I Want Too Much!
Saturday, July 6, 1996 by Dave Winer.
This DaveNet is brought to you by the Dave Matthews Band, from their Crash CD. The song is Too Much.
I like the tune. What do the lyrics mean? I eat too much. I drink too much. I want too much. Too much! Yeah. I guess so. Why not? Yeah. Huuuuuh. It just plays over and over. Too much? Nahhhh. Oooooh. This man is cooooool. Yeaaaahhhh.
I stepped over a line in the last piece, Microsoft in the Mac Market, and wish to retract my statement about Marc Andreessen's honesty. It wasn't fair. I apologize to Marc and the people at Netscape.
I don't like the fact that Netscape has aligned itself with Apple's Cyberdog-at-the-center vision of the Mac web client world. But let's assume Andreessen knows what he's doing and is being straight with us.
I don't like it when people question my honesty, and I like it even less when I do it! Sorry Marc and thanks for taking the high road.
And many good things came from that piece. I got a call from a project leader at Netscape, and an invitation to have lunch with their Mac team to talk about how Netscape can connect up to other Mac-based net clients and servers and content tools. I returned the call, of course. I'll report on progress in a future DaveNet. Thank you Netscape.
A rumor is running around Apple that I want them to cancel AppleScript and replace it with Frontier. Not true! I wish they'd check with me first.
I haven't even offered to license Frontier to Apple. The question has come up and I've asked to wait a couple of months to discuss this. I want to wait until management changes settle at Apple before discussing something as important to me as the licensing terms for Frontier. I also have some more technology I want to deliver before locking things down.
No one likes to be painted as a villain, or have their opinions misrepresented, me included. Maybe Apple should cancel AppleScript? I don't know. I probably wouldn't like it because people would look to me to fill its bill. I'm not ready to do that.
AppleScript serves the needs of many people who are casual about scripting. I prefer to work with people who are passionate about scripting. AppleScript is a useful filter. I want to connect with people who have a real business reason to set up automatic processes, especially people who are doing web content. So I like the way things are now. No need to change anything. I hope that clears it up.
I'm still interested in authoring tools for writers and graphics people. I have lots of experience in this area, check out MORE, a product I did in the mid eighties. It's a very interesting tool for building object oriented websites! It was a little ahead of its time. Actually a lot.
And to Apple, more professionalism is called for, please! This rumor has been spread widely, but no one bothered to check with me. Hopefully Apple management will make it known within the company that a developer's reputation is not something to be treated casually. How about a little benefit of the doubt?
I respond to email. I answer the phone. Check first, before you repeat a rumor that makes no sense. If you doubt our position on AppleScript, check out the We Love AppleScript! page on the scripting.com website.
I like it. Hey -- I had a meeting on Wednesday with 24 Apple webmasters and sysops. Yes, they have good web energy at Apple. I knew it. I respect those gals and guys.
The meeting started with a demo of Claris's Home Page. Nice product! What a great combo Home Page would be with Frontier. Their clip art gallery is the perfect user interface for macros and smart web elements. As soon as they're ready we'll get this working. It'll be very cooool.
Then I showed them Frontier's templates, macros, the glossary, object oriented websites, connections to standard apps. They loved it! I was so happy. Still am!
Hey - even in a company that has its share of negative energy, the web people at Apple are like web people everywhere. Open minds. It's the nicest thing about the web. It attracts clean-energy people who respect the work that other people do. I can spot a web person anywhere. A smile. They stand up tall. They respect good work. Yeah!
Breathe deep, take it all, it comes cheap. Wheeeee! Suck it up suck it up suck it up fill it up.
We're still learning more about the web. It's not a wizzy medium like page layout was. It's the opposite of wizzy, instead of What You See Is What You Get, it's actually You Have No Control Over What They'll See.
So wizzy editors come up short. It doesn't matter what you see on your screen. It probably has nothing to do with what the reader sees.
That divides the market into two parts, products like PageMill, Home Page, Front Page et al, that try to give you a fully wizzy editing environment, and products like BBEdit and other text editors that give you great text editing tools like multi-file search and replace (with grep!) and connections to scripting software and databases.
I've believed in the non-wizzy nature of the web for some time, and built my software accordingly. I experimented with easy to use website builders, and found that I always wanted to customize and control and flow things in ways that aren't supported in wizzy environments.
Eventually I gravitated to BBEdit, because it's powerful and because its author Rich Siegel, email@example.com, is a friendly guy who likes to put features into his product to connect with products like mine. So personality is an issue. The wizzy guys try to do it all themselves. Eventually they will realize (I think) that they can hook into web flow systems, and that this will truly make it easy for the writers who develop web material and the sysops that support them.
