Now THIS is Web 2.0

I hate the buzzphrase “Web 2.0” – it’s meaningless, yet it means different things to different folks. Odd.

I title this entry Web 2.0 simply because two events are happening on the Web today that mark a breakthrough of sorts: The runaway success of and

Why do these sites amass obscene levels of traffic? Well, Paul Boutin outlines it nicely in his Slate article.

Bottom line? – Simple for the masses. Nothing to install; nothing really new to learn.

This is what I was begging for in my recent What’s Wrong With RSS entry. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

MySpace and YouTube have done this, and they are getting the PR and traffic.

If Ebay – with its still clunky interface and non-intuitive searches and so on – launched today, it’d probably die a quick death. Now, it’s so ingrained in the masses that it works, but only because it’s already learned. And people hate to learn, so that’s a lesson worth learning.

Build it – and KISS – and they will come.

Courage, Fear and Despair

This courage will not be the opposite of despair. We shall often be faced with despair, as indeed every sensistive person has been during the last several decades in this country. Hence Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and Camus and Satre have proclaimed that courage is not the absence of despair; it is, rather, the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.

— Rollo May, The Courage to Create, 1975

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.

— Mark (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) Twain, “Puddd’nhead Wilson’s New calander, Chp. 12”

So they take off after each other straight into an endless black prairie. The sun is just comin’ down and they can feel the night on their backs. What they don’t know is that each one of ’em is afraid, see. And then keep ridin’ like that straight into the night. Not knowing. And the one who’s chasin’ doesn’t know where the other one is taking him. And the one who’s being chased doesn’t know where he’s going.

— Sam Shepard, True West

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden, “Economy”

Bloggers: Why to Register a Domain

One of the strongest (I thought) arguments I presented to anyone who would listen in favor of getting a domain was simple: Your e-mail address is portable and pretty permanent.

Buy domain, and set up a address.

As long as you keep paying the registration fees for the domain (which keep dropping) and hosting fees (dropping with more features as time goes by), your e-mail never changes.

It’s like cell-phone number portability: You can move from Sprint to Verizon and keep the same number. Yeah, you’re paying someone else and there’s a different feature set, but this is all transparent to people who call you. All they care about it not having to remember/reprogram your number every year or two. That’s annoying…

With the rise of more powerful – and increasingly free – online e-mail systems (Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and so on), the argument for a domain so you have a permanent e-mail address is a little less compelling today than it was about 10 years ago, but the get-the-domain-for-email-alone argument still holds some water, for the following three reasons:

  • Will [portal company]’s free e-mail be around in 10 years? Will [portal company] still exist?
  • With the free services, it’s kind of tough to get a address. Usually more along the lines of You’ll remember it, but not easy for friends.
  • The access-anywhere nature of portal account is a powerful sell, but virtually all hosts offer web mail tools (though few are of the caliber or Gmail, for example – let’s be honest).

But I’m spozed to be talking about bloggers, right?

OK, same arguments apply, for the most part. Get an address and keep if forever, even if you shift your hosting every year. This is terribly important if you want to be a top drawer blogger.

The best anti-example I can think of in this respect is Dan Gillmor, one of the best tech journalists out there. Formerly with the San Jose Mercury paper, he left to do what he terms citizen journalism.


Now, I try to read him whenever I can, but it’s tough to keep up with him – and imagine what the search engines have to deal with. Lots of Gillmor deadends in the indices.

Here’s what I can recall of where his blog was (and this just in the last couple years):

  • Some location on San Jose Mercury site
  • After he left the paper, he put up a Typepad blog
  • Then to his new startup, Bayosphere
  • Now he’s moved to a new place, part of Dan Gillmor’s Blog

This ‘taint conducive to keeping readers.

I understand some of the reasons – integration with other sites, both look and content, corporate rules and so on – but it’s a shame. It’s hard to follow him; I have to keep changing my blogroll to reflect his new location (not changed to latest location yet…); Google results will show a lot of redirects and so on.

