Friday, January 10, 1997 by Dave Winer.
So the Expo is over for me now, and I'm looking forward to the Seybold show in New York in April for the next gathering of the Mac crowd. We have a lot of work to do between then and now, but there will be a new story for the Mac and related platforms. The web publishing systems story is just unfolding.
The ideas I talked about in Watch This!, 5/15/96, are reaching maturity. Rendering, templates, macros, link management, connections to other apps. The geekish tools that connect graphic people with the multitudes of writers. The human capital we call a website.
Add a LAN. Different systems for different users. Shhh. No one knows what kind of computer is in the closet. It could be a Be. It could be a Mac. It could be a Sun. How do you spell Enterprise? W-e-b-s-i-t-e-s.
I'm finding that the Watch This! pitch is being received well in the places that make sense. At first in May, I thought I might have had it wrong. Now I know we were early. Coool. We're using the extra time to port to Windows. Next stop...? Here we come. The Mac is the birthplace. I'll never forget that.
Interesting times! The publishing community used to be smaller. But every organization with a website is a magazine. And they will all need publishing system software.
Artists like Macs. It's hard to switch. Bill Gates says it takes about a year to change platforms. I remember that, and experience it. The more dug in you are, the more digging out you have to do. The people who use Macs today have good reasons to use them. The software they need is there and not on other platforms. Their files are there too. As are their braincells. You forget that you know where the menus are and how selection works, until you switch to a different machine.
Gabriel uses a Mac. I don't know if Apple paid him to be on stage on Tuesday. I hope not. I imagine not. I imagine what it must like to be a creative person, just wanting to be sure that the Mac moves forward easily. They must feel the frustration as Apple has missed the easy plays, opportunities to fill vacuums, to create more powerful art.
Before the Expo I got in touch with Apple PR, to arrange to attend the keynote session. They responded enthusiastically and the red carpet rolled out. A wonderful scene resulted -- ushered thru a huge crowd on Tuesday morning by an Apple evangelist, Jordan Mattson. "Make way" he said. "Who's that?" people asked. "That's Dave!" someone hushes. I smile from ear to ear!
My little entourage moves thru all the barriers. On the way I spotted Sinbad, the famous movie star who does HBO specials and movies with Arnold. "Come along!" I said. He did. Our wake was strong enough to pull a big movie star along.
It was fantastic theater. I felt like an artist, a celebrity. It's great to be celebrated.
People who make software can be as creative as musicians like Peter Gabriel if you let us be. Few people question that when I write DaveNets I am being creative. I also write software. Same person, same sense of humor.
Yesterday an Apple person thanked me for making ThinkTank and MORE and Frontier for the Mac. I accepted graciously. He said I was a god. I said not. Please! That takes the fun out of it for me.
But let's understand something else, I am an artist, as Gabriel is. The tunes I weave are in docs and in C and in scripts. My software makes me laugh. The elegance is subtle. You have to look to see the subtlety. People find so many reasons not to look.
Frank Cassanova may be an artist, he certainly looks like one, but he isn't the only one. Want to understand how developer relations can work? Facilitate. Open doors. Welcome the artists back. Artists like vacuums. You don't have to understand everything they do or say.
I chatted last night with Ben Waldman, firstname.lastname@example.org, a longtime DaveNet subscriber, and a former member of the Mac community who's coming back.
In the late 80s and early 90s Ben was the main technical liason between Microsoft and Apple. He made the perfect foil for the animus between the two companies. Ben appeared arrogant, but I think appearances can be misleading. Ben was very young then. Now he's more mature, I am too, and he's running an important group at Microsoft, and he's back doing Mac software. Welcome!
Microsoft made a big deal about Ben's new group, based in Redmond. 100 people, 1/3 of the Office Team. They've split them off to focus on doing productivity apps for the Mac platform. I asked Ben why put so much focus on the Mac? It's only five percent of the sales of the Office product. Microsoft execs have told me over and over that they can't afford to devote very much attention to the Mac platform. I also know how preciously Microsoft allocates their human resources. So why allocate so much to the Mac?
It's a mystery to me, but I won't look a gift horse in the mouth. I'm glad that Microsoft is pushing for more Mac software. Lots of questions. What about Rhapsody? Ben says let's have a transition that preserves his investment. Keep evolving the Mac API so that Mac apps running on Rhapsody can access the new features on a gentle upward ramp. I agree totally.
Reading tea leaves, it appears that there has been a deal between Microsoft and Apple, or Microsoft is moving into position to make such a deal. I know how much they wanted a bundling deal for their web browser. They must be offering something in return. I also know how much Apple wants continuity for Office. We may be looking at the quid pro quo for a browser bundle? I'll keep digging and let you know.
