Ain't It The Truth!
Wednesday, March 29, 1995 by Dave Winer.
Hey -- it's March 29. That can only mean one thing. Two more days until April Fools Day! One of my favorite holidays. Got any ideas for pranks DaveNet can play on the CyberCommunity? I might have one or two.
Check your mailbox on Saturday. DaveNet loves a challenge!
The website is looking so cooool, I thought I'd apply for Cool Site of the Day, so I did. If you haven't looked in a while, check it out. It's rockin! It's happenin! [And if you're having trouble getting thru, please let me know. It's running real fast on my system, but other people have reported problems. Dig we must!]
Randy Green, email@example.com, my spiritual sister, says: "it looks like wallpaper in a little boy's bedroom." Yeah!
Ask Susan Kare about that, firstname.lastname@example.org. She did the graphics for the site. Something about me must have inspired that in her? Does Susan have a little boy? I think so. Or maybe there's a beautiful little boy lurking inside Susan?
Have you seen the new IBM commercials? They're just awesome.
Czechoslavakian convent sisters talking. Chicago's going to be late. Can't wait to surf the net. The sister's beeper goes off. We laugh. It's funny!
What does funny mean? Look it up in the dictionary -- "anything that excites laughter or mirth."
I'd add that, when we laugh, I think we're really saying Ain't It The Truth! The louder we laugh, the closer to our heart the truth is.
That's why Rodney Dangerfield's self-deprecating humor is so effective. We aren't really laughing at Rodney, we're really laughing at the little bit of Rodney that lives inside all of us. We all know someone like Rodney -- it's you and it's me! [I wonder if Rodney knows Aretha?]
Humor is creativity applied to clever ways of saying things that are true. It makes sense to use humor in advertising, because it adds a aura of truth to what you're saying. IBM says their system is worth your support. They say it in a humorous way. We remember, and if they say it often enough, our barriers come down, and we're more likely to do what they want us to do. All because they made us laugh.
But, there's a problem. The sisters are from Czechoslavakia. So instead of saying "Warp," they say "Vaurrrrp." (Roll the r's.) So now, when I read about OS/2 in InfoWorld, I always laugh when I see the name of their product. I pronounce it the Czech way. Maybe that wasn't what they were hoping for at IBM?
Please don't confuse Warp with Warf, the Klingon warrior of Star Trek. Warf says to a settler (who later turns out to be an alien) "That showed gall." The settler apologizes. Evil grin on Warf's face. "You don't understand. I admire gall."
So do we! Keep it up IBM. A little humor never hurt. Quite the opposite.
The old song goes -- Suzie and Johnny sittin in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then little Johnny, in a baby carriage!"
I played matchmaker in the last few days...
The happy couple is Claris's FileMaker and QualComm's Eudora. The result is a real database for email addresses. The glue that connects it all is a set of scripts.
I got the idea from reading a MacWEEK piece on Claris's acquisition of an email program from Fog City Software. The product will include a database for email addresses. I thought -- how silly -- Claris already has the leading easy-to-use database for the Macintosh. Why not use FileMaker to store the list of mail addresses? So I converted my DaveNet scripts to run off a database of email addresses stored in FileMaker.
I mentioned this to my buddy Dave Jacobs, email@example.com. He suggested that I write a script to scan the Eudora inbox periodically, so that if I've ever received a bit of email from you, I'll know that your address is in my database. Easy to do, Big Dave.
In the next few days, I'm going to use my new proficiency at web writing, thanks to my new ISDN connection, to put together a release. If you use Eudora and have FileMaker, I think this'll be a must-have. It'll be freely downloadable, a social and technologic experiment. Hope you'll try it out.
[Coming soon -- Steve Michel, firstname.lastname@example.org, is working on an outline editor for Netscape's Bookmarks menu, built in Frontier. It's hierarchic, of course, and completely aces the built-in editor that Netscape provides.]
I looked up "standard" in the dictionary. There are eleven different definitions. The one that most closely matches the way the word is used in the software industry -- "a piece of popular music that continues to be included in the repertoire of many singers, bands, etc. through the years."
There are a lot of key words in that definition. "Included" is totally key. Nothing can be a standard if it isn't included. And of course singers and bands are really software developers and competitors.
An example, Symantec's THINK C used to be the standard in the Macintosh development world. It was always included. If you produced a toolkit for Mac developers, you couldn't go wrong by shipping it in THINK C format. No one would complain. Now the standard is Metrowerks. So just because something was once a standard doesn't mean that it will always be so.
For many reasons, Eudora is a standard. Maybe that'll be a subject of a future DaveNet piece. It's a very big product. It covers more ground than any one person can fully appreciate. [Its scriptability is second to none, it's totally open, and that makes great things possible. In addition to being a great emailer, it's also an email platform. Key point.]
But you never hear QualComm use the S-word to describe their product. It would be un-humble to do so. Humility is great, especially when it comes from standard-setters. Eudora is almost invisible, you never read about it in consortium press releases. The sign of a true standard. No need to beat their breasts!
Contrast that to Netscape, who is trying to take control of the HTML standard. The ground they're exploring now is outside the safety of standards. They have to make it look like they're a standard-setting organization and not a commercial software company. But their product is nowhere near as rich as Eudora, or even close to being as open.
Too often, technology vendors self-proclaim their proposals as standards. But they are misleading everyone, including themselves. Implicit in the concept is consensus. We all have a say in what makes something a standard. It isn't something you can dictate.
Size of the company is rarely important. Maybe it's inversely important! The most vibrant and interesting standards have always come from nowhere. Perhaps this is because incubating standards can enjoy the quiet, perhaps they grow better and more healthily outside the mostly irrelevent politics that infect all large organizations.
Standards are very important in the software world. That's what's driving the growth of the Internet. All that's happening on the net now, was technologically possible many years ago.
We weren't waiting for software, we were waiting for standards.
PS: Very funny line from an old Elvis Costello song: "I wish you luck with a capital F." That's funny! It reflects old unprocessed, unreleased anger we all carry around with us.
PPS: Standard is an important word. So is "open." I'm putting this on my to-do list for a future DaveNet piece. Share your ideas -- what does open mean to you?
PPPS: Watch out for press releases that use the word "legacy." When a company is trying to quickly establish a standard using shortcuts, by cutting corners, they position what came before them as their legacy. How inconvenient that there are already solutions to their problem! How arrogant and disrespectful to use such a negative word. What goes around comes around... [You can't hurry love!]
PPPPS: America OnLine apparently has a website, but I haven't been able to get thru. Its address is www.blue.aol.com. So does Prodigy, at www.astranet.com. Why Astranet? I don't know! The sysop of the eWorld site, email@example.com, sent me an email: "I'd rather have a DaveNet award than a %$#%^&&* Oscar! Forest Gump? Cha!" Yeah man. Keep up the good work and good energy!