News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
cactus picture Mail Starting 2/27/97

From: Jeff_Walsh@infoworld.com (Jeff Walsh);
Sent at 2/28/97; 10:01:51 AM;
Re:What's Going On?

If you're referring to What's Going On?, that was done by Marvin Gaye.

From: eyeseeu@thepattern.com (Laurence Rozier);
Sent at 2/28/97; 10:01:05 AM;
What's Going On

It was Marvin Gaye. The album also contain Mercy, Mercy Me - a landmark for the ecology movement.

From: rdone@polaris.net (Richard T. Donelan);
Sent at 2/28/97; 11:15:49 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

Cher Dave:

Marvin Gaye. He and Smokey were part of the same Motown machine, and Marvin recorded lots of Robinson tunes in the early part of his career. Smokey's tunes, as performed by himself and so many others, defined R&B for the generation that danced its way to Vietnam.

Marvin expanded the boundaries of the conventional soul ballad--just listen to "I Heard It Through the Grapevine,"written by Smokey, BTW. His own later tunes--"What's Goin' On?" "Mercy me (The Ecology)," even "Let's Get It On" and "Sexual Healing"--defied convention, being topical and frank. Just like you.

I appreciate your continuing battle for Truth and Soul in cyberspace (and Silicon Valley). It was the Aretha release--named after the soulful original--that first brought you and your work to my attention within days of my first sojourn on the Web, and I have subscribed to DaveNet ever since.

It will be great to see your pioneering scripting work reap rewards more tangible than laudatory emails from the Southern provinces. For Cupertino to embrace the Frontier--so to speak--would be evidence to this cyberlawyer that Gil Amelio is serious about saving the Mac.

Richard Donelan Tallahassee, FL

From: ralph@mcs.com (Ralph Brandi);
Sent at 2/28/97; 11:12:53 PM;
Who did the song?


I'm sure a million people have told you by now, but Marvin Gaye did the song "What's Goin' On?"

Ralph Brandi

From: TEMzer@aol.com;
Sent at 2/28/97; 10:00:19 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

Marvin Gaye.

From: Anthony_Boron@MBnet.MB.CA (Anthony J. Boron);
Sent at 2/28/97; 8:25:11 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

> PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?


Written by Marvin Gaye, Al Cleveland, and Renaldo Benson released in the USA Feb 71. Sold a million by June 71.

PS. Found that in the web. The spiderweb on my reference books. Search time: 10 seconds.

And congrats. Sounds like great news !

From: m-burton+@osu.edu (Michael Burton);
Sent at 2/28/97; 9:39:36 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

> PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

It was Marvin Gaye.

From: wesf@mail.utexas.edu (Wesley Felter);
Sent at 2/28/97; 8:43:26 PM;
Re:Don's Amazing Puzzle

I only found three. When I looked at it the third or fourth time, I figured it out: I wasn't counting the "of"s at all. So it seems you should either get 3 or all 6. But why don't I see the f in of? We were looking at text indexing algorithms in CS class today and the first thing the algorithm does is toss out all the really short words. Maybe our brains are the same way! --Wes

P.S. According to recent laws, serving music over the Internet is now nothing like playing it on the radio. Radio stations can play as much as they want for a flat fee to the copyright houses. If you server it over the Internet, you have to negotiate each work separately and usually you have to pay PER play. AFAIK. :-(

From: bruces@sco.com (Bruce Steinberg);
Sent at 2/28/97; 10:30:10 AM;
What's Going On?

Dave, you're supposed to know this one -- it was Marvin Gaye. The tune hit the Top 40 in March 1971, got to #2 (three straight weeks), and stayed in the Top 40 for 13 weeks.

You might want to pick up a copy of Billboard's classic "Top 40 Hits" book by Joel Whitburn for such handy reference. You might also search for Billboard's web site, where I recall this type of info and more is indeed available by subscription.

