There are a few troubling things about this Buzzfeed piece saying that LinkedIn is creating their "own version" of Instant Articles.

Why their own version? Why not just use the one we're already creating for Facebook? We don't need to have a proliferation of mostly-compatible feed formats. IA is great. The guy who goes second gets to set the standard. Don't fork, emulate. Embrace without extending. And why just just with publishers? Why not talk with bloggers? I think ultimately this will be a similar kind of mistake to the ones that political parties made. Publishers are like big donors. Bloggers are equivalent to voters and grassroots organizers.  The bloggers haven't gone away, big platform people, it's just that you don't see them because your platforms aren't accommodating us. If you tweak things, just a little, you'll find we're even better friends than the big publishers. Get your thinking out of the 20th century box. 

If you've been wondering what the fuss is about, here's your chance to find out.

First, if you have a machine that can run Node.js apps, you can install the server on your own system and run it there.  Or if you want to quickly find out what it's like, you can create a site on my server. The usual caveats apply. I can't run these test sites forever, but I have no immediate plans to take it down. The safest bet if you plan to use to blog for real is to run your own server or to share one with someone else. Each server can host lots of sites (and each site can have multiple contributors). If you have questions, please post a note on the 1999-server or 1999-user list, depending on whether or not you're running your own server. If you find a bug, please report it using the Issues tracker on the 1999-project site on GitHub. 

The development and bug-fixing process continues. Still more docs to write.

I'm interested in knowing what you think. It's designed to be easy to get started with, and posting quick short notes is what it's optimized for. So please use 1999 to talk about 1999.  

Now that the software is public, I'll start posting notes about new features and fixes, and also point out the important features. You'll get lots of chances to learn about it, if you're a regular reader of this blog.

So here we go, pouring new power into the Open Web. Exciting times!

Hope you like the software! 


When Obama was elected I thought I understood something that I didn't.

First, I supported Obama. Gave the max. Talked him up on my blog and on social media as it existed in 2008. Went to meetings. Voted for him. Was overjoyed when he was elected.

One of the reasons Obama's campaign was so successful was that it was distributed. Obama supporters met in people's living rooms and canvassed together, knocking on doors, networking with people in their neighborhoods, for two-way communication. Not only did ideas flow from the center to the edges, but they went the other way too. This was amazing. It was the model for how blogging networked. I thought I was looking at a campaign that got what I got about software, but with politics.

So I expected that when the transition started, the Obama campaign website would turn into the White House website, and would continue to organize us. That the new President would apply the same ideas that won him the job to: 1. Doing the job, and 2. To spread the love all over the world. I fantasized that Obama, visiting a world leader, would bring with him binders of facts about the leaders' citizens, because we knew more about what they needed, because they were on our network. I imagined the Obama campaign system would spread all over the world.

Further, I thought that when the President hit an obstacle in Congress, he would tap into his network of supporters, still activated, and have us campaign within the electorate to get the message to our Senators and Representatives that we want them to work with the President. I couldn't wait not to just be a contributor and supporter but to being part of the political system on a daily basis. 

I loved the idea, because I, like everyone else, am searching for meaning. I want to help in my own way to solve the world's problems. To feel effective, to feel that I was working with other people to make the world better. That there was an exciting reason to get up every day. This is at the core of what I desire. And what is so damned difficult to do.

Obama went the other way. The campaign website shut down. When the new White House site was unveiled there were very small ways for people to participate. It didn't organize. It didn't give us a way to do for our communities what we had done for Obama. His campaign, in other words, to me -- was a lie. I was angry for a while, and then I went back to my normal mode with respect to politics, I ignored it. And went back to writing software. And while that was happening I watched all the stuff I had built be torn apart by big tech companies, and trashed both with PR and with their products. So much of the good I had done in years past was undone. And I watched Obama's Presidency wrecked by Republicans, a President who would be difficult to challenge if he demonstrably had the people on his side, but there was no way to show that. Just the normal "approval rating" polls. So much for a transformational President. What could have been if only he believed in us. 

I think this is what's wrong with our political system. It's organized to get people elected, then the people we elect do the work of big companies. And their work is to squeeze every bit of value they can out of the natural and intellectual resources of the world, and keep it for themselves. If they can kill something that's worth $100 to reap $1 of value from the corpse, they see that as good business. That's the approach that has got our species into the climate change corner we're in. If you burn everything all you'll have left to breathe are smoking corpses. That's where we are in everything humans do. That's why we feel a void for ourselves, collectively. We blame the government, but we're the ones who believe the lies. We know they're lying but we believe them anyway. 

Obama may have had the germ of the idea. Maybe. Or maybe he just had a good way of getting elected and never thought of using the same approach to running things. He was just refining the approach used by the Dean campaign in 2004. So maybe he didn't even understand why it worked, just that it did work.

When I look at the outcome  of the 2016 election so far, I think a lot of other people see it the same way, though they come to different conclusions about what needs to be done. 

What I think needs to be done -- involve people in doing good work, with others, to make the world work better for everyone. Sort of a Uber for helping put the human race back on track for success. A Tinder of good deeds. Find me something I can do to help right now, close to home. And another thing and another. 

