Saturday, December 18, 2004

OPML and XSLT and JavaScript

In looking a writing XBletter, I’m going to need to use OPML, XSLT and JavaScript. Luckily someone else got to this part first.

Friday, December 17, 2004

XBletter: First Notes

I’ve said for a while now that I wanted to write my own blogging software. Here’s my latest thinking.

All content is stored in RSS 2.0 files. Each category has its own directory with its own RSS content file. Even main is in a directory, perhaps /main. All content is displayed from an HTML file which is created from a XSLT file. The XSLT file is contains what is the HTML skin.

I still have not found/stolen a simple HTML entry form that unlike HTMLjive is built into the browser – so to speak. Blogger and many other sites have something. This posting component act just like an external blog editor like BlogJet in that I would want to support API/Web Services or something.

The software would also support non-blog item content. This would allow an image, pdf or other enclosure (podcast speak) to be uploaded into a directory. Also standard HTML files could be upload.

One of the components of many blogs are lists. They should really be outlines, so lists like blogrolls will be stored as OMPL files. The XSLT transformation of these files will create JavaScript/DHTML lists. So a dependence on CSS. While content will generally be stored in a “top level” (a directory off the root), navigation would support different structure. Using OMPL files, this should follow the same process.

The lifecyle of an article – or is it the flow – would be to post new content into the RSS file in /main and every other category directory. (Note: two different blogs could post into the same category directory. This collaborative blogs.) The item would also be put into the archive directory. This archive directory would be the PermaLink for the item. So posting would touch many different RSS files which in turn would invoke XSLT files creating new HTML files.

There would have to be some configuration file for each blog. What is the home directory for the blog? Where is the OMPL file for navigation? Which What are the categories? Which XSLT file is used in the directory? (More than one?) So some program would have to create/edit this XML file.

Still have to figure out TrackBacks. And pinging.

There would be a comment module. Comments would probably be stored in a RSS file with some extensions. Much more to think through here.

Maybe this is too ambitious of a plan. Maybe it has been done before. But I think the backend code would not be rather simple to maintaining the content. I’ll post more here if I make any progress.


BlogJet 1.2 build 33 Release Candidate

There is now a Properties tab in BlogJet. This is for metadata about your blog item. Stuff like trackback, time, date, keywords, comments, etc. It will be interesting to explore.

It does not support relative links. This is GREAT. Now I can use BlogJet as my everyday HTML editor. This will really help me with my new forms project.

Also, this is tabs done right.

Friday, December 10, 2004

HELP: Programming Language of the Year

Having watched the computer world since grade school in the 1960's, it seemed that each year there was a new computer language to learn. Somehow I thought that this process had slowed down with Java. I was wrong. Flash is one example. Processing may be another.

So do you have a nomination for a particular year? Here are only a few:

1979 - MicroSoft Basic
1980 - VisiCalc (qualify as a language?)
1995 - JavaScript

I still need to match Forth, APL, Java, Flash, Structured Basic, Visual Basic, Fortran, Cobol, and Logo.

Interactive Zip Code

The web provides some interactivity with hyperlinks. How about using numbers for interactivity? Try this zipdecode map that zooms as you type numbers. Do you know your neighbors by zip code? Try finding a town you know but not the zip code? Interesting and irrelevant relationships emerge.

Built with Processing which look to be an interesting programming language.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Podcasting with FeedDemon

As you are probably aware, I'm a big supporter of podcasting (see ipodder logo). Nick Bradbury is now supporting podcasting in the beta of FeedDemon, also a favorite of mine. Great stuff Nick!

Atom Winning Marketshare with Marketers

For what it is worth, I just subscribed to all of the blogs in the Ries Book Tour. Almost all of these blogs are hosted on TypePad and thus provide syndication using Atom and not RSS. Though RSS may be winning the overall war, as Origin of Brands says, there is a place for second or what I consider the Not Leader Brand.

A Con of Branding

I love branding. For example, I'm certainly going to buy Origin of Brand by Ries and Ries. Branding is a powerful meme. But sometimes I get a gut reaction that marketing can be unethical. Then I'm torn to rationally say that the world is changing. "Education is War" - Marshall McLuhan.

The Washington Post yesterday had an excellent article about A Rough Ride for Schwinn Bicycle. While the end result is a Sting Ray for "about a third of the original's price in today's dollars," it is the destruction of the entire supply chain and those jobs that requires notice. Now when you buy a Schwinn part of your dollar goes to Wal-Mart, to their internal distribution, to the importer and brander of Schwinn and to the manufacturing in China and their suppliers. No longer in the business model are jobs that include pensions and healthcare for the now unemployed American workers that built the String Ray, the suppliers, the distributors or the hundreds of independent, mom and pop, bike shops. That is the way it is.

The reason I get the gut reaction is that the Schwinn Sting Ray brand evokes the product of 40 years ago for many of the parents buying a bike for their kids. The product has changed yet the branding is in some ways saying that it has not. For the consumer it is not the same "made in America" product as they rode in the 1970's though it has the same name. And the dollar goes to an entirely different business model. The branding is disguising the fact that business model is entirely different and that I think is a con of branding.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Blogs Beyond the Chasm: Blog Book Tour

This is yet another indication that blogs are mainstream now: a blog book tour. (I know I missed this during the election PR overload.) Book tours are the bread and butter of many talk shows both on radio and television. There is big promotional money and big PR behind these tours. (Same with movies.) Expect to see more and more PR efforts poured into blogs and feeds. Some blog/feed will master this and become the next "Entertainment Tonight."

PS. This is also a nice list of brand related blogs.

Business Blog Book Tour

Al and I have an exciting two weeks of blogging ahead. We are going to be taking part in 800-CEO-READ's Business Blog Book Tour. Over the next two weeks we will be making stops at the following top branding blogs to discuss our new book The Origin of Brands. I hope you will all join us at the various blogs to read our interviews and post your comments.

Tour Stops:

October 11th - 800-CEO-READ

October 12th - John Porcaro

October 13th - David Paull - Dial.Log

October 14th - BusinessPundit

October 15th - CrossRoads Dispatches

October 18th - Learned on Women

October 19th - What's Your Brand Mantra

October 20th - WonderBranding

Where Technology Always Existed Results in Cultural Differences

"Does a fish know there is water?" -McLuhan

For the young, they don't know life before .... (Fill in the technology of your choice.) I think that this is a big cultural difference that I'm trying to put my arms around. For example, I think the transformation that the baby boomers made to our culture is in large part because they did not know life before television. This caused the "generation gap" with their establishment parents.

Above was triggered by reading A life where TiVo has always existed which Shifted Librarian blogged.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Metadata for Podcasts

Dave Winer and Marc Canter are talking about metadata for podcasts. I'd like to turn the discussion on its head and look at how to including the podcast metadata into the standard Dublin Core HTML metadata. Work done for GEM (Gateway to Educational Materials) is probably useful because they deal with duration. This is espcially important for podcast because why they now audio, there is no reason why many other file types won't be in future podcasts. My work involves reading an HTML page and its metadata to make an RSS item.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Wal-Mart Unions in China

How about this? Wal-Mart is allowing unions in their stores in China because of competition according to a radio report I heard. This is big news. Other articles indicate Wal-Mart acted because of pressure from the press or authorities.

Another indication that China is superpower. Maybe the next superpower. Or maybe the economic superpower. (Note: oil price rise was first indicator for me.)

Cranberry Banana Nut Bread

I bake and cook so much by changing recipes and never write down the modifications. That makes it nearly impossible to repeat which is sometimes a good thing. Let's try blogging a recipe instead.

2 c whole wheat flour
2 c white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder

2 mashed large bananas
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cups OJ
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup oil

3 cups chopped cranberries
1 1/2 cups light chopped walnuts

Bake at 350 for 55 minutes.

Variation on desert bread with many more nuts. Some holiday I'd like to make a nut bread as good as my great aunts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Tile Community on Web with Pictures

Online communities have intrigued me since the days of Bulletin Board Systems (BBSs) in 1978. I'm certain that they thrive because of both a critical mass and the "art of the moderator." The former is interesting science to analysis while the later is beauty to behold.

John Bridge Ceramic Tile is a surprisingly strong community. "Tile and marble veterans from around the country and around the world (U.S., Canada, Australia, U.K.) " On Saturday morning I asked a question about a taping greenboard and cement backer board (CBB) and got a reply within an hour. I had spent the previous hour using Goggle trying to find an answer because no DYI book gave me an answer.

What startled me about this community is pictures. So many topics have pictures of people building showers, bathrooms and other projects. Not professional photographers, but real life pictures. This community is so much stronger because of digital cameras.

