Back to Phil Jones

Another very interesting narrative about my software strategies by Phil Jones. Of course I have a number of comments.

Phil, I appreciate that you’re not making it about personalities, but you don’t understand that I’m not at war. I’m not trying to defeat the Semantic Web, and I like wikis. You’re not going to figure me out by fighting, because I only fight people who try to turn the clock back, because that’s the weakness of, the thing I hate about the tech industry.

But I’ll give you this much. You have figured some of it out, and you’re trying, and that I appreciate. And you allow me enough pride so I can respond to you. Most of the people who comment about my work say I’m stupid, or a bad person, and I’m neither, and I won’t encourage such discourse by honoring it with a response. Your piece is worth a response, and here it is…

It’s not about personalities

The people who make it about personalities are missing everything. It’s as if what was going on on a baseball field is a result of personalities. To some extent of course it is, but it’s also about how you swing a bat, catch and throw a ball, how good your eye is and how good your mind is. In software the quality of your thinking matters even more, in fact that’s all there is. And so many people miss the big picture, without even trying to see it. The notable thing about Phil, is that in a crowd of people who aren’t trying, he is. His reasoning ability isn’t remarkable, what is remarkable is that he cares enough to reason. And if you want to do that, you need to get your mind out of the schoolyard, and start thinking about the media revolution we’re in the middle of.

It’s not about formats

I don’t care if Atom gains strength, just as long as it doesn’t hold anything back or sacrifice any of the progress we’ve made. I said early-on that I would support Atom, and I have. I don’t want to fight over this so I don’t. Unfortunately some of the people involved want a fight, so they act as if one is hapening, and this confuses a lot of people. The tech industry, as I’ve written so many times, tends to throw out whole generations of work because of ignorance or jealousy. That’s what I’m against, if I’m against anything. If you try to figure out what I’m doing and remember that, about all that I’m willing to fight against is redoing things that already work, that don’t need redoing, because that is so often the knee-jerk reaction of this industry. I’ve seen whole careers wasted this way. We should all be fighting against that, imho.

I’m not trying to “win”

I’m not trying to win in the tech arena, certainly not in the sense that I’m trying to make anyone or anything or anyone lose. I’m interested in creating tools to manage information for people who have it. It’s the users that matter, Phil, not the techies. I think DMOZ and Yahoo’s directories are the wrong model, that this all needs to be opened up. There’s no single home page on the web, so why should there be a single home page for the global directory. Let a billion flowers bloom. May the best root win. May there be as many roots as there are points of view.

If the Semantic Web people were to create useful tools, I’d use them. I use HTML and HTTP, they’re wonderful. They were fully hatched before I heard of them. But when something doesn’t exist that I need, I don’t wait for someone else to do it, I do it myself, or if I can’t, I find out who can, and ask them to do it. So if I need news to flow through RSS, I have dinner with Martin Nisenholtz at the NY Times and ask him to flow his news through the network. If he won’t do it (he did of course) I would go to someone else. These days Microsoft is blowing me off. No problem. There are other tech companies. Eventually someone at Microsoft will get that they would do better working with me than against me, that a single guy can’t compete with a multinational corporation, and we’ll work together again, only this time we’ll go to the trouble to have a contract.

About Wikis, the other thing Phil got wrong, I’m pretty sure I understand them, and it won’t be long before OPML will be a form of content that wikis understand, both on input and output. If anyone wants to work on that, let’s start a project. Wikis already produce RSS, btw. There’s no conflict. You can’t defeat me by making content tools dammit, I think content tools are good!

Come on let’s stop fighting

Phil why are all your analogies about wars and fighting. I’m actually a creative person, always have been. Does someone who writes a book try to defeat anyone? I don’t think so. I think they want to express something. I want new tools to exist for people with knowledge to be able to share it with others and to build on other people’s knowledge. That’s how I express myself. It seems to me the only person who would want to stop that is someone who wants people to not share or have knowledge. What am I missing?

Anyway, I do appreciate what Phil is doing. Maybe we can have more discourse that isn’t about personalities, because none of the people who write about mine have any insight into it, and you aren’t going to figure me out that way. I’m actually pretty easy to figure out. I don’t hide what I’m doing, that’s also part of the formula (he doesn’t mention this). I’m a media guy who had to master technology because that was the only way to make it work.

Because people have gotten so good at lifting my ideas before I can finish building them, I’m going to go more stealth in the future. I’m not going to show my work until it’s ready to use. Then the people who want to fight with me will have to catch up, and in the time it takes to do that, I’ll be able to finish the thought, hopefully. Either that or I’ll just let you all do it yourself and I’ll go fishing or make pottery, or something.

But believe it or not, I think my life’s work is almost over, or about to enter a new phase, that’s quite different from the last directions. So maybe we’ll find out if there are any brilliant architects out there who have a vision that goes beyond OPML, RSS, outliners, blogging, podcasting, etc. I’d love to meet someone like that.

4 responses to this post.

  1. […] Essay: Back to Phil Jones.  Posted by Dave Winer Filed in Scripting News […]


  2. Posted by Jeff Nolan on March 21, 2006 at 1:48 am

    Google Finance just launched and is an example of how all software has just become knockoffs. This is an interesting perspective on how Google Finance shows that Google is no longer an innovator

    Google Finance Shows That Google is No Longer an Innovator


  3. Who knows when I’ll finally dig out of the hole I’m in right now, but I’ve been making baby-steps toward an OPML-friendly wiki. It’ll even support XOXO to some extent, use AJAX for editing, and possibly offer both Atom Publishing Protocol and OPML Community Server endpoints for content transfer.

    Of course, this could all end up being vapor, but I’ve got most of the parts sitting on my hard drive. If anything, I’d love to see someone steal the idea while I’m busy.


  4. Posted by Jeff Nolan on March 22, 2006 at 1:03 am

    Here is an interesting perspective on Windows Vista and how it will affect online video, music, and photos.

    Windows Vista Delay is Bad News


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