[PP-main] Mainstream Realities

Rusty Foster rusty at kuro5hin.org
Sat Mar 11 00:09:21 CET 2000

I've stayed pretty quiet so far, mostly because I had no interest in the
argument about crypto (which was totally beside the point BTW), but I
think things have brought themselves back on track admirably, so to
offer my own humble thoughts on this thread...

Joakim Ziegler wrote:
> On Thu, Mar 09, 2000 at 06:27:20PM +0000, Walter Ludwick wrote:
> > I guess my big question at this point is:  what about all those folks
> > out there who really don't want to bother building their own weblogs,
> > but have healthy appetite for news & views from a very ecclectic mix of
> > sources?  Can any of us realistically expect to offer that person a real
> > "home"?  Let's assume they want what so many seem to want:  one account
> > on a smallish site (NOT Netscape or even Userland) that will be their
> > home community, that would also feed them all the content they might
> > reasonably request.  Is this smallish weblog operator going to either
> > (a) give the user an interface to configure own ideal mix of content
> > (not just "slashdot" or "wired", but more granular) and presentation;
> > or (b) is the webmaster going to have to do this manually -- endlessly!
> > -- for each user?  And, in either event, is PeerPress going to make this
> > easily deliverable by us spare-time weblog meisters?  How, if
> > Netscape/AOL (who invented RSS) can't even deliver?  Is this all in the
> > elegance of the spec that's being developed here (independent of both
> > the big fish and the standards bodies)?

To directly address the Netscape/AOL question: Neither netscape nor AOL
have any real record of doing anything that's much good for anyone
besides Netscape or AOL lately, with the possible exception of Mozilla
(which has amazingly survived it's association with Netscape Comm.
Corp., much to it's credit). The fact is, there's no clear profit model
or money opportunity here. We want to do it because we think it's a Good
Thing. If we all get fantastically rich, well, neat. But I don't think
anyone here cares about that, particularly. So we'll try to do it right,
and we have no pressure from stockholders to do what's economically
profitable. We've seen the results of this kind of thinking before (i.e.
The Internet), and they've generally been very good.

Big Fish and standards bodies are all well and good, but standards
bodies are just groups of people who are interested in developing a
standard. Lately the canonical Standards Bodies have been
indistinguishable from the Big Fish, and see above for my take on
letting Big Fish develop protocols.

So, considering that standards bodies are people who develop standards,
that'd make us a standards body. And just think, it's even free to join!

> > I hope this line of questioning doesn't sound impertinent;  i'm a
> > latecomer to the discussion and way ill-informed, but i love what i've
> > heard so far. Just wanna be clear about what sort of trip i'm signing on for.
> I think these concerns are very valid, and also some of the things I spent a
> lot of my time thinking about before writing the original Advogato article.
> To answer this in pseudorandom order (in other words, do not use this
> ordering as a source of strong randomness for crypto):
> I think we might do several of these things. Letting the user directly at the
> information will probably happen, including setting up your own start
> page/news page thing. I don't think this is the correct role of Peer Press
> directly, though, but it's a nice niche for whoever wants to set up a popular
> site using Peer Press material.

You seem to be envisioning basically a model where Peer Press is a
wholesaler, and clients can deliver however much or little of the feed
they feel is appropriate, depending on their focus. I agree with this as
well. Perhaps Peer Press could run it's own "retailer" as an offshoot,
but that'snot the main purpose, and it wouldn't have any particular
benefits compared to any other feed subscriber.

> As for delivering data into the weblogs, well, there are going to have to be
> some work on it. At the minimum, we'll need converters from XML into the
> native format of the most popular log engines, and also converters back to
> XML, for sending stories (this is where it starts getting tricky to do
> without user intervention).

We need to remember that we are really doing two things here. One, in
our role as Standards Body, is designing a standard format for
transmission and sharing of web content. This can be done entirely on
paper, basically. Then the code monkey among us take over and write some
implementations. But anyone who is willing to read the spec can write a
client or server for their own weblog system. So I think it'll be a
"both" situation-- we'll develop some reference implementations, and
others can alos write their own, should they desire.

> How we can do this when Netscape couldn't? Well, I don't know for sure yet.
> Personally, I have a feeling that we can do better because our motives are
> better. In other words, syndicating the entire content, not just the
> headlines is something we can do because profit doesn't figure into the
> equation on the Peer Press level (although it might for individual member
> sites). So we're basing it on a very different philosophy for what we want to
> achieve (RSS is practically a tool for promoting more hits, a glorified link
> exchange if you will, while this is more of a "good information that you
> want, when you want it, from the site you like the most" type of thing).

Exactly. In fact, if money was my only concern (or really even *a*
concern) I'd probably be dead set against this. What Money tends to not
realize, though, is that in this market, becoming a commodity is
tantamount to suicide. Who here knows of a large, popular web community
that continues to thrive and prosper? Me neither. We're the people on
the ground here, and it's clear to us that what's best for the company
is usually what's worst for the consumer, in terms of sites like ours.
I'd like to find some balance, where my readers are loyal because they
really like the site, but where there's enough competition to prevent
the sort of overload-collapse that keeps happening to online

> As I've cockily said before, I'm not after shaking up the weblog market place
> (that's too easy, and will happen anyway). I want to go after the big fish,
> see if Peer Press can be a source of high-quality, unbiased information to
> rival AP and other international services. I think this is a type of project
> which benefits greatly from cooperation, and news gathering and filtering is
> an extremely parallelizable task, so it seems this is a market where it's
> possible to come in and essentially do the free software thing,
> out-resourcing even the hugest corporate entities.
> Am I nuts, or am I making sense? I'd love to know.

You're absolutely making sense. It's not hard to shake up the weblog
market. It does that by itself every X turns of the wheel. What is an
admirable goal is to actually try to deliver on the promise of web-based
news, which has been long undelivered.


|      Rusty Foster       | "You can never entirely stop being what   |
|   rusty at kuro5hin.org    | you once were. That's why it's important  |
|    rusty at intes.net      | to be the right person today, and not put |
| http://www.kuro5hin.org | it off till tomorrow."        -Larry Wall |

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