Last night was one of the most interesting Thursday night meetups we've had at NYU, even though a lot of our regulars stayed home,. There was a huge afternoon rainstorm that probably accounted for some of the sparseness. It was a shame because the discussion around the Scripting2 software and Readability got very interesting.
First, I did a thorough review of the reader interface of the new Scripting News. I'll provide details and links as this piece develops through the day. I briefly showed the editorial tools, but after the demo of the UI, there wasn't so much interest.
Then our guest, Richard Ziade, took the floor and told the story of Readability and showed us some iPad apps for reading content. He gave us background on what Safari is doing that goes beyond what today's Readability does.
Apple is not just borrowing ideas from Readability, what they've included in Safari is Readability.
They've done something that will probably be controversial. If a story has continuation pages, Safari allows you to go through them without first seeing the page with its ads, and then asking to have it made "readable." At least that's my understanding. I have to get the new Safari and check it out.
BTW, the text you're reading is a milestone. This is the first blog post that has the ability to hide sub-text. This makes it possible for me to add detail to a piece that not every reader might need, without creating a new web page (which I never have time for anyway). I'm going to do a write-up of the feature shortly.
Our newest regular, Megan Taylor, asked why there is a cone of silence around the Thursday meetups. I said there is no prohibition on writing about the meetings. I wasn't doing it because I like the way it's going as a small thing, and want to get it better established before making it large. Sometimes these things get big before they get a chance to decide what they are. Good example is the Hacks/Hackers meetup last week. When 250 people show up to a first meeting it can't be anything but a mixer. I much prefer the way the Thursday night meetups have evolved. We add people slowly, looking for those who have time for the kinds of projects we do (as yet to be determined) and who are smart and creative and ambitious. I'm not looking for a pitch line, like the one Fred Wilson describes. That he has to deal with that, so regularly, is bad for Fred and for those who want him to be at his creative best.
So I'm going to try to write more about what we do at the Thursday meetups. I know this will get more people to want to come, but I'm going to be a hardass about the slow-growth rule that has so far served us well. It's an invite-only affair, not open to all. But what we learn can and probably should be shared, as it happens. So I'll strive to do that more and encourage others to do the same.
One more note, it's a bit different from the Berkman Thursday series we started in 2003, which believe it or not, is still going on. There, our mission was to get people blogging. So by its nature there was a lot of publicity for our meetings. And it was safer because: 1. The blogging world of 2003 was much smaller than it is today. 2. The NY metro area is huge compared to Boston. If we really beat the drum, eventually we'd need a large auditorium to hold our crowd. Right now it feels much better as a small thing.
Here are the meeting notes from a Berkman meetup in 2004, probably done by Jessica Baumgart.