Let's figure out how to use online systems to create some kind of useful collegial communication across red-state/blue-state lines. 

Citizen-to-citizen. No professional politicians, no media, no campaigners. People who have different views about issues like abortion, the deficit, jobs, culture, even race and gender. The thing we have in common is the ability to listen, and appreciate that there are many valid points of view, and we are willing to compromise. We know that in a country that's so large and diverse, no one gets everything they feel they're entitled to. None of us are not trying to get everything for ourselves. 

Maybe something like the UN after World War II. Right after you fight a war, plant the seeds to help lessen the chance of a new one at least for a few years. Learn the lessons of war. Take steps to foster discussion and listening. 

There are people in red states and blue states who aren't trying to make a point, to prove something, to achieve total victory -- people who see a bigger picture, that we're one country, and that you have to practice to be one.

A status report on the rebooted Share Your OPML project. 

I updated the feedlist.json file, but this is the last time that file will be updated, if you've built something that depends on it, you should transition to the next version, see below.

New file -- syo.json includes stats, when the file was generated, how many feeds are in the feed list, and a version number, so this file can be updated without breakage. 

BTW, I'm doing this work in Frontier, which is faster than JavaScript for this kind of work.

At this point the flow of new OPML files has slowed to a trickle. I'm going to leave this here for a while and see what happens.

If Trump doesn't respect the voters before he's in office, what's the chance he'd let an election vote him out.

I had dinner with John Hinderaker at a Harvard blogging conference in 2005. He seemed like a nice guy, and even though our politics at that time were opposite, I thought it was nice that we got along.

Over the years however he has gone more and more off the deep end. If he has any knowledge or intelligence, he's suppressing it. I guess it's a business model?

I let it slide, there are a lot of jerks in right wing blogging. But this howler on his site got me thinking. Like a lot of others in right wing media, he's comparing the recount in Florida in the 2000 election with the 2016 election.

There is no comparison. Gore didn't contest the results of the election, everyone did. I can say that with some authority because I voted Republican in that election. I wanted Bush to win. And I remember the torture leading up to the Supreme Court decision, which we all felt, not just Gore. And I applauded him when he conceded, saying he took one for the country.

That race hinged on which way Florida went, and it was a virtual tie. A few hundred votes either way made the difference. And there were enough voting irregularities in that election so that the outcome was in question.

Nothing like that has happened in this election. For crying out loud we haven't even had the election yet! 

Where Gore showed grace, Trump is putting his own greed ahead of our democracy. He is the opposite of grace. He's not taking one for the country, he's forcing the country to take one for him. So what if we have a 240-year tradition of peaceful transfers of power. Anything to keep himself in the news. Even shitting on the continuity of our government. 

I wonder what it will take to get the Hinderakers of the world to sober up. Do they get that Trump is a puppet for the Russian govt? If he wins we will be a toy for Putin to play with? We're the greater country John, by far. Why do you support such a midget of a man for president in his hour of maximum despair? What makes you so desperate?

Look I'm not saying you should support Clinton, but how can you support someone in his undermining of our democratic legacy? Is it really his to trash? Is that what you really want? Why?

Is there such a thing as a VR computer monitor?

If so it might solve a real problem for me.

It's a long story, but because one of my eyes has an artificial lens, I now have to wear a contact lens in the other eye. 

I know there are progressive lenses but I haven't gotten a prescription that works for me.

As a result I have to wear glasses while I use the computer and to read.

But my vision when reading the computer screen is awful. Blurry, I see double at times. No matter how I turn my head I can't get a good look at what's on the screen. It's demoralizing. Makes writing harder. Reading is much harder.

On the other hand, my normal not-reading vision is much better.

I don't know if I'm ever going to get the right reading glasses or get a progressive contact lens that works.

All of this is preamble for the question.

Can I get a pair of goggles that can be hooked up to my Mac's video, and give me a clear, adjustable view of my computer screen? Adjustable in the sense that I can vary the correction, like switching between 1-strength reading glasses, to 2 or 2.5 or whatever.

If they weren't too cumbersome, I would use it to read on my iPad too.

Hopefully this question makes sense.