People ask why I want a camera in my new phone. Same people use to ask why I would ever want a color monitor. John Bridge Forum is just one reason why I'll get a camera in my phone.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Feeling Blue State

With only 49.2% of my union's vote, I'm feeling blue. If just 3 people had changed their vote, I would have been Treasurer. Its a volunteer position, so I'm actually glad to have the free time and hopeful that the new President will carry out some reforms. So while I feel like blue states, I'm not feeling blue.

And thanks to all that helped on my campaign.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Lessons from Viet Nam

This was too upsetting to read in one sitting, so I just finished coverage of Seymour Hersh at UC Berkeley from October 2004.  "Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh spills the secrets of the Iraq quagmire and the war on terror."

Remember the hawks and doves during Viet Nam? If you do, I think Seymour Hersh's accounts will chill you to the bone. If not, ask some one who remembers how this country was torn apart as the public slowly realized that our Viet Nam policy was wrong. (Are we similarly torn apart now into Red and Blue?)

So there is a lesson about Iraq and Viet Nam, but there is also a bigger lesson that I believe we have learned as a nation. You don't have to support the policy or the policy makers, but you should always support the troops.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Moral Values is a Brand Name

A caller to Chris Core's talk radio show said the other night that the reason it is so hard to come together after this election is religion. I don't think he meant that one side or the other was more religious or was more responsible, but rather that religion was even part of it. We seemed to have reversed nearly 50 years of effort. When John Kennedy was elected, everyone was arguing that religion, in this case Catholicism, should not be important.

Now we have so called "moral values." The word coiners are using these words to advance their agenda. Moral values is as accurate as the Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind or death tax. This rebranding of issue is emotionally pushing issues, not advancing the debate. The brand name is not the same as good morals.

Words do matter. So maybe we can come together if we agree upon the words to frame the debate instead of brand names. We'll see if the Republicans, conservative commentators and right radio can do that.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Red Map

This is a polarizing map. I think we're more purple than this. Probably reddish purple.

Convergence and acleareye

Found an interesting new blog by Tom Asacker called acleareye for people interesting in brands and marketing. I also like the format. Each item's title is SoAndSo on Subject. For example, Al Ries on convergence. Since Ries is one of my favorite authors, I left this comment.

The telephone answering machine is my example [of convergence]. It is almost impossible to find a stand alone version anymore. Most people now have a telephone in their house with an answering machine.

However, I tend to agree that convergence is an organic process in terms of product life cycle. As a product becomes a commodity (e.g., more of a published good) it tends to become a value add for other products. Answering machines are so cheap that they are a simple value add for telephones. Or it may simply be when two products become published goods, convergence looks like a value add.

Future Note: Above would be interesting Tetrad.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Friday, October 29, 2004


This is the simplest choice in over twenty years of voting for President. At the most fundamental level our leader must be smart. It is not just enough to sound bite the right words after the right photo op. I mean Rhodes Scholar, book smart. As much as we voters would like to see issues as binary (yes or no, black or white, good or evil), both domestic and diplomatic issues are not so simple. That's why people write issue papers and not issue choices. This nation's and the world's future requires an intelligent leader.

Our vote though is a binary choice. And for me there is clear cut evidence that George Bush Jr. fails this smart test. It is not his pauses during the debates or his Bushisms. It is this simple: No WMD, No Bush. I'm not in the "intelligence business" (eg CIA) or the like. I'm a common citizen who reads the news and prior to the war I was suspicious of the WMD claims. He should have been too. After the Cold War was over, analysis showed that the CIA estimates of the USSR weapons was overestimated. Therefore, anyone should have expected that the estimates of WMD would also be overstated and that this administration would be certain not to be misled by weapons "intelligence" again. It is clear from the 9/11 report, time-lines about 9/11 and senior administration officials hatred of Iraq that Bush was not smart enough to be certain about WMD. Not only must a President must be certain before leading America into war, but he must do enough homework to get to the truth.

If it were as simple as No WMD, No Bush this choice might be harder. There seems to be many other items that lead me to this conclusion. While Bush is a Yalee, it does not mean anything. He was a legacy so his grades did not have to be anywhere near his classmates and professors have indicated he was not a great student. Bush has avoided news conferences as President which is unacceptable and leads me to believe that he is unprepared on the issues. If he is unprepared then how can he be trusted to make the decisions a President must make. Recent stories show that Bush did not want aides preparing long issue papers in the White House or when reviewing death penalty cases in Texas. In both one debate and at a news conference, Bush failed to admit any mistakes of his administration. While you might consider these items to be weak, I believe the overwhelming evidence is that while this President maybe intelligent, he is not intelligent enough to lead us forward.

Is Kerry intelligent enough? I believe we have enough evidence to believe so. His law degree. His Yale record. His work and re-election in the Senate. His bravery in Viet Nam and his decision after the war to not just be silent. His ideas and presentation during all three debates. This is not to say he is perfect. He struggled to find his voice about Iraq. As the campaign has gone negative, his campaign has occasionally jumped too quickly. But he has recognised his mistakes in both the primaries and the general election and brought in more help when he needed it. So Kerry, in my view, Kerry passes this test.

Some may argue that Kerry is a flip-flopper. While I do think that Karl Rove did an excellent job of tagging Kerry, I don't believe that it stands up. First, as many commentators pointed out during the primary, any Senator has a nearly impossible record to defend. There are so many procedural votes and bill containing a multitude of items that an aye or nay vote is not so simple. Second, I believe that Bush is the bigger flip flopper given the 9/11 Commission and the Department of Homeland Security. How can he claim credit for creating the department when he opposed it as much as possible. So flip flopper is a non-starter for me.

So, Kerry for President of the United States.

FeedDemon 1.5 Beta 2

Nick Bradbury is updating FeedDemon to 1.5. The beta is available. I'm going to be very interested in seeing what he and his users thought was important to add.

Already noticed that I need to get my favicon into my blog so it shows up in FeedDemon. And working with BlogLines looks to be great - I'll have to see.

PS Nick is also supporting BloggerCon III

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Decided to try out Feedburner.  As soon as Boogler gets their site back up, I'll update my template. Just felt I need to know about this service since bletter also provides an RSS service.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Podcasts - Rise of Radio

Ten years ago George Gilder wrote Digital Dark Horse - Newspapers. Prior to the popularity of the web or or he argued that "newspapers will prevail in the Information Age". In a time when television was the primary new source, this was a radical forecast for the emerging Internet.

With podcasts, we'll see another media that was relegated to a secondary status be retrieved. Radio companies, including public radio, will become the primary sources for podcasts. In just the few short days since iPodder was released, we are seeing WGBH and Minnesota Public Radio are already podcasting. And KOMO from Seattle.

Video Killed the Radio Star, but podcasting retrieves it.

Podcasts - Old Media as Content

Every new medium uses old media as the content. For example, radio programs were some of the first successful television programs. Brochures became some of the first web sites. CDs are still called albums. New media retrieves old media.

But some old media works better than others in the new medium. For example, people still want to load all of their CDs onto their iPod. There are even iPod service companies that will do this for you. In this case people want to put their old media that they love, understand and own into their new medium. Old media content helps people adapt to the new medium.

The success of iPod can not be separated from iTunes. RIAA furor about Napster and others was that sales of old media, CDs, were hurt. The beauty of iTunes is that Apple figured out the best old media for the iPod was not CDs but songs. (They also then worked on the details to make it a business.) iPod's interface is built around selecting songs. It is songs, not CDs, that are the best old media for iPod or any digital player.

Podcasting is a new medium and so it too takes old media as its content. Look at the Pioneers of podcasting and you'll see that they adapted the format of a radio program. Dave Winner commented in his Morning Coffee Notes of October 21, 2004 (mp3), that Adam Curry made his Daily Source Code program a perfect length of 40 minutes. This is the length of an hour long content without commercials that we understand from classrooms lectures, documentaries, interviews and public radio. It is no wonder that Adam Curry, a radio broadcaster with success in radio as television content (MTV), is the leading figure in podcasting. The familiar format of radio is making it easier for people to understand podcasting and is a key component in its rapid spread to early adapters.

However, the radio program format is not necessarily the best old media format for podcasting as it evolves. Just as iPod crossed the chasm to popular adaptation with songs instead of CDS, so it will probably take a different format for podcasting. A microcontent format will evolve.

Microcontent is the direction we are seeing in all media. Eric McLuhan in Electric Language shows the long term change in writing to paragraphs that are a single sentence. Look a Power Points - paragraphs without sentences. Look at how blogs are different than standard (brochureware) web sites. A blog produces RSS feeds which breaks a single web page into microcontent. Consumers want small blocks of content to make their own playlist, their own digest, their remix. People will create their own "radio programs" with microcontent podcasts.

