Five Years of DaveNet
Thursday, October 7, 1999 by Dave Winer.
Good morning DaveNet readers and Happy New Year!
Five years ago today I wrote the first DaveNet. It was humble and simple. My friend Marc has a new product. Come see it!
In the last piece I asked how we should celebrate the five year anniversary. I got back a bunch of interesting answers, the neatest was to write a script that would choose a random soundbite from a random DaveNet piece from the past.
I groaned at first -- anything that requires me to read all the back issues is too much work. But the suggester had a neat trick. "Choose paragraphs with fewer than 100 words."
Interesting idea! I like it because it combines scripting with a little quirk in my writing style. I tend to start a new paragraph with the conclusion of the previous paragraph.
I find a funny way to say something.
I want to make sure you don't miss it!
However, I suspect we'd get a lot of Cooooools and maybe some fussing over how Netscape was killing the web, how Apple doesn't get it, and Microsoft is mean, and Sun is selfish.
No, I don't want to look back. I want to look forward.
However, there *is* one piece that says it all. It's a little strong, a bit of parental advice, you might want to read this at night, when it's quiet, and you can't sleep. It might help.
It's a big galaxy guys and gals, and an even bigger universe. But the stars are just little points of light. The faces of our mothers and fathers loom much larger!
The very best line in all 800+ pieces is in the PS of this piece:
I like it so much because it's a twist. It preps you for a different conclusion.
We tend to look inward, make the universe much smaller than it is.
What if we accepted the universe in its incomprehensible hugeness?
To me, that's relaxation!
Check out this website.
David Carter-Tod, a leading Frontier developer, found that he used our DocServer website frequently enough that he could see his pattern and implemented that as a web page.
This is a milestone site for me. It makes me want to give him the whole DocServer site and let him work on the site itself. It's a sign of maturing in our community. It's also something anyone could do with DaveNet.
And that's nothing less than the power of the web.
I'm reading Tim Berners-Lee's autobiography, Weaving the Web.
TBL is the inventor of the web. Reading his story lets me know that there's a mathematics to the web. He understood then what I immediately understood about the web when I started working on it in 1994. The web is an expansive medium. Anything that tries to make the web contract is anti-web. And the expansiveness is expressed in a brain-dead-simple idea. A link from one place to another.
It's something that Jakob Nielsen understands. And Jon Udell at Byte.Com, and Dale Dougherty at O'Reilly and Mohsen Al-Ghosein at Microsoft. We could have dinner together and build a new web out of the web, one that achieves Tim Berners-Lee's vision for a powerful two-way medium. Someday I hope to have that dinner. Sparks will fly!
Until recently I thought Linus Torvalds got this too, but his recent comments about Sun and Microsoft make me think his confidence is wavering. His operating system only has a chance if it welcomes all, even those who don't use it, with equal generosity. Linux belongs to the universe, it's bigger than our whole planet, if it adopts that view. It's the closest OS in philosophy to the web. I'd like to see it go all the way.
I had lunch with Mohsen earlier this week, and I half-jokingly asked why Bill Gates doesn't launch a working NT 5 machine in a rocket to Alpha Cenauri. I wasn't joking because he has the power to do that, and in a few years, so will Linus.
Space exploration is the next thing for our planet to do. The biggest step down that road is the alteration in perspective. Our presence is right here, and this place in in space.
The walls that IETF culture puts up are well documented in the TBL book. They didn't believe in the web when it started up. The old-timers of the Internet may have missed something that TBL didn't. There are strange cultures here sharing our net. They want to do things with the net that we didn't think of and don't understand.
Like TBL, I want to use the Internet to Communicate, with a capital C. The way they taught Communication in college. I want a convergence of writing tools and file systems -- give me one place where I can write for the web, or email or chat, or send a pager message. A place that's mine, with a part that I share with the world, and another part I only share with my friends, and a part that's all mine, that I share with no one. Get the old stuff out of my way, but let me search it when I want to find a piece I wrote in 1997.
We're not writing for printers and bookshelves anymore. Our words and ideas flow electronically and are saved on websites and search engines. But it's so chaotic and unmanageable and unpredictable and complex. I think I see how to get it all to hang together. This is the problem I want to solve. I want the best features of the web and email in a single customizable writing environment.
Anyway, rather than divert my development time to pulling soundbites from old DaveNets, I decided to create a new accessory for the Scripting News home page, collections of *new* stories from four of my favorite sites, Salon, Red Herring, Wired News and The Motley Fool.
I chose these four publications because they're big brands with interesting writers, are clearly identified with the Internet, their content isn't widely syndicated (yet!) and all are early adopters of the syndication format we developed with Netscape/AOL earlier this year.
The format is wide open on both ends, we now have a spec that allows any net-connected server running on any operating system to hook into our aggregator and receive a dozen or more fresh stories every hour. It's free and new and powerful.
The vision I described in A Bright Future for Syndication, 9/3/99, is one step closer to reality.
Helping stories find readers, building flow for web-based excellence. Thanks to Salon, Red Herring, Wired and Motley Fool for having the courage to try out a new idea.
The temptation to do Vignette-style syndication must be great, but this is the right way to go, I'm sure of it. It's the web way, not the print way.
Indulging in one more loop-back, from Three Years of DaveNet, 10/7/97, two years ago today:
"I'd like my legacy to be that I helped people be kinder to each other, to find more fun in other people, not to be so threatened by the differences between people."
That's still my wish!