa. I'm writing a little blog post, not Ulysses or Catcher in the Rye. I'm sure as hell not writing the Constitution.

I'm sure all you say is true, I don't make software for any of these platforms. The cool thing Google did was with those cards, they spy on you and figure out what you're up to then show you facts that relate to what you're doing. Proactive searches. It's great and totally fucked up at the same time. And it has nothing to do with developers. Just saying as a user, they're keeping me interested. Even though I know I've made a deal with the devil.

Maybe you'll get an idea from this fresco-style writing. Or maybe it's worthless.

No matter to me, it's just my blog.

 9/19/13; 11:44:10 AM.

Something weird with Twitter?

I've been fairly active on Twitter over the last few weeks, and that means generally there's a bunch of stuff in my Connect tab. But over the last few days it's really been slowing down. To the point where now there hasn't been anything new posted to that tab in 9 hours. That's remarkable!


Now that could mean that in the last 9 hours:

1. Everyone is busy, no meetings, dull conferences.

2. No one is saying anything to me.

3. No one is trying to spam me.

4. No one is doing social media marketing.

5. Everyone is using iOS and the tweet function in v7 is broken.

6. There's a technical problem at TwitterCo.

7. Or...?

Only interesting stuff?

I often wonder if Twitter does what Facebook does, and tries to keep the flow down by only showing people "interesting" posts, so even if you follow someone maybe you're not seeing everything they post?

If they deployed such a system, I imagine they'd do it quietly. And it would be felt this way. The Connect tab becomes a ghost town. Tumbleweed. Crickets.

Update: Something did change

According to Tad Suiter: Problem might be that the "Connect" tab now initially takes you to "Mentions," rather than "Interactions."

Yup, that was it. When I switched it over, a bunch more stuff was revealed.

Here's a screen shot with a pointer to the thing you have to change to get back the old behavior.

Another example of a software company fixing something that wasn't broken.

 9/19/13; 8:42:49 AM.

Bringing Concord into WordPress

Rookie-of-the-Year in the Fargo scripting community, Jeffrey Kishner would like to see Concord integrated with WordPress. Makes perfect sense. I'd love to see it too.

Outlining in blogging is rich, but not just for editing blog posts, for organizing the whole site. Here's a screen shot of the editing environment for my blog. Imagine this kind of setup for a WordPress blog. It wouldn't be too hard to do, if you know how WordPress works internally (I do not).

 9/18/13; 6:18:10 PM.

TV + Twitter == the TVitterverse

The more I think about the idea of merging the first and second screens around big events, the more I think it's got to happen. Everyone is so ready for it, except for perhaps Twitter and the companies with the killer apps, the TV networks. The users are way way ready for much more than what either tech or TV industries are offering.

The killer product is the merger of a big hit like Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, or next year's killer HBO-AMC-Showtime blockbuster.

When it's time for the show to air, the new network becomes activated. Everyone leaves Twitter, which becomes a ghost town while the show is on.

It could be the SuperBowl or the NBA Playoffs. The World Series, US Open, Election Night. The Olympics. Any huge event that draws large attention from Twitter users.

The thing you got that no one else has -- the show that everyone's talking about.

No spoilers, completely free discussion. Everyone has the context. It's right there.

Here's a screen shot to give you a very rough idea of what it might look like.

Now Twitter can do this, if they can do a deal with the sources of the programming, or the programmers can route around Twitter and use this as a way to boot up a second network, or third or 23rd. If cable can support lots of channels so can the TVitterverse.

 9/18/13; 12:38:36 PM.

Will the advertisers turn Twitter into TV?

A lot of raw ideas here, sorry -- I wanted to get this all down and think some more. That's what my blog is for in case you're new here.

First, how long will it be before there's a little video box on the Twitter home page that shows you whatever it is we're all watching. Because there are moments when it seems everyone on Twitter is watching one program on TV. The SuperBowl, the MTV awards, the Breaking Bad finale, etc. It seems inevitable that before too long you'll be able to watch the show right there in Twitter without budging.

Then it occurs to me that the advertisers could be the ones who drive this. They're obviously going to some new places with interactive advertising. For example, today I got a tweet from the Central Park Conservancy, an account that I follow (I live near the park and use it a lot) offering to subscribe me to their email newsletter. The button to click was in Twitter. I bet they paid Twitter a lot of money for that, or perhaps Twitter is doing the fulfillment and not sharing my email address with them. Either way, it's another way for Twitter to get rich, and there was no TV involved.

Not that it would matter. I'm simply not available on TV these days. I know CNN is covering the DC shooting every minute, and they're getting all wrapped up with the next budget battle. I catch little glimpses at those things in my rivers. But I don't connect my emotions up to those stories. Those are TV stories.

Evan Williams was right, btw, about tech news being disconnected from tech. Where were all of them while the industry was getting owned by the NSA. Why did it wait until the story was gifted to one of them by a leaker. And the biggest tech story in a generation wasn't even reported by tech. Couldn't the NSA presence have been felt, and reported on, by all the reporters covering Washington on the net? Where was Kos and Talking Point Memo, Andrew Sullivan? But as Williams says if they're watching the tech they're doing it superficially, thinking the story is somewhere else. The only thing I'd fault him for is that he didn't go far enough, because basically all reporters these days are tech reporters.