So where is the microcontent for podcasting? Instead of long playing records (LPs) expect to see more and more 45s. WGBH is podcasting Morning Stories weekly which are short audio stories. Radio station KOMO is doing podcasts of individual news stories. And we are starting to see remixes and poems and other shorter formats of old media.

As the podcasting software, devices and producers move beyond the early adapter, look for better support of microcontent and remixes. Look for the 45s, not the LPs. Look for the tunes, not the CDs. Look for the blog, not the web site. Look for the elegantly design of TiVo or the iPod. It will all be there. The content of podcasts will be many different old media.


Friday, October 22, 2004

Sing Along

Can we comprehend Billions of Dollars for war? We are we going to spend Billions of Dollars for Peace?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Is a Lie Okay?

After listening to the outright false statements by Bush and Cheney the last few weeks, I'm beginning to believe that lying is now okay. Is it the constant bombardment of product commercials which promote nearly non-existent benefits? Is the sitcom settings that depict "middle class" American homes as perfect and more spacious than most of us live in? Is it just the information glut where we just don't know what to believe anymore?

Marketing products or candidates should not be about lying. Period.

(Or is this just a liberal view?)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Red and Blue: It's Local, Stupid

Washington Post ran a story with a detailed analysis of Democratic and Republican voting in the DC area. At first glance, Republicans gain as you moved further from downtown DC. However, if you looked at the two wealthy inner counties, Fairfax and Montgomery, you find a different pattern.

I think what you really are seeing that the established political party has the upper hand as the suburbs and exurbs grow towards them.

Even if you don't agree with that analysis, it sticks me that for the country to move off the red-blue divide the effort will have to be grassroots level. People are going to have to get involved with their local political parties, attend political meetings and act locally. It may start with you school, your newspaper or your blog. Maybe there will be something like Regan Democrats in the near future, but I doubt it. It's local, stupid.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Podcasting: Don't need an iPod

Added a button for iPodder to my blog. While the name suggests you need an Apple iPod, you certainly don't. However, you'll probably need iTunes to start. I just use iPodder and iTunes myself. Give it a try.

There is directory of podcast available. I'll recommend Trade Secrets to find out about the fast moving world of podcast. But look at the directory for a wide variety of content.

Blogging on the Metro?

Has anyone figured out how to blog on the Metro? I could bring my laptop, but the keyboard is a little too big for the crowd during rush hour. Anyone have suggestions on how to use a Palm?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Polls Are Wrong: Secret Ballot

The secret ballot is the keystone of democracy. I believe that this fact will be the November surprise.

Friends in two battleground states tell me they feel fear. It is as if rational discussion is not allowed. The right is so embolden where they live that you have to be careful who knows that you don't support Bush. Since that is the case, I wonder how many people in those circumstances even tell the pollsters the truth. So I believe that when people cast their secret ballots at the polls that the results will be different than the current polls.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Presidential Debate Drinking Game

How about the Presidential Debates as a drinking game? Though it may be a way to attract college students, I was thinking of it more as a means to cut through the spin, a helpful tool for media analysis. So how about a drink everything Bush says flip-flop or accuses Kerry of changing his position? How about a drink every time Kerry exceeds the time limit and every time Bush keeps it so simple that there is time left to respond? I'm sure you can think of a few more.

Bush's Top Ten Flip-Flops

Warming up the debate.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

AdSense Is Internet Currency

I'm stuck by the fact that AdSense has become the internet currency. Several startup sites I'm using lately incorporate AdSense into there business model. 

For some it appears AdSense is replacing venture capital and others it looks like a unit of measure for the venture capitalists. I can see the interview, "How much revenue have you generated from AdSense in the last 6 months?" The spreadsheets and chart displayed.

It is micropayments. There will be others. (Sure I'm not first to say this.)


Trade Secrets

Spent an hour listening to Trade Secrets Radio. This is a mp3 (and more?) radio show by Dave Winer and Adam Curry. Here's my take on it all.

Many new concepts need to reach critical mass before they work. Email lists are an example. Without enough subscribers there is no discussion. I think the same is happening with these type of "digital audio shows." With Trade Secrets and Gillmor Gang and others, there are now enough nerdy content to make a serious nerdy (early adapter) market. Other markets will follow. New markets will be discovered. I have no doubt there is a market for audio.

My next observation is that for all the hype about digital radio since my stint at the FCC (74-78), it is misnamed. This really is digital radio. Consumers can manipulate the content. Basically you can pick and choose your programs (shows, mp3s, whatever they'll eventually be called) and string them together with your digital playback unit (iPod, Treo, PPC, etc.). These digital shows obsolesces non-talk, broadcast radio.

However, a usability/marketing problem. I've already commented about the uneven volume of this audio which is probably an easy fix. But there is another problem. Blogs are the premier example of microcontent. Users want to pick and choose. MP3 generally is one big chunk. In this case an hour plus. So the next step is to pick and choose the segments you want, stream them together like you want, listen when you want. For me it was at the breakfast table this morning while glancing at, then I finished listening with my laptop on the Metro (subway) after work. Anyway, it will get there and I'll keep listening. 

Friday, September 10, 2004

Iron City in Aluminum Bottles

Iron City beer is the classic steelworker's beer. IC at the bar after a day on the line. In steel cans. Made in the plant, paid for with a paycheck from the plant.

IC aluminum bottlesMove into the next century and Pittsburgh Brewing has announced aluminium bottles. A few unionists must be spinning in their graves.

C&O Canal Biking Guide

Since moving to DC 30 years ago, I've slowly become more and more fascinated by the C&O Canal. This is a trail that goes along the Potomac River from Washington DC to Cumberland MD. A few years ago I heard that a trail from Cumberland to Pittsburgh was nearing completion. I immediately wanted to do a bike adventure with my son and hopefully my brother and his son. Somethings never worked out for this big trip.

So this fall I am trying my hardest to take a long weekend and do the DC to Cumberland portion. Actually, I plan to leave from my house near the W&OD trail, so the overall trip should be about 200 miles. There is a wonderful site that makes it easy to plan the trip: C&O Canal Biking Guide. (Thanks!)

Problem is finding motel rooms on Columbus Day weekend in Hancock and Harpers Ferry. More later.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Countdown on MSNBC is Best News Show

I've been watching Keith Olbermann on my TiVo for nearly six months do Countdown on MSNBC. In my opinion, it is the very best news show on television. He takes the resources of NBC, he get interviews for every one of the five segments and adds his wit to deliver the news. Not just the PR and spin, but the news.

News is so much spin these days. The 'No Spin Zone' was a great hook but that promise went unfulfilled as O'Reilly added his own spin. I'm sure more rightwing viewers think that Countdown is not spin free, but from my view he does a far better job at being objective than even the standard 6:00 o'clock news.

Here is a good example. The standard line even on Air America was that the GOP got a bounce out of their convention. (And the standard line was that the Dems did not.) Countdown did not just look at the first two polls that came out - they looked at 5 or more and then interview an expert on the matter. What bounce? Great stuff.

Don't miss Countdown. TiVo Countdown.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Nils Lofgren Tribute Concert

Tommy Lofgren and others at rehearsal at Tribute to Nils Lofgren.

Just back from "A Tribute to Nils Lofgren"  at Strathmore in North
Bethesda, Maryland. A perfectly wonderful late summer evening with joyful musicians. This was part of the Washington Musical Timeline Concert Series organised by WAMA. Congratulations to all who put this together.

Poster info: They were selling copies of the the show poster to help pay for the video. So even if you were not able to attend, apparently a video will be available at some point.

I arrive about three hours prior to the show and was able to listen in on several rehearsals and sound checks. The facility is acres of rolling hills just south of very high end shopping mall and nearby million dollar homes. The weather was perfect, in fact surprisingly nice. I couldn't accurately guess how many people were there. My position ended up being on the edge of the Lofgren family patchwork of blankets. Lots of young kids enjoying a late summer evening.

The show started at 7:00 pm with the sun setting behind the stage about 15 minutes after the start. The first two hours were tributes to Nils by many local musicians. Please see the poster for a complete list of performers. I'll try to put together the set list and players. There were so many changes that I'm sure my notes contain several errors.

After a short break and under the hazy stars, Mrs. Lofgren, mother to the four boys introduced each of her sons. The boys played a tune, a few more players join Nils for another. Then the reunited Grin took the stage. The rest of the night was Grin except for "I Came to Dance" encore. I'll try to get this set list up too.

