You're viewing old version number 11. - Current version

Dave Winer -

Mini blog

Scripting News - 2016-04-04T15:44:12Z

Resolving the Garland standoff - 2016-04-04T15:44:12Z

I've been reading lots of stuff about the Supreme Court and wondering when someone is going to say the obvious thing about how the deadlock re Judge Garland will be resolved. 

Clearly it will be resolved, if possible, by the Supreme Court itself.

Here's how it will go.

  • The President will wait a reasonable amount of time, let's say one day past the previous longest confirmation in the last 30 years. 
  • On that day, it will sue someone, Congress perhaps? Maybe Judge Garland. Not sure who they sue, they would have to find someone. 
  • The argument is that having had a chance to advise and consent, by being silent, the Senate has given its consent. 
  • Therefore the Executive branch would like Judge Garland to take his place on the court, starting now, right after the court decides this case, assuming they agree with the Executive.

If that's the plan, it explains why Obama chose someone as totally middle-of-the-road as Garland. As if to say to the Court, here you go, this is exactly the guy no one could possibly object to. So go ahead and make a decision that the Repubs are full of it, that there is no Biden Rule, and that by not advising and consenting, the Senate has given their consent. 

I think that's how the law actually works. Consistent with other situations.

 I suppose it's possible that vote will be a 4-4 vote too, in which case the US govt is incapable of making a non-partisan decision. But before we give up, we'll have to try it. 

And now I get to add the famous disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer. ;-)

Easier blogging is possible! :-) - 2016-04-03T15:51:33Z

One of the early testers of the 1999 server software wrote about removing inertia from blogging. 

He compares the number of steps to create a new post in 1999 with the steps it takes to write a new WordPress post. 

In 1999 -- 

  1. Write in the edit box at the top of the page.
  2. Click the Post button.
  3. Review what you wrote. Edit.
  4. When you're ready choose Publish from the popup menu on the post.
  5. Confirm you want to publish. 
  6. That's it. 

He lists all the steps for WordPress. There's a lot more involved. Not only in work for the experienced user, but in barriers to entry for the newbie.

WordPress is a lot more work than it needs to be. Fact. 

There's a lot more to the design of 1999 that makes it the smoothest blogging environment ever. 

Where we're at with 1999

Update on progress. We have a great group of server people helping test the software. It's running well on at least a dozen other servers. Shaking out bugs, writing docs, getting ready for a serious blogging platform ship. 

Please help the web - 2016-04-02T22:43:32Z

If you're going to write something interesting and thoughtful put it on your blog, not only on Facebook or Medium. Help the open web compete.

Thank you Hillary - 2016-04-01T21:55:55Z

I had a strong feeling. It must be tough being Hillary Clinton, And no one ever gives her a word of encouragement. Yet she sticks with it. She has a clarity of vision that's really remarkable. Watching her interview the other night with Rachel Maddow was an inspiration.

Hillary Clinton as an image is difficult for America. She's symbolic of our strong intelligent feminine core that we have so much trouble accepting. She's us. We're her. Considering all the posers running for President, we are incredibly lucky that she's is in the mix. We have one person who is ready to do the job, and we get as a bonus, to break through another barrier. 

Like it or not, America, our generation is the one of breaking through barriers to self-acceptance. We're America learning to accept its real self. Our parents' generation got us to the moon. We're going beyond that. Our America as not the old Great White Republican Father. The new vision of America includes African-Americans as full participants in our government. And women. Competent. All hands on deck. Not just white men. This time it is really our way or the highway. Going all Nazi on us won't work Not in the US of A. Uncle Sam says fuck you, seriously, get out of my face you fascist. 

Change never comes easy. We're going through huge growing pains. We deal in symbols and forget there are real people behind the symbols. She must get tired of having to fight with both hands tied behind her back. To smile as her Teflon covered opponent accuses her in a most personal, cowardly and weasley  way. If he did that to a man he'd get his skinny ass kicked, so he wouldn't do it. HRC, a woman, our vision of a woman, has to grin and bear it. 

So thanks. It's gotta be a bitch. But you're doing something great. Please stay with it.

Podcast: Questioning Sanders - 2016-04-01T15:57:28Z

A five-minute podcast about the Sanders candidacy, noting that questions about his integrity are shouted down, and definitely not answered.

BTW, the number one question Sanders has not answered is this:

Suppose you get elected. Then what happens?

Cut through all the shit about HRC's integrity and your supposed electability. That's over. You won. Now, when President Sanders takes office, what does Congress look like? And with all the banks and oil companies aligned against you, how does the President overcome all that?

My belief: He's the Joker too. A dog chasing a car he never expects to catch, and wouldn't know what to do with if he ever caught it.

America is not even remotely fair - 2016-04-01T15:26:16Z

In yesterday's piece where I talked about learning from Bernie and Barney, I talked about something that might be a foreign idea, one that you'll never hear discussed in political discourse, or in history textbooks, the idea that the US is an Asshole Nation. 

When my generation was young, in the 70s, we believed fairness was the natural state of things. We marched, and worked for candidates that would make America virtuous. To live up to what we had been taught in school. America is the land of the free and the home of the brave. 

Reality is very different -- this is the country that wiped out Native Americans and enslaved African-Americans. We were taught about slavery in school, but that was some shit people in the South did, not us in the north. Only later did we learn that the remnants of slavery were very much alive in the North, and btw, NYC where I grew up was the port of entry for the slaves, so we did it too. This wonderful city was built on the profits of slavery.

Thing is when you're young, your world is small, at least for most. You have Mom and Dad and some siblings, cousins, friends, teachers, classmates, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and the TV characters -- who were always nice, even when they were assholes they were lovable assholes. 

Fairness, if not always there, was at least something you could strive for.

Later in life you learn something awful that fairness is not attainable. 

Sorry. I hated to learn that when I was young. Maybe I had a sense of it because I was born into a family of refugees, and I had a ruptured appendix when I was 10, and came very close to dying. Or maybe beneath it all I believed it was fair, because I survived childhood, after all. And I did go marching in the streets when I was young, there must have been a reason for that.

So when Hillary says things that sound cynical to the child's ear (I still have that child inside me btw, I remember) the adult ear knows she's right. Maybe that's why she appeals to African-Americans who have to deal with the reality that law enforcement sees them not as innocent citizens first, but guilty until proven innocent. Maybe if you're there, you don't strive for perfection, you'll accept just being relatively safe in your own neighborhood for starters. 

The truth is progress will be incremental. Bernie is at least suggesting it can happen all at once, I also am very sure that at age 74 he knows it's nonsense. These are all things that Hillary can't say in a debate, if she does the press will eat her alive as will the Bernie Trollers on the Internet. Aside from that he's already convinced you she's not to be trusted, so you don't even listen to her. 

But I can say it, I'm not running for anything, and I love all you young people for your optimism, hold on to it, you'll need it. But let's be smart! Let's set long-term objectives, let's make the changes we want to see, carefully, along with people from all parts of the country and let's not make disappointment, which is imho what Mr Sanders is selling.

Learning from Bernie and Barney - 2016-03-31T16:13:23Z

First I want to say I'm a voter, not a campaigner. 

So anyway, I read this great interview with Barney Frank about Bernie Sanders and other political animals, including the voters.

He says what I've been thinking but a lot more clearly. Of course, he's a professional politician. I know we're supposed to hate them, but the problem is we need them. And BF is one of the good ones. Smart guy.

First, if you want to know who to blame for why everything is so fucked (if you believe it is), if you're a voter and you only vote in Presidential election years, then look in the mirror. If we, who voted for Obama the last couple of times, also voted in the off-year elections, the House and Senate might be Democratic, and you would have gotten more what you want. 

If you're a college student with big loans, you might have gotten relief by now. Because the government serves people who vote. Remember that one.

If you elect President Sanders, you're going to have to vote every year, otherwise you'll be complaining about him too.

About Sanders, what did he get done in the 25 years he's been in Congress? Basically not very much because the guy didn't work with others. No compromise in him, I guess, or maybe he just isn't that social. But it's not going to get any better for him if he's President. We've elected Presidents before who thought Congress had to come to him, it doesn't work that way. 

The most effective presidents are pretty much assholes you wouldn't want to have a beer with. Look at some pictures of Lyndon Johnson relating to other DC politicos. He used to talk to people while he was taking a shit, with the door open! And when he got in your face he totally got in your face. Not a great pal, but boy did he get things done.

Carter is a great example of a Sanders-like President. He was a saint. And really smart, and a good campaigner, and after Watergate and Ford's pardon of Nixon exactly the punishment we all wanted and voted for ourselves. Carter is a great man, but not because he was President, rather because he was a great ex-President. 

Last night Rachel Maddow asked Sanders if he would use some of the money he was raising to support down-ticket candidates. He said no, over and over. I couldn't believe what he was saying. I don't think Maddow could believe it either. And he thinks he's going to get super-delegates to work with him to throw out HRC who is working on raising money for Congress and state offices. As a good top-of-ticket candidate must. It comes with the job. I don't think Bernie gets that.

Not only can't Sanders win with that approach, he clearly doesn't want to create a legacy even if he knows he can't win. Sanders could do a lot for his campaign finance goal right now, this minute, by helping elect people using his access to money. He can't effectively spend all he's raising. I don't understand what game he's playing. Certainly not trying to build some kind of revolution, that's baloney. A revolutionary would be seizing this moment, rather than complaining about the past. 

You want to change the way campaigns are financed Bernie, then fucking do it and stop talking about it. Carpe diem man. 

BTW, one of the reasons our most effective presidents are assholes is that the USA is an asshole country. You want to make it live up to the hype and be a bastion of freedom, where everyone gets a chance to win, and we don't do crazy shit to the world and ourselves? Well that's a big hill to climb. Maybe it's possible, I kind of doubt it is, but if it were to happen you'd have to do a lot more than elect one good President and expect somehow that's going to change hundreds of years of being an asshole country. 

Microsoft and intellectual interop - 2016-03-30T17:21:09Z

So Microsoft has a port of the Bash shell on Windows. It's a wise move. Early days Microsoft would have done this right off. In the middle in Ballmer's Microsoft they lost the sense of urgency. It isn't even a huge deal from a software standpoint. Think of it as intellectual interop.

They ported Word and Excel to Mac when they were trying to get the world to adopt Windows. I think you can see where this is headed. Flatten out the differences between the OSes as much as possible. Why not. No one cares about that stuff, that's the layer that was established 30 years ago. The action is happening 10-levels up the stack.

BTW, speaking of stacks, we're getting a little traction in 1999-server-land. Of course since we're building on Node.js, all this stuff should run nicely on Microsoft's OS, whatever they call it. ;-)

1999-server mail list - 2016-03-29T14:13:11Z

Good morning!

This is just an announcement, if you have questions you should ask them on the new mail list. Link is at the end of this post.

  1. I've created a new blogging system called
  2. Anyone can run a server. The server software is open source, MIT License. In that way it's comparable to WordPress or Ghost and unlike Blogger, Medium and Tumblr. I want it to be easy and free to set up and run a server. 
  3. It's written in JavaScript, running in Node.js.
  4. Each blog can have multiple users, each server can have multiple blogs. Think of 1999 as a community of communities of communities.
  5. The software is patterned after a product I created at UserLand Software called Manila. It shipped in 1999. Hence the tagline -- Blogging like it's 1999. 
  6. It's the writing and publishing system I've been using for Scripting News since October. It works! I love it more than any blogging system I've ever used. I'm not kidding.
  7. It's got features that no blogging system has ever had, like a live connection between the story pages and the server, so updates flow back automatically to every reader. It does liveblogging automatically, without any plug-ins, iFrames, hacks, etc.
  8. It's super easy to create a new post. Since that's the first thing you want to do, and I want you to do a lot of it, I made it very very easy. Here's a video demo.
  9. Rather than open the system by offering free hosting, instead I am starting with server sysops. So I need help testing that. To be part of this group you should set up a server. It must be publicly accessible, and you need to set up a free app on Twitter. But it's totally doable, if you were able to set up River5 you should be able to set this up.
  10. So if you're into helping me do this bootstrap, please sign up for the mail list. I'm not saying I'll approve everyone at first, I want to have a sense that you will be able to give decent bug reports as we shake out the initial setup issues. Please understand.

This is exciting! Let's have fun! :-)

I'm trying to think but nothing happens!


Libraries and servers - 2016-03-29T01:32:48Z

Libraries should teach people how to run their own servers and provide support groups and self-help. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. I kept thinking of teaching journalism students how to do it, but they're like the Harvard profs. Why did they need blogging? They didn't. But libraries are perfectly situated to bring technology into neighborhoods. And the cost is so low nowadays, get Google and Amazon to donate services. They would of course jump at the opportunity.

Followup re Ev and Joi - 2016-03-28T16:50:42Z

Follow-up to yesterday's post re Ev and Joi, Medium and the open web. There was one big problem in hooking Medium up to my blog, after I added Instant Articles support in my feed

I had to create a special feed just or Medium because the IFTTT connection choked on the IA support. It's true Facebook could have done something to make this not happen, but they didn't. And as discussed yesterday, to some extent we are all trying to co-exist in Facebook's publishing ecosystem. 

So my advice to Medium and/or IFTTT, please make sure you can handle an IA-capable feed. I'm leading-edge on this, I suspect this will become a big issue for you soon. 

I would actually like to see Medium embrace RSS directly instead of depending in IFTTT to act as an intermediary. It's a pretty well-established standard by now. Why not embrace it and make life a little easier for the publishers?

Listening to Ev and Joi talk about the open web - 2016-03-28T00:21:25Z

I'm watching the video between Joi Ito and Evan Williams talking about me. Technically Medium is no worse than other systems, and lately has become better, because it now has an API, as Ev is mentioning right now in the video as I'm listening to it.

The reason I focus on Medium is because it is becoming the default platform for people writing blog posts. But Medium is actually part of the open web.

Joi is now asking the right question. It would be great if Medium directly supported Instant Articles as-is. Interop is great. Many ways to do the same thing sucks. 

He doesn't need to talk to Facebook to support IA. It's an open format. 

The problem with the way Medium API works is that you can't flow updates to it. So if I make a change later the update doesn't show up on Medium.

BTW, I heard a touch of irony in Ev's voice as he questioned whether Medium was really the 800-pound gorilla in this space. They aren't, Facebook is. But Medium is still drawing a lot of good stuff away from the open web, and believe it or not that's okay with me,  as long as it can be shared back into rest of the web, exactly as Joi was discussing. That's what was so great about what Facebook did, they said the content shared with them through IA can be shared anywhere, as-is, without modification. I think this is actually smart, following through on the Central Park analogy -- if they feed back to the open web, there's at least a chance of new interesting stuff being created outside the silos. There's certainly no way anyone but a FB employee can directly add value to the FB platform and same with Medium. But the open web, by definition, is not in any way exclusive. Anyone can do whatever they like, without permission from Ev or Zuck.


