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Picky Crabb

Friday, June 7, 1996 by Dave Winer.

The Godfather Permalink to The Godfather

I wish DaveNet were a TV show so I could show you a clip from one of my favorite movies, The Godfather, starring Marlon Brando and eighteen other great actors doing their best work.

I'd show the peace conference between Don Corleone and the other Mafia bosses. They've been at war. The Don is recovering from bullet wounds. His oldest son is dead. Another son is in exile. Don Barzini's son is dead. Their businesses are in ruin. It's a sad conference.

Why the war? Why couldn't they get along? Because Don Corleone wouldn't share his senators. The other kingpins wanted to get into a new business, and they needed a feature from DC. He said no, I won't work with you. He had his reasons. But in the end, the war could have been avoided if he had found a way to work with the other Mafia bosses.

Another great scene, the opening scene of the movie. The Don is holding court on his daughter's wedding day. A local businessman wants revenge after the police have let him down.

I'll give you money! the businessman says. The Don says -- buono sera (I think this means good day). Buono sera, or get out of my face! If you came in friendship, then on this day when I can refuse no honorable request, your enemies would be mine, and I wouldn't rest until you had your revenge. You offer me money! Offer me friendship instead. Buono sera. Buono sera.

If nothing else, The Godfather is about respect. In that way it's just like the Mac business. If you don't respect others, you don't get respect in return. There's no such thing as world domination. None of us get to call the shots. Not even Apple.

Ater all we've been through together, can we finally respect each other for our accomplishments? Can we draw lines, implement APIs and get our products working together in new better ways? I continue to believe that we can.

Can you see me? Can you hear me? Good.

Can we work together? Sure! Will we? We'll see.

MacHack Permalink to MacHack

I'm rehearsing for the MacHack conference. I'll be the keynote speaker when the conference opens at midnight in Ann Arbor on June 22.

They made me an offer I couldn't refuse!

What do I want to say about being a Mac developer in 1996? There's a huge mess at Apple to clean up. That's Amelio's problem. But there's also a huge mess in the developer community. How can we clean that up and get back on track?

And that's where Respect comes into it. Listening to Mac developers, what's clear is how much they want respect. Look at my thing. It's soooo coool! With rare exceptions, none of our peers take note. We are all focused on Apple. Get a deal with Apple. Then come back to MacHack and be a real jerk!

So, at the opening of MacHack I'm going to show a clip from The Godfather. Then I'm going to pick a developer at random from the audience. What do you do? How does your software work? What are you excited about? To everything he or she says, I'm going to say thank you! Thank you for making great software. Thank you for investing in the Mac! Then I'm going to ask if there's anything I can do to make their software work better. I'm going to listen and take notes.

Then I'll do it again, until the idea sinks in. I expect it will make people uncomfortable. That's good.

Can we work together? Sure!

Will we? Why not?

Picky Crabb Permalink to Picky Crabb

Check out Don Crabb's editorial on the MacWEEK website. He calls on Apple to create opportunities for developers. In our market! He fails to mention that Frontier already fills the bill. I think I can hear Crabb's colleague, Henry Norr, saying that Frontier is hard to learn. So what! So is Java. So is JavaScript. So is Visual Basic and so is AppleScript. There's a learning curve in all programming environments. The more it does the more there is to learn. This fact of life can be ameliorated by books and magazine tutorials and websites and mailing lists. But if you ignore us, you cripple the Mac platform, because Crabb's blind spot becomes a self-fullfilling prophecy.

PC Magazine is filled with articles about batch programming, macros, and HTML tutorials. Mac magazines focus on wizzy tools. The website authoring market is more and more defined by raw power for the sysop; it's no wonder that the Mac is perceived to be underpowered. The power is filtered out by the editors of the Mac magazines. The software is there. They just won't write about it.

The need for a MacGeekWeek has never been greater. We get no respect from the Java community when they should be learning from us and stealing our ideas. They are happily ignorant of the power of the Mac. Here's a new opportunity to take the high ground and the Mac world is asleep at the wheel, looking to Apple to cook big meals and delegating developers to make sauces and appetizers. What a mess!

Users trust journalists to base their opinions on facts, not perceptions. The perception is that there is no new power in the Mac world. The perception is that we're all waiting for Apple. Too many perceptions. It's time for the Mac press to get with the program, take a fresh look at the market.

We don't need new stuff from Apple, we need a new attitude from the Mac journalists.

Internet Config Permalink to Internet Config

Can we trust Apple? Not yet. They will invade at the slightest provocation, without invitation. They kill our sons without even realizing they're doing it. At least Don Barzini respected Don Corleone. But Apple is like the pezzo novante, the white boy politicians who ran Albany and Washington and Nevada. They don't respect us. They probably don't respect each other either.

Hey, they barely know we exist. All their attention is focused on themselves. Can't blame them for it, it's just the way they are. But if we buy into their premise that developers don't exist, we set up a very unbalanced situation, with no room for happiness. No, we can't trust Apple yet. Maybe soon. But it isn't their time yet. Here's a story that proves the point.

Never was there a more needed and more innocuous technology than Internet Config. It handles a dirty chore that every net application used to have to handle for itself -- setting of all the user's net options, and configuring the helper apps while living on the net thru a Macintosh.

It was a struggle to sell this idea to app developers even though it made users lives easier. And system managers. If it were universally supported by Mac net developers, it would lower support costs, and increase usage of the net thru the Mac. A good thing, everyone agreed. But it was trouble to implement support for IC. Regardless, most of the apps swallowed their pride, shared their power for the greater good, respected the users, the managers and most important to me, each other.

