Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

Weblogs at the Cusp of Acceptance

Author:Dave Winer
Posted:11/2/1999; 7:50:09 AM
Topic:Weblogs at the Cusp of Acceptance
Msg #:12616
Prev/Next:12615 / 12617

My Point of View

The last few weeks have been incredible. I wasn't sure if Dan Gillmor's weblog would see the light of day. While this project was going on, there was a light discussion on the Weblogs mail list as to whether journalists would make good webloggers. I had some opinions on this, but I couldn't express them, because we were working with the SJ Merc on the Dan Gillmor project.

Last night Dan sent me an email saying that I should tell my readers that his weblog didn't give legitimacy to the art of weblogs. That's *his* opinion. I am blown away by what Dan is doing there. For me, the question is resolved. Columnists at big newspapers can do this. To me, as a user interface designer and software developer, this is the most gratifying outcome. Our theory is correct. Dan didn't have to install any software on his computer to do his weblog. Yet he has a full featured site, with a home page, calendar for back issues, search engine, and discussion group.

UserLand aspires to provide software to people who do weblogs. Sometimes they're for individual practitioners, but sometimes it just *looks* like it's one person. For Dan's site there's a designer who did the template, and there's a systems guy who integrated it with the rest of And there might be other people there working on Dan's site that I don't know. Yet somehow, our software has worked! That's incredible.


It's not all roses though.

While Manila was in active heavy development, we started BucksWoodside.Com, along with Jamis MacNiven. The software was too complex for Jamis, that's just a fact I have to deal with. It's possible, given the constraints of a web browser interface, that we can't hide enough complexity to make weblog-writing and picture-taking accessible to a total HTML newbie. I'm not giving up on that yet.

When the site was switched over, I was just about to post a job req for someone local to the Valley to work with Jamis, as his assistant and teacher. I also sent him an email last night asking him how it's going. I haven't given up here yet. I think with the right person to help him with the technical issues and production issues, Buck's could once again be a Manila site.

Also, I seeded my Jamaican uncle with Manila. He had no experience with the Internet, the web, email, any of it. The last time he had used a computer was in the early 60s when he was an engineering student. He took to it like a fish in water.

Just Enough HTML™

You have to know a little bit of HTML, but not much, to make a weblog run. We're working continually to reduce that. We will continue to do that after Manila ships.

Some people feel it should all be done without HTML, but I disagree. There are a thousand books out there about HTML, and a million teachers. Why invent a new language for markup when this one has so much momentum.

I think I'm going to suggest that O'Reilly do a book entitled "Just Enough HTML" so we can recommend a book for people who want to do Manila sites but don't have the prerequisite HTML experience. I know Jamis would have pored over such a book. I didn't have time to write it for him, or time to be his teacher.

What's coming?

This morning I got a glimpse of a *network* of Manila sites that's being developed by one of our partners.

We're going to soon offer free Manila sites to all Frontier users. These sites will be hosted on UserLand.Com, as Ken Dow's site is and Dan Gillmor's.

More spaces. I think UserLand.Com will morph into a site like eGroups, but with a focus on web-writing, not email delivery. It's true that eGroups has a web-side, and Manila sites can send email, but they don't have a deep content management system as their underpinning, and our email technology is still nascent.

Epinions is doing a great job, their site is growing. I think we will eventually wire our editing tools into their servers. At that point you will see a burst of growth in this market. Epinions is about writing, and writing in the web browser, while easy, is far from the best we can do.

Popular weblogs such as The Obscure Store, Tomalak, Hack The Planet, CamWorld, and Robot Wisdom, are growing. I think, if the editors of these sites want to, they can become part of well-financed organizations. I could see Jorn Barger editing the home page of a big newspaper someday, probably not too far down the road. It pays to be nice to these people, not just because their power is sure to grow, but because they're doing excellent work, and they're supporting the web, and that's something I can support. It doesn't matter to me if they use our technology or not. That's the philosophy of the web.

And the relationship with O'Reilly continues to blossom. They have big plans there, and what a lovely company, they're so smart. They continue to teach me, and I just soak it up.

We're kind of in a hiatus with Microsoft. Our SOAP implementation isn't happening, as all our development resources are focused on shipping Frontier 6.1 (the Manila release) and bringing our new servers online. I have sent them a proposal that we contract with a third party to implement SOAP in Frontier, this would free us to continue to work on the higher level interfaces we need to make our content management vision work. In the meantime we'll keep developing with XML-RPC, it works great for what we want to do, and when we grow, and SOAP becomes more widespread, we can do the development work ourselves.

Too busy to be jealous

I love the fact that we're all winning.

This is an open invitation to the others in the weblog world. I want to share my flow with you. We have a high flow site. Just bought three more honking servers. We're going to buy a new server every two weeks. The growth is here now. Let's all grow together.

I wish I had more time

Finally, I'm going to go back and re-read this piece and do a very light edit. I have to move a site to another server today, and somehow keep up with all the news that's coming to me.

Best wishes for a bright future!

Dave Winer

There are responses to this message:

This page was archived on 6/13/2001; 4:53:18 PM.

© Copyright 1998-2001 UserLand Software, Inc.