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This is both a test post and a celebratory post (if it works).
Yehi! It worked. What this means is that I now have scripting2.root as an installable tool, just like Radio2 and River2.
Here's a post with an admittedly ugly URL.
But it illustrates something that Werner Vogels will probably like, Jeff Barr too. Out of the box this tool likes to create blogs on S3.
Flip it around, what's becoming clear is that S3 makes storage easier, and that may be enough to make it worth another try for people hosting their own blogging software. We've done that with Radio2 which is a lightweight microblog editor, and now we have the same idea working for the heavy duty professional blogging solution, Scripting2 (the software I use to edit Scripting News, completely rewritten last year).
If you don't understand what any of this means, stay tuned. This is just a test post.
What's that -- a new feature? But I thought RSS was frozen.
I wrote about the microblog namespace in Twitter Posts Don't Have Titles, a subject that could only interest someone who has been puzzling over how to do a Twitter-like streamer using RSS as the transport. The problem isn't whether or not RSS can do it, it can, the question is what to do about feed readers that don't understand. Answer: Let em figure it out!
In the meantime, I thought it was time to add some long-needed stuff to RSS, in a namespace of course.
For example, a lot of people wonder whatever became of their tweets. I have over 30,000 of them. Most of them are gone, poof -- into the ether. But some of them I have archived. I am determined that whatever we boot up now have archives provided for, in the base model.
With that info, you can loop over all the items I've pushed through this feed, going back to its inception. That's a built-in feature of Radio2. All Radio2 blogs have this feature.
So there's an advantage that microblogs outside-the-silo have over insiders.
I've always said that the Times likes to talk about a paywall, and they've been doing that for a long time, but when it comes time to put it up they'll realize it cuts them off from the world, and they won't do it. It's like a baseball player refusing to get on a baseball field. Once you do that you stop being a baseball player.
But then corporations are capable of doing things you never thought they could possibly ever really do, when it came down to actually doing it.
1. Microsoft insisting that all netbooks had to run Windows 7. I figured they wouldn't mess with a good thing and would let the OS fade into the background. Here was a chance to create some new software because netbooks could be used in places no other computer could have been used before -- because of price, battery life and built-in communications. But they did manage to remove all the excitement out of the netbook product, just in time for one of the most exciting products ever, the iPad -- to swamp it.
2. Twitter and the coral reef. I think they really didn't see all the consequences as they drifted toward the model they now find themselves in. One where, in order to get revenue they had to shut down almost all the developers. The decision they announced on Friday was both impossible and inevitable. It was impossible to believe they could actuallly do it, and inevitable because they had no choice. I wonder if the founders of the company don't now wish they had gone a different way, one where Twitter could become an indispensible new layer to the Internet, instead of a bigger and bigger obstacle to that layer, to be routed around. I don't think in the end the founders will make much more money this way. The difference is that they bring along some very greedy people, who don't mind foreclosing on huge amounts of creativity to make a relatively small amount of money.
Meanwhile the Times app on the iPad is slow and crashy and incomprehensible. You can't get a quick sense of what's going on in the world. Using the news in this environment is a lot like it was in the 70s and 80s. Sit down at the kitchen table, spread out the newspaper, and spend an hour reading. As with the NewsCorp product, they seem to be saying "If we put a lot of effort into this we can convince people to use written news the way they used to." They could skip it, because things like that don't happen.
But they could do it anyway. If they really think people are going to pay a premium for a lugubrious daily news product, they're going to be as surprised as Microsoft and Twitter. There are too many choices. The Guardian is doing great work and there's no talk of a paywall there. They're not as broad as the Times, yet -- and they cover the world from a British perspective, and I look at things as an American. And there's Al Jazeera, which is aggressive and competent, and probably would move quickly to fill any void left by an entity the size of the Times.
I link to the Times in my feed probably more than any other publication. I might soon have to give that up. Oh well. I stopped using my netbook too.
