Brick and Mortar Isn't Dead Either
Thursday, July 22, 1999 by Dave Winer.
My health is returning and with it comes the optimism of a body rebuilding itself. Something healthy is flowing thru my veins. It's nice, I like it.
DaveNet played a role in my recovery. Having a sick body can be lonely. A laptop with a net connection and a big mail list and a "I don't care" attitude can make great things happen. Or they were going to happen anyway, probably so, but it's nice to believe that they're my doing.
I like where Apple is going! Yesterday, the more we learned about Apple's wireless LAN, the better it sounded. AirPort is built on an IEEE standard that's well supported on Windows and Linux. People at the Expo tested it and reported that it works and is fast.
And Apple's iBook consumer laptop looks pretty good too, although with only 32MB memory it will be a slow machine. Apple laptops have always suffered from too-little RAM. Some advice to Apple, get ahead of the curve this time, add more RAM. 128MB at least.
Scripting and syndication are flipsides of the same coin, and there is no bigger scripting language or community than Perl.
Someday we'll talk about Killer Channels, just like Killer Apps, and Wireless LANs and Sticky Websites. And when that day comes, we'll think of channels like Perl.Com as necessary early adopters, making a bigger world of syndicated web content possible.
The first audience we want to serve is the one that's going to get us more new channels in a few months when this stuff rises to the top. We want to make sure that the technologists are up the curve, and there's no better way to reach these people than coming in thru the scripting languages that keep their websites working.
So thanks to O'Reilly Associates and Songline Studios for believing in the power of XML-based syndication. It's really cool that it's happening now.
Push Technology was a good idea in 1996, but it was a solution in search of a problem. Today the problem is apparent. There's not enough news! Amazing, isn't it? The problem ended up stating itself the other way around. Back in the first push to push, people figured they needed new technology because there was too much news. In fact, the most active news portal sites, ZDNet or News.Com or SlashDot.Org, give you (at most) three or four new articles per hour. Hardly enough for the news junkies that the web has created.
A new friend from Oracle wasn't really familiar with our site when he said "You gotta have something new every hour." Yes yes yes. There are millions of people who check the web when their job bores them. "What's new?" they're asking. As more channels come online, we can answer that question in more detail and with more variety and with more consistent results. We *can* give you something new every hour because our XML-based wires are reaching into more and more corners of the web.
When we first opened the story list on the home page of My.UserLand.Com I knew we were onto something hot. My inner-news-junkie was totally happy! Twenty or thirty new links every hour. 200-plus editors contributing to the flow, worldwide people, so even at 2AM in California there are interesting links coming from Europe and Asia. It's something to behold.
So Push isn't dead -- it's a website. Aggregation. Learn that word, it's going to revolutionize the way we use the web. Each story is a bit. It fits in somewhere. It finds the people who are interested. Yes, it can promote a product, but it can also inspire and inform. This is the web I want.
In the rush to electronic media we may have forgotten that people like to meet and touch and eat with other people. Just because we have websites and 24-hour news feeds doesn't mean we don't get lonely, hungry and horny. We do, and for that, the brick and mortar establishments serve an important purpose. I learned this when I became a chat-addict on CompuServe in the early 80s. As soon as a cybercommunity gets established the next thing to do is to have a way for the people to meet face to face.
That's where Barnes and Noble has an advantage over Amazon. Community takes on a new meaning when people can meet each other. So don't count out Brick and Mortar, like Push it will make a comeback. It won't be long before the Silicon Valley VCs will be falling over themselves to invest in places where people can really meet.
I'm having fun exploring the intersection between cyberspace and the real world. My laboratory is Buck's the website and the restaurant. Yesterday I called in to talk to Jamis, he wasn't there, but the manager, Ron Brunson, asked if I could help find him. "Why?" I asked. "Newt Gingrich was here this morning," Ron said. The former Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Wow. Ron, who wasn't a website reporter until this moment, was prepared, with digital camera and an eye for a story. A couple of hours later Newt is on the web too.
It's working! Valley VC Steve Jurvetson has a strategy. He's building a brand, and we are too. It's a win-win. He brings Newt to Buck's, the brick and mortar version, and we bring you Newt on Buck's, the cyberspace version. There's the synergy. You can't get a omlette or coffee cake on the website. But you can dial in from anywhere at any time.
The next step for us at Buck's is to develop it as a commentary platform, to let people in the high-tech community of Silicon Valley use it to get ideas out to similar people, not just in Silicon Valley. To let others bring us ideas, and to spread our creativity over the globe using the most modern technology. If you'd like to get in the loop, please send us mail. firstname.lastname@example.org. We like to showcase technology and wacky interesting ideas.
In a few years you'll see similar stuff happening at every Hard Rock Cafe and Denny's. The event horizon of cyberspace -- the intersection between media and our bodies. Our lives will be richer. The possibilities will be more endless. The potential for gratification more realized.
PS: Here's an idea for a killer website. A web-based spell-checker. Enter the URL of a page you want to check. It displays a list of words that are possibly mis-spelled. Advertising supported. Over time it gets an idea of what you're interested in by indexing the stories you have checked with the service.