The Promise of Push
Sunday, February 23, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Something new to talk about!
It's on the cover of BusinessWeek, touted as a new technology for delivering news and software.
It's the province of aggressive startups and huge companies, their customers and distributors.
It's about the power to control what's on your screen and hard disk.
I've been confused and fascinated by Push, wondering if there's any news here. A puzzle. I read the press releases, watch the websites, think, and try to understand what's really going on.
I haven't seen a good definition of push, so I'll give it a try.
Push is the process of systematically distributing artistic expressions, data and logic, using the protocols of the Internet.
People are excited because push is like email and email is even bigger and more universal than the web. If push technology can take email-like stuff to a higher level, software growth can happen and much money can be made.
But push is not really new. I practice push and you do too if you get DaveNet via email. Dave Farber's Important People list is push, as is TidBITs, Craig Newmark, and Digerati.
Every mail list server is a push machine.
I belong to fifteen mailing lists. They're unwieldy and inconvenient. But I stay subscribed because they're also a valuble mechanism for connecting net-based communities.
Along with mailing lists come many resources. Searchable archives. Documentation web pages and sites. Servers that distribute upgrades, new parts, and sample scripts.
Mailing lists are worth the trouble, but they could be much better! A user interface could organize all the resources in a single structure of menus and dialogs. With better UIs, mailing lists could spawn working groups, sub-lists with new charters, entities that come and go as problems and issues get dealt with and solved.
A pet peeve of mine, it should be easy to resign from a list with a single menu command, eliminating misdirected "unsubscribe" messages from panic-stricken and/or angry people who urgently want to get off a list. Wouldn't that be a blessing?
Have a great Sunday!
PS: I started using Netscape 4.0b2 for the Mac yesterday. It uses more RAM. Display of graphics can be quirky. It hasn't crashed yet. Thanks! Same menu sharing bug as 3.0. Even so, I've made it my default browser. Layers look coool, I'm going to try some stuff with them.
PPS: Great massage music -- Peter Gabriel's Passion. Funky salsa! Santana's Moonflower.