Noted: Zune is no more.
Oy. What if. If only.. Told. You. So.
Zune was the worst idea ever. They could have zigged to Apple's zag. Apple built a fantastic music playing device. Zune could have made the best podcast player. There is a huge difference between the two forms.
1. You buy a song, a podcast is free.
2. You listen to songs many times, a podcast is listened to once.
3. You keep a song, you throw out a podcast.
4. I don't know about you but when I replay a song I want to start at the beginning. But if I haven't finished a podcast, I want to resume where I left off.
5. You make lists of songs, you curate them, put them next to other songs, sing them, hum them, can't get them out of your head, listen to them years later and they bring back memories. You do none of that with podcasts.
But podcasts are great! I'm going for a walk now and I will get caught up on nuclear power and listen to an interview with Dr. John (there's the connection to music, btw).
We, who love podcasts, still make-do with the iPod when we should have a great podcast player. Now maybe podcasting isn't such a huge market, but maybe it would be if it had been inspired by a device made specially for podcasts? You never know!
Another what if...
What if Microsoft had said FUCK YES! to netbooks instead of "Oh well if you insist we'll let you use Windows, but you have to cripple the hardware, and when we ship Windows 7 you have to use that even though there's negative demand for it."
What a mistake to waste the two-three year head-start they had over Apple. They should have been blown away by the new demand for Windows as a mass market thing and helped the netbook makers come up with ideal form-factors, even subsidized the sales, all to capture a mobile market that they could use as a beachead to compete with Apple. Instead they're left doing a dead-leading-the-dead deal with Nokia.
Ballmer is a sales guy. Maybe he's a great one, I don't know. But he's completely outclassed as a product strategist by Jobs. And Microsoft should finally let go all those Windows coders, if they haven't already done so. They need to become a distributor and investment banker, and stop trying to compete in areas they clearly can't. And if they ever get so lucky as to have a phenomenon like netbooks land in their lap, don't let it slip away by being all corporate.
Along with Radio2 comes a new kind of RSS feed, one that really works for microblogs.
In the last few days, since Twitter announced their new developer roadmap, there's been a fair amount of writing done about using RSS as the basis for a distributed version of what Twitter does.
People who read this blog will already be familiar with this idea.
However one thing I haven't seen anyone write about is the question of titles. This is a big issue, the reason why it's hard to do what Twitter does in RSS, but thankfully not impossible.
Here's the thing. Twitter posts don't have titles.
No matter how you look at it, they don't have them. When you go to twitter.com all you get is a prompt that asks "What's happening?" In a sense this is the title of every Twitter post, without the question mark.
When you're constructing a minimal blogging tool, you have to allow for posts that don't have titles. And if you want Twitter users to be comfortable with it, that must be the default behavior.
Then if you look at the RSS feeds that Twitter generates, you'll notice that they reproduce the text of the tweet in both the title and the description. It looks awful in my aggregator, and I bet it looks awful in others. But if I were them, I might have done it this way. I assume this is because there are feed readers that won't deal with items that don't have titles. I think Google Reader works this way. So if you want to read a Twitter feed in Google Reader, and that must have been their number one feature request, and if the Google Reader guys aren't willing to budge, then go ahead and echo the tweet text in both places.
I didn't go that way. I read the RSS 2.0 spec again, to be sure I had it right, and there's no requirement that an item have a title. "All elements of an item are optional, however at least one of title or description must be present." There's a reason for that, it's not an accident. Early blogs, like scripting.com, had posts without titles. If RSS was going to work for those blogs (and I had an incentive to make it work that way) it had to be permissible for items to not have titles. Any reader that can't handle them isn't really a RSS-reader, it's a subset-of-RSS-reader.
So my feeds won't be readable in those tools. Which is, to me, a feature not a bug. Because those guys seriously need to take another look at their product, in the age of Twitter, because they're not dealing with a very popular form of content. And they could be doing it, with a simple fix, and they should be looking at a retrofit in the near future, to become part of the distributed network that will develop alongside Twitter. As now seems virtually inevitable.