Outdoors is not as intimate as clubs can be, but tonite was a delight. The tributes by various artists were touching and a pleasure. Each player or singer seemed to have personal connections to Nil's songs that came through. Though Nils plays Grin songs during his solo shows, the second part of the show was clearly a Grin performance. For me, this was pleasure to hear the Grin take on the songs. And of course, Nils on guitar.

Friday, August 20, 2004

A Story About Mark

Joan suggested that I tell my daughter a funny story about my cousin Mark. I feel that my son and daughter, ages 17 and 19, are old enough for this story now. I grew up with Mark living just about a block away. Mark being a little older, he was always a little more independent. My family moved away in early grade school and his family took the two hour car ride to visit us a few times. One trip stands out today. He and I and our two younger brothers were swimming out in Lake Michigan. And I mean out - straight out with basicly a raft. It was a complete calm day and the sailboat was our raft. We kept pushing the boat out. We heard our parents, aunts and uncles yell at us that we had gone out far enough - probably 1/2 mile. I told Mark that we better turn around. Mark looked at me in complete disbelief. "What? I don't hear anything." I followed my cousin's lead for probably another 1/2 mile in disbelief and enjoyed the day in the Lake. PS. My daughter made her big decision for her life and acted on it today. I'm sure Mark smiled.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Choices on Family Life and Death

My cousin's funeral is tomorrow. He laughed like his father and always invited me back into our extended family. He was two years older and after many afternoons in backyards in first and second grade, we heard from each other less as the years and miles went on. I feel sad about this because of all of my cousins, he is the one I knew.

It is also too bad because he had recently started a blog. While he may have started it to help solve his son's murder, it really reads like he did it for himself. He died driving "his couch" back from northern Canada. He hoped to return a better writer. I feel glad to have his blog to read and wish he could have read my blog before his death. Perhaps we could have become close again in the blogsphere. I'm sure we would have enjoyed that.

Even though I just heard about his wake and funeral, it is possible for me to get there. And my daughter needs me here. Work could wait. A choice between family and family, between cousin and father, between living beyond death and living healthy.

I see what the day brings.

Tetrad Mobile Devices

From the interview with Kristov Nyiri, the director of the Institute of Philosophical Research, part of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, in TheFeature, one can draw a tetrad for mobile devices. These are mobile phones with screens, messaging and cameras.

McLuhan Laws of Media Tetrad
Mobile Devices
Visual thinking and

Sometimes, someplaces
Mobile Phones

These devices are obsolescing mobile phones.

The retrieval is face-to-face communications. Nyiri says "most of the people that you have texted or called today are actually people you will meet face-to-face at some point today. From my research, many mobile calls are to people who are physically close, and many texts are to people you are about to meet."

Mobile devices enhance non-verbal communications and thinking according to his research with usage by carpenters versus soft drink salespeople and real estate agents. "From a philosophy perspective, many academics believe that people think in terms of images and not words. Research shows that at least 50% of face-to-face communication is through expressions, gestures and tones. MMS can make mobile communications even closer to face-to-face conversations."

Nyiri does not discuss reversal, but from my experience, as mobile devices become ubiquitous, problems arise. Instead of anywhere and anytime, use of mobile devices are being banned from concerts, operas, movies, some restaurants and other public locations. Spouses are banning them from vacations. Schools ban student use. So the reversal is sometime and someplaces. 

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Tetrad: Mobile Phones

Kristov Nyiri is director of the Institute of Philosophical Research, part of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and was interviewed in TheFeature. This interview references research studies on mobile phone usage. While not using the Tetrad it discusses components of the tetrad for both mobile phones and mobile devices. The interview indirectly points out that mobile devices (phones with messaging, cameras and screens) are now obsolescing mobile phones. He quotes philosopher Robin Dunbar that "gossipping is the essence of language." And mobile phone enhance gossipping and thus language. His  "research [shows] that many mobile calls are to people who are physically close" and that is what is retrieved.

There was also interesting comment about the adaption of mobile devices being delayed because of culture. At school people "are discouraged to think in terms of images." His research showed that carpenters were by far bigger users than soft drink salespeople and real estate agents. His conclusion was that carpenters were use to thinking in terms of drawings and images. My conclusion would be that more research would show if it was based on schooling (i.e., how much ABCEDmindedness training someone had) or if it was linked to the nature of their work (i.e., lots of paperwork) which was more literate.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Canadian Wal-Marts Progressing Toward Unionization

Today the The Globe and Mail reports that employees at Wal-Mart in Jonquière, Quebec were granted certification by the Quebec Labour Relations Board. Yesterday an article highlights the progress in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in gaining certification. An employee states that "This province is a union province."

You might say "Why Care?" but better wages and benefits help everyone.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Dem Convention Bloggers

There are a lot of comments about bloggers at the Dem Convention. So I thought I'd give my comments.

First, thanks to Dave Winer for setting up Excellent site and great to have the OPML list of bloggers so I could import it into my FeedDemon.

A remarkable number of bloggers noted the difference of the experience between the speeches in the Center and the same on TV. (Weinberger in Boston Globe, etc.) Personally, I experienced Clinton speech on, Dean and Obama's on live cable tv coverage, likewise for kids and Max's introduction to Kerry. And Kerry's speech on TiVo. All different experiences. I most enjoyed the intros because I was watching with my kids live as history was being made - one of my media biases.

Third it seems bloggers expected critics to follow their rules. Dave Winer comments that one critic "didn't give us a list of blogs..." Rick Heller complained that his quote was used out of context by a CNET critic without a link back to the original post. Are bloggers surprised that others don't follow blogger best practices?

Fourth blogging is now recognised as a different medium but even some bloggers don't recognise this: The fact that other media covered bloggers extended the recognition of credential granting by the Dems to the entire country and world. The fact that there were events (e.g., parties) just for bloggers sponsored by political organisations. The fact the blogs were well read.

Final observation. Blogs present a different reality or view of the Convention and I enjoyed that view.

Saturday, July 31, 2004

Jay Rosen on Blogging the Dem Convention

The Blogging of the President: 2004

Three great points from talk by Jay Rosen of NYU and PressThink

  1. Bloggers were the news.
  2. 40 years of television shaping conventions is over
  3. Transformation of media continues.

Blogs as Threats at Dem Convention

At the Dem Convention blogs were certainly seen as a threat by the established media of tv, radio, magazines and newspapers. "I think that bloggers have put the issue of professionalism under attack" said Thomas McPhail, professor of media studies in the New York Times. Even a political cartoonist took a swipe.

Any new medium threatens the established media. In the 1950's television news coverage was seen as unprofessional and not worthy of being called news. It was said to have presented an unrealistic view of the process. Sounds like what critics said of blog coverage now.

Blogs, like other media, uniquely present an event. Television has given us the "sound bite" and "speech over by 11:00." Newspapers provide in-depth reports. And blogs provide the hyperlinked post which other media can not provide. Each medium provides yet another glimpse of what is really happening.

Once you realise that each medium can uniquely present an event, then it is easier to accept blogs as a news medium that deserves a place at the table. And because blogs provide a different type of coverage they will develop their own "journalistic" standards. Some will come from leaders. Some from learning from mistakes. Eventually these will be recognised and people can stop arguing that bloggers are not journalists. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Inside the Mind of Bill O'Reilly

Faux News provides some views that are so sad to make you laugh. Here is Eschaton summary of Bill O'Reilly's comments on arts funding at a The Creative Coalition event.

By the end, I think a reasonable summation of his final argument was: The reason there isn't enough education funding for the arts is that celebrities have shamefully failed to use their powers of public persuasion to convince people to support more arts funding, and this is a travesty about which they should be horribly ashamed even though more federal arts funding would be a bad thing.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Tetrad Analysis of Anime

Not sure I agree that Anime makes Disney animated motion pictures obsolete, but this tetrad certainly makes you think.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

McLuhan Studies Issue 5: The Missing Media Laws

The book Laws of Media was published after McLuhan's death. According to Eric McLuhan this was a big editorial effort. Some tetrads did not make it into the book. In McLuhan Studies Issue 5: The Missing Media Laws there are Tetrads on Unisex, Heterosexual, Homosexuality/Lesbianism, Anaesthesia, Dream and Bed. How the bed flips (reverses) into a trap is interesting alone.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Webcomic Tetrad

How do you demonstrate McLuhan's Laws of Media on the Web? Daniel Merlin Goodbrey creatively applies the Tetrad to webcomics using a webcomic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

No Loyalty Any More

I ran The Program Store and Diskcovery for a number of years. For a few of the big names in software, I was one of their first customers. I was always surprised as the stores struggled how few companies helped out who had made it big. I would be remiss if I did not say Broderbund was loyal and generous.

At work, many employees who are near retirement just had their post-retirement health insurance drastically changed. So much so that people will have to consider working another year or two! What loyalty is that?

