Quoting Dead Presidents
Saturday, April 21, 2001 by Dave Winer.
In today's piece I quote three dead presidents, two from the 20th century, and one from the 18th. Check it out.
In a long life you will meet a lot of people, and each one can teach you something. Those who are willing to help probe your fears can be the most valuable friends, as long as it's done at a respectful distance, with humor and love.
A long time ago I had a really smart friend. She pressed all my buttons, but I was quite attracted to her anyway. When she discovered that something scared me, she'd say "Then that's what we'll do!"
It's a good way to live, I've found out. If you hate rollercoasters ride one. If you love TV, stop watching. If you don't like cheese eat some, appeciate its fine qualities, but pay more attention to what you don't like about it, because in that is a fear that you might be able to shed.
A life lead with less fear is a more relaxed and enjoyable life, imho.
Swinging back to the experience with Dan Bricklin's quote in Reuters about the quality of writing among amateurs, it gets quite recursive. Both Bricklin and Blogger-author Evan Williams wrote their own accounts of the deal on the Web, because they were concerned that the press would mangle the story.
What's wrong with this picture? The subjects of the press are now doing their own press. Does this strike you, as it does me, as a loop? Why is it necessary? Haven't we been here before? Isn't this what happened with mainframes when personal computers came along? How secure were the mainframe people when faced with a horde of Apple developers with nothing to lose. They were dismissive, for sure, I was there (so was Bricklin) but it didn't matter. The users could do it for themselves. And then that's what happened.
So here's an interesting milestone. Usually you get boring lying puffy press releases from the principals of a story. In the Blogger-Trellix deal, we got first-hand personal essays from the two people who made the deal. Mark my words, this is a new artform. I expect to see a lot more of this in the future.
Thomas Jefferson: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."
Bob Dylan: "Well, I try my best to be just like I am, but everybody wants you to be just like them."
Harry Truman: "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen."
William Randolph Hearst: "You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war."
LBJ: "Let us reason together."
8/1/98: "Bless our rudderless political system, our lies about sexuality and the endless stream of Boy Kills Boy software stories. We get what we want. We must want to explore honesty, sexuality and work out power issues. Occasional creativity comes from the struggles. That's the precious stuff and that's my formula. If an idea has a twinkle in it, it's mine! If it can reach our hearts, I go for it. Just like Ringling and Barnum. It's a circus out there. Same on my home page."
We need the BigPubs!
Let's tighten up the interface, get some interop.
Try an experiment. See if your readers don't prefer sublety, a little less Boy Kills Boy, a little more Let's Have Fun.
On our side, let's acknowledge change for the better. Once I've expressed my concern, I can see the progress. I didn't like the Times piece. That's been said. But one thing I did like is that it included a pointer to my essay site. I had my rebuttal up within a half-hour of the posting. 20,000 Times readers read it. This is a bit of a revolution. A nice bit of interop. Let's not overlook that.
Once upon a time we were optimistic about technology. Nothing really changed. Now the writing environment is much larger than it used to be and it's growing quickly. That this is going to change journalism should not be a surprise. Now we're fumbling around trying to figure out what the change looks like.
Please forgive me if I've been a bit crude.
A common reporting technique, I hear, is to fling a dead cat around the room and see what it hits.
I do the same thing sometimes.
PS: An amateur is a "person who engages in an art, a science, a study, or an athletic activity as a pastime rather than as a profession." It derives from the Latin amator, "lover, devoted friend, devotee, enthusiastic pursuer of an objective."