Friday in SF, the Mobile Identity Workshop led by Doc Searls.
Not sure if this requires disclosure or not, but I decided it’s better to disclose than not.
On Sunday, I added a command to the robots.txt file for scripting.com that tells the TechMeme robot to not read this site. I was told by Gabe Rivera, the author of TechMeme, that this would have the effect I desired.
I found that when I’d link to an article here that was in its domain, that very quickly that link would appear on TechMeme. Recently, a link to an old article here spawned a link on TechMeme within minutes of its appearance on Scripting News. At the time it was the only item on this site. If a human being were echoing my links so quickly, I’d ask them to stop, if I felt they would respect the request.
I’ve been discussing this on and off, privately, with Gabe, for almost a year. I’m a regular reader of TechMeme, and I plan to continue to read it. There is nothing to stop TechMeme from pointing to articles here on Scripting News, but it’ll have to find out about the articles from pointers on other sites.
I’ve not decided if the ban is permanent or not. I want to try it this way and see what happens. It’s a way for me to learn how TechMeme works, and now that you know, for you to learn too. And it gives people more of an incentive to read this site, or subscribe to it, an incentive you may not have felt before, since so many of my links were turning into TechMeme items. Also it may appeared that I was just replaying TechMeme items here.
I don’t want this move to in any way reflect on the Gabe’s professionalism or ethics. TechMeme is a marvel, and very useful, and he’s a very respected member of the tech blogging community, deservedly so.
Mike Arrington: “It’s rare for a blogger to take action to reduce her/his own influence, but that is exactly what Dave has done.”
That’s what it looks like to Mike, and I respect that, but that’s not the way I look at it.
There are a lot of things I could do to have more influence, but it might not be the influence I want.
Before I put the robots.txt block in, I basically could, unilaterally, put someone else’s ideas onto TechMeme, but I couldn’t get my own ideas there. And because people had less incentive to come to Scripting News, they weren’t reading the things I really care about.
I made a similar choice a few years back, when I quit Wired. Believe me, my flow went waaaay down that day. But my freedom went way up. I’m not getting anything like that kind of lift, but Mike is right, I don’t care about influence as a quantity.
Politics is all of a sudden interesting. The Congress is organizing across (as opposed to along) party lines. Yesterday on NewsHour, senior Republican Senator John Warner from Virginia sounded more like the opposition than a member of the same party as the President. It’s a miracle to see discourse come back to national politics. We are still in a very dark period, but it’s getting brighter. And once again the brilliance and luck that’s designed into our system is saving our ass. John Adams and Thomas Jefforson hated each other after George Washington left office peacefully and Jefferson’s cousin John Marshall had guts. We’re living in a country whose political system is largely formed around the personalities of these four men.
Throughout the President’s speech last night he expressed an idea that surely the founders, all of them, would have objected to — the idea that the people in the room were doing The People’s Work. No, that’s not the idea. The idea is much heavier than that. The people in the room are the people. That’s why the House is re-elected every two years, and that’s why the President has to come to Congress to get approval to go to war, and that’s why, when Warner reminds the interviewer that Congress is the equal of the Executive branch, she can be forgiven for needing a reminder, because for the last six years, Congress has not been doing its job. It thought it was here to serve the President. That is even further from the intent of the founders.
No matter, the founders win this one. Right now the Congress is not only serving the interests of the people, they are acting as the people, and that of course is good. That there are so many candidates for President is a sign that the system is working. Everyone should have the guts to think their ideas as worthy of discourse. This is where the philosophy of blogging and the philosophy of the US are totally in synch.
Jim Webb, the other Senator from Virginia, a Democrat, gave an absolutely stunning rebuttal to the President. I stood up and cheered, tears running down my cheeks. This is the kind of person that the founders imagined would be our leader. By the end of the speech I found myself hoping that Webb runs for President, although I think it unlikely that he will. But he would make a good President. I haven’t felt that about anyone in a very long time.
And also yesterday, lost in the State of the Union shuffle, were the initial revelations in the Scooter Libby trial. Fascinating, unexpected. The White House itself is becoming a circular firing squad. First the Vice-President is implicated by the prosecution, then Karl Rove is implicated by the defense. Who knew what when? Well it turns out there was a coverup. No major surprise, but it looks like it’s going to come out before Bush leaves office. What then? Will there be an impeachment? In the atmosphere in Washington today, it’s hard to imagine that the President wouldn’t be taken to court for his crimes. And for the President, the court is the House of Representatives.
Only one thing can save the President, it’s unmentionable, but it was mentioned in a CNN interview this morning with David Gurgen from Davos. Maybe the high mountain air made him say something that you wouldn’t say with your feet on the ground in the US. The one thing that could save the President, he said, is a catastrophe on the scale of 9/11/01.
Yes, politics has gotten interesting, once again.
Not sure if that’s good or not.
More often than not, Wikipedia is the top result in Google searches, and more often than not, given a choice I’ll point to the Wikipedia page as the definitive source, without knowing whether the text was written by an impartial third party with good information, or someone else; while I know that in areas where I have expertis, the Wikipedia pages are the result of “edit wars” between partisans, trolls and the people being written about. It’s hard for me to know, for example, when reading a biography of Augustus Caesar (I’m a fan of the HBO series Rome) if it is the result of the same conflicted process.
Microsoft is the latest to fall in the trap. They are criticized by Jimmy Wales, who has no credibility in this area, having been caught editing his own biography, removing mention of his collaborator. Wales is aware of the basic flaw in Wikipedia, his actions indicate that, yet he isn’t above criticizing Microsoft for trying to hire someone to do what he did for himself. To be clear, what Microsoft did is absolutely wrong. If that practice were to escalate (and who knows that it hasn’t) then Wikipedia would just reflect the views of rich corporations and individuals. The biography of Bill Gates would talk glowingly of his philanthropy, and downplay (or omit) his conviction for antitrust.
To me, in areas outside my expertise, it seems that Wikipedia is an excellent source of information. But that’s the problem. In areas that I know better, I can see its flaws. I play by the rules and don’t fix the mistakes. That leaves it to the trolls to write the story. Somehow we have to resolve this. And Wales should recuse himself from being the judge in these matters.