One more thing, if you've been reading the feeds that emanate from Radio2, you would have noticed that there's a new namespace coming along with it, called microblog. It's a place where I'm putting items that are needed to properly represent a microblog in RSS. If you're interested in this stuff you should have a look.
In January I wrote about what I called the minimal blogging tool. The goal being to create a thin blogging tool that would compete with Twitter for simplicity. Of course that doesn't mean the design is easy. It took a lot of trying stuff this way then that but finally I'm happy with it. And it's in finishing-off state, the first real product shipment I've done since nine years. Feels pretty good.
The product is called Radio2 -- it's the continuation of the thread started by Radio UserLand in 2002.
So if it's nearing shipment, how does that work?
0. If you want to get an idea how it works without using any software, check out the docs.
1. If you really really really want to try it out now, send me an email to the address in the sidebar and I'll set the first ten people up with accounts on my server. This is just for you to try out. I'm not making any committments to hosting your site for any period of time. This is just for trying-out.
2. I am shipping it as a tool that runs in any Frontier-based environment. That includes the OPML Editor, and the runtime that's baked into EC2 for Poets. I've written a howto that explains how to install it. It requires some technical ability, but once you have it running, it's pretty reliable, I've found. We have a mail list going for support of sysops of EC2-for-Poets servers.
3. If you know someone who has a Radio2 server, you can ask them for an account on their server. Or a group of people can join together, pool resources, and run their own.
4. If you want to host the server elsewhere, not on EC2, I've prepared a download of just the OPML app taken off the EC2 server. It will stay in synch with the servers we're all running, but it doesn't have to be on EC2. Again, you should be something of a technical hero to run this, but not a super-geek, just someone who likes computers.
If you just want to keep track of development, look at the changes page. There's no feed for that page, by design. I want people to read it as a stream, not as separate bits. I don't see this changing anytime soon.
There's a lot more on the way. I'm going to keep programming. Hopefully the community has reached a level where it can support new servers coming online. If not, we'll keep iterating until it has reached that level.
Mike Arrington wrote a milestone piece yesterday saying Google wouldn't make the mistake of overhyping whatever new thing it may or may not be cooking up to compete with Facebook.
I don't think I've ever seen this happen, in any cycle I've been witness to.
Mike's predecessors in previous loops, Ben Rosen, Esther Dyson, Stewart Alsop, John Markoff, Walt Mossberg, I'm sure I'll think of others, never said that hype wasn't a necessary part of making software successes. Their livelihoods depended on people coming to them with hype so they could turn it into ink on paper (or vapor on paper).
When it came time to roll out stuff, the titans of their day, Bill Gates, the Visicalc guys, Mitch Kapor, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, John Doerr, Marc Andreesen, would always offer up a banquet for the press. And usually whatever they were hyping would flop. Hard. OS/2, Cairo, Hailstorm, Aritifical Intelligence, Object Oriented, TK!Solver, Agenda, The Semantic Web, even open source, when presented as a panacea for the tech industry was a major dud.
Second acts generally express their wishes for success rather than actual success. The reporter's job is to muddle up the difference.
Meanwhile it's the stuff that doesn't get the hype that has a chance to go through the iterations needed to achieve market acceptance, off on the side, without millions of users showing up Day One. Almost every product we use was like that. (Recent Apple rollouts are the exceptions. Don't know how they do it. They must have quite a testing process going on behind the curtain.)
Mike basically said, in not so many words, if you want to know what's working, what the future will look like, don't look for the stuff that gets hyped to people like me. You have to look more broadly.
He's absolutely right about that. And it takes guts to be so clear.
Jay's on a jet plane today at the normal Rebooting the News time, so we're going to try something very different.
