Scripting News for 4/11/2006

I just spotted a new, very nice feature on Google. Not sure if everyone can see it, so I’ll describe it in words. I did a search for Canada. In the left margin there are blue wedges. Click on a wedge and it expands, to reveal details, click again, it collapses. Outlining shows up, in a simple manner, in a Google display. (Postscript: I just tried it again, and now I don’t get the wedges.) 

Scott Rosenberg: “When a step backwards is branded as a leap forwards, and when people can be persuased to invest in such retrograde ventures, you know that dumb money has started to pile in behind the smart.” 

Guy Kawasaki’s list of ten things he’s learned in his first 100 days of blogging.  

Rex Hammock: “One of the top ten things Guy Kawaski learned during his first 100 days of blogging is that I’m clueless.”  

A friend asked this afternoon how long it’s been since I quit smoking. I had to think. “Almost four years,” I said. It gets easier all the time. The actual number of days: 1397. 

Rex Sorgatz: “Douglas Coupland published his third novel, Microserfs, at a moment where everyone knew the future was about to happen, but no one knew quite what it would look like.” 

Mike Golding: “Web site blocking in the corporate environment is fair enough, after all who wants their employees gambling, looking at porn or even using webmail? but now I can’t even read Zeldman.” 

In December I did something really stupid that worked. I linked to a picture of a little lap dog perched atop of a fire hydrant using the word podfather. Now it’s the number one hit on Google for the term. That’s why I have to quit blogging. I have too much power! πŸ™‚ 

At lunch with a reporter yesterday, the conversation turned to Ted Nelson. He recounted how, at a conference, Nelson spoke up, saying that we were all doing hypertext wrong. I’ve heard Nelson say this, and I know what he’s saying. His concept of hypertext, which was the original (he coined the term) was that links were two-way. The reporter said that Nelson was really weird and kind of rude. I took exception to this. Nelson is a visionary, and a teacher, in many ways it’s his passion that’s the fabric of the web. If he hadn’t written his seminal book in the 70s, I wonder if the web would exist today. Later, I thought, how strange, we want visionaries, we need them, but we want them to fit some impossible concept of humanity. Someone should have passion without being too passionate. I wonder if people have really thought this through. I’m willing to cut a guy like Nelson almost infinite slack, because I so totally appreciate what he has done for us, and for me. 

If Nelson had a Linked-In page, I’d write a testimonial for him. “Computer Lib/Dream Machines changed my life, as it changed every young technologist of the 1980s. Nelson opened doors for me, many of which I didn’t even know existed. In every generation there are at most two or three people as influential as Nelson was to people of my generation.” 

According to Bob Tedeschi in today’s NY Times, beef jerky is big business in the blogosphere, and he’s right. I wrote about this just the other day (and for the last ten years). It’s great to see the world sorting itself out. Tedeschi once said, a long time ago, that blogging was about as important as CB radio was in the 70s. That was of course intended as a put-down. Seems Bob underestimated blogging, based on the number of times he’s been writing about it recently. 

Yes, I am cursed with a long memory. 😦 

My Linked-In Profile page. At the closing dinner at Esther’s conference last month she asked who had Linked-In profiles. Almost every hand went up, but not mine. Now I have one. Not sure what this will do for me, but let’s find out! πŸ™‚ 

6 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks Dave for your comments and link to the article about Ted Nelson. I love that article. It is great to listen to the people and their ideas who are the original source of what we have today.

    Also, I want to say thanks because you have opened doors in technology and the web and publishing for me and given me new ideas. You’ve been very influential to me.


  2. Posted by Ezra Gottheil on April 11, 2006 at 10:49 am

    Amen to your piece on Ted Nelson. I agree, without the dream of hypertext, the Web would not have happened. Ted saw all the implications, all the requirements. Not only robust two-way linking, but also versioning, licensing, excerpting, and micropayments. If it had happened that way, the Web would be far richer.

    I had the fantastic experience of spending a beery evening in San Antonio with Ted and some of his colleages. One of my favorite memories.

    Of course we should cut huge amounts of slack to real contributors, but Ted doesn’t really need a lot of slack. He needs to be respected. And so does John Walker of Autodesk, who played Theo to Ted’s Vincent.


  3. Dave,
    I’m developing a web service that’s based around outlines. It’s main import/export format is OPML. I’m asking your advice on how I should handle markup and unordered/numbered lists. It’s all symantic, so i can either scrape the metadata off and treat lists as sections and everything be plaintext. I’m thinking of sending off the lists as sections with the type of “ordered” or “numbered”. This is not right though, because my app would be the only one to read that correctly. I don’t want to lose this valuable markup data in an export.

    The idea is for users to move their data freely in and out as they see fit.


  4. Re: odd google features that would benefit from outlining.

    I noticed that “obsession” is a popular search term for people finding their way to my site, so I tried it. “obsession” on Google offers suggestions for search refinements that might give me better results (not just “did you mean obsefvisoon” but “Also see obsession lyrics”. I’ve never spotted this on another search, so I don’t know when it kicks in. I wonder if you were seeing a pre-release version of an improved layout for that.


  5. Dave,

    Ars Technica had a good write-up a few days ago on the new Google search interface, along with ways to persistently enable it for subsequent searches. Here’s the link:


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