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Scripting News

Scripting News, the weblog started in 1997 that bootstrapped the blogging revolution.

Published: Sat, 17 Mar 2018 19:42:11 GMT

Last Build Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2018 20:07:45 GMT

Copyright: © 1994-2017 Dave Winer.

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 14:40:47 GMT

Trump is Morrie in Goodfellas. Putin is the character De Niro plays.

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 15:15:14 GMT

I did some work on the xmlviewer app. I have some ideas on how to improve it, which I explain in this braintrust query.

We're in an asymmetric war, not Watergate

Sat, 17 Mar 2018 19:42:11 GMT

I guess the Trump people feel they have to move now. I don't think they'll have much support. Even his base will be split. Obviously there's something explosive about to come out. But this isn't Watergate. It's more like BattleStar Galactica. It's a war and we're fighting an inhuman enemy, one that doesn't behave like a human. It's an amalgam of all of humanity.

Trump being gone won't help us very much because so much has changed. A silent war has been going on. We have not had any defenses. It's an asymmetric war, unlike any we've ever (not) fought. The press is oblivious, still, focused on the Watergate-ness of the situation and missing that now our society and economy are fully wired, to an extent not even foreshadowed in the time of Watergate.

The press ought to listen to techies. We're still seen as low-level workers. But our counterparts in Russia and elsewhere are undermining everything. Here too probably.

Nailing Trump won't fix it. It would be like killing a comedian, a distraction. The real action has been on our networks.

Remember what McLuhan said. It's not about armies anymore, it's about media.

Imagine journalism as a rectangular box. They've tried to move what they do from print to the net without changing the shape of the box. In their world this all as a replay of Watergate. It's familiar, they know what to do, and btw it had a happy ending. That's what we call wishful thinking. A bit of a bedtime story.

We always prepare to fight the last war. We're doing it again.

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:08:27 GMT

My brain is somewhat adjusting to the new vision situation. I have five old pairs of glasses to try out and think I have settled on one tha's best for computer work. I did a podcast (below) because that doesn't use my eyes for much. My brain really wants to do something creative. Let's see if I can figure it out. ;-)

Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:19:43 GMT

A podcast about Linux Journal, Doc Searls and why he became its new editor-in-chief. Doc, one of the Cluetrain authors, has a vision for advertising that works. If it works, it will not only revolutionize advertising, it will also help get software development back on track. His project really has the potential.

Media Files:

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 20:32:17 GMT

The other day a friend asked for a reference that showed the role I played in the bootstrap of podcasting. I looked around, and most of the stories written by journalists are wildly innaccurate. Then I realized there's a better way to show the work. I archived the earliest podcasts so they'd be easily found. This is imho the best anchor point. There's no question these are podcasts. They were a collaboration between myself, Chris Lydon and Bob Doyle. There was important work that predated it, with myself and Adam Curry, and podcasting came together as a growing medium in the summer of 2004 after the DNC with the iPodder group, all independent of what we were doing at Harvard. But these podcasts, the BloggerCon sessions, and the Berkman Thursday meetups, all were central to the bootstrap. Others have managed to insert themselves into the story, they don't belong there. It's important, if we want to create more open media types, to tell the story accurately.

Linkrot is a kind of API breakage

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:14:59 GMT

There are APIs everywhere you look on the web.

Yesterday, Jay Rosen reported on Twitter that the NYT, in a redesign, had eliminated its paragraph-level permalinks (like the ones you see on Scripting News). He was peeved, for sure, and imho had every right to be. I asked if this broke existing links, i.e. had he been using the feature (I assume so) and did the links still point to paragraphs on the NYT site (yes, of course they pointed there, but did the links work when clicked). It's hard to phrase this question for non-developers, but the issue is real.

Users don't like steps backwards. This applies equally to word processers and websites. It's all software. Only in this case they're developers too because URLs are an API, and as we know APIs break. 💥

Does the NYT have an obligation to continue to support this feature? Of course not. But one of the unwritten rules of the web, going way back, is that linkrot sucks and we should do everything we can to minimize it. The NYT has been conspicuously excellent at not breaking links, btw, over the 20-plus year history of news on the web.

To get an idea of how bad linkrot is, here's an archive page for this blog for November 1999. Try clicking on some links. So many of them are broken.

