Stéphane Ducasse has been collecting Smalltalk books and putting them up online. Visit and say hi!
Looks like Lieberman isn't the only guilty party - now Carol Mosely Braun has her net people creating referer spam to my blog. Who do these bozos think they are impressing? Given the subject matter of this blog, such a referral isn't terribly likely...
There's been some discussion in the various RSS mailing lists and sites regarding single click feed subscription. It's been centering around a new "protocol" tag:
Would subscribe to the feed in question, just as mailto: spawns the mail client. I've got this working in test, on Windows, here. I need to have the installer for Bf make the relevant registry entries, and see if I can't have the runtime check for (and install) those itself (or offer to). I'll have to look into what's possible on non-Windows platforms.
Amid rising hopes for a high-tech turnaround, there's this sobering sign: Martin Pichinson -- a man who has buried nearly 150 failed startups since 1999 -- has swooped into Silicon Valley like a vulture lurking over a pack of wounded animals.
Pichinson, a self-described "doctor of reality" who helps liquidate companies, says he wouldn't have moved from Los Angeles to Palo Alto a few months ago had he not smelled more high-tech trouble looming.
Sobering reminder that most startups do not have happy endings...
Derek has another wonderful customer service experience. How many of us work for outfits that find it easier to lose an existing customer than retain an existing customer - for reasons painfully similar to the ones Derek outlines?
Dare Obasanjo has two posts on non-reproducible problems. I identify with this one - I get bug reports about BottomFeeder that I can't reproduce on a semi-regular basis. It's very frustrating when you know that someone can't make use of something you built - and you can't really see what the problem is first hand.
Nick has no innate right to have people pay for his software, just as I have no right to ask people to pay for use of my name.
Even if he did, most people who pirate his software probably would never use it anyway, so they aren't costing him any money and they're providing him with free advertising.
Don derides this rather simplistic attitude with exactly the right thought: So what if I burnt a house down? No one got hurt! Don's right - this is the slippery slope to hell. And heck, it doesn't event work on the vaguely utilitarian grounds advocated - if you don't pay the craftsman for his work, how much more work do you suppose he'll do?
Update: Dare Obsanjo responds to Aaron. Very nice wrap up by Dare
Found on madbean - how software developers will end the world:
"The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That's where we come in; we're computer professionals. We cause accidents."
heh. I find that terribly amusing...
Update: I love this one, being a Product Manager
"There is probably no job on earth for which an ability to believe six impossible things before breakfast is more of a requirement than software project management."
If you have been following the dev stream updates to BottomFeeder (the VW 7.2 based version), you've seen a lot of updates over the last couple of weeks. I've been working on some font encoding issues - and lately - integrating with the newer revs of Twoflower. Holger has been adding some features, and some of the changes are related to that. The upshot of this, from your perspective, has been to see some older items re-appearing as new. That's likely settled down now, but there will be additional changes as Twoflower evolves.
David Buck explains why some "laws of development" (in this case, the Law of Demeter) should not always be followed strictly. It's important to know when rules need to be followed; it's even more important to know when they should not be.
I've said before that Web Services is this decade's version of CORBA. Now Bob Martin Chimes in with the same point.
Doc Searls is getting the same referer crap from Starprose that I've been seeing. It looked like a dreadfully boring website (like Doc, most of the referer spam I see is porn related). Now, Doc tells us that the spam is originating from Joe Lieberman's official campaign site. Now, my apache logs arent giving me the specifics that doc's getting; here's what he's got:
aca3cc09.ipt.aol.com - - [02/Jan/2004:18:50:27 -0800] "HEAD / HTTP/1.1" 200 0 "http://joe2004.com/?starprose" "StarProse Referrer Advertising System 2004"
That's slimy. I'd be turned off by a product that pulls that kind of stunt, and politics is nothing if not product placement. I'm not much caring for the strategy...
