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food.find (clock.now ())

Friday, August 14, 1998 by Dave Winer.

An article on the Detroit News website. The author, Dirk Mathison of Parenting magazine, says it's good to listen when children tell stories about their dreams, especially nightmares.


He says "if your child is dreaming about being chased by an angry unicorn, tell him that next time he has that dream he can build a fence around the beast or use a magic wand to make the unicorn friendly."

food.find Permalink to food.find

This is such an important idea, and it's not just for kids, it's for adults too. Dreams open up so much, when they're scary (adults have them too) that's a fear coming from deep inside. It's so real, and they aren't really dreams, they're you.

Only a very small portion of you is conscious. It's not really a theory, it's a definition. Here's an example. Some part of you is coordinating the actions of your stomach and your mouth. Is the stomach is full? The mouth doesn't crave food. But when the stomach is empty, I gotta eat!

The conscious part of me is just an observer to this process, I have no control over it. Some part of my body is running a program that connects the two events. An agent script that says if the stomach is empty, spawn a new conscious task, food.find (clock.now ()).

Sometimes you're dreaming Permalink to Sometimes you're dreaming

Sometimes you're dreaming when you think you're awake. When was the last time a thought popped into your head "This person is just like my father!" That's a clue. You're right on the edge of waking up from the dream at that moment.

Instead of continuing the argument with the person who's not your father, go for a short walk, take some deep breaths, and dream up a solution. Just like the Detroit News story. Your subconscious has taken over, you're dreaming, and now, instead of waking up, consciously go deeper into the dream, and solve the damned problem once and for all.

It's so amazing because it really works! I like to pour spaghetti on my father's head, and tell him that as long as I'm paying the bills in this house (I am!), he's going to do it my way. Sometimes I even lock my virtual father in the bathroom for 48 hours so he gets a chance to think about it.

OK, then, the next time "This person is just like my father!" pops up, take a deep breath and say to yourself, "But we solved this problem!" It's so true. You did solve it. The beautiful thing about the subconscious is that it can't tell the difference between dreams and reality. Repeat this just a couple of times, and you start feeling safe around your imaginary father or virtual mother, no matter how badly they're behaving. The dreams become happy, you become happy, because the problem is behind you, totally solved.

It's so simple, and it works so well. I'm not kidding. Kids dream about bad tigers and elephants, adults dream about bad moms and dads. The same solution works in either case.

NLP Permalink to NLP

This process is part of a relatively new exploration called neurolinguistic programming. NLP is the effort to find a common language that allows communication between the conscious and the subconscious parts of a human being. It's as interesting an exploration as scripting a network operating system, and I find that as I learn more about this stuff, the concepts of mathematics and computer programming map clearly onto the connection between the duality that I am, the conscious and the unconscious.

I wrote a piece last May called Programmers that was just the beginning of the idea that networked systems are models that externalize the internal communication system running on our own flesh-and-blood computers. From this point of view, computer programmers are like gods creating new beings modeled after own personal system software.


Computer programmers can be students and teachers in this area. The literature about NLP talks about computers, but many of the people involved don't have software backgrounds so the analogies are relatively shallow.

As I learn about this stuff I'm incredibly excited because I've spent the last 20+ years studying the internal workings of computers, and designing simpler systems for connecting them together, and then connecting the computers to humans. I'm especially interested in this final interface, I find that outliners map onto my internal storage system so well, this has always been intriguing to me. Back in the 80s I ventured as far as asking a few psychologists to help me understand why outlines work so well. Now I want to go deeper in understanding this.

Bullets Permalink to Bullets

In the meantime we've been cleaning up our implementation of Frontier as an XML-based storage system; version 5.1.3 will be compatible with Microsoft's new XML Notepad app. We've been getting great advice as we go forward, including guidance from Tim Bray, one of the main designers of XML. Thanks!

Once we establish a compatible connection with Microsoft's apps, we'll be pretty far along in delivering on the promise of XML, compatibility between software at a very high level. A mind-meld with the programmers at Microsoft. Yeah! We're almost there. One step at a time.

And there's a new modern look for the DaveNet site and a new fast search command just for DaveNets, and a CGI that shoots you to a random DaveNet piece. This is part of a process we're calling Integration. UserLand is cross-fertilizing, our website tools got better, so it was time to upgrade the DaveNet site.


On Thursday I met with Garry Trudeau, the creator the Doonesbury comic strip, to talk about a new project. I found we have a lot of common interests. It was a very memorable meeting, it's so stimulating to be in the presence of such creativity and accomplishment and fame!

More famous people. We've been assembling quotes from DaveNet readers on www.userland.com including comments from John Perry Barlow, Dan Gillmor, Jakob Nielsen, Brent Schlender, Kevin Fong, Pam Edstrom, Craig Cline, Bill Gates, Jesse Berst, Jim Gable, Rick Lefaivre, Adam Curry, Douglas Adams and Andrew Anker. More quotes are on the way:


And yesterday, we released a suite that turns Frontier's built-in outliner into a PowerPoint-like presentation system, generating all-HTML websites instead of binary files. The web needs this and we're the only ones providing it, as far as I know.


We've been here before, MORE was a great slideshow outliner in the 80s. Now we're investing in Frontier in the same way, with the Internet as the target for the slideshows.

I like the way it's coming together. We're doing a communication system. We've adapted to TCP, HTTP, HTML and XML. We have useful interfaces for planning, organizing and programming. My personal circle is widening, and I'm learning more about how I communicate, with others and myself. All this shall meet. Communication at a human level connected with communication at a technological level. Sounds like a mission statement to me.

Dave Winer

PS: If you filter DaveNet mail based on the return address, as some people do, this will be last piece that comes from dwiner@well.com. Future stories will come from dave@userland.com. I hope we don't lose anyone.

© Copyright 1994-2004 Dave Winer. Last update: 2/5/07; 10:50:05 AM Pacific. "There's no time like now."