I've been following the FiveThirtyEight  polls-plus number through the summer and into the fall. My mood goes up and down with the percentage chance that Hillary Clinton will win. 

I've always wondered what exactly does the number mean?

Look at it this way. If the polls accurately measure people's votes, then there is zero probability that she will lose, because the votes add up to enough electoral votes to win the election. 

So why is there a non-zero chance of her winning? What could happen that would cause her to lose if the chance of winning is accurate at approx 84 percent?

I gave this some thought and listened to Tuesday's edition of the Run-up podcast and came up with this way of expressing it.

The polls do not accurately measure people's votes. 

Here are some ways errors are introduced.

  • Pollsters don't weigh demographics accurately. They make assumptions about what percentage of voters will be white or black; Hispanic or Asian; college-educated or not; rural, urban or suburban; rich, middle-class or poor, etc. Those assumptions are wrong. That's a fact. How wrong? That's part of the uncertainty.
  • People don't always tell the truth. The Bradley Effect. They tell the pollster something that makes them feel good about themselves (I'm voting for Mother Teresa) but in the end they vote for someone bad (Adolf Hitler).
  • People change their minds. Something happens, a new leaked email shows that Hillary has a nasty habit that we think is awful and disqualifies her. Or Trump turns out to be a sexual predator (oops that's already factored in). 
  • Who is likely to vote? A poll respondent who isn't going to vote won't be part of the result, but they might be counted in the polling. You can't simply take them at their word. How should you weigh that?

The statisticians at FiveThirtyEight know about these errors, based on past experience with polling vs actual elections, and have theories about how much they affect the outcome. And that's weighed against how close it is. If 9 of every 10 respondents say they are going to vote for Clinton, no matter how big the errors are, they're going to say she's got a near-lock on the election. Not much chance the errors could be so big as to turn that kind of polling into a losing result. On the other hand if it's just 6 of 10 then the errors matter a lot and the election becomes a tossup, "within the margin of error," a pollster might say.

So when they say it's an 84 percent likely Clinton win, that means the numbers overwhelmingly say she's going to win, enough to give the statistician a lot of confidence in the prediction. How much? 84 percent. Heh.

Today, sad news that David Bunnell died yesterday at 69.

My thoughts.. When when he ran the PC and Mac news mags he was accessible. And he helped small developers like my company, Living Videotext. I got to know him better, personally, when I lived in Berkeley a few years back. He was of my generation in the tech industry. The milestones in his career correspond to milestones in mine. When the PC was new we read his PC Mag and PC World. The day the Mac came out there were copies of his MacWorld Magazine on every seat. It's a very sad day for those of us who knew Dave.

I have a small inkling of what it must be like to be a woman in a world of grabby entitled men, because of a near-miss I had on my bike last summer.

I was riding downhill on the west side of Manhattan, toward the Hudson River, which is one of my regular rides. A car weaves in and out of the bike lane in front of me and forces me to hit the brakes to avoid getting hit by him. This is a dangerous move, if you brake too hard you go over the handlebars. Not a good thing, it happened to me a couple of years ago and I was in bed for a week. Lots of blood. 

But I didn't go down, and continued west till I came to a red light and I could see the car that cut me off waiting for the light. As I passed I tapped his window and said he cut me off, very loudly so he and everyone else could hear. This is the kind of loop-close you dream of. Usually the cars just speed away and you're left with all that anger and adrenaline in your blood and nothing to do with it.

So I pull up about four car lengths in front of him and wait for the light to change. I hear him getting out of the car, and I think oh shit what if he's a big guy, but I see he's not. He's a little creepy dude. 

As he approaches, he pulls a familiar west coast passive-hostile line. 

"Why all the aggression?" 

Deep breath. I said firmly "Because you almost killed me." 

"Oh I get it. I have all this metal around me, and your bumper is your skeleton, so I'm sorry I almost killed you." He gets back in the car and we're all okay.

But that isn't what happened.


He said "I want to give you a hug." 

To which I thought, my god a hug is the absolute last thing I want from this piece of shit. I want him to implode and disappear from the face of the earth, or at least get back in his fucking car. But he comes and hugs me. What can I do? Strangle him? I'd go to jail. So I had to let this piece of shit do his thing. And the whole ride and the rest of the day I couldn't get this ugly feeling of having been invaded by something vile and corrupt. 