The candidate who really gets this won't wait until he or she is elected to begin the good-doing. It would start during the campaign, so even if they don't win some good will come from the campaign. That's how you'll know you're looking at the real deal.

Today, I think we may have an opportunity, in the wreckage of our two-party system, to form a new party. I think of it as the Getting_Shit_Done Party (or more politely as it appears in the title of this post). I don't care whether you're a conservative or a liberal. We're all humans before any of that. We all breathe and sleep, and yearn for love and acceptance, and we want to help. I really believe that. We depend too much on others to solve our problems. What we really need is help organizing so we can solve the problems. That's how it will work, when it does.


Here's why my blogging tools don't have delete commands, basically until the users drag it out of me. 

In the early 1980s, I ran a computer bulletin board out of my living room in Menlo Park, CA. It was called the Living BBS or LBBS for short. I wrote and maintained it myself. It was written in UCSD Pascal and ran on an Apple II with an external 10MB hard disk.

I thought I understood security but I didn't. Once the system got to a certain critical mass of users, someone started hacking me. They figured out how to get around the password and could delete messages that didn't belong to them. Whoever it was, kept deleting the root of the tree, and when I'd come back there was just a welcoming message written by the hacker, and maybe one or two confused messages from users who had stumbled on the LBBS in its humbled state.

Eventually I realized the first answer was to disable the Delete command, thus making it more labor-intensive for the hacker to destroy my humble server. It worked. The asshole went away.

Then I brought the Delete command back, but made it just set a bit in the message that was being deleted. Nothing actually got reclaimed. So the hacker thought the message was gone, but all I had to do was run a script that visited all the nodes and flipped the bits back. Database restored.

Okay today is the day that gets its Delete command. I just wanted to explain why it took me so long to do it. 


So on the Sunday talk shows Bernie Sanders said he's going to challenge Clinton at the DNC. He keeps changing the story. I don't think it's because he has changed as some people think, rather he's seen his own contribution numbers, numbers we can't see, and they tell a story. The story is that (just guessing) his backers think he's given up so they aren't contributing. So if he wants money to keep flowing he has to sound like he's fighting, even if he isn't.

What story must his numbers tell? Well, we know that they're down dramatically in April. It's likely that they are down week to week within April, though we don't see those numbers. In other words he probably raised more in the first week than he did in the last week. Which probably says that May is going to be even worse unless he does something to stimulate the giving. 

Why should he care if they contributors keep giving, you might ask. I ask that too. I can only guess, and I'd rather not do that. But it seems that if the campaign is winding down, he doesn't need more money.


Bernie Sanders asks -- if Denmark can have universal health care and free tuition for college, why can't the United States? 

I've heard him ask it many times, and hadn't realized until I read this Vox article that there is actually a reason why, and it's not something you can wish away with the kind of sarcastic comebacks that Sanders is famous for.

In order to pull it off these stars have to line up:

The Democrats have to control the White House. And have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. And a majority in the House.

But even that, as rare as it is, is not enough. The Democrats in the Senate have to all be progressives. For example, when the Affordable Care Act was passed, the 60-vote majority included independent Joe Lieberman who often acted more like a Republican who is owned by the insurance industry. The single-payer option was the big thing his support cost. 

So it's rare in our system that the planets line up in a way to get big things like ObamaCare passed. Even the stimulus was highly contentious, when the Dems had both houses of Congress and the White House. 

And huge changes like the ones proposed by Sanders, no matter how desirable they are, require a super-majority across all branches of government, and they pretty much never happen. The normal thing is a split government. Lately having a split government has meant that almost nothing changes. 

BTW, it's even worse than 1, 2 and 3 -- there's a 4 and 5 as well. The Supreme Court has to be cooperative as we found out with ObamaCare. And as John Bredehoft points out in a comment on Facebook, if the people love the feature, when there is a Republican super-majority, they won't be able to get rid of it because the voters won't let them. We love our benefits (like Social Security, for sure, and almost certainly ObamaCare, so you can forget about repealing it).

You could argue as to whether it was designed this way, but this is the way it is. And European democracies are not like the American form of government, they are parliamentary, which means that when governments form they control everything until there are new elections, when a new government forms that controls everything. So they have been able to get progressive policies like universal health care and free college tuition and lots of other things, because it's possible in their systems where it's virtually impossible in ours.

This isn't something anyone alive today set up. So you can't find someone to blame. It's just the way it is. Everything is a slog, and it requires compromise to get anything done. 

So Bernie's question does not have the answer he wants it to have. 


The consensus is that the Chicago Cubs are the best team in baseball this year. I've never been a Mets booster, though I am a lifelong Mets fan, but please, the Mets are pretty incredible this year.

We have great pitching and this year great power.

Neil Walker, who was our second choice for second base (the Cubs got our first choice), is now leading the league in home runs,  last time I checked. 

And Cespedes, who every day looks more like Willie Mays. We got really lucky there, or maybe it was fate. 

