The price you pay

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There’s a price you pay to be a part of this virtual neighborhood, and it’s the little bits of connectivity broken when one member or another goes silent for a time — maybe forever.

When I didn’t have the money to keep this weblog going, several of you contributed to help me, for which I am so thankful. The reasons you gave for helping were many, though much was said about the ‘quality’ of my writing — words that touched my doubting soul, providing something beyond the coins falling into the velvet bag. However, one person’s comment about me leaving has stayed with me because of his unique perspective. Jeff Ward wrote:

I can’t afford much at this point, but I asked myself if I’d still want to do this as a slave to someone like blogspot, and the answer was no. Independence is a good thing. While it is a different situation than Mark Woods faced, I feel it essential to try to prevent any tornados from uprooting what I’ve begun to see as a sort of neighborhood.

Wanting to keep our neighborhoods whole and happy because we’ve come to know and care for the people is something that we’ll be facing more of in the future as others move on to other things, or take a break, possibly never to return. And with each leaving, a drop of blood is spilled because they have become a part of this whole experience, going beyond just our own contributions. It pains us to lose people we haven’t met, and may never meet.

I have lost people from my neighborhood, weblogs gone silent, emails unanswered and each time, there’s a hollowness where they were, though I respect their decisions to leave.

There are some people I am very close to, and sometimes I think I hold on to them with a desperation born of a need far beyond me having a weblog because I love to write, though that’s my ostensible reason for being here. Allan Moult is one such who plans on weblogging less, though my government’s actions brings him out now and again. I want to send a note of encouragement to President Bush, tell him to keep up the good work just to keep Allan’s voice, but the words would be false, and my motive is selfish.

Then there is Jonathon, probably my closest friend, though the person who lately I have been picking at and pushing at more than others because even a friendship can not wipe away the differences in personality. Today he wrote a simple message of Adieu and I am devastated because he is part of that circle that runs most closely to me and his silence will ring the loudest.

As a weblogger, my neighborhood is torn and tattered and I could wish nothing more than that he would stay, the hole of his leaving sits and echos and disturbs the flow around me. But as a friend — even one who pushes and picks and causes him trouble and disruption — then I must wish him well, and hope for him nothing but peace, happiness, and much success in his new projects. However, there’s a faintly selfish wish that he returns soon, and even an empty promise that I won’t cause the same problems; but I know I will because being a weblogger doesn’t change, ultimately, who and what I am.

Adieu Jonathon.


Server update

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I just put in for a quote on a dedicated server, hopefully running Linux 8.0. The plan is to add the following software:

Python 2.2
Tomcat – limited use since this is a CPU hog
Perl 5.8
PHP 4.x
Apache 2.x
MySQL 4.x
Other (TDB or requested by co-op members)

Plus whatever software each person wants to run their weblog in — Bloxsom, Movable Type, or just plain Blogger-maintained pages. As long as it can work in the server, we’ll install it.

I experimented around with this setup in another environment last week and ran into problems with PHP 4.x and Apache 2.x. Compatibility problems. Everything else worked fine. Bugger.

New server should have unlimited bandwidth and space for lots of pics and bloggers. Fast CPU, too. By the end of the year, the server should be self supporting if all works well, and will have funded the seed money for a second co-op server. At least that’s the plan.

We’ll also run a Kiosk weblog on the new server for other webloggers. If a person’s weblog is down because of hosting problems, they can send an email to the co-op members, who will post a weblog entry in the Kiosk to that effect. Then, if people can’t access a weblog — DNS or server errors — they’ll have a place to go to check for a note about the weblog. Additionally, weblogs that moved can also post a hote.

Not sure if it will fly, but it’s only a weblog and takes no resource if it isn’t used.


Weblog standards

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’m tired tonight, but Anil asked a fair question and I wanted to try to write a fair answer. He wrote in my comments:

Shelley, just curious: (honestly, not being sarcastic) what standards body do you think would be appropriate for hosting these formats, protocols, and APIs?

If I was a dreaming kind of person, which I am though I have this urge to make my dreams real without any real expectation of accomplishing the reality, my ideal weblogging standards organization would be based somewhat on the concept of “source gets you votes”. In other words, you could buy your way in just by giving your source code and specification over for management by the group. So, the Trotts could buy their way in with Trackback, Userland with RSS 2.0, and Ev with the concept of the weblogging API. That takes care of the big three.

Now, the group wouldn’t stop there. There are other major organizations that are impacted by weblogging specifications, including other weblogging and peripherial tools. They could buy their way in by a) demonstrating that their tool/specification has a significant number (TDB) of users, and b) turning their efforts over for management by the organization.