And that was just an unwanted hug. 

I don't want to even think what it would be like if it was more than that. And yes, I had the option at any time of snapping his neck, an option most women don't have. 

So I have a small idea, a very small idea of how awful it can be.

Imagine that a big banking firm has a corporate event in Central Park. They not only trash the place, but they leave behind such a mess that the park isn't usable again for at least ten years. It's possible it may never recover.

Now no one told the bank they had to have their outing in the common space. They could have bought their own land and trashed that instead. 

That's how Google used and then walked away from RSS. We're trying, slowly, to clean up after them, the best we can. And they keep digging out the foundation underneath us. 

To create such a mess and then just leave as if it has no responsibility to clean up after itself, I think eventually we will understand that that is corporate narcissism in the spirit of Exxon and Enron. Goldman Sachs and AIG.

It seems so crazy for Google of all companies to trash open infrastructure on the net. It seems their whole business depends on it.

In the old days Steve Jobs used to talk about personal computers being like fractional horsepower motors. 

The kind of thing you'd use to create an air conditioner or lawn mower, for example. A Mac was like that, but for computers.

We had much success a few years back with the idea of a fractional horsepower HTTP server.

And we can do the same for social media server.

They're interesting things!

I'm playing around with one such community at screen2.io. Join us there at 9PM Eastern tonight to watch the final presidential debate, share your observations in real time.

The technology is nothing revolutionary, but it is easy, both to use and to set up as a server. It may not be the final toolkit, but it's on the path. If there's a next one it will be even easier. 

Facebook doesn't have an exclusive on easy-to-author content management. And the cool thing is, if I create my own we don't need to accept their limits on what we can do with it. I'm thinking of the basics of the web -- linking, styles, titles and podcasts. Essential features that Facebook refuses to support for users. Unacceptable.

And Twitter? Well the 140-char limit is, for me, also unacceptable. There are so many things I can't post to Twitter because I won't hack up my writing to fit into such a small space. You may be a better writer than I am, but I am me, and ideas coming out of my head have to flow through my writing interface. So I'm experiencing a long-term inability to communicate, thanks to Twitter. Again, unacceptable. Finally it's time to do something about it. 

As I like to say..

Still diggin!

I'm trying to think but nothing happens!


PS: Summary: 9PM Eastern, screen2.io, debate watch party.

You know how years ago reporters would do profiles of people by following them around for a few days. Here's an idea. Do that on social media. Go everywhere they go and see how they interact with others. Key thing, these days they don't have to know you're doing it.

We need a Be Kind To Others Day on social media. 

I don't know about you but I'm burning out on how SERIOUS all this shit is.

And of course this famous Captain and Tennille song would be the theme for BKTOD.

It's really interesting how many "format collisions" there are with the # character.

  • First, it is used to delimit #hashtags.
  • In Markdown, when it appears at the beginning of a line, it's treated as a headline.
  • In XML it's used in the representation of a character with its numeric code. For example F is a capital F.

This came up when I added Markdown support in screen2.io. When a hashtag appeared at the beginning of the first line, the Markdown processor would remove the # and embolden and enlarge the line text. Not the intention of the author.

How I worked around it. If a # appears as the first character in a post, I replace it with the XML encoding, # -- and so the Markdown processor doesn't see it as anything special and leaves it alone.

When the text flows to Twitter, if that connection is enabled, the # is left alone.

On John Naughton's blog, a link to an article that suggests it might have been a mistake for news orgs to go "digital first." Why? Most of the readers and money are still in the print versions of the news.

A disclaimer. Naughton occupies a warm spot in my heart because he was the only print journalist to acknowledge the 20-year anniversary of the blog. None of the other great news orgs thought it was newsworthy, either when it happened, or 10 or 20 years hence. That might appear random, but actually it's not.