I like the Mets this year, not only the way I love them every year (as the philosophical, lovable losers) but I like our team this year for spirit, humility, heart and pitching and hitting. 

Let's go Mets! 

I want to make Facebook into the best blogging platform in the world that has over a billion readers. 

Here's what's needed to make that work and then why it's important.

Links. Styling -- bold, italic, lists, subheads. Enclosures -- for podcasting. Titles -- lots of blog posts have them.

Why it's so important

I cross-post to Facebook and a number of other places. 

Items 1-4 above are important parts of the basic blogging vocabulary.

Because they aren't present in Facebook, my writing can be hard to parse in Facebook. It's as if you left out upper-case letters (in the case of linking, very basic stuff for web-writing) and punctuation and a few special symbols like dollar sign or percent. You could communicate that way, but it would be weird.

With these four features, we'd have a baseline, and I think some very cool stuff would happen both inside Facebook and on the open web. 

This is why I tweeted the other day that silos aren't necessarily bad. If they allow cross-posting to the open web, we get a nice mix of benefits and mutual respect, and hopefully in a couple of years some excitement in the form of new features in the open web. And btw, that's where new features in Facebook come from.

API-only is OK

BTW, as a developer of blogging tools, it's totally okay with me if these features are only available through the API, to keep the FB user interface as simple as possible. Let these features come from advanced tools, and at the same time help build a market for new web writing tools.


Leslie Moonves, president of CBS famously said, in February, that the Trump candidacy "may not be good for America but it's damn good for CBS."

He continued, "Man, who would have expected the ride we're all having right now? ... The money's rolling in and this is fun," he said.

Let that sink in. Selling us out, that's fun.

This is even more tragic than the feeding frenzy in the financial industry during the subprime mortgage bubble leading to the crash in 2008. And this is destroying more than the economy, it's about everything.

The quote sailed over my head in the initial Trump frenzy. But now that the dust may be setting a little, and we're trying to find normalcy in the Trump candidacy, even those of us who didn't and never would vote for him, these words stand out as unusually obnoxious. 

I think Moonves, if he doesn't regret saying that yet, soon will. 

We truly are depraved.

Why is it that neither Twitter or Facebook have an audio type?

YouTube has hosting for videos, but they don't offer a service for hosting audio. 

Facebook, with the idea of an audio post would be pretty great. But only if you can create audio enclosures through the API. 


As a lowly tech blogger, if I express a political thought, even if it's urgent, even if the political reporters are missing it, I seem to have no ability to insert the idea into the discussion. But someone needs to ask this question -- now -- with urgency -- what are the Democrats doing to prevent Trump from winning the election?

I suspect the Dems are doing the same thing the Repubs did, talking, coming up with policy answers, logic, hoping to catch the bullets in their teeth, as they did nicely with the Woman Card thing. But that was a slow fat pitch. I don't expect them all to be that easy. And even that one, repeated often enough, will stick. People will start thinking, even though it's not true, that HRC would only get 5 percent of the vote if she weren't a woman. He says it because he knows some people already believe it, and some of them are Democrats. And because HRC herself used that argument, briefly and catastrophically, earlier in the campaign.

If the Democrats don't do anything special or different, they'll be stuck with one of two approaches, both losers. Do what Jeb Bush did, and stay cool and talk like the adult that he is. Or decide to play ball as Marco Rubio did. They're both gone, and so will Hillary and our hope if she goes either of those ways.

It doesn't work because you're accepting his setup. You have to change it, think differently about this campaign, and all future campaigns. The battle here isn't over who has the best ideas that appeal to the most voters. It's over who can command more of the airtime on Fox, MSNBC and CNN. 

And for that you have to invent a new flow of political ideas, new catnip for the network programmers. Not campaign rallies, or phone calls to Morning Joe. And not using the candidate. I think you need comedians. 

I think that's what Trump is, at his best and most appealing. His schtick is mostly Joan Rivers, the timing even the stories he tells and certainly the way he tells them. I can picture him inserting both fingers down his own throat and gagging in response to something HRC wore or the way she talks or looks. He gets away with it for the same reason Rivers did. He's an actor and everyone knows it, but he's entertaining, and that gets people to vote for him for some crazy reason.

What I'd like to see the Democrats do is have a daily comedy chat, online, with video, with a rotating group of the best American comedians. Talking about politics in very personal ways. Some of it serious, but they're totally allowed to be abusive and demeaning of Trump, in the same ways he's going after HRC. Iterate until its really smooth and you know who's great at it, and then get into a daily routine. 7 days a week,  just like the campaign. 

And make it all freely licensable to the TV networks.

What they want is programming, so give it to them! Only keep HRC out of the fray. She stays above it. Runs a normal campaign, with lots of rallies and speeches and talk show appearances. She can kiss babies, and go to the debates. She can visit the White House and sit in on Cabinet meetings. 

Let the comedians take care of Trump.

Please the Repubs waited until it's too late. But the Dems got to see Trump's schtick. There's no excuse for not being prepared. He's not going to change, his act works. You just have to create an act that pulls him off to the side, while you run the real campaign.

