Random Breathless Stuff
Saturday, November 5, 1994 by Dave Winer.
I had lunch on Wednesday with Rory O'Connor, a writer at the San Jose Mercury-News, firstname.lastname@example.org. We talked about various computer industry things. We also talked about the newspaper strike in San Francisco.
The next day, I was driving to the grocery store and heard a report on KQED-FM about the strike paper, the Free Press. All the striking reporters and columnists are continuing to write. The problem is manufacturing and distribution. They could write, but how would they get the stories to the readers? The owners of the SF papers own the printing plant and distribution system. But do they own the only one? What about the information superhighway? Well, what about it??? Hah!
I called Rory from my cellphone. I was breathless. Left a voicemail. When I got home, he had left a voicemail with the name of the leader of the strike paper. I sent him an email (email@example.com). Within 15 minutes I had an idea of what was going on. They're doing a home page. Of course!
I offered any help I could provide. Strictly as a volunteer. The offer is still open. I have the time.
The online-ization of San Francisco's newspapers could be a major historic event. Especially because it's happening on the eve of an election. What if there's an earthquake tomorrow? Mud-slides?
I want to get involved if it's at all possible.
Some people were surprised at the Chinese Household piece, because it seemed to step right up to the line of political correctness. These people were mostly men. The women, including one self-described ardent feminist, seemed to like the piece. [She said "I try not to get offended on principle." Thanks!]
Perhaps we've arrived at a place where men can once again write about women? We'll see! [Fear is frozen fun.]
Respectfully, I've noticed that a lot more women are interested in computers than ever before. Even women that aren't in the computer business.
"I want to get on this superhighway thing" seems to be what they're saying. And why not? Women are the networkers of our species. But the vast majority of women aren't on the highway yet. That's changing now. And in that change is a potential boom unlike any we've seen.
My prediction: eventually, the online world will be managed by women. The role of men, as usual, will be to make it safe for women to create and run our civilization. We'll bring them technology. The information superhighway won't be a cave. It'll be a home. I know this is wildly optimistic. Reality will probably be something less than this.
But the unmistakable women's touch, even in a post-feminist age, will make logging on more like coming home.
It's an excellent time to rethink online software with this new audience in mind. They're buying their cars. Learning how to drive.
They seem to be choosing America On-Line, but even this very colorful iconish approach to networking has too many detours and anachronistic features.
There's a lot more to say about this, of course...
[Recommended reading: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray, published by HarperCollins, 1992.]
Another idea to get breathless about. What if you could replace your 14,400 baud modem with a $99 device that can transmit at more than 1,000,000 baud? How would that change the nature of online software?
I had a phone talk earlier this week with one of my subscribers about this. With all sincerity, he said this was going to happen within the next few months. He was believable, assuming you're ready to believe. I'm not sure I am.
It's an interesting mental exercise. Relax the rules of modem-based client/server software. You can now send color bitmaps and animations and music more freely. Synchronization is much cheaper, so you can do more of it. Online clients will be able to view the net more as a hard disk, and less as a very slow floppy drive.
I'm checking this out and will keep you posted. In the meantime, if you have any unrealized fantasies about this, please share!
Starting with this essay, all messages are routed thru the Internet. AppleLink is no longer a special service as far as the scripts are concerned. The next step is to move to my own Internet domain, and instead of using the AppleLink client to distribute the messages, I'm going to use Qualicomm's Eudora Internet mailer program. Eudora is very scriptable, and unlike AppleLink, it appears to have a future. Leonard Rosenthol of Aladdin Systems points out that Eudora is probably the most widely used scriptable app on the Macintosh. Very interesting.
I've reworked the scripts. Now the group-of-eight is random each time. You'll have an opportunity, with each message, to meet seven new people all of whom share an interest in this kind of stuff. And they're not all from the computer business.
This change also creates the opportunity for bugs. I've tested the new scripts as thoroughly as possible. My fingers are crossed, toes too. ;->
And it's raining in California! This is great, because the dry season is over. Rain makes the roof leak, and there will be power outages. Should be fun!
PS: As always, if you aren't interested in this kind of stuff, send me email and I'll happily delete your name from the list. And it's OK to forward it or repost it anywhere you like. The list is expanding -- I'm always happy to add new names.