See it's not exactly a good controlled test they've done in journalism-land, which is more of a priesthood than a hotbed of innovation. Yes, there were some journalists in the early days of the web who thought it would revolutionize their art, I even learned from them early-on in an experiment I did with the striking San Francisco newspapers. But for the most they have gone to the Internet with a feeling of necessity not wonder. You almost never hear a journalist or a journalism exec speak of all the possibilities that open up with electronic distribution, in the way a tech person ponders the exciting future opening up in front of them.

The big missed opportunity of electronic distribution of news is that there is no cost of goods. You can include as much content as there is. And therefore you can let the sources, esp ones who are good writers, and who have an ability to put their own interests aside, and write passionately about the issues and opportunities of the day, speak directly to the readers, without having reporters filter and dumb-down what they say. If you've ever had the experience of being interviewed by a reporter and then see how your thoughts are expressed, you know how valuable it would be sometimes to cut out the middleman. They go for the salacious, try to make you look like a hypocrite, on the theory (I guess) that that sells subscriptions. Why should I as a reader care if it sells subscriptions? I read in order to be informed and inspired (and yes, titillated and amused).

As with everything, the net offers the opportunity to disintermediate. But journalism has instead approached the Internet as the electronic equivalent of the paper distribution system. Nothing more than that. So why should we be surprised if it fails to achieve the potential promised by the hype?

As Upton Sinclair once said: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Imho, that is exactly what's been happening in journalism.

Once blogging took hold, there was no excuse for reporters and their bosses to not see the opportunity to help the sources to go directly to the readers. We're still waiting for journalism to embrace that opportunity. 

Note that other activities online haven't stagnated the way news has. Discussions (Facebook), singles (Tinder), classifieds (eBay), Amazon, airlines, pornography, gaming, entertainment, politics -- all have all embraced online distribution, and all those activities are forever changed.

And even news hasn't waited for the news industry. It happens on Twitter now. Why didn't one of the established news orgs see the opportunity to give newsmakers a platform from which to make news? Instead it happened by accident, to a tech org that still doesn't understand how revolutionary what they've created is.

Sometimes it's good to flip a statement around and see if it makes sense. "Journalism will always be printed on dead trees." How does that sound? Does that even begin to make sense? 

Personally, when the web started carrying news I noticed that my print subscriptions to the NYT and WSJ were staying unread, so I cancelled them. I can't even read a printed newspaper anymore. I've tried. I used to have a ritual where I'd buy a printed paper for a plane flight, or treated myself to breakfast out with a printed newspaper. Last time I did it, I took out my iPhone and read the news there instead. It just works better electronically. I can't imagine ever going back.

PS: The study cited by Naughton in his blog post is also cited in this story by Jack Shafer on Politico.

Cross-posted from Facebook.

I freshened up my Facebook profile.

Took off Small Picture, the company exists but it didn't become what I hoped it would.

I added my time at Harvard to the profile, though they don't have a way to express non-degree work. I was a researcher and in-house innovator. We got a lot done in just two years.

I also added a 100-char bio. "Media hacker, blogger, software dev, residing in NYC. Always playing with new tools and ideas."

Starting to think about next things I want to do.

I've more or less created the software I set out to create when I retooled in JavaScript three years ago. It's all there. Now it has become more of a hobby and less of an obsession.

Also thinking about relocating. I love NY but now I find I want a hot tub and a pool and more suburban living. Maybe Boston or Portland. Not sure.

If I were teaching computer science, I'd start with a working piece of software, probably an HTTP server, and give the students a series of assignments. 

Assumptions: The software is documented, has users, and bugs, avoiding breakage is important. 

0. Set up and install the software on your own server. Verify and demonstrate that it can handle a request. You can add a new page to the site. Authorize a new user. 

1. You've encountered a problem. Write a great bug report.

2. You've got an itch. You wish the software could do X. Come up with a plan for adding the feature, outlining the steps, and how you're going to test the new version. (Two versions of this assignment, one with X specified, and another where the student comes up with X.)

3. Write a doc showing the user how to turn on a feature in the product, with all the configuration options.

4. Here's a bug report. Find the problem and fix it, without breakage. How will you verify that there was no breakage. Document the change, and circulate the change note to the users of the product.

5. One of the features of your product is new and competitors are copying it. It's time to document the file formats and protocols it uses so your competitors can interop with you. Write the spec in clear language with numerous examples so users won't get locked-in to their products, or yours for that matter.