At noon, I'll play a song to get us in the mood, then we'll take calls on talkshoe.com. Use the widget below to find your way there.
Call in if you have something to say, a question to ask -- but please keep it nice -- R E S P E C T -- find out what it means to me!
And keep your comments as brief as possible. As you know I like to drone on and on, and you have to humor me cause it's my show.
BTW: If any of these talk radio guys want to pay me $500K, I could make you a browser-based UI that wouldn't leave users crying for their mommies.
PS: Here's the MP3.
Yesterday I wrote a post about Twitter's developer roadmap.
Full of potholes, detours, Do Not Enter signs. That's the road you're on if you're a corporate blogging silo. They made the choice to go in that direction a few years ago. This moment was inevitable the day they made it. And it doesn't make them bad people, or stupid, as some people say. It's a valid choice. Don't be so sure you wouldn't make it if you were in their place.
In a comment under that piece, a developer from Feedly asks, basically, for my roadmap.
I posted a pointer to my linkblog feed.
That's the center of my universe. It's still developing, I want to add some more stuff to the namespace, but it works.
So here's the roadmap:
1. Develop stuff that consumes feeds like that, and I'm happy.
2. Develop stuff that manages feeds like that, and I'm happy.
3. Develop tools that help users of #1 and #2 and I'm happy.
See it's easy to make me happy. I'm already happy, having a lot of fun, building software around that format. If I were running a company that took on tens of millions in venture capital I'd have to tell you to go away. But I haven't, so I don't. I'm like Tom Sawyer with the whitewash fence. I'm having the time of my life. But yeah, if you insist, I'll share.
BTW, to the people who say that, in order to use something other than Twitter, you have to leave Twitter -- that clearly is not true. So far the Twitter guys think it's okay for me to post to their network via my tool. However if they want to shut me down, please, do me a favor. I'm addicted to Twitter. Guys like me could use a little tough love.
PS: For a tour of the architecture, please read the stories linked to here.
Ryan Sarver works at Twitter. He just posted a new developer roadmap, a few minutes ago. In it are all the things I was expecting:
1. If you make a Twitter client, you have a bit of time to get out of that business. If you were thinking about writing one, don't.
2. Twitter wants to control how tweets are presented everywhere. That means if you have an app that somehow displays them, you'd better read the new terms of service. You probably aren't allowed to do that anymore.
3. Analytics are OK, for now. Helping big companies manage their brands on Twitter, OK for now. Not clear what else.
4. No mention of Twitpic, Yfrog. Instagram and Foursquare are "value-added content and vertical experiences."
A personal note, I am so happy I cut the cord with Twitter long before they got to this point. I'm pretty far along in doing a new user interface for microblogging, one without many of Twitter's limits. Had I been trying these ideas out on their platform, today is the day I would have become officially illegal. But the writing was already on the wall, clearly.
The Internet remains the best place to develop because it is the Platform With No Platform Vendor. Every generation of developers learns this for themselves. When I wrote it Apple hadn't been reborn. I was thinking about the messes that Sun, Microsoft and Netscape were making. And finally getting myself out of the mess Apple made before Apple was making its new mess.
Facebook may have a huge installed base, but it's dead to me. I can't get there. The platform vendor is too active. Same with Twitter, same with Apple. Give me a void, something I can develop for, where I can follow the idea where ever it leads. Maybe there are only a few thousand users. Maybe only a few million. Hey, you can't be friends with everyone.
PS: You have to wonder why Twitter chose the weekend of SXSW to drop this bomb. Were they aware that large numbers of influential Twitter users were getting together in Austin to drink beer, eat BBQ and mumble disgruntlement about Twitter? Now they have something to bumble about!
PPS: Bad timing for Apple's rollout of the iPad 2. They were hoping to dominate the news with hordes of groping fanbois camped on the sidewalk outside Apple stores. Instead there's some real news (no not Twitter, Japan).
I'm sure there's a feed on each of the major news sites tying together all their quake coverage. I just wish I knew where they were.
