Monday, May 18, 1998 by Dave Winer.
Now where was I?
I was on my way to Maine on Thursday when Microsoft delayed the intro of Windows 98 and started negotiating with the government.
By the time I got back to California, the negotiations had collapsed and the shipment and presumably the lawsuit are back on.
We should hear all about this later today.
According to Microsoft, the conversation went like this: "Bundle Netscape!" said the government. "No way," says Bill, "that would be like asking Coke to bundle Pepsi."
I look at it this way, even though Microsoft bundles a browser with Windows, more than half the net still uses Netscape. It's surprising that the government thinks that Microsoft's bundling will wipe out Netscape. It didn't happen for AOL last time around, when the faceoff was MSN versus AOL, and it didn't happen when MSIE was bundled with Windows 95. Look to history for a guide.
Getting that kind of concession from Microsoft won't sit well with the rest of the software industry. I want to bundle too! So if Microsoft has to bundle Netscape, can I have some space? Why not? You'll get companies deliberately trying to get rolled over by Microsoft if that's the key to broad distribution. This isn't an economy I care to be part of.
The government has a lot of power, nuclear weapons and armies. They can twist the arm of India (please!) but do they know how to twist Uncle Bill's arm? Please stop worrying so much about the desktop icons, that's small stuff. Let's get some real concessions. We could restructure the software industry. Netscape is causing a lot of its own problems. To support them isn't in anyone's interest, unless you own Netscape shares.
We're entering a historic period for the software industry. I'll be tuning in as best as I can, but before that starts, I want to talk about Maine and broadband and a little Seinfeld and Sinatra.
I never really liked the Seinfeld show that much. I do like self-referential New York Jewish humor. But I like it better when it's about me. Yeah.
So in a way thank god for taking Sinatra on the day after Seinfeld's closing act. Friday morning was emotionally pleasing! All that great Sinatra music on TV instead of drippy remembrances of something that hasn't been gone long enough be nostalgic about.
Sinatra, what a sad beautiful man. He was a believer, friend of Sammy and Dean and Joey, and lots of other people from my parents' generation. It was the backdrop music for my youth, it was going out while I was coming in. Sinatra was pop before the Beatles, but he also developed an art, performing with some of the greats of his day including Ella Fitzgerald.
And he did something not many white American men in his generation did, he opened his heart. The Sinatra man had ups and downs, fell hard, and had broken hearts. He was brave and fun-loving and took big risks, and was also vulnerable and introspective.
He said "Being jilted is one of life's most painful experiences. It takes a long time to heal a broken heart. It's happened to all of us and never gets any easier. I understand, however, that playing one of my albums can help."
Frank Sinatra was an imperfect man. We need more imperfect men willing to show us the way. Thanks dude.
Maine was cooool. I got there in time for Seinfeld and Sinatra, heard Apple's Avie Tevanian give the morning keynote at the Maine Software Developer Association (he's a hometown boy) and in the afternoon I gave the closing keynote. We talked about the usual stuff that software people like to talk about, Microsoft and Java, with some new twists. It was a good crowd. I had fun!
They have a small web and software community in Maine, and they want more. Portland is a really nice town. I drank beer, we debated, met people who were happy for the nice weather we were having. It's cold in winter, Mainers like that, but they also seemed to enjoy late spring beer-drinking weather.
Portland could probably support a larger web development community because it's got one thing most towns, including San Francisco and Boston, don't have, a broadband cable system with an operator, Time-Warner, that wants to develop it as a web system.
Community means something different in Maine. In Califoria, we think of virtual communities, like DaveNet or Scripting News, or any number of other special interests that transcend geographic barriers.
In Maine, the communities have names like Portland, Camden, and Bangor. They're real cities, not virtual. And it gets really interesting when the cable that connects the towns is ultra-high-bandwidth. How much bandwidth? Broadband systems perform at rates comparable to local area networks, but they cover much larger areas. Computers that are connected via broadband can communicate among themselves much faster than they can with other nodes on the Internet.
So I came back with a thinking project. What would you do with a very fast full-time net connection in a broadband geographic community? I had two ideas. Personal radio stations and automated backups.
OK, assume you have a high-speed fulltime net connection. Backups can be easy now? Yes, they can. A community invests in a single really secure redundant storage system, and every night at 2AM all the files that changed are uploaded to the server, with encryption so only you can access the information stored in the files. A local broadband network makes this realistic.
I wake up on Sunday morning playing an eclectic mix of bluegrass music and Sinatra and I think that a couple of my friends would really like it too. So I send them an email containing a URL that connects them to my CD player. When I play a tune they hear it too. They can send in requests, via email of course.
By the way, Time-Warner is doing the same thing in Albany, Columbus, El Paso, Honolulu, Memphis, Northeast Ohio, San Diego, in the southern tier of New York and Tampa Bay.
Do you live in one of those cities? What ideas do you have? What do you want to do with broadband?