Most important, this would all be with an existing working piece of software that real people use. Most student projects are scaled-down versions of real-world projects. They don't behave like real communities. Esp because the users have expectations about how the software works.

Buzzfeed reports that Jon Podesta's email was hacked with a straightforward phishing attack. 

The emails, which were sent to DNC and Clinton staff appeared almost identical to the standard warnings Gmail users get asking them to reset their passwords. Once clicked, the links took users to a page that imitated a Google login page, but which was stealing their password information.

It's great to have insight into the systems that the campaign was using. Presumably by now they have better control over email. 

An important point -- what are the chances the hackers also sent phishing emails to members of the Trump campaign and the RNC? Why wouldn't they. And even if the emails weren't disclosed, they could still be useful to the hackers. Think about the potential for blackmail.

Anyway, more articles like this please, translating technical reports into terms that anyone familiar with computer systems can understand. 

How to avoid phishing attacks

Basically if you get an email saying "change your password and here's the URL," ignore the last part and go to the site yourself. Or you could probably just skip it, figuring that if they put the URL in the email they're probably phishing you. 

Same if you get a phone call saying it's your credit card company and they ask for your password. Say I'll call you back at the number on the card.

The writers of Battlestar Galactica were incredibly prescient.

Some small spoilers follow, so if you haven't seen the series and want to stay a virgin, hit the Back button now. 

The basic plot: a fleet of starships are at war with a race of robots that also have starships. 

This was the second war, one of the lessons from the first was that you couldn't network the fleet because that was an attack vector from the previous war. I think it might have even been how the humans lost the first war, but my memory is fuzzy.

In one episode they had to, for an instant, reconnect the network, and as soon as they did it was flooded with sentient viruses, cousins of the robots they were fighting. Clever, right? I mean if beings in human-like bodies could be intelligent robots, why not mere pieces of software flying around at the speed of light over a computer network?

This is of course one of the reasons geeks loved Battlestar Galactica so much. The writers were smart and they thought of stuff like this. 

Now they were prescient because that is exactly what is starting to happen in a pretty huge way to our civilization, only instead of robots, it's Nazis. We've been seduced by network technology, from Napster to Tinder to Snapchat, Amazon, airlines, your bank, the power grid, cars, everything has an Internet address. We're like the denizens of the BSG world before they learned that there's a price to pay for all that networking.

Trump was the best troll ever, but there were already some great trolls that had a lot of practice. Trump was able to troll himself to the Repub nomination. CNN and CBS et al were able to make billions promoting him as a TV show. Now they're running propaganda programs designed by the Nazis and other really evil people who were very effective at creating chaos before everything was networked. 

The election? That's just the first act. Twitter will still be running after the election.

PS: The tech industry appears tuned out, the news industry barely understands the tech.

I just wrote a simple data gathering script that loops over all the OPML files that people have uploaded to SYO and generates a list of feeds that more than one person subscribes to, ranked from most popular to least.


It's obviously a very small sample of users, but it is enough to be interesting and it might give you some ideas for feeds to follow, which is the whole point of doing this.

It's funny that my blog is not #1, but it wasn't the last time I ran the service, that was TechCrunch (since they helped promote the service) and that's totally cool. And the person who is #1 totally deserves it.

If you want to upload your own OPML data, follow the instructions in this post

My uncle, had he lived, would be the same age as Donald Trump. Like Trump, he grew up in Queens

I loved my uncle, but I have to say, he judged women by their bodies in the same way Trump does. He didn't do it on TV, in front of rallies. But he also didn't make much of an attempt to hide his opinions.

He had what I felt were very bizarre ideas about sexual relationships. I've tried to even write down some of his ideas, but I can't even find the words. Things he thought of as betrayals were just people being more complex than he thought they were, or people changing.

I heard someone describe Trump as an anachronism, a man who acts as if he just came out of a Las Vegas steam room with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. A man who thinks of women as broads or dames. A pinup girl, a Playboy bunny.

On the other hand, he does hire women for senior jobs. Not sure how to make sense of that. 

