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 Tuesday, November 11, 2003  
Washington Post: "George Soros, one of the world's richest men, has given away nearly $5 billion to promote democracy in the former Soviet bloc, Africa and Asia. Now he has a new project: defeating President Bush." 

Ready or not, it's time to start flipping switches in the transition of Scripting News from weblog to directory for the World Wide Web. Some changes will be visible to the public, others will only be visible to me. By this time tomorrow the cactus will be gone. Everything will change, except one thing will remain constant. It's all still the unedited voice of a person. But it will be modular, and it will be possible for my voice to be mixed with others, in new ways. 

Feeling mellow today, I picked up the phone and called Mark Pilgrim, and said we should work together. There's a story that's been circulating, it first appeared in a paper given by Matthew Rothenberg, a NYU professor, about standards evolution in the weblog world, and was picked up by Clay Shirky (who's also teaching at NYU these days). Mark and I both figure heavily in the story. One of the many lessons of the Rothenberg piece is that people want us to work together. I think it's a good idea. Mark is a smart man, and we have done some great collaboration in the past. When we both get on the same page, mountains move. 

Announcing a Scripting News dinner, on Tuesday November 25, at the King Tsin restaurant in Berkeley, 7PM. Thanks to Sylvia Paull, doyenne of Bay Area geeks, for coordinating. This will be the first Scripting News event in the East Bay.  

A picture named rockingchair.jpgI've been friends with Sylvia for almost 20 years, going back to the early days of the Macintosh. She worked at a company started by Will Hearst called Software Ventures. They did a program called Microphone, the early leader in the Mac communications market, before the Internet caught on, when lots of people were dialing into Compuserve and MCI via modems. Anyway, Sylvia once said something to me that I'll file under Homilies, that made a huge difference a long time ago, but it has special relevance today. She said "I only go to parties my friends are welcome at." It's one of those mottos that makes sense from every angle, and it's a beautiful way to manage your personal relationships. Don't sweat it. If you're having a party, everyone is welcome. It's bad karma to try to split up friends. (It turns out it's just as bad to let yourself be split. You end up losing friends that way.) 

A picture named kerry.jpgJoshua Marshall doesn't, in his gut, believe that Dean has it sewn up. Meanwhile Kerry fires his campaign manager, and a new poll shows that Joe Lieberman leads in Ohio. 

A people hire A people, B people hire C people. Always strive for the most excellence. Never be scared to work with people who are smarter than you. Never be scared to let others be smarter than you. (Filed under Dave/Homilies/Mottos.) 

This week is shaping up to be huge in NH, with Kerry, Dean and Clark touring at the same time.  

Greenspun in Mexico City.  

StateDemocracy.Com looks interesting. 

The Church Sign Generator has great potential. 


 Monday, November 10, 2003  
Tomorrow you will think I am a total idiot.  

Wired: Clark Campaign to Debut Big Blog. Quotes Cam, Doc and myself. "A voter with a weblog is ten times more powerful than a voter without a weblog." 

A picture named ted.jpgLet's do a demo of the Semantic Web, the real one, the one that exists today. Doc Searls has a question about the iQue 3600 hand-held GPS. It is sexy. They say it only works with Windows, but Doc thinks it probably works with Linux too. A couple of thousand really smart people will read this. I'm sure one of them knows the answer. Probably more than one. There's the query. Human intelligence is so under-rated by computer researchers, but when we do our job well, that's what we facilitate. Human minds communicating with other human minds. What could be easier to understand?  

Crimson: "Slater received a cease-and-desist letter from Harvard on Oct. 31 after posting thousands of internal documents about an electronic voting machine manufacturer on his Harvard-hosted website." 

Derek: "I will be filing a letter defending my actions and will go before a hearing if necessary. I will also use this opportunity, as best I can, to urge the University to reconsider its role in these matters and its DMCA policies in general." 

RSS in my heart.Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it is my pleasure to present: several categories, for your viewing pleasure. All the posts in the last three days about the Dean campaign; the Clark campaign. And here are all the posts in the RSS category (it's the largest with 8 posts in the last three days, including this one (recursive)). There's lots more to do of course, but this is the milestone I was looking for when I began work this morning. Whew.  