(OTOH, making whole copyrighted tunes available online is another issue way beyond the scope of this mail. :)

From: marc@canter.com (Marc Canter);
Sent at 2/28/97; 10:25:07 AM;
Re:"What's Going On? = Marvin Gaye!"

His name is Marvin Gaye.

There are a bunch of great music sites out there - but none of them can take on the responsiblity of the labels or ASCAP or BMI. Check out their sites - maybe they've got what you want.

Side note: - it's M-A-R-C - not K

Love yah babe - 475.


From: yvon@cais.com (Yvon Perreault);
Sent at 2/28/97; 3:12:32 PM;
Re:What's Going On?


Of course, that GREAT song was Marvin Gaye's!

-- Yvon Perreault

From: alecs@microsoft.com (Alec Saunders);
Sent at 2/28/97; 1:33:09 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

http://musiccentral.msn.com has the songs, the artists, what year, and audio clips in realaudio format. Lets you search by artist, song, or album. Not ALL that you are asking for, but a good chunk.

From: rswagler@capaccess.org (Rick Swagler);
Sent at 2/28/97; 1:43:25 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

Marvin Gaye. Don't know which album.

From: slally@crl.com (Sean Lally);
Sent at 2/28/97; 3:47:54 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

Marvin Gaye (sp?) I think (free information; do you get what you pay for?).



From: ptw@pobox.com (P. T. Withington);
Sent at 2/28/97; 4:36:44 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

>PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

Marvin Gaye 1-21-71

He wrote it with Alfred Cleveland and Renaldo Benson.

P. Tucker Withington

From: dshaw@tiac.net (David G. Shaw);
Sent at 2/28/97; 3:35:43 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

What's Going On? is a song from the classic Motown album of the same name by Marvin Gaye.

From: mduffy@mindscape.com;
Sent at 2/28/97; 2:31:54 PM;
Re:What's Going On?

From: SteelDream@axon.net (John Wampler);
Sent at 2/28/97; 2:48:44 PM;
What's Goin On- Revisited

I read DaveNet this morning and, at the end, noticed your PPPS about who wrote the song. Without thinking, I dashed off a short response and appended the observation that if you had a mail list, you really didn't need a site, and sent it off without thinking much about it, so I was stunned when I checked the mail again and found you'd posted it at www.scripting.com.

Being human and loving to see my name in print, I went to check it out and wehn I got there there were a dozen or so responses with the answer to your question. Most, apparently the result of a reflex response close to mine - hmmm Dave wants to know who sang What's Going On, and I happen to know, so I'll fire off a short eMail with the info.

If you polled the people responding, you'd probably find out that we all come from a variety of backgrounds and in all likelihood have no "official" relation to the music industry at all. Yet for a moment we all coalesced around a question as an ad hoc panel of experts because we all happened to have the answer.

All this led me to consider what direction the net is taking as a conduit of information. i.e. I have a simple question I want to know the answer to, how do I go about finding it.

Going out to a search engine and looking is the first idea, but that's kind of like killing a fly with a sledgehammer in this instance. Also where do you begin your search? look for Smokey Robinson Sites and then finding no listing of What's Going On?, you know Smokey DIDN'T sing it but you're no closer to the answer you need. Searching on What's Going On? might work but how do you go about defining a search to eliminate the noise?

You also miss out on a lot of expertise, I very much doubt that any of the responders to your query have ever considered posting a web page concerning The Hits of Marvin Gaye...

You could post your query in an appropriate newsgroup or to a mail list as you did, but then you run the risk of getting an overwhelmling response to what's really a pretty simple question. There's also a time lag involved, you make the post or send the mail and then have to wait for responses.

What this leads to is an examination of chat as a conduit for information.

Chat's gotten a somewhat deserved reputation for hosting cybersleaze but as the technology matures, more and more sites are considering content. As more of these sites come online, they begin to become important providers of information. You want to know who sang What's Goin On?, you log into to your favorite chatserver, find a music channel, and simply ask if annyone knows the answer. You don't have to structure a query, you get an immediate response AND you can ask for clarification in real time if the answer is still unclear.

