Dan Gillmor's Wee Blog!
Monday, October 25, 1999 by Dave Winer.
You say potato and I say poh-tahh-to. You say tomato and I say to-mah-toe.
Potato, poh-tahh-to, tomato, to-mah-toe, oh let's call the whole thing off.
Except it's evening. (At least it was when I wrote it.)
Good morning and welcome. Glad to be here.
How you doing? My name is Dave. Namaste y'all. That's right.
Hey before I get started with a new essay, here's some news.
I'm going to keynote Seybold in Boston in February!
That's the same stage that John Warnock, Steve Jobs and Tim Gill use to launch their products.
So when I act kooky, remember to take me verrrrrrry seriously!
And wait a minute, there's more. I've been invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos a couple of weeks before Seybold. They say I'm a Media Leader. Like Peter Jennings or John Markoff. This is too much. What happened? All of a sudden I'm "in".
What's wrong with the world. I'm having a serious case of any-clubitis, you know, any club that would have me as a member has a serious problem. At least I have to get a haircut and a new suit before going to Davos. And I haven't worn a suit in five years!
OK, so now for the kooky part of this piece.
Do you know what a weblog is? It's one of those funky new kinds of sites. Like music DJs, webloggers start with basic ingredients, other people's stories, and mix them into a selection of carefully chosen and delicately prepared morsels of web goodness. Read top to bottom or side to side, pick your favorites, there are hundreds, and lots more coming online every day.
These are weblogs, or blogs, as some people like to call them. Creative director Peter Merholz of Epinions, a hot Internet startup, calls them "wee blogs" which is a phrase I just can't get out of my head. I say it with a Scottish brogue. So for now, that's what I will call them. Weeeeee blogs! Excellent.
Wee blogs have been getting lots of press, and this should come as no surprise, since writers love reading and wee bloggers are the ultimate readers. Humbly, I have run my own wee blog since 1997, thank you, and we make software that makes them work. Longterm I think that the software will prove more important than my writing, but who knows.
And of course there's a mail list for wee bloggers, so if you want, you can rub elbows with the literary lions of the late-late 20th century:
Now most people who do wee blogs are hairy or artistic or eclectic in some other way.
But Dan Gillmor? Dan is one of the least hairy people I know. He's not wild. At least not on the outside. But today, I am proud to say that my friend Dan is starting what I think may become one of the most interesting wee blogs on the Internet.
Why will it be so interesting? Because Dan is a Journalist. I put a capital J on that because he's got it in his blood. He writes the marquee computing column for the San Jose Mercury News, the Silicon Valley cornerstone of Knight Ridder.
We've been working with Dan on this project since May 24, which is not coincidentally the same day I published Edit this Page, the piece that defined Manila, which is our wee blog framework for people who like to write and take pictures.
Now four months later Dan is using Manila. Dan is a writer, not a web developer. He writes his own website. His technical people work with us, but Dan owns the site. That was the goal. It's working. A dynamic site with all the fixins, and you don't need a degree in rocket science to keep it going. This is a barrier-break. A goal achieved. We still have more work to do, lots! But this is a milestone day for us at UserLand.
Dan's a Journalist, he's writing stuff live on the web, he's going to take reader comments, respond, point to things, and then take stuff he writes on the web and flow it back to print.
Today at 1PM he's on a plane to Hong Kong, where he's going to spend a month teaching Chinese students about Silicon Valley, software, and weblogs, of course. We're going to give each of his students a site on UserLand.Com so they can compete with Dan! ;->
Dan's bringing a digital camera with him. We're going to get stories and pictures and students and a foreign land, and it's a Journalist doing that. A lot of wee bloggers will be surprised for sure. This is what they call a viral app. This is the web.
I love Dan because he is smart and has courage, and is willing to go first. I also love the Merc for the same reasons. Outwardly they're quiet, and the big press doesn't take them too seriously. But I do, we made the invitation broadly, and the Merc said yes.
For the first time a publication is using the public web to generate content for their print version. Stop and think about this. Print assumes its proper role, as the medium for finished writing. Writing that evolves, changes, can only be on electronic media.
We did the software that makes Dan's site run.
Dan and his team taught us about journalism. We don't come from the same world, and that's why we wanted to work with them. It's been frustrating at times, but it was worth it!
I'm sure there'll be more glitches, remember Murphy's Law, it applies to websites equally as it applies to software.
And soon, we're going to offer the same software to the world, at an unbeatable price.
Big wheel keep on turning!
PS: Many thanks and hearty congratulations to Brent Simmons who worked on Dan's site for UserLand. Brent is incredible, a patient man, learning all the time, and always teaching me. Thanks Brent!
PPS: The DaveNet website is a Manila site too!