Glenn Reynolds demos what a Presidential campaign video should look like. In it he tells everyone to read weblogs. Perfect. So when do you think Glenn is going to officially declare his candidacy? I swear he's going to run. I'm so sure I started a category for his campaign. I hope he does. I also think Philip Greenspun should run.  

Paolo compares RSS categories and ENT. Good job. I totally see my taxonomy as personal. Not trying to get anyone else to adopt it, at this time. Not even sure I'm going to stick to it. I have to start somewhere. I designed a bit of flexibility into the category element, but not too much. Getting people to agree on a taxonomy is a huge problem, that and user interface are the two looming beasts that keep this stuff from taking off. So instead of putting the cart before the horse, I decided to start pulling the cart myself.  

Today's song: "They may be stupid but they sure are fun." 

Nelson Minar: "Each of the individual applications using RDF I know of could have been done more easily with plain XML." 

RVW is "intended to allow machine-readable reviews to be integrated into an RSS feed, thus allowing reviews to be automatically compiled from distributed sources." 

Chris Lydon interviews Cameron Barrett from the Clark campaign. Special RSS feed updated. It's gratifying that Cam didn't fall into the hype about open source politics. That shows integrity. Open source is a term that means something with software, but it is meaningless in politics, unless somehow I can take over Wesley Clark's body, but I don't think anyone is seriously considering that, at least I hope not.  

Wendy: "I'm in my new office, by the way, on the 2nd floor!" Congrats. That's a big deal. Changes the flow of Berkman. Major Feng Shui implications there. 

For people wanting to follow the development of the new aggregator, here's a table containing all the categorized items from Scripting News in the last three days. Screen shot

USA SantaToday is going to be a breakthrough day on category support in the Scripting News archive. In a few hours I'll have a way to look at all the items on a per-category basis. I've been pretty good so far about assigning categories to blog posts here. For example, the Fleshbot post below is routed to Fun/Sex. This one is routed to Dave/Scripting News and Technology/Formats and Protocols/RSS. You can see all that by looking at today's RSS file. Also, to clear up some confusion, UserLand has had category support in Manila and Radio for years. This is the first time categories have been used in this weblog, and they're hierarchic, not flat. That is a first, as far as I know. When you see how the hierarchy works, you're going to want it. At least that's my evil plan.  

Fleshbot, the "pornographic sister website of Gizmodo and Gawker." 

A fascinating discussion started on this day in 1999 on evolution of RSS 0.91, including comments from Evan Williams, Dan Libby, Edd Dumbill. Cordial and professional, even statesman-like. Touched on many of the ideas that were later implemented in 0.92 and 2.0. 

This hyothetical conversation between Bill Gates and Satan in 1998 explains why our world still doesn't run in Java. 


 Sunday, November 09, 2003  
Joi Ito is becoming a cranky old man. Welcome! 

A picture named littleJoe.jpgJim Moore is at Dean HQ in Vermont. My two cents. Take the money. Let the voters tell you what the sacrament is. They drafted Dean. Like all successful boomtime IPOs, Dean just happened to be in the right place when the lightning struck. It didn't impart any special wisdom. What do you do? Relax and enjoy the ride. In other words, there's not much you can do. (Postscript: I suggested to Jim in a phone talk that they do something more creative with the money than buying television ads. Anything but giving the money to Viacom, GE, Disney, Fox, Time Warner.) 

Marc Nozell blogs Joe Lieberman campaigning in NH. 

Wired: "Linus Torvalds wants me to believe he's too boring." 

I find this report really interesting. It shows where the readers of the Scripting News archive are coming from. The top two are domains at Harvard, I assume they're crawlers of some kind. Then crawlers from Teoma, Google, then users and more crawlers. It's been a while since I've had a clients readout.  

SecurityFocus has two new RSS feeds. 

SmartMoney magazine has 12 feeds. 

Lessig: "It is ok to bend the truth, but only in one way."  

A picture named burns.jpgI can't recall being as excited about a piece of software since I was working on Manila in 1999. Part of the puzzle is finished. The items in the RSS feed for this weblog can be routed to categories. Now to the back-end. As the page is published, we watch for items with categories, and route them to the appropriate place. So if you want to get caught up on all the news from the Edwards campaign, there will be a place for that. Now of course a grad student could be working specifically on news of Edwards, maybe even on the press bus with Edwards. Maybe two grad students. Maybe thirty-two. And maybe the student who's working on Boston weather comes across something relevant to Edwards-watchers. This shouldn't be a problem. I told my friend Adam Curry in an email, the idea is that I can write for 100 weblogs, and 100 people can write for a specific weblog. We can get the overhead very low. This is how we're going to scale up to cover the 2004 election. It's a moon mission. Each user will get some new software and an assignment. It'll be a project like 24 Hours of Democracy in 1996, a demo of neat net tricks and a way for people with weblog skills to make a difference. And of course if an event like 9/11 comes along, we'll be that much better prepared to cover it.  

