New! New! New! (not yet)

Lots of new stuff rolling out in techland now.

It’s good to see movement. We just haven’t seen the kind of movement yet that’s truly meaningful.

Here’s what we’ve seen come out in the last few days:

1. app.net’s alpha.

2. Branch’s public release.

3. Medium’s public preview.

4. My own Tabbed River 2.0.

I haven’t used app.net or Branch, because I’m holding firm on my promise to only use systems that let me flow stuff in and out while maintaining originals in my own space. It’s what often seems like a futile attempt to inspire others to do the same. Let’s try to create something of lasting value with all this Web 2.0 “conversation” we keep having. The plea seems to fall on deaf ears.

I’ve said that to and about both Branch and app.net, but I broke my own rule with Medium. I did it as an impulsive, intuitive thing. Here’s the sequence of events, which took place last night.

1. I saw the announcement on Twitter via Joshua Benton at Nieman Lab.

2. I clicked the link, skimmed Evan William’s introductory post. Was confused. Clicked on something that led to a Twitter OAuth page. Said What The Hell and clicked okay. They asked for my email address. I gave it to them.

3. I poked around on their system, still was confused, got an idea that something different was happening here, but I had no idea what. Said so on Twitter.

4. Got an email from Evan Williams saying he had whitelisted me, so I could now post. More confusion, but after a few emails I was able to post. I wrote something I was planning on putting on my own blog to get a feel for what it could do. Now I understood, I think, what it is. Started a thread to narrate the experience.

5. Thought some more, decided to try another experiment. What if I posted one of my most valued pieces on Medium, what would that look like. So I tried it. It was called a sensible evisceration by Ross Pruden. Love that term.

6. Then I started thinking — why did I break my rule for this. And I realized it had been something I had been thinking about for a long time. And I had been putting down the dots, as in connecting-the-dots, and now I was ready to actually start connecting them.

I know this is turning into a long piece and almost no one is reading by this point. So be it.

It is long past time for something really new, and I know what it is, and I bet Evan who is a smart guy who has been working on blogging roughly as long as I have has already figured it out. I bet Biz Stone has too. If not, it’s right at the edge of their consciousness, and maybe I can help bring it into full view.

1. Please let Medium be something more than another high-walled silo for capturing people’s writing.

2. It can be a silo, for people who want that, but let it also be a lens for viewing content that’s stored elsewhere. Let people viewing content through that lens see no difference in fidelity from the content that was authored on your system, and stored on your system.

3. Do the inverse as well. Provide a URL for every bit of content on your server that offers it up in “source code” — unrendered — so it can be viewed through lenses created by other developers.

I can understand why the Branch guys don’t want to do this, although I think ultimately they will have to. But Biz and Evan, you guys have made more money than you can possibly use. Do this one project without regard for capturing content. Break out of the rut that Silicon Valley has been mired in for the last ten years. We don’t need the training wheels any longer.

If they were to do this, not only could I use Medium, but I could encourage other people to do so too. If they don’t do it, I have to come to my senses and say that they did nothing interesting here, producing yet another Web 2.0 content trapper.

I have hopes they will do it — because they’ve done it before — when they were poor schnooks. Now that they’re rich, there’s no reason not to do something generous and opportunistic. They would probably not make many friends in Silicon Valley, maybe they would lose some, but they would be doing a mitzvah for the rest of the world. And because of it there might actually be something remaining from the boom times we live in years from now when people wonder how the intellect of the world became globalized. (It was not, as the Library of Congress seems to think, all on Twitter.)

One of the dots that this connects, that I didn’t even realize was on the map, was the World Is Socialist piece. Not only are snowstorms socialist, and sickness — and love, and springtime — but you know what — the web is also socialist. That’s the fundamental contradiction of the tech community, which has tried to make it capitalist. It’s not. When you let it be itself, everything on the Internet belongs to everything else. The walls tech people try to raise, to convince investors that there’s dollar value there, are fake. They don’t hold anything behind them that has any lasting value. The only things that stand a chance are things that flow. And for that, the walls get in the way.

I asked Fred Wilson about this — but he reacted as if I was attacking him. Maybe Ev and Biz see it. Build something real, but don’t try to get the ocean to boil inside your teapot. It doesn’t fit in there. :-)

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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