- Dave Winer, Scoble: I’ll go down with the ship via Scripting News
Facebook is the new AOL, despite the market cap. But it’s headed for a hard landing for other reasons than Winer is pushing. Facebook will fail because of the imminent rise of social operating systems — future versions of iOS, Mac OS X, and Android — which will break the Facebook monolith to bits.
- Dan Kaplan, Sorry, Scoble, Quora is not your playground
Here’s a ‘story’ created using Storify:
I used the ‘Storify This’ bookmarklet to pop up an editor with bits of info for the story:
The UX of the tool is straightforward, a drag and drop means to pull elements into a storyline, and optional text sections between them.
Storify attempts to help us pull bits together we find in the stream, tie a string around them, and throw the new collation back into the flow.
You can see the result of that story here, and of course this story starts with a Storified embed as well.
The Bottom Line
Storify is a tool geared to web-based writers, in a sense like my use of Tumblr. And like Tumblr, it publishes my ‘stories’. See http://storify.com/stoweboyd. So this is a backwards entrant into the changing publishing tools space.
We are clearly moving past the days of a clear delineation between reading, writing, and commenting. In a stream based world, everything seems to start as a response to something else, and every word we post spreads out through the ether and sparks a dozen reflections.
The product Amplify tried to tap into this, and has done so to some extent, although that is too tied to the feeling of ‘bookmarks with annotations’.
Storify attempts to help us pull bits together we find in the stream, tie a string around them, and throw the new collation back into the flow.
I think that there is promise here, but I see obvious parts missing:
In a perfect streaming world we could collate bits together like this, and the meta data about the existence of that collation would stream back to the components. This is like the social gestures on Tumblr, where I see a note whenever someone reblogs or likes a post of mine. And that chain of gestures continues outward, so I am informed when my post is reblogged, even from someone else’s blog.
So, Jason Calacanis should know that his tweets are appearing in my story, and I guess the response through Twitter is appropriate, since he may not have a Storify account to be notified through. But the mechanism to let him know should be more like a retweet than a mention.
In a world of information fragments, flotsom and jetsom hurtling through a streaming world, there should be a uniform way to indicate that a ‘post’ has been reused: either in its original independent form, or as an element of a larger collation. In this case, that a tweet (or a group of tweets) were added to a ‘story’.
Just as Twitter today keeps tabs of how many times a post has been retweeted (do they?) and Tumblr indicates how many times a post has been reblogged, we need to keep the history of things that are included in others.
I did an experiment on Storify, and adding a story (my Calacanis story) to another story (my Storify story) does not lead to some more elaborate presentation — like a nesting in an outline — and does not lead to a ‘reposted’ indicator anywhere.
While it sounds complex, there reality is simple: reposting and reuse of posts in other people’s stories — tweets, blog posts, bookmarks, whatever — should be indicated on both sides of the reuse, and in a consistent fashion. This is a return to the Tumbleback idea I floated in 2009 (see Tumblebacks: A Call For Interoperable Tumbling). Since it is more general than just ‘Tumbling’ I am proposing to rename tumblebacks as postbacks, in a nod to the old blogging technique of trackbacks. Note however, the distributed history issue was never handled in trackbacks, so more work is needed.
One last thought: Storify has a minimal analytics capability set up, tracking the clicks onto stories, but I would like a more complex analytics view, showing which story bits are getting accessed.
I haven’t seen much going on at Paolo Valdemarin’s blog recently — although my reading habits are very spotty — so it was kind of a sobering experience to read his 4 blog birthday, or blirthday, post.
Blogging allowed me to meet the most interesting people of my life, to get an infinite number of ideas, to develop new products, find new partner, new customers, to learn more then I had ever learned before. It changed my life.
I’m not blogging much anymore on the English part of my blog, I write a little bit more on the Italian side. I’m not involved in many conversations or I don’t feel I have much to add to what is discussed. The atmosphere is changing, pretty soon you won’t even be able to say that blogging is not “mainstream media”.