A picture named highContrastLennon.gif"When we were listening to the radio, we were part of the free world, if only for a few moments, whether the system we lived under liked it or not," says Simonyi, 51. "Rock and roll, culturally speaking, was a decisive element in loosening up communist societies and bringing them closer to a world of freedom." 

Sunday night forecast: "Clear and cold. Lows 18 to 23." 

Reminder to self: Watch for Paolo's comments on changes to Scripting News RSS. 

A picture named linus.jpgThe user interface for category routing is a right-click popup menu. Put the cursor on an item, right-click, choose a category, mouse-up. Repeat if necessary. My personal taxonomy is edited in an outliner, and exchanged in OPML. Now the trick is to use it, and keep the taxonomy up to date. And of course to build out the back-end. 

Stirring Cory Doctorow piece on the evil Broadcast Flag.  


 Saturday, November 08, 2003  
NY Times: "Howard Dean became the first Democrat to opt out of the presidential public financing system in 30 years." 

Changes to Scripting News RSS. 

Today's song: "Let's all get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born, though she was born a long long time ago." 

Clark campaign: "We'll probably soft-launch the tools on Monday and label it a 'Public Beta.'" 

Howard Greenstein's pictures of the lunar eclipse. 

My copy of Cadenhead's Radio book came yesterday. I've read two or three chapters, and it's excellent. We've been very lucky in this community to first have Matt Neuburg's book, published by O'Reilly in 1998, and now an up-to-date book on the 2003 environment published by Sams. If you've been wondering about the programming and content management environment behind the blogging tool and aggregator; the object database, verb set, outliner, debugger, website framework, get this book, it's great. I'm really excited about this. We should see another boost of growth in the community. The timing is also good because the new management team is booting up, and instead of asking Lawrence and Jake lots of questions, they can RTFM.  

AP: "In a historic move, Democratic presidential hopeful Howard Dean will skip public financing and the spending limits that come with it." 

Berkman fellow Jim Moore is at Dean headquarters in Burlington today.  

Wired: "Wallop is Microsoft's venture into the red-hot social-networking arena." 

"Everyone now has got their guns locked and loaded at Howard Dean," said Rachel Gorlin, a Democratic strategist. 

RSS in my heart.Reminder, here's an RSS feed for upcoming New Hampshire visits by presidential candidates. If you attend one of these events and post about it on your weblog, please send me a link. Even better if you have pictures. 

Another dynamic OPML element in the Scripting News archive redesign. Each item links to a page where you can see the full content for a given month. Example

The new archive now has a primitive Referers page.  

Halley would like you to buy a copy of Penthouse. No kidding. 

A picture named raines.jpgThree years ago, a Dewey-Defeats-Truman front page. CNN had one too. 

Next trip to California is booked. Nov 22 through the 29th. Speaking at Stanford on the 24th. Visiting friends and family, doing light work, staying in Mountain View.  

Excellent NY Times article about Web sites with information about ski trips. 

Library Planet gathers comments on Shirky's latest. 

Changes to Scripting News RSS 

Several changes today in the RSS feed for this weblog.

1. The beginning of category support. I now have a basic user interface in the outliner that allows me to route each post through a hierarchic set of categories of things that I am interested in. This maps directly on to the RSS 2.0 category sub-element of item. I'll post a screen shot of the user interface when it looks a little prettier.

2. Stopped generating the <skipHours> element. It was supposed to be a bandwidth-saver, but it confuses people who are emulating Scripting News, and I think Radio is the only aggregator that respects it.

3. Stopped generating the <ttl> element. The P2P network I was working on with Morpheus didn't deploy because I got sick last summer. When and if it ever comes back, I can uncomment the code that generates it.

4. Stopped generating the channel-level <category> element for Syndic8. This was intended as an olive branch, but they didn't reciprocate. If someone else is working on a taxonomy of feeds, let me know. Rule of Win-Win.

