You Are Media
Wednesday, September 6, 1995 by Dave Winer.
I remember coming to Silicon Valley for the first time in 1979, looking for the focal point of the computer industry, and being dismayed that I couldn't find it. "These people must party *somewhere*," I said to myself. Nope.
I've been here for 16 years. Trust me. There's no special place where the computer industry congegates for smalltalk and dealmaking and lovemaking. Maybe that's why there are so few interesting deals in the software biz? And maybe why there's so little love? Hmmm. There must be a social pulse to Silicon Valley, but it's hard to find.
Eventually the parties happened, but they weren't in the valley, they were at resorts in the Arizona desert, or in Las Vegas or Atlanta. Schmoozing is a twice-yearly event, held in hotel suites and ballrooms, and lately in stadiums and convention centers. Oddly, the number of conferences has grown to fill the entire calendar, except for brief periods at the end of summer and around the winter holidays. Want to go to a software industry conference? There's always one to go to.
I now have friends in the San Francisco restaurant business, so the Software Bar idea has gotten new life. Want to open a bar or restaurant? Now we know how to do it. At the same time, the concept of an Internet Bar has caught on. There are probably about 20 of them in the planning stages in San Francisco alone.
A few weeks ago, I got involved in the planning process for a software bar in Palo Alto. I had partners. They were raising money. Then it became clear we were going to get the money! Millions of dollars. I started to panic! Oooops. I better figure out what the software is *really* going to look like.
I resolved my panic.
Gotta go talk with my friend Marc Canter.
I've known firstname.lastname@example.org for about ten years. Friends kept telling me there was this new guy making Mac software that I had to meet. I remember meeting Marc on the floor at MacWorld Expo in 1985. He had a lot of bluster. I thought he was a bullshitter, but a fun one. I met with him later that year in Las Vegas where he told me his grand vision about how graphics was going to bring taxi cab drivers into the software business. I didn't get it.
I learned later that Marc always has a grand vision, and he's always way ahead of the curve. He sees this as a curse, because people don't understand, they think he's bullshitting, and they never do what he wants them to do. Marc is searching the planet for evidence of intelligent life, and the world, for the most part, was letting him down! But I saw this as a blessing -- to be able to so uniquely see where things are going is a good thing, not a bad one.
Anyway, about a year after meeting Marc, I was in Chicago speaking at a Macintosh user's group, and had an evening to kill. I looked Marc up, and went over to his small Chicago office located on the first floor of the small house he shared with his wife email@example.com.
At this meeting I learned that Marc isn't a bullshitter. He showed me an early version of his VideoWorks software, which eventually was renamed Director, and now is the industry standard multimedia development platform. Cute characters roam around the stage, opening doors, making wonderful sounds. Music punctuates the presentation, the characters dance. Smart guys working here, having a great time! That demo blew my mind just like my first demo of a spreadsheet did. Who ever knew a computer could be used for that kind of stuff? I sure didn't!
Over the years Marc and I got to know each other better. He struggled with the company thing. They moved from Chicago to San Francisco. I introduced him to John Doerr and Nat Goldhaber, pitched them on investing in Marc's company, and they did. They hired CEOs, but for the most part, Marc and Devorah ran the parts of MacroMind that worked.
Director became the standard because Marc has a wonderful way with C programmers and truly understands content developers. He gives good speech. He gets in your face. He's a human bridge. He's unstoppable. A force of nature.
Devorah built the MacroMind developer program. She organized Marc's friends, holding developer's conferences, providing them with specialized tools, making introductions, training them and entertaining them. MacroMind developer conferences were great parties!
Eventually Director became god, Marc left MacroMind, and it became MacroMedia. The company merged countless times with other companies, and eventually went public. Earlier this year Marc and Devorah's stock became liquid, and now they're rich. Coooooool.
All this time, I had a basic belief that someday Marc and I would work with each other. I have this feeling about a few other people. Stay in each other's loops, keep talking about what we're doing and what we're interested in, and stay creative.
Someday, as the big wheel turns, our tokens will end up on the same square. It's an intuitive thing.
I focused on outlining, programming languages and collaborative structures, with brief forays into graphics. Marc focused on music, animation and storytelling, They needed an outliner and a programming language, so they did them -- but my stuff is more powerful and complete. I did bullet charts, but my graphics couldn't compare to his. In many ways Marc and I share a spirit, but we're diversified -- Marc can put characters on the stage, and I can wire a hundred stages together.
Over the last year, our loops have been circling very, very close to each other. And then, a couple of months ago, when Netscape and MacroMedia announced their strategic relationship, it became clear that we were arriving at the top of the mountain that Marc and I had been climbing from different sides. The web, which I made it my business to understand was merging with the multimedia world. Marc's tool, Director, his labor of love, was becoming compatible with my tool, Frontier, *my* labor of love.
So, when the Software Bar thing became real, I had to get Marc into the loop. We sat down and tried to brainstorm with the restaurant and money people, and then realized we had much bigger fish to fry. We split off. The number of combinations between my tools and his, my community and his, were too big to pass on this time around. Our opportunity is much greater than the Software Bar.
Now Marc and I are working together. The few people who know about this collaboration think it's great. I think it's great! Marc says "I'm so glad you came into my life!" Yeah man! It's love. It's so cooooooooooooool.
Now you know too. :-)
Let's have a party!
I've been zooming thru the multimedia world with Marc as my guide and now I realize that the software bar is much more than just a watering hole for Silicon Valley execs. Multimedia websites running over a 28K connection are going to make the web more beautiful. Little animations, sparkles of color and movement and music. It'll be great! But a high bandwidth connection, the kind of performance you can get from a local area network, is going to make even more incredibly beautiful collaborations possible.
The bar will be a showcase for the very latest high bandwidth interactive technology, the stuff you can't get at home. If you want to impress your date, take her to Marc and Dave's Software Bar. Every week something new to blow your mind, and hers!
Everyone has a presence in the bar, whether or not they're physically present. The bar is on the Internet, so you can connect to it from anywhere. You can see who's there. What they're playing with, even *who* they're playing with! Heh heh heh.
Over many years of being an online person, and a member of many online communities, I've learned that whenever a group connects at a cyber level, it isn't very long before they establish a physical connection. I want to see the body of my new friend. With a software bar as the meeting place, we will have a natural physical place to congregate.
So here's the punchline...
What's the result of the integration of multimedia technology with the Internet?
People become media objects!
Place your hand in front of your face. Palm facing your eyes. Quickly move your hand to hit your forehead.
There's Dave and DaveNet.
Marc and MarcNet.
Person and persona.
Go with the flow!
PS: We'll rent out the Software Bar for product launches and media events. We'll always have the latest and greatest software and hardware to showcase, to make *your* software and hardware look great.
PPS: It has occurred to us that we could just be a software and content supplier for software bars. With so many opening all over the world, maybe that's the best way for us to make a contribution. But there will be one or two bars that Marc and I will hang out at. One or two that will get the new stuff first. Two likely locales -- San Francisco and Palo Alto.
PPPS: I also want to do a multimedia rendition of DaveNet. I want to tell my own stories, with my own voice and my own face. When I talk about Aretha, I want you to hear her!
PPPPS: I also want to do a radio show.
PPPPPS: And a TV show.
PPPPPPS: There are a million other postscripts to this piece! Stay tuned.