Hmmm. Kind of sad to think of the fading of that joy and involvement. A number of people have been commenting on the change blowing in the breeze in blogland. Threads like Dave Winer’s blog suicide note, Robert Scoble’s screechiness, Jeneane Sessum’s Shitting Point, and Joi Ito walking away from blogging to immerse himself in Second Life — it all points to a fundamental change in the world of blogging.
Personally, I have been blogging since 1999, although in a interrupted way. You can see my first blog, Message From Edge City, only in the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archives, since the hosting company went under, and sold the servers before I could get my posts off:
I think one of the reasons I still have a fresh feeling for the whole thing is that I have had periods of low or no blogging along the way, and I have changed my blog a lot. Since Message From Edge City (MFEC) I have penned Timing, Instant Messaging, Get Real, and now /Message. I also contributed to a number of group projects, like Operating Manual for Social Tools (with danah boyd and David Weinberger), and Centrality (with Stan Wasserman and others). I don’t remember the official start date for my blogging, so I won’t have a Blirthday of my own. I will just celebrate Paolo’s with him.
I am too hypomanic to give into the gloom and doom that many are feeling about the shifting currents in the Blogosphere, but I will offer some completely unsolicited advice for staying fresh. It’s not as corporate as Nick Carr’s heavyhanded riff on Robert Scoble’s recent spell of misguided lashing out at the rising tide of unquiet about Vista and Office slippage, but then I have already written a piece explicitly for Robert (What We Can Learn From Scoble’s Lament). No, these ideas are just for anyone who wants to retain the sense of fun and even joy that can come from the daily ritual of writing.
In the final analysis, you have to stay green or you are fading, fast. My personal mantra is “always beginning, never finished,” and it is that sort of attitude that brings me back, day after day, week after week, month after month, to the task — and joy — of writing.
If you were taking a poll among the digiterati right now, I think you’d find that Microsoft’s credibility would have fallen below the critical Richard Nixon stage, down into the 30% area or south of that. Amazing parallels with Bush and the lack of credibility there with Katrina and Iraq. In both cases, lots of management changes in the middle tiers — Michael Brown and the economist who predicted the cost of the war would be $200B or more were shown the door, but Rumsfeld and Chertoff are still in place — and correspondingly, Ballmer and other senior execs are still calling the shots. Shouldn’t they be sacked?
And Scoble is sounding more and more like Scott McClellan, the Bush Press Secretary. He was decidely testy about the hue-and-cry arising from the Vista and Office slippage and the apparently unsupported claims that 60% of Vista code needs to be rewritten, calling for not just a retraction, but the heads of the editors and reporters involved:
Whenever you see a story that says 60% of any OS is gonna be rewritten you should demand that the journalist who wrote that be immediately and publicly fired. Totally 100% incompetent. Did NOT do their homework.
There is NO WAY a major OS can be rewritten without breaking everything and certainly not in a short time frame. Such a rewrite would take a decade to make work right and I doubt it would even after that.
Scoble may be unexpectedly prescient: it may take a decade — from the time they started — before they get this OS out the door in working order. Thank god I am not a journalist, and no one can fire me for suggesting such a thing.
I think of Robert Scoble as a friend, and I appreciate the way he has come to the defense of Dave Winer — if that is the right word — in the newest twist of Dave’s recent travails.
I don’t want to dig into the pros and cons of Dave’s situation — aside to say that I hope he continues to blog despite his blog suicide comments — but instead to reflect on the forces at work on prominent bloggers, and how we need to rethink the issues of persona, personality, and the personal and private.
I was one of many who slammed Mena Trott for the obvious ironies involved in her yelling at Ben Metcalfe for his backchannel remarks at Les Blog in the middle of her talk about a “Kinder, Gentler Blogosphere,” and I feel the same sort of off-ness about Robert’s tone in recent posts about Dave Winer.
It’s off because its easy to get confused when things “get personal” in a negative sense, even though much of what goes on in blogging is the outgrowth of living in the first person. We have to accept the dark with the light, we have to develop thick skins, and we have to remain authentic, all at the same time.