No matter what, it's good to welcome Ben back, a little older, with more experience, and still a very very bright dude.
"How much time do you spend writing DaveNet?" This is the question all Redmond-based Microsoft people ask me. Even more interesting: only Microsoft people ask me this question. Ben asked yesterday. Last year it was Pete Higgins, Jon Lazarus and Mike Maples. Every time I meet a Microsoft person, I get asked this question.
It puzzles me. Why are they so interested in this? And why only them? Maybe someone from Microsoft can shed some light. My theory -- I think they're trying to grok me. Should they fear my software? If I'm spending a lot of time writing, perhaps not. That's fine. A friend, a recent hire at Microsoft, says they are the Borg. You will be assimilated! I think the question is part of the assimilation process. If so, I can help.
The answer I want them to hear... When I'm writing DaveNet pieces, I'm learning about the web. Everything I learn is eventually incorporated into my software. It's why my tools can do things that no one else's can, and why they are so relevent to writers. Look at the new features coming in Frontier 4.2. You'll see the needs of web writers reflected in these geekish tools.
I know this is a challenge, and it might be trouble for me, but I think Microsoft still doesn't understand what websites are about. I also think the answer is all around them, just waiting for them to grok it. If one Microsoft exec, someone they trust, would stop everything and do something like DaveNet, hit the speedbumps, they'd understand why it's so important to me to both be a web writer and a web tools developer. Or come see me, I'll show you.
My belief: you can't make relevent software for an activity you don't do yourself. Back in the 80s when I was pioneering presentation software I became an enthusiastic presenter. When I was promoting application-level scripting I made it my business to write lots of software that drives apps.
I am lucky. I love to write, and the web is a perfect medium for writers. I also love to make software, and I can do a pretty good job of designing templates, separating form from content. I wear all these hats with comfort. Lucky guy! Win-win-win.
For another perspective, see A Custom Cookie-Cutter, 12/17/96.
The first Mac developer survey, held between January 2 and January 4 was a great success. I learned so much more about the Mac development community. Now I want to learn more, and of course you can too.
The second survey will happen on January 14. It will be open for 24 hours, between 12:01 AM thru 11:59 PM Pacific time on the 14th.
The survey form is already on the web. It's OK to point to it before the survey. Please do.
The Java virtual machine will be included as a platform choice in the second survey. This is distinct from the Java programming language, which can be used to write non-VM software. If you choose to develop for the VM, you're writing software that can run on lots of native operating systems, on a standardized virtual machine, following the model that Corel is pioneering. Java VM was a much-requested choice after the first survey, so we're offering it as a choice for the second survey.
The survey will be sponsored by MacWEEK and DaveNet. We're working with Apple to get a link from their home page over the weekend and on survey day. We want their support. After Hancock's statement yesterday, Apple has a clear interest in knowing how developers are moving. So Apple's support will be appropriate, relevent, and appreciated.
Cookies are a very useful and good thing. They allow web applications to have persistent storage. They allow CGIs to remember stuff from session to session. In this case, we'll remember how you voted in the second survey, so if there's a third survey we can easily measure changes on a person-by-person basis. Were Unix developers more likely to switch to Java? Were Mac developers more likely to move to Rhapsody?
You say you don't want your computer to remember stuff about you? Oh come on, it happens all the time. Look in your Preferences folder. What do you think all those files are? They're cookies!
If you want this feature from legendary software, why wouldn't you want it from web-based software? I think the press has been irresponsible about this, many of the writers know better, but feed the paranoia.
The problem with cookies is that they have a quirky name. Mysterious. They sound like something new. If Netscape had called them Prefs and stored them in the Preferences folder, no one would have been shocked. But they called them cookies, and people are mystified and scared.
Cookies are not evil. They aren't a good mechanism for snooping. Much better -- your IP address goes with you everywhere you surf. Did you know that? I think I could set up a website that, by watching where you go, I could find out what kind of clothes and cars you like. I could even find out what kind of sex you like!
Cookies are not a forum for insidiousness. They're a way of managing preferences. If I'm missing something please let me know.
So have a great weekend! And on Tuesday, if you're a Mac developer, you'll have another chance to make your preferences known.
PS: Note that I used the word legendary in place of legacy. I like it better. More positive, more respectful.
PPS: The killer word in this piece is animus. Look it up. It has two meanings. Both are interesting.
PPPS: The Borg is a mythical civilization on Star Trek. They assimilate other civilizations! A collection of assimilated civilizations. We assume they're not nice people, but the Hugh episode showed that even the Borg can be individuals and good friends if we're open to the possibility.