Sitting next to Tima

I'm at David Weinberger's talk at Etech, all set to blog it but since Tima's doing the same thing... um... I'll just link him when he's done. LazyWeb indeed.

[update: David Weinberger: What Will Groups Be]

Etech 2003

Warblogging panel at Etech 2003
Stuart Hughes is on the line from England on a panel with (from left to right) Dave Sifry, Doc, Dan Gillmor moderated by Xeni Jardin. As I'm writing this Stuart just gave Blogger a shout out for helping out with his blog. Cool!

Xeni is probing Stuart now on why he blogs and how he decides what to write. Stuart has responded that he started the site for a group of friends and that since the loss of his leg to a land mine in Iraq his purpose is still the same. Even with a much larger audience he still feels like he is writing his blog with his small group of friends in mind. (Just like!).

Dave Sifry is talking about the group of warbloggers that was/is active during the Iraqi war.

Doc is talking about why he doesn't talk politics on his blog anymore (too much creepy email post 9/11 after expressing his pacifist views). Mentions that the 'peace/left blog' movement took a while to get up and running but is now a presence.

Stuart is talking about the fact that he didn't check with his superiors before starting his blog. His reasoning was 'Well, I wouldn't ask my employers before sending an email to my friends, why should I ask them before starting a blog'. (Nice!)

Dave Sifry is talking about his site Technorati. Dave calls bloggers 'human collaborative filters for news'. Demos some of the breaking news features on Technorati.

Doc is talking about Google News, saying that Technorati is complementary since Google News doesn't include blogs. Blogs point to news articles and one can gauge the popularity of certain articles through Technorati in this way. Dan interjects to say, journalists don't often point to other journalists or sites, though they might be better off for it.

Dave answers a question about Technorati replacing Glenn Reynolds since Glenn doesn't do much commentary these days. Dave's answer 'Technorati doesn't sleep.'

--- end of panel ---

Other folks that are blogging the conference (much better than I, I might add) here:


You'll never guess where I'll be spending the next three days. Yep. I'll try and throw out another Brazillian-style curveball some day soon.

Iranian blogger jailed

A number of Iranian bloggers have contacted me to express their outrage at the jailing of a popular Iranian blogger and journalist, Sina Motallebi. Fellow Iranian blogger, Hoder has the scoop and links to an online petition for Motallebi's release. Best wishes to Motallebi and his family for a quick and just release.

Friday Mailbag (cheaters edition)*

Question: When is a standards body needed for a technology and when should progress be left up to innovators?

Answer: That's a good question. I'm glad I thought of asking myself this question just moments ago. Actually I've been thinking about RSS, XML, FOAF and efforts to ping commenting systems and blogs, integrate them with IM, email, wikis, message boards, text phone messaging systems, blog tool APIs and such for the better part of 3 years. Some of these efforts to make an interoperable standard have succeeded and are being extended. Some of the current implementations will whither over the next few years and eventually languish in obscurity.

I was thinking about the relationship between a set standards body and it's introduction to a certain process and wondered at what point the decline of innovation sets in. For instance, as I'm driving home from work on 101, there are painted dashed lines so I may guide myself in a general direction. I can deviate to cross a lane. If the folks who envisioned roads back in the early 1900s thought about adding rails to the road perhaps my car would be part of a sophisticated monorail network, making it hard to change lanes but operating at peak efficiency, speed and perhaps more safely than travelling among painted lines. There are tradeoffs to consider with both options, but I don't have a monorail under my car do I?

I think the adoption of a general direction with guidelines and suggestions is perhaps the best scenario for most technologies. Does it upset me that I have 5 different car chargers for the various cell phones I have owned. Yes. Would the cell phone industry and cell users benefit from a guideline for future car chargers ? Yes, certainly. Would it stifle innovation? Probably a little. Is it evil to think that the cell phone companies probably don't want to adhere to a guideline so they may continue to sell you a new charger every few years? No (and it's probably true).