PS: As far as I'm concerned credit for the concept and the term linkrot goes to Jakob Nielsen, but it's hard to find any references to his authoritative piece on the subject. How nice that his 20-year-old piece is still there and renders nicely in a 2018 browser. It would be ironic if it had been lost to linkrot. 🚀

Umlauts, day 2

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:06:07 GMT

Re: yesterday's River5 issue.

Okay we know what the problem is, and the solution as well.

Of course it's an encoding issue.

Explained here.

My eyes, day 2

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 15:04:13 GMT

My eyes don't work very well this week. As a result I can barely see when I'm out walking. To look at the price on a cash register I have to put my face in it. Add to that my hearing isn't so great, it's like a comedy when I'm out and about.

It's kind of fun to walk around Manhattan barely being able to see. No chance of eye contact. Which means I win every faceoff. That's one of the rules of being a pedestrian in NY, if fail to avert your eyes, you lose. ​

With the hearing it's age. I've had it tested and functionally it's fine.The brain, as you age, has trouble separating sounds in noisy places. So at Chipotle, for example, that plays fairly loud music as background, renders my hearing pretty much useless.

However it activates my sense of humor. And wonderment that I can function like this. I couldn't drive a car, however. And I might have trouble navigating a new neighborhood, because I can't read street signs.

Until Monday I'm kind of in limbo.

It's bad timing because I just started working with a bunch of testers on my new product. Please stay tuned, hopefully my eyes will be back in commission next week. Until then it's going to be a lot of Netflix and book reading for Davey.

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 02:07:58 GMT

As Trump's Saturday Night Massacre comes into focus, students walk out in protest and Pennsylvania voters throw a Repub out of a safe Repub district. Looks like the showdown is coming soon.

Umlauts in River5

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 14:46:12 GMT

Braintrust query: Christoph Knopf reports re River5 a problem with reading umlauts.

He offers a feed that illustrates the problem.

I wrote a simple Node app that reads the file using the standard request package, and what he reports is observed. The umlauts appear as � characters.

I found this Stack Overflow thread that says the answer is to use iconv-lite. Others seem to confirm this is the way to go.

Before I contemplate making a change to River5, I wanted to get the opinion of the braintrust.

Thanks in advance.

Doctor my eyes

Wed, 14 Mar 2018 14:02:21 GMT

I have an eye infection. This is a new thing for me since I started wearing contact lenses last year. This means I have to try to get along wearing glasses for a few days. My eyesight with glasses is terrible. Writing is kind of an adventure! So it may be slow going here for me, for the next few days until (hopefully) the infection clears up and I can resume life as a normally sighted person. I am of course getting help from my doctor.

Tue, 13 Mar 2018 15:36:44 GMT

I'm looking for a few people to help test a new product. You should be an RSS user, have an OPML subscription list or two (or more), and are ready to read docs, report problems, and ask questions. If you'd like to participate please post a note here. Thanks! 💥

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 18:29:20 GMT

Why isn't SSL just a checkbox in the prefs for the an S3 bucket? Amazon already knows who I am. They know more about me than the IRS. 💵

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 17:47:25 GMT

If Google were honest they'd explain they're trying to create a Facebook-like experience in the web, and label sites as being inside or outside their domain. If they don't want to make a web browser, use some of their wealth to subsidize one. A thinking-big company would do that.

Google and HTTP status report

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 17:36:53 GMT

Happy to report that I'm starting to get more reasonable and thoughtful responses to my Google and HTTP faq. I have toned it down, remembering that some people came to the belief that HTTP is bad for the web honestly, and therefore may respond to more simply-stated objections. And this has led me to a distillation of the moral case against what Google is doing.

I've been around the tech industry almost as long as anyone. I've yet to see a tech company grow past the "break things and never look back" stage. What comes next, imho, is understanding that the people they serve are not who they think they are. I highlighted the word serve in that sentence. It's an unfamiliar concept to the tech industry, but they should learn it. It's more humble, more achievable than the godlike status they feel they deserve, an adolescent way of thinking.

What Google is planning on doing to the web is unnecessarily damaging to the work of millions of people. Google could step back and look at their objectives, and let's see if we can compromise, so they can get what they really want and the web can remain what it always has been, an open space for experimentation, free thought, and the development of world-changing ideas. It's where Google itself came from.