But most if not all of who he is, as we're learning about his sexuality, is rooted in America's fading past. It's as if the old Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson was back on the air, and life seemed simpler, because the people were younger and happier. 

Boys will be boys! 

But as we're seeing through Trump, it was also a mean time, not something we should want to return to.

When you look inside other people's families what you see can be disturbing. But to the people inside the family, it's just normal, it's life as usual.

A story...

I once dated a woman, I'm not going to say her real name, so let's call her Beth. An attractive, smart woman. I met her at a workshop and we hit it off. We went out a few times and it became a relationship, if you know what I mean.

She invited me to spend the weekend at a house her family owned in the mountains north of San Francisco. She had two brothers, and that weekend they were there too. It was a large house.

Something weird was going on. The brothers were incredibly rude to her, and then after a bit it started to get physical. They would bump into her. Push her. Not exactly hitting her, but the contact was deliberate, and clearly not affectionate. They called her ugly names. 

Privately I asked her what was up. She said they had always been like that and I shouldn't worry about it. But I did! I wanted to say something to the men, hey Beth is a good person, stop fucking around. But there were two of them, and it wasn't my family and it didn't seem to bother her. So I didn't say or do anything.

We spent the weekend apart from them. We ate by ourselves. Went for hikes, went to a movie in town. 

But I never saw her the same way. I was aware this was happening to me, that something was shifting, and I tried to figure it out. The way her brothers treated her still disturbs me to this day. But to her, and presumably to them, it was normal family life. Each of them had their role to play. Her role was to be the outsider, part of the family, but not really.

I wonder where this behavior originated. Did their father have a sister who the family treated this way? Was the mother a sister of brothers who they pushed around? How does a family get to a place where this is normal?

I mention this now because I see friends trying to figure out Donald Trump. The answer is that we have no insight into what happened in the house he grew up in. What his relationship was like with his parents and siblings. We have little clues, but it's likely even DJT himself couldn't tell you much about it. He doesn't seem like the type of person who has done a lot of self-discovery and digging through his past. It seems as if he just accepted what was given to him as the normal way things are. 

September 2005: "Ask a fish to describe water. It can't because it doesn't know that water exists."

  1. I know DJ Trump is a very bad person. I know. I really do.
  2. Everything he does says "I need love, and I don't know how to ask for it."

A six-minute podcast that explains why programming requires concentration and why programmers do better in offices with doors that close and windows that open. 

Watching all the news about Trump's abuse of women.

Listened to Michelle Obama's historic speech in New Hampshire today.

The Republican candidate for president is an abuser.

Not at all surprising.

Then I realized something.

The abuses are crimes.

So what does it say when so many police organizations have endorsed him?

And when he preaches interfering with voting in black districts, and he has been doing that, can we count on the police to stop it?

Jay Rosen is experimenting with new ideas in blogging, and that's great to see. 

He wrote a post about the changes on Monday. 

  1. There's a new template for the site, a new look.
  2. And there's a new section behind the home page (that's how I visualize it) called The Board with "little posts that are longer than Twitter updates and shorter than PressThink essays."

Have a look at what Jay's done. 

My thinking

I've been iterating over this for a long time, myself. I want to tell you about it, with comments mixed in on Jay's approach, to the extent that I understand it.

I created a new blogging tool that is designed to be as easy to write for as Twitter and Facebook. There's a text box at the top of the page. Start typing in it. That's how you create a new post. But you can go past 140 chars. You can go really long. And unlike Facebook, you can link to other places on the web, you can style text, or add a podcast. Posts can have titles.

The thing I learned is there is no reason you can't use this kind of "quick" tool to write "serious" posts. As a software designer, this is an important observation. So you'll see posts of all length on my blog. 

I'm not sure if this would work for Jay though. His PressThink posts are more substantial than even my most ambitious post. I rarely spend more than an hour writing a post. I see blogging as fresco writing. If I have more to say about a topic, I write a new post and link back to the previous one. This isn't optimized for readers, I know, but it does make it more likely I will write something. So in a way that's there for the readers too.

So maybe Jay needs two separate spaces.