Scoble enages in some premature optimization - I followed his suggestion here:
Want to see the difference weblog optimization makes? Open my weblog and then compare the time it takes to open it when compared with Sean and Scott's weblog, which also is done in Radio UserLand. Now, look at their code. First off, they have indents in their code that are done with spaces. Get rid of the indents and you save 5% or more on file sizes. Then, look at all the MS Office stuff.
A 5% size differential just disappears into the haze of lag on the internet. Maybe it makes a difference for the (ever smaller) dialup users - most of whom aren't reading Scoble's blog, I'd guess :) I can't see any page loading difference at all on my end, using comcast cable modem service.
This all points to one of the mistakes that is very, very easy to make in software systems - premature optimization. You should never assume that you know what the problem is; instead, you should actually test it out. Back when I was a consultant, I can't count the number of times I ran into this:
- me: So what's the problem?
- them: It's the FooBaz module
- me: Have you profiled the system to verify that?
- them: Puzzled look
Check first, then optimize. Otherwise, you might well optimize the wrong thing.
The Drake equation cannot be tested and therefore SETI is not science. SETI is unquestionably a religion. Faith is defined as the firm belief in something for which there is no proof. The belief that the Koran is the word of God is a matter of faith. The belief that God created the universe in seven days is a matter of faith. The belief that there are other life forms in the universe is a matter of faith. There is not a single shred of evidence for any other life forms, and in forty years of searching, none has been discovered. There is absolutely no evidentiary reason to maintain this belief. SETI is a religion.
That's the sort of statement that a lot of people are going to argue with, but I see little wrong with his analysis - go read the article and look at the Drake equation. Once you realize that none of the terms are known, you see where he's coming from. While you read the rest of the article, you simply have to set your political beliefs aside. Evaluate what Crichton says, not what you think the political effects of what he says are or should be. Hard to do, but go ahead and try
Let me use that as a way to pivot over to an only slightly related topic - business strategy. take a look at how the company you work for makes decisions. How many of us work for companies that rely more on leaps of intuition than on actual facts and data? This isn't to say that intuition plays no part in business or marketing; clearly, it does - else new markets would never get created. On the other hand, most of what we do every day could be improved - a lot - by actually looking at real data. Instead, what do we do?
- We follow analyst reports. Sit down and read one sometime, and look at how woefully thin on real data they tend to be
- We "follow the herd" - i.e., if everyone else jumps on a bandwagon, we do as well
Do we ever stop to think whether the analyst report or the bandwagon make sense for our business given what we know (via actual data) about our customers and prospects? Based simply on this post from yesterday, I'd say we very often don't. We make uninformed decisions based on herd behavior, rather than actually posing thoughtful questions about how and why - i.e., how will a given direction help us, and why are we making that decision if we don't know?
The internet bubble of the late 90's was only the best example of this in recent memory - the failures of companies like Hasbro and Fao Schwartz similar, but more recent. The rate of failure in the IT sector is another example - tons of IT shops engage in herd behavior without once asking what the actual benefits might be - how many Java conversions were done over the last 7 years that actually delivered a quantifiable business benefit, for instance? I'd guess very few.
Go ahead and read Crichton's article, and then apply the same thinking to the way your company makes decisions. I'd be willing to bet that there's more magical thinking out there than any of us would like to admit
"Within two years, sweeps aren't going to exist," Zucker predicts. "When you're doing (year-round programming), it just doesn't make sense to save all your big programming for three four-week periods."
You can see what's been driving this - there are lots of new shows popping up on cable - the SciFi channel, HBO, Showtime (etc) - and they don't always follow the traditional fall to spring schedule. The major networks, bleeding viewers as the number of choices has expanded - and soon to bleed advertisers as time shifting (ReplayTV, TiVo, etc) simply had to wake up to the changes sooner or later. In particular, if you sell lots of advertising during a specific 2-4 week period, and vast parts of your audience opt out of the ads via time shifting, then you have a problem. You can see the dawning realization of that here:
..."Undoubtedly, advertisers at some point are going to be unwilling to pay more for less," (Fox president Sandy) Grushow said. "Networks have got to figure out a way to open an alternative revenue stream."
