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Spider Web

Friday, July 12, 1996 by Dave Winer.

Joan Osborne dreamed about Ray Charles last night, and he could see just fine. Now Ray can see, but he don't sing no more. No Georgia on his mind, he just stays in bed. He took his glasses off, now Joan can look inside his head, and flashing like a thunderstorm, she saw a shiny spider web. A spider's web? A spider's web? (Yes.) In Ray Charles's head!

It's smoothe happy sexy music that rolls with a message. It makes your shoulders twist and your knees bend. Fingers extend to the sky, palms face outward. Twist and roll! It's a spider's web. Yeah in Ray's head.

Hey - people told me that since I like Sheryl and Alanis and Bonnie, that Joan had to be next. They were right. Keep em coming folks! Yeah-yeah.

Hey - it's actually a deep song. Maybe that's why I like it. We weave our own webs, and not just on the worldwide web. Friends. Connection. Sometimes whole branches of our webs break. Even the ones in our heads. And no doubt, including the one in Ray Charles's head.


A Sad Note, for Me Permalink to A Sad Note, for Me

Friendship is a great thing, I don't know how to live without it, nor do I want to try. A few months ago I said something very real to my friend Bernie Dekoven. I said, Bernie we're getting into best friends territory here. Someone had tried to enter my space thru Bernie, when the appropriate thing to do was to come straight to me. Bernie said what I hope all my friends would say -- no. I thanked him. And I realized that I could trust him to protect me, even if I wasn't there to protect myself. Real trust, that's one of the things that turns a normal friend into a best friend.

So many friendships in Silicon Valley are based on what one person can do for another. I am lucky because I have friends who just like hanging out and playing and sharing what we can create together. These are the best kinds of friendships. Best friends! Cooool. I'm lucky to have a friend like Bernie.

I love hanging out with him, we get giddy together. We rant in Texas accents. It's funny! Bernie is a funny dude, a game designer at birth. An open and vulnerable man. I can relax with him. We've been taking twice-weekly walks for the last couple of years. I imagine we look funny, laughing and talking loudly as we walk thru the woods. But who cares cause we have fun!

Well, there's sad news, but not bad news. Bernie is moving to Los Angeles, to become a full-time game designer for Mattel. This is good news, because it's what he wants. I know, because I listen to him. He wants a steady job. And he's tried lots of other venues for his loving fun, and game design seems to be the best fit.

So look for some great new concepts built around Barbie, Hot Wheels and Cabbage Patch Kids and other Mattel properties. The fun will be deep and profound, no doubt! And subtle. Listen for the Texas twang.

I wish the best for him, because I know that's totally what he deserves. He puts so much of himself into his creations. That's what makes them so coool. It's just sad because he's moving so far away, so no more walks.

I will miss Bernie, in fact, I already do.

A New Moon Mission! Permalink to A New Moon Mission!

Hey - it's cool that I get to write. I've definitely been holding onto that one. Glad to let it go, so now I can have more fun. Yeah. The yin and yang of life. A big tree falls, that creates new space for seedlings. Many of them. Which one will grow to touch the sky? It's hard to say. But it's easy to love the potential of any of them.

A great new cause came into my life yesterday. It's a political one! And financial. I get to work with some of the best webmasters in the world. We'll hold hands like we did back in February; we'll learn a bunch, and raise some hell for a good cause.

We'll use our communication power to make the world a safer place for creativity. We're already starting to set up the databases and computer networks. It's like a moon mission! Lots of new toys and friends. They asked what kind of hardware I want. I said get a few Macintosh 9500s with lots of RAM. They didn't bat an eyelash. I like this!

A New Tactic Permalink to A New Tactic

These days it's harder and harder to have a discussion about software without someone asking if it's wise to invest in the Macintosh considering the continuing stream of bad news from Apple Computer.

I'm trying a new tactic: give them what they want.

OK. You're right! The Mac is a hopeless cause. Pretty soon Apple will go Chapter 11. Hey - let's pick a day. How about September 1? So what will we do on September 2?

It's funny, when I say this, there's an imbalance. I'm propping people up. I guess they figure as long as *someone* invests in this platform, it'll have a life. How would you all feel if there was no Mac? If you care about software, you have to care about this. So what are you doing about it?

More important, what is Apple doing about it? Have they been willing to take any losses? Maybe. They've surely been willing to pass losses onto their shareholders. $740 million last quarter, plus a projected $100 million loss this quarter. A $600 million debt offering a couple of months ago.

And they pass their losses on to the developers. A Cyberdog-centered Internet strategy, that crowds out the new stuff, and creates the expectation OpenDoc-based nirvana is just around the corner.

Have the individual employees at Apple been willing to accept their share of the pain? Look at the orgchart. It gets fatter. For the most part, the same people are running the show. The same old philosophy that can't find a way to work with Windows and Microsoft, or other Mac developers. No creativity, just fear. A blanket called Infinite Loop that now has lots of holes in it. A sleep that's uncomfortable. Soon the blanket will disappear, and all the sleeping people will have to wake up.

Why OpenDoc? Permalink to Why OpenDoc?

