Get up, and do it again
Wednesday, April 12, 1995 by Dave Winer.
I used to wake up at 4AM, drink some coffee, check my email, turn on the tunes, and start writing. By 5:30 or so I'd move out of writing mode into tweaking and editing mode. By 7AM the piece is ready to roll. Run the scripts, update the website. After a walk, begin a day of work at about 9AM.
But somehow I started waking at 6AM instead of 4AM. It happened when they switched the clocks over to Daylight Savings. It caught me by surprise.
Last Sunday I was shocked to see the clocks at the supermarket set an hour ahead. I wondered if it was an April Fools joke! How come no one told me the clocks were changing? We all had a great laugh. I love those gals and guys at the supermarket. Always playing pranks!
But really, it's nice to have the extra daylight, and yeah, it was time for a break from DaveNet, so no complaints.
I saw a lot of friends at the InternetWorld show yesterday. The aisles were packed. Lots of juicy gossip. Everyone wanted to know where DaveNet was. I smiled and said You Can't Hurry Love. It's always nice to have a Motown song to fall back on...
Music-wise I've had a Jackson Browne tune rolling around in my head for days and days, I think it's called The Pretender. It's about life in L.A., rolling down the freeways, living empty passionless lives, struggling for the legal tender, making love till your strength is gone. And when the morning light comes streaming in, you get up, and do it again.
There's something very tender about this song. But I can hardly relate, it simply isn't my lifestyle, my commute is less than 50 feet! But that song must be saying something to me, because it's always there. Even when Aretha and Bonnie and Prince and Little Feat are playing, I can still hear Jackson's words roaming around my spiritual corridors.
I'm sure I'll eventually figure out what's going on here.
Anyway, the Little Feat band is on KFOG right now, modern Little Feat, not Lowell George's band. Little Feat is one of my three favorite rock bands of all time (the other two are the Talking Heads and Rolling Stones).
Last year's InternetWorld was a funny show. The booths filled a little corner of the San Jose Convention Center. It was a tiny show. For every booth there were five venture capitalists with their checkbooks out. All kinds of oldtimers like me and Resse Jones, that kind of entrepreneur, wandering around trying to figure out if this was an opportunity to get creative again.
I was marveling back then at how nice it was to have a tradeshow with no Microsoft booth and no Apple booth. Well forget it! They're here. And they're pissed. Fun!
Sure, there are some new faces. At this show CompuServe and America OnLine have hot booths. And lots of Mom and Pop booths with hopes of striking it big, being the next Booklink or Spry. People ask if this is like MacWorld in the early years. It's not. That was a slow growth show. When it boomed it was different.
OK -- let's talk about Apple and Microsoft. They're shooting at different targets, they appear to view the net as very different kinds of opportunities. Microsoft shows how they've integrated their web browser into the Windows 95 desktop. URLs are just like file paths. They plugged them in seamlessly. Very nice!
Apple is showing that the Mac is a great net server. They are an OEM for Chuck Shotton, author of MacHTTP. [Chuck made a deal with StarNine, and got some great bright yellow t-shirts and a new product name, and presumably got more time to focus on programming.]
The new server products that Apple announced are interesting because for the first time, Apple is licensing system software from a developer. Microsoft may sniff (they do!) but they should be paying attention. WebStar, the centerpiece of Apple's server strategy, wasn't written at Apple. Therefore Apple gets to hit a market window. Apple got pragmatic. Yahoo!
I ran into a mid-level Microsoft exec on the InternetWorld floor, a friend for many years. I asked what he thought of the new Apple stuff. He said it was just a bunch of shareware on a CD. He didn't say the software doesn't work. He just said it was shareware. OK. And he said it with real Microsoft zeal. Big grin. Gotta love it.
As I walked away from this little discussion, I said to my buddy Brian Zisk, "The thing that keeps Microsoft people healthy is that they release all their anger." Yup.
So what about Apple, what do they release? Yeah sure, it's shareware. And it works. But it's the wrong move man!
By some measures (I've said this before) the Mac has a greater presence on the net than Windows does. That's greater than 50 percent market share. But not as a server, as a client. Microsoft gets this and they're investing in streamlining Windows as a net client. Good move. They're catching the leading edge. Cool, for them, and cool for Windows users.