Now, this isn't going to be limited to TV. Listen to marketing folks wax lyrical about your website, and you'll find that they want to track visitors, get visitors to stay around... not a lot different from what the tv guys want. There are a number of forces working against that - the sheer volume of available "channels" on the web, and the increase in syndication (RSS/Atom). Over the next few years, a significant number of web users are going to start preferring (and voting with their mice) syndicated content, tuned specifically to their interests. That's an opportunity, not a problem - but as with TV execs, watch an awful lot of marketing execs rage against it, as they struggle to make the (increasingly less relevant) home page more compelling
Quoting Business Week Online:
Six months ago, I could find high-level programmers in India willing work for $15 an hour, vs. the $100-plus an hour I was paying Americans for the same work. In only six months, that rate has climbed to $25 an hour in India, while my domestic rates have dropped to around $35-$50. On the last project I bid out, two proposals from India came in higher than domestic contractors. Admittedly, I'm in a very small sector of the larger market, and it's too soon to tell even here whether the trend will last, but I've heard similar reports from other businesses (see BW Online, 12/2/03, "U.S. Programmers at Overseas Salaries").
Not a big surprise - India's tech boom has been going like the pre-2000 bubble here - and that sort of thing pushes salaries up quickly as companies compete for the same pool of existing talent. Sure, there are other places offshoring can go, but the same pattern is likely to be repeated.
My readers know that I like boardgames - I mention Puerto Rico often enough. I used to be an avid role player as well - I went so far as to create my own rule and magic system for a game I ran for a number of years. With that in mind, it's just infuriating to watch the madness at Hasbro.
Here's a company that purchased Avalon Hill a few years ago. In the wake of that, they discontinued the vast majority of AH games. That purchase ticked off quite a few gamers I know - including me. It was also a stupid move. Hasbro was selling mass market family games. AH was selling niche strategy games. The cross-over between the two market segments was virtually nil, and yet - there they went, buying it up - and closing it down. That yielded them a bunch of bad word of mouth, and no real gain in sales. I'd love to ask the genius at Hasbro who came up with the idea just what they heck he was thinking. But it gets worse.
Hasbro also bought up Wizards of the Coast, which itself had bought TSR - makers of D&D. Wizards of the Coast had started putting up some nice game shops, which stocked a large selection of role playing games, and a large selection of strategy games. So what did Hasbro do?
- Stopped carrying any non-Wizards role playing games in the stores. Guess what - role playing gamers tend to buy lots of things from a variety of systems. All that move did was drive those buyers online, and back to the specialty stores
- Eliminated most of the strategy games, filling the stores with Hasbro mass market games
This last one has to be looked at specifically. My friends and I play a lot of strategy board games - we play at least once, sometimes twice a week. So we - and people like us - will regularly drop a good deal of money when we go to a game store and shop. Are we buying things like Cranium? Maybe, but are we buying it at Wizards? Heck no, we buy that sort of thing at Toys R Us, Target, and WalMart - just like everyone else. The target audience for mass market games was never going to walk into a Wizards store; the committed gamers were. That is, until they eliminated most of the games we buy. At that point, we started going to Funagain to buy what we were interested in.
The upshot of all this? Hasbro is closing down Wizards of the Coast retail stores. Now, why is that?
- First, they created bad word of mouth in their target market by
- Buying, then killing, Avalon Hill
- Buying, then castrating, Wizards of the Coast
is it really that big a surprise that it hasn't worked out? This sort of thing happens in all sectors - IT, retail, you name it. It happens when senior managers who don't understand market segmentation decide to expand their business through rapid buying. It continues when the same management is stunned at how badly it goes, and finishes when they end up closing down the thing they bought. I watched this at ParcPlace, where management bought and killed, VSE. I watched it with FAO Schwartz, where they bought, and have now killed, Zany Brainy. I'm seeing it again with Hasbro and their stupid purchases.
Seemingly, an awful lot of companies need a CSO - a Chief Slapping Officer. What would that person's job be? To slap the CEO every time he decides to buy a company...