I'm a big user of and believer in AWS. It's got lots of components: databases, storage, computing, and lots of things with fanciful names that I don't really understand.  

I've been using AWS since its inception. Their first service, S3, provided something you couldn't get anywhere else without buying lots of other stuff -- storage. And the service was: 

high availability,  high performance, low cost, with no lock-in.

S3 set the pattern for all the subsequent AWS services. And they're delivered so many, filling almost all the niches you could imagine, sometimes with multiple products. But the one niche they have never attempted to fill is what Twitter does. Real-time Internet-scale notification with an easy to understand user interface. Turns out this is one of the big things that was missing from the Internet itself. 

It took a long time for Twitter to get their servers to run reliably (the first two items on the list above). But they've never offered it as a service. In fact, they pulled back from the API, which was heading in that direction. It would have been a very different world now if instead they had gone in the other direction, by turning it into a web service for any and all developers to build on any way they want, the same way AWS does, for a price. 

Because there is no web service that does what Twitter does, yet -- it's not too late for Twitter to open up another business model. I think it would totally kick ass. We need it. And I think they'd quickly forget that Twitter was ever going to be, exclusively, an advertising-based system. 

And of course they could continue to operate that system, as Amazon continues to operate their shopping and delivery business, even though they see that as a proving ground for the web services, which believe it or not is their real business!

Or one more possibility, if Twitter doesn't want to do this, would Amazon please do it! The world needs Twitter-as-a-service. We've waited way too long for it.

Twitter infrastructure may have AWS-like value. Amazon doesn't have a Twitter. Add storage and you have infrastructure for Internet++.


Sometime in the mid-90s, I was living in Silicon Valley at the time, I was driving around in Menlo Park listening to KQED, an episode of Fresh Air. Terry Gross was interviewing a woman, and because it was radio, I couldn't see who. They went from topic to topic. She was so intelligent, so well-spoken. I couldn't imagine who it was! Then the big reveal. It was..

Hillary Clinton. Which was a shock to me. Because for whatever reason, I thought she was corrupt, stupid, wrong, evil, you name it. I clearly despised this person. 

I remembered this very well for two lessons. First the small one. Hillary Clinton is smart and thoughtful. And second, don't depend so much on what you think about people based on impressions. You have to listen to them. 

How did I get those thoughts about her? I have no idea. But they couldn't have come from really listening. 

And to really nail it, the same thing happened with a man being interviewed on Fresh Air. Again, how intelligent and thoughtful. I'm going to make you click on a link to find out who it was. Sorry. ;-0


Watching Jeremy Lin in the playoffs, it's clear that he's always had star power. The myth in the NBA that he was a flash in the pan was something constructed by the league itself, probably because: 

Lin went to Harvard, a school not very famous for basketball. He went for four years, not one or two. He's a Chinese-American.

Of course he went to Harvard because none of the great basketball schools wanted him, even though he was fine player at Palo Alto High School. But he didn't look like a great basketball player. His skin wasn't the right color, I guess? Not too many Chinese-American greats in the NCAA? Could it be as simple as racism? This is something for basketball to take a good look at.

Carmelo Anthony couldn't handle someone playing a starring role on his team, so he made sure Lin didn't get the contract he deserved from the Knicks, he had to get it from Houston. Shortly after acquiring Lin, they signed James Harden, a guard who doesn't share the ball. And Lin is a playmaker point guard, and to do that you need to have the ball. There was no room on the Rockets. So he was dealt to the Lakers, who were in rebuilding mode in the aftermath of Kobe Bryant, who didn't actually retire until the end of this season. (The Lakers were also tanking, trying to get a high draft pick, so they seemed to be benching Lin because he was trying to win games.)

Now he's found love in Charlotte. He's not a starter, and being the consummate team player he's okay with that. They love him in Charlotte, of course -- what's not to love! He's smart, has an incredible work ethic, his body is still young enough to take the bruising that being an oddball in the NBA gets you, and he makes shit happen. A game with Lin performing at his best is exciting basketball, the best. 

And of course the Knicks, never going anywhere -- what do they need most? A point guard. I think this is god saying "When you get a gift, don't question it." The Knicks said Lin wasn't exactly what they wanted. So instead they got Raymond Felton (who btw, is now kicking ass in Dallas).

Lin is the reason I got interested in basketball again. His life is an incredible story. And in NYC, where there are a lot of Chinese, esp in Queens where I grew up, there was so much delight when he was on the Knicks. That was something special. When you see an entire community electrified that way, how could the NBA have not made sure he landed somewhere good for him and good for the league?

I have no idea what politics are like in the NBA, but they probably are like they are everywhere else. If you have the look of an NBA player you can be accepted. But if you don't fit the mold, then you have to build a career the way JLin is building his. I'm not surprised that he didn't fade away, it was clear he had the talent and the will to be a winner. Now it's happening, and it's wonderful to see.

What if, before we transfer human awareness into computers, we discover proof of reincarnation. What then?


Earlier today I turned on a new feature in my blog, allowing me to cross-post instantly to my own blog and Facebook, in sync. 

