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How to stop chasing the news

Wednesday, July 02, 2008 by Dave Winer.

My Internet writing is so distributed these days, there are five main places I write, and a host of others where I write peripherally. Here are the five: Permalink to this paragraph

1. Scripting News (and its RSS feed). Permalink to this paragraph

2. The comments here (managed by Disqus). Permalink to this paragraph

3. Twitter (used to be a lot, now much less). Permalink to this paragraph

4. FriendFeed (links, comments). Permalink to this paragraph

5. The OPML Editor (for software dev work mostly). Permalink to this paragraph

My writing style differs in all the places, it depends on its newness, who's there, what the tools let me do, what I'm doing there. Permalink to this paragraph

None of them are what I want them to be, but I'm happy because I feel like things are shifting, and I'm almost ready to understand what I really want. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named silo.gifFirst, like a lot of people, I have either found or invented systems to connect the five places. When I write something here, I ping Twitter. FriendFeed has been programmed to automatically pick it up. My writing sometimes but rarely flows through the NewsJunk website and out to FriendFeed and Twitter because it's like a radio station, again, pushing links and content where we want it to go. We're all set up for new destinations. The NewsJunk software (which is a major undertaking, like Manila was in 1999) is all about moving ideas around.  Permalink to this paragraph

But movement isn't really what we want.  Permalink to this paragraph

For a moment think about TechCrunch. Okay let's say one of the editors writes something longish over on FriendFeed and then realizes that would make a good post on TC. So he switches over to WordPress (the editorial software they use) and pastes it in there, makes some corrections, adds a picture, some links, edits some more, adds a few thoughts, then publishes. A few minutes later an update, he spots a typo and fixes it. Now what happened to the FriendFeed article? It's still there, unchanged by all the improvements. But what should have happened?  Permalink to this paragraph

It seems there should only be one copy of the story, and when it changes on TC, it should also change on FF. Further, when he adds some pictures, or links to a podcast, or embeds a video, that should happen in both places as well. And of course there shouldn't really be two places, there should be one, with two views. TechCrunch is a flow of articles grouped around a name, with the judgment we assume comes with it. But the idea originated somewhere else (it seems all of them do) and after it migrates it still exists there.  Permalink to this paragraph

I go through a similar process with pieces that flow to the Huffington Post. First, I get the piece in perfect shape over here, and then copy it over there. Of course it never is perfect, and then I'm stuck making changes in both places. Permalink to this paragraph

Now should the comments in both places be the same comments? Ahhh, at that point I'm nto so sure. We'll have to try it out and see what happens. (In the Huffpost case, definitely not. I don't feel like a member of the community there, even though the comments I see are in response to my writing.) Permalink to this paragraph

If you want to get more ideas about this, revisit Web 2.0 Gas Prices, a piece that tells the story about how an idea sprouted in one place and then bloomed in another. Lots of data were integrated from pictures to maps to MP3s. Try to ignore the issue of wheher it's fair to McCain. That was the point in the discussion on FF, over here on SN, what's interesting are the editorial techniques and what kind of software will be needed to support them.  Permalink to this paragraph

A few weeks ago for the first time a reader noticed the double-entendre in the name of this weblog. People always assumed it meant "News About Scripting." Sure to some extent that's what it means, but we all know, not so much these days. But it's main meaning was "The application of technology to news." Scripting is the verb, not the subject. You always have to be looking for that with me, I have a devious mind and sometimes (not often I hope) I lead you in one direction, when the action is in a different one. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

PS: I've been working on a new "junk" site, this one for tech news. I'll have a writeup here soon. Permalink to this paragraph

PPS: What I've learned from the political NewsJunk, the MSM guys have figured out blogging, and generally do as good a job as the amateurs, though some of the pros are just running linkblogs and not much more. They typically don't like NJ, for some reason. Go figure. ;-> Permalink to this paragraph

PPPS: It seems postscripts should have lives of their own too. The next one should live here, and also live in the FriendFeed Feedback room.  Permalink to this paragraph

PPPPS: The Reshare command in FF, it seems to me, shouldn't create a copy, rather should add the item to my flow, at the top of the list, and any comments that appear in either place would be seen in both. It's understandable that copies must be made when things move among silos, but within a silo why not deal in pointers? (Or give the choice to the user.) Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, 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 Berkeley, California.

"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.

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