Dave Winer has set up an interesting ranking service - you upload an OPML export of the things you read in you aggregator, and the site creates rankings. It's early days on this; thus far, only 15 submissions have been ranked here. I just uploaded my BottomFeeder aggregation list; go ahead and submit yours.
As sure as the sun rising is impedance mismatch in the development world. Ted Neward explains:
XML will start to lose its luster. People are finally beginning to see the object-hierarchical impedance mismatch, and realize that "objects" and "XML" don't, in fact, go together like peanut butter and chocolate. More like apple cider and wine, if you ask me. XML will continue to be in demand, but on its own, as a data format, rather than as "another way to express an object".
As if relational databases weren't enough, now we have trees to deal with :)
Update - Dare Obsanjo posts on the same topic
Jonathan Last doesn't much care for the third LoTR movie - he savages the movie in his review. There's a problem though - either he's never read the books, or he doesn't remember them - a lot of his criticisms are just completely uninformed. I agree with him on the change of Faramir - but curiously - he misses the significant changes made to Denethor in the third movie. The movie has Denethor completely giving up - in the book, while he's grieving for Boromir:
- he doesn't send Faramir out on a suicide charge (he gets injured by a Nazgul during the fall of Osgiliath)
- he does light the signal fires, calling for aid (the movie has Gandalf and Pippin doing it)
Last watched the movie without following it, and has clearly forgotten the books. Here are a few things he messes up completely
The script also serves many of the lead characters poorly. Aragorn, for one, seems listless and passive. Where "Fellowship" and "The Two Towers" had light moments sprinkled here and there, "Return of the King" is bereft of them, save for one bit of stoner humor involving Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd), which is so utterly out of place that it borders on the offensive.
Huh? He didn't watch the same movie I did. I'm wracking my brain here, and the only thing I can come up with is the "Flotsam and Jetsom" scene where Merry and Pippin greet Gandalf (et. al.) at the gates of Isengard. That was true to the book - they had been smoking and drinking, and over indulging in general. That scene went pretty much just as the book did (although there it was in "Two Towers"). Last misses this; he needs to go re-read that part. Probably more than once. Let's take the next misperception up
Then there's Frodo and Sam. There is a school of Tolkien readers that delights in imagining a homoerotic subtext between Frodo and his faithful servant. This interpretation is bunk, of course, and was mercifully absent from the first two episodes, but in "Return of the King" there are several occasions when it appears that Sam and Frodo are about to kiss, full on the mouth. On the last one, Frodo does kiss Sam, albeit on the forehead. Go figure.
Sigh. Clearly, Last hasn't read "Return of the King" lately. You see, there's one problem with Last's issue here - that scene was true to the book. From page 384 of "Return of the King"
Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost
There's a problem with Last's mind, not with the book or the movie. These characters are showing the affection of comrades in arms - likely drawn from Tolkien's actual experience as a British soldier during World War I. Last simply doesn't get this, and his politics get in the way of understanding it. Go read the blasted book, and understand where Tolkien was coming from. Sheesh. The cluelessness continues:
IRONICALLY, Jackson's biggest failing this time out comes in the area of his greatest strength: pacing. The script has trouble with compression, compacting days into minutes without adequately portraying the passage of time. The story, which takes place over several weeks, plays as if it spans just a day or three and involves much wasted motion. (For example, the scene where Pippin grabs the palantír is used simply as a bloated excuse to geographically separate him from his chum Merry.)
Sigh. That's from the book. The only thing missing (and it'll be added back to the extended DVD) was Wormtongue throwing it down in the first place. Pippin became fascinated by the thing, and felt compelled to grab it, and then to peer into it later. In fact, peering into it - and having Sauron see him - was exactly why Gandalf spirited him away to Minas Tirith. Perhaps if Last had bothered doing some research - you know, that thing journalists are supposed to do - he'd know that. As to the matter of "several weeks" - it was thirteen days from the fall of Boromir to Pippin's pledge of loyalty to Denethor and Gondor - not quite two weeks. The pacing was fast because - at that point in the story - things were moving fast. Again, Last makes assumptions based on some half remembered reading of the books.