Anyway the big pieces relevant to this conversation are:

  1. Anywhere But Medium.
  2. How Instant Articles Supports the Open Web
  3. The vision of Central Park.

What I learned from Om and Hossein - 2016-03-27T15:35:48Z

Every so often I have to write a piece about why I blog. Not that blogging changes so  much, I don't think it does -- but the world around my blog is changing all the time. So the context in which blogging exists changes.

First, Om Malik published a piece yesterday about how to write a good blog post. As I read it I was reminded of a brief Twitter conversation I had the day before with Hossein Derakhshan, who started by saying "Social media have scattered our 'self'. Now they're doing that to #journalism. Era of unified, single website is over." 

These two people who I only know because they blog, are right -- but then I thought -- no I don't agree. And yes, it's something I've been struggling with, but for me the struggle is over. I write my blog not because I want to write a "good" blog post, or even one that's read by a lot of people. And my own self is not scattered, it's right here, and as long as I live it will continue to be here. And my online self doesn't exist for the benefit of others, it's here to help my real self develop his thinking and create a trail of ideas and feelings and experiences that I can look back on later. 

Having a body of online writing going back almost 22 years, I've benefitted from that, many times. For example, my memory told me that I was against the Iraq war right from the start. But that is contradicted by my blog. I had doubts, but I supported the President. I felt I had no choice. This has turned out to be an important consideration in this year's election. We'd all like to think we were against the war from the start, but the reality is most of us were not against it (which is different from being for it, Bernie). Recall the times and the fear we had about our own safety. Our President laid out a set of facts that turned out later to be lies. Yes, we were suspicious. But did we have a choice but to go with our leader? Most of us felt we had to support him. 

I think Hossein is right, for the short term, and wrong for the long term. There are too many technological and societal things happening for the current situation to stay unchanged much longer. Kids who have grown up in the last ten years have never known a world where they couldn't set up their own server. That would be like me, as a young kid, having my own radio station, which I did, even though it was hard to do and illegal! Because I felt compelled to broadcast. I loved communication tech as a kid. It was visceral. There must be kids like that today. Why should they respect what Hossein thinks is the indelible future? No one asked them! Remember what it's like to be coming of age and finding out the whole world had been carved up so that you had to fit in a very tight little box. Some of us didn't like that, and some rebelled against it. Well you may feel it's all over and the structure of the world has already been decided, but I can promise you one thing -- they don't. 

And I don't. I still get a thrill at putting up my own web service. I know it's right. And we haven't lost that ability yet. But it could happen. And that will just mean, imho, that it will take a bit longer for the next iteration to come about. And I promise you it won't have any respect for the rules of the previous iteration. That's just not how our species works.

New rules for debates - 2016-03-27T02:17:06Z

Kristof wrote an op-ed in the NYT today that's being much-discussed in the journosphere. He says that journalists failed by giving Trump so much airtime. But he didn't say what to do about it. 

I certainly can't say all of what's needed, but I'd like to call your attention to the need for new stronger rules, or don't have debates. 

I outlined some ideas in this piece written on March 17, I think it might be worth a read. It begins thus..

We never had a rule that you couldn't interrupt people in a political debate because most people running for the job understood how serious it is and while they did interrupt each other, it never became a huge problem the way it did this year. Likewise we never had a rule saying candidates couldn't call each other names or make personal comments about their bodies or mannerisms. The thought never crossed anyone's mind because it was unthinkable that anyone running for this job would have so little respect for it.

And continues on from there...

The US needs to grow up - 2016-03-26T19:15:26Z

On Twitter, earlier I wrote that the United States needs a good therapist. I'd like to add that the United States also needs to grow up.

Growing up means seeing that there are other people who are not corrupt or evil or weak who just have a different point of view.

Our system of government is set up so that if you want to get anything done, you must listen to other people and consider their needs. Give a little to get a little. You'll never get all that you want. And that's a good thing.

Too many people belong to the My Way Or The Highway Party. They're tired of being politically correct or they're feeling the bern, whatever it is, they've found a reason they don't have to listen. And that's not actually going to work.

The key is to listen. Listen especially carefully to things you don't want to hear. That's where our country comes together. That's where growing up happens.

How great if Facebook... - 2016-03-25T23:24:00Z

One year ago I posted this Little Card Editor editorial, on Facebook and many other places. Here's what it said:

How great if Facebook, asking publishers to provide full text, spec'd an open format, so it could also flow to the open web.

I thought the picture was really beautiful. It's the way I think of the web, lots of flows, some big, some small -- and then places that things don't flow in and out of. 

Ideally everything that's public should be able to flow everywhere, so we can build all kinds of apps on the information we all create together. That's the vision of the web. Realized only somewhat, as it is with all human things. Nothing ever does all we hoped it would. And we never anticipate all that will come from innovations, good or bad. 

Anyway, today I reposted that card with a simple message. They did. 

And that's good. 

The runway keeps getting shorter - 2016-03-24T21:04:31Z

Life is like a plane taking off down a runway. As you get older, there's more runway behind you than in front of you. It's inescapable. You see it when celebrities you admire, who are your own age, die. Like Garry Shandling. When you see a picture of David Letterman and he looks realllly old, but happy -- and when you're writing about it you pause because you can't remember his last name. There's not much time left. That's so true. What's also true is the great song that The Supremes sang. You can't hurry love. Etc. Somehow between the two forces, life happens. And then you take off for the skies.

PS: Shandling on Letterman.

A Node virtual machine - 2016-03-24T15:24:01Z

Ideal Node.js hosting service — 

  1. Here’s the URL of a GIT repo, containing a Node app. Run it with forever
  2. I want to be able to do a tail -f on the log so I can see what’s going on. 
  3. And to view its file system, perhaps through a browser-based JS app.

I think that's about it. I give you a URL, you run it.

I know some services get close, but I don't want close. I want just this. 

A Node virtual machine. 

We need truly public hosting - 2016-03-24T14:22:48Z

We need help from educational institutions in starting a tradition of public hosting without attaching venture capital business models.

Recently the Node community had a fairly big outage that can be traced to the fact that NPM, the code distribution system, has been taken over by VCs. When NPM became VC-backed, it was obvious that at some point this would cause problems. And it certainly doesn't stop there. I worry about GitHub. It plays such a central role. But eventually the VCs are going to want an exit. Then what happens?

There are examples everywhere.

Sure there are some cases where we benefit from having the tech industry host our stuff, YouTube is a good example, because videos are so large, but in other cases it gets ridiculous.

We need a framework, legal and social, for projects that are not "owned" but are just there.

This is a project that "Old Berkman" could have tackled. Right now I don't know where to bring these questions.

We could use some help.

Bernie will not be a stinker - 2016-03-23T16:02:33Z

To Bernie's supporters who say they won't vote for HRC if she's the eventual nominee, I have a few things to say.

It's meaningless now. What matters is what you do in November. And if Bernie loses the nomination, if he has any love for our country, he'll be campaigning actively for HRC. If not, he's playing a dangerous game with our future, and doesn't, imho, deserve your support.

There's a lot of powerless talk now. People don't have any control over events. We all have our say. You have to convince us if you want to win. The first sign of a revolutionary is not that they pout, or feel self-pity -- that's not revolutionary. It's a relentlessness, that if you don't get it this year, you'll be back next year. And the year after that. Etc.

HRC was 60 when she lost to Obama in 2008. So what did she do? Sulk? Complain? Not vote for Obama? Stay silent when her pouting supporters complained? No, she picked herself up and got busy, and came back at age 68 to try again. She never claimed to be a revolutionary but that's a lot more revolutionary than being a victim.

There's a context to this year's vote that's inescapable. In 2012 if you abstained, the worst that would have happened is Mitt Romney, which would have been pretty bad considering that Congress was about to become fully Republican. But this year, abstaining could mean turning the US over to a crazy KKK-loving Nazi strongman. One that even the Repubs don't support. That's pretty damned awful if you stop and think about it!

No, we don't have to worry about this. The threat isn't credible. Come November Bernie's supporters will do the right thing. Bernie himself will do the right thing.

How to get Trump to STFU - 2016-03-22T21:02:12Z

New business model for Twitter.

Pay them $ to omit all refs to Trump.

This actually has a name: Checkbox News.

I want this from cable news when I'm sick of a story, but still want to get news about other stuff.

It could work for advertising too. 

But right now I desperately need to have Trump silenced. His weasel words are making me ill. 

Video demo of - 2016-03-21T22:47:56Z

In 1999, my company, UserLand Software, released a product called Manila.

There was a lot to the product, it was a content management system, or CMS, and was built around the idea of editorial roles, and a discussion group. Templates. Full control over appearance with templates for everything.

The idea was that a publication would consist of a group of editorial people collaborating on a flow of news stories.

But it was also for blogging. We ran with Manila. A lot of people used it.

One of the big innovations of Manila was that every bit of content you could edit had a big Edit This Page button on it. Click the button, make a change, click Submit. This was a huge innovation. Made it a lot easier.

Anyway, fast forward to 2016, and I'm doing this year's version of Manila. It's called 1999. Because when you're using it, you're blogging like it's 1999. With a H/T to Prince. 

The software is getting very close to being finished now.

And I wanted to sneak out a preview of what editing is like in 1999.

Believe it or not, it's even easier than Edit This Page. 

Here's the demo...

PubNub + RSS would be great! - 2016-03-21T17:30:20Z

I had what I thought was an excellent suggestion for PubNub a few years back -- that they support the <cloud> element in RSS 2.0.

When I first wrote it up, SOAP was the big deal in web services. So I called it SOAP Meets RSS.

It would give them a super-simple API, and one that's part of a broadly-supported standard. Nothing ever came of the idea. 

I get emails from them pretty regularly about seminars I could attend to learn how to code to their APIs. Every time I think how great it would be if they used our pre-existing API. Lots of stuff would "just work" and it would be a super easy way for people to get started with their notification service. I still think it's a no-brainer. I don't think I ever wrote a blog post about it, so now I have. ;-)

They're good for your heart! - 2016-03-20T17:11:03Z
I had a dream about a restaurant and movie theater called Fart House TheaterAll the food would be infused with fart-producing food. Then about an hour into the movie, a symphony! And a potpourri of human effluvience. And from what we learn here, good health!

Can we still trust Google search? - 2016-03-20T14:45:42Z

Last night I was searching Google for an article I wrote earlier this year, the way I always do it. I couldn't find it. Not only that, searches that should have turned up hundreds of hits, only showed one or two. 

Google has been thoroughly indexing my site for many years. I remember when they first started, how nice it was, but today I take it for granted. If they weren't doing such an excellent job I would have had to write my own site search function.

The thought has occurred to me that this is Google taking its push to HTTPS to a new level. No, I don't want to support HTTPS on all my sites. I have a huge number of them. I've been creating new sites since 1994. And of course they have the right to index or not index whatever they want. And I have the right to stick to HTTP for my sites.

Of course this could be:

  1. A bug.
  2. My imagination.

But they have said they play games with the search engine that have nothing to do with the actual relevance of a site. And this isn't even about relevance, I'm prefixing the searches with I'm specifically searching on my own site.


  1. I need to raise the issue publicly. Done.
  2. We need to replace Google now, because if this isn't the time that they turn the lights off on my site, that day could well be coming. I have trusted Google since they started up in 1998. Clearly I don't trust them anymore if I have doubts about whether they're deliberately downgrading the search quality of my site.
  3. The day of Google being the default search engine may be coming to a close. 

Note: To be absolutely clear, for people who skim, I am not talking about other people finding my content or them reducing the rank of this site, I'm talking about using Google as a utility to help me find stuff on my own site, something I absolutely need to be able to do, reliably. 


I tried searching with DuckDuckGo instead. What I found:

  1. It appears to have a much better index of recent posts on Scripting News than Google does. 
  2. However I was not able to find the post I was looking for. That might imply that the writer's memory of where he wrote this is imperfect. ;-)

Bernie, enough with the Hillary bashing - 2016-03-19T18:33:38Z

Bernie starts off with a joke about what good friends he is with Donald Trump. The crowd gasps. Then he smiles. They laugh. He says "It's not as if I went to his wedding or anything." 

Of course there's the famous picture of Bill and Hillary at Trump's wedding. And that somehow makes her what? Why doesn't he just come out and say it? Because what he's implying is not true. Going to someone's wedding, unless you know otherwise, for sure, is just that -- they went to his fucking wedding. 

So please Bernie. Chill. Just a bit. If I didn't know better I'd think you were a Republican. ;-)

Is Bernie in bed with the NRA? - 2016-03-19T14:26:24Z

Political discourse on the net is just a minor league version of what you get on cable news. I think that's why it's so exhausting. It's so utterly impersonal. You get cut-and-paste comments from people you've never met, who didn't read what you said, who just gave you a splattering of talking points, presumably to start an argument of some kind, where you recite the talking points of some other guy. We could all just wear badges saying who we're emulating, and click a button to play an MP3 of their talking points. Life on the net could consist of clicking buttons and listening to clips of MP3s. Like Disco the parakeet. When that's fully implemented the robots can take over. Sooner than you might think.

Now I flatter myself to think that I am actually ahead of the talking heads, although these days that can be hard to do because some of the coverage, esp that from Rachel Maddow, is actually pretty first-rate. But I don't see anyone wanting to talk about that stuff on Facebook or elsewhere, people mostly still quote soundbites and talk over each others' heads as if there were massive numbers of people listening. (There aren't.)

A question for Sanders

If you're a Sanders supporter, I imagine you are one of those people who, like me, is frustrated when we can't get the politicians to budge an inch because they're so totally controlled by the NRA. 

Now since you're a Sanders supporter, and if you're similarly frustrated, can you get a clear statement from your candidate that he agrees or disagrees that when an assault rifle is used to kill people, as it was in the Newtown massacre, that the manufacturer, distributor and retailer that sold the gun should be liable for damages. They don't go to jail, they just compensate the victims. 

The rationale for this is simple. These guns have no practical use for hunting. Their only purpose is killing large numbers of humans. They have use in wars, but no real use for civilians, unless they want to kill lots of other humans. 

Here's an op-ed written by parents who lost their 7-year-old son in Newtown, explaining why Sanders' dismissal of their lawsuit was wrong. You really have to read this to understand the issue and why Sanders is so wrong about it.

So here's the question for Sanders.

Senator Sanders, please explain why you are opposed to manufacturer, distributor and retailer liability for sale of assault rifles used in mass killings? Would you consider changing your position? If not, understanding that the NRA has given you a D-minus rating (something you brag about, we heard you), even so, are you in bed with the NRA in some way? Is this evidence of your corruption? 

One for the Repubs

The professional operators are moving in on the Republican side, now that the race has been reduced to three, and some real slick fucks are showing up. 

One of them yesterday referred to Hillary Clinton, repeatedly as "Mrs Clinton."

That's not cool. Her correct title is Secretary Clinton.

When you change her title to something so old-timey, that's an obvious dog-whistle for "Women's place is in the home baking cookies."