There's no doubt that all media is vulnerable to Twitter now, and Williams knows as well as anyone where the gaps are. He gets a lot better data on it, I assume, than the rest of us do. And they're doing some creative stuff with advertising on Twitter, stuff that the TV networks are nowhere near doing.

I'm getting a feeling that things are about to shift pretty radically.

 9/17/13; 7:11:58 PM.

Why we breed men to be strong and silent

After I wrote yesterday's piece, it finally dawned on me why it made sense for our species to evolve to prefer young men to be strong and silent. It's really simple. It's easier to send people to war if we don't know them. And of course we want our warriors to be strong. So shut up, do your duty and die for us. And it wasn't all that long ago. When I was warrior age, there was a draft.

A picture of a slice of cheese cake.

 9/17/13; 6:31:16 PM.

Tomorrow we learn something

One way or the other we're learning something tomorrow, the day iOS 7 ships to multiple hundreds of millions of users.

It's got major user interface changes. And lots of end users who don't know that the basic operational features of a computer can change will find out, they can.

And their patterns of use will change.

Brain cells will burn.

Will the users shrug it off or even cheer, as Apple expects/hopes?

Will users respond as they did with Windows 8 by rejecting the update?

Will they have an option of going back to a previous version or is this update irreversible?

Or is it mandatory? Can you not update your devices? If so, how?

I haven't done it yet, but I know two people who have. One says OMG and the other says the changes are cool.

But tomorrow we find out for real if Apple can rock the boat.

 9/17/13; 12:12:14 PM.

Important podcast re Concord & GPL

Here's a very clear message to developers.

If you want to build a product that includes outlining, or include outlining in a product you already have, I'd like to work with you, and at the very least I'd like our software to interoperate so there's no user lock-in.

That's why Concord is GPL-licensed. I have good reasons for doing it this way. And I explain them in this 11-minute podcast.


 9/17/13; 11:10:35 AM.

Concord in GPL, Day 2

I'd say yesterday went pretty well.

The GitHub repository has 17 forks and 141 followers.

There was a huge uptick in Fargo use.

There was a lively not-too flamey discussion on Hacker News.

And a very long thread under the original blog post, dominated by people who think it's a mistake to use the GPL.

Of course I think GPL is exactly the right choice.

I want to feed the open development community.

And I meant what I said in the readme about talking with commercial developers. I like commercial development. I have been a commercial developer myself. But these days that means creating silos that trap users and their content. That I am very much against, and don't want to do anything to support it. I merely want to have a conversation with commercial developers, and perhaps derive some revenue from the licenses, to share in their bounty, and support continued development of the open source project, and most important insist that the user's data not be locked up.

I've had a lot of experience with funding VC-backed companies with ideas and work, and have gotten $0 and no equity from it. These people are very protective of their capital, so I'm doing the same. If that means less uptake for Concord, I'm okay with that. If that means another outliner toolkit comes along, that's great! I hope they're compatible with Concord at a file format level. I hope to give them very strong incentive to be compatible.

Remember who I am and what my experience is. I don't care to repeat the format wars we had over RSS. If you want to use my software, that's fantastic. Hopefully we can work out a fair deal without fighting over compatibility.

Mostly, I envision a community that works entirely on open source software, the way Linux or WordPress works. I don't see that excluding commercial development, but I don't want commercial development to dominate. The Internet works best when everyone contributes to the commons, not just some.

Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet.

 9/17/13; 8:55:25 AM.

Concord, our GPL outliner

I've long felt that every operating system, web server and web browser should have a great outliner baked-in. If you were going to try to do that today, you'd release it under the GPL written in JavaScript. That's exactly what Concord is.

It's useful anywhere information is structured and organized. Like file systems, mailboxes, chatrooms, databases, documents, presentations, product plans, code, libraries, laws, systems of laws, contracts, rules, server logs, guidelines, principles, docs, manifestos, journals, blogs, podcasts, server, clouds, etc.

So when we set out to build a great JavaScript outliner, about one year ago now, there was always the idea that when it was complete, and relatively debugged, it would be released under the GPL.

Today, right now, it's ready.

If you're a programmer, beginning or advanced, no matter what kind of project you're working on, this imho should be part of your basic toolkit.

It's a bold move, I know. Maybe nothing will happen, but I don't think so. I think all kinds of greatness will come.

Right now there are a fair number of services that should have outliner interfaces, Evernote, Twitter and WordPress are at the top of my list. Now that I've become a GitHub user (no expert, by any means) I want to be able to organize my repo as an outline, and have an outline of all my repos.

I could use an outline editor for Google Groups. I am part of over a dozen of them. I really would like it to be just another outline in my browser-based desktop.

We did the heavy lifting of bringing an outliner to JavaScript.

Now it's up to you to take it to all the places it can make a difference.

The GPL is the right license for our goals. We want to encourage developers to add features compatibly, so that all outlines open, and can be edited in all environments. If commercial developers want to add private features to the outliner, we will try to work with them. We just want to be sure we can have a conversation about compatibility, and perhaps create revenue to fund development. If a non-commercial project emerges that breaks compatibilty, because the GPL is used, we will have the option of bringing their work into compatibility.