The movie left Last cold, but much of that seems to be due to the fact that he misread large sections of it. He should go back and read the trilogy again, and then review the movie. His issue with the changing of Faramir will remain; most of his other issues will disappear.
Reflective Surface notes that - for the most part - all blogs look the same. Then again, so do books. Here's my against the grain take on this - the layout is irrelevant unless it's unreadable. It's the content people are looking at. Make it easy to read; the rest is just fluff.
This has to be some kind of landmark of incomprehensibility - I've gotten spam that
- has purposely misspelled words
- has lots of real words in random order in the text
- has lots of real words in hidden html fields
But now, I've just gotten a spam titled:
What the heck is that supposed to mean?
Update: In my comments, Laurent Bossavit points to Charles Miller's explanation of this sort of thing. It's the spammer in question trying to defeat spam filters, and - in particular - the Bayesian filters that have become popular.
Ahh, that word: Judgement. Intelligence and sound judgement are by no means mutually exclusive. Please let no one mistake this post for another paean to the earthy wisdom of the simple-minded. Not that the simple-minded can't also have good judgement, but intellect is no barrier to and often a great facilitator of sound judgement.
But it is not a guarantee of it. Good judgement must be cultivated and one must be able to discern where wisdom that applies in one field may not fit in another, or incompletely, and be able to come to discrete judgements on a given subject. Genius applied to great accomplishment in one field does not necessarily transfer to the ability to give sound advice in other areas, where one has not really cultivated the depth of knowledge to come to an informed judgement.
The old stereotype of the absent minded professor had to come from somewhere, right? This is a good point though - intelligence does not guarantee wisdom, and brilliance in one field does not necessarily translate to others - witness any number of companies run by former sales executives that suddenly lost all notions of direction (my former employer, ParcPlace, being a perfect example of that). Sometimes, skills you learn in one field simply don't apply at all to another. Take something simple - knowing how to swim doesn't mean you know how to be a scuba diver. I've seen it in various board games - there are types of games I'm very good at, and other types of games I'm very bad at.
The same thing goes for intelligence and wisdom. Having intelligence - or skill - in one area does not imply skill or wisdom in another. So let's take this back to the idea of a semi hive mind. I've worked in large groups, and one thing I've noticed is that the collective wisdom goes down as you add people to the group. In a group setting, people will agree to any number of things which they would never agree to individually. We've all seen that in meetings - I have little faith in emergent wisdom happening in a large group setting. In fact, based on the effects of propaganda (both in the political and technical realms) in the past, I'm much more comfortable in predicting emergent nonsense
Frank Lesser on comp.lang.smalltalk:
Happy new year - we hope that Smalltalk's success continues:
- Dolphin, one of the best development tools available under Windows
- ST-MT a promising Smalltalk which closes the Gap between C++ and Smalltalk
- SmallScript which will be released soon and will open .NET for Smalltalkers
- VW as a Synonym for Smalltalk
- VAST as the Smalltalk Dinosour
Heh - I'll take VW as synonomous with Smalltalk
I suppose I should have my own list of best and worst things for 2003. I haven't thought that deeply about the subject, so this is an off-the-cuff list
- Most over-hyped technology of 2003
- Web Services
- What will be the most over-hyped technology of 2004
- Web Services and .NET
- Biggest waste of tech effort in 2003
- Best emerging technology of 2003
- Worst technology news of 2003
- The SCO lawsuit
- Best technology news of 2003
- The slow realization that dynamic languages make a difference
- Sleeper Event of 2003
- The emergence of blogs as guerilla marketing
Like I said, it's an off the cuff list - not that organized, just a bunch of stuff that floats to the top at the moment. One of the interesting things for me has been how my workflow has changed over the last year. I'm traveling less often, but on longer trips when I do travel. That means that I'm working out of the home office more often, which also means that I'm typically less connected to other people I work with than I've been used to in the past. How I've compensated for that is a blast from the past - IRC, and the Smalltalk channel in particular. It's been a "virtual water cooler" for me, and for a bunch of other home office types. I don't think I ever used IRC before about 2 years ago, but now it's part of my everyday work life.
