Back in the USSR
Thursday, February 27, 1997 by Dave Winer.
Oh the debate goes on. Push or not. Money or not.
My unusual two-piece Tuesday got me a bunch of email both pro and con. Comments on the Mail page from Louis Rossetto, Mark Canter and Larry Tesler in defense of push. And a bunch of comments on the other side.
My opinion, no one owns this thing, push, just as no one owns the web. There are no agreed-to or de-facto standards. It's not about Java or web pages.
As it's currently implemented push is really pull. A loop you keep spinning around until you realize that all that's being done is net-enabling new clients that propose to replace web browsers. Not a big deal until a compelling new client comes along. That will be news. The protocols themselves are not interesting.
Wired proclaims on its cover that web browsers are dead, just as the web is gaining depth and simplicity and universality. Maybe that's the problem for the money people. They always want to invent a chicken to wait for the egg, or vice versa. The web is powerful and non-exclusive. And free. Oooops?
Even so, looking to the future, I agree that something bigger is possible, but it's not here yet. More complete sandboxes on clients and servers and content stations are key. More fulltime net connections enabling peer to peer connections, not just client-server.
An Internetish thing, not worthy of an IPO in itself, but a worthwhile investment for developers. A few years of incubation and experimentation and evolving standards, at least, will be needed before nirvana is reached.
Haven't we learned anything? Go back to 1994 and read Bill Gates vs The Internet then read Que Sera Sera. This industry needs a refresher course on why the Internet became the thing to contend with. It's clearly forgotten the lessons. So much FUD, so little substance. Same old same old.
Jim Seymour, the founder of IdeaMarket, and a columnist at PC WEEK, defends his need to make money.
Contrast this to a piece in the Atlantic Monthly by Ralph Lombreglia, a writer far removed from the hubbub of the software industry.
Lombreglia, a fiction writer, says the power in writing is independent of money. Money isn't what motivates writers. It isn't what they care about. That's why few writers make much money. Largely, money is not why people write.
Whether Seymour likes it or not, he has to compete with writers who are willing to do it for free on the web. How to make money? Charge for reading, Seymour says. But what if the barriers continue to come down, and his multi-million-dollar printing press becomes virtually free of cost, how does he make money then?
Cocktail conversation in Silicon Valley.
"I just raised $10 million to start a new website."
"Wow. But how are you going to make money?"
Uh huh. When you raise big bucks to start a website, your world necessarily revolves around money. But if you spend $5000 to start your own site with some friends, your world is open to revolve anything else. Love, travel, eating, friendship, Macs, sex, gardening, or just whatever occurs to you.
A different conversation.
"I just spent $5000 to put up my web server."
"Cooool. What are you going to write about?"
In other words, which theme is more interesting, money or life?
Compare Macintouch with MacWEEK.
Compare WebMonkey with Netscape's website.
Compare Maggie's site with Minds.
Fun versus head trips.
Freedom versus control.
Passion versus money.
The free channels are beating out pay channels in lots of areas. I believe they will always will, even after a shakeout. The free web is a reality. It's disrespectful to ignore it, yet that is what the money is trying to do.
We're in the age of text and people. The difference between $5 million sites and $5 thousand sites is the difference between graphic flash and people. The expensive sites have great animations and flashy ads. But they also have multi-day lead-times, and repurposed print writing.
The inexpensive sites have free people and short lead-times. Some are boring free people, but there are interesting free people too. Publishing systems will deliver effortless and broadly accessible authoring with a consistent look, templates designed by designers, economically published. Flowing from email thru scripts and out to cheap-to-serve static web pages.
The only concern from that point is how to pay for it. But it's almost completely free, so stop worrying!
But the money-raisers ask how they're supposed to make an obscene amount of money to justify their huge pre-money valuations based on nothing other than their reputations?
That's their problem, not mine.
Owning a printing press used to be an expensive proposition. The production systems for starting a new print magazine used to cost a lot more than a Mac. That's why Macs sold as publishing machines. The premium price that Macs fetch (or used to) doesn't look as premium when you compare it to the price of the publishing equipment it replaced.
People who view it from the Intel perspective may miss the point that the Mac platform owned the publishing position for many years when Windows was an also-ran. The platform charged into the market without opposition while PCs were hobbled by RAM Cram. Read Ries & Trout's Marketing Warfare for a valuable perspective. No matter how ineffective Apple management was, the platform had and still has Big Mo in publishing.
Along comes the web. The people who started with print publishing on Macs, many of them college students in the eighties and nineties, are now an important part of the world of words. The power is with the younger people. I've written about this many times. The world they grew up in is different from ours. They were ready for the web, and got there long before the people of my generation. They have a clue; in general, we don't. They have nothing invested in our ways. No upside in them. Watch out.
There's a preference for Macs in this world beyond its market share in the larger world because people who express themselves literally and graphically bought Macs when they were the only act. They like the independent image of the Mac.
If only Apple could respect them, it would all make sense.
At the same time, many people are switching to Windows.
I bought my second Dell machine. It arrived this week.
We're paddling furiously to get our publishing software to Windows because we want to meet up with our users there.
Respect is acknowledgment (a word I often misspell as many have pointed out).
How to implement respect? Listen. It can evoke your fear, but it's simple.
Responsible -- another word that's misunderstood. People say Be responsible and some people hear Be dull. Other people hear Guilty. Neither is accurate, IMHO.
Responsible means "able to respond". It's so much more than being defensive, a limited view of responsibility.
Being responsible also means "able to accept" because acceptance is a response.
But acceptance is more than respect. A response of yes is great. Fear is overcome. Thanks! Want to really have fun? Yes! More fun? YES! There's a scale here. A scale of acceptance. A scale of fun.
Honey let's play tonight? OK.
Or... Honey let's play tonight? YES!
Which is more fun?
Mikhail Gorbachev told Ronald Reagan that he would take something very dear to him.
He said that he would deprive him of his enemy.
Remember how he shook Reagan's hand on the signing of the big peace treaty? He didn't just shake, he thrust his arm at Reagan, with ceremony and enthusiasm. Without fear. Big smile. I'm coool, you're cooool, he seemed to be saying.
When the USSR broke up a few years later, something disappeared and many new things appeared in its place. One entity became many. So many new names! So many different points of view.
The Mac is much like the former USSR. It's gone, but it's still here. A paradox perhaps. So many treasures waiting to be discovered.
We crossed a line this week.
Apple thrust out its hand with ceremony and a big smile.
From here there's no turning back.
They offer to deprive me of an enemy.