In the case of an Audio Daily Double like who sang what, you can even use something like Talker and actually sing your query.

Eventually, I see chat/and or voice becoming an indispensable adjunct of a "full service" web site.

From: filmat11@gate.net (Phil Manhard);
Sent at 2/28/97; 5:25:03 PM;
What's Going On

>PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

Wan't it Marvin Gaye? I think so.

I'm excited about your new stuff. There's hope for the Mac! Maybe even hope for Apple. Yes! Great!

Keep up the *excellent* work.

Phil Manhard

From: roberts@alap.com (Robert Schwalbe);
Sent at 2/28/97; 2:24:39 PM;
Who did the song?

> PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

Marvin Gaye.

You *should* know this. ;)

From: shields@crosslink.net (Michael Shields);
Sent at 2/28/97; 4:00:54 PM;
What's Going On?

> I wish there was a definitive music website. A place where I could go to
> find out who wrote a song, in what year, how it did on the charts, see the
> lyrics, and of course, download and play the song.

Something like http://www.imdb.org/ is for movies?

From: davep@leonardo.lmt.com (Dave Polaschek);
Sent at 2/28/97; 2:57:57 PM;
What's Going On?

Marvin Gaye did it.

Unless you mean the Husker Du song, which was written by Grant Hart.

http://www.cduniverse.com/ has a pretty rockin' database. It lets you search by song title and gives you artists. Just be careful about punctuation that confuses the search engine.


From: r1560c@email.sps.mot.com (Ben Kimball);
Sent at 2/28/97; 1:48:24 PM;
Who did the song?

I believe it was Marvin Gaye.

Cheers! Ben

From: SteelDream@axon.net (John Wampler);
Sent at 2/28/97; 11:47:50 AM;
Re:What's Going On?

> PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

it was Marvin Gaye... who needs a site when you have a mail list.... 8^)>

From: Matt_Ocko@zd.com (Matt Ocko);
Sent at 2/28/97; 11:06:31 AM;
Re:What's Going On?


The song "What's Going On" is sung by Marvin Gaye. It's on his "Best of" disc as well as the anthology.



From: leonb@apple.com (Leon Baranovsky);
Sent at 2/28/97; 11:30:17 AM;
Re:What's Going On?

> PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

Marvin Gaye?


From: jraimondo@kpmg.com;
Sent at 2/28/97; 2:49:18 PM;
PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

>>PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

Marvin Gaye!!!!!

From: richard_winchell@smtplink.acer.com (Richard Winchell);
Sent at 2/28/97; 11:03:27 AM;
Re:What's Going On?

marvin gaye

From: vard@well.com (Stephanie J. Vardavas);
Sent at 2/28/97; 10:35:19 AM;
what's going on...

It was Marvin Gaye!

Thanks for making me think about that song. I hadn't in a long time.

From: jlasersohn@server.greenjungle.com (John Lasersohn);
Sent at 2/28/97; 9:55:02 AM;
Marvin Gaye!

From: bonded@dallas.net (Greg Pierce);
Sent at 2/28/97; 11:45:26 AM;
Marvin Gaye did the song.

Marvin Gaye did the song "What's Going On"....late 60s.

just thought you'd like to know...if dozens of folks haven't already told you.

Greg Pierce

From: dwlarson@znet.com (Donald W. Larson);
Sent at 2/28/97; 9:46:52 AM;
Re:What's Going On?

>PPPS: Who did the song? Was it Smokey Robinson?

It was Marvin Gaye released in 1971.