Same content flows through RSS and to Medium not instantly and without sync, but with full fidelity.

Now I can show you the difference in engagement.

First, there is no engagement on my blog. I have comments turned off.

Almost no engagement on Medium. Three people hearted my post. One highlight. No comments.

But on Facebook, even though the piece looks like crap and has no links, the post has a handful of comments and 20 reactions. I have no idea how many views, FB doesn't provide users with that info, as far as I know.

There's the reason I wanted the connection. I missed knowing what people think, and getting ideas from people who read my stuff. Facebook has that.

One more thing. Twitter is not in the loop. With the 140-char limit all I could do was post the title and a link. 

Wake up, listen to a little news while you make coffee, cook breakfast. Log on to Facebook. No events in the menu. Look in the timeline. Nothing new. Write a post. Hey where is everyone. Nothing. Wait. Nothing. 

Something interesting is working. 

Now when I post something to my blog, it will automatically be cross-posted to Facebook.

Not a link to a post, but the full text. However without any links or styles. Just the text. Not a bad place to start.

If you ask people who used to blog but now post on Facebook what it would take to get them to blog again, this is it. 

Looked at another way, I was giving up the ability for people to read my full posts on Facebook, in order to preserve the advantages of posting to the open web. I made a conscious decision early this year to stop manually cross-posting to Facebook. Hoping the pressure would build and force me to add the feature to my new blogging software. I find I have to play tricks on myself this way. But it worked. 

Now I'm going to live with this for a while. 

Here's a list of places my posts flow: 

My blog home page. Each post has its own permanent page. In my RSS feed. In my Instant Articles feed. Through my RSS feed to Medium. And to a Facebook post in my timeline. (New! Love this!!)

However, unless I post links to my stories to Facebook, you won't see my IA posts there. Not sure what to do about that. For now I'm not going to worry.

One more thing -- unlike the connection to Medium, the connection to Facebook will stay in sync. When I make a change on my blog, the changes flow through to Facebook. They have a nice API that way. 

However Medium has linking and style, and in their world stories have titles -- Facebook posts have none of that. 

Still diggin!

Over the weekend I got something working in that's pretty cool, and necessary. I can now include arbitrary HTML in my blog posts.

Here's an example. Prince's 1999. I imagine this video will disappear after not too long. But that in itself will be a story. Who owns Prince's music now?

[ ]

Here's another video. This one demos the new Insert HTML feature. Very recursive, in a way. Or meta-meta. A video about a blogging tool that can now include a video including a video about the feature that makes it possible. 

As we used to say in Ye Olde Blogosphere -- Watching them watch us watch them watch us, etc.


There's some confusion about the Vox announcement that their new Circuit Breaker gadget blog will be published only on Facebook. I think I can help clear up some of the confusion, because it relates to how Instant Articles work.

When you visit their page on Facebook in a web browser, you see the normal kind of link. A title, and a short description linking to the Vox website. 

But when you visit the item on a mobile device, instead you see a link to a page that's hosted by Facebook, with the Instant Article rendering.

So the illusion that it's all on Facebook is broken if you come in through the web.

I've been lobbying Facebook that this confusion should be erased. I want to see IA content displayed in the timeline, like a normal Facebook post, but with linking and styling. So we can have Facebook host stuff written for the web, with all the web fidelity preserved.

I believe if they really want to be a place where news flows, they have to do this. Otherwise the confusion that Vox faced today, and the inability to deliver the product that they want to deliver, and that (I believe) Facebook should want them to deliver. I want the same for readers of my blog, who are coming in through Facebook.

PS: I understand this issue because my site also has an Instant Articles feed. I was confused by this with my own feed, and also with the Vox feed today. 

I'm a big believer in George Lakoff's model for American politics.

Democrats == nurturing mother Republicans == strict father

If you want to win the Republican nomination for President you need to be tough, decisive, thoughtful, not impulsive, consistent, firm, unyielding, protective. 

Then pivot to pick up Democratic votes. Show you care, you're listening, you're like them, be likeable, warm. 

I think the Democrats, as usual, think it's about policy. It's so obviously not. Trump has been selling liberal ideas to Republican voters and they don't care. As long as he's strong, decisive and strict. That's why they're Republicans. That's what they like.

With Democratic voters, if he comes off as if he really cares, can feel your pain (as Bill Clinton did), he will get Democratic and independent votes. That's how he will pivot. He will be good at it too. Don't pay attention to the policy. 


Yesterday I posed this question on Twitter.

Are there any developers in Silicon Valley, having made their FU Money are making new tech for fun, w/o trying to find "business model?"

After I wrote it down, I wondered what took me so long to get there. 

My story...

I started as an independent developer in Silicon Valley in 1979. At the time, the idea of doing software development on your own was unheard-of. Until I met up with other people doing the same thing. I was pretty close to broke when I got there. And I stayed more or less broke until I merged my angel-backed startup with a VC-backed one that was on the path to going public. It did. I got my FU money. That was 1989. Ten years chasing both art and money at the same time.

