We Launch

Welcome to my weblog. What follows is a digested version of my column for Tuesday, October 26, 1999, in which I explain why we’re doing this and how I hope it’ll evolve.

Why? I’ve been thinking about the new ways of journalism, namely the ways the Internet is imposing on all of us. Internet Time has compressed the lives of all kinds of people in all kinds of businesses, and journalism is no exception. In fact, it may be one of the businesses most affected in the long run, both in the opportunities the Net creates and the threat it represents.

So I’m trying one of those new forms. It’s called a “weblog” — and it’s a combination of styles that could exist only on the Web. Text, pictures, hyperlinks and, soon, audio and video are all part of this new form, and I can’t wait to start experimenting with it.

We’re launching at an interesting time for me personally. I’m about to leave for Asia. For the next month I’ll be teaching part-time at Hong Kong University and reporting on technology around the region. During this time the Weblog will be my primary locus of operations, not the newspaper, though readers of the San Jose Mercury News will still find my column on its pages, if somewhat less frequently.

Let me know how you like it. Better, let me know how I can improve it.

Why Weblogs Matter

Anyone who’s become a fan of the weblog genre already knows why they matter. But those of you who haven’t seen this form of Web publishing are in for a treat.

Why do I like weblogs? Because the best ones are windows into the Web, various topics and people’s minds. Rather than trying to describe the form, let me show you several of the weblogs I look at daily (or even more frequently):

Good Morning, Silicon Valley was an early entrant in the weblog era. Patricia Sullivan, an online editor at the San Jose Mercury News’ SiliconValley.com site, has been the first line of knowledge for thousands of people each weekday morning as she puts together an easy-to-follow and comprehensive digest of the tech news. (Bummer: Pat’s taking her terrific talents to another publication. We will miss her — a lot.) Also at SiliconValley.com is our very own Minister of Information, John Murrell.

Scripting News is run by Dave Winer, a software developer, and you’ll see how the site reflects his interests. Dave uses software from his own company, UserLand, to put together his weblog, and we’re using the same software for mine.

Slashdot calls itself “News for Nerds, Stuff that Matters,” and if you’re into technology this has been a great place to find all sorts of interesting material. The most important part of Slashdot’s site is the discussions, because by the time you read through the comments you will have heard many sides of important issues.

Tomalak’s Realm has become a must-read site for anyone who cares about the future of online content. Lawrence Lee is the man behind the realm, and he gets high marks for design and style. Notice the indented links, which go to prior stories that provide context for the current news. Terrific stuff.

Media Gossip, by Jim Romenesko, now of the Poynter Institute, is equally a must-read for journalists. See for yourself…

Privacy? Sure

If you didn’t need another reason to mistrust Congress and the White House, look at the financial services bill now emerging from negotiations in which consumer privacy was hardly on anyone’s mind. The shamelessness of the political process these days, where big-money “contributors” get everything they want, is what drives ordinarily sane voters into the arms of Pat Buchanan and his isolationist, backward-looking, even racist ilk.

Can This Thing Actually Fly?

Stand under a Boeing 747-400 and you wonder how it could possibly get off the ground. This one is about to take me and several hundred other souls to Hong Kong.

The point of this exercise is to test the Manila software’s picture-posting capabilities. Handy tool.

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