So what's changed for you this past year? Comments welcome - and Have a Happy New year!
This article by Uche Ogbuji purports to talk about post-OO development - i.e., that "moving beyond" OO is a good thing. I'm not arguing with his idea; what I'm curious about is what he means. For instance:
I think the stronger argument is that even when I think my designs were well considered, I could have done things better with dynamic, declarative and data-driven (D4) methodologies, mixing in OO in small doses only where it is clearly the best model. Aside: In my struggles to find good terminology for my recent thinking, "D4" == "Agile programming" == "Post-OO", where agile programming is not the same thing as agile process, such as Extreme Programming (which can be used with non-agile programming languages such as Java).
That's full of buzzwords, but pretty much bereft of any meaning. I'd be interested in his point, if he'd actually make it...
Mark Baker was right about Web Services last year:
He also has a challenge for web services promoters
So here's a challenge to Web services promoters; make a prediction about the number of Web services available on the Internet by the end of 2004 and/or 2005. If they're so great, then surely, at some point, there's going to be thousands of them, right? When will that be? At this rate, they won't get to 1000 until 2010 ... assuming the hype - which is the only thing keeping them even linear, IMO - lasts that long.
Here's the thing - Web Services are simply the latest incarnation of distributed services - we've had various proprietary RPC services, DCA, CORBA, DCOM, and now Web Services. Notice how all of them have been promoted (in their time) by the large consulting firms and the trade rags, and how all of them have been used by a relatively small number of projects. The plain truth is, not that many projects really need complex distribution mechanisms. Most apps look a lot like this:
- Read data from a store (db, files, etc)
- Modify data
- Dump data back to the store
Where in that mix do most people need complex distribution? That's right, nowhere...
Here's an interesting satire of XP/Agile development. It's funny, but the author makes a simple mistake very early on:
Let's start with what you already know. It doesn't matter if you're building software, a bridge, a space shuttle, or even something as seemingly trivial as a world class meal. The simple principles at the heart of producing any "job well done" are constant. They need not be a mystery to anyone who has ever performed a difficult task from inception to completion, and performed it well.
So this article attempts to have a little fun while exploring what might happen when you apply my vocation's pop project management philosophies to another type of task; bridge building. Perhaps as software developers, we can laugh at our selves a little along the way. What better way to learn?
The problem here is one of assumption - since we know the best practices in some fields of engineering (i.e., bridge building) - then we know that many of these same practices will apply to software development. The assumption is that we know how to plan. And that's a huge - and mistaken - assumption. At this point in time, software simply is not an engineering discipline. Repeat that as many times as is necessary. Software is a craft. As such, one can best compare software development to other crafts - like movie making and putting on a play. Are there 'best practices' that the entire field agrees on?
Heck no. Just as actors differ on how best to prepare for (and practice) a role, software developers differ on how best to develop software. These differences range from the high level methodology that ought to be used (Agile? Waterfall?) to the implementation style (static typing best? dynamic typing best?). People differ on the sorts of languages (imperative/declarative/functional). The point is, there's no general agreement on what 'best practices' for software development are, at any level of the job. Maybe there will be some day - but there isn't now
Which takes us to the parody. The author has decided to define 'agile bridge building', and via that example, poke fun at agile software development. The trouble is, bridge building, for the most part, is a very well understood field. The engineers in that field know what will, and what won't, work. They know what designs are feasible, and what materials are feasible. They know what kinds of trouble are possible given various trade-offs. In software, we simply cannot agree on any of those. Ask two developers, and you'll get three opinions on what is and is not best. You'll get disagreement on how best to proceed, and how best to implement - both at the theoretical and at the practical level.
It's past time for developers to admit the obvious - we don't know nearly as much about this field as we like to pretend we do.
The FTP Server for this system is back online - the IT group has made progress with the new firewall software. Anyone who has had difficulty grabbing the non-commercial download should be able to use FTP now. Sorry for the inconvenience.