So it’s completely reasonable (and in character) for Robert to tell people that they are wrong about Dave, that they are being unfair, and that they should stuff it. But he goes too far to state that once the mob has burned Dave at the stake, they will turn and burn Robert, and then the the rest of us. No, they won’t. Dave has worn his persona well for years, and he shouldn’t be surprised that the mob arrives with torches and rope. I don’t think he is. It’s also fine for Robert to howl at them, to tell them they are unjust, and that it’s wrong. Some of them might listen, but most will be unmoved by his entreaties, even though it is in character, and noble.
If Robert is disillusioned at this apparent mistreatment, then I suspect his voice will deepen, he will mature, and we will all of us be better off for that, including him. His pain will not remain his own, however, it will ours, collectively, as the drama is played out in front of us. And we will all be made better, and wiser, because Robert’s innocence is torn in this passion play.
In mythic drama, this would be the time for the young hero, deeply wounded by implacable enemies, to take a trip, a quest. So taking a week off and thinking deep thoughts might be called for, not only psychologically, but mythically. And I expect more great things from Robert in the future, and the same is true, although from a vastly different angle, for Dave, wherever their personas take them.
[Update: Jeneane weighs in with wise words: get back to writing, because the lynch mob can’t get through security.]
Robert’s advice to the bloglorn is a bit superficial, focusing on eBay-ish features like adding a picture to your Technorati profile, or catchy headlines. Some of the tips are useful, like using lots of descriptive tags (as that will help search engines index your posts better).
However, here’s my list of what to do to improve your blog, so that your sphere of influence will widen and various rankings will increase. Maybe it will push you into the so-called A-List. [Note: /Message a lowly, lowly 7,379 at Technorati this morning, which is nothing like Robert’s 74, and the best T’rati rank I have ever hit is somewhere around 1200, for the Get Real blog. But still, the techniques I have used to climb from one million plus to 7,379 in the past 35 days (chronicled in the Starting From Zero series) are very different from what Robert is talking about.]
I recently fired myself from an Amercian Marketing Series on social media, because I sensed that a high proportion of the folks that were attending the seminars were approaching the whole idea of blogging tactically: “How little of this do I have to do to be doing an adequate job?” My problem is I only want to talk to people who approach the subject strategically, working backward to the various elements from an analysis of excellence. I bet that those who buy in on that approach will at least find an echo of their own thoughts in these recommendations, and the rest will simply think I am a monomaniacal windbag with too much time on my hands.
Stowe Boyd’s post about RSS is flawed. Flawed in that it is totally wrong. Scoble is right. Stowe is not. RSS will continue to dominate and eventually suck all the oxygen out of the glorious Web as we currently adore it. We as in Stowe. What possibly leads Stowe to the conclusion that RSS will not absorb all of the wonderful (sic) Web characteristics like blogrolls, whirling beanies, and other smoke and awe? RSS is the Web, Stowe. It’s the Web on steroids. It saves time. It wins.
It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe.
Hmm. As I recall the context was Dave Winer trying to rally support so that RSS would “bust through” if certain fundamental changes take place in the Web, including fairly major ones, like centralization of all subscriptions. Dave was responding to Fred Wilson’s opinion that RSS is not "brain-dead simple" enough for everyone to get.
My argument is simple: I don’t like RSS readers, and unless someone comes up with a set of appliances (which could certainly exploit RSS, note) that match the way I like to wander around on the web, I don’t think they will come to replace the foraging mode that I have found to be most productive. I am holding out for something closely allied with instant messaging, where RSS feeds related to buddies would alert me to new posts, and then I could click-through to read them in situ (this is the fabled Nerdvana client I have been wishing for out loud for so long).
And, no, Steve, I haven’t forgotten how to breathe just because I think this first generation of RSS tools are inadequate, even if Robert Scoble’s use of them has become as natural as breathing for him.