Stop doing that. 

Re NPR and podcasting - 2016-03-18T15:12:42Z

My two cents on NPR deciding not to promote podcasts.

  1. It makes sense when you realize that the radio stations and the sources of programming are often independent of each other.
  2. I think it's good, because this will let independent channels of distribution develop that build on the realities of the net, not radio broadcasting. 
  3. We still haven't broken through the journalism barrier. Reporters and analysts mainly listen to each other. Trying to get good ideas on the agenda of professional news people, even if they have Twitter accounts and email addresses, is virtually impossible if you aren't one of them or don't use a PR firm to approach them. We need to break this barrier. 
  4. NPR is a silo, an old one. Silos, by design, stifle communication. Too much of the current news system is built around that.
  5. Upton Sinclair: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it."
  6. We talk about breaking free of The Establishment when it comes to political parties, but what we really need to do imho is break free of the media. They openly brag that they profit from the destruction of the US political system. I think that's true to some extent of NPR too. 
  7. So if we want new politics, we must have new media. 
  8. Honestly, I think we have an oversupply of new podcast content, and along with it we have an inadequate discovery system. We need to try out new ideas there. Ones that aren't limited by the limits of radio. 
  9. I'm a blogger, and one of the creators of the podcast medium, and I don't mind promoting new podcasts. You might try broadening your reach to influencers. Right now I get zero new ideas from the industry, I only hear about their podcasts when I ask friends for recommendations. 
  10. Be creative, and also listen more. Radio is basically one-way. The secret is the podcast medium doesn't have to be. 

Very early morning political notes - 2016-03-18T06:23:23Z

A few random notes.

I find the current political situation both exhausting and fascinating.

I've now listened to all the Whistlestop podcasts. Very good stuff, and much of it is on-topic for the convention fights that are coming up, perhaps in both parties. 

Watching a lot of MSNBC. I find it encouraging that so much of the discourse is now informed and skillful. The people who have had so little to say over the years when there wasn't much news, now have a lot of relevant education and information. Many of them have studied the history of politics. And they know their stuff.

I wonder if there's a great readable book about how conventions work?

Trump has hired some inside-Washington political advisors. I saw one of them interviewed on CNN today. BTW, Wolf Blitzer was fantastic with him. Deadpan. No sense of irony. Took all his putdown questions literally (as they deserved to be treated). Even better it's great to hear Trump rep'd by someone who doesn't know how to steamroll a reporter like Trump does. Blitzer was able to control the interview. Refreshing. And the panel that came on after was excellent. None of the usual CNN stuffed shirts who never say anything but the vaguest of platitudes. Intelligence on CNN! Go figure. 

Too much politics on Facebook. Mostly mindless repetitive recitals. I think a lot of other people are feeling the exhaustion. I unfollowed someone today who I know is smart and witty on other things, but is totally tiring me out with his sad and depressing political analysis. I imagine other people feel the same about what I've written, so I try to keep it mostly over here on my blog and just post links to Facebook.

I especially dislike the comments from people whose political opinions I already know. I know they know I must know. So why are they restating the same ideas over and over? Even when I agree with them, I think it's a form of spam. Maybe it gives them a feeling of power? I don't know what to do about this. I don't want to unfriend people because they are exhausting me. I don't want to hide their posts (I don't even know how to do it), and I sure don't want to block them. But I have even deleted some of my own links on Facebook because they have attracted these recitals.

It'll be interesting to see if this post attracts the same kind of spam on Facebook.

So much of political discourse in normal times sounds like this. Moderator: Person A will you sing your song now. Okay enough. Person B sing yours. Thank you. Now we will hear person C's song. Okay good, now some harmony (talk over each other). We have to leave it there for now.

I guess it's just late and I'm tired. See you in the morning! :-)

Planning for the next round of debates - 2016-03-17T19:51:19Z

We never had a rule that you couldn't interrupt people in a political debate because most people running for the job understood how serious it is and while they did interrupt each other, it never became a huge problem the way it did this year.

Likewise we never had a rule saying candidates couldn't call each other names or make personal comments about their bodies or mannerisms. The thought never crossed anyone's mind because it was unthinkable that anyone running for this job would have so little respect for it.

But now we need rules. If we're going to have debates in the next round, there has to be a way to cut off a candidate that's taking more than his share of the time. And a way to switch off a candidate when they call the other candidate a name, or make a comment about their appearance. And take the camera off a candidate that's making gestures with his arms or face while another candidate is talking.

If the moderators don't plan for this in advance they are responsible for what comes next. It's obvious now -- we can't assume that the candidates will behave like reasonable adults. We have to assume they won't. 

Drawing a line for Trump - 2016-03-17T15:24:08Z

I was very disappointed last night when MSNBC ran the video of HRC and Putin produced by Trump, on every show. Very sexist. Demeaning. Over the line, over the top. 

This is still fresh territory. Are we going to let Trump run a sexist name-calling campaign against Clinton? This is a decision all news orgs need to make. I expect that from Fox, but MSNBC? Really? 

Can you imagine that HRC would run a similar video about Trump? Why not? Because this is a place we should not be going. 

We shouldn't have let Trump use name-calling to win the Repub nomination. Now he's threatening riots. You know where this leads. That video was over the line.

PS: I refuse to point to the video. Honestly I was reluctant to write this because I didn't want to call attention to this. But enough. How could they do this at MSNBC? Are they completely not paying attention?

Why I vote Democrat, day 2 - 2016-03-17T14:52:25Z

It's good that I wrote the piece yesterday about how I came to be a Democratic voter. A few follow-on notes.

I have also become a Democratic contributor. I have not only given to Presidential campaigns, but also to local campaigns for candidates that I thought were either inspiring, or in seats that were currently occupied by people I find intolerable. And not just in the areas I live. I've given to candidates all over the US as well as in California and New York where I've lived since switching parties.

There was another even more important reason I switched. We didn't feel the wars in the US. Our soldiers were dying. We were destroying Iraq, killing many hundreds of thousands of people, turning many more into refugees, but everything went on normally in the US. 

You couldn't tell we were at war! Travel all over the world, you'd never know the US was at war. Now that's not sound. When we're fighting a war, esp one that we started (Iraq) we should feel it at home. Our family members should be fighting and dying. Rationing. A lot of us would be involved in the war effort. Taxes would be much higher to pay for the war. Instead, the Repubs just put the wars on the credit card, and controlled what Americans saw on TV. Tax cuts!  All our bubbles continued to inflate, the economy over-extended in a very crazy way and it finally crashed in 2008. 

People in the US still don't feel responsible, we're so selfish all we think about are what little most of us had to pay. But it was all done in our name, by people we elected. I felt it was paramount in 2004 that we switch from Repubs. Didn't happen until 2008.

How I came to vote Democratic - 2016-03-16T14:02:38Z

I have a confession to make. 

Through the 80s and 90s I voted Republican. 

I've been trying to figure out why I did that. 

In the 80s I was a software entrepreneur. It was very hard and demanding work. I was doing two full-time jobs, as the CEO of a company during the day, and a programmer at night. The company I wanted to create needed me to do that. I wanted to make exceptional software. So I pulled out all the stops and went for it. That's near as I can explain why the Republican story appealed to me.  It's why I was sympathetic to Microsoft until I saw what they tried to do to the Internet. I believed that good engineering practices can lead to good government practices. I've since changed my thinking on that. It's more subtle. Countries have different goals from startups. And necessarily so! I see some of the current generation of tech entrepreneurs struggling with this, as I was thirty years ago.

I switched to voting for the Dems for the election of 2004. I had seen enough with Bush II. The country was careening in a corrupt way. The Repubs, conservatives, always making a huge issue of deficits, were spending obscenely on two wars. Totally out of control. Without any debate. Being an outspoken critic of the President at that time got you a lot of hate. I was ambivalent about the war here on my blog, as we were starting the war. But I was just an individual blogger with an academic job where I was supposed to have public and personal opinions. I remember seeing MSNBC claim the President was a "Visionary" when the bombs were first falling on Baghdad. I thought "we are lost." It was in this time that they fired Phil Donahue because he was too critical of the President. It's important to remember how we reacted to 9/11. It made us all pretty crazy. 

So I did everything I could to support Kerry. And then Obama twice. And now Clinton. Anything but let the Repubs have control of the whole government. We must remember what kind of country and economy they left us with. All so they could funnel a few more dollars to their friends in the defense industry. That really seems to be what it was all about. 

To me, being a business person comes with very high ethical standards. The dollar chasers who have taken over the Repub Party are a different kind. They act as if as long as they get more dollars anything is justified. They probably were just as bad in the 80s and 90s when I was voting for them, perhaps I was too naive, or busy with my life, to understand. 

I know other Repub voters made a different choice. They vote for bomb throwers, people who think it would have been okay to let the auto industry fail. They should read up about the huge refugee crisis of the Dust Bowl, to get a small idea of the human wreckage that would have created. 

I was having lunch with a Dutch entrepreneur last week, talking about Trump of course, and he said he thought Trump would do or say something that would wake everyone up. That's about the most optimistic thing I've heard! :-)

Trump is wagging the dog - 2016-03-15T19:55:19Z

Did you see the movie Wag the Dog? The Trump campaign is like that except in the open. You can see the stage.

And if you doubt Trump can win the November election, regardless of polls, did you think of the staged event last Friday? He did. 

I wrote this before the Chicago protest: "All the numbers say Trump can't win in the fall, unless something terrible happens. Therefore something terrible is going to happen."

America == The Establishment - 2016-03-15T17:08:36Z

HRC is part of the Establishment, as is Bernie Sanders. Each has their own histories. HRC has been closer to the levers of power. So she's had to compromise more. If Sanders gets the top job, he will compromise too, or -- more gridlock. Probably a lot of gridlock either way. 

As an American citizen, you are also part of the Establishment. Esp in relation to people from other parts of the world. Something all Americans should be aware of. Degree of Establishment-ness is a function of how close you are to the center of power. As an American, you're pretty close. 

Revenge of the flyovers - 2016-03-15T05:04:47Z

Think about it. Almost all the voting so far this year has been in flyover country. There have been a few exceptions, but New York, Pennsylvania, California, Oregon, Washington, haven't voted yet. 

So the trouble in the election has been coming from the flyovers. Not to say the coastal states won't go for Trump too, but they get to ratify the vote of flyover country.

Imagine this election so far as a succinct love letter from flyover country to the coasts. It might go something like this:

Dear coastal assholes,
We can turn your world upside-down.
With much love,
Flyover country

Americans don't listen anymore - 2016-03-14T18:53:37Z

A tweetstorm from Stewart Butterfield, a tech industry exec. No need to repeat it here. I responded in a comment on the Facebook version of the sequence.

A lot of this is very wrong. They are real people. They are not going away any faster than you or I. Their votes count as much as ours. We haven't been hearing them, true they haven't been speaking very clearly, but then neither are you Stewart. Your reasoning is about as dismissive and condescending as the other side. No one is going to go away just because you want them to.

See also my earlier post to Sanders fans about their revolution. 

You have to convince not just people like me who passionately believe in open health care and education, investing in our young people, creating opportunity for everyone, really dealing with climate change, you also have to convince a fair number of people who are voting for Trump. And that means doing a lot of talking and listening, and that's going to take years. We as a country are very far away from the place we need to be to get the kind of change we want to see. And btw, they'd like to have a talk with you, about things they care about.  

Our problems are not so specific as America Doesn't Win Anymore or Taxing The Millionaires and Billionaires, the problem is that everyone thinks they're entitled to what they're entitled to, and the rest of you all can go to hell. 

Stewart is in the middle. He's not a Trump voter, and he's not spinning for Bernie. But when he says his problem will "die off" I know he isn't listening. No one needs to listen to things that are dying out. Unless they aren't. And they aren't.

You know who had it right? The great American philosopher Rodney King. He asked the essential question. Can't we all get along? Well, can't we? is up - 2016-03-13T15:48:44Z

A couple of weeks ago I asked for links to your favorite political news sites in a thread on Facebook, much as I did with and podcasting. This time, I wanted to create a river of political news as we entered the heart of the political year in the US. 

I got lots of great feeds, and now the river,,  is up and running for us all to use. 

If you have suggestions of news feeds (RSS or Atom) that might fit into this flow, please post a comment on Facebook, or send me a link on Twitter. I'm pretty open-minded about sources to include, I already include a few extreme conservative and liberal sites. But I'm most interested in thoughtful observers, people who offer real insight into the politics of 2016, regardless of their political point of view.

It's already a very useful river, it can only get better. 

So thanks for all the great feeds!

PS: Of course the software generating the river is my own River5 .

If you grew up in the 60s... - 2016-03-13T06:02:05Z

If you grew up in the 60s as I did, you might not think this election is very weird. 

In fact you could wonder how we made it this far without having this election, even though we got pretty close in 2000

Still it's pretty amazing that every change in government since the first has been peaceful. 

No tanks in the streets, ever.

It'll be a miracle if that record stays intact this year. 

All we are saying...

Two observations - 2016-03-12T21:00:36Z

  1. Tomorrow the View from Nowhere gets a huge test. The Sunday morning moderators, Stephanopoulos, Todd and Dickerson, obviously know that Trump orchestrated the violence at his rallies. Will they let Trump and other Repubs pretend otherwise? And will the Democrats make that the issue?
  2. Trump's two heroic generals, Patton and MacArthur, were famous for their independence, and with MacArthur, insubordination. Unusual choices, until you remember who made the choices.

Obama's legacy might yet be defined - 2016-03-12T19:21:12Z

We assume President Obama's legacy is going to be ObamaCare, but it might be bigger. He might, in his last year in office, be able to deliver on the promise of his 2008 campaign, to be a transformative President. 

Think about it this way... If you were a Republican Senator or House member you'd have to be scared out of your mind right about now. I'm about to become part of a fascist government. Or worse! Be purged by one.

I saw a clip of Lindsey Graham at a recent Judiciary Committee meeting, warning his fellow Republicans that it could be a Democrat in the White House next year, and if so, he's going to vote to ratify his or her nominee, because that's the way it works. There was an incredible quality in his voice, as if things had gotten very real, and he wanted to say the words out loud to be sure he wasn't dreaming. But the substance of his speech gave me encouragement, that it's not all as black and white as it seems on the talk shows. Maybe there's an ability for these people to actually work together. Imho that would be vastly perferrable to having a takeover of the government by Trump. (Graham's speech is at 1:06 in this CSPAN video.)

You have to figure the President is somewhat scared too. Usually when guys like Trump take office they don't like having former leaders around where they can cause trouble. Maybe the Obama Library should be at Gitmo? Maybe that's where we're all headed, in one way or another. 

Anyway, in the last days of the Republic, I imagine that Obama and McConnell will have a lot to talk about. The only question for both of them is this -- when exactly do the last days start? Seems we're getting pretty close to the edge. 