If he was always “,” well, that’d work better.

Another one I still can’t understand is Robert Scoble, the evangelist from Microsoft. He was on some Manilla system that he outgrew, so he moved to WordPress – but HAS NO domain. He’s just

Why not just get “” (if available) and use WordPress to publish to hosted domain? Yes, some functionality is lost – another argument for non-domain publishing – but, still.

Pick an address/domain. Keep doing whatever you want to the backend/hosting; keep the front end – i.e. how to find you – simple for your readers/users/friends.

Both of them.

(off the soapbox…)

What’s Wrong With RSS

I pulled this part of a screenshot fron BoingBoing today (4/26/2006); I mean them no harm, BB’s was just the first example of what I mean by:

What’s Wrong With RSS – Caveat: I’m not talking about the politics between RSS (0.92/1.0/2.0) and Atom; rather, I’m using RSS as a collective noun for the whole syndication mess. It’s a mess in several ways, but I’m thinking about the non-nerd user.

  • Why all the buttons?
  • Because this (and other) sites want to make sure you can, essentially, bookmark (i.e. subscribe) to the site’s feed regardless of your aggregator/reader. OK…
  • Why all the buttons?
  • Because there isn’t a standard for this crap. Virtually everyone uses one browser; you bookmark there. Why not have a default aggregater/reader (hell, it should be the browser!)? One click! Maybe it’s an OS default. Whatever.
  • What’s the issue with all the buttons?
  • Until you make subscribing to RSS feeds as easy as bookmarking – which is not a gimme for many, so put that in your pipe and smoke it – this clutter of buttons is going to alienate what I call the “my mom” audience: As in, “hmm…could/would mom do it?” And “mom” is 90% of the Internet audience (probably a much lower percentage of traffic/online time etc; agreed); the geeks who know to subscribe to this for MyYahoo vs. NewsGator etc…you’ve won them already. Get the rest by simplifying.

In other words, make RSS = KISS (keep it simple, stupid) and you’ve got a winner.

And think of the screen real estate – and coding – is saved.

I’m sorry, but I don’t see the downside to this proposal.

I understand, but…

Goodbye Jumbo
World Party

I’ve been wanting to get this for over a dozen years; this reamastered version is well worth that wait.

When I finally received it, I’d forgotten how good it was. A handful a classics on this one disc, with Put the Message in the Box the highlight of the CD, to me.

All music

I’ve mentioned this before, but it still seems true: The U.S. can’t visit the Middle East except as on a non-planned (i.e. surprise) visit.

I understand the reasoning, but still – three years (!) after the invasion, about two and half years after “Mission Accomplished” and so on, we are still coming into the Middle East via the back door:

Rice, Rumsfeld make surprise visits to Iraq

Sometimes it just doesn’t pay to be a Superpower….

Different Branches of Service

“It is illegal to leak information. That’s what you sign up to when you join an intelligence service,” former acting CIA Director John McLaughlin said.
CIA agent fired for ‘pattern of behavior’

A new wave of controversy over leaking began last week when prosecutors released court documents in which a former aide to Dick Cheney testified that the vice president told him in 2003 that President Bush approved the release of information in a classified intelligence report.
Specter: White House needs to explain leak

Bush said he had authorized the release of the documents because some Americans questioned his reasons for going to war.
Bush acknowledges declassifying intelligence

Former President Richard Nixon: “Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal.”
Nixon’s Views on Presidential Power: Excerpts from an Interview with David Frost

Yard Work


Well, it was a beautiful weekend weather-wise. The rain held off and the temps were in the high 60s, so perfect weather for some yard work.

Now, our suburb traditionally has two “all you can toss” garbage days – one in the spring, one in the fall. And you can pitch anything, and they’ll pick up.

No more.