Dave Winer is poking at an important issue — How RSS can bust through — building on Fred Wilson’s statement that “RSS has to become brain-dead simple to use.” Fred was writing about RSS as a replacement for many sorts of commercial email — newsletters and the like. Dave is making a case for helping RSS to “break through”, meaning a more widespread adoption, I guess. But, ultimately, I think he’s on the wrong track, based on these points:
- It must be easy to find relevant feeds. Too much hunt and peck is involved. The reason My.Yahoo and iTunes have been successful is that they centralize a lot of the discovery, they make it easy to find stuff you might be interested in. But not easy enough to qualify for brain-dead simplicity. That’s why we’re working on reading lists, trying to drive adoption of the new practice by the industry. If, when you get started using an aggregator, it gives you some interesting feeds, and then as time goes by gives you more, without you having to do anything, that’s going to make the finding of relevant feeds a passive thing. Until you’re ready to take over, you can ride the bus without learning to drive. I think this is going to get us another 15 or 20 percent of web users into the RSS world.
- Subscription has to be centralized. When Microsoft invited me in, in April of last year, to hear their RSS strategy, I think they expected me to object to their centralizing subscription for Windows users; they were surprised when I didn’t. I had already come to the conclusion that subscription had to be handled in the browser, because that’s where the impulse to subscribe happens. We knew this back in 2001, when we implemented the Radio coffee mug that made subscription a one-click operation. The problem of course is that our method only worked for Radio. Any of these techniques is going to work with only one destination, that’s why there has to be just one destination, why subscription needs to be centralized.
Microsoft didn’t go far enough. They only solved the problem for Windows. In 2006 that’s not even a very large part of the world, because a large number of people who subscribe, do it through web-based services like Bloglines or My.Yahoo, and more will over time. The Microsoft approach doesn’t work for them. If I subscribe to something using their desktop service, it only registers with software that runs on my desktop. It doesn’t inform My.Yahoo, for example. Now, Microsoft argues that Yahoo can install a toolbar that runs on the desktop, but come on, we don’t want a proliferation new stuff loading into the OS. That’s how we got in all the malware trouble. We don’t need to open that kind of Pandora’s Box. What we need is a centralized subscription public service. It’s not a technological problem, it’s a political and economic problem. In order for RSS to grow to the next level, tech companies have to stop seeking lock-in on subscriptions.
I’ve suggested to Yahoo that they run this service. Of the top three net companies (the others being Google and Microsoft) they’re the least controversial, imho. All that would be required is that they support OPML export for My.Yahoo subscription lists, and commit to keeping it open for perpetuity. The last part is the hard part of course. Now perhaps we could get a university involved, they have politics too, but people seem to trust universities more than they trust for-profit businesses. Something to think about.
Now once we have a single place for subscriptions, which is a real tall order, then all kinds of services can be built off that. It’s like the domain name system again, and perhaps that’s the way to implement it. We’re lucky that RSS is still a fairly close-knit community, and there is leadership that works, somewhat. The small tech companies and at least two of the large ones (Apple, Google) don’t participate, they blaze their own trails, but the publishing industry and most of the large tech companies are still in the mode of cooperating. So now may be a time it can work. And reading lists buy us some time.
Yikes. Where to begin?
First of all, the problem of finding ‘relevant feeds’ — Dave seems to implicitly believe this is an area that has matured, and that the current notion of Yahoo directories or iTunes music distribution should simply be repurposed. I don’t think so. Just take the example of music and iTunes. iTunes is a great service if you know what you want to buy, but if you are trying to find new music, a solution like Last.fm or Pandora is a lot more useful. Last.fm is a social solution, where the music playing habits of other, likeminded individuals can be used to inform you of music you might like to listen too. I have found my musical horizons greatly expanded in this way. Note that this from-the-edge solution has no center: while there is a giant directory of music at Last.fm, the most obvious way to get at music is through other people. The approach is totally socialized. So the very hard problem of finding stuff that’s good to read on subjects of interest is made somewhat easier: we seek to read what others we respect are reading. So the notion of reading lists has real merit, but why do they need to be centralized? If our writing is distributed, can’t our reading lists?