Let's see if they gained any maturity and sense of perspective of their place in the world in the 20 years since their founding. When you achieve adulthood all of a sudden you can see the context in which you exist. Blowing things up is the way children approach the world. Adults try to work things out, we hope. 💥

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 14:45:42 GMT

Braintrust: Can you format a Mac without logging in?

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 20:09:36 GMT

Journos generally fail to explain why steel tariffs cost American jobs. Here's why. GM or Ford can choose to make cars in Canada that cost $100 less than the same cars made in the US. Hence layoffs in car factories in the US.

Sun, 11 Mar 2018 20:10:28 GMT

My site has no ads. If you run buggy ad blocking software that blocks my site, the remedy is to trash the software.

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 17:22:53 GMT

Farhad Manjoo, tech columnist for the NYT wrote about a hiatus he took from social media and how much he liked it. According to CJR, he actually didn't take a hiatus. Makes sense. How could a reporter not use Twitter these days? That's where news is made.

Sat, 10 Mar 2018 15:35:16 GMT

Edward Snowden says "unencrypted web traffic is now provably a critical, in-the-wild vulnerability." Why? Because ISPs invisibly redirect download requests of popular programs to new versions with spyware added. Better: don't download an app that runs on your local computer from a site that isn't being served via HTTPS. But it doesn't follow that sites that don't offer downloads should be blocked. It's like saying drunk driving is dangerous and therefore all driving should be banned. Let's not break the web if we don't have to.

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 22:11:51 GMT

Here's an interesting picture of Adele. It's upside-down. Or is it? 💥

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 19:12:20 GMT

Podcast metadata varies widely. Here's a screen shot of four podcasts.

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 15:43:46 GMT

I just updated the Google and HTTP faq, adding a new section about the web and safety, and quite a few other edits and reorgs.

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 13:22:54 GMT

Matt Webb is a new voice in opposition to Google's treating the web as if it were a corporate platform. I added this to his tweets: "Google is trying to force people to change. I can accept them doing that for APIs and platforms they created, but not for the web. They are a guest here, as we all are. Guests don't make the rules."

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 16:23:38 GMT

As I read this, I kept thinking, this is the company that thinks they can run the web better than the people who were running it before (i.e. no one).

Fri, 09 Mar 2018 03:38:10 GMT

I often get asked if I hate AMP -- I don't, but maybe I'm missing something. As far as I know, Google isn't trying to force people to use it, rather providing incentives to do so. This is a key difference.

But the web isn't safe!

Thu, 08 Mar 2018 19:03:11 GMT

A new section in the Google and HTTP faq, cross-posted.

Twitter and Facebook are like AOL in the old pre-web days. They are run by companies who are committed to provide a safe experience. They make tradeoffs for that. Limited linking. No style. Character limits. Blocking, muting, reporting, norms. Etc etc. Think of them as Disney-like experiences.

Google says the web is not safe. That is correct. We don't want every place to be safe. So people can be wild and experiment and try out new ideas. It's why the web has been the proving ground for so much incredible stuff over its history.

Lots of things aren't safe. Skiing. Bike riding in Manhattan. We do them anyway. You can't be safe all the time. Life itself isn't safe.

If Google succeeds in making the web controlled and bland, we'll just have to reinvent the web outside of Google's sphere. Let's save some time, and create the new web out of the web itself.

PS: Of course we want parts of the web to be safe. Banking websites, for example. But my blog archive from 1997? Really there's no need for special provisions there.

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 18:43:19 GMT

Brian McCullough of the Internet History Podcast is teaming up with Techmeme to do a daily tech podcast. 15-20 minutes. It'll be posted in the early evening. There is definitely a position here. I'll be listening for sure. Here's the feed url. And it's in the rotation at

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 16:05:43 GMT

Approx 20-minute podcast about podcasting as a juggernaut. Why is it a juggernaut? You don't have to get permission to start a podcast, you can follow an idea intuitively, creatively. I offer two examples, the Internet History Podcast and Here's the Thing. Two podcasts that are not like what you hear in the excellent field of podcasts that sprang from This American Life. And that's just a tiny corner of what's out there. It's huge and diverse. No one gets the whole thing. Podcasting will continue to evolve as long as it's not controlled.