5. Changed <webMaster> and <managingEditor> to my Harvard email address.

6. In the <docs> element, point to the spec at Harvard, not at UserLand.

7. Add a channel-level <pubDate> element.

The shape of weblog software 

A picture named mailManThumb.jpgWeblog software is going to be like mail servers. Lots of ways to deploy, every niche filled. For the masses, services like Yahoo, MSN and AOL. Blogging servers for corporations, inside and outside of the firewall. For schools, for the military, specialized systems for lawyers, librarians, professors, reporters, magazines, daily newspapers. The next President will have a blog. Writing for the Web, the prevailing form of publishing in the early 21st Century, will come in many sizes and shapes, flavors and styles. It won't be one-size-fits-all. Open formats and protocols will make this possible. I'd bet on the formats and protocols we're using now, RSS 2.0, OPML and the Blogger API.


 Friday, November 07, 2003  
shirkyIt's been a long time since I agreed with Clay Shirky, but this time he takes some clever shots at a sacred cow who just happens to be swimming in a nearby barrel. He describes the method of proponents of the Semantic Web. "First, take some well-known problem. Next, misconstrue it so that the hard part is made to seem trivial and the trivial part hard. Finally, congratulate yourself for solving the trivial part." Ha! 

DNC: 2004 Primary Calendar.  

Weather forecast: "Lows in the upper 20s." Brrr. 

I got a demo and a new account on Clark's weblog space (in beta). It's quite rough in its implementation but solid in its philosophy. Some of the ideas outlined in this piece are implemented. It's good because it will up the ante for Dean, Edwards, Bush, et al. Remember the Browser Wars when Netscape and Microsoft were competing to give us the best access to the Web. Now we have competition among the candidates to give us the best access to each others' minds. How much progress that is! They used to think of us as eyeballs and couch potatoes.  

One reason I like Jim Moore is that he helps me do what I want to do. Of course I don't mind sharing, but I like it even more if there's something in it for me. 

All Headline News is a new service that generates RSS feeds for publications that don't have them. I've been working with Jeff Brown for the last few days, getting his RSS in shape, and it's looking pretty good now. It has an important feature, explained here, that allows you to set up search-based RSS feeds. Very powerful stuff. 

A picture named yankees.jpgDean campaign manager Joe Trippi is on The Connection today; and Gary Wolf of Wired and Ryan Lizza from the New Republic. Wolf says the other candidates won't be able to catch up with Dean on the Web. Hmmm. I think that's not true. That makes me want to help the other guys. I'm a Mets fan, not a Yankees fan. Dean has to watch out for that. He's got a big target painted on his back. Also, they say that Dean actually already has made his mind up about campaign finance, and that the poll of his supporters is certain to return the result he wants. But the interviewer, Gail Harris, missed the obvious question -- what is the predetermined result? Seems like Interviewing 101. 

A picture named danGillmor.jpgIt's great to see Dan Gillmor take on the big media companies as he takes on software developers. These days it's hard to tell the difference, even a campaigns for President are creating technology. It's all mixing together. We have to know who has integrity, who is willing to keep their processes visible. That's the spirit of the weblog work we're doing. To try to lead behind closed doors is a contradiction. There are lots of cynics among us, people just looking to make a buck. Dan gets his paycheck from a big media company, so it's especially important that he shine the light into his context. Good work. 

Werblog: "Google reportedly rejected a $10 billion buyout offer from Microsoft, and is now launching a product that puts Google directly onto the Windows desktop." 

Essay: We can't win in Iraq so let's get out, now

Doc Searls: "Cam Barrett showed me some of the community network stuff he's planning for the Clark Campaign yesterday, and I'm impressed." 

Lots of great ideas at last night's Berkman-Blogs meeting. We spent a lot of time talking about how to get more weblogs started at Harvard. Bob Stepno turned it around, and asked how we could track news sites that Harvard already maintains without weblog technology. I love it when somone reaches inside the balloon and pulls it out by the inside and the problem gets simpler. Now the problem is to find all the sites that change every day with news generated from Harvard, and aggregate them on one easy to read weblog-style page. In other words, instead of telling everyone they need to start weblogs, decide that they already have.  

