If you’re going to be at CES next week, sign in here, and maybe we can do some stuff together.
Also my story about the Millennium U.N. Plaza Hotel is on the first page on Google when you search for the hotel. Maybe they’ll change their policy if enough customers ask about it when they’re checking in.
Five years ago today: When to give away the technology.
It’s good to see the music industry realizing that podcasts can be ads for their product.
Placeblogger is getting links from everywhere. Way to roll out a new service, Lisa. Go go go.
Every year John Brockman asks a question of the people on his mail list. This year’s question is “What are you optimistic about?” I suppose it’s a cop out to say The Universe. Because no matter how much we fuck this planet of ours, most of the universe is outside our grasp. It’s safe from our despots, our selfishness.
Another thing I’m optimistic about — the afterlife. I believe we have a larger existence than we can comprehend. I believe in my dead uncle’s Church of Non-Functional Probabilities. The other day I was telling a story about my uncle. A few minutes later, when we got out of the car, there was a freakish wild, cold wind. Freezing cold. When we got out of the restaurant, it was warm again. My uncle would say that was proof of god. I am optimistic about that.
I guess I am optimistic about everything that I am not pessimistic about, which is to say almost everything. How’s that John? (BTW, my mail address changed, it’s dave dot winer at gmail dot com.)
In the dustup over Microsoft’s RSS patents, some of the mainstream press brought up, once again, the issue of Who Invented RSS. But RSS doesn’t have an inventor. It wasn’t invented. Something else happened, something harder than invention, imho — an activity that we don’t have a word for in the English language.
First, let’s try to figure out what happened, never mind, for the moment, how it happened.
Today it’s very common for a news oriented site, whether it’s a blog or a newspaper, or a company or government organization, television or radio network, library, candidate, political party, university, sports team, anyone with news and people who are interested in that news, to have a feed. There are quite a few formats, but RSS 2.0 is the most prevalent.
Now, if you were to draw a graph of this phenomenon, plot time on the X-axis and level of adoption on the Y-axis, you’d see a rising function, maybe a few setbacks here and there, but for the most part, every year there was more adoption than the year before.
But during the years that everyone argues about, at the beginning, there wasn’t much upward motion at all. The “invention” of RSS, muddied as it was, by prior art, wasn’t responsible for its uptake. Rather there were several significant moments along the way: support by individual publications, individual bloggers, then blogging tools, then a small number of aggregators and readers, then a few very large publishers, then a flood of publishing and reading tools, followed by a flood of content. And podcasting, which also builds on RSS, helped fuel the fire.
Some of this growth was organic, it was created by previous growth. And other leaps were caused by innovation, new ideas, and some by arm-twisting, or evangelism. It’s in this area that my commitment to RSS was instrumental. If it had been left at the “invention” stage, it would be where many other XML-related technologies are today, invented, but not much-used. Something new was done with the cloud of content, tools, aggregators, and that allowed a lot more people to use it, or hear about it, or decide it was finally time to support it.
RSS, unlike other XML inventions, has made a difference. If you want to understand what made RSS happen, it’s the innovation, evangelism and commitment that was behind it, not the invention, because I said before, and as everyone seems to agree, it wasn’t invented. But we lack a good word for the other stuff, so sheez, what’s the big deal if they substitute “invention” for all that? I’ve looked the other way. But to say I was the “self-proclaimed” inventor is just wrong, I just nod my head when others say it, because I’m tired of arguing.
Anyway, the curve has been going up steadily through 2006, but this coming year I expect to see some setbacks.
Ominously, various publishers and technologists are carving out private spaces, where only their tools can play, or only their special of flavor of RSS is understood. It’s inevitable, it was bound to happen. The interesting question is: Will much light come from the discussion as the new services come public, or will the mud-slinging exemplified by the mainstream press, in the last round of discussion, hide the ideas.
Doc has given the go-ahead on the open movie rating project as the first Vendor Relationship Management application.
I wrote it up on 9/30/06.
It was made necessary because the two movie services I use the most, Yahoo and Netflix, won’t share my ratings with each other. That’s no good. So I’m going to start from scratch, and create an XML file that lists all the movies I’ve rated with both services.
It’s going to take some doing because they won’t even show me a list of all the movies I’ve rented.
Now that’s evil!
Postscript: Well, I have to take it back. Netflix does have a way for you to see your previously rated movies. Only in HTML, not in a format that you can export, but at least it’s a start. Still don’t know of a way to see my previous ratings on Yahoo Movies.
I watched a bit of today’s funeral for President Ford.
Like so many people who were alive then, I met Ford myself, when I was an undergrad at Tulane University in 1975. He came to give a speech, and they needed students to sit behind him while he spoke. For some reason I was chosen. He announced that the war in Vietnam was over, as far as the US was concerned.
A story people aren’t telling about Ford is a gaffe in a debate during the 1976 campaign against Jimmy Carter, who would go on to win the presidency. He said: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.” He was given a chance to retract the statement, which was not true, but he didn’t.
Sunday’s Meet the Press, which is largely a remembrance of Ford, is worth listening to, for the history of the end of Watergate, a period that rushed by so quickly, a lot of people, including myself, missed the details. My guess is that there wasn’t a deal between Ford and Nixon. At the time I felt the pardon was the right thing to do, and I still do.
Nixon was a bad man, and a worse president, but he was gone and stayed gone, even with the pardon. Losing the presidency and the humiliation that came with it, was punishment enough, and we desperately needed to get together after the 60s, the war, and then Watergate.
Like many others who lived through that period, I am afraid that when we dig through the remains of the Bush presidency, we’ll find that he was an even worse president than Nixon. He made the same mistakes Johnson made, and was even more corrupt than Nixon, if that’s to be believed.
I was struck in the Stephanopoulos interview with John and Elizabeth Edwards, also on Sunday, they said that gay marriage would absolutely not be an issue with their daughter’s generation (she’s 24). Funny how that is, I probably won’t be around to see how that turns out, but I wouldn’t be so sure. The sad part is that we were sure, my generation, that we would never repeat the mistakes that led to Vietnam and Watergate, but we have repeated them. Edwards is just 53, and can make the same claim.