Apple says they have a client strategy, but I don't buy it. They're preparing to blow past the leading edge with CyberDog, which everyone knows is a web browser and much more, based on OpenDoc. In a meeting with Apple people at the show I asked what CyberDog was. They refused to say. I found this irritating. I think the Microsoft people know what it is. I asked another Microsoft friend. Sure, we know. Big deal. He said, not me. (He was beings sarcastic.)
Blowing past the leading edge is a mistake! Catch it, move it, own a piece of it. That's how you play the technology game. It's amazing how synergistic competition can be.
Let me tell you a story...
In skiing you never want to catch your edges. But in technology you always want to. Find the edge. Put a product on it. Let the wave make it grow. Upgrade. Play the FUD game. Upgrade again. Cash out. Do it again. That's my model at least... When it's worked for me, that's how it worked.
You can ship the greatest software in the world, but if you miss the edge (aha!) you lose. I've learned this from personal experience. I shipped ThinkTank for the Apple II in 1983, long past the growth boom for Apple II software. I came closer with ThinkTank for the IBM PC in 1984, I was only a year late. Also in 1984, I shipped a Mac product. Too early. In 1985 I shipped a TSR app, almost caught the wave, sold an enormous amount of software, but the product died under heavy pressure from the winner -- Borland's Sidekick. It didn't leave much room for other products.
I hit the edge exactly once in my career. In 1986 I had a lot of cool Mac software ready to go, just as the Mac was booming and the PC software market was atrophying (is that a word?). It's the nicest feeling in technology. Watching your product become a standard. My product. That's R E S P E C T. [Catching the edge is addictive -- I want to do it again!]
Anyway, Apple is actually on the edge, but I don't think they get it. The Mac is, today, the best client for the Internet. And it's winning. The tools are great. The opportunities for modularity are incredible. But Apple is trying to hit a home run, trying to blow past everyone, including their developers. Fuck that! That's not what it's about. It won't work.
In this world, things are evolving so fast, my ideas are showing up in other people's software, their ideas are showing up in mine. It's actually OK. I was over at the AOL booth, talking with my buddy Bill Hawkins, getting a demo of their new web browser. Oops. There's one of my ideas! But it's OK. Now I can get Netscape to pay attention to what we're doing. Or we'll give AOL a way to launch their Mac client and kick Netscape's butt. I love it because I win either way. Yes!
So the edge is moving fast. What was a hot new idea just three months ago is now an expected feature. The world won't wait. The rush is on. Forget about home runs. Just get on base. Home runs will happen by accident. No head trips. Play the game.
Apple is swinging for the fences. Their world is zigging and Apple is zagging. Yes, Chuck Shotton is a sweet guy. It's nice for Apple to have a credible server strategy. But let's work on the client strategy. A few simple tweaks and we've got it made, again. Is Dan Eilers ready for rock and roll? Is Dave Nagel? What about Spindler? I'll let you know...
I've been invited to speak at Apple's WorldWide Developer's Conference. They want me on a panel that comments on OpenDoc.
But I'd much rather be an evening speaker, and get to talk about the web and online stuff and the role that Macintosh can play in it. To focus people on technology that's shipping now, and keep future stuff in the future. I'd like to see developers wire up their apps with Apple Events to achieve integration that has immediate competitive value. I'd like to lead a discussion that gets to the heart of what developers are thinking about. And I want to learn.
I'm not sure if Apple realllly wants me to talk about OpenDoc, because I'm probably going to say that it's not a great investment for Macintosh developers, at least not right now.
Get out your web browser out and tune it to Justin Hall's website:
I read some of his stuff last night. It's great, very personal, very real, evokes real emotions. Justin really can write for the web. He's a very young man. If you like DaveNet, you'll like his stuff too. Check it out!
Last year, on April 12, a very big thing happened in my life. No details are being provided at this time. I was talking with a friend on April 13 last year, and mentioned another April 12, in 1992, which was also a big day. She pointed that coincidence out. I was amazed!
So, from now on, I'll always pay attention to April 12. Today! I'll let you know if anything happens. [No it's not my birthday...]
PS: Check out this month's Wired. They have a piece about me, about my amusing rants, with a picture! It's a first -- bearded Dave -- looking *very* wired. They said my Republican fiancee would love the picture. [I don't actually have a Republican fiancee.]
PPS: I'm not going to write about my new product until it's ready to be announced. A first for DaveNet! And then, we'll run the press release thru the usual channels, and I'll reserve DaveNet space for talking about the experience of developing the product, and talk about my hopes for the product beyond version 1.0. I'll really try to save the bluster for the PR materials. Dig we must!