Tim Berners-Lee: “Anyone can build a new application on the Web, without asking me, or Vint Cerf, or their ISP, or their cable company, or their operating system provider, or their government, or their hardware vendor.”
Mark Cuban: “Comcast, DirecTV, Dish, Time Warner, Charter, Insight, Cox, any cable or satellite provider could easily offer a website that allows users to upload content the same way they upload to Youtube.”
Read this piece for a clue as to what’s wrong with RSS readers.
One of the first rules of software design is also the primary rule of business — “The user is always right.”
Most RSS readers remind the user, all the time, how wrong he or she is. Or inadequate or lazy or behind in their work.
Who needs that. I sure don’t. And if I’m designing software that I’m using myself, and it’s always telling me how I’m fucking up, you can be sure I’m going to want to change the software, not the user.
Think about it this way. Suppose you read the paper every day. What if at the top of the paper it told you how many articles from previous issues you hadn’t read. Whoa. When you subscribed to the paper did you mean to imply that you would read all the articles?
Emphatically: News is not email.
Unlike email, every article is not necessarily something you should read, or even look at.
I read so few articles that I want my software to work differently, I want it to make it easy for me to give a fraction of a glance to every new article and if I’m not interested, or too busy — too bad. No need to count the number of articles that didn’t get my attention. It’s a useless piece of data.
The author comes within an inch of getting the answer. “Here’s a simple trick to handle this load — goto the root folder and select ‘Mark All Items as Read.’ Now open the Techmeme River of News website and read the important stories that you might have missed while on vacation.”
Good idea! Now have the software do all that for you.
And not just when you come back from vacation, every day, rain or shine.
And then you’ll find you can subscribe to even more feeds.
9/20/05: “Let the news flow by you and relax like someone sitting on the bank of a river looking for something interesting as you while away the time. That’s how news works, and RSS is, emphatically, for news.”
Try this one out. Imagine you’re fishing, and there was some nerd on the other side of the river, shouting at you, the number of fish that went by that you didn’t catch. How long before you’d want to kill the nerd??
Jeremy Toeman asks if I agree with his piece about the Apple iPhone and how its appeal is dropping daily. My response.
I don’t disagree, but that’s not the same as agreeing. I didn’t like the iPod at first, now I’ve owned three and use my current one and leave the others at home for various reasons. (The Sansa is broken, the Archos is too big, the others aren’t even worth mentioning). My original problem with the iPod was its dependence on the Mac (I didn’t even have one then) but they cured that, and now I use Macs only.
Now back to the iPhone. Apple is likely in it for the long haul, and we’ve only seen their first product.
On the other hand, I thought you were right about the launch souring over time, which is something I see too, and I think it’s important to observe, so maybe it’ll dampen the peak a little next time around (fat chance).
Now ask me what I think about Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke. Yummm!
I had some errands to run yesterday after writing the piece about mapping software, the subject was fresh on my mind and I realized something that scared the shit out of me, and also made me want to run down the USPTO and claim an idea that’s sure to be worth billions. I decided to blog it and worry about the patent later.
Okay here’s the scenario. I program a destination into the GPS and start driving. I notice that it tells me to cut over to Solano Ave from Marin Ave about 20 blocks before reaching the destination. This is odd, I think, because Marin is the faster street, it’s primarily residential and wide, where Solano is heavily commercial, with lots of cars entering and exiting, stopping and starting. Lots of pedestrians too, and in California we like to stop for them (at least this driver does).
How curious, I thought. Why make me go this way. I decided to check it out. When I got to Solano, there’s a convenience store right there. I practically have to turn into its parking lot. How convenient, I thought, a perfect opportunity see if they have Black Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke (I’m getting single-minded about this, in kind of the same way NakedJen is about being naked). Later I realized something, the scary vision, the patentable scary vision.
There’s no way the GPS knew there was a convenience store there (a national brand, btw), but in five or ten years, I’m sure they will. And further, Toyota will make a deal with the chain to direct traffic by their store, as opposed to their competition. Remember in a lot of businesses it’s all about location. What if someday everyone has GPS, like everyone has automatic transmission now (they didn’t used to, believe it or not). That could be much more valuable than advertising. It’s not about impressions, it’s about delivering customers. Literally!
You can be sure, if we survive Iraq and nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and the Chinese shooting down our satellites, if we’re still driving ten years from now, our cars will be sending us on errands on behalf of the auto manufacturers. Maybe someday they’ll just give us the car, the GPS will be so profitable.
Yeah Marc, SXSW is promotes certain people, and if they don’t like you, there’s no way in. This year they have some kind of fig leaf that allows them to deflect criticism, but I’m not going to run the gauntlet after years of being snubbed, damn I’m one of the founders of the industry they cover, and I’ve never been invited to speak. I know lots of people who have been asked, many of them are users of stuff I created (hey, modesty aside, they all are users of stuff I created). They ought to roll out the red carpet for guys like you and me Marc, but something is wrong there, so don’t let it get to you man. I’ve asked, three times now, for an invite. That’s enough. Fuck em.
Aside: I remember listening to the podcast of their podcasting panel while I was still working on podcasting, thinking how it would have been cool if I could have told the people at SXSW where I saw it going (and ultimately where it did go).
Google Trend map comparing Podcast vs SXSW.
RSS plotted against SXSW is even more lopsided.
Marc created Director and many other miracles. If it weren’t for Director, you wouldn’t be using Flash. Marc also gave me a lot of the ideas that made it into Manila, which was, in 1999, one of the first blogging tools, widely copied, not respected by the SXSW crowd, unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean it’s not respected. A couple of weeks ago, for example, Peter Rojas of Engadget told me his first blog was a Manila site. And Marc’s vision for the People Aggregator is a good one, and different, and well worth listening to.
Marc doesn’t take himself too seriously, I think that’s why a lot of people don’t take his ideas seriously, but that’s a mistake. It really hurts me personally to see such disrespect for a man who has given so much, and wants to give so much more. You all ought to send emails to Hugh Forrest saying if they don’t show respect for Marc, then we won’t show respect for SXSW. This is one place where you all can make a difference, so how about it.
It’s nice to see the Bush Administration starting to obey the law in foreign surveillance. Recall, when they said they weren’t going to get the warrants required by FISA, it caused an outraged and scared response among advocates of the Constitution, myself included.
Well, the good news is that they say they’re going to start obeying the law. The Attorney General says that times have changed, they’re not as worried now as they were after 9-11, but we suspect the real reason is that there’s now a Democratic Congress, that might ask some questions that the old Republican one didn’t, ones the Bush guys don’t want to have raised, or if they are raised, now they have an answer: “That was a time of emergency.”
But why should a new Congress make a difference? After all, if they were willing to break one law, why not break them all? Which raised the really ugly question, which as far as I’m concerned, is still out there — will Bush actually leave office at the end of 2008? Now it seems more likely he will. If so, what a relief it will be when that happens. Hope we make it.