Monday, February 16, 2015 at 2:03 PM

The meaning of life

Yesterday I introduced two people on Facebook, people who I thought would very likely get off on each other's imaginations, humor, positive outlook. So of course I introduced them. I think there's real magic possible in these things.

There are billions of minds on our mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Very few of them ever get to engage. Maybe the secret of life is that there is a truth that can only be uncovered if two people connect and share something. They might not even know what it is. One person has a lock, the other a key.

Random things happen leading you to think of other things, and then you end up back where you started. Earlier in the day I had lost a huge file because I was editing it in a buggy app, still in development. Then, on Facebook, a question pops up. Maybe Google might have my lost OPML file in a cache somewhere. That led me on a train of thought back to 2002, when I published a post saying how cool it would be if Google would not only index OPML, but understand it. A very small amount of code would have been needed, but it isn't any code I could have written. They would have had to do it. So I did my best to explain why it would be a great idea. These things almost never happen, either no one is listening, or they think I'm too insignificant to matter (the fallacy of working at a huge company, they forget that people are the same size no matter where they work).

My whole career I've been asking for small favors from platform vendors, almost always being turned down, and then spending 5 or 10 years doing what they do just so I can put the teeny little bit of code in there that I wanted. Often the reason given is security, but it's usually not really that. It's being too busy to listen (I understand, me too, sometimes). Or a perception about the significance of the person doing the asking.

Maybe the two lovely people I introduced on Facebook, in collaboration, will figure out how to make something like this work. I think they're both the kind of people who would just say "WTF let's give it a try" if someone made a suggestion. I watch for that in people. It's the rarest quality, but they're the only people you can actually do stuff with!

BTW it would still be fucking awesome if Google would parse and display OPML. I have a great editor for it. And we need services to run at scale doing intelligent things with these structures. Oh the fun we could (still) have! I never give up.

PS: There were a few times people said yes to these kinds of things and incredible stuff did actually result. One was the NYT and permission to use their content for RSS. Another was Microsoft and XML-RPC, which led to the idea of websites having APIs. Something that's still shaking up the tech world today (though few people talk about it). NPR adopting podcasting is in the same class.

PPS: It happened in the inverse when Adam Curry tried repeatedly to get me to build a framework for podcasting in Frontier (long before it was called podcasting, btw). My mind was pretty closed to the idea, at first. But to both our credit, he persisted and eventually I heard what he was saying.

PPPS: A few days ago I wrote about awards for technology. Let's add another award. Best combination of ideas. Don't just reward people for being brilliant or brave, reward them for working with other people. The more diverse the interests, the more rewarding.

Last built: Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 9:07 AM

By Dave Winer, Monday, February 16, 2015 at 2:03 PM. Good for the environment.