When there's a huge story literally breaking over the planet (and maybe breaking the planet), we need the most accelerated access to news. Not to have to go hunting for it. We have the technology and standards to do it, totally mature, we just have to use it.
If your news organization has a feed that ties together your quake coverage, send me a pointer. I will of course publish the OPML subscription list and keep it current, as I did with the WikiLeaks OPML when it was the breaking mega-story.
Earlier this evening I tried to retweet something, and got this message:
You have been blocked from retweeting this user's tweets at their request.
If you don't believe me, here's a screen shot.
All kinds of thoughts come up.
1. I didn't know you could do that.
2. Is it in the user interface?
3. If not, how do you get this done?
4. Why would someone want to do this?
5. Retweeting seems pretty neutral. Not?
Anyway, I did a Google search and found it has come up before, so I'm not the only one. But not very often, which seems to indicate there is no user interface for it. Very odd.
BTW, "just blocking them" is not an answer, because a friend who I don't want to unfollow frequentlly RT's the person who has me blocked from RT'ing. If it gets annoying enough I guess I will have to unfollow the friend who I don't want to unfollow.
Also, it's that his tweets are private, they aren't. I am not following him. Another friend is retweeting them. Unless their "privacy" includes this feature, they aren't private.
In case it isn't obvious, Twitter is a morass of inconsistent rules about when it should and shouldn't show you stuff, and makes you block people when you have no interest in blocking them just to get another feature that comes along with blocking.
With all the money going into startups it's amazing that the underlying web isn't being built out.
There have been some innovations in the basic web, the biggest in the last decade clearly is Dropbox, but even that is just a taste of nirvana. Their public folder is so incredibly useful. Amazing one of the hundreds of startups out there haven't seen fit to pick up that ball. Behind the scenes I've been urging Amazon and Rackspace to go there. Amazon's effort is so disappointing. They're such a great competent company. But they just don't understand the problem. I guess. Their product misses the mark, again and again.
In a comment, Ryan Tate says: "It would be neat if someone combined S3's innovative pricing model with old-school Apache webhosting. Bonus points for supporting the S3 API."
I added of course that I want Dropbox too. And offered an explanation of why we're waiting so long. "The vendors aren't users." So many things waiting for this to be easy. It's as if the PC had been invented, but we were waiting for someone to create a word processor.
Update: An old friend from the dotcom days, Miko Matsumura, asks for a better explanation. Here goes..
I want to forget about running Apache. It should be a commodity. I want two ways to manage the content that's served for me by Apache. The S3 API, and Dropbox. I need a few of the features of htaccess files, the ability to specify my index file, error file, and to redirect permanently or temporarily. Maybe one or two other simple features. No dynamic bits. I pay for bandwidth and storage. Super-important that I pay. The hosting provider must be an entity whose longevity is obvious. Would be great to be able to pay in advance for 10, 25 or 100 years. As Ryan Tate says in a subsequent comment, with something like this in place, reliable, utility-level HTTP storage and serving, an industry could develop. One that, btw, would not be bubbly. Hope this explains it!
However, there are two problems, and I think the second one is a deal-stopper.
1. The inability to point scripting.com at the bucket. It must be a sub-domain because it must be a CNAME. I refuse to redirect scripting.com to www.scripting.com for religious reasons, although most others probably wouldn't mind. People I respect would. So I could use s3.scripting.com, which I kind of like. Anil Dash asked a question I hadn't thought of. You're putting someone else's brand on your site. Yeah. It's like "S3 brings you scripting.com." Seems they should have to pay for that. And further, it's an ad and I don't do ads here. But on the other side, it says very clearly to everyone who cares that this is an S3-hosted site, and so they know that if it works they should credit Amazon, and if it doesn't. Since this is a site with a large focus on people who develop for the web, it seems appropriate. So, all-in-all, this is an issue, there is no ideal solution, but there are workable ones.