Media Files:

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 14:55:52 GMT

Hire a professional journalist and they will tell you that the professionals won. Podcasting is for everyone, and that includes professionals. I do a podcast every once in a while myself. It doesn't set the world on fire, but the idea of podcasting did. The medium is the message. 🚀

Tue, 06 Mar 2018 18:42:52 GMT

The subscription list for is updated every night.

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 13:29:36 GMT

Good morning sports fans!

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:33:00 GMT

Braintrust query: Face recognition as a service.

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 17:48:42 GMT

For a troll, normalization is the worst thing possible. Like pouring water on the wicked witch in Oz.

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:39:37 GMT

Little-known fact. The initials for Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, are the same as the initials for The Big Lebowski, a classic Coen Bros movie. Can't say you never learned anything on Scripting News.

Plot for a fantasy movie

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 16:50:07 GMT

Here's a plot for a fantasy movie.

  • The fictitious Patriot Party surprisingly wins control of Congress and the White House.
  • They want to control the government forever.
  • Instead of raping the country they pass laws that voters love that make them happier, healthier.
  • Everyone lives happily ever after.

Do you care about the Knicks??

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:51:14 GMT

It's not necessary to actually watch Knicks games because they all seem to end the same. Last night they played the Sacramento Kings, another lottery team, and you might think here's a game the Knicks might actually be able to win. Nahh. At least they're consistent!

A friend who happens to be a Yankees fan is also a Knicks fan, and we talk about the team regularly. He wonders why he's a Knicks fan if they always lose. I said I know the answer. The Knicks are his atonement for being a Yankees fan. Now what does this say about me, a lifetime Mets fan? Well, one thing -- winning isn't the most important thing. And that said, unlike the Knicks, the Mets do win once in long while. Even that amount of winning requires atonement, I guess.

Morning movie notes

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:50:47 GMT

Speaking of winners, by the middle of the Oscars show last night I concluded that Get Out would win everything. Unfortunately not so. I think in a few years we will have forgotten The Shape of Water, and Get Out will have been the beginning of something new. The combination of politics, comedy, romance, tragedy and horror is hard to beat.

I was delighted that Allison Janney won best supporting actress. I, Tonya was a wonderful movie. It could have gotten a Best Picture nomination. And Janney was brilliant as Harding's bitter, cigarette-smoking hardass waitress mother.

Jennifer Lawrence and Jody Foster made the best on-stage couple comedy act. I was staring at Foster on her crutches before my attention turned to Lawrence, who is by far my favorite actress of her generation, for her irreverence, intelligence, and last night sheer gobsmacking beauty. She's beautiful the way Hedy Lamarr was. And what an actress. She's still only 26 and one can only imagine what delights await us. I'm more than a fan, I am in awe.

Sometimes the Academy passes on a movie that goes on to have great significance. For me, the most interesting example is The Big Lebowski. It didn't win a single Oscar. I wonder what the judges must have thought of it. A silly insignificant comedy? It's weird because TBL came after Fargo, which was much-celebrated by the Oscars. The year Lebowski would have been up for an award, Shakespeare in Love won best picture, and imho the other winners were also Big Mehs. Imho there's no doubt The Big Lebowski was the Best Picture in 1999. But you don't necessarily know it in the moment. History has a role to play too.

Phantom Thread review

Mon, 05 Mar 2018 14:06:48 GMT

I finally saw Phantom Thread over the weekend.

I really liked it. But I was pretty sure I would. I'll tell you why.

When I first saw There Will Be Blood, the previous collaboration between Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis, the first time I watched it, I didn't like it. Too dark, too slow, not enough story, odd sad ending. Meh. But then for some reason I watched it again, and had the opposite reaction. A masterpiece. The pace was just right, and there totally was a story. It was just so slow, your mind has to get in the right gear to appreciate it. It's not an easy movie to like. But who said movies have to be easy?

Same with Phantom Thread. The. Pace. Is. So. Deliberate. The characters say so little. We're watching the most mundane acts. But it builds and a story emerges, and the music and the acting are superb, the story is fascinating. It's the kind of movie to watch again, alone, like you read a book, to savor every moment.