From: artless@pop.io.com;
Sent at 2/28/97; 10:11:04 AM;
Re:Back in the USSR

dear dave:

i'm sure you hear this all the time, but i want to tell you how important your davenet pieces have become to me. as a longtime mac user and enthusiast (since 1985!) who's used macs for just about everything possible in computing, i find your insight into the interlocked evolution of the mac platform and the web to be absolutely on point. perhaps more importantly, the energy around the frontier community is the kind of thing that will enable the macintosh (and apple, if they've got the slightest ability to pay attention) to continue to thrive.

i agree with you about the perils of push, at least as it's currently conceived. i'm based in new york, and many of my friends and business associates are involved in the media side of web development -- that is, they're either media people who have become familiar with technology, or technologists who are working for media companies and ad agencies. as you're probably aware, the culture surrounding web development in new york is different than the culture on the west coast: its forebears are finance and media, not go-go software development and high tech. there are lots of people here who are versed in the profitable traditions and techniques of old media, and they're working hard to adapt those models to the web. they've been puzzled by the web--there are lots of people using it, but no one's figured out how to make much money. for this community, push is a panacea, since "webcasting" seems like "broadcasting," which is a financial model they understand. it's incredibly shortsighted. push media doesn't mean an end to interactivity, or even user control; it simply makes a subscriber model, where users indicate their preferences once instead of many times, a more elegant proposition...if the applications are designed to give users flexibility. i share the common fear that user control will be left out of this particular loop, at least for the time being. i'm curious to see what will happen longer-term. people already have television; that's not why they use the web.

as a fairly cynical apple-watcher, i'm always intrigued by the ups and downs of your relationship with the powers that be on infinite loop. i have to say i'm very curious about the last part of yesterday's davenet piece. what are they offering?

thanks for doing what you do so well. you help me keep the faith in a vision of computing that doesn't revolve solely around dollar signs.

best regards,


From: Chris Kidwell, kidwell@javanet.com;
Sent at 2/27/97; 11:47:43 AM;
Fwd: Re: IdeaMarket.com on DaveNet

You know, I can appreciate Dave's altruistic and purest philosophy of the web. But I can't respect such critique of commercial Web ventures from a guy who already has million(s) in the bank. The marketplace decides where the money flows just like it did with regard to whatever Dave has sold in the past or will sell in the future.

From: caryn@sfm.com (Caryn Shalita);
Sent at 2/27/97; 1:45:40 PM;
Re:Back in the USSR

Dave, this view is wholly naive though I applaud it in principle. As you know we started RockWeb in 1994 with no money but all the passion and freedom in the world. As good as RockWeb is for what it is--our vision is not yet on-line--and never would be if we continued with status quo. We need big money to make what the rockWEb we envisioned happen because the caliber of really insane talent we want and have lined up for our site can not afford work for free to create original content--and nor should they. Nor can we afford to NOT be able to compete with the music companies that do have funding because we are all after the same audience. We have already bucked heads with the establishment on several issues-- and just our legal bills alone--and this is just for protective measures--requires serious cash. We are now going out to raise some big money. Big dreams cost. That's life. Money is not the issue--the issue is who has it and so far--it has remained largely in establishment hands. Wish us luck--we have lined up a dream team of industry people who support us in our autonomy, listen to us, respect our vision and if we pull this off the industry isn't gonna know what hit them. I agree that we then have the added pressure of making the $$ to justify the expense--but if we didn't believe that what we were doing had that potential and more--we never would have asked. Slowly, as we have kept true to what we saw from the get-go and patiently repeated ourselves, people have finally started to listen!! Others who were ahead of us out of the gate but hadn't a leg to stand on from what we saw what they did with the money they HAD now have largely faded. From talking and looking around, we realize our biggest competitors don't get it. Our anthem is the Tortoise and the Hare--the stakes are growing and this is the race of a lifetime! We all realize some concessions will be made--but the gains made will far outweigh those small sacrifices--and the result will be an enhanced web experience for all. So don't dis the money. Our ideas haven't changed since 1994. But people listen to you a lot more when they see an opportunity to make money than when you don't have any. And we think our voice needs to be heard. At our site--passion and money go hand in hand. I expect someday Rockweb will become establishment just like MTV did as the 80's rolled into the 90's. But by then, we hope to have made the difference we intended, and made our money and then use it to start the next uprising. A revolution every ten years. Couldn't hurt, might help!