2. Scattered through the folders are .htaccess files, that correct mistakes, glue the site to other sites, all around serve as a method of patching a site that's been around a long time, since 1994. There's a lot of that kind of patching in there. Of course S3 sees an .htaccess file as just another thing to serve up. So if I redirected scripting.com to s3.scripting.com, who knows what kind of hell would break loose. I don't remember all the things I patched this way over the years. I know the site works reasonably well. So I guess the bottom-line is that while I don't want to run Apache myself, this site needs to be served by Apache or something that emulates it. It seems that, unless I think of something else, S3 is for hosting new sites, not ones that have been around for a while.
Over on Reddit a guy with terminal cancer posted that he was going to die in 51 hours and wanted to spend some of this time talking about it with Reddit users. Lots of interesting stuff in the thread. (BTW, it was a hoax. No matter, the ideas are valuable anyway.)
Someone asked if he was scared of dying. He said he was terrified. What a word. From there the discussion goes to the usual places, the things we have all thought of. But there's a new idea I have, at least for me, that I've never written about. So I thought I should.
Every animal has the instinct to fight death. I suppose there are occasional mutations, individuals that don't care whether they live or die, but they would get culled quickly. The more fanatic you are about not dying the more likely you are to reproduce. Evolution reinforces this trait.
I think that's where the terror comes from. If we lived in a totally benign environment, where our time of death was fixed, and nothing could change it, not even our disposition, we would never have developed the terror.
This suggests there may be a way to medicate the terror in the last days of life, so we shrug it off the way we wish we could and don't. And focus on closure the people and things we care about.
scripting.com is served by Apache running on Windows on EC2. It usually works pretty well, but sometimes, usually when there's more traffic, the server stops responding and won't reboot. Eventually, after enough reboots it comes back up, but every time it happens I think about how to get out of this situation.
I don't want to run Apache to serve static web content. I want to have that completely taken care of for me. S3 was frustratingly close to being exactly what I want. It just got closer but still isn't exactly what I want. I could run Scripting News from an S3 bucket, but it wouldn't be accessible at scripting.com because that must be an A record, and blah blah blah. It's such a well-rehearsed story now.
I subscribe to the no-www philosophy. The shorter the URL the better. I always redirect www.scripting.com to scripting.com. I've come to think of "www" as creepy.
So that's the downside of hosting Scripting News at S3. And I am so annoyed by www as a prefix I would use something like s3.
Try it -- it works. It's kept current. All I have to do is redirect scripting.com to s3.scripting.com and goodbye Apache.
I wish Amazon would figure out how to let us use the domain name itself for one of these spiffy static sites.
But I may go ahead and make the switch anyway. I think s3.scripting.com is kind of cool.
Two key facts about Twitter and Facebook.
1. Twitter's mistake was building a product they didn't really use. I've never seen it work out well when the top guys at a company aren't passionate users of their own product. They can be quirky, that just comes out in the product. Gates and Windows. Jobs and the Mac. Marc Andreessen and Netscape. Etc etc. When the people who run Twitter get on stage and talk about their product, it's very different from the thing we're using. You can feel the discomfort. It's distant. It also comes through in the decisions they've made re business models.
2. Facebook can only rise so far because they're hiring from the same talent pool as all the other Silicon Valley companies. They all think they're going to be different, and for a while they are. Until they grow so big that everything that was different about them gets diluted. Eventually the singular Silicon Valley Company takes over. I remember when Apple was young, their execs were the most wonderful people in the world. Almost as if "wonderful" was a technical term. They were thinking about taking over and running third world countries after their Apple options vested. Seriously (and I'm not making fun of them). But they all fall to earth, and become the foundations and plaster for the next upstart.