This is certainly not what I try to teach my kids.

Interactive Laws of Media: McLuhanizing Mobile Media

This is an example of who I image people could contribute to tetrad (Laws of Media) on a given human innovation. Howard Rheingold in TheFeature wrote about a tetrad for Mobile Media and then asked for comments. This represents part of what I want to design, but with a better, though at this stage undefined, method of commenting and browsing other contributions of tetrads and comments.

What would Marshall McLuhan, visionary prophet of pre-Internet media, say about mobile telephony, texting, the mobile Web, and the always-on world of wireless devices?

Monday, July 12, 2004

New Project: Interactive Laws of Media

Besides getting my blog working again after my vacation, I've been working on a new project. I don't have all of the details worked out, but the concept is to create a type of group blog based on McLuhan's New Laws of Media or Tetrad. Anyone would be able to contribute to part or all of a tetrad on any human innovation. I'm trying to set up a wireframe/prototype to demonstrate what I'm thinking about and hope to post it before the end of the month.

Working name is Interactive Laws of Media, for now.

Here a good explanation of the tetrad by John Hartery.  I point to some tetrad examples on the web in the coming days.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Blog Working Again

My blog is working again. My ISP moved my files to a new server and forgot to tell me that the file structure changed. I've been working on a new project based on McLuhan's Laws of Media. I'll have details soon and ask for comments, if any one is reading.

Also added a site meter counter on the lower right of my site skin to see if anyone is reading. Not that I need people to read to write, but curious.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Do we need a "maximum wage"?

Greed and Good is a new book about the outrageous wealth and inequality. Heard of the trickle down theory? Try this quiz and see if you change your mind. Then buy Sam's book. Then take action. I plan to buy it as soon as I see Sam. Disclaimer. Sam Pizzigati is my former boss who retired to write this book.

Washington Takes The Lead From Kansas City

Ben Forta Visits DC Again
Kansas City held the user group attendance lead (for this tour) for a few weeks, but Washington D.C. took the lead this evening with 100 attendees. About 1/3 of those present had attended my CFUN keynote, so I varied the presentation somewhat (different examples, additional content), answered lots and lots of questions, and listened to all sorts of suggestions and comments. Next stop, Philadelphia.

I was there. The attendance was good as was the FigLeaf pizza. Ben said use your own words and I will. Blackstone is the code name for the new version of ColdFusion expected early 2005. Hightlights:

  • Lots of tools and wizards to make it easier for newbies.
  • Support for XForms to improve management and style.
  • Lots of ways to create Flash forms like Grids and Trees.
  • Binding of form fields. Example, disable field if others are not completed.
  • Printing and reporting including on the fly PDF format as well as FlashPaper.
  • ColdFusion Report generator that looked powerful.
  • Able to bundle into JAR file and run on other J2EE server.
Overall, it was great. A long night with lots promise.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Market States

John Robb's commented that "Joe Reger is on the right track with his understanding of my work on global guerrillas."

First, Joe has a very good summary to what John has been posting. This is not about Iraq, but a global change to our world.

Second, John's global guerrillas blog and upcoming book should scare the shit out of you.

While Bush's team doesn't get this, I hope a Vietnam vet's team will. Yikes! 

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


This vacation will be with my laptop and BlogJet. So maybe some posts, maybe not. Starting with Father's Day, kids making breakfast and a great day a boogie boarding ahead. Ahhhhh... vacation.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Dave Winer Is Not a Murderer and the Lack of Patience

On Halley's Comments she headlined the problem with blogs at as Blog Murder. I left the following comment (typos corrected), but did not post here until now.

Just listened to Dave's audio file and got an understanding from his side. But change is hard and it looks like without notice it is harder. I'd like to hear from some of the bloggers.

It also looks, without spending a lot of time and trying not to point fingers, that he did his best given it was a free service and his coming move. However, readers of the blogs never got notice and I think that is where the problem is.

Sure there was a solution, but I'll take him at his word.

Since that initial comment I've read a lot of other bloggers and comments. You've probably seen more. Also there now appears to be a reasonable transition plan, but again we'll have to wait and hear from the bloggers. So I now have an observation and I'm not pointing fingers at anyone.

Regular bloggers make several posts every day. This is the best practice of blogging and a proven technique for making a blog popular. This is not to say that all bloggers are slaves to this practice. Additional evidence of the daily nature of blogs is that several bloggers have taken vacations from their blogs. My observation is that the nature of blogs as a media (in the McLuhan sense) puts bloggers into a daily mentality.

Thus the outrage that some bloggers would not be available for a few days. These bloggers that want to continue blogging will be back. Unlike the results of dot.commers who disappeared, the archives of these blogs will be restored. These bloggers could still continue to blog off-line everyday. So the outrage appears to be fueled by the daily need to blog and read blogs.

Can't we as bloggers rise above this daily nature of this media and have a little patience? 

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

ReJoyce Bloomsday

Today is the hundredth anniversary of the day detailed in James Joyce's Ulysses.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Lyris Does RSS

Lyris, the great email list manager software, just announce beta for version 8.0. Among several nice features is full support for RSS. This is absolutely great news. But because the content of an email is not microcontent like an RSS feed, I'll hold judgement until I see the product in testing.

Findory Blogory

Not sure which blog lead me to try the Findory Blogory. This is a very interesting alternative RSS aggregator as it personalizes your items based on what you've been reading.

I think it is more of a novelty than useful, until they open it up a bit. For example, can I get a OPML file of the RSS feed that it thinks I'm interested in? Can I upload my OPML file to set its "intelligence"?  Can I send my "preferences" to someone else to try and then have them start over? Can I work with a community of common interested - sorta like a group aggregator? Open it up and you might have something here.

Hello from Picas

Maybe I'm in a tool mode with my new laptop. I was reading about photoblogging on Blogger. Then Halley's Comments mentioned the new photo tool which tipped me to download Hello and Picasa.

Hello is very, very interesting. You upload pictures to your blogger blog. But you do it using your Blogger buddy. Yes, it is an IM application! So not only can you send pictures to your blog, you can also "send" them to your Hello buddies.

This should be interesting when I'm on vacation next week.

Backlinks by Bloglines bookmarklet

Another interesting blog tool This bookmarklet is by Sebatien Paquet:

I've whipped up a Bloglines Citations bookmarklet which should prove even more useful than the Technorati Anywhere bookmarklet. Drag the first link to your link bar, and click it while viewing a page. You'll get all the backlinks Bloglines knows about in no time flat.

Monday, June 14, 2004

John Robb Suggests Furl

"I really like Furl.  It allows me to create a searchable clipping library from articles I find using RSS (which for major media publications is usually just headlines +).  One more item for inclusion in my personal digital dashboard." -John Robb 

James Joyce RSS Feed

June 16th is the hundredth anniversary of Bloomsday which is the day written about in Ulysses. Jason White is feeding the who book, page by page out through an Ulysses RSS feed. Here's you chance to read the classic in an entirely new document format. Any RSS book clubs starting up?

As Shifted Librarian says "Offer good through June 14, 2006.  ;-)"

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Firefly Fancy

Was Tinkerbell inspired by fireflies? If I was a television news producer, I'd get a shot of the fireflies and tell people to turn off their sets and go into their yards. My backyard and all of my neighbors' trees are aglow. Hundreds of glows alight the sky announcing that summer is here! Better than fireworks.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Review posted to

Feeds make it easier to learn about what you don't know. While there is a lot of talk about the echo chamber of blogs, I find that the RSS feeds of blogs, major media and other sites keep me informed of topics and from a prespective that broadens my world. Even before RSS feeds I was a big fan of for this reason.

For more than a year I've been learning about this world of feeds and about the blogsphere. I've been promoting RSS to friends and co-workers, so they ask me how to get started. For these people I send them a link to web aggregators like Bloglines or FastBuzz.

These web based services allow users to start without having to install software on their machines. Installing software is too hard, especially in the corporate, locked down Windows world, so a web service is perfect. Getting started on either of these services is easy, but most people prefer the usability of Bloglines. These services are still not as easy as, but still a place to start and a good place to maintain an account.

For more advanced users and for myself, I use FeedDemon. While it is not free, it is worth the shareware fee. I enjoy a well designed piece of software and Nick Bradbury has an elegant design with FeedDemon, so I highly recommend trying the trial version.

FeedDemon is a desktop aggregator that installs on your windows computer. With hundreds of preloaded feeds, it is easy to get started and learn about what you don't know. Like all good desktop aggregators, it intergrates with a web browser, so I'm creating this review while browsing in FeedDemon. Using the built in browser to surf, it makes it very easy to subscribe to new feeds and to seamlessly switch between the RSS and web world. Like all good software, I keep finding new features and uses for getting the most out of my feeds. I've tried over twenty other programs (like browser toolbars) and FeedDemon remains my recommendation. While I use FeedDemon everyday, it has not yet reached Tivo status but with each revision it is getting there.