But -- as a reader, who primarily finds out about Jay's new stuff through his feed, now the newest quickest bits of Jay-wisdom are not available to me unless I visit his site? Or is there another feed to subscribe to? This is something I imagine Jay should think about, because I bet a lot of people read his stuff in the feed as opposed to "visiting" the website.

On the other hand, I could see some long-time followers of Jay, the most vocal ones of course, saying they don't like change. 

I have blown through those objections many times in the past, and no doubt have lost readers because of it. People ask me to do a separate feed for podcasts, but I won't. It falls under the same idea of "if it's too much work I won't do it," something I've observed about myself. I often won't use my own tools if it takes me too far off course. It's the web lifestyle, quick multi-tasking. It's too late for me to get off that train.

Dan Bricklin, imho, had the canonical observation on this topic. 

You look for software features that reward you for using them one percent of the time, and unfortunately there are a lot of products that penalize you for not using them 100 percent of the time.

He was commenting on a feature I was trying to create that would make it super-easy to categorize my posts. I couldn't discipline myself to do it regularly, I figured if I over-designed it for quickness, that I might get myself to do it. Nope. Still my writing will only be categorized well if an algorithm does it for me (which seems totally doable).

Back to the short-posts thing. What's funny is I had this problem totally solved in the period before Twitter. The home page of my blog could have short items and long ones. The long ones were also archived on separate pages, with comments. The short ones had permalinks that took you to the archive page for the day. It really worked because I had a tool that made it really fluid. And it was pretty good for reading and it all flowed through the feed. Twitter kind of broke that up. And Google Reader finished the job. ;-)

An aside, I've always felt posting on WordPress involved too much thought on how to get the software to do what you want. The most common thing for a blogging tool is to create a new post. It is also the barrier to entry. Which says to me that writing should be up front and everything else should be subordinate to it.

Jay has identified a space that has gone underserved since Twitter became the place where our short posts go, and our blogs focused on long-form writing to please Google Reader. And more important, he's experimenting with solutions. I hope more people do this as well.

PS: I could only find one reference to Dan's quote, in an archive of an RSS feed for the podcast Jay and I used to do! It must be out there somewhere else?

If you use an RSS reader it should have the ability to export your subscription list in a format called OPML. 

The subscription list contains a set of information about the feeds you follow, most important being the URL of the RSS file that contains the items of the feed. 

Here's an example of a subscription list, a set of feeds about Major League Baseball.

It's important to be able to export your list so that:

  • You can switch to a different RSS reader if you want.
  • If you want to share your subscription list with a service that combines your list with those of other people like you and provides recommendations based on the feeds you already follow.

I am hoping to start a new service that shares feed information called Share Your OPML. It's a reboot of a service I had in 2006 which was quite popular.

There's also a technical description, which is part of the OPML spec.

After the election, assuming Trump loses, we should have a big party for him, like halftime at the Super Bowl, praising him in ways he could only imagine before. He could feel like he was treated fairly and that would be the end. A ticker tape parade down Broadway too. 

Imagine if there were a database of feeds we all subscribed to, and we could get recommendations of new feeds to follow, based on what we already follow.

That's the idea behind Share Your OPML, a service I started in 2006. The story of SYO is one of success followed by scaling issues. Now we have better technology so it should scale better.

Help us get it started by:

1. Export your subscription list in whatever RSS reader or podcast client you use.

2. Upload it to the new SYO site. (It's simple, just sign in with Twitter and drag-drop your OPML on the gray box. Takes less than a minute.)

If you have questions, post a comment here


A friend needed a utility to create JSON from an OPML outline. 

I had all the code I needed in various projects, so I slapped something together. You might find it useful, so here it is! ;-)


You can also call it with a parameter. An example

It remembers the last URL in localStorage, if you have cookies turned on.

Pretty simple. 

Update #1

Soon after I posted this, I realized I had only done part of the job. I wasn't copying in the informationer from the <head> section of the OPML, just the <body>.

I also display the version number in the upper right corner of the page. This is v0.41a.

I also turned on comments for this post in case people see any problems with the app.

I think we'll look back on this period, after the first debate, the Twitter war with Miss Universe, the leaking of Trump's 1995 tax return, Pussygate, as the period in which the Republican Party finally split in two. The question now is which half is bigger. 