So then I had a decision to make. Was I in it for the business or was I in it for fun? I had been wanting to get rich. My idea of myself was I'd live a creative life, with the independence that comes with success. I had attained success. So I stopped trying to be a company, and went back to what I did for fun -- making software.

I eventually left the Valley in 2003 because no one else was doing what I was doing. The only point in being there, because it is not an interesting place to me, was if there were other people to collaborate with. So I left seeking other places to try collaborative development for fun. ;-)

I actually do know one other person that's doing this -- Ward Cunningham, the guy who got wikis started. We pretty much belong to the same school of software development. Woz, if he were still developing, probably would be there too. 

I finally had the idea yesterday to ask openly if anyone else had the same idea, that software could be something you do for fun, and if the money followed great, if not, that's okay too.

If you're wondering if this makes sense, look at the life of Prince and imagine that people could make software that way. It could be art. When I started many years ago it was thought a weird idea that software could be art. For a while it wasn't. I think today it's back to being a weird idea. 

BTW, what started this thread was a question of whether the HBO show Silicon Valley was an accurate depiction of what goes on there. I said it was, if you looked at it from the point of view of a VC or reporter. But it does miss what it's like to create the technology. I think that story could be told as well. 

This post originated on Facebook.

Maybe Facebook should hire me to turn [Facebook] into a rational blogging system. It has so many advantages, and it's really not missing that many features.

I have a sense that there aren't many bloggers working there, or they aren't letting them influence the product.

Blogging would be a very constructive thing for FB to invest in, not just for the net, but for Facebook. More and more the quality of their product depends on good content flowing through the timeline. And there will be more competition over time.

I really believe a thriving uncontrolled net is essential for the silos to be successful. Put another way, I think the product [there] is suffering because the tech industry in general has not been kind to the open web.

If I helped Facebook do this, it would be with the condition that the path for users to switch to a different system must always be kept easy and bug-free. Always. That would be a promise that couldn't be broken.

But seriously, why not have our posts have a dual existence -- on the open web and within the Facebook social graph. That's a lot easier than AI or self-driving cars!! We totally know how to do it.

It's just a thought I had, when I posted something [there] after not doing so for a long time. The ability to interact with friends is important, but we're not creating lasting value with the work we do here. That's a simple problem that could easily be fixed.

So if anyone at Facebook is listening, let me know if this is interesting to you.

Bowie and Prince, artists, projected themselves into the future.

Now they belong to the past.

Prince dying was a shock. I used his energy to fuel my own creativity. I had forgotten the extent to which I did that. But it's all around me. 

In 1982, he wrote 1999. A beautiful bit of art. What a great way to project yourself into the future. Create a gorgeous song, one that everyone would dance to even if it wasn't provocative in a way that everyone alive could appreciate. A lot of art goes over people's heads, but most people alive in 1982 figured they might be around for the new millennium and what would that be like? Prince answered the question. It'll be a party. Why? Because that's what life is. And parties, like life, weren't meant to last.

1999 is also the name of the product that I'm slowly maturing, with users and people running servers. Learning from the experience, so we get a little time to refine, fix and document, to prepare for more people to use it and more people to run servers. 

Why is it called 1999? Because the future that Prince envisioned in 1982 was also in many ways the future that I envisioned then. Ideas that are communicated. That was my thing. 1999 was the year that started going big. When it was no longer a curiosity that just a few people took part in, but an idea that would eventually move every aspect of how people with ideas communicate. 

Back in 1982 I didn't know that 1999 would be the year.

He picked the year. And thus gave me the name of my product. And as it's coming to life, his life ends.

I don't want to make a big deal about this. 

But it is kind of shaking me a bit. ;-)


First, let me say I love Wired.

They helped me get started in writing publicly in 1995, when I was just starting blogging. And they gave me great leeway -- even though I was a technology columnist, I was allowed to write about my experience with massage training, as well as the time I got called for jury duty. I felt all this was related to my work in technology, and so did the editors at Wired. It's an amazing publication, with an amazing tradition. And I am grateful to them, and always will be.

That said, I practically lost my lunch when I read this piece in yesterday's Wired, that said that no, after all the web isn't dead (they said it was a few years ago) and how do they know? Google told them!

Now this is like the NYT saying that in fact democracy isn't dead, and they know it because the Koch Brothers told them. 

Google has not been a good friend to the web, imho. They should have been, but they have not been. And Wired, even though they have a tradition of liberalism, also has to pay the bills, and they do so with advertising from big companies, like Google, and by doing interviews with the leaders of Google. So they have to be nice to them. Maybe I understand why they did this, but I don't accept that they did it.

I think the same trends that are causing politicians to re-think their approach will soon have the same force on technology. You're already starting to see it, in the backlash against tech yuppies in San Francisco. But I think a lot of the rage there is misdirected, the people who are selling them out aren't the people on the buses, rather they're the people who fly overhead, in their private 747s. And the people who please them by saying stupid ridiculous shit like Google saved the web.  