MacWEEK has an excellent piece on this subject in this week's issue. Everyone who's involved in web development, on any platform, should read this piece. It's a milestone. I believe they got it totally right. Yay!
Please mark your calendars: Sunday July 14, San Jose Convention Center. 7PM, part of the Mactivity conference. The first official DaveNet interactive essay! Yeah. Do you have something to say about the future of Internet clients and servers? Not just on the Mac. Are you doing something interesting? Do you need a feature from any of the Mac net leaders? We'll be taking notes! Do you make a contribution? Do you eat too much? Learn something new! Hear some great new tunes.
I'm introducing a several new DaveNet features. A microphone, an auditorium, and lots of people! You too. Please come. I'll roam the audience with a microphone. We'll chat. Feel like dancing? Cooool. Got a tune you'd like to share? Bring the CD.
I've been meeting with venture capitalists. It's fun! I don't wear a suit, but this is Silicon Valley. Yeah, I just wear my jeans and a black jacket and a white shirt and soft brown shoes. I carry a PowerBook and bring a printed business plan. I tell my story. I listen, and sometimes I hear an interesting story. Here's one.
The VC asks who does Microsoft really fear? Name two companies. It's a puzzle with an interesting punchline. Think about it.
Netscape? No. They think Microsoft thinks that eventually they'll wear them down. It's just a matter of time before the Microsoft browser is truly ubiquitous, and then content developers will be compelled to support the stuff that Microsoft has put in their path. I think it's a little more complex than this, but I went along.
Apple? Well, of course not. They read the papers at Microsoft. The battle with Apple happened in the early 90s. It's over. No fear of Apple at Microsoft.
OK. Answer number one. Intel. Microsoft can't afford to let Intel out of its sights. They can't compete with them. There are no challengers in sight, and conventional wisdom is that no one can catch Intel. It costs too much money to set up a manufacturing operation like the one Intel has. Even the US government couldn't catch up with Intel.
But here's the surprise. The other company that Microsoft should fear is Cisco Systems. Cisco? Really? You drink too much!
It's a puzzle. I'll explain it in the next piece. In the meantime think about it. Interesting stuff! Guesses are welcome.
Apple announced on Tuesday that Ellen Hancock is the new top development person at Apple. She starts on Monday. We've had a lot of time to think about Ms. Hancock in this position, since she was rumored to be Amelio's choice for a couple of months.
The New York Times report was an interesting case study in how the world doesn't appreciate what's right and wrong about Apple. They decry the loss of innovation at Apple. It's true, the whole original Mac team is gone now. But they've been gone for many years. The energy that created the Mac was dispersed in the mid eighties. When people look to Apple to provide the spark of creativity, they point our attention at the wrong place.
Turn your heads 180 degrees. Today's developers have much more in common with the original Apple, the one that produced MacWrite and MacPaint, than today's Apple does. Look on your hard disk. Where did your net apps come from? Content tools? Servers? Hmmm. It wasn't Apple.
Hey - they've been hiring out of the general talent pool of Silicon Valley for twenty years. They've been operating as a conventional corporation and professorial R&D house for many years. No entrepreneurial incentives. They've been focused inward for many years. To expect them to wake up and invent a new paradigm that's relevent is as unrealistic as thinking that OS/2 was going to displace MS-DOS in the late eighties.
So Ellen Hancock, the ex-IBM executive, seems to be exactly the right kind of person to lead Apple's development. She says that she can wear jeans too. But... Hmmm! That's not the right answer. We need more suits at Apple. People with sharp pencils who ask Why? or Who wants this? People who can teach Apple to be responsible and accountable. More than anything, Apple needs to grow up and to lower the volume. Great breakthroughs can't come from Apple. Stop dreaming.
Apple's challenge is to make the trains run on time and get out of the way where ever possible. To make a profit at whatever level makes sense, and to allow developers to take risks and drive and serve the new markets that are growing so quickly. Then Apple's profits will come back, and their price-to-earnings ratio will soar to net-stocks level.
Apple people who want to spark new markets with great ideas should start new companies, write business plans, raise venture capital, and compete in the market. Apple itself can't afford to take the creative and technological risks. The economics vastly favor small independent developers.
They're inches away from the right answer now. John Markoff at the Times seems to be yearning for something he can't have. He remembers too much. Let's set realistic expectations for Apple. If you really want an alternative to Windows it's the only way to go.
PS: Check out http://www.microsoft.com/. The Microsoft home page points to my humble Mac server running WebStar running at the end of an ISDN line. Hey I had to up the maximum number of connections. Some people have had too much trouble getting thru. Traffic jam. More surfers than a beach has sand!