Well, finally, as of mid-1996, Internet Config is mature. It's reached the point of being the defacto standard in the Mac world, and we know that defacto standards are much stronger than edict-based standards. Along comes Apple. They've discovered the Internet! Let's grow, they say. We'll eat our seed corn. Again! Hmmm. Tasty. All our balls are tossed into the air. With no pride, we Mac developers shuffle our feet, well of course Apple is destroying our market. That's what they do at Apple!

If Gil Amelio wanted to get the audience standing in ovation at WWDC he could have opened with the following: "I've been an Internet user myself for two years. I've been using the apps you developed. One of the reasons it's so nice to use the Internet from a Mac is that I only have to enter my email address once, and every app seems to know where I get my mail. I asked Heidi Roizen how this magic was possible. She told me the developers solved this problem on their own without any help from Apple. I just wanted to thank the Mac development community for doing such excellent work, and I wanted to let you know that Apple will build on Internet Config, and all our Internet efforts will be compatible with it."

Keep dreaming Dave. Nothing like that happened. In a public demo at WWDC, Apple showed their answer to Internet Config. No thanks to the developers and no claim of compatibility with IC. A fresh start! If it ships later this year, they will have caught up to where the development community was in early 1995. The Internet moves at blazing speed. A loop back to 1995 is an amazing concept. And it's totally unacceptable.

Developers have to learn to say no to Apple and yes to each other. That's what I will say at MacHack. If I have a choice I will always choose to work with a developer. We're peers. We don't come to the table with an assumption of one of us being inherently greater than the other.

If I can't do a deal with you, I can do a deal with your competitor. If there's a reason for us to work together, a market-driven one, I have no doubts that we eventually will do so. People listen to their competitors even if they don't listen to their friends.

Mac developers: send Apple back to the drawing board. Make a clear statement that you support Internet Config, and plan to do so forever. Say no to Apple. This problem didn't need solving. Apple can make the Mac filesystem faster. They can fix their bugs, support our standards, and then get out of our way. They can work with us when they show respect. Until then, we're on our own. That's the message that needs to be delivered loud and clear. Do you hear me? Listen!

What about the users? Permalink to What about the users?

Hey -- the ultimate responsibility belongs to the users, for not learning the lesson, and continuing to move where Apple tells the journalists to tell them to move. Mac users can behave like sheep, at least the more vocal ones. They keep searching for signs of innovation from Apple. There has been *some* movement in system software from Apple, but certainly not enough to justify the faith in Apple that the press and some users have shown.

How come Apple's super-expensive R&D division totally missed the worldwide web? If I were paying the bills I'd want to know why. The time for motion was 1994, not 1996. Luckily Netscape did the moving. Apple was in post-helicar denial. Knowledge navigators? People were ready for a modern Hypercard that lived on the Internet!

The dollars live with the users. When they act independently of Apple and MacWEEK, we have all the grounding we need. So if the users buy into Apple as the center of the universe, they get what they deserve.

The truth is that users use the software created by developers and let the journalists focus the attention on Apple. This makes the Mac business very inefficient. It means that Mac-based developers can't raise venture capital money, and can't do IPOs. It makes Apple's R&D budget more and more the sole hope of the Mac community. A self-fulfilling prophecy that eventually will lead to the death of the Mac platform. A diseconomy that Apple could fix in a single press release, but so far hasn't had the courage to deal with.

I will work with Apple Permalink to I will work with Apple

This is a precursor for peace with Apple. We've had some good meetings and exchanged some positive email. But they still don't get it. I'm going to do this in the open. Some developers question whether I want to sell out to Apple. I don't! And I won't. I'm a lightning rod, but some people don't understand what I'm saying.

Here are my terms. I'm happy to work with Apple, it's necessary, but as peers, with mutual respect. No more edicts, no more fear and, as I said to Amelio, no more lies. I've looked at AppleScript. It's time for Apple to return the favor. Look at what we've accomplished. Our work promotes their platform. It's time for Apple to acknowledge what we've been doing.

More broadly, I want a committment from Apple to tell the truth. If a developer's product defines a market, work with them, support them, and stay out of the way. Tell the journalists and investors to stop looking to Apple for all innovation. Teach them how to look to developers.

Position developers as leaders and we'll attract more leaders. And create new leaders. Develop complementary features in Apple's software. Get down to business, get out of the clouds. Help us turn the corner with the press. And let's help the users find their grounding. Then the platform can grow.

I keep doing this because I know that I won. I can't believe how long it's taking for the lightbulb to go off in the rest of the community that they can be winners too.

Dave Winer

PS: I wrote this piece yesterday morning, 6/6/96, but decided to wait, to check the assumption that Apple is hosing Internet Config. I sent email to two Apple execs and to three Mac mailing lists. The results are inconclusive. If Apple is embracing Internet Config, it's a positive sign and I will say so in a future DaveNet if it turns out to be true.

PPS: Internet Config could grow. How about global search and replace defaults? Or hotlinking across multiple apps, like cmd-2clicking in IDEs and scripting systems. Cmd-2click on something and every running app gets a shot at hotlinking. I wanted to do this in 1992. Four years later it's still a good idea.

PPPS: I've put up a page of info about scripting Internet Config on my website at http://www.scripting.com/internetconfig/.

PPPPS: My rebuttal to Crabb's MacWEEK editorial is at http://www.scripting.com/frontier/crabb.html.

PPPPPS: The MacHack website is at http://www.machack.com/.

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."