This feels like a scifi plot about the last days of Earth civilization. A Philip K Dick novel perhaps. And I get a chilling feeling when I see a tweet from Trump saying if he loses Florida he's going to blame "Little Marco" for rigging the election. I wonder what Trump would do if he loses. Think he'll just walk away? I kind of doubt it. 

Trump is America's weakness - 2016-03-12T15:40:05Z

Thank you Rachel Maddow for having the courage to tell the real story of violence at the Trump rallies. If you haven't seen this video yet, stop everything and watch the story. You can't miss it. 

Now, if you want to do something about it, call someone you know in Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Missouri and beg them not to vote for Trump on Tuesday. Let's turn the violence back, show that it's a weak tactic for weak people. 

Trump violence escalates - 2016-03-11T15:03:39Z

Listening to Trump lie about the violence at his campaign rallies was too much for me. 

Quoted in this Time piece

“People come with tremendous passion and love for the country… and when they see what’s going on in this country, they have anger that is unbelievable,” Trump said. “They don’t like seeing bad trade deals, they don’t like seeing higher taxes, they don’t like seeing a loss of their jobs. We have some protesters who are bad dudes,” Trump continued. “They have done bad things. They are swinging, they are really dangerous, and they get in there and they start hitting people.”

Well, we've actually seen the events on video. The protesters are non-violent. Many are women. They aren't bad dudes and they aren't swinging at anyone. The only ones doing violence are Trump supporters. And they're getting more violent all the time. There's no mistaking what's going on. We know what comes next in this sequence of events, and what comes after that and after that and so on.

Janell Ross in the Washington Post says of Trump's story: "Language and logic used to justify cross-burnings, lynchings and all manner of illegal, extra-judicial and inhumane behavior in U.S. history. This is what has been said to support attempted genocides, ethnic expulsions and some of the most shameful political acts around the globe. This is the actual route by which bigotry has, in the course of human history, become accepted practice and policy. This is the way that entire groups have been terrorized, demonized and oppressed."

Exactly right. 

So why did the other candidates on stage not take the opportunity to say how wrong it is that Trump rallies are getting more violent, and that Trump is orchestrating it from the stage? The Occam's Razor answer is that they're scared. They figure anyone who can use violence as a way to build a case for order can find a way to silence his adversaries. Remember Trump talks openly about killing family members of our enemies, which is illegal. It's not illegal to threaten your political opponents, as Trump has done from his podium, in front of millions of people. Remember what he said about Paul Ryan. 

People often make the mistake of thinking people couldn't possibly be as bad as they obviously are. Your spouse is staying out all night, and next time you see them they say they were hanging out with friends and it got late. He or she is cheating, although sometimes we don't get that in the moment.

All the numbers say Trump can't win in the fall, unless something terrible happens. Therefore something terrible is going to happen before the election. A problem that requires a strongman to take power to restore order. 

This election will be about whether there are more elections.

What should be done? Start a citizen's PAC to collect money to run ads now, before Trump wraps up the Repub nomination, being very clear about what's happening, before it has a chance to get much bigger. Later, the ads won't work. It's almost too late now. Trump has to be very clearly positioned as anti-democracy. Let this be an election on whether we want to continue to have elections. It's way beyond Bernie's issue of campaign finance, which is kind of quaint and harkens back to a more innocent time when there was a basic acceptance of laws. Bernie is fighting an old battle. The new one is how to un-lose our minds, and prevent a very dark thing happening to the United States. 

If not the horse race, what? - 2016-03-10T22:23:55Z

Way back on Feb 9, I asked a question: Is the horse race inevitable? 

And I asked Jay Rosen, in that same piece, if not the horse race, what?

In other words, in a right world, what would the journalists cover in an election?

Today Jay answered.


Last night after the Democratic debate, something amazing happened on CNN. An interesting discussion between analysts and surrogates about what had just happened betw Sanders and Clinton. It was substantial, because new territory had been covered in the debate, including a 1985 video of Sanders praising Castro's Cuba and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. For me this raised the question of exactly what kind of revolution does Sanders envision for the US?

Anderson Cooper, a CNN guy, interrupted with a process question. Do you think Sanders' surprising win in Michigan last night helped in this debate and what does his performance foretell for the upcoming primaries next Tuesday. 

Filler questions for when there's nothing else to talk about. But this time there was other stuff to talk about. You have to wonder how that happened? Did a director say in his earpiece, oh no you can't go there, quick cut to a process question! Or..?

The Comedians Debate - 2016-03-10T19:20:25Z

There's another Republican debate tonight.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a Comedians Debate on another channel at the same time?

Jerry Seinfeld, Jamie Foxx, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, Louis CK, Ali G, Tina Fey (I almost wrote Sarah Palin) and Larry David.

It's too late to do it now. But I wish there was some competition. The Republican debates would be funny if they weren't such seriously awful news for the US and the world. 

PS: The debate will be held at the University of Miami at 8:30PM Eastern, broadcast on CNN.

The image vs the thing itself - 2016-03-10T16:15:17Z

I was in therapy for eight years in my late 30s and early 40s. 

Eight years is a long time, and I think for the last couple of years I wasn't getting much out of it, but it can take a long time to actually make a move. 

Anyway, there was one moment that made it all worthwhile. An epiphany that was available to me at any time, even without therapy. But it took a conversation with my therapist to get me to see it.

I was talking about a family member, X.

"I know exactly what X is thinking right now," I said.

"Really," said the therapist. "How do you know?".

Long pause. 

"I don't know what X is thinking."

A very simple idea. But so hard to grok. The image I have of someone is different from the person. 

Another example. At a workshop. The teacher passes around a picture of someone famous, Y. He asks each of us, as we hold the picture and look at it, what is that you're holding. Each of us says Y. At the end (you know where this is going, I'm sure) he says we're all wrong. That's not Y. It's a piece of paper that has a picture of Y on it. 

The point -- the image is not the thing. And further, all we see, even when we're close enough to someone to be intimate, is the image. The real thing is only something that X or Y can experience. We can get closer to the piece of paper, but we can't get through the paper to the thing it is representing. 

Why is it important to know this? Maybe it doesn't matter if we understand the difference between image and reality. 

Well it turns out if you want to get along with people, you have to respect the difference. And by respect, I mean acknowledge it, accept the distance between yourself and this other entity. The separation is where each of our power comes from. The unique power to be that thing, whether it's a brother, an actor, even a picture of an actor, all these things deserve our respect, to be taken at face value, not to have their individuality destroyed by treating them as if they were an image of the thing they actually are. 

Kids especially yearn for this kind of respect. And if we don't get it as kids, we carry that through to adulthood. Always seeking recognition, and never getting it. So we slosh around between our bodies, imagining things that aren't real, and never getting closer to intimacy, which is pretty much what we all seek, imho. 

Containers for poets - 2016-03-09T21:39:02Z

User provides credit card info, chooses my app, clicks a button and a few seconds later they get the URL of their app.

From there they can download whatever software the app wants to put on the device, computer -- or nothing, it could just be the website where they write or collaborate or share stuff.

When this gets to be as easy as setting up an Amazon account, there will be an explosion of new software, and it will create serious competition for the silos.

Google and bloggers, why not? - 2016-03-09T16:49:21Z

I've been thinking about turning Scripting News into some kind of a book ever since I started writing here. But I'm a blogger not a book writer. I'm more of a serial writer than a strategic one.  I write threads not plots. Although I'm sure there are plots buried in the threads. Repeating themes. If only I knew how to extract them.

With news that Google has a piece of software that plays Go better than the best human being, you can't help but wonder if the algorithmeteers at Google, or Facebook even, couldn't produce data from the linkage both within my blog and to and from the outside world, to show me which are the pivotal pieces in the 22-year-history of this blog, and even better, what are the themes. I imagine that with enough work they could probably even put the book together automatically. 

More interesting Google news. They hired Chris Poole, the founder of 4Chan, to breathe life into Google-Plus community site. It's good that they understand that forming and nurturing community is a human thing, that some people are good at. Google already owns Blogger. Community is all around them. What if they loved Google Reader instead of killing it? How much better would that have been.

It's funny that Google has been such an adversary over the years. Sometimes very willfully trying to erase my work, when if we worked together, some great results might come of it. For example, what if Google decided to embrace Facebook's IA format. I would help them figure it out. It's a totally ripe invitation for interop, and adding power to the open web, which also adds power to Google, I believe.

PS: I wrote about this in 2015 and probably many more times over the years. If only I knew where! :-)

Clinton vs the Animal - 2016-03-08T19:27:26Z

If it's Clinton v Trump, do you think there will be debates? 

I can't imagine putting the country through that. 

Maybe if they put him in another location and give her a kill switch for his microphone. 

Or a special Halloween night debate and Trump can come dressed as a famous cannibal.

Emily Bell's latest - 2016-03-07T22:19:13Z

Emily Bell: "Social media hasn’t just swallowed journalism, it has swallowed everything. It has swallowed political campaigns, banking systems, personal histories, the leisure industry, retail, even government and security."

My two cents -- no one is balancing this story.

I'm a big sports guy -- baseball and basketball. In sports you don't give up until the game is over. And this game is not even close to over. There will be lots of turns and twists. Sure, Facebook put a lot of points on the board in the first inning. Okay that's cool. Now what. 

The current online news service, including Facebook, sucks! 

There's so much room for improvement, and improving we will do. 

It's much more likely to happen outside Facebook, and I believe outside the venture capital-backed tech industry. Radical re-thinks don't happen inside big organizations. 

To think it's over would be to think that television was over in the early 60s. Yet there was so much more to come. Same thing going on here. This is just another iteration of the same process, human communication. Facebook's model is still very much like the model it replaced. We've yet to really dip into the potential of electronic publishing, imho.

A tale of two Bernies - 2016-03-07T16:47:47Z

A funny thing happened when Bernie took the stage with his wife in Burlington, on the night of Super Tuesday. He was at home, in his element, his support network all around him. And guess what Bernie is a mensch! I thought maybe I had unfairly judged him. He seems like a nice guy.

Until then my main exposure to Sanders was on the debate stage with his adversary standing next to him. And last night, I was reminded why I think Bernie is such a bad choice to lead anything. He may have been a good mayor of Burlington, you can see that, given how the people there envelope him in love. But when challenged, as a President surely is, Bernie becomes a defensive raging jerk. It makes me so uncomfortable, I want to do something. 

If I were sitting in the audience at a conference with two people on stage and Bernie lecturing everyone, including his adversary, I would hopefully get up and walk out. In my weaker moments, in the past, with Larry Ellison or Jason Calacanis for example, I made the mistake of standing up and explaining how they were losing the audience. I'd say the same to Bernie, but I would expect he would paint me as inadequate, a member of The Establishment, who had done business with big banks (I have, as has almost everyone, including Bernie probably, if he ever got a mortgage). 

Bernie gets antagonistic when challenged. In my experience this quality makes someone an awful leader. I would never follow a Sanders type person. Which is kind of ridiculous because I basically agree with him on almost everything. And I'm not running against him. I even surprised myself that I was open to thinking of him as a sweet person. But the Bernie I see on stage in a debate is a person I don't want anything to do with. 

Programming note - 2016-03-07T15:51:53Z

My RSS feeds that have IA-compatible elements now are marked as such by including an "IA" namespace in the <rss> element in the feed. 

You can see it in the main Scripting News feed. 

The namespace is documented at the page pointed to by the URL which is its value. 

Podcast: Comedians as politicians - 2016-03-06T19:26:39Z

5-minute podcast.

There should have been a stage with 17 comedians on it, running parallel to the Republican debates.

Seinfeld, Louis CK, Whoopi,Jamie Foxx, Steve Martin, Chris Rock, Larry David and Tina Fey, Dana Carvey, Chevy Chase, of course. 

Comedians not imitating the Repub candidates, but being candidates themselves. It's okay to invent a persona since that's what actors and comedians do. 

In the podcast I explain how this is basically what Trump is doing, giving his people really good television. It's amazing it took so long for us to get here. Just flip Reality TV over, and take it out of the realm of fantasy. On this island, the last survivor gets to live in the White House and fly around on Air Force One. Politics has changed forever, probably not just here in the US. 

Colbert was prophetic. Trump is doing the same thing, but he got off the for-play stage and jumped onto the for-real stage. Basically no difference. Remember when McCain said Obama was a celebrity? He was figuring it out. Only we don't want the one whose role is sub-titled The American Fuhrer. :-)

Why no UI standards for the web? - 2016-03-06T18:54:19Z

If things were working well in the web world, browsers would know how to implement a menubar for the user so the HTML code would only have to include the data that makes my menubar different from others.

Or a set of common user interaction dialogs that really work, so you can call them with parameters that include the language of your interaction but none of the layout.

There has been no factoring of user interface over a very long time. A pattern that was well-established in the 80s, and we still haven't caught up with the 1984 Macintosh in standardized UI. Throwing out standards like that, not good for business.

Seems like Mozilla was headed in that direction in the beginning but somehow didn't follow-through? It's all kind of a fog. 

Duct tape for IFTTT and Medium - 2016-03-06T17:31:26Z

Continuing the thread on the IA-feed-in-the-wild.

Adding the IA features made the Medium rendering of my posts unreadable, because parts of the <content:encoded> for the item are being displayed in the body of the message. Example. This is because IFTTT, acting as the bridge between my RSS feed and Medium, prefers <content:encoded> over <description>. 

My conclusion is that it would be best if Medium read the RSS directly, but they don't so I worked around the problem by creating a special feed without the Facebook features just for the IFTTT recipe. I chose that over turning off the connection with Medium. 

This is life in the content world of 2016. 

BTW, I'm not publishing the URL of that feed because I'd rather not have to support it long-term, instead viewing it as a bit of duct tape for an issue that I hope will eventually go away. 

The fix worked. When this post appeared on Medium it was rendered without the ugly bits. 

Podcast: My reply to Mitt Romney - 2016-03-05T15:05:29Z

A 10-minute podcast reply to Mitt Romney.

In a nutshell, instead of coming up with things that the voters can do to stop Donald Trump, how about turning the jets on the current elected Republican leaders, and get them to stop acting so Trumpian. 

The idea is to start governing like thoughtful adults, and take the shortcuts out of your process. If you guys were serious about backing away from Trump, you all would admit you made a (serious) mistake in all the many ways you all try to invalidate the President that the people of the United States elected. Don't you see this is the problem! We elect someone, twice, and you all pretend he didn't get elected? Well who the fuck are you? As Trump says, you're the guy who lost. And your party acts like you won. 

So let's get going with the Scalia court replacement. Until you all are ready to play the proper role as established by the Constitution, then you aren't serious. 

Stop coming up with things for other people to do, and start doing what you yourselves can do.

Another -- have the Republican Party go on record saying that climate change is real, and we are going to stop obstructing efforts to change the American economy to take that into account. 