Next weekend is our last “all you can toss” day. I’m sure it’s a money issue. Whatever. I don’t believe our taxes have declined…

Now, when we bought this house, it came with a really ugly, rusting shed set way in the backyard. We never used it for much, and always planned on replacing it.

With the threat of no more easy garbage pickups for something like this, it was time to nuke the old shed.

Lots of unscrewing and work with a hammer and pry-bar did the trick. It’s now just two (pretty neat) piles of sheet metal.

Next week, out they go!

On the negative side, we now have a clear look at the ratty-looking area what was beyond the shed. Oh well, this’ll help light a fire under our asses to get this fixed something this year – or, at least, improved upon.

Baby steps…a little at a time….

Are YOUR Taxes Done?

Mine are – for two months now.

Nah nah na nah nah…

(Forturnately for the procrastinators, there are two additional days to whip things together: April 15 falls on a Saturday, so – this year – Tax Day is Monday, April 17).

A Modest – or Not – Proposal

West Wing Season Five

First non-Aaron Sorkin year, and it shows.

The West Wing didn’t jump the shark this year (the following year they did, painfully – I stopped watching), but they came close.

It was a “let’s shake it up” year, yet most of the changes didn’t (to me) work. There were moments, but – overall – very weak compared even to Season 4 (weakest of 1-4).

All reviews

With apologies to Jonathan Swift, here’s a very high level response to some of the craziness that has been happening in the old US of A these days, issues such as:

There are a million more examples (health care, social security, immigration et al), the bottom line – to me – is this:

The reason much of this insanity is not addressed – and why it occurs in the first place – is politics. By politics, I mean the issue is not the issue to politicians, but the politicians’ concern is how this will harm/help re-election, fundraising and so on.

In other words, all this stuff that has great import to the average citizen isn’t getting the proper(?) attention in Congress – Are my calls to my granddaughter being intercepted and analyzed? Is there a breakdown in the checks-and-balances the Constitution enumerated? Are we in Iraq – and potentially, Iran – for the right reasons? Will I actually be able to collect Social Security a decade from now? Will I be able to get that life-saving procedure? And so on.

These questions don’t come up on The Hill. The questions are more like: Will backing this bill make me vulnerable in the 200X election? If I stay quiet about this, I probably can expect X’s support on Y, right?

While some outrage or rebuttals are legit, I see more actions/inactions that are politically based, and – again, in this entry, I mean a given lawmaker not serving his/her electors, but worrying about how to not get NOT elected next time around.

This is a problem in our democratic system (and remember – it’s a Republic, not a true Democracy – a democracy has one person, one vote: Here, it’s who you democratically elected making decision for you, and you have not direct vote there).

Which is why I have always opposed term limits – vote the bastard out if desired, why punish those that (for good or bad reasons) people want to elect over and over?

I think the current terms for Senators, Reps and President are too short. People are already calling President Bush a lame duck, yet he has about three years to go…but those pesky primaries and all that, with the full knowledge that the president can’t run again…

Back in 1776, the numbers made sense, when most members of Congress knew the 48 or so people who they represented. Today, you really think a senator from CA/NY/IL has a clue about the people (10 million +) they represent? No way.

Politicians today, for the most part, don’t represent the people – they instead act for themselves. Swap votes, curry favor, get pork not for good reasons, but to get re-elected. (Hell, who wants to be fired?)

And running for office takes a buttload of money today. More and more, we are seeing the wealthy running for office, because they can afford to. As these runners are elected, we’re seeing less and less representation of the average American in office. Which will slant policy (tax cuts for the wealthy). Look at our recent presidents – either party – with the possible exception of Gerald Ford (who wasn’t elected), all the presidents back to Eisenhower where men of means.

So, the Not-So-Modest-Proposal is to try to fix the morass politics is mired in: Fear of losing funding/elections. That is their focus; it is not what they were elected for.

I don’t have the answers, but these are some of the questions I have, some of the realities I see.

It ‘taint pretty.