And that's why you see DJ Trump turning his guns on Republicans. 

Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House leads the "traditional" branch. And Trump and his Breitbart cohort will be in charge of the other branch. 

It has been suggested that the name of the new party will be The Deplorables, which I think is a good name, along the lines of the MedellĂ­n cartel led by Pablo Escobar who called themselves Los Extraditables, because they feared extradition to the US.

Trump, having lost the general election with four weeks to go, is free to use the power of incumbency as the nominee of the Republican Party, to tear the party in two. After the election, a fair portion of the Republican base will be loyal to him, and therefore some Republican members of Congress will at least be influenced by Trump, if not formally part of his new party. 

If he was able to wreak havoc on the Obama presidency with his birther campaign, imagine what he can do now, with much larger support in what was once the Republican Party.

PS: Maybe Trump isn't Hitler, or Stalin, as we thought earlier, but more like Pablo Escobar?

Twitter should work on DJ features.

Get us more live video to flow through the platform.

Make sure embedding works, so new interactive environments can be created.

We'll create bloggy tools for people to host conversations around events.

There's a huge untapped source of creativity -- people who are good at directing attention during live events. And there aren't many good platforms for creating interactive environments.

Liveblogging is a largely unexplored art.


I've been looking for a video clip of how Saddam Hussein did a purge of the Ba'ath Party in 1979. It was videotaped, I remember seeing it, but I couldn't remember where. 

A big room. Saddam sitting in front smoking a cigar. A thousand people. They start taking them out of the room one by one, to be shot by a firing squad. People figure out what's going on and freak out. Are they next? He makes his closest allies be part of the firing squad. Really chilling. It stayed with me all these years. 

I finally found the video on YouTube. It was in a Frontline episode entitled The Mind of Hussein. It aired in 1991 during the first Gulf War. Here's the video, the relevant part starts around 26:16.

As I've explained here many times, I used to vote Republican.

I switched in the 2004 election, because the war in Iraq. 

Kerry lost, and I swore at that point we needed to find out what was wrong, why so many Americans could vote to continue such a wrong unprovoked stupid war. Then 2008, the crash, and I figured at that point Americans had surely woken up. We elected Obama. We're on our way back! I figured at that point it couldn't revert. But it did. The people who were bitter then are even worse off now, I guess, and they are looking for someone to blame. They're white, so people of color, Muslims, Mexicans, blacks, of course, are who they blame. Which brings out the anti-semitism and we're off to the races.

On Friday we learn that after all the things Trump did, the one that causes his fellow Repubs to jump ship is that he boasted of sexual assault, on camera, in a very Trumpian way. That's it? After calling for the assassination of his opponent? Refusing to disavow support from the KKK? Giving comfort to the enemy? Pussygate is what causes his downfall? I doubted it then, I still doubt it now. I think that Josh Marshall called it. Trump is certain to lose and the Repubs are trying to salvage what's left of their careers. 

But wait, he did okay in the debate, so maybe the Republicans will get back on board.. 

But did he do okay in the debate?

Now he's saying that he'll put his opponent in jail when he's elected. He said it in front of millions of Americans. That is imho disqualifying. The Repubs should be denouncing that. But I have a feeling that instead they're going to just ignore it.

When did the Repubs decide that their careers matter more than the country? How could they swing back to him just because his bluster fit the template of a Repub presidential candidate? Never mind that his talk was a nonsense word salad of sniffs and barks and threats to dissent. 

We are truly fucked. 

14-minute podcast.

I'm thinking about Twitter on Debate Day.

Too bad it's so unloved by the stock market.

Twitter is fine doing what it does

It could be better at doing what it does.

It's the news system of the future.

And now is the future!

So make it better at that.

Low hanging fruit.

Not hard to do.

It's about love.

Love Twitter.

The market will take care of itself.

We're going to do another Screen2 debate watch party at:


Tomorrow at 9PM Eastern. 

I'm working on new features for this party, some of which are already visible on the site. 

As they become ready to test I'll post the updates to the site. 

Hope you can be there! :-)

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Last update: Friday, October 21st, 2016; 11:44 AM.