For the rest of the tool developers and vendors — elect members from specific categories of software. For instance, elect two people to represent the aggregators, because of the number of aggregators, perhaps 1 from the web services folks, and so on. This won’t be a huge number, but does provide representation. And this is a revolving vote among the vendors/organization/developers.

Finally the users — the committee is completed by electing an equal number of people from the user community, mixed half and half between the techs and non-techs. I split the techs and non-techs to ensure that there isn’t a complete domination by technical folks. But can’t exclude tech folks because there are technical people who don’t create weblogging software, but help out with its use. I know a couple people right of the bat I’d vote in from this category.

As for the vote count, if there are 9 ‘permanent’ positions (and don’t choke on that word ‘permanent’ yet), and 8 additional from the technology reps — a total of 17 people — there would be 18 revolving positions from the user community.

All positions except for those who ‘buy’ their way in with a spec or a standard are for one year only. The other people, those who have turned over their specifications and technologies for management can remain as long as they want, provided they aren’t voted out at the end of each year. In other words, if you’re an asshole, you’re going to get kicked off. Work with the team, and you stay. Howver, permanent positions can recommend a replacement — as long as the replacement is acceptable to the body politic.

In my opinion, existing standards organizations and structures won’t work — the weblog industry is equivalent to what the Internet used to be in that things in this industry move fast, fast, fast. By keeping the standards organization within the community, we keep control of the technology within the hands of those who believe in the technology.

With the makeup of the organization, it will be difficult for power pockets to develop, especially since the revolving members from the user community and vendors change every year, and difficult people can get voted off (or retire voluntarily). You could, but then, you get the same thing now — at least a standards organization would provide some semblance of sanity.

To make this work, every weblogger will need to make a decision — only to use software that guarantees it is Weblog Standards compliant. If people really like the way things are done, with the back biting, undercutting, power playing, multi-standard, multi-API — they don’t need to do anything. If they’re a wee bit tired of it, they can vote their choices. The same goes for those people who think standards will ‘stifle’ creativity — then vote your choice.

Someone said, “put it on the table”. Well, consider it put.


Harvard Support?

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Dave Winer uses his Harvard weblog, and we assume the clout and prestige of his Harvard position, to push the weblogging industry into backing his versions of both RSS and a Weblogging MetaAPI.

There’s already been discussion about Winer taking on ‘co-creator’ claims with RSS — something I and others dispute. Now, he is doing the same types of power manipulation with the MetaWeblog API:

The same philosophy dictates an end to the disagreement over RSS. If they want respect for the formats and protocols they implement, they must do RSS exactly as UserLand does. The thing that Blogger and MT currently call RSS is not only not what UserLand does but it isn’t even an improvement over what UserLand does. Lose-lose.

Sure, other people encourage this nasty thing, but that doesn’t make it right. I’ve written to all the parties privately on this. It’s important, if the blogging API world is to come together in a rational way, we must have basic aggreement on RSS. It’s time to settle this argument now. This is the nasty stuff the big companies do. Let’s get over it and get some principles in place now.

About APIs, I request others support the MetaWeblog API without reservation. If you want me reorganize and move the docs to a neutral place and put an IETF-like disclaimer on it, I’m happy to do so. Maybe this is something Harvard could help with. I ain’t going with MIT, they’re the competition.

Smiley faces aside, these closed door discussions by private phone between “The Big Three” of weblogging, the re-writing of history about the tools, the use of a respected institution to add credibility for what is a dispute based on personality differences — Congratulations, weblogging: you’ve just become a true American industry.

Ford, Chrysler, and GM would be proud.

What’s next — a Userland RDF?

Just Shelley Web Weblogging

Server update

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The money received from the sale of Threadneedle, combined with the other money you were all kind enough to contribute to a server will enable me to get a dedicated server. I’m looking at RackForce, a Canadian provider. Then, if what I write becomes too hot for Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld, they can’t have the content pulled since the server will be, in effect, offshore. And I plan on writing a great deal of hot things in the months to come since the current administration looks to be up to its old and bad games again.

I’ll have enough room to provide homes for other webloggers who have run into some financial challenges and need a place to stay but don’t have a lot of cash. This will be the start of that co-op I’ve talked about in the past, and something I’m looking forward to working with.

I also wanted to extend a thank you to AKMA, for suggesting the name of “Threadneedle” for the application that led to the domain. With the new server, I would have the capacity to work on the Threadneedle application, except now that we have Trackback, it’s not needed. However, I have some other things to work on, which I’ll roll out if I ever complete them. Except this time, code first, talk later.