Scripting News for 3/14/2007

Today’s links 

The 857,291st article (this one on Reuters) claiming that blogging is over.

Amazingly insightful editorial from the WSJ: “if Viacom wins this suit and busts YouTube–and there is a very good chance it will win; it is, after all, uncontested that this is Viacom’s media property we are talking about–that won’t change what consumers want one whit. They are demanding unbundled media, sold everywhere and in myriad assortments. Period. And if Viacom won’t provide it then some new media entrepreneurs will.” As I’ve been saying all along, listen to me Mark Cuban, it’s a negotiation with users, not a war with Google. Forget Google. The users want something you aren’t providing. So provide it and stop arguing so much.

Remember human dignity 

Mike Arrington: “Defending individuals against huge multi-corporation entities is one thing. Destroying human dignity is something else.” Amen.

Once, a long time ago, a Silicon Valley company wanted to break a deal with me, which happens of course, it’s just business. But one guy in the company decided to have some personal fun as they were breaking the deal, he was a really nasty mofo. I remembered it, of course, as people always remember unnecessary cruelty. I had a chance, a few years later, when my career had taken off, and his had fallen apart, to pay it back. One time, at a conference, he took me aside and said okay you won, you don’t need to rub it in. At that point I stopped. That was all I wanted.

I was younger then, today I would do it differently. I have learned that these things take care of themselves. People who deliberately choose the low road have to live on that path. Their reward comes from karma, or god, fate or luck — whatever you call it. There’s a force in the universe, much greater than any individual, that balances the books.

At a human level it pays to remember that no one stays on top forever. And the guy who needed help or just a little human kindness, will be asked to help a few years later. No one can blame him if he refuses kindness to someone who went out of his way to cause pain.

Something to remember, when someone asks for your help. It’s better to give than to receive. Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet. Namaste.

Back to Mike’s story — there is some nasty energy in the EFF, I’ve felt it myself. I didn’t like what they did to Michael Crook either. Kudos to Mike for having the guts to point it out.

The future of Twitter? 

I was introduced to Twitter last summer at a dinner at Henrietta’s Table in Cambridge by Ross Mayfield. I posted two or three notes using my Blackberry that evening and never did it again. I still receive SMS’s from Ross on a regular basis, but (no reflection on Ross’s value as a human being) I rarely even look at them. I imagine that other people may be vitally interested in his comings and goings, but not me.

Scoble loves Twitter, and I love Scoble, but I have never sent him an SMS, when I want to talk I generally ring his cell phone, get his voicemail, don’t leave a message (as his welcome message requests) and a few minutes later he calls back. Sometimes if he’s on a plane it might be a few hours. However if I were a Scoble fanboy, I would love that he posts every event in his busy life to his Twitter channel.

I’m very reluctant to dismiss Twitter as a passing fad, aware that many people said that about blogging, and I was sure they were wrong, and they were. Whenever so many people are so excited about something there must be some substance. It’s the same reasoning that makes me reject the idea that George W. Bush is stupid. You don’t get to be President and be stupid, and nothing frivolous gets to be as popular as quickly as Twitter has.

Jim Posner: “Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a twitter when the lasagne is done?”

Paolo: “Is Twitter the RSS for people with not much to say?”

So this leads to many questions. What will Twitter look like next month, next year, three years from now? Will it evolve to a point and become exactly what chat is? Will there be competitors — Twitterdum and Twitterdee? How about Twitter-A and Twitter-B? Did Twitter file for patents? Will they sell out? Obviously a company like Yahoo would love to own it. I’m sure they have already talked with each other.

What scaling walls will Twitter hit? Obviously the technology scales pretty well, it’s not using a whole lot of CPU on the back end. Do they have to pay to dump SMS messages on the network, if so that’s a scaling issue, for sure. What about human scaling? How many pizza deliveries on the other coast can you stand to be notified of before you unsub?

Michael Gartenberg says “no way” to business uses of Twitter, but be careful about that, I think there are real project management applications here, esp for geographically distributed virtual teams. I’m not just theorizing about that, I’ve used a similar tool to great advantage, managing a diverse team in Europe and North America. Whether Twitter is going in that direction is another matter. Only time will tell.

Patti & 

As I’ve often said, my favorite podcast is On the Media, although Fresh Air is catching up quickly. They cover different niches, yesterday I listened to Terry Gross interviewing Patti Smith, one of my all-time rock and roll heroes. The interview brought out her sweetness, a facet that people might think she doesn’t have, and at the same time, emphasized the younger Smith who was a revolutionary, in so many ways. She explained where her famous line about Jesus, the one that opens Gloria, came from. (Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine.)