This shows that online selling is important - online sales were up 37% this season over last. Looks like I'm not the only one who did most of his shopping in the browser :)
A former Cobalt/Sun employee speaks out on the ways Sun failed after the purchase:
I am more than happy to let you know that the marketing budget set aside for Cobalt in Australia was $0 for the 10 months I was with them. Sun did not understand Cobalt, and tried to mould it into their way of thinking, however we were selling to a different space, and they could never quite fathom that.
A clear marketing failure - company buys a product, has no idea what to do with it, and said product withers and dies. That irritates the customers of that product (possibly poisoning them against considering the buying company's products in the future). It wastes all the resources (monetary and otherwise) spent on the purchase. And it wastes the time spent fumbling the bought entity. I've seen this myself - at ParcPlace, back in the post IPO days, management bought a lot of things - including VSE - which they had no idea how to sell or market. It kind of makes you wonder why they bother - it's known that there's no real plan (at least at some level) - you would think someone would raise the alarm. In many respects, it's a sign that no one is willing to question management, which is a very bad sign - for employees and for management. These kinds of marketing failures tend to get repeated, exhausting resources. What many companies seem to need is a no s*** guy who's willing to ask hard questions....
Ok, maybe I'm just naive. There are topics I avoid on this blog - but I can't say that I agonize over the content. Sam Gentile is in a different place:
Which brings me back to the meaning of the blog. The problem with getting very popular in blogland is that there becomes less and less you can say. Every word has to be evaluated on what it might say to people, say to clients of mine, how will it affect relationships, is it meaty enough, and on and on. You end up virtually agonizing over every post and then there are so many things you can't blog on.
I don't know. I guess I can understand the worry, but hey - I write what I write, and it's what I feel like writing. If other people are interested, that's great - but I'm not so worried about this from a popularity contest standpoint. Now admittedly, I'm not an independent consultant - Sam is, and that does impact his choices in ways that don't (at this point, at least) impact me. If people disagree with me - and they do - there are comments and email. I guess I just have to be me :)
Wouldn't it be great if Dean and Clark went after Viacom, ClearChannel and Time-Warner, instead of the tiny companies that make blogging and social networking tools.
I find myself hoping they get their asses kicked, hard. I don't expect much of Bush, but I doubt seriously that he would undermine the mostly American software industry by competing with it with free software. Makes the Dems' pitch about exporting American high-tech jobs to India fairly hollow (NH is a high-tech state, so it has been an issue).
There's some self interest in that, as Userland was originally Dave's company. This is all part of the general push/pull between open source efforts and commercial software. Clearly, a political campaign doesn't want to spend money on technology; like a movie, a campaign is a short-lived business, and it doesn't need to spend money on ancillary things. On the other hand, I can see where companies can get upset over this; we face open source alternatives to Cincom Smalltalk all the time.
Where I part company from Dave on this one is simple - companies like Userland (et. al.) should have considered approaching the various campaigns with free usage in exchange for publicity deals. There wasn't going to be license money from any campaign - but there could easily have been free PR. That in turn could have meant license revenue from others who saw the product being promoted that way. This wasn't a failed business opportunity; it was a missed marketing opportunity
Taegan Goddard (political blog) quotes Dave Winer, who linked to this Scotsman piece. Dave is crossing a lot of boundaries with his blog, and understands something that a lot of the folks over in the Atom crew don't - a good message that can be easily consumed is better than a "perfect" message carried by a "perfect" format...
Scoble thinks he knows why Smart Displays failed - he says it's cost of the display units. Partially, but that's not the major reason - the major reason was client OS licenses. Consider a presumed home user of this:
- Server in the closet
- 4 Smart Displays
Not only do you need to lay out $1K per display, you need to lay out for multiple revs of XP, or figure out how to set up Terminal Services (or Citrix). What you really want is something like X11 (technically speaking). I suppose the biggest issue is Microsoft's business model - their model really, really wants you to buy more clients, and a terminal type usage pattern just doesn't fit that.