Are we in a bubble? Yes, this is a bubble. All the frenzied startup activity and still the VCs raise more money to invest. Not enough inventory. We need more young people to play the role of entrepreneur. It's so analogous to the real estate bubble where the only bad bet was to own the actual real estate because that was so real. The money was being made off the lies. In this bubble the people who are going to get hurt are the legions of young people. Most of them aren't entrepreneurs. As a percentage of the population, the people who really have the drive and fortitude to stick it out is infinitesmal. But that isn't the myth -- it's also like the housing boom where everyone could be a home owner. In 2011 every young person can be an entrepreneur, esp if he or she knows how to code. That's the bubble, right there.
You can find all the links on Werner Vogel's blog. I share his enthusiasm for the new host-a-website feature. I was asking for it for a long time. I guess, from reading the tea leaves, he was too.
Anyway, I had to do a bunch of trial and error to get my first S3-hosted static site configured. I wanted to leave a howto behind me so next time I won't have to do the head-scratching again. Maybe it will help you too.
Suppose the domain you want to host on S3 is r2.reallysimple.org. And the index file for that domain will be index.html. This is what you do.
1. Go to the S3 panel on the AWS website and create a new bucket called r2.reallysimple.org in the US-Standard region.
2. Upload a file called index.html to the new bucket. Say something simple like Hello World. You can copy the HTML from my test file if you want.
4. Click Permissions in the lower-right panel. Then click on Edit bucket policy. Paste in the template text you grab from this file. Edit it to replace YOUR-BUCKET-NAME-GOES-HERE with the name of your bucket (in the example r2.reallysimple.org). Click Save.
5. Now go to your domain registrar, and map r2.reallysimple.org as a CNAME to r2.reallysimple.org.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com.
Now you should be able to go r2.reallysimple.org and see the text of your index file.
I just read a review of five URL shorteners and added a comment recommending the one I'm building my systems on, Adjix.
Adjix is imho, the best because it automatically stores each link it shortens in an Amazon S3 bucket that I own. If they ever go away, or if for some reason I decide to move on, my links won't break (at least not because of them). I also use a custom domain for my URLs. So I get complete data portability at no cost. Absolutely no lockin.
I don't own any stock in Adjix, or have any reason to recommend it other than it is a great service.
I know a lot of people haven't heard of it, but it's really important. Someday a lot of these links are going to break. I'm doing everything I can to be sure that mine last. I know other people care about this. Adjix has made it work.
Lately it's dawning on people that the mass aggregators of local information aren't achieving critical mass among the locals. Outside.in, a site that never made much sense to me, sold to AOL for $10 million. A lot less money than the VCs had invested in it.
Anyway, I thought now would be a good time to remind that in spots around the world and even in the US, local sites are kicking butt. Here in NYC, we have quite a few. I keep an aggregator of East Village blogs. Pretty interesting reading.
I think the common thing is people who care. Who wants to read local news prepared by software. I find it interesting to know what interests people near me. I find the idea of an algorithm making the choices to be sterile, void of nutrients. Unhappy!
Hey even the curmudgeonly Berkeley Daily Planet has a pretty decent website these days (few offsite links, but hey that's who they are).
Being from the East Coast, as I am, I recognize the term "dickbar" as an eastcoastism. It refers to a new feature in Twitter for the iPhone which brings the first instream advertising to the eyeballs of Twitter users. It's the kind of thing a guy from Philly, Gruber, who roots for the Yankees might say. As far as I know he coined the term.
This is what a dickbar looks like.
Gruber is referring to the first rumblings of the promised business model from Chicagoan Dick Costolo, the (relatively) new CEO of Twitter. He, I conclude is 1/2 of the "dick" in dickbar.
The other half is how you feel for believing that Twitter would do something classy and interesting with advertising, as we were promised when, the newly minted COO of Twitter, the same Dick Costolo told us we would love their advertising. Yeah uhuh. Us East Coast guys have a bridge we'd like to sell you. It connects Manhattan with the great borough of Brooklyn. Real cheap.