Some day there will be a presidential candidate who, instead of spreading doom and gloom, and stretching the truth to make themselves look great and make the other guy look corrupt, will instead employ a troupe of sophisticated comedians, who put out videos every week or even more often, that inspire people to think, and get excited about what they can do. Laugh at ourselves, it's not like anyone gets out of this alive. ;-)

It will be impossible to stop the campaign, because no one with a sense of humor, of either party, will want it to stop. Unlike the current campaign in the Democratic Party which is getting less inspiring every iteration, and more destructive.

Trump showed us how to do this. I was repeatedly blogging here during the debate season in the Republican primary campaign that the Democrats needed to get a bi-weekly panel of comedians together to hold real debates, on TV, opposite the Republican food fights. It totally would have worked. Way too late now, but not for the next cycle. 

Whoopi Goldberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Colbert, Dana Carvey, Whoopi Goldberg, Louis CK, Ali G, Kate McKinnon, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey (I almost wrote Sarah Palin), Kevin Hart, Chevy Chase, Larry David, Eddie Murphy.

In this way I think Al Franken will be proven to be visionary about what talents are needed to be a successful politician. 


A few weeks ago I opened up the 1999-server list, and posted an item on Scripting News to get the ball rolling. 

We got a great group of people together, a few who have been using my web stuff going back to the mid-90s. Smart people, good reports. The software seems pretty reliable now, not just on my servers, but on other people's as well. 

So it's time to take the next step.

Users. People who write. Poets. Sources. Idea people. People who love the open web, who, even if they love silos too (I like Facebook and Twitter, for example) want to be sure there's an open environment where anyone with an idea can play. Freedom. 

So I've started the 1999-user list

It a support list for people who are using to write blogs. 

Out of this I hope to get a small community of people writing with the new software, reporting problems, making feature requests, doing the kinds of things users do, as opposed to things sysops do.

If you want to try blogging with, please join the list. I'll be posting instructions on how to get started soon. You'll be helping us get to the next level, where instead of a community of tens of people, we can get up to hundreds and then who knows. ;-)

Here's where you go to sign up.!forum/1999-user

Let's have fun! 

Often when I read how great Mr Bernie is at raising money, like now, I log onto  and give her $100. :-)


Following up on yesterday's piece on journalism and Sources Go Direct, and after reading more about this, I think the disconnect has been that journalists somehow think bloggers do what they do. We don't.

That's why Sources Go Direct is about sources and not reporters. I didn't say Reporters Go Direct (and skip the paycheck). I said Sources. I'm going to say it again, sources, so hopefully you focus on the concept, as it is different from reporters. 

Here are some related recitals.

I have never been a journalist, but I have been a source, sometimes quite actively, for many years.

I have not only been a source, I have been an anonymous source.  That's a big commitment to being a source. Took some chances, usually got away with it. 

In those cases I was speaking on the record but not for attribution. That's one of the permutations of sourcehood. You can also speak on background, which has different rules. You can't be quoted in any way when you do that.

I once had a reporter out me in public when I had been speaking with him on background. That did not feel good. A lesson hard-learned. Not all reporters keep their word. It's like honor among thieves. This guy switched over to PR soon after doing that. Obviously I would never hire the guy to do PR for me.

Also, I have employed PR firms. They take you around to analysts, so they can be briefed on what you're doing, then you do interviews with reporters, who quote you and the analysts. It's a mill. Dollars go in one side and reporting comes out the other end. When you see all of a sudden 20 stories about a new company that's because they hired a PR firm. 

On the other side, if you try to launch a product without a PR firm, you don't don't get much if any reporting. Even worse, you become safe for the reporters to undermine. This happens in tech a lot. It got so ridiculous at one point, when Google and IBM tried to undermine us using reporters, that little UserLand which employed no more than five people ever, was characterized by IBM as a giant who was throwing its weight around in an irresponsible way. This story appeared in CNET, back when they were more influential than they are today. (IBM was a giant multinational company that my father used to work for. Google was on its way to being you know, Google.)

BTW, Julie McHenry, a PR person I worked with once, told me straight out that their relationships with reporters were more important to them than their relationship with me. I appreciated the honesty. What she meant was she'd fire me before she'd lose a relationship with a reporter. They were her bread and butter. Clients come and go all the time. (We were also friends, btw.)

I don't do much private sourcing for reporters these days. I don't talk to reporters much. I probably would if I knew more of them, but the ones I used to work with have moved on. And the young people who report now, well I have tried to explain myself to them, but the words don't seem to register. It's as if I'm speaking a foreign language! :-)

What I do now is post publicly the things I used to say to reporters privately. I put it out there for anyone to read. Any reporter is free to quote anything I say here. It's all on the record and for attribution. It's also available for anyone other than reporters to quote. Other bloggers. People on Twitter. Developers. Whoever, without restriction. 

And this is what I mean about Sources Go Direct. I am still theoretically a source in that sometimes (rarely) stuff I say here gets quoted in reporting by professional journalists. But they could. And on Twitter, all the sources that get quoted today in the press, are going direct, in a huge way. This is the thing that Sources Go Direct describes. I coined the term after Twitter existed, but not the concept, that goes all the way back to the beginning of my blogging in 1994. 