And another thing -- the NRA. They clearly aren't going to get you elected this year. Sure the 2nd Amendment is deeply etched in the brains of the voters. So we aren't going to change anything there. But the NRA isn't bounded by the 2nd Amendment. They make you guys do a lot of other nasty things. Send them packing. Let them scream. Just say loud and clear you're kicking out one of the biggest sources of obstruction. 

Let's start getting rid of the maggots and parasites.

One more thing -- call off all your voter suppression. It's another of the many awful and amazing things you guys do out in the open for all to see. You've tried to make some people's votes count and others not. That's not your place. That's like stealing. Something you should go to jail for. 

Romney was a perfect choice. A VC money-mover. Doesn't create anything, doesn't even do anything other than say shit to get people riled up. The problem is Mitt, it isn't working anymore. Now what are you going to do? 

PS: Here's a video of Romney's snotty RNC 2012 bit about climate change. 

On IA in the wild - 2016-03-05T14:41:33Z

To Facebook people, the choice of <content:encoded> for the IA content has disadvantages when the feed is used in other contexts.

For example, IFTTT prefers <content:encoded> over <description>.

When you refer to **Include template "EntryContent" not found.**, and both are present it will return <content:encoded>.

This broke the connection between Scripting News and Medium, which is built on IFTTT.

So there are four parties here -- Facebook, IFTTT, Medium, Dave.

In hindsight it probably would have been better to create an IA namespace, and instead of using <content:encoded>, you'd include an <IA:article> or something like that. Having never been used before, it could not be confused with anything that came before.

However, IFTTT could allow an expert mode, where I could somehow say "No, don't use the <content:encoded> stay with the <description> because it works better for Medium."

Or -- even better -- Medium could stop relying on IFTTT to process RSS for it, after all RSS is a well-respected standard (isn't it). You wouldn't outsource HTML to another app, or HTTP. It seems RSS, esp the new rich flavor of it started by FB is something Medium could support directly.

If it falls to me, I will either cut the connection to Medium and wait for something better from them, or produce another feed that will be used for apps that aren't processing IA feeds.

Also, it might not be a bad idea to establish a convention that says "This is an IA feed" in the feed itself. Not sure whose job that is.

A glitch in how IFTTT uses the feed - 2016-03-04T23:02:24Z

After switching over my feed, I can see it had a negative effect on the Medium versions of these posts. An example. And a screen shot

The problem is this: my IFTTT recipe is taking the <content:encoded> sub-element of the <item> instead of the <description>.

And it seems there is no way to tell IFTTT not to do this. 

I imagine there will be similar problems in other RSS consumers.

We'll see, I guess! 

An IA feed in the wild - 2016-03-04T18:51:30Z

Here's an interesting twist.

The main feed for Scripting News is now also an Instant Articles-compatible feed.

Just like the one I did specially for Facebook.

The difference is that thousands of people already subscribe to this feed. So the installed base of people who could benefit from the mobile-faster IA content just grew by a fairly huge amount.

I know this is a new idea -- IA feeds as a basis for interop outside of Facebook, but it is that. And because all CMSes are being updated to support the format, it's a relatively simple matter to add the feature to already-existing feeds. 

WordPress, for example could do this, as could Tumblr or Blogger. Of course any of them would increase the size of IA-compatible content by a much larger factor than my own humble feed.

Think about it. 

Still diggin! :-)


Doug Purdy on the philosophy at Facebook that led them to use RSS instead of inventing something new: 

We need to stop reinventing everything again and again. While I realize that most engineers don't like existing art for anything more than making fun or leveraging conceptually, we should be taking a far more pragmatic evolutionary engineering approach with most of the core communication infra and compete on product features/content.

 And my response:

Very well put Doug. I always try to re-use whenever possible. That's in fact how I came to support RSS in the first place. I had a syndication format called scriptingNews format, because that's what it syndicated. Netscape made their service read my format, and of course they did what you describe here, invented their own format. So I played a sneaky trick on them, I just adopted their format. Instant standard.

Lakoff on Trump as Repub catnip - 2016-03-04T16:38:01Z

To people who read my stuff and work in news...

This piece by George Lakoff, a linguistics prof at UC-Berkeley, models the two parties as "strict father" and "nurturing mother." It's amazing over the years how well this model has stood up. 

Once I read this all the other analyses of why Trump is resonating sounds wrong. It's not about issues or being angry with Washington. That's head stuff. What matters is how they were raised, what kind of family. Are they looking for a strict guiding hand or a nurturing cuddle. 

The strict father is like catnip to Repub voters.

This is so important but Lakoff writes too long and too scholarly for it to get through to most people esp on the net. 

I'm trying to think who would do a good job with this, but you probably know much better.

I think this is important.


For what it's worth, thank you Marco Rubio for trying to keep Trump out of the White House - 2016-03-03T22:27:57Z

I know Marco Rubio is a lousy politician, but I felt a bit sorry for him in the interviews on Tuesday night. He has no chance of winning, his political career is at least temporarily wrecked, and he's got the burden of going up against a neo-Nazi white supremacist with a foul mouth who's winning. It's kind of a shitty deal. 

I empathize because I got kind of a similar deal with RSSIt happens all the time, out at dinner, at a party, a conference, someone says hey do you think RSS is dead? By implication it hurts me more than it hurts them if it is. And that's what I say to them. I don't make any money from RSS. It's never been a business for me. So if it's dead or not, has no effect on my well-being, any more than it affects yours. 

Like that.

Marco Rubio won't benefit if Donald Trump isn't President any more than you or I will. He'll get to write a book. And there won't be a nuclear war. There's that too. Rubio will benefit, but that's not really the point. It would be good for all of us if his efforts are successful, and even though his politics suck (as I said at the outset) we all do owe him at least a thank you for trying to prevent a calamity. He'd get a good book deal either way probably, so he doesn't really have to do this. 

We haven't completely forgotten manners, have we?

Preparing for the worst - 2016-03-02T16:06:40Z

It's time to think the worst of Donald Trump.

He did refuse to disavow the support of the KKK. And I heard him refuse to do it again last night. He says there was a Facebook post and a tweet where he did. I haven't seen either of them. If you have seen one please send me a tweet with the link. Thanks.

The Occam's Razor conclusion is not that it's a gaffe, instead that it's real. Trump is himself a white supremacist. He sure talks and acts like one. 

Then there's a video of some white men at a Trump rally, one dressed as a veteran, physically abusing a young black woman. It's shocking. 

Someone said the Republican response to the Obama presidency has been a slow-motion lynching. I had the same thought but didn't dare say it. Now it's time to say it. Past time. Trump is what the Repubs, some of whom are decent people, were flirting with, as a way to win elections. 

Do we have any recourse against a candidate running this kind of campaign? No one has gotten killed yet, let's start thinking about that before it happens. Watching the Secret Service act at his command seems very wrong. They work for us, not him. They work for the protestors too. 

BTW, the discourse on the Democratic side hasn't caught up with reality yet. Even Marco Rubio, who has been fairly brave at stating what's obvious, still hasn't had the nerve to say what it is we're actually seeing. 

They were laughing a lot last night on MSNBC. I watched Fox for a while, they were trying to carry on as if this would settle down to something acceptable. But our understanding of these disgraceful and un-American acts, crimes actually, hasn't yet caught up to reality. We need to get ahead of it. We might want to pass some laws about what we're seeing. This might be something both Repubs and Dems agree to.

If you think Trump is inevitably going to be President, remember that he isn't yet President and won't be for a while. We still have some time to prevent the worst of what may be about to happen.

PS: Here's a link to Trump's supposed disavowal. It isn't of course that. I think he's a white supremacist. Racist, neo-Nazi. That's the presumptive Republican nominee for President. 

Liveblogging Super Tuesday - 2016-03-02T01:16:27Z

If you see this in your reader, you might want to click this link and leave it open. I'm going to type in notes as the night goes on. You'll see the updates without having to reload the page.

  1. Trump's ambivalence about the KKK shows that dog whistles are not entirely over. The line has just moved into previously unthinkable territory.
  2. On MSNBC they're not considering the most likely explanation for Trump's KKK confusion. He's actually a white supremacist.
  3. How the Repubs gave us Donald Trump. A must-read.
  4. When the results from Georgia were reported they had a big picture of Hillary Clinton next to Donald Trump. I thought who could have predicted this a year ago. Clinton yes, of course. But this combination.
  5. Brian Williams is impossible to watch. Rachel Maddow must totally hate this having to be moderated by such an empty suit.
  6. Hey I like this. It's like my own Twitter. Heh.
  7. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. (Sung to the tune of Spam Spam Spam Spam.) 
  8. Very interesting how WNYC reports election returns in tweet graphics.
  9. BTW, the updates flow through to the IA version on Facebook. That's some good realtime. Pretty incredible for a huge company! :-)
  10. Wouldn't it be smart for Twitter to upgrade the technology for cards? They're just using bitmaps. How about a subset of HTML. Wouldn't be expensive or dangerous.
  11. Do you wonder how long it takes from me pressing Update to you seeing the change on your screen? Much less than 1 second. The net in 2016 is really fast. 
  12. There are 50 people watching this page right now.
  13. Little Marco isn't such a bad name. 
  14. More love and kindness. It works. 
  15. HRC should start talking about taking back Congress. Right now is the time to strike. The repubs are in total disarray. Might even get some Repub incumbents wanting to change parties.
  16. Trump has created a White House ballroom/TV studio in his house in Florida. This is a new thing.
  17. Obviously the last man standing is Cruz. Goodbye Little Marco.
  18. Oh Christ it's that asshole again.
  19. Goodnight everybody! :-)

A note about comments - 2016-03-01T15:48:40Z

I have turned off replies on 

I just wanted to give you all a heads up. I want to try other ways of getting public discourse connected to my blogging without hosting the comments on my site. I do like to ask questions on my blog from time to time, and not having a way to get input will be a problem. 

I have found that the norms of commenting on Twitter and Facebook have permeated everywhere, and I'm not interested in hosting other people's opinions, challenges or call-to-debates here in my own space. I don't usually respond to them elsewhere, but when they appear here, it's just a nuisance. I end up having to deal with too many personalities. 

That's not conducive to free thinking on my part, if I always have to anticipate how people will snark at it or what the various troll factions use to control discourse. I don't want that in my space. 

There will be another turn to this wheel at some point. ;-)

How self-made billionaires can help - 2016-03-01T14:20:27Z

You know when Trump says that Rubio and Cruz have never hired anyone, or started a business, or created something, he's sort of right. 

His followers say they like him because he made so much money. So what if some other people who made a lot of money got together and said Hey this isn't our idea of who should be running the US govt, just so you know. 

I understand that at this point there's nothing short of him resigning that will keep him from being the Repub nominee. But at least we can balance his hype that he's somehow unique in that he's made money and supposedly cares about the US in some meaningful way.

Just a thought. 

A river of politics? - 2016-03-01T14:08:16Z

Remember when I started podcatch.comI asked my friends on Facebook what podcasts make them happy, then I created a list, fed it to River5 and did a special page for it. I've been feasting the podcasts ever since. Love it.

Now I want to do the same thing for politics. There's so much news, it's such a big year for politics in the US, I want to have all the news and opinion, from all sides, in a river that flows all day every day with nothing but political news. 

So I've started a thread on Facebook, this time asking what are your favorite websites or feeds for politics? Once it's at critical mass, I'll open up the river. 

Let's have fun! :-)

Who should support IA and how - 2016-02-29T16:15:12Z

Last week I released Instant Articles support for my blog, Scripting News

What this means is that every time I publish a new post or update an existing post, it's reflected in my IA feed. Think of my blog as an "emitter" of IA stories.

On the other side, Facebook is reading my feed every three minutes, pulling in new posts and updates. And my posts are then available as Instant Articles on mobile devices. Think of Facebook as the "consumer" of IA stories.

Here's a screen shot of what one of my pieces looks like when rendered as an IA.

Who and how

Here's a list of examples of services and products that I would love to see support IA.

  1. Twitter is a news system and RSS is a perfect fit for news. When I publish to my IA feed, I'd like Twitter to read it every three minutes, and post new messages to my timeline and update existing ones, according to what's in the feed, exactly as Facebook does. Twitter, is in this context, a consumer of IA feeds.
  2. Medium can and should imho play the same role. That means I could tell Medium where my IA feed is, and it would keep it in sync with stories on their site. Medium does now support inbound syndication, but when a post is updated, the version on Medium is not updated, at this time. IA provides a perfect mechanism to do this. I would love to see them support it.
  3. But Medium is also an emitter, in addition to a consumer. It should be possible to hook Medium up to Facebook, so that stories people write there could be read in the Facebook app, full fidelity, as Instant Articles. 
  4. WordPress, Tumblr and Blogger should clearly support IA as emitters, and I'm sure they will all be on stage demoing their support at F8 in April. Since WordPress and Tumblr also have readers, it seems they should also be consumers. 
  5. Open source software such as River5 should support IA, as a consumer. 
  6. An RSS reader such as Feedly could support IA, for a better mobile user experience, perhaps.

My feed

This is where my IA feed is.

How the View From Nowhere has crippled American journalism - 2016-02-29T15:31:20Z

The View from Nowhere and Access Journalism have crippled press coverage of Trump. To see how this works, imagine you, an ordinary American voter, talking with Trump in person or on the phone. How long before you interrupt him, and say, look -- I'm tired of you talking over me, I want to be an equal participant in this conversation. And then when he keeps talking, how long before you hang up? 

Well, if you're a reporter, you can't hang up because: 

  1. You don't exist (view from nowhere) and
  2. If you did he wouldn't talk to you next time (access journalism).

So every conversation with Trump is exactly the same. He repeats himself over and over, you never get a word in, and he never talks about what you asked about. Time runs out and you thank him and move on to the commercial.

As voters we can hang up, because we aren't part of the View From Nowhere and we don't have access to lose. But so many people these days behave as if they are an insider, a member of the savvy elite. That's why an obvious virus like Trump is allowed to run wild in the body of American politics, so much so that we get a little relief knowing that the military may refuse his orders if he's elected President rather than commit the war crimes that Trump is advocating (e.g. killing the families of people we suspect to be terrorists).

BTW, John Oliver has the best takedown I've seen of Trump. It's direct and unforgiving, offers no apologies or explanations for Trump, and he disclaims both the VFN and any interest in having access. He reacts as many of us would, with outrage that a person could think this way of campaigning could work (it has, and that's even more outrageous).

PS: The View From Nowhere concept is Jay Rosen's contribution, a very useful one.

PPS: In December, Joe Scarborough at MSNBC hung up on Trump. Tremendous!

What if HRC took a Repub running mate? - 2016-02-29T05:33:22Z

What if HRC is nominated and she made a deal with the Repubs (what would she want?) to choose a Repub running mate.

Not someone from the crazy branch of the Repub Party, sorry to all the also-rans on the Repub debate circuit.

Then the team would use all the resources of both parties to drive turnout, the Repubs would disable their voter suppression tools, and we could all sigh in relief knowing that Trump, the official Repub nominee would win maybe Utah, Wyoming and Alaska. It would be the biggest Electoral victory in 40 years, and the official end of Repub obstruction.

