A Relaxing Summer
Saturday, August 1, 1998 by Dave Winer.
It's been a relaxing summer. Maybe this is our first summer vacation since the online world started booming in 1994? Hey it sure feels like summer here and I like it.
Bill Clinton is in a jam. Did he lie about having sex with Monica Lewinsky? The legal and political minds care, but his popularity is still high.
I find the vision of Clinton having sex with Ms. Lewinsky in the White House disturbing. She could be a North Korean spy or assassin. Who else has he had sex with? The possibilities for blackmail are clear.
On election day many vote morality, personal qualities and family values, but when the issue turns to indiscreet infidelity and lies to cover it up, when the pollster calls, many think it's an invasive and inappropriate subject. I think it's an important issue, for what it says about us, how thin and contradictory our collective values are.
Research into sexuality, even from an anatomic standpoint, is in its infancy. We used to think that the human clitoris is a small bump of flesh above the vagina. But an Australian researcher, Dr. Helen O'Connell of Royal Melbourne Hospital, published a report that shows it's actually much larger, that what we see is just the tip of something that's mostly internal.
How did we misunderstand this? Well, according to the article, previous research was based on examination of bodies of older women who died. O'Connell looked at younger bodies. Apparently the clitoris gets smaller as women age.
Switching gears, but not really, a couple of years ago I wrote a piece about standard interfaces for websites. Every site is a new experience. Is that good? Welll, hmmm. In many ways it would be better if there were standards for the organization of websites. It's one of the premises of XML, it was the discovery of the Macintosh OS in the early 80s. The web, in its early implementation, was a hodgepodge of coolness, with utility and inspiration hidden, if it was present at all.
Now that's shaking out. We joke about the "portal look" creeping into the top-level sites everywhere on the Internet. All the portals look like Yahoo now. It's remarkable that the shakeout predicted in 1996 is now happening. The looks of all the sites are coalescing.
Is there room for innovation? Sure! Just check out a Flash-based site. But in the meantime, it's good that evolution is happening, a lot of the experimentation is over.
One of the reasons it's cool to have standard interfaces is that we can make tools that generate content in these interfaces. The usual software leverage point. Separating content from form. If I know you want a Yahoo-like site, I can make a tool that only generates those sites. It can be simpler. This is one of the lessons that software teaches us over and over.
Lately I've been getting out more and talking with people outside the software industry. I'm always surprised and flattered to hear that non-web-geeks are reading my site. Authors, lawyers, bodyworkers, artists, teachers, philosophers, people who wouldn't feel at home in front of a screenful of HTML code. A common comment. They read my site because they like the style but they don't understand much of what I'm talking about.
Hey neither do I! As I've said before, I'm a mystic. I love mysteries, I'm drawn to them. Writing is an exporation of mystery, an invitation to play ouija with me. The most interesting responses contain stunning ideas, contradictory information, challenging facts and ideas that remind me of the mystery. People who say do this or do that are telling an unfortunate story. The struggle to be god. No no no. That's not how we have fun.
Bless our rudderless political system, our lies about sexuality and the endless stream of Boy Kills Boy software stories. We get what we want. We must want to explore honesty, sexuality and work out power issues. Occasional creativity comes from the struggles. That's the precious stuff and that's my formula. If an idea has a twinkle in it, it's mine! If it can reach our hearts, I go for it. Just like Ringling and Barnum. It's a circus out there. Same on my home page.
Have a grrreat weekend, it's good to be back at work.