Advertising works for Google because when you go to Google you're looking for something. That's why you went there. So they can show you something like what you asked for and hope in some way it comes closer to what you want. Or, like most advertising, it could be a distraction. We noticed that people who drive BMWs also like Starbucks. We don't know why, but we thought we'd launch our new coffee place by running an ad next to searches for BMWs. It might just work. Or not.
No one yet knows why people use Twitter. I'm a regular. I use it for the same reason I used to smoke two packs of Marlboro Lights every day. It's a hard habit to break. No one has any idea if it's a good place to drop ads. We're going to find out, it seems.
And a bit of sympathy for the people at Twitter, who are cursed to have a service that makes it easy for people to complain about the service itself. I've been there. Supporting bloggers with a commercial product or service is generally not a lot of fun.
PS: When I discovered that dickbar.org wasn't taken, I had to get it.
Suppose a user had control of a name that can be looked up through DNS.
Something like: dave.me or dave.easy.com, for example.
The former would be done through a registrar, the latter by a web service.
Suppose in both cases the user could define a file whose name would only be known to him. That's the password. When you sign in you'd enter the domain and the name of the file where username and password are requested.
Then the site requesting a validated ID would make this request:
If what came back is a 404, you're not authorized.
If a 200 came back -- you're in.
The body of the request could be something like a feed or an OPML file with info about the person. Basic stuff that any authenticated site is allowed to have.
Seems that's about as thin as an ID system can get.
And there's nothing innovative about it. We just need something like this that's quick easy for users to set up, with a name they're likely to trust.
I have an AMI that I created from Windows server AMI, that's used in the EC2 for Poets tutorial. It worked really well at first. I had to launch a new instance a week or so ago, and waited for over an hour and it was still telling me it couldn't get a Windows password for it.
In desperation I left it running overnight, came back to it 24 hours later, and this time it gave me the password.
Today I got a report from a user that he's seeing the same thing (though he hasn't waited to the 24 hours yet).
I just launched an instance myself, at 3:15PM, and now at 4:40PM it's still saying no password.
I will, once I get one of these guys to launch, create a fresh AMI and hope that clears the problem. Whatever happened this is really bad. I assumed that the stuff inside the AMI didn't need to be backed up. Bad assumption!
Any help or advice would be much appreciated.
Update: At 9PM still no Windows password. Posted question on Amazon support.
Update: 7:45AM Friday, still no Windows password.
Update: 9:30AM, still no luck. Launched a second instance. Maybe this one will do better?
Update: 3:40PM, got the password!
Such a service, if it had reasonable terms of service, could clean up among developers who want to invest in a net outside of Twitter, Facebook and Apple.
Why doesn't Amazon have a simple authentication service? This person says he or she is bullmancuso. Great, is this his password? Yes or no. That's all we need.
How about Visa or Mastercard. A bank?
I suspect we don't have it because of the confusion about OAuth. Shame cause it's desperately needed.
Spielberg is such a serious director, it's possible his movie might actually capture the substance of Wikileaks, and not be superficial, as, for example -- the Aaron Sorkin version of the Facebook story.
This raises the question of who will play Julian Assange?
I immediately thought of the guy who plays him on Saturday Night Live.
I bet Jim Carrey will want the part.
Who do you think Spielberg will go with?
We all know Apple is announcing the new iPad today.
The last couple of Apple events have been webcast in beautiful hi-def video.
Wondering if today's event will be, as well?
Also on Hacker News.
Update: According to @jarin, it is not being webcast.
Last update: Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 10:05 AM Eastern.
Dave Winer, 55, is a visiting scholar at NYU's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in New York City.
"The protoblogger." - NY Times.
"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.
One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.
"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.
"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.
"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.
My 40 most-recent links, ranked by number of clicks.
FYI: You're soaking in it. :-)
© Copyright 1997-2011 Dave Winer. Last build: 3/17/2011; 10:05:41 AM. "It's even worse than it appears."
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