Somewhere over the rainbow

With the beginning of Daylight Savings Time, Powder stays open later, until 8pm. I prefer going later in the day, as it’s quieter. Fewer people, more birds and deer.

Tonight, yesterday’s storm was very evident. I was somewhat surprised to see how many trees were torn up. In some places, half the trees were down. Since Powder is a Conservation area, all the park rangers do is remove the trees from the path and let them lie where they fall.

Already amidst the broken tree trunks, squirrels were running about grabbing what they could for nests and birds were flying in and around the branches looking for food. We forget when we witness the devastation to our homes and businesses that storms are actually healthy for the forests and the plains.

The sun was starting to set and it was getting cooler; I headed back to the car. When there, down the road a short ways, an entire herd of white tail deer were feeding along the edge of the woods. The setting sun painted the bushes around me in shades of raspberry and peach, as I leaned against the car to watch the deer. Two male cardinals chased each other around the bushes and over in the dirt by the road, a robin was hopping about looking for food. Other birds, too small to identity flitted about, enjoying the last of the sun’s warmth.

While I watched, the next song in my “Bittersweet” playlist started playing: the beautiful sounds of Israel Kamakawiwoòle singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Listening to the song, feeling the sun, watching the birds and the deer, as trees still standing, edged with purple and green, were surrounded by trees just ended–the thought came to me that the story of my life could have come to a close at that moment, and it would have been a good ending.

Just Shelley

Blame it on the hoosiers

Don from Hands in the Dirt wrote of yesterday’s stormy weather we in the midwest shared:

Of course, Indiana changed to daylight savings this weekend, something it has resisted for over 30 years. Coincidence?

I’m glad that Don and family survived unhurt, but between Rogers dropping RSS 2.0 in favor of Atom, and Indiana finally supporting Daylight Savings Time, we could almost think hell had frozen over this week, and therefore the storms of hell had to go someplace: might as well be the American midwest.

The storms yesterday blew up without necessarily a lot of warning. We had the sky go from clear to dark as night in less than 20 minutes. I was outside watching when the worst of the winds hit, and could see from rotation in the sky that a tornado was thinking about forming over the area about 1/2 mile away. I wasn’t surprised by the tornado sirens, and when the neighbor across the way came out to ask what was happening, I started explaining about rotation in the sky and how this appears on radar…only to look over and see her turn white with fear and run into her house. Next time, I might be a little less clinical in my description.

The storm got bad enough for me to grab Zoë and put her in the interior bathroom, just in case. First, though, I let her out to have a peek on our deck — photos at end of story. After the tornado sirens, we could hear police, fire, and ambulance sirens for well over an hour.

We had deaths from this storm in the St. Louis area, and yes the city area was hit by tornadoes. One man died when a store collapsed, and another young hiker died when a tree limb fell on him at one place I go every once in a while. A town to the south of us, Caruthersfield, was virtually wiped out, with several hundred people left homeless. Tennessee was particularly hard hit. It’s surprising to look over at Google news and not see a damn thing about it–which I guess goes to show that for all the newness of our technology, human rubber necking is still human rubber necking, and interest in a story is based on number of deaths not overall impact. I guess 27 wasn’t enough deaths.

The weather has been freaky: early warmth forced early buds and then the late cold nipped them and the winds this week carried them away, so our Spring hasn’t been as pretty. This is my last Spring here, so I’m disappointed; I’m moving from St. Louis as soon as my current contract is finished–most likely in July/August. I’ll be staying with my Mom a month or so, then tooling around the country to see folks here and there, as well as enjoy the fall colors. From there, to Seattle I’ll go, hopefully to find work and a new home.

In spite of the dangers, I’ll miss these massive thunderstorms here in St. Louis. I feel incredibly alive during a storm. I’ll also miss Zoë, who will be remaining with my roommate.


Glass of water

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I like Doc Searls, even when I’m not agreeing with him, and this is one of those times. Nat over at O’Reilly posted an email Doc wrote to him in response to Nat’s seeking to better understand Web 2.0. Doc responded by describing three specific types of morality–self-serving, accounting, and generosity–stating that he believes Web 2.0 is business based on generous morality:

I think some of what we see in Web 2.0 … is the morality of generosity. At eTech, I saw a preview of a browser-based Photoshop/Album organizing/print product front-end service. The biggest thing the creator wanted to show was how generous Flickr is. “Watch this,” he said, before using Flickr’s API to suck all 6000+ of my photos from Flickr into his product. All the metadata, all the tags and associations, were intact. His point: Flickr isn’t a silo. Their closed and proprietary stuff doesn’t extend, not is it used, to lock up customer or user data. It’s wide open. Free-range. Most of all, however, it is a “good citizen”. It is generous where it counts. Nurturing.

What Flickr has done, aside from generating a plethora of 2.0 wannabes who think all they have to do is drop the final ‘e’ to succeed, is follow good business practices. Among these is don’t lock in your customer’s data, or you’ll have problems: getting new customers, and keeping old customers happy. By providing an API the company has forestalled all the bitching about ‘lock in’ that would happen–guaranteed–if they didn’t provide the API.