Would someone at Apple concisely and respectfully explain why they continue to invest in OpenDoc? Are they still viewing Windows as competiton? What will it take for them to let go of this idea? Realistically, there's no chance that the Macintosh will displace Windows as the dominant desktop operating system. We still have a strong position in content tools. But if Apple insists on competing with Windows, we may not have that position much longer.

They're mighty picky about where their software comes from. There's magic in the Mac development community. Stuff that's shipped first here, but the world continues to ignore it. The Windows developers are catching up, albeit slowly. Infoworld writes about their products, not ours. Even MacWEEK runs web server benchmarks without our software.

I do what I can to shine the spotlight, but it doesn't work as well as I'd like. People may enjoy my writing, but they miss the point. Apple surely doesn't help - when they state their Internet strategy, it's as if my software and much of my friends's software doesn't exist.

We're an Outpost Permalink to We're an Outpost

Keeping the customers busy with new software is a good tactic. Instead of pushing what we have, Apple is pushing what we don't have. Their booth at MacWorld Expo in early August will be filled with science projects not software.

What's the game plan? Why OpenDoc? Isn't it just like Publish and Subscribe? Did that make the Mac platform stronger, or was it a waste of developer resources? What's the difference? So much coool stuff is happening in the Mac world. But it doesn't fit Apple's view of the world, so you won't see it at their booth. They're still very, very picky.

Apple's view seems to be: We're better than Microsoft. OpenDoc is killer. When it catches on, we'll have an insurmountable advantage over Microsoft, and growth will return. We'll keep our jobs, and our view that Apple is the center of the world will be preserved. Be patient, nirvana is almost at hand. Wait. Wait. Wait. Just wait! You'll see.

In the meantime, they argue with me about whether or not I want to kill AppleScript. Amazing. This is such small potatoes! Hysterics when sharpness, professionalism and creativity are called for. While Cupertino is burning, they're worried about whether the forks go to the left or the right of the soup spoons. No we won't eat cake! There's no time.

We're leading in web content tools. That's where the growth is. Scripting itself isn't a market. It might have been at one time, but not now. Having great scripting tools won't make the platform grow. Making powerful websites happen on a Mac could.

It's time for Amelio to intervene and send an unmistakable message to Apple employees, there's no time to waste. They aren't getting the message when it's presented calmly. The Mac world is on its death bed, and Apple is the reason why. Get with the program Cupertino. The glory days when the Mac was the only graphics platform are over.

We're in a niche, it can be a leading niche, but Microsoft is here to stay. They're not a temporary aberration. They're real. We're an outpost, like Japan or Cuba. Microsoft is a superpower, like Intel or Cisco or Netscape.

[Emphatically and parenthetically -- making NT machines is not an acceptable strategy. The day that happens, the Mac developer community will be totally undermined. It'll be Ice Nine Time.]

They remember too much Permalink to They remember too much

Stop looking backward, stop looking at what we lost, and see where we are. If we were growing to the position we are in, instead of shrinking to it, would we be doing a boring technology like OpenDoc, or would we be building a diverse base of market-leading software products and teaching people how to use them?

We don't need evangelists, we need sales people who use software and effectively sell it. A steady stream of press visits, showing the latest new stuff. The developers are cash starved, we can't field a sales force. So the evangelists need to be trained, and then hit the road. Too much focus on Cupertino, not enough focus on the outside world which is starved for real good news from the Mac community, not the slurpy stuff you see at always.apple.com. We're not happy.clams! We're struggling against extinction.

The execs running development at Apple appear to remember too much. It's unrealistic to expect them to change their attitude. Say goodbye to the past, and look to the future. A postwar Japan-like strategy is called for, not a superpower strategy. The current development chiefs at Apple act as if they have nuclear weapons when the supply lines aren't working. It's even worse, the air force drops bombs on our own troops! They still do it. Unreal.

Apple is so far from a game plan that makes sense, they keep eating their seed corn, now there is no more to eat, no more cash cows to feed their ineffective and untimely R&D. They're going to learn the lesson the hard way, it's way too late for a gentle transition. The numbers are irrefutable. If there ever was a strategy at Apple, it's failed. Isn't that totally clear now?

I'd like to believe it'll still make sense to ship software for Macintosh users, but the doubtful voice inside me keeps getting stronger and stronger.

Seasons Greetings Permalink to Seasons Greetings

To the rest of the software world, it's time to consider the possibility that Apple is really going to tube this time. Are you going to stand by and let it happen? Could Larry Ellison really be our salvation? (Doubtful!) What stake do you have in an alternative to Windows? What will the world look like if there is no Macintosh? If you don't like this idea, what are you doing to prevent it from happening? Are you still telling Apple people what they want to hear? Or are you telling them to make the changes now?

I've tried to be patient with the new management at Apple, but the changes, if they're happening at all, are happening too slowly. If Apple management doesn't have the guts to say this, I'll do it for them. A much smaller Apple is called for. That means people will leave and that large previously-sacred projects will be cancelled.

Unless something really changes really soon, it's safe to assume that Apple will disappear. Where will we go from there?

Dave Winer

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