From: dwiner@well.com (Dave Winer);
Sent at ;
Re:"Today's DaveNet"


We're in total agreement. It isn't about making money, it's about expression and freedom and lower barriers to entry and a new generation of writers getting a shot at molding the world. That includes older people like me and you, if we want to give up som e of the security.

The VCs are going to lose their shirts by trying to fit into the cracks. It's the whole ballgame that's up for grabs. I think the money people are clueless or scared, or (better) scared into being clueless.

About keeping independent voices out, I appreciate being included in the Merc, but I wasn't even remotely thinking of the Merc. I was thinking of Wired, and C|net, and Pointcast and Marimba. They're setting themselves up as distributors of net-based conte nt, and all they want is the money from the big publishing companies, they don't want to reflect what's happening on the net.

I should tell you the story of C|net and my Lame Duck piece. I was left out there hanging with an old piece. I begged them to point to my site instead of keeping the old piece there for people to flame at. They refused. I don't know why. But it was an u orgettable experience. No respect for me or their readers for that matter.


From: dgillmor@sjmercury.com (Dan Gillmor);
Sent at 2/27/97; 9:31:13 AM;
Today's DaveNet

You say: "If you want to own the free version of Business Week, go for it. It's wide open. Same with the San Jose Mercury and every other local paper that's applying the print economic model to the web. An opening like this hasn't happened in several generations."

You're right about the opening. But the "free" version of Business Week? Of the Merc? That's not what you're talking about. You're talking about versions of small parts of those publications -- carving away a small piece of the reporting mission and (much more important if you want to eat) the advertising revenues.

Of course, competitors are already swarming all around the traditional media. Everyone with a Web-authoring tool and some ambition is competing, primarily for advertising dollars (like classifieds).

You say: "Hire a few good reporters and cut their lead time to ten minutes. Trust their judgement. Run a few ads."

Go for it. I mean this. I'd very much like to see the Web spin out more genuine journalism. I can tell you that with almost no exception, though, the people trying to make money this way are losing bundles.

You titled your piece "The Web is Free" -- which seems to be pretty much true so far (if you assume that Web sites must be labors of love or supported by advertisers; there's a cost either way). Because of that, I'm not convinced that my business will make it through this economic/electronic earthquake remotedly intact. But if someone isn't willing to buy the stuff journalists produce, there won't be much journalism, apart from the labor-of-love sites -- which have enormous value but won't begin to replace what we have today -- and a few mega-franchise sites.

By the way, about the charge that we keep independent voices out of our publications. In fact, I seem to recall a long piece from some guy named Winer (and a bunch of other folks) that ran on our site recently, with excerpts in the print edition...


Dan Gillmor, Computing Editor
San Jose Mercury News

From: dan@gui.com (Dan Shafer);
Sent at 2/27/97; 4:54:15 PM;
Re:Back in the USSR

Apropos the issue of whether Web browsers are dead or not, I thought this might be an interesting experience to share.

At Salon, we strive to be browser-agnostic but our world-class, award-winning design team feels too constrained by the lowest common denominator of HTML supported even by the two major browser manufacturers. So we end up adopting Netscape 3 as our baseline standard (our log analyses continue to reveal that Netscape represents about 75% of our total visitors, and we've eliminated the "compatible" spoofs from the mix) and trying hard not to break anything in IE.

But we've about reached the point where I'm going to decide that as long as the browser manufacturers want to play games with the standard, as long as they want to try to leapfrog and out-feature each other, we can't continue to face the decision week in and week out. The solution: put more and more of the content into Java applets (and/or perhaps other SSI stuff) that ends up essentially bypassing HTML and the browsers and drive the content as we want it to look right to the user's desktop.