In addition, the API has led to all sorts of tools and toys that generate buzz for the organization and the services–all at the cost of bandwidth absorbed by a company where the use of such probably doesn’t even rate a blip in the overall consumption of this resource.

None of this is ‘generosity’; this is all good business sense.

I’m not being critical of Flickr or the folks behind Flickr. I’ve always thought that Stewart and Catarina are the most intelligent and savvy of the “2.0″ entrepreneurs. They both possess what I think is essential for business people: a sense of humor, and a sense of perspective. No, Flickr isn’t ‘generous’, because this is a concept that doesn’t apply to businesses. Generosity applies to people–not companies. Anthropomorphizing companies just leads to angry and pissed off users when the company does what companies do–make decisions that may not be universally popular, but are sound from a business perspective.

(As evidenced by the recent Terms of Use change at Flickr, whereby photos displaying full frontal nudity would be filtered from the photo stream–a move that has pissed off many Flickr users. I happen to think that Flickr made a sound business decision to filter nudity from the public photo stream.)

No, there’s few things I would disagree with more than what Doc had to say about the 2.0 companies…

Unless it was Tim O’Reilly, who wrote in comments to Nat’s post:

I have to say that while I don’t necessarily disagree with Doc’s thoughts about types of morality (though it’s hard to avoid characterizing as oversimplification a system that finds only three bases for morality!), I find the idea that Web 2.0 is about a different kind of morality to completely miss the point.

It’s ultimately about the internet as platform.

Tim is the publisher of the book I’m currently writing, so I don’t necessarily want to kick the ass of the man who signs my checks. Still, if we think we’re tired of the “Web 2.0″ term, I can guarantee by the end of the year, we’ll be even more sick of “____ as operating system”, or “Internet as platform”.

As for Web 2.0…there is no Web 2.0. There is only the same Web we’ve had all along. The only reason for the “Web 2.0″ phrase is that people wanted to distance themselves from the perceived ‘failures’ of the Dot-Com era. You know that old Web 1.0, where people were stupid, unlike the Web 2.0 folks, who are smart.

The thing is, the old Web 1.0 was, is, very successful. Look at how much we do online now? I have met and become friends–real friendships–with people from all around the world. I do most of my shopping online; you can see my photos, hear my stories, use my tech. I can download music and read books for free online. I can access my library to check out books, and work on a project with a team in the UK. You’re reading what I’m writing here, now, because of that ‘old’ Web.

I have changed my mind politically because of what people have written. I’ve had my interests broadened because of what I’ve been exposed to through my online interactions. I am a different person because of that ‘old’ Web. Contrary to being a failure, that ‘old’ Web is marvelously successful.

Sure there were a lot of Dot-Com companies that went belly up, but this wasn’t the Web’s fault. It had nothing to do with the technology, and everything to do with bad economics. When this current version of The Web falters and most likely fails, it will be for the same reason.

The Web, though, will continue. Despite the rise and fall of personal and corporate fortunes, government censorship, and even page rank and popularity lists, the Web will continue. And so will the behaviors of the people at the ends of the Web. Thus we will continue to see the same gamut of human behaviors–from brilliance to stupidity, tolerance to bigotry, and greed to generosity–that we’ve always seen when people interact with each other.

People make me laugh. People make me think. People make me sigh over beauty. Some have even made me sad. Of course, being Burningbird, people have also pissed me off. But the web didn’t cause any of this–it just widened the pool of people with whom I interact. Now there are more people to make me laugh and piss me off. Huzzah!

There is no version of the Web, and it is no more a platform now then it ever was. Or perhaps, no less a platform then it ever was. There is also no inherent generosity in the organizations doing business on the Web. There are just people doing business, and there is just the Web.


Trusty user

A little later I’ll have a post indirectly related to my current work effort. Some has to be kept confidential but part of what we’re developing is work that will be released to the world at large, and that’s what I’ll be writing about.

In the meantime, I think the NY Times idea of wider content area is good — I’m tired of my skinny little bar. More than that, I really don’t like posting photos less than 600 pixels. For those who are using a screen resolution of 800 x 600, I’ve created a full content feed in Atom (1.0), which you can read in your aggregator. The feed is at, but note you have to have a username and password for this. Email me if you’d like these.

This full content feed does validate as 1.0. I copied the WordPress Atom 1.0 code that Ben created with a few modifications for my own Wordform implementation. I don’t fully understand why the WordPress developers are against Atom 1.0 but I’m not going to implement a feed using a deprecated specification. I’ll still use RSS 1.0 for my main, unprotected but abbreviated feed.

Still not supporting RSS 2.0. I’m glad that Rogers Cadenhead and Sam Ruby have joined those of us who refuse to support RSS 2.0 feeds until the issue of enclosures, at a minimum, have been resolved. As I demonstrated with Tinfoil last week, multiple enclosures is a real, tangible, problem with RSS 2.0.

Speaking of Tinfoil Project and my two recent rambles, thanks to folks who were encouraging I might do other recordings — just for fun. Sometimes, you just want to do something different. I won’t, though, create any other weblog and have no idea what I was thinking. There are other forms of writing online without being constrained by the weblogging format–including writing anything over 200 words that is linkless and that isn’t meant to disappear in five days or less.