Having praised two aggregators, I still don't believe we have seen the best. To start, I am extremely concerned about a growing number of desktop RSS programs requiring feed owners to pay for increasing bandwidth. Desktop aggregators allow you to work offline, speed and flexibility. Web aggregators allow you to go on vacation and not miss any feeds. In addition, you can access them from home, work, laptop or your sister's computer. So both have their strengths and weaknesses. I think the best will be a desktop program that pulls in feeds from a web service, allows panel and mixed displays, works as smart as my Tivo and is as easy to get started with as

Regardless of how you start, feeds will change your use of the internet.

Friday, June 04, 2004

HEMS: Blogging and RSS

I've been blogging using Blogger for more than a year. The new update to Blogger makes many of the improvements that I need except two.

While waiting for Blogger to update, I also tried I must say that I'm very impressed with TypePad but it does not support RSS 2.0. I'm committed to RSS 2.0 for work I do on Bletter. So I did not move to TypePad, but I found their use of categories to be just what I needed.

Add to this mix that I'm still working on my book and Internet Design. I took a week off from work three years ago to write the book and the software to write it. Writing the software helped me learn more. So I want to continue to write about Internet Design.

And in the meantime, I've mean updating that software called HEMS (HTML Entry Management System). It now supports RSS and will soon support blogging. While my initial plans were to support minimal blogs, I've now decided to support more blogging features so I can write more for my book.

So instead of moving to TypePad, you'll see this blog move to HEMS by the end of the year. This will also probably mean that I'll have to either upgrade my hosting agreement or find a new hosting company.

I'll probably also start a new blog on HEMS or it will just become a category of this blog.

Got My Laptop

Why does anyone get a new computer? My old computer and even the one before that still does most of the stuff I need: email, web browsing, compose javascripts, help with money matters, create web pages, FTP, blog, read email including spam and play some games. So why a laptop? Primarily because it is a laptop. It can be mobile and wireless. I can type this while I'm at the beach. Or at work. Or on the Metro. Or anywhere. And I'll figure out wireless. That is where technology is going and so is culture. Battery going low, more later.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Easy Solution for SPAM

I've had the same email account for years. I can not tell you how many, but before Netscape was the most popular web browser.

In the years since I signed up with my ISP, they've changed their main domain name several times. So now I get email under the name and and I've only used the address myself. So any email to the other accounts I know is spam (several hundred per day).

The easy solution requires a small amount of background. Most bulk email is usually batched to an ISP. So hundreds of email address could be in the message sent to one email server. So the same email that goes to any unused accounts contains spam for many other people.

Easy solution. Why don't ISPs look for an email sent to a "never used account" and then just stuff that email into a delete box before it gets sent into peoples' inbox. Certainly every ISP has these spam only addresses and could implement this.

Is this too simple to be a solution? Maybe. Or maybe spammer have figured a way around it. But I think it would work to cut an awful lot of spam. Something has to work soon.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

SharePoint: First Step to Integrating with Intranet

Due to cost and product design, most organizations will install SharePoint for employees and not the public. This will require companies to consider how to intergrate with their existing intranet. This is the first step that is fairly simple to take even for companies considering a fast migration to SharePoint from their intranet.

This idea is to use SharePoint to be the search engine for your intranet. Microsoft has done a very good job with search and it is a perfect way to introduce SharePoint to your intranet audience.

First, you need to set up a new portal. This requires a new virtual IIS server. When you set this up, make sure to go into the properties and use the security tab to allow anonymous access. Make sure to note the user name here. You'll need it in step three.

So now you have a new virtual server and you need to set up it up as a SharePoint Portal. You do this from the SharePoint Central Admin page. Obviously, this will take a few minutes.

Third, you need to set up the new portal access. Again from the Central Admin page click on -----. Set up the user name from step one for access. At this point you should now have unresticted access to the new portal. Test this.

Fourth, you now need to set up the search. Go into the Site Settings and set up SharePoint to search your intranet. [I'll do a graphic, step by step later.] You should now be able to search your intranet from within your SharePoint. Click on a link from a search result and you should see a page from your intranet.

Fifth, you probably want to delete the default areas (Topics, News and Sites) that SharePoint sets up for your new portal. This is going to depend on your intranet design and SharePoint skills. This would give you a portal just used for searching.

Finally, now you need to get to the SharePoint search from within your intranet. This is the HTML code you need to put into a page on your intranet.

[Note: ????.??? will have to be corrected later.]

Open the page where you put this form. Do the search and you should be searching using SharePoint. Great, your intranet users can now get a test of SharePoint.

Hope this works for you. Next we'll get your people to start using alerts in their searches. NOTE: A more detail document will be done when I have a test setup ready.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

SharePoint As New Media

Can SharePoint be a new way of expression? I'm rather sure that it is. Instead of a web site composed of HTML pages, SharePoint stores nearly everything in a MS SQL database, the majority of the content is MS Office documents and pulls things out using web parts. Obviously different than HTML. Maybe as different as television is from radio.

Anyways, I'm taking a class on SharePoint this week and I'll keep notes here.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Darknet: More to Come

Several bloggers pointed me to J.D. Lasica book/wiki Darknet. After a quick read of the first chapter, I'm sure that I'll have many more comments. First because of the subject matter and second because I need to get the "web book" I've been working on the web for comments.

My first impression is that Lasica misses the broad point that "Movies, Music and Television" are all content for the internet. As Eric McLuhan pointed out in his book, "Electric Language : Understanding the Message", the content of the internet is all media. This is based on the Marshall McLuhan "law" that the content of new media is old media. Understanding this make understanding the darknet easier.

My second impression is that we have always made our own media. More on that later.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

David Weinberger Speaking

While I like Dave's blog, he is more enjoyable speaking. In this way, he is very much like Ted Turner, founder of CNN. So I immediately looked at CSPAN's stream of Technology Politics Summit on Politics & the Internet (it starts 55 minutes in). If you want see people's comments, check Dave's blog post.

My review: it is a wonderful explanation of blogging to Democratic marketers. And he did not talk to my lizard brain. ( Also, the two preceeding talks on liberal radio vrs right wing radio was very informative.)

Saturday, April 24, 2004

High School Reunion

How do you have a high school reunion when there were only 16 in your class? Invite the whole school, all classes. So I'm off to Chicago this weekend to see my brother who all went to the same high school as me and then to the reunion. LaLumiere.

Friday, April 23, 2004

BloggerCon2: All Sessions

Tara has gone to the effort to link to all of the blog posts about BloggerCon2 sessions, including mine. Thanks.

Progress of Blogging Software

Blog software and people's expectations of blogs have come a long way in a year.

In the good old days, blog software only needed to give you a simple form to fill out. Write your pithy comment with maybe an italics or bold, but certainly a link. Click save and the world beat a path to your blog. Well, maybe the success was harder to come by, but the software was that simple.

Six months later and if your blog did not have a feed, you were behind the times. Since there were so many new blogs, feeds made it possible to read more in less time. And they avoided the problem with trying to use the spam clogged email system.

It is obvious now that readers expect to be able to comment on your blog. I think you can thank Howard Dean's blog for that. Everyone expects comments.

So these are the features I'll look at while evaluating and server-side blog tool.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Past times are pastimes

Clank, clank, clank
Clank, clank, clank

Treo600 is a cutting edge badge. But so many peope that I know use a ringtone of the old Bell phone. Clank, clank, clank. It makes me smile everytime.

Past times are pastimes - Marshall McLuhan.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

BloggerCon2: Reflections

While the webcast was great and the IRC even better, there is still something about being in the same room. And between rooms. Most animals don't live in the forest or the meadow, they live between. So I missed the conversation between sessions at snacks, lunch and dinner. But I didn't miss the 9 hour drive both ways and I'm glad to be here for my brother tonight.

The discussions reminded me of a maturing discussion mailing list. You have a mix of newbies and people who wrote the FAQ. The oldies wish that the newbies had read the FAQ first, but then every once and a while "out of the mouth of babes" comes a great insight. John Robb has commented on this a lot.

While David Wienberger was not as funny moderating as he is when he gives a presentation, the remark in his session about external business blogs being narrowcasted really resonated. (The IRC discussion about narrow tasking was also great!) That seems to be working with existing blogs and it is true of mailing lists that I've been involved with. It is also the key concept behind the marketing concept of positioning. And it rings true for how cable television channels developed (e.g., ESPN).