If we are forced to do that -- and it looks more like we will be all the time -- we will of course be joining a large group of sites that already do most or all of their design and layout outside HTML but it will be a further loss to the Web user community. Eventually, this could indeed kill browsers.

From: ameck@mecklermedia.com (Alan Meckler);
Sent at 2/27/97; 9:47:45 PM;
Re:Back in the USSR

I am with you on Push---I think its greatest asset is for upgrading software and other related products---the strength of the Web and it allure is moving around and finding new sources of information etc.

From: mourey@netscape.com (Jean-Charles Mourey);
Sent at 2/27/97; 4:58:59 PM;
[Fwd: Some news from Netscape]

I sent this mail to Apple earlier today. I thought you might want to read it too.

Hello Gil, Avie, Guerrino, Ellen, Larry, all the great people at Apple,

As you probably know, we just released our cross-platform Beta of Netscape Communicator 4.0 on Friday (on Mac, Windows, and Unix).

Already, the volume of downloads has been absolutely astonishing. But even more interesting is the fact that the MacOS product has been responsible for 20% to 30% of all these downloads (for the first two days, its was even higher at 33%)!

As you can see, the MacOS platform continues to be very important to us.

We wish you the best of success in your turn-around efforts and we count on Apple to thrive and grow again soon.


Jean-Charles Mourey
Director, Navigator/Composer Engineering
Apple veteran

From: tobeth@lava.net (Barnaby C.Beech & family);
Sent at 2/27/97; 1:49:00 PM;
Re:Back in the USSR

Dave re: push or not,money or not?

- you are right, you are right. But don't stress age/generation (that's old- a negative lefover from the 60's)

There are greedy people of all ages. Bill Gates is a lot younger than I am - and to my mind - he looks greedy. I mean he has billions - why is he so "proprietary?"

It's a spiritual problem - not a "generation" problem.

Some people just ought to be kidnapped by a bunch of zen monks and locked up in a little empty room somewhere with nothing to do but look at themselves.

More later then... - Heather (an "old" person)

From: mccarron@raydirks.com (mccarron);
Sent at 2/27/97; 5:33:38 PM;
Mining for content

I've stayed out of this whole push debate, because I see the validity of both your arguments as well as those from Tesler, Seymour, et al. Personally, I fall on their side of the fence. I believe the "good" powers of push can outweigh the "dark," given the correct implementation. I haven't heard you mention Intermind's Communicator technology yet, and if you haven't yet looked at it, I suggest you link to their site at http://www.intermind.com and take a look. It works for me. In fact it's so good that your friends Guy K. and Adam Engst have both endorsed it before there's even a Mac version available.

Another thing Dave. People who run a business need to have a source of income. I think that John's IdeaMarket can be successful charging for ideas. Ernst & Young has a very powerful net based idea generation/consulting site (there are real people generating the ideas) called Ernie at http://ernie.ey.com. I haven't heard how much it has been bringing in recently, but I did hear that it was doing well not long after the launch. It's been up for a while now Dave. I bet it's generating revenues.

I think your arguments about web sites having to be free are valid, when applied to certain types of sites. I agree that there probably is a very limited market for very broad based informational sites that charge for access. However, when it comes to providing very precise answers to very precise requests I think you will find that people are willing to pay. We'll see this play out with IdeaMarket. I think they can do it.

Another method of generating revenue that I was surprised to see omitted from the discussion was advertising/sponsership. It can work. Not just for the big guys either. Have you heard about the Mining company, http://www.miningco.com? They've got what I percieve as an excellent idea. They've decided to round up 4,000 independant voices under one advertising sales umbrella. They'll create arguably the largest single collection of fresh content on the net and support it through what I like to think of as an "advertising collective." They provide a very robust publishing system for their content developers and a very broad range of content to advertisers. They have a bead on the future, watch them carefully. BTW, it's headed up by Scott Kurnit and a team of very driven and experienced vets.