Am I dreaming?

Fox has a big story, they don't know what to do with it - 2016-02-29T00:41:57Z

Amazing. On Fox just now they had two analysts, one Repub and one Dem who agree that the Repub Party is splitting in two, right now. But the moderator won't let them finish sentences. Is it possible they're so accustomed to not having a real story that they don't know what to do when they actually have one?

Whistlestop: Reagan in 1976 - 2016-02-27T22:15:06Z

I've been listening to John Dickerson's Whistlestop podcastIt's the best new thing. Each episode is 40 minutes, covering a moment in the history of Presidential politics. A convention, a campaign, a meltdown, a big win or loss. 

I was alive when many of these things happened but had no idea what was going on behind the scenes. Dickerson is a great story-teller, you can tell he loves this stuff, the stories are riveting. 

The last two episodes I listened to were about Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan at two RNCs, in 1980 and 1976 (the order I listened to them). 

I just watched a video of Reagan's closing 1976 convention speech. A lot has changed in 48 years. And he was a pretty fantastic speaker. And we know how things turned out, as he says in the speech that we will. 

How IA happened from my POV - 2016-02-27T16:39:28Z

Dan York at the Internet Society commented on my first IA piece after I got it working, and he's the first imho to concisely say why it's so interesting. 

I have expected that Facebook would be focused on keeping everyone inside their shiny walled garden and thought I understood that Instant Articles involved putting your content on FB’s servers, which I now understand it does, but via caching of an RSS feed. Which is very cool!

That's exactly right. The feed is how stuff enters their content system. But the feed itself is outside, leaving it available for other services to use. It's great when this happens, rather than doing it via a WG that tend to go on for years, and create stuff that's super-complicated, why not design something that works for you, put it out there with no restrictions and let whatever's going to happen happen. That's certainly how I've done my past projects. I like to create functionality much more than I like to go back and forth on mail lists. 

Now to answer your question, I don’t know very much about AMP.

The reason I was able to get on board with IA is that one of the directors at Facebook, Doug Purdy, wanted to work with me. So we met almost two years ago, here in NYC. Then I was briefed on what they were doing, and kept in the loop as it came together. In the beginning all I had was a promise that it would be RSS . I’ve seen many companies over the years say nice things about being open, but somehow forget as the project goes forward.

But they came through. When I got to start work on it early last week, it turned out they had stuck to the promise. It was a simple addition to my RSS-generating code to have it also generate an IA feed. It took three sessions over three days to do the work, and to ship.

So that’s pretty good use of existing technology as I see it. ;-)

About AMP, no one ever sent me an intro to what they were doing. They emphasized the big companies they were working with. To be fair, so did Facebook. From my point of view it’s largely because Doug really wanted this openness that it happened. I find that many of the big open innovations over the years have one person inside a big company who sees it as worth the extra effort to do something open. 

Basically I find that developers want to create open stuff, it's part of the ethos of programming. So sometimes it actually happens. ;-)

PS: On Twitter, Tom Murphy called this a "bridge into a walled garden." Beautiful.

PPS: On Facebook, Purdy lists the people who worked on the open protocol at FB.

My open Instant Articles feed - 2016-02-27T01:02:41Z

I believe this is the first public and live Instant Articles feed. 

As you can see it's also RSS 2.0, something I'm quite proud of. 

When I was developing my Instant Articles feed, I desperately needed a working example to follow. It would have helped to have something that worked to study and copy. Now that my feed has been working reliably with Facebook's OS, I wanted to share it. 

Interop is what matters. This is a good place to start.

PS: Is it really open? Well, you can write an application that uses that feed. (Please do.) So yes, it's open.

NYT please let the community in - 2016-02-26T16:17:14Z

I was telling Joi the other day that I have advice for the NY Times that I thought he would appreciate since he is a board member there. 

He said I should write a blog post, of course (he's an NBB). 

So here it is.

Anatomy of a story

First, let's look at the anatomy of a news story. 

  1. A headline.
  2. A lede.
  3. Quotes from experts, people involved in the story, witnesses. Also known as sources. 
  4. Some numbers perhaps from pollsters or researchers.
  5. A closing paragraph (optional, the Times often omits them, which makes a lot of sense).

Now for ten points, tell me which of these items has changed the most in the last few decades. It's #3 of course. 

Sources go direct

The big revolution brought to us by the Internet is that sources can now speak publicly, easily and for free, using Twitter and blogs mostly. I once predicted that every member of the US House of Representatives would be a blogger. That seemed bold at the time, but today? It's much bigger than that. The President of the United States just wrote a guest post on the SCOTUS blog. Think about all the change that represents.

For me, this ability to go direct, was the reason I started blogging. In 1994 I had a Mac product. Couldn't get the news out because reporters, even though they all used Macs, believed the Mac was dead. They reported their belief, not facts. 

A lot of people used Macs, and there was lots of new software. There was no way to get news of new products out to users, because it contradicted the belief that there were no new products. So I started communicating directly, using the web, and it worked. We got enough users for our software to allow it to evolve into blogging, podcasting, RSS. 

Markets could develop without the support of journalism. That's a big new thing and should have been a wakeup call for the news industry, if they weren't mostly ignoring blogs or trivializing them. 

So now when a reporter needs quotes, he or she may turn to Twitter, or a blog, or search, to find the sources they need. The phone, the previous technology used for gaining quotes, is not used as much these days.

The missed opportunity that amazingly still is open

At the same time the news organizations have missed a chance to embrace this phenomenon by working on new tools to help their sources communicate more effectively. They've let the tech industry own it, and it hasn't imho done a very good job. It's all very confusing in user-publishing land. I imagine that reporters at the big pubs think this is okay, but it's not. Their business models are disintegrating, ad blockers are a user revolution, a sign that things may be about to collapse quickly from here. I was on the receiving end of a user revolution in the late 80s as the CEO of a software publisher that practiced copy protection. One month it was something users grumbled about, and the next month we were all rushing to release versions of our product without it.

There's a lot of garbage blogging and tweeting going on out there. Only a relatively few people do a great job of it and strive to do better. These people should be part of the news ecosystems that news orgs gather around themselves. Not replacing reporters, not replacing anything. The bloggers are the sources, with the ability to publish on their own.

Bottom-line: The most interesting sources of the NY Times should be offered a chance to blog at a domain. One that's clearly seen as the user community of the NYT, so it's understood that the quality of the writing is not something that's subject to the NYT standards. But at the same time, let new standards evolve, and nurture them. Take an interest in the bloggers. 

The Times has yet to really make a serious attempt to understand what blogging is. For years they called their reporters who write using blogging software bloggers. That was a big disconnect. The bloggers are your current sources and future sources. You have to call some of them on the phone but mostly you read their tweets and blogs. 

Here's a vacuum that has existed from the beginning. Why not fill it? Take a chance. Experiment with the new technology in meaningful and potentially revolutionary ways. What exactly do you have to lose?

The shame of Republican voters - 2016-02-26T14:00:00Z

Watching last night's debate I felt shame on behalf of the Republican Party. Not just for the Republicans in government, or who would be in government, but for the people who vote Republican in 2016. 

If your children behaved like that with their friends how would you feel? And Trump is a grown man. Presenting himself as a potential leader of our country? What kind of people could support that? You say you're angry. That's crap. You're crazy, is what you are. Out of your minds. 

Kasich, openly threatening to kill the leader of another country. Do you have any idea how paranoid the leadership of North Korea is? Kasich has already reached a level of great responsibility by being on that stage. What he says matters! And he presents himself as the most ready to govern of all the Republicans. That kind of talk could easily get a lot of people killed.

And name-calling? In a presidential debate. Really? Trump says he's so good at working with people. You think so? I wouldn't work with someone who used name-calling as a negotiating tactic. I'd show him the door. No we don't want any thank  you.

The only two who carried themselves with any measure of self-respect, Rubio and Cruz, aren't much better. The policies they support are inhumane and un-American. Cruz likes to point out how unelectable Trump is. Well I wouldn't live in a country that could elect Cruz as its leader.

We've had some awful Presidents in the US, in my lifetime. One of them, Nixon, was so scary that I considered leaving the country to avoid being drafted to fight in a nonsensical war. I would leave a United States that elected any of these people for reasons of honor and integrity. 

We are so much better than this. Snap out of it Republicans!

You say you want a revolution - 2016-02-25T14:45:49Z

We'd all love to hear the plan!

But the plan doesn't start by electing a President. It starts by building a movement of committed revolutionaries who are willing to give up something substantial, over a long period of time, for the revolution.

Showing up to vote is not much of a commitment. Marching on Washington with a few hundred thousand others, now that's a beginning. And even then you probably don't get the revolution. You have to convince not just people like me who passionately believe in open health care and education, investing in our young people, creating opportunity for everyone, really dealing with climate change, you also have to convince a fair number of people who are voting for Trump. And that means doing a lot of talking and listening, and that's going to take years. We as a country are very far away from the place we need to be to get the kind of change we want to see.

And btw, they'd like to have a talk with you, about things they care about.  

So maybe before you just leave the room you might want to have a discussion about what it will take to convince your fellow citizens that you have what it take to create a revolution. 

Adding #feeltheburn to your tweets is not enough.  

PS: Thanks to the Beatles for the title of this post and the first line. 

Instant Articles, day 2 - 2016-02-25T14:16:59Z

I'm still figuring out very basic stuff about Instant Articles.

When I posted the Cable Liars Network piece a few minutes ago, I noted that it showed up in the list of instant articles that the Facebook RSS reader had found. So I went looking for the article in my timeline. It wasn't there. Then I opened the Pages app on my iPhone, and it was there. So there's no doubt that the article had been picked up by the operating system on the "other side."

Why wasn't it in the timeline?

Then I had an idea. I posted a link to the version of the article on to my timeline on Facebook. It shows up with the usual title and snippet in a box, linked to the original. But then, when I looked at it on my iPhone, and clicked the link, up popped the Instant Articles version of the piece.

Conclusion: The Instant Articles scanner creates an association in the Facebook database betw the URL of a story on my site, and the Instant rendering of the story. If you're looking at it in the timeline on the phone and you click the link, you see the instant version. On a non-phone device (desktop, laptop, tablet) you visit the page  on my site. 

PS: It'll be interesting to see what happens with the link to the piece in the second paragraph. It has an IA version of that piece in its database. When you click on it in FB on a phone will it show you the IA version or the one on my site? We'll find out soon enough! ;-)

PPS: Update to the postscript. Yes. If you click on a link to an IA story from within another post, you get the IA version of the story. The database is running at a fairly low level in the Facebook OS. Good design. 

PPPS: Doug Purdy, ex-of-Facebook, says these are called AppLinks.

CLN -- The Cable Liars Network - 2016-02-25T13:43:25Z

I have an idea. A cable network where they report on the lies the candidates told today. Nothing more or less. The candidates can come on to be interviewed, or not. When they start lying, the screen turns red and big bold text scrolls across the screen explaining the lie they're telling. In very simple judgemental terms. Nothing above 9th grade level.

And it must be equal opportunity and ruthless. I don't want to see them letting Donald Trump off the hook as they always do and hold Hillary Clinton accountable to the most minute detail.

And maybe it should only work with recorded stuff. If the candidates appear in person people may think we went easy on them to get them on. A lot of the networks are that way with Trump, obviously, because he's a ratings machine.

Teach people how to talk about politicians as liars. The more adorable the candidate the more ruthless the exposure. Because adorable candidates are the worst liars, I've found.

Oh the places this post will go! - 2016-02-25T00:34:34Z

Now when I post something new on my blog, it automatically flows out to people who follow my RSS feed, to people who follow me on Medium, and through Facebook's algorithm as an Instant Article.  

This is the first new post that will go to all those places.

Even better, when I update this post, Facebook will automatically get the update. So will readers on my blog. However Medium and people reading via RSS, unless their RSS app has been programmed to do updates (I don't know of any, but it is possible) will not get updates. 

Twitter will get a link via Radio3 , however because this post occupies more than 140 chars, they will only get a link. I hope at some point they relax that limit. 

This is progress! Seriously. It's a big deal. ;-)

PS: Earlier today I wrote a post that explains at a high level how this works. 

This is a test - 2016-02-24T17:36:53Z

This is a test. 

For the next sixty seconds, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System

This is only a test.

How Instant Articles helps the open web - 2016-02-24T15:01:35Z

How Facebook Instant Articles helps the open web.

  1. Each article can contain markup, and most important links. Links go to other places on the open web. So finally when we write stuff that's posted to Facebook our writing can be part of the web. 
  2. When you update a post after it appears on Facebook, they get the updates, so you don't have to do anything to keep it in sync.
  3. It's built on RSS, an open format. The RSS can be used for other purposes, such as posting to LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium or any new service that might come along. So Facebook doesn't have an exclusive on this flow. They are not being a silo! Hey how about that.
  4. Because Facebook is the largest source of flow, it seems the others will have to match them. The easiest way to match them is to just accept the same feed I use to post to Facebook. 
  5. I can and will modify River5 to support the Instant Article format. All kinds of new services can boot up on the flow, without depending on Facebook servers. You can't be turned off by Facebook. This is the key feature of the open web, it's the platform without a platform vendor.
  6. My blog shares in this flow. So now I don't have to neglect my blog in order to post to Facebook. I can have both, with the same effort. That means I control my archive, and should the terms of service change radically, my writing will still exist, outside the silo. 
  7. Your blogging platform, WordPress, Tumblr, Drupal, etc will almost certainly support this format in addition to the current feed it produces. Or these features could be rolled into the existing feed. Either approach will work. So you can expect, if you are a blogger, that you will not have to do anything but update your software (if you host it yourself) to get the new connection to Facebook. I'm sure they're all working on getting ready for the April rollout. 

Summary: Facebook is using open web technology to power Instant Articles. I'm not sharing anything that isn't already publicly documented on the Facebook developer site. People have trouble understanding this, I assume, because it seems so out of character for a big web destination like Facebook to care about the open web. It's kind of a miracle. But there it is. The open web is about to get a real shot in the arm from a most unexpected place. 

Note: I have been in the loop on this for almost two years. But until I was able to produce a feed that correctly flows through their system, it was all speculation. But it's no longer speculative. I've tried it, it works as advertised. 

First reaction to Facebook reactions - 2016-02-24T14:49:42Z

I just made a pass over my Facebook timeline judging things as sad, wow, happy, angry. I didn't Like one thing. I want to see how I'd feel. Answer: weird. No icon for that.

Sanders' pitch is straight DNC - 2016-02-23T17:15:15Z

It was funny to hear Bernie Sanders complain yesterday that HRC is stealing his lines.   

I went to two DNCs, in 2004 and 2008. The funny thing is most of the speakers there were stealing his lines too. 

The point: Sanders' pitch has been the standard Democratic Party line for a decade or more.