Our plans for hosting fell through. We have two great servers that should be ready to deploy this weekend or early next week, and nowhere to put them. We're looking for two U's of rack space in an easy drive from where we are. Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Watertown, Newton, Lexington, Waltham. We can afford reasonable monthly bandwidth costs. These boxes will serve weblogs and special-purpose aggregators, and over time new stuff Andrew and I (and others) develop. If you have suggestions, please send an email. Thanks. 

Two years ago today: "Use these motherfuckers with care." 

Three years ago, the beginning of the crazy post-election mess of Y2K. Bush won't concede Florida, the headline read. Little did we know what was coming next. 


 Thursday, November 06, 2003  
Press release: "NPR will benefit from a bequest of more than $200 million from the estate of philanthropist Joan Kroc." 

The Clark campaign is hiring various kinds of Web devs. 

Jeff Jarvis report from Always On breakfast in NYC. 

Yesterday's big insight was that it takes years for people to get to know you through your weblog. Today's (thanks to Ed Cone, below) is that weblogs are just part of the new political process.  

Ed Cone: "So it's months before the NC primary, and a year before the election, and Dean has this network of well-equipped local volunteers working away on coordinated projects. The cost of this locally-run operation to the campaign is the cost of materials and shipping." 

Feedable creates "the feeds that someone forgot." 

Wired: "If you are an inventor, you had better team up with someone who is cunning and vicious." 

David Pollard commends Business 2.0 for an insightful choice of social network software as the technology of the year, but (correctly) points out that personal content managment technology (weblogs, RSS) is a necessary companion.  

I got an invite yesterday to do an academic-style talk at Microsoft Research, about weblogs. I said yes of course. It'll be in a big auditorium, with an open invite to everyone at MS. Curtis Wong is the host. I've known him for years, and he was also a keynoter at the PEI media conference last month. 

Ted Ritzer set up a tree of knowledge on his Salon weblog. 

Two years ago: "No matter where you live, in what time period, no matter who you work for, you can think for yourself." 

Tim Berners-Lee: What's new in 92. For people curious about the origins of weblogs, this site looks like it might have been the first.  


 Wednesday, November 05, 2003  
Howard Dean: "If we accept federal matching funds, our spending will be capped at $45 million -- and the greatest grassroots movement in the history of presidential politics will be stopped from raising money almost immediately and will reach the spending limit well before the end of the primaries. We will not have any funding until the Democratic convention at the end of July." 

A picture named deanWorker.jpgJim Moore: "The Dean community has already raised nearly enough money to qualify for matching funds. Unless the community decides to move forward without federal funds, they must stop giving now, and return any money raised that goes beyond the cap." 

Roger Simon asks the question they should have asked last night. "Which candidate would you most like to have smoked dope with?" He gets the correct answer.  

When people ask why you read Scripting News, now you can tell them.  

The new servers arrived. Murphy-willing they'll be deployed and online in a few days.  

Chris Lydon: The Blogging of the President 2004

Chris gave a presentation at the NextMedia conference in Prince Edward Island. I took pictures. I was playing with the settings on my digital camera with an interesting result.  

Jay Rosen: "How dumb should an ombudsman assume Americans to be? NPR's Jeffrey Dvorkin forces us to ask that. His answer: very dumb indeed." 

Essay: "Candidates should use weblogs instead of becoming one." 

BBC reports that MTV is preparing an online music system 

I took the political compass test. I'm a leftist libertarian. 

Check out how the Presidential candidates rated.  

Greenspun: Should universities permit free speech? 

PRSA: Pitching Blogs

Andrew Grumet's new Weblog Outliner for Movable Type. 

A picture named chockfull.jpgA funny thing happened -- I don't like Starbuck's anymore. Too strong. Is it because the nicotine is finally flushed out of my system? Yesterday I bought a can of Chock full o' Nuts coffee, and it's just fantastic coffee. Lovin it. And get this, I got the pre-ground kind, because it's too much of a hassle to grind my own beans. Maybe it's the west coast Reality Distortion Field flickering off. I think I'm officially an east coaster again? But people keep asking me if I was here last winter. Heh.  

It comes and goes. Yesterday I had a badly infected tooth pulled, one that had been causing a lot of discomfort that I just lived with, and then started hurting, then the pain became unbearable. Remove the tooth. I feel great! All these horizons open up. It's all relative. Moods swing. Tah dah.  


Last update: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 at 2:47 PM Eastern.

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