I was invited to join the Social Software Alliance as a founding member. We just had our first conference call to discuss the direction of the group. There were lots of interesting folks on the call: Clay Shirky, Howard Rheingold, Kevin Marks, Marc Canter and Peter Kaminski to name just a few (the full list will be here soon). I believe that it was agreed that a primary purpose of the group is to talk about identity management, interoperability of social software and to become a hub for 'quickly publicizing and vetting standards'. I think as long as this 'body' sticks to the guidelines side of things and less to the standards side that they will be in the clear.

Where am I going with all of this? My answer to the bigger question is a standards body is needed when a technology gains enough market attention and traction so as to require a coherent group to process and understand the needs of the marketplace but perhaps not if this is being done well already in industry. By well, I mean fair and reasonable. My example of the evil cell charger cabal is not 'fair'. My advice for those asking for standards or starting a standards group: Be careful and listen well. I don't want a monorail connected to my blog (or my car) without my permission.

* No one asked me this question, I cheated. Sorry. :(

Happy 1st birthday son!

Drew ShellenI can't believe it's already been a year. Seems like Allison and I were just getting used to feedings every two hours, changing diapers and rocking Drew back to sleep. Now he's walking around the living room, chewing real food with the teeth he hasn't knocked out (long story - it was just one tooth), and repeating everything we say (and do!). I'm looking forward to the next year, when I'm sure Drew will begin talking, move from his stuttered little walk to running, and continue to get into all sorts of scrapes. Now that he's here I can't imagine what life was like pre-Drew. Happy first birthday little guy!

Friday Mailbag

Question: I was wondering if you have any information on how Salam is doing. Have you received any emails from him lately?

Answer: Sadly, I haven't heard or seen anything from him since his last public post from March 24th. Though reports from Baghdad sound as if the entire city is still without phone or electricity service. It would be hard to imagine that the ISP that Salam was using is still able to operate under these conditions. It might be a while before we hear anything from him, even if he is unharmed. For a different perspective on the war, view 'embedded journalist' Stuart Hughes blog. Powerful stuff.

From the mailbag (now a Friday feature)

Question: What would you do for a Klondike bar?

Answer: Since I've been cutting down on dairy lately I have a lower threshold for outrageous activies that I would perform to eat ice cream covered in chocolate. Nevertheless, I guess if pressed I would listen to three Celine Dion songs for a Klondike bar.

Apparently some other folks have done some thinking around this question before. Check out the 'What would you do for a Klondike bar? page on Geocities'. My favorite is 'program a cheesy MIDI version of the 'Friends' theme song'. If the question were 'What would you do for a Specialty's semi-sweet chocolate chunk cookie?' I might be as fanatical as the Geocities folks.

Thanks to Lane for the question. Though I'm not sure that this answer is any help to humanity whatsoever.

Mr. Wizard

Ok, in an effort to keep up the Friday Mailbag, I'm going to need your questions submitted today. Sorry about the short notice. Last week I answered a question about RSS. This week, it's up to you. Ask whatever you want.

Why am I doing this? I had a conversation once with Doc about the purpose of his blog. He told me his site was a public response to email. I thought that was a pretty good way to go at the time. As I am receiving more email than I know what to do with I've been trying the same approach for the past few months. This doesn't mean the end of comments on (perhaps the end of personal replies though;) ) just more interesting and topical content in most cases. Just submit this weeks question in the comments field below or through my contact form.

Eight-minute blogger

Mickey Kaus with some thoughts on what blogging brings to web publishing:
An emailer recently called a recent posting of mine "a half-cocked, paranoid theory that popped into your mind in the middle of the night." He said it like that was a bad thing! ... Isn't half the point of blogging to publish half-cocked paranoid theories that pop into your mind in the middle of the night? ...
Some would argue that their blogging is fully-cocked, but I've never bet a blogger who thought he was the straightest shooter in the land with no sense of humor...yet.

Happy April Fools Day!

I'm taking link-whoring to a new level (today only).