Where does this leave us? I would say that it leaves us with a lot of opportunities. I know that I have been watching push for a long while now, waiting for it to emerge. Finally, I think that some interesting and useful technologies are starting to emerge. Watch out for the Interminds of the world, I think they have the right ideas. The Arrives (who hasn't yet been mentioned either http://www.arrive.com) and the other bandwidth hogs are not yet ready for prime time though. Low bandwidth, user regulated push is a useful thing, and I think a potentially lucrative prospect.

PS: What exactly is it that Apple has done Dave, and which enemy have they taken away?

PPS: I want to meet the guy who can raise $10M for a web site without a revenue plan, and then I want to meet the fool that gave it to him. Responsible people don't do this kind of stuff.

Jamie McCarron
National Securities Corp.
Ray Dirks Research Division

From: rickr@expressway.com (Richard A. Ross);
Sent at 2/27/97; 1:44:44 PM;
Re:Back in the USSR

> Responsible means "able to respond". It's so much more
> than being defensive, a limited view of responsibility.

Actually, "responsive" is that word (as is, obscurely, "respondent")

"Respond" is related to "promise" in derivational meaning. respond is making the promise; responsible is keeping it (= trustworthy).

Glad to see things are going well with you. (btw, I always thought that "push" technology was equivalent to scripting system [your expertise] + emailer -- that is, not a whole lot there. )

- Rick

From: dely@earthlink.net (Dave Ely);
Sent at 2/27/97; 12:42:02 AM;
Re:The Promise of Push

To me, the concept of an application, extension or driver (in Mac lexicon) with the system level autonomy to perform data 'push' without my direct involvement implies the possibility of a reverse data flow channel (else how would the 'pusher' know what I want and when an error occurs?).

That leads directly to 'pull', and if it exists, I think we can generally agree that there are organizations out there who are going to try to take advantage of it. I wonder how an IT group will feel if they find out their competitors are using a freebie 'push' module to 'pull' anything they can gather from users within specific organizations? If they're the ones doing the 'pull', they might feel OK; otherwise, heads are going to roll.

Which leads me to agents.

Several years ago there were a number of outspoken advocates of agent technology, number one amongst them (from what I remember) was Don Crabb. This was around the time when General Magic was starting to make the press rounds and was pushing the idea that what we all needed were dedicated information gathering 'bots, which could easily be created with Telescript. Don was adamant that the new Finder (which didn't seem too far off in those days -- sigh) should include agent technology at it's core. He wanted them to be a combination of AppleScript and intelligence (added by the user or third parties) which would allow him to control his daily data flow easily (not a bad concept really until you ask who is really in control).

I also remember the column in which he abruptly recoiled from his first real experience with the power of agents. A beta version of Win95 (I think it was ultimately removed, but can't say for sure) gathered up information on all the MS products he had installed and offered to send off a report about them.

My initial reaction was something along the lines of, "what did he expect?" Later I realized that most people don't expect data gathering technology to be able to turn the tables and report data about you to someone else; they also tend to react with horror when these things happen. Remember the uproar when it was reported that the original Prodigy client gathered info from the users system and uploaded it back to Prodigy? Also remember the uproar last year when everyone suddenly got concerned about the data gathering capabilities of browser cookies.

Automated data gathering technologies are coming, and will be a part of life at some point in the not so far distant future. Everyone is going to have to make their own choices on what will and will not be allowed to run on their machines. I'd hate to have users say 'no data gathering tools will run on my system', but until the industry can prove we're not out to raid users on a data mining expedition, we're going to be questioned at every step.

A reasonable example of current user backlash is the problem caused by web-crawlers which don't respect the exclusion list in a sites robots.txt file (my opinion only, but I say put it behind a password). Small potatoes when compared to the damage a real 'pull' module could do when dumped on an un-suspecting users users system in the guise of a useful user 'push' system.

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