And this is just the beginning. We need lots of docs, and hopefully a community will develop to work on that.

This is an exciting moment!

A picture of a slice of cheese cake.

PS: I recorded a brief podcast about this release, as is customary.

PPS: Here's the FAQ announcing the open source release of Frontier in 2004.

PPPS: Here's an important 11-minute podcast about Concord and the GPL.

 9/16/13; 7:22:09 AM.

Men have emotions too

Earlier today I linked to a blog post I wrote on 1/1/98 entitled Men Stay Silent.

In the early years of this blog, I liked to write more gutsy pieces on January 1 and around my birthday, May 2. This one took a lot of courage because I wrote about what it means, to me, to be a man.

People tend to have cartoonish ideas about what's going on inside men, as if we're as simple as they think we are. Actually we're complete human beings, with the full range of emotions: sadness, fear, anger, joy, excitement and sexuality.

We start life with full expressive power, but somehow this gets taken away from us.

As we have stereotypes of what makes a good girl, we have them for boys too, preferring strength and silence, and only validating one emotion, anger. It shouldn't be surprising then, that most of our emotions come out in that form, because it's the only one allowed. And who wouldn't be angry if you weren't allowed to express the other emotions you have!

Nothing really has changed since 1998. I still try to hide my emotions, even when it's impossible to do so. Sometimes others interfere, sometimes we self-censor. Yes, I did cry when my father died. And had tears of joy watching Obama give his victory speech on Election Day in 2008. But nothing reaches closer to the real me than writing about who I really am, directly, without manipulating symbols. Having a friend let me be exactly who I am, without projecting his or her ideal of maleness on me, is pretty great too.

However, there is truth to the male stereotype. I do have strong feelings of honor and loyalty inside me. Fairness. I am genetically programmed to protect both children and women. I feel brotherhood, but I don't understand women and never will. But I adore them nonetheless for their femininity, as well as intelligence and creativity, not because I want to, rather because this is the way I am. And I've learned to listen, even when it's difficult to do so. This did not come easily. Listening is hard.

I'm glad the gender issues are coming up again. I want my women friends to have everything they're entitled to, and I take a very broad view of that. But I am not willing to sacrifice myself to that. I will still be true to myself. And I am not who you say I am. To be that would be to die.

I hope others can realize that their struggles are in some ways unique and in other ways universal. We all want to be heard. We all despise unnecessary limits. We're all confused about what it's all about, and who each of us is. Beyond that, we can wish the best for each other, yes?

One more thing, I did not write this as a lawyer would. I'm sure people will take offense at any number of things I've said here. A blog is for speaking freely, and that's what I've done here. If you don't like it, write it up on your blog. Anticipating lots of negativity, I've disabled comments for this post. I'm sorry if you feel a need to vent, it's not my job to provide you a place to do that. Namaste!

 9/16/13; 8:25:14 AM.

The family archive

I went to the Mets game yesterday with Mom, and she brought along a couple of digital artifacts she found in the house, both from my father.

The first was an article he wrote in 1987 about idea processors. I scanned it and turned it into a PDF, and wrote it up on his memorial site.

The second was a photo taken in 2001 of me, Mom and my uncle (her brother) Ken Kiesler, also known as the Uncle Vava. I think you can tell by my eyes what Ken and I had been doing before the picture was taken.

A picture named daveEveKen.jpg

BTW, the Mets won, 1-0, in extra innings. We lost patience in the 10th inning and went with Patrick Scoble to eat excellent Chinese food on Main Street in Flushing.

Let's go Mets!

 9/16/13; 8:04:55 AM.

Are you audacious?

Update: a couple of hours after this was posted, a great TechCrunch article appeared based on an interview with Evan Williams, founder of Twitter and Medium. Perfect demo of the kind of audacity that's needed to make a big idea stick.

An anecdote from the TechCrunch Disrupt finals, which I try to watch every time it happens, shows the difference between a fully emerged entrepreneur and one that has potential.

A very impressive young guy was being grilled by the VCs. He's a second-time game developer, having sold his first company for $105 million, he wants to do it again, this time bigger. And he has a real good way of explaining how it's better. I was buying in, ready to write the check until he flubbed a pretty basic question.

His product only works on tablets.

The VC: "Aren't you concerned that tablets skew older, that most young people use phones, and isn't your business depending on attracting young users?"

The entrepreneur: "Well, eh, uh etc."

He talked for a long time, but he didn't have an answer.

It pissed me off because the answer was obvious.

His game is going to be so incredible that it will sell tablets. Kids, adults, everyone is going to have to get one just to run this software.

Now, to pull this off you have to have a PhD in Chutzpah.

Steve Jobs could have done it, and made you feel like an idiot for asking the question.

Anyone actually could do it, if you really believed it.

That's why it was a very good question to ask this young dude.

You say you're thinking big.

Here you are on the big stage.

Tell us how big you're thinking.

Moral: You have to believe your own story.

 9/14/13; 9:27:56 AM.

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