All About Bees
Wednesday, August 26, 1998 by Dave Winer.
This is an inbetween piece. It's inbetween a long weekend and a short vacation. Right on. Back in June I wrote a piece where I said I wished to be able to take a vacation. Well this dream came true! Not bad. DaveNet and Scripting News will still be available on the web in my absence, but Dave himself (me!) will be on the road again, humming Willie Nelson tunes, and shouting Namaste Y'all (with a big Texas grin) to all who will listen.
Hey the bees are back!
A lot of people thought when I wrote this piece that the Bees were symbolic of Be Inc. To the best of my knowledge, they were not.
I have a very sweet friend named Bea, now you may think that the Bees were symbolic of my sweet friend Bea, but they are not.
No, the Bees are symbolic of the Bees. A cycle in my life. Late in August every year the Bees show up. They don't sting but they sure do annoy. So it's time to juice up the bee traps again and see what we can catch. My house-sitter will probably appreciate this. It's taken a bunch of years to gain expertise in dealing with these angry buzzing creatures. They do their jobs, I do mine.
One of my favorite pieces this year is about dancing.
I have a beautiful friend who is taking a look at her life. My message to her, this morning, is that life is a dance. Viewed from where I sit, her dance has no compromise, it's her and just her, no mothers or fathers or brothers, and that is so cooool.
Hey I got a nice plug in Michael Wolff's Internet Standard column this month:
He says: "Dave Winer, perhaps the Internet's most beloved programmer, can't stop talking about XML. He calls it 'a new kind of Web, one built of logic, storing objects and methods, not just pages and graphics.'"
Thank you, it's nice to be loved.
And it's so true that I can't stop talking about XML!
Life has loops, the Bees come back every year. And life is a dance, you never know where the next great idea will come from.
Last year I proposed that we could improve the quality of searches on the web if we put a little bit of XML on every site.
The XML file tells the search engine which files changed on a website. Today's search engines have to crawl an entire site to find the files that changed. On our site, www.scripting.com, usually no more than ten files change every day. But to get up to date, a search engine like Alta Vista or Excite has to read all 4761 HTML files stored on our main server. It's a ridiculous waste of resources, viewed one way, and it slows down the indexing operation, from the other side.
If the web were optimized, search engines could deliver more timely results. It wouldn't take several weeks for files on your site to show up in searches.
Here's another way to look at it. Project yourself into the future, five years from now, the summer of 2003. Can you imagine that search engines will still work this hard to get current? That there will be no coordination between webmasters and search engine masters? It could happen. Let's get started at working on this.
So here's an example "SiteChanges" file:
This file is updated every 24 hours. It lists the URLs of all files that changed on the site. Any programmer on any OS, using any scripting language, could quickly write a script to create and update such a file. It took us a few hours to write the script that does it on our site. And a smart search engine programmer could write the code to look for this file and parse it (if it exists), in just a few hours.
This is a great opportunity for collaborative development, independent of the big companies. Webmasters, let's do something cool. Search engine guys, invest in the power of the web.
XML Syntax Checker
Yesterday I posted a link to our XML Syntax Checker page to the xml-dev list; but I called it our XML Validator. I got almost a dozen messages from people who are very knowledgeable about XML who said it's not cool to call it a "validator" because our parsers are not validating parsers. Good point! So we renamed the page, stored it at a different URL, and this gives me an excuse to point to it again. ;->
I highly recommend this exercise to anyone else working on an XML parser. It's a good way to shake out the 7-by-24 bugs, and it helps to quickly show any errors in the parsing process, and we all (seem to) agree that having a robust standard in XML means having very tight parsers that reject poorly formed XML. We learned the lesson from HTML, looseness is bad for standardization. Usually I say Let's Have Fun! but this is one of those times when the slogan should be Let's Be Hardasses!
A scene from a recent movie... I watch a women take notes. As she flipped thru her book, there were maps and schedules, lists and numbers. In that book was an account of a whole life and its connections to other lives. I'm not that organized, so I'm fascinated with people who are.
I remember so much, like the Beatles song that evokes so much memory for me.
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, now it looks as though they're here to stay. Oh I believe in yesterday. Yesterday, love was such an easy game to play. Now I need a place to hide away. Oh I believe in yesterday.
Stop and think about it. What is yesterday? How much does it have to do with right now? I see a Bee, and I think Oh the Bees are back! And my internal computer knows what program to run, get out the Bee traps, juice them up. But, what if these Bees are different from last year's Bees? Will my strategy still work?
It might. But it's a good idea to keep my eyes and my mind open. It could be that the Bees have figured out my strategy and have a workaround. Think about it. Last year I killed all the bees who were stupid enough to fall into my traps. Maybe they never got to reproduce? Maybe, unwittingly my purpose wasn't to create peace on my patio, as I thought it was; rather it was to help breed a new generation of smart bees?
The bees give me so much to ponder, and for that I'm very grateful.
We devote so much energy to the dance of our lives, who am I meeting with, who should I call, where do I have to be, how much money did I make, how much did I spend? And we devote so much energy to not dancing with our lives, avoiding this or defending against that, to avoid pain, to stay alive, to get rich, to be seen with the right people.
But how much are we dancing in the present moment and how much are we struggling to overcome the past? Do we study ourselves with as much care and attention as we keep our schedules, phone numbers, balance sheets and income statements? Where is the map of the loops in our lives, the conditions we fail to test, the lessons we learn over and over? And how do you feel about your loops? Are you angry with them? Do you deny they exist? What if you just were thankful for them?
If I can show gratitude to the Bees of this year and years gone by and years to come, why can't I be grateful for the part of me that responded to my ancestors and siblings, gave them what they asked for, so I could survive to become the free adult that I am?
Children have to please, and unfortunately, have to lie, to stay alive. But without those compromises, we wouldn't be here today. Something I saw as negative is easily transformed into the biggest gift I could possibly have given myself! Life.
One more song!
A song from childhood...
Will I see you, in September?
Or will I lose you... to a summer love?
I'll be awake each and every night.
While you're away don't forget to write.
Have a good time, but remember, there's danger, in a summer love!
Bye bye so long farewell.
Bye bye so long farewell!
The adult version of the song
You may see me in September.
But you may lose me... To a summer love!
I'll be sleeping each and every night.
While I'm away you can write to me if you want, but I won't be checking my mail.
With any luck...
See you in September!