Blogging as Business was the surprise session for me. Many of the same ideas that I heard a few years ago for email marketing. (Does everyone agree that spam has nearly ruined that market?) The surprise was the depth of the examples given in the Wiki. It would be fun to have the OPML file of all those blogs, import them into my RSS reader and sample every single blog. But the really important thing about this session is that it showed that "What is a blog?" certainly doesn't matter any more. Instead, there are many different types of blogs and "What is a good blog?" is what matters.

I was surprised that I did hear anyone articulate that the blogsphere and the feed world are different. Certainly they overlap, but not necessarily.

I also heard someone say that they don't consider a blog without comments to be a blog. I don't think that many of the people in blogging for more than a year "heard" that. It is so true - people expect comments now.

I can not wait to hear what other people have to say. I enjoyed it in my dank basement watching the sun shining outside for one of the first beautiful days on the month. Thanks to all the people of Berkman Center for "putting us on."

Saturday, April 17, 2004

BloggerCon2: Blogging a a Business

Jeff Jarvis is doing Blogging as a Business on a wiki.
  • What is working
  • What is missing?
  • Issues this raises?
wiki covers this well

BloggerCon2: Shirky's Power Law

Philip Greenspun is the discussion leader for Shirky's Power Law.

  • Readership and weblogs: why my poker game is not as well attended as the casino.
    1. Properties of web log. Why did you start your web log..
    2. Literary outlet. 20 or 30 page article don't fit in print, so the web is the only place to publish.
    3. Don't have to convince editor to print idea. (But could do own xerox magazine)
    4. Starting a discussion: comments
    5. Support 3 paragraph idea
    6. Different ideas
    7. Private community
    8. To create a record
    9. People want to be heard
  • How do you breakthrough the powerlog? It is envable. [Ray, I think it is all about positioning. In other words, pure market. In otherwords, you need to be a market leader, so create a new niche.]
  • Is lack of money help breakthrough? No one has funds to use marketing to stay on top.
  • Constantly new stuff makes a difference. Number of links. When I wrote about my cat, lots of attention.
  • Getting rich by being a blog ISP is not real.
  • Bob numbers: 1.1 million blogs per day. Power Law does work in numbers. Looking at top 1000, in lower range there is a lot of movement and spikes, but top rank is rock solid using like from posts to other sites.
  • Is is quanity or quality of you blog? Can you afford to do it as your only job.
  • Lot of leaders are newspapers or columnist.
  • Arguement about links equating to traffic
  • You want more people to read your stuff.
  • How many people have subscribed to my feed is what is important to me
  • 10 times as many unique RSS visitors
  • How much will blog content be considered valuable given the test of time?
  • Barrier of entry to publish is much lower than print publishing
  • Pubsub offered to run different analysis if any one had any ideas.

BloggerCon2: Blogging in Business

Dave Weinberger is doing Blogging in Business. Dave is too good of a speaker to pass up and it relates to my work.
  • Have blogs underperformed in business world? I'm not seeing them spring up at most businesses.
  • Make your own home page did not happen, but web logs adapted more rapid.
  • Maybe they don't work well for business. They are already spending money on PR et. al.
  • Are businesses blogs really blogs?
  • What is the blogging ROI? [Ray: employee leaves but the knowledge on their blog stays behind.]
  • Blog as supply chain and part of open source???
  • Replace newsletter and email discussion with weblog.
  • Business people using blog to distinguish themselves as expert in area.
  • Why blog? Better placement in google.
  • Internal blogs: CEO first?
  • External blogs: still developing policies - what corporations can make that jump.
  • Lawyers don't write blogs: firms are interested in voice of firm
  • constraints: off-hand "comment from three years ago could hurt me"
  • Lawyers: could be used when you have to argue other side of the case
  • Dave: We will all be capable to embarassing each other by Googling each other in the future.
  • [Ray: legal has no case law on blogs so they are reluctant to authorize blogs]
  • Using RSS search engines and then commenting. [sort of reverse blog]
  • Corp that let go of the message? Sun;
  • How do we see the curve going? Three years or more until corp adapt external blogs.
  • External blogs are easier than internal blogs
  • Businesses use every other medium, so don't you expect that they'll use blogs.
  • CEO is interested in narrowcasting, not Prell, but specific community - customers, engineers, etc.
  • If internal blogs are easier, what does that change?
  • Blogs are "off the record" in our company - more communications
  • in large companies: more efficient communication patterns, accelerated project cycles, emergent intelligence
  • Narrowcasting is right. Only voice is the blog for some.
  • Are marketers using bloggers as influencers (Tipping Point)? Dr. Pepper
  • Running a project over a time zone and "divide day back into 24 hours" instead on instant IM
  • Social incentives are better than boards
  • [Ray: web logs in business could become like time clocks. Why haven't you posted in the last hours?]
  • Simple software of blogging is replacing more complicated knowledge management software.
  • Publishing is better than locking up in a repository. So people do it more.
Business Examples

BloggerCon2: Vision from Users

Wendy is leading Vision from Users which is talking about features that bloggers want from their tools.
(I'm IRCing as razweekly.)
  • Talking about categories. Popfile.
  • Comments. Problems: people problems - hostile, only nice things (most of the time),
  • Any comment policy? be nice, registration for comments help, Wendy uses "livingroom policy"
  • Tools used: typepad; pmachine; das blog; wordpress; frazzel; tinderbox, radio, movable type, skybuilder,
  • Client tools: everyone has lost long post, need undo post (CTRL-A, CTRL-C works on all tools),
  • What can people not do? RSS both full and exceprt feeds; feedreaders more like pop3; persistance of reading aggregator;
  • Visual clues and different types: format differs by type of post (short, long, etc.)
  • Comment system that is threaded. Bloggers all about conversation, but comment software is too simple. Subscribe to a thread. Subscribe to RSS feed of thread. [Excellent.] Aren't comment getting away from blogging?
  • [Ray: need to post comments, have it also put in my blog and do the trackback] See
  • Want: to draw prictures [Ray: doodle] can do with Tablet PC
  • blogging wo/ words: pictures from phone, example;
  • audio: does not allow skimming
  • as blogs get heavier we'll need lightweight versions as well - Wendy
  • technorati:
  • secondary blog that links to where I have comments
  • blog widgets: outside comments; blog rolling;
  • breadcrumb trail as part of post
  • privacy: [I want private post so I can use blog as knowledgebase]
Also blogged here by Jeff Sandquist.

BloggerCon2: What is Journalism?

The webcast from Vision from Users is down, so I'm listening to What is Journalism where the webcast is good.

We'll get to a definition at the end.
There is good journalism and bad journalism.
What is pushing blogs towards journalism
1 Blogging towards journalism because we can do it.
2 [missed it] 3 Quest for voice.
- Don't know if blogging is going towards journalism? [going back to Visions]

BloggerCon2: Saturday April 17, 2004

Due to budget cutbacks, I was not able to physically be at BloggerCon2 today. (So bummed.) So I'll be virtually attending via blogs, IRS, webcast and RSS. Beautiful day to stare out at spring and the computer screen.

I was going to take the 9 hour drive up to Cambridge, but then I found out that a family matter needed me here on Sunday.

Think I'll be doing one post per session I attend and update a "misc." post.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Laws of Media

This would be a dream come true:

One of the last things Marshall McLuhan did was attempt another rewrite of Understanding Media (highly reommended) and result posthumously was the book with his son called "Laws of Media". I'd love to create a site where people could give their opinions apply to the media analysis. And they comment on the proposed law.

RSS and Google

Okay, for my last microcontent, I looked in Google for the link to RSS and got Mark Pilgrim. While Mark may (or may not) be a nice guy, I think Google blew it for both this search and their last algorithm update.


CMS is so Wired. If you were not burdened with years of previous experience, why would you ever consider an CMS or CES (Content Management System or Content Entry System) which did not have RSS as the foundation of the the design. In other words, RSS should be the foundation of the design of any web applicatin which assists in the creation of a web site.

My son would probably call most CMS products "old school." (It should be a four letter word.)

RSS is like fishing

(Disclaimer, I don't fish often, but can enjoy it.) Anyways, I think RSS is like fishing. You throw your hook (XML) out there and you never know who wil take the hook.

Micro Content

Micro Content is a very important meme. Don't let it go!

The web falls into the old way of doing business: publishing. Micro-content is the first meme that moves us out of the Amos and Andy Show and into the "message" of the new medium. (Let me explain. Amos and Andy was a very, very popular radio show that was redone for television. It did not work. The concept and use of a sound byte did not work in newspapers. The sound byte of internet content is mostlikely "microcontent." Exploit it, now.)