I wouldn't have given it Best Picture, not in the same year as Get Out, but Phantom Thread, like There Will Be Blood, will age well.

Sat, 03 Mar 2018 14:24:43 GMT

This is how parents sent email to their kids at summer camp in 1968.

At the end of the runway

Sat, 03 Mar 2018 13:52:46 GMT

I've been sharing a story offline with NakedJen about loved ones who pass and what they're doing while waiting for us to join them in the afterlife.

The story began a few years ago with each of us as an airplane on a runway, and life is us taking off and flying. As time goes by there's less runway in front of us (the future) and more behind (experience).

Lately there's a new twist to the story. Her dogs, led by Clyde (the only one whose name I know) are busily preparing a perfect dog park for Jen to live in. There will be many things to throw and catch. And things to smell and roll around in. A tree with shade to rest under. A bowl of fresh water. Treats. Jen will have a Mac, an iPad, an iPhone and a place to get Kombucha. There's a Coffee Garden up there too. And don't forget Sundance and the annual NJFF. I have that pencilled in on my afterlife agenda as well. :-)

I think of that as NakedJen's dog park at the end of the runway.

I realize that my collection of Zillow searches are part of my planning for the afterlife. Lately I haven't been paying that much attention, but this house in Taos came along today and it immediately made sense. My Zillow queries are me shopping for where I want to live, for eternity. That house is pretty close what I want to build at the end of my runway.

PS: A plot for a science fiction movie. You know how Silicon Valley moguls are trying to find the cure for death so they can live forever. Well, in this story, they succeed, and they do live forever. Their friends and loved ones die as people normally do. And they're watching, in a dimension only the dead occupy, as their silly friends struggle to live forever while they're enjoying the many benefits of the afterlife (see above).

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 22:22:02 GMT

Found this old ThinkTank fanatic button in the back of a drawer.

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 17:46:38 GMT

I started a page with my political views. As they change, if I stick to it, the page will change as well. Note when I edit the changes automatically post. Reload the page to be sure you're looking at the latest.

Tech companies aren't half the story

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 18:16:20 GMT

Note: This was a Twitter thread, turned into a blog post.

The press sees only one thing when they look at tech -- companies. The biggest ones. They are not the exclusive driving force of technology. Open systems, that they always oppose, keep undermining them. You're not even getting 1/2 the story.

It's important because there's a lot of political movement when tech's grip on tech is gone, when there's a generational shift in platforms. I've seen at least four of these in my life: Unix, PCs, GUI (Mac/Windows), Web. The powerful companies were always caught flat-footed.

The blindness of the press re tech evolution always amazes me. At first I thought they all must see it. A few did, in the early days, but now -- that knowledge appears lost.

It's important that they see it because the press has been an important part of the transition at least in the turn to GUIs and the web. I have a feeling the next platform will rise out of journalism getting tired of waiting for tech, believe it or not.

Also when the press looks for transformational change, they tend to see ones that require massive capital investment, and miss the ones that break the rules of the incumbent platform. The PC let people have their own computer without interference from corporate managers.

The Mac let people publish their own documents, newsletters, and evolved into a platform that could publish newspapers and magazines, far less expensively and much more easily that typographic systems they replaced.

And the web upended the GUI's dominance, by making networking so simple anyone could do it. And making the niceties of print unnecessary. It was really something watching the WYSIWYG crowd (of which I was one) struggle with the inability of the web to be wizzy.

Yet the web rose to dominance because the power of networking (Amazon, FB, Twitter, email, banking, Yelp, Craigslist, podcasting, etc etc) was so huge. Okay it didn't look as pretty but look at what it DOES.

Buttons from my bedroom

Fri, 02 Mar 2018 22:24:29 GMT

These buttons were on the wall of my teenage bedroom.

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 20:55:37 GMT

I think we owe Attorney General Jeff Sessions our gratitude for standing up for the rule of law. I don't agree with his values or politics, but it's good to know there is a baseline of respect for our system of government.

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 15:59:38 GMT

If you're subscribed to this blog, you might also want to subscribe to my linkblog feed. The links I post to Twitter and Facebook, in RSS form.

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 15:55:14 GMT

The outline for February is in the repo. Monthly ritual.

Thu, 01 Mar 2018 15:50:33 GMT

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.