Back from Europe
Thursday, May 31, 2001 by Dave Winer.
It's a little over two days since I got back from a week in Europe. As always it shifts my perspective. I need a quick piece to hit the reset button. There's much new work to do in XML, networking, writing and programming tools, but first I have a queue of little stories from Europe that I'll probably pick up on in future pieces.
These are the airports I visited on this trip: SFO, London Heathrow, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, London Heathrow, SFO.
Airports figure in my plan. I think of the new ideas we're hatching as airplanes queued to take off. Plane number two can't take off until plane number one does.
Here are the books I read on this trip: Kurt Vonnegut's Bluebeard.
Yes Virginia, I'm still on European time, and that means I don't know what yesterday means, it's that fundamental a shift in perspective. My brain is still somewhere near the North Pole.
Hey you should see the maps in Scandanavia. The US is down there, and South America looks like Antarctica. It's true that we live on a globe and there's no reason our center has to be everyone else's.
Everything in Denmark is beautifully designed. I noticed this on arrival. The airport is stunningly beautiful. And on the plane from Copenhagen to Amsterdam there was a surprise in the lavatory. It was double-size, with beautiful Danish wood surfaces, and there were three windows, so you could watch Scandanavia at 35,000 feet while doing your business.
When I speak I like to get a discussion going, but I was warned by one of my Danish hosts before I gave the presentation. "Denmark is a flat country," I was told. This means people in Denmark don't like to talk. Later I learned this is true of much of Europe. Does this mean they're not smart? I don't know. How can you tell if they don't talk? But the people putting on the show, Thomas, Nanna and Michael, were, like so many of the people I meet when I travel, off-the-scale smart, enthusiastic and happy to share their point of view. They were wonderful hosts, I had a fantastic time in Copenhagen, really opened my eyes in a nice way. Thanks.
Now my subconscious has something to say. (I'm an American, I always tell you more than you want to know.)
I had a dream that UserLand had been acquired by Microsoft, but the deal hadn't been announced yet. I was in the middle of a big open office space, doing development with lots of smart people floating in and out. I was using my new software (codename Smurf Turf) in a new way, the result of joining it with some competent sexy unannounced Microsoft software. I kept thinking about how this was weird, and I'd have some explaining to do, but then think about all the people who would be using my software and that appeared to balance things, but I still felt uncertain. Then I programmed a little music player page, and clicked a button and all of a sudden beautiful music came out of the speakers for everyone to hear and they all started dancing a smart competent dance.
As I turned the knobs on the control panel a smart competent Microsoft person showed up and I said "Hey this is cool, can people record this music?" The Microsoft person rubbed the back of my neck in a respectful and understanding way and said "No" and walked away. I woke up.
"Just a dream!"
The first morning in Copenhagen I went for the buffet breakfast, pickled herring, all kinds of meats, not the usual US breakfast fare. Now get this, when I was a kid, my father used to eat this kind of stuff for breakfast. I used say "Dad. Why don't you eat normal food, like Cheerios or pancakes or whatever." I thought my father was a weird guy, but it turns out he was just European. By the way, to prove the point that parents get smarter as you get older, I actually liked the stuff.
In Amsterdam we had a fantastic Scripting News dinner at the Sluizer restaurant near one of the Pleins, it was all such a swirl. These dinners are community-builders. I meet new people, and have faces to put on people I know from the Web.
I had another couple of marathon brainstorming sessions with Adam Curry in Amsterdam, who's fast becoming a good friend and collaborator. He's one of those brilliant fearless guys, when he gets an idea he takes it to interesting places. We're gearing up to do another project together. Lots more to say here.
We're getting ready to ship the first version of Manila for Mac OS X.
We announced it a couple of weeks ago and released a beta to our users. It appears solid. When Frontier 7 ships, in a matter of days, the new Apple operating system will be supported equally along with Windows and Macintosh Classic.
We really like Mac OS X because it's both Macintosh and Unix. There are some interesting connections to be made. A machine that runs both Manila and Apache. Hah!
BTW, the music and video tools that ship with Mac OS X are a big deal with Adam. Between what Adam is doing and what we're doing, we can add broadcasting to the user tools that Apple ships, covering all the territory between centralized resources, creativity tools, databases, and user experience. A new medium is coming together, and I hope we can help Apple and Adam get there sooner.
As reported here 11 days ago, the NY Times today has an excellent piece on the Kaycee hoax.
I was glad to see Saundra Mitchell get credit for breaking the story. Next time you see someone at the center of an Internet shitstorm think of this story and how Saundra was right.
It's going to be a hot summer!
And I'm going back to Europe before it's over.