Discussion on Facebook.

Facebook and the open web - 2016-02-23T16:49:04Z

Facebook keeps winning at the expense of the open web, but that's now about to change. Here's a case study that illustrates. 

This guy is a professional reporter.

His best stuff is on Facebook, he writes there off the top of his head. A thought occurs to him and he writes it. He's smart, so it's good. And it's raw and human and compelling, in a way that his news articles are not. He takes a long time to get to the point there, probably the economics makes it work that way.

I say to him every so often, I wish you'd post that on your blog so I can point to it on my blog, and link to it on Twitter. He says I know I know, but when I post it to Facebook I get engagement. I say I know.

How are we both going to get what we want? We've been waiting for an answer to this while the problem keeps getting worse and the open web keeps losing, slipping away from us.

In a month or two we'll be able to give him a writing tool that gives us both what we want, because of the changes Facebook is about to make. 

I want him to get exposure so his ideas can grow. But I also want people who read my blog to see it. Right now they don't want to click on FB links. And I don't want to send them to FB, though I do it when I have to.

Project-based learning - 2016-02-22T23:18:19Z

Really interesting piece about an MIT prof who's starting a new university. Here's a quote.

Basically the idea is that we’ll have a core that’s project-based learning, but where students can have a really deep, integrative longer-term project rather than shorter projects. And then all of the knowledge acquisition would be moved virtually. So instead of projects' being at the periphery, to sort of flip it more toward the graduate-education model. And I think it would be much more inspirational for the students because they could come in and really work on projects from the get-go that they wanted to work on and that they were most passionate about, and they could tailor their knowledge base to the projects they want to work on.

This is exactly the idea I've been promoting about having students work on an open source project while at university. Some would go on to get jobs in companies that are using the technology. Some will start new ventures around the technology. And when they need a break, they can come back to school, teach, share what they've learned, and do some projects with other people, just for the fun of it. 

The idea is to get beyond student projects, to use the university environment to do development. All aspects of it. Documentation, training, support, QA, interop with other projects, creating new standards. We know so much about these things now, we shouild be doing more than teaching it, we should be practicing it. 

Our experience with the bootstrap of podcasting and political blogging at Berkman in the early part of the last decade were models. I think Dr Ortiz is really onto something.

Example feed for Instant Articles? - 2016-02-21T23:36:16Z

I want to produce a feed that's compatible with Facebook's new Instant Articles. I understand from reading the docs that they're using RSS with some special elements. 

What I really need to have it all fit together is an example feed that I can study, that gives me something to shoot for. So..

  1. Yes, I am reading the docs, so please don't send me a link to the docs.
  2. I would love to see an example feed. I am repeating this because I'm sure most people will still just send me a link to the docs.
  3. An example feed would be great!

BTW, this is what the current RSS feed for Scripting News looks like. Obviously I will need to produce another feed, probably derived from this, to be compatible with Facebook's protocol.  

If you have such an example feed, please ping me at Thanks! 


Rob Fahrni found an example feed in this Medium post. Bing! 

Update on the Update

Unfortunately the example they provides does not include the stuff in the Facebook docs that's most confusing, what goes inside the content:encoded element.

Universities and the open web - 2016-02-21T16:49:38Z

I mentioned in an earlier post that I visited the MIT Media Lab on the 11th of Feb. It was a great trip, just one day back and forth. I wanted to see the Media Lab with my own eyes, and reconnect with two longtime friends who are working there now.

Ethan Zuckerman got involved in the web very early as the lead developer at Tripod. I worked with him at Berkman, where he, along with Rebecca MacKinnon, started the incredible Global Voices project. Ethan is now the director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT. 

And Joi Ito, one of the earliest bloggers, a good friend, discussion leader at BloggerCon, has been the director of the Media Lab since 2011. 

I wanted to reconnect because the Media Lab is in an incredible position to help the open web, especially because these two pioneers, Ethan and Joi, are there. 

Lots of emails, back and forth

Our meeting was a whirlwind, at least partially because my train from NYC was 45 minutes late (!) but there's only so much you can get done in a face to face in one day. 

So we've been going back and forth via email since the meeting, and it's been getting pretty interesting! I want to now surface at least part of what we've been talking about.

First, Joi wrote a post about our meeting and the open web. Please read.

It's not only personally flattering, but you can see how thoroughly the blogging ethic flows through Joi. Err on the side of disclosure, saying what you really see, knowing that it will be received at face value. That's blogging at its best, imho. 

Where to go?

In one of the follow-up emails I listed three things we could do to help the open web reboot. I had written about all these ideas before, in some cases, a number of times. 

  1. Every university should host at least one open source project.
  2. Every news org should build a community of bloggers, starting with a river of sources. 
  3. Every student journalist should learn how to set up and run a server.

These ideas came out of my work in booting up blogging and podcasting, and working successfully at Berkman to get the first academic blogging community going. Had I continued that work, this is where we would go.


Joi's post in response to this one. ;-)

Podcast: Meaning - 2016-02-20T21:58:15Z

Seeing the picture of the 3-year-old boy looking up at the President gave me a much better idea of the meaning of our electing the first African-American president in 2008. 

Voting for a president can be a meaningful act, despite the conventional wisdom that our votes mean nothing. And I think how much meaning a similar picture might be, eight years from now, of a little girl looking up and seeing the same kind of future that young Clark Reynolds saw. 

I recorded a seven-minute podcast, because written words aren't enough for this idea. 

A bit of our future history - 2016-02-20T17:29:16Z

What a great picture of a 3-year-old boy looking up at the President of the United States and seeing what will soon be part of our past, our history. 

It's a beautiful picture, the same way the pictures of the first men on the moon are beautiful. We reached a very important place, but who knows when we'll be here again. 

And while I feel huge pride for my country for this accomplishment, let's not forget our fellow citizens who are African-American. For them, this has much greater meaning.  

Greatest emails of all time - 2016-02-20T17:04:18Z

I was chatting with a friend today about the best emails I've ever received. 

Like the reply from Bill Gates to a 1994 DaveNet piece. That was a good email, because it proved that the then-nascent art of blogging could be two-way. Gates was at the pinnacle of power in the tech industry at the time, as the web moved into the desktop. He was at the start of one of the biggest pivots in history, and this exchange was totally on-topic with that. (And some of the questions he asked have since been answered, for example, yes the web meant the end of Encarta.) 

Then I thought of an email I got from Bob Atkinson, also of Microsoft, in the winter of 1998. I had just written a piece about how to do networking protocols using the web. It had occurred to me in what I call a mind bomb, a flash of insight, that XML-over-HTTP could replace the deeply complicated and history-laden networking protocols of the Mac and PC, which were totally incompatible with each other. Using the web for program-to-program communication would turn out to be a breakthrough in simplicity and today whole industries are based on the idea.

Anyway, I don't have a copy of Bob's email but it went something like this.

"We want to do this too. Would you like to work with us?"

The next week I was in Redmond in a big room with a bunch of Microsoft people, designing what would turn out to be XML-RPC

Bernie is indeed single-issue - 2016-02-19T18:55:49Z

I watched Bernie Sanders on MSNBC last night, I don't know why, I guess because it was a town hall involving HRC too, but I didn't stay around to hear her talk I was so fed up with Sanders and his yelling and lying, and the way he disses HRC and more important the way he disses me, a voter who is trying to hear a complete answer to a straight question. And trying to understand what it is people see in him.

One of the first questions they asked is if he is a single-issue candidate as HRC says he is. He answered a different question, explaining what a jerk HRC is for saying he's a single-issue candidate, and how he's running a clean race. Heh. And then he talks at length about his single issue. So yes, he is a single-issue candidate, and when you call him on it he gets nasty.

It's a consistent pattern. 1. Bernie, is this true? 2. They're members of the Establishment so of course you'd expect them to say that. 3. But Bernie is it true? 4. They're members of the Establishment. 

Then one of the citizens of the town hall asks him what he's going to do about the tough lives black and Hispanic people have, esp men who are incarcerated at much higher rates than whites, with the caveat that we've heard all about how you're going to address the problem by getting them better jobs, and could you say something other than that, because not all of the problems are economic, some of them involve prejudice. So Bernie proceeds to explain how he's going to get them better jobs and that should solve the problem. He says it a bunch of different ways, filling up a lot of time, but he's repeating the same idea over and over, if you actually listen to the words he's saying.

I watched for another fifteen minutes as he did it over and over. Clearly they've thought it through and decided that he must not talk about anything other than this because he's a single-issue candidate and doesn't know enough about anything else to speak coherently about it.

No more Wash Post for Davey - 2016-02-19T00:51:38Z

Last week I wrote about an EZ-Pass for online news sites. Now I have hit my monthly max for two pubs: the Washington Post and Boston Globe. So until March I won't be able to read or link to any of their stories.

Shame. I just clicked on a link to a Washington Post story that said that one of the Koch brothers said Bernie Sanders is right about one thing. What that thing was will remain a mystery for me, sadly.

PS: I probably should go ahead and turn off the Wash Post river too. Not much point having it if I can't click on the links. Sad day. 

PPS: The Guardian does not have a limit on the number of articles I can read. It's also a very good source of news, and I have a river for it as well. 

PPPS: I cheated, I opened the story in another browser. Heh. It's a really good piece, an op-ed written by Charles Koch himself. I think Sanders should debate Koch. That would be really interesting. Koch mentions that it seems to him that Sanders is running against Koch. Very true. It's good that he's willing to de-cloak, even if it's in a place where very few voters will likely see it, or even know who he is and what role he plays in the political process in the US.

Elizabeth Warren is a zombie too - 2016-02-18T17:01:43Z

There was a time when I would have voted for Elizabeth Warren for anything. For President, for god, for Fifth Beatle, you name it. But then something happened.

It was during the last open conflict between the Palestinians in Gaza and Israel. I don't remember all of what it was about, but I do remember that in the US all the politicians were turning a blind eye, quite deliberately, to some outrageous stuff that the Israelis were doing. It was totally asymmetric. Israel was turning whole neighborhoods into rubble, killing lots of innocent people, including kids, all the while reminding us that a few Israelis had been killed, and this somehow justified what they were doing. No, it didn't. And anyone with a conscience and some integrity would say so. The kind of person I thought Elizabeth Warren was.

But she said the same shit all the other Democrats and Republicans were saying. Because they're all politicians and they know they don't stand a chance of getting re-elected if they don't recite the Israeli party line, because of something you and I don't know the particulars of.

They're all the same. Repeat that 500 times. You can't rise to power in the US without swallowing a pill that means you are part of what Bernie Sanders calls The Establishment. And if you buy the idea that he or Elizabeth Warren are any different, then you're just buying a political pitch, like the people who believe Trump will build a wall on the southern border and get Mexico to pay for it. It's about as real as the stuff that Sanders promises, which is to say it isn't real at all. 

And when Warren tells her story of being disappointed with HRC that's politics too. She has no high ground to speak from. 

It's just TV - 2016-02-17T23:12:46Z

I think what people don't realize is that this year's election more than any before it is a TV show. That's exactly how people are relating to it, top to bottom. Government has nothing to do with the choices people make. 

Facebook opens Instant Articles to all - 2016-02-17T19:11:17Z

News that Facebook is opening up Instant Articles to everyone including bloggers in April. Of course I want to make sure my CMS is ready to go as soon as it's available. Hopefully there will be (or already is?) a developer sandbox to test with before it's open to the public.

Tech too big to fail - 2016-02-17T17:43:06Z

Sanders may think that campaign finance is the primary issue but imho it's notThe means we use to communicate is privately owned and at least one of the companies is wobbly. Twitter could be acquired by a Chinese company. Or go out of business. Or unilaterally change the way it works. We, mere users, would have no recourse. So far they have been exemplary corporate citizens, but there's nothing that says it has to stay that way, esp with their stock price so low, and going lower.

I wonder if Sanders realizes how dependent he and every other candidate is on Twitter. HRC is no help, btw, she is quite cozy with the tech industry. 

But, maybe sensing that things have changed, she may become more independent? One can hope.

OAuth inside Electron apps? - 2016-02-17T17:22:26Z

I am working on an app in Electron that uses OAuth to connect with one of my servers, which in turn uses OAuth to connect with Twitter.

It's very standard stuff for an app running in a browser, but this app is running in Electron. 

So here's the question..

I need a callback URL to send to the server after the user has given permission to use their credentials.

I tried the one that we use at startup, but it doesn't work:

mainWindow.loadURL ("file://" + __dirname + "/index.html");

So I did the only thing I could think of -- I created a tiny little HTTP server running inside my app on port 1501, and that does work, with one caveat.

When the program starts up the user has to acknowledge that it's okay for my app to listen on this port. That's pretty much a bummer, not quite a deal-stopper.

So, I'm wondering if you or someone you know has done an OAuth app inside Electron, and can tell me what callback URL they used.

If you have a clue, please send email to or reply here. Thanks!

PS: I have done lots of searching and reading and coding before posting this here.

Presidential trolling - 2016-02-17T15:14:46Z

Before you pass on trolling from presidential candidate, esp Trump, check it out first. His story about the Bush domain was easy to refute.

Controlling abuse on Twitter - 2016-02-16T21:54:03Z

I took a one-day trip to Boston last week to visit the MIT Media Lab

While I was there I heard a presentation by Caroline Sinders about ways Twitter and other online services could offer controls that would help minimize abuse. 

She designed new prefs for Twitter that I thought were pretty clever. Here's a screen shot.  And a summary:

  • Allow followers of your followers to tweet at you?
  • Do not allow accounts with less than X followers to tweet at me, @mention me, or follow me.
  • Make my account public, but my handle can't be tweeted at by non-followers. 

I'd of course add my favorite (that doesn't actually exist) -- mute-with-timeout, which would allow me to turn off messages from people who might have a reason right now to be angry, but who I'd like to automatically give another chance to communicate with me, after having a chance to cool down.

We should be doing more thinking about stuff like this, and of course it would be great if developers working outside Twitter could implement clients that were more abuse-resistant. 

Better call Scoble! - 2016-02-16T14:40:22Z

A little bird flew by yesterday and dropped an envelope on my desk. I opened it. The message, written in bird scrawl simply said:

So I went there and was surprised to see that Scoble is returning to the blogosphere in April. Hey that's good news, on the order of a new season of Better Call Saul, which also started yesterday.

Of course I subscribed to his RSS feed in the River tab on Scripting News. So when he updates, links to his posts will show up there.

These days I think of the blogosphere as a balloon. For a long time it was deflating. But now there's some new hot air coming in and maybe we'll reach critical mass once again!

Glad to see my old friend coming home. ;-)

Full Blog

Scripting News - 2019-09-16T21:49:43Z

- 2019-09-16T19:37:51Z
Kavanaugh actually blamed "revenge on behalf of The Clintons" out loud and in public in his Senate confirmation hearings. So you don't have to look to what he did with his penis in the past, really, to see why he shouldn't be on the court. He's as unhinged as Trump.