I said then that someday every member of the US House of Representatives would be a blogger. Okay it turned out slightly differently. They wouldn't call themselves bloggers, because the term got muddied and now is misunderstood to sometimes refer to reporters who use blogging software. They call it tweeting instead. Weird word, but that's what it's called. And it's not just the US House, it's every politician worldwide, and every sports star, celebrity, even terrorist organizations are Sources that Go Direct, via Twitter and other social media systems. Same idea. It's the way the world works now. 

Did it have an impact on journalism? I would say it did, but not as large as you might think. There are still PR firms. And reporters and sources still have private conversations, some on the record others not. But a lot of the exclusivity is gone. When Trump tweets something, that's available to everyone, reporters, competitors, trolls, equally. That is different. That is Sources Go Direct.


I'm working my way through a second viewing of Season 5 of Game of Thrones, preparing for the premiere of Season 6, this next Sunday, in the midst of a veritable feast of interesting TV viewing.

True, Better Call Saul and American Crime Story have now finished their runs, but The Americans is still going. And I have the NBA playoffs to entertain in lulls between controversies and primaries and delegate shenanigans of the American political season. No shortage of entertainment.

Back to Game of Thrones. How about bringing back the idea of a serial in movie theaters. I would pay good money to go see Game of Thrones in a real theater with big sound and on a big screen. Maybe not for the original run of a show, but for a second viewing?

Game of Thrones is the kind of show that's better on a big screen, which many of us have now. But a really big screen? That might be incredible.

Just an idea.

Here's something almost no one can disagree with.

We don't have a functioning government.

So you'd think if we were a nation of thoughtful adults, we'd say our first priority would be to get a functioning government. Other things would have to be on hold.

How bad is it? We can't allocate money to do the work to keep the Zika virus from causing large numbers of deformed babies from being born. Should that happen it will be a legacy our country has to live with for 100 years. A fuck up that would be hard to explain to the kids, and to their brothers and sisters. And this is one of the smaller things we're not dealing with.

So when you all come down from your high of Making Our Country Great Again or Feeling The Bern, maybe it won't be too late to work on Getting Our Shit Together.

Just heard that Bill Campbell died this morning. 

He helped me when he was at Apple in the mid-80s and we were a struggling software developer. Did a bunch of win-win deals with him. 

I loved Bill. So sad.


A long-time tech journalist Jason Pontin has a longstanding grudge with me about my use of the term Sources Go Direct.

I've never understood his issue. When he writes about it, and he has at length, he talks about how I don't understand advertising. 

I will concede that all I know about advertising is this:

I've had ads directed at me since I was a kid. So in a sense I'm a user of advertising.  For a short while in the 80s I spent a lot of money on advertising, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, to promote my products. Without advertising we wouldn't have sold any product. I don't run ads on my blog. Never have. Don't want them. They interfere with getting my ideas out there. I don't want any distractions when people are reading my stuff. I'm not saying anything about anyone else, btw, just me. 

But what does that have to do with Sources Go Direct? I don't see how they're connected.

Here's an analogy. I'm fascinated by the way the Mississippi River flows. In the big picture it flows from northern Minnesota to the mouth of the river in the Gulf of Mexico. It will do that as long as there's a North America, and as long as the land tilts the way it does. On its way south it flows past the city of New Orleans. 

I've read a bunch of articles over the years that say that the path of the river changes all time. It still flows north and south, but eventually it will not flow past New Orleans. And the third largest port in the US will be out of business. 

So if I wrote a blog post about that, I might say that it could be smart to buy real estate on the new path, and that the economy of New Orleans must eventually change to depend on something other than being a port. Would I be responsible in some way for the change of flow of the river? Would there be any way, I, a mortal human being could alter the flow of something as great as the Mississippi River?

No, of course I couldn't.

Now -- my role is a little different when it comes to the flow of news, and I'm sure that's what JP is thinking. I'm a software developer. Really that's what I do when I wake up in the morning. I develop software. I've been doing it pretty much full time since I was in my early 20s, and I'm in my early 60s now. 

In the early 90s, I figured something out, before a lot of other people did. That the flow of information was about to be radically transformed by the Internet. It's something I had been sure of for a long time before that. I loved computers because they enabled people to communicate more effectively. The advent of the Internet with its open low-tech protocols would change the way we communicate. Now it wasn't just something I expected to happen, in the early 90s it was actually happening, and it was every bit as big as I had hoped it would be.

So I started writing about it, and that turned into blogging, and I developed software that made the writing easier so more people could do it, and that was blogging software. That's what I did. 

I want journalism to succeed. I love news. I don't want the news business to collapse.  I want it to thrive in the new environment. But it can't unless it changes. Yet what I see is journalists trying to keep things the same way, much the way New Orleans and the Army Corps of Engineers have heroically kept the Mississippi from changing course. But they know someday it will, no matter how much money they spend. And the same is true of journalism, imho.

© 1994-2016 Dave Winer
Last update: Thursday, May 5th, 2016; 8:25 PM.

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