So start thinking about microcontent intead of pages. I know this is hard for people with a publication background (I'd perfer to use bias, but then peopel would not understand.) Work to free yourself from the old media!

My hands

I am very frustrated tonite. I had to redo much of the DWV installation I did on my new bathroom. It started out great, but the effort to tie it into the existing stack failed. So I have to restart tomorrow and pick out what piece I need from my local Home Depot. I'd rather buy it from my local plumbing supplier, but they close before I get home from work.

Anyways, my hands are now full of glue -- which is a bad think - and I'm peeling it off between keyboard hits.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Education Newspaper Stories in RSS (March 2004)

Newspapers and news organizations are one of the early adapters to RSS technology. On a regular basis I'll be updating an OPML with a list of newspapers that provide Education feeds and maintaining it here.

The BBC and New York Times are the veterans of this group. I'm not sure how long the Christian Science Monitor has offered their Learning feed. More recent are the Philly papers and now the Washington Post.

Please let me know if you know of additional feeds.

Friday, March 19, 2004

RSS 2.o Description Field

There are several ways to store content in RSS 2.0. This post show how Description can be different.

I know that you can put link into <link> or <guid>.

Makes it easy for feeders, difficult for programmers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Chicken and the Egg Content

Obviously, I've been excited about RSS for some time now. And writing Bletter has been great. But I've recently figured out how to incorporate RSS feeds into HEMS. This is my HTML Entry Management system (more about that later).

Back to the Chicken and Egg: so I was thinking on the walk home from work, that with HEMS and Bletter both creating and reading RSS feeds, it is very hard to say in which software you produce the content. Do you start with Bletter and then read the RSS feed into HEMS? Or the other way around? And how much can you slice and dice, cut and paste, mix and match items (articles) from different feeds to create a new feed?

I'm excited and motivate to get this into HEMs very soon.

Pat Dinizio of The Smithereens

Just back from seeing Pat Dinizio of The Smithereens. I walked down the street to meet my friend Walt at Jammin' Java.
First, Jammin' Java has changed and is great. Check out that bands/performers that will be there. I don't know how or when it changed from a Christian music venue, but it is great now. And the sound tonight was very, very good.
If you even know the name Smithereens, you would have enjoyed this show. Pat just kept playing and having fun. His comments were wonderful about the single chord in Neil Young's song, then two chords in Fleetwood Mac. He also did an acoustic of Black Sabbath that had everyone of the 30 people laughing. In his finale of "Blood and Roses" he mixed in the Who and encouraged the audience to sing along. Can not wait to see him at VA Beach.
Pat is trying to promote a different business model for music. He's looking for patrons on his site. Interesting concept that might work.
Also, he recently produced/directed a movie. Walt bought a copy. Should be interesting given all of the horror movie stuff on his web site.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Mix OPML and RSS to get Hyper Documents

Not all content works in RSS. While great for articles, news and logs, RSS can not represent what I call Hyper Documents.

A simple example is a web page that shows a geographic map. Clicking on an area of the map brings up the appropriate document. Assuming a map of the US this Hyper Document would consist of 50 state pages and 1 map page. This does not translate to RSS.

An option to explore is storing all 51 pages in 51 RSS items and then using OPML to loosely relate the items.


Monday, March 08, 2004

Past times are pastimes

Past times are pastimes is one of my favorite lines from Marshall McLuhan. It went along with the concept that the content of all media is old media. But pastimes are entertainment and I think it is easier for people to grasp.

A prime example is my remodeling of my house. I enjoy it for many reasons. It is fun, not work. Something very different than my work which involves no physical labor. I'm learning a lot about engineering first hand that I did not learn by the book in engineering school. In previous generations, this would have been part of the work for the males in the household.

An easier example is probably my bike riding. I spend hours on many weekends and after work riding my bike. It is recreation and exercise. There is little practical purpose for me to ride 35 miles to get a beer at the Old Dominion brew pub. The point is that bike riding is fun. In previous times, bikes were primarily transportation. But now that technology has mainly be replaced by the car. This allows the bike to be used as a pastime.

So if you are looking for a new hobby, look in the past. You'll find a pastime there.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Review Mirror

I've spent a few hours in the dentist chair the last few days. Watching the dentist work by looking into a mirror got me thinking about how different his world must look. Sure I can drive looking in a review mirror, but I can not write my name looking in the mirror. I was always fascinated in how McLuhan kept pushing the review mirror concept and now I have a little more experience to add to the "rose is not a rose" about review mirrors.

McLuhan: Medium is the Massage was a typo

Michael McLuhan, Marshall's son is quotes as saying:
Actually, the title was a mistake. When the book came back from the typesetter, it had on the cover "Massage" as it still does. The title should have read "The Medium is the Message" but the typesetter had made an error. When Marshall McLuhan saw the typo he exclaimed, "Leave it alone! It's great, and right on target!" Now there are four possible readings for the last word of the title, all of them accurate: "Message" and "Mess Age," "Massage" and "Mass Age.
Thanks to for sharing.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Blogger Con II

I've registered for Blogger Con II and Will Richardson noticed that I work at NEA ("Terrorists in our midst???"). Andrew from left a comment because of Paige's terriorist remark asking people to respond.

I'm still trying to work out logistics, but I hope to be there.

RSS driven Internet Site: Part Three

A set of RSS content makes possible synthetic feeds. For example, your site may have feeds on apples, pears and mangoes. By combining all these feeds into one feed, you now have a "fruit" feed. As you increase the number of feeds you dramatically increase the number of possible synthetic feeds.

It is these synthetic feeds that become useful to populate more top level web pages. For example, your home page might lead to the fruit page which would lead to the apple, pear and mango pages. So the content of your second level page could be the synthesized feed. And users could subscribe to the RSS feed or the enewsletter. However comments would be in the apple, orange or mango archives (permalink) page.

Another option for synthetic feeds is to create personalized pages. Instead of creating separate areas on a page like MyYahoo or, let the user select their feeds and then combine them into one. So in one area they see all of the latest news.

So synthentic feeds provide you another level of content.

RSS driven Internet Site: Part Two

Too often people start designing (or redesigning) an internet site with the home page. I believe that this approach is a fatal error. Rather, I think one must start looking at the content which can be regularly updated and sent to the users via email and now RSS.

Hopefully this effort produces several initial feeds. This is just like publishing books, magazines or other materials in that you can never be sure which feeds will succeed. So plan to roll out several over a few months with the understanding that you might fold up a feed or two along the way.

The tools used to produce this content is the same tools used to produce blogs and takes advantage of all of the tools for promoting blogs. For example, one could use Manilla or TypePad to create the content. They allow editing, access control, posting the message, notifying and other sites that the content is update, writing the RSS file and storing the archive. They also allow users to comment and possibly display links back to the content from other sites. These products can also send emails to an email list manager (e.g., Lyris) or can be used with Bletter for more customization.

So this most important content is stored in RSS with the web interface being handled by a blogging tool. This gives you web pages, archives, RSS feeds and enewsletter to reach your audience.

RSS driven Internet Site: Part One

First, best practices show that an internet effort requires more than a web site. While it use to be that you also need email alerts or newsletters, you now also need to provide users with RSS feeds. Taking that a step further, I believe that the content of your RSS feeds is also the content for your email. Therefore, your RSS feeds become the "backbone" storage for your content.

Second, not all content fits in RSS. For example, you could have a map of North America and clicking on a country retrieved a document about that country. This would require several pages of HTML (or tricky JavaScript or Flash coding). This type of document, that I'll call a hyper document, is not meant for RSS.

Third, just because content is stored in an XML file does not mean that the web page has to be generated dynamically. Static web pages provide faster response to users' clicks and use 90% less server resources. So it is beneficial to have the most frequently requested pages reside on the web server as static HTML pages which are created from RSS feeds, templates and other content.

So this is what I mean by an RSS driven Internet Site.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

McLuhan: Government Contests

McLuhan's idea are now part of our global village. John Robb highlights one that I had forgotten: "that for every great problem there is someone that doesn't see it as a problem." So he proposes to get the government get involved in contests. Sounds crazy at first, but it is really a great idea with research to back it.

Dave to Harvard

Dave Weinberger is going to Harvard. I wonder if he applied for early admission? :)

Congratulations to Dave. A good fellow.

Forbes Magazine on RSS

I respect Forbes when it stays on business. So it is impressive to see Forbe's article on RSS.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Paige should never been appointed

I emailed some friends in the blogging community and they thought the Paige terrorist remark had already received enough publicity. Maybe. But I don't think they remember the debunking of the Houston Miracle by CBS. I didn't remember it either. I don't know if there is a third strike, but this certainly counts as two in my book.

Feedster has lots like this and this.