If Dave means that we are migrating to a My.Yahoo model, where we pull stuff we like onto a page, or into a reader, I opt out. I want to roam around, not be caged in, even if it is a cage of my own making.
If he is implicitly taking the stand that RSS readers are the best and only response to the “information overload” problem (a la Scott Karp’s “Focus on the User, Not the Technology”), I don’t buy it.
Secondly, the notion that subscription must be centralized — why, Dave? The experience of the web is managed a page at a time, as we drift around reading things and following links and searches. The RSS reader experience is a piss-poor way to experience the web, decoupling the sense of place associated with direct experience of blogs and other sites. There is an implicit assumption of efficiency, like Scoble’s contention that he would be unable to consume the amounts of writing that he does if he had to actually browse to the various locations. But that argument is something like asserting that a seven day tour of Europe that takes you to thirteen capitals is “better” than one that only involves two countries. Quantity has its points, but it is not the point.
I believe that we haven’t seen the killer app for RSS yet. It’s not RSS readers — which provide a layer of mediation into the Web that is patently bad. I don’t want all meals pre-cut into bite-sized portions. I want to see the stuff in author’s sidebars, their blogrolls, read the comments, look at the pictures. I want to feel the road, spend the extra day in Paris, check out the blog design. It’s a total experience, and the ersatz, deskinned environment inside of RSS readers is sterile by comparison.
The killer app will be the appliance — or set of appliances — that embody the metaphor of travel on the web: that will allow me to more easily stay up to date on ‘places’ and people of interest, to plan and execute ‘travel’ to those ‘places’ on the web, keep notes on my travels, and find new places to travel to.
If efficiencies are the issue, how about precacheing all the places I like to visit, based on RSS notification? Then I can still get out of the RSS reader box, but cut the time involved.
So I think RSS will play a big role in ‘active reading’ but it will not be the experience itself: it will support the experience, in various ways, but not subsume it.
I am really arguing for an esthetic appreciation of the experience of being what I have been calling the “active reader” while Dave’s focus is on the more-or-less industrial scaling of RSS as the foundation of a new model of communication. But I don’t think the centralization of subscription is needed, or even attractive. On the contrary, initiatives like memeorandum show the promise of new forms of aggregation — leveraging RSS under the hood — that reveal social connections and distributed conversation across groups of people. Memeorandum is an example of an experience made much less rich when presented in the RSS readerized format: a stream of chunks with no apparent relationships.
The web is not a pipe, streaming bits onto our eyeballs. It is a world of people, and the social aspects are the most interesting. It is people that are the best source of guidance, advice, and pointers to things worth reading. Throw away your readers, and let’s beg the app makers to come up with tools that make the experience of roaming and reading the web richer, not homogenized.
The idea is to collect all the comments that you leave on other blogs, so that you can keep track of them (there might be pearls of wisdom in there), and perhaps so that you can display them on your blog or website. I got access to the closed beta, and signed up. Check out the shiny new widget in the right margin!
The system is not foolproof. The first comment I captured, using the bookmarklet provided, wound up with no title, for example, and there seems to be no way to edit the cocomments once captured.
Here’s what the service shows after my first comment:
Here’s the user experience when making a comment (in this case, at Micropersuasion):
I hope that the cocomment cocreators will provide more control on the display options in the widget, but its workable as is.
And this is potentially an improvement over using del.icio.us to keep tabs on the dark comments that we sprinkle all over the blogosphere, and then lose track of. I hope they develop a tool to go find all the unclaimed comments I have out there, moldering in various forgotten corners.
[Update: I forgot to mention the permalink that is assigned to every cocomment. Does this mean that we might start linking into the cocomment space, instead of to the original posts? I don’t think so.
Also note the social dimension of the tool: you can access a tag cloud of the most active users, and when you click on ‘Stowe Boyd’ that brings you to the list of my cocomments.
They provide a similar tag cloud of the most cocommented blogs.]