The day before, I listened to an OTM interview with Micah Sifry, the founder of He’s created a site where citizens can learn about Congress, what they do, the bills they vote on, who they meet with. It’s a focused aggregator about Congress. And of course Congress itself will probably be the biggest user of the site, the same way the tech industry self-obsesses through its blogs.

They make extensive use of RSS, which of course is appreciated.

10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jim Posner on March 14, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Twitter provides a sip from the real time data stream. As thirst for real time information grows, more twitter-like applications (real time notification) will emerge. Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a twitter when the lasagne is done, frontline is on, or a machine changes state. Enabling real time notificaiton is not a trivial task for most end users. So, when objects (and applications) begin to easily twitter the game really changes.


  2. Posted by stephen bove on March 14, 2007 at 10:29 am

    Flickr releases “Collections”

    A sigh of relief and then glee…After two years of asking and waiting for it, I am finally liberated from not being able to make sets-of-sets on Flickr. For those of you who are Flickr power-users, this is a big deal. And Kudos to Flickr. They did a really cool job of it…although it seems like they launched the feature with little fanfare…the “collections” link just showed up in the menu bar.


  3. “Whenever so many people are so excited about something there must be some substance.”

    In that case, I have a few Pet Rocks and Mood Rings I’d like to sell you! 🙂


  4. I have two big concerns with Twitter that set it apart from blogging and that could impact its success:

    1. How do I find out about other Twitters I might be interested in? I only added people to be followed because they linked to it from their blogs. What about Twitter-only “bloggers”? Furthermore, blogging created a network because bloggers link to each other. The “@user” is limited because it requires so much effort to find that user. This could be solved by Twitter auto-linking when it finds an @user, but so far it doesn’t do it.

    2. It’s too distributed. To follow a conversation, I have to either be following all the users taking part or sort through the “With Friends” section where other conversations may be taking place.

    3. It’s too concentrated. At least with Technorati, Techmeme, et al, I have a small chance of discovering gems in the long tail. This is practically impossible on Twitter since the only mechanism to discover new people is the public timeline, which will become increasingly useless as the service grows.


  5. Hi Dave,
    I resisted Twitter for a long time. In fact I sent Chris Brogan a text message to tell him I was getting on a train. I didn’t get it.

    Now I do.

    It’s like the IRC backchannel at a conference. There’s value in it to enhance the presentation. But if you aren’t there to see how it works, you might not get it.

    A lot of people got it this week at SXSW.

    It’s like an extension of Podtech’s Bloghaus. In that case you knew where all the vloggers were going to be.

    With twitter, you could jack into the net, join the borg mind, and see what was happening all around you.

    Scott Beale was at the Yahoo party, we followed, then he moved on and we followed…

    Without twitter a lot of people would have been lost.

    I also used it to see what session at SXSW to go to… Chusk Olsen was sitting in a Bill Paxton session, I went there…

    Chuck was in the politics session.. ahhh… I saw where he was and moved over to sit there…

    It’s very cool.


  6. Dave, you might want to add “bartsf” as a friend (and maybe “tommorris” too?). bartsf is a little script that sits on my server, pulls in the BART RSS feed, pulls the data out and sends any service alerts to the Twitter account. That’s one great thing that Twitter can be used for – the API can be used for distributing real-time information like public transport info very easily. For me, Twitter can’t replace sitting down at my laptop and firing up my RSS reader, but it can ping me when the train isn’t running on time. It’s a useful complement.

    What’s it gonna be used for? Twitter is about fun. Which means all the serious VC/TechCrunch people are going to stress out about it. It’s fun like blogging is fun. That is, until the kids start using it to tell their friends how much a particular movie sucks while they’re in the cinema and Hollywood sees revenue from lame movies drop further…


  7. i don’t have cellphone, but i wanna twit too,


  8. Reuters (or, really, Gartner) is correct to some extent. Less people try to blog for money. That doesn’t impact all the personal blogs, but it sure *looks* like blogs are dying to everybody who wants to make money off it. (Well, if you want to call 30 million blogs “dying”)

    People simply realize that there is no need to blog every day – especially since RSS allows there readers to just patiently wait for news, without any active effort on their part. That’s the part that’s entirely missing.


  9. this is why i said web 3.0 will be p2p, a technology not yet fully explored; we’ve built the first open p2p market; think ebay in terms of where the technology is in terms of timeline; i’m talking eary ebay….before ebay esisted 🙂

    if you ole school you’ll remember the saying you never bought until version 3.0, its the same with the web.


  10. My take on the inevitable commercialzation of Twitter:


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