- 2019-09-16T19:10:07Z
Nadler: Impeachment needed to vindicate the Constitution.

- 2019-09-16T21:47:25Z
24 years, 11 months and yadda yadda. It's going to be 25 years in less than a month. I have no idea what will happen then.

- 2019-09-16T19:07:36Z
We wait for proof, then it comes, and go back to waiting for proof. We think we want proof, but what we really want is to not have proof. That is if you judge us by our actual behavior. Just a bit more normal, we'll deal with the truth when we have proof.

- 2019-09-16T21:39:34Z
I've had neck pain and stiffness for the last few days, but it's better and finally it's feeling good enough that I could do something, so (like a fool?) I went for a 20-minute bike ride. My legs were sooo ready for this. I could have easily done an hour. But I stopped at 20 hoping my recovery would continue.

- 2019-09-16T18:36:22Z
A corollary of your never knowing the struggles of other people. As the people you think about grow older, the chance they're dealing with serious health issues approaches certainty. So if you make work for them that might be one reason they don't do it. This is one of the most offensive things about what Google is doing to the web. Make-work, security theater, whose main consequence won't be a more secure web, just a web with bigger holes in it.

- 2019-09-16T16:11:21Z
Braintrust query: I'm being quoted in an oral history about podcasting. I haven't seen the whole piece, but have been shown two quotes, ostensibly from me, that are similar to something I might have said, but use terms that I would not have used. The quotes sort of accurate, but they aren't literal quotes. A question for journalist friends. Is this standard practice? Should I object?

- 2019-09-16T18:04:56Z
Someday archaeologists will uncover random pictures from this era and wonder why the primates were in so much pain.

- 2019-09-16T15:32:06Z
When I was a college student in New Orleans in the 1970s, I used to hang out at restaurants and bars on Oak St in Uptown. It's very close to the line separating the city and Jefferson Parish, and like most political lines in the area, it's marked by a levee. If one side floods it doesn't necessarily mean that the other does. It was also very close to the Mississippi River, which of course also has a levee. In this case you walk up the levee, and the river comes to within a few feet of the top, way above the level of the city. If the levee were to break, a huge volume of river water would flood the city. I understood at an intellectual level how precarious this place was. But Oak St was an affluent street in a mostly affluent area. Living there you had the sense that it will always be this way. It seemed impervious to catastrophe. Thirty years later, after Katrina, I came back and Oak St was destroyed. A fire had raged through the area, unchallenged by fire fighters who were gone. The civilization that seemed so dependable had folded. The people had moved to other cities. New Orleans was almost empty. The point of the story is that climate change may seem theoretical because you live near an Oak St in whatever town you are in. But its stability, the foundation it's built on, is mostly in your imagination.

- 2019-09-16T14:57:26Z
Yesterday I described Succession as The Sopranos without the sentimentality and intellect.

- 2019-09-16T15:00:52Z
I fixed a problem in the persists package yesterday. When initializing a shared object, it ignored all non-scalar fields. I was using a daveutils routine copyScalars to do the copying. I wrote a new local routine that copies everything. I can't think of a reason it should only do scalars. It came up in an application I was writing. We're at that stage in this project where I try to use it as it was designed to be used and discover that the system guy (me) didn't correctly anticipate the needs of the app developer (also me).

- 2019-09-16T19:31:06Z
Jimmy Cliff: Sitting in Limbo.

- 2019-09-16T21:49:43Z

- 2019-09-15T23:54:42Z
Poll: Will Elizabeth Warren be the Democratic nominee in 2020?

- 2019-09-15T19:32:38Z
The Ruling Class, a comedy starring Peter O'Toole, was one of my favorite movies as a teen. The main character, a member of the British aristocracy, said he was God and spread a message of love for all. Some great jokes. It appears they have the whole movie on YouTube, for free.

- 2019-09-15T19:29:24Z
An idea for the New Yorker and other pubs with paywalls. Suppose I request a link to a story, you include a code in the url, so when you get a hit you know it came thru me. At least deduct that page from my monthly quota. Or maybe a twofer.

- 2019-09-15T17:22:45Z
It took hours of digging through various bits of software to figure out that the nbariver Twitter account had been suspended because they thought it was sharing personal information inappropriately. Here's a screen shot of the report. Obviously we were not sharing personal information, just relaying a news report from the Denver Post that some sharing had taken place. This is interesting because a human obviously would be able to tell the difference, and also it's exactly what we were discussing on Twitter over the last few days, how to automate these things. I did not delete the tweet, it was completely innocent.

- 2019-09-15T17:51:33Z
Interesting that the Denver Post had tweets with exactly the same text and was (apparently) not suspended?

A definitive list of news feeds - 2019-09-15T15:30:25Z

Yesterday I posted an item here and on Twitter suggesting a collection of RSS feeds from news orgs managed by one or more universities. There were a few responses from people who believe they at least have a good start on this, so let me flesh out the idea a bit.

  • Think of it as a process more than a product. A list frozen in time isn't very useful. We have lots of those. The idea here is that the list is maintained, it grows and shrinks as new feeds are created, new organizations get on board, and of course some fall off.
  • I think the people should come from a university or a group of universities. It could be a student project. Lots of people flow through the project over time, and go out into the world and help build awareness of the project.
  • Having a list that no one knows about is pointless. There should be marketing activity for the project, a Twitter feed, Facebook group, what else?
  • All popular feed formats are supported.
  • Feeds should be added conservatively. The quality of the feeds is very important. The list should be culled of dupilicates, different URLs for the same resource. Don't worry about including two feeds that include similar stories (for example, there is a sports feed for the NYT and also a New York news feed, stories about the Knicks would appear in both, this is not a problem, ).
  • Use the standard OPML subscription list format as documented. Add attributes to any item with the metadata you have for it.
  • Open source all the way. MIT License for any software, and Creative Commons for the list itself. Create a GItHub repository to store the list and any associated documentation. It can be distributed in other ways of course, via a website, an internet-accessible database.

Please post your comments here.

- 2019-09-14T16:40:47Z
On Twitter, an interesting thread started by Emily Bell. It went off in a lot of directions, I brought it back to what I think is a constructive first step. A collection of RSS feeds from news orgs, maintained, with metadata. Something a group of j-school students, maybe even from different unis, could do. Lots of room for growth here. ;-)

- 2019-09-14T16:40:12Z
My neck is out, the way my back used to go out. Very stiff and painful. I think the cause is bad shoes and too much walking. Taking it relatively easy for a few days.

- 2019-09-13T21:45:48Z
I was asked in a recent interview to talk about the first software I remember seeing demoed. This was hard, because when I started programming, in the mid-70s , what we think of as software today, didn’t exist. In 1979 I got my eyes opened with a demo of VisiCalc. I had never ever conceived of something like that. I immediately decided to copy their user interface. Didn’t take more than a few seconds to grok it. That's elegance, a clear breakthrough.

- 2019-09-13T16:09:38Z
They have red hats. We should wear MLK buttons.

- 2019-09-13T15:14:58Z
Two recent Node.js ships: XML-RPC for JavaScript and the persists package.

- 2019-09-13T14:45:49Z
Chris Lydon interviews Evgeny Morozov. I tried listening, couldn't get very far into it. In the last 25 years a huge amount of new media has been created, I can't think of a single thing that was created at the Media Lab. Negroponte's column at the back of Wired wasn't a place to turn to for new ideas. Mostly it was self-promotion, as I recall. Demoware has always haunted tech. In my experience that's what the Media Lab pushes. Stuff the funding organizations go for. It seems in all the mess that came out of the Epstein affar at the Media Lab, someone at some point would have offered a defense of the form, "But the Media Lab gave us X, Y and Z." But that never happened. I think in the early days, before the web, they did create some influential stuff, like the Logo language. What's been uncovered in this scandal is how little is created with all the millions of dollars of funding, not just at the MIT Media Lab, but at all the media labs everywhere. Moral of the story, at least in this round of tech, money isn't what creates new media, individuals with a vision who persevere do.

- 2019-09-13T16:49:21Z
I am not getting a new iPhone today. I could get an OLED TV for the same money.

- 2019-09-13T16:50:58Z
Truth be told Biden would be preferable to Trump even on his death bed. Frankly even if he were already dead he'd be a better president. Just sayin.

- 2019-09-13T13:51:50Z
I did not know that there is a Trump piñata. It could be a hit at your next party!

- 2019-09-12T15:03:06Z
Short audio excerpt of Jodi Kantor of the NY Times on Fresh Air, on the importance of journalism process. Inspiring.

- 2019-09-12T14:24:32Z
A minor league football coach could figure out how to beat Trump. It requires minor collaboration between the Democratic Party and the entertainment world. We need programming to go up against Trump. The programming has to be about Trump, because he's made himself the story. But it has to tell the story he doesn't want told, in as dramatic a fashion as he tells his story. It doesn't have to be good drama, it won't reach into your soul and make you cry, it doesn't need to because Trump can't do that. What it has to do is fill you with rage. Grab and hold your attention. But it must not be done by the Democratic candidate. The Republican team only has one play. It's a game where the quarterback runs. So you just fill the field with defensive backs. When Trump moves, destroy him. When he moves again, destroy him again. With what? Acting, childish pranks and low comedy.

- 2019-09-12T19:26:17Z
What nice internet users do, in a Twitter thread.

- 2019-09-12T18:01:19Z
Elizabeth Warren's campaign has mastered humble snark.

- 2019-09-12T21:19:26Z
If you read this blog via email, you can now see how long it has been running, at the bottom of the email message. We're getting close to 25 years.

- 2019-09-12T14:37:42Z
If someone says something to you that hurts, and on reflection you're sure it was because it hurts, then turn around, walk out, and never look back.

- 2019-09-12T14:35:23Z
It was asked: If you could take the next plane to any place, where would you go? I said I'd travel in time to when I was 22 and in love. ❤️

- 2019-09-12T08:25:04Z
Sorry last night's emails didn't go out until 4:25AM Eastern instead of 12:01AM. Here's the lesson I learned. When you change the password on an account, think about the apps that connect to that account, and change them too.

- 2019-09-11T18:46:30Z
I know how to be sure Trump doesn't win in 2020. It's The Trump Soap as described below. Here's a 12-minute podcast that explains. The movie I mentioned was Get Out.

- 2019-09-11T16:25:23Z
Back in the day they used to broadcast soap operas live. I assume they wrote the scripts the day before. So it would be interesting to use the same technique to dramatize the goings-on in the White House. Don't attempt to impersonate Trump and his staff, it's not funny or interesting -- maybe even given them different names to bring that home. Have them say and do the things the people in the White House are doing. Use your imagination. They can do things that haven't been reported on, or be dramatic flourishes.

- 2019-09-11T20:04:01Z
I was reminded with a note from a Boston friend that Radio Woodstock is pretty great. It is. It might be a good substitute for disappointed KFOG fans, of which I know at least a couple. "Acoustic Saturday mornings now part of my weekends!" If you have an Echo, you can listen by saying "Alexa WDST please." Easy. 🚀

- 2019-09-11T18:12:24Z
Yesterday's Fresh Air interview with the NY Times reporters who exposed Harvey Weinstein is totally worth a listen.

- 2019-09-11T15:57:38Z
Jonathan Franzen: "The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it."

- 2019-09-11T15:45:37Z
Wouldn't it be great if all the reporters in tech got together to see truly new stuff, without regard of which company it came from, or if it came from a company at all? The big message no one in the establishment wants to hear (a term that's become precise these days) is that money does not yield progress. Jobs left a seed for you all as a clue. It's people that make the difference, not piles of money. That's the big reboot of news we're waiting for. For our news to stop worshipping money and get down to telling us what's new.

- 2019-09-11T15:45:20Z
Twitter and Facebook feel equally important in news today, but in the future, if the archive of Twitter survives, it will probably be the more valuable, because except for blocking, it's on the web, where Facebook has access constraints that make it not a good record.

- 2019-09-11T15:43:00Z
I'm helping a publication do an oral history of podcasting. The writer is earnest, thoughtful, a good person. But... Would you read a history of cars written by someone who didn't know the basics of how cars work? It'll be a miracle if something coherent comes from this.

On this day in 2001 - 2019-09-11T15:35:54Z

I was up and blogging early on this day in 2001. If you visit the site you'll find that many of the links are broken, so you might want to try the version. It's in reverse-chronologic order, so read from the bottom and scroll up.

What the day was like for me. It started as a normal blogging and programming day. A link to an article on Wired. A plug for David Banks' book new book on Microsoft. And then the day started for real.

At 6:15AM I got an email from Bill Seitz with a link to a webcam in the Empire State Building pointing south. The World Trade Center was in the middle of the picture, smoke was coming out of the side of one of the buildings. He said a plane had hit the building. I had no TV. Emails came from people in New York, some with pictures. People sent me links to stories via email (remember this was before RSS was supported by most news orgs). Digital cameras were just starting to catch on, readers in Brooklyn and in lower Manhattan, with clear views of the scene, sent pictures.

  • I had no TV because I turned it off. I had become obsessed with cable news after the 2000 election. Didn't like it. I turned it back on later in 2001, when we started the war in Afghanistan.

News orgs in New York had been knocked out, I was safe in California, but I grew up in New York, so I knew the geography. And later we'd learn that my father, a professor at Pace University hadn't been heard from. My mother, a school psychologist was on a rooftop in Brooklyn.

That day my blog served the function that Twitter and Facebook play today. The biggest story in the world, before or since. Only as much as one person could absorb, only the questions that occurred to that person.

- 2019-09-10T15:29:06Z
Here's a new version of my XML-RPC for JavaScript. There's a client and server for Node, and a client for the browser. A debugger you can enter a call in, see what goes over the wire and what comes back. If you're using XML-RPC in JavaScript, please consider using this package and give feedback. If you have a current implementation for any environment, please post a note here. In my next pass I plan to make the rebooting page into the home page for the XML-RPC website.

- 2019-09-10T17:04:11Z
I just got a question from a user about how to get the OPML source text from an outline you're editing in LO2. Two steps. 1. In the File menu, choose View OPML. 2. In your browser's File menu, choose Save Page As. That's it. You now have a local copy of the file.

- 2019-09-10T23:20:11Z
This week's 1619 podcast is fantastic. It's the story of American music. I laughed and cried, and get goosebumps thinking how great America is, thanks to slaves and ex-slaves and children of slaves.

- 2019-09-10T13:09:45Z
My friend Steve Garfield is now Twitter-famous.

- 2019-09-10T23:17:19Z
We were able to boot up podcasting from Harvard with $0 in funding. That's something we can replicate. So ask the Media Lab if their goal is to create new media, or spend lots of money. Because they are mutually exclusive things imho. 💥


From JR's : articles
10 words - 131 chars
created on
updated on - #
source - versions

A     A     A     A     A

© 2013-2017 JotHut - Online notebook

current date: Sep 16, 2019 - 11:13 p.m. EDT