June 14, 2004

Typed Transcript of Dave Winer's Audio Post.

[[The links are mine. I typed the rest from the audio post.]]

Hi it's dave winer here. It's Monday night June 14th, and this is not a morning coffee note, but i wanted to talk a little bit about the hosting situation at weblogs.com and explain what is happening there.

I thought I would try doing it as an audio thing as opposed to writing an essay about this. My feeling is that people generally don't read essays, so if you want to present a subtle idea, that's not a really good way to do it.


Basically, you may or may not know that I haven't worked at Userland for two years. We started hosting weblogs.com sites when I was CEO of Userland in the year 2000. They've been hosted for four years, and basically there's been a management change at Userland that happened about six months ago.

In that management change it became clear that there were two sort of branches to userland. There was one which was the commercial products (which radio userland and manilla were the two products), and there was another branch that consisted of formats and protocols and open stuff that was non commercial.

So we divided it along those lines, to keep the non-commercial stuff non-commercial, and to allow the commercial company--the product--to go forward unencumbered by a lot of obligations to do things for free, which really wasn't consistent with the mission of a commercial company.

So, basically, things like OPML.org, outliners.com, XMLRPC.com, Soapware.org, stayed behind in the old company. And then we gave RSS to Harvard Law School, which then in turn released it under the Creative Commons License. Then we're going to take the Frontier kernel and release that under an Open Source license sometime this year.

So we've gradually been moving sites off of userland servers onto servers I've bought and deployed here in Massachusetts. And we did the work with Lawrence Lee at Userland this last month to move the sites from Userland servers over to my servers. We saved the hardest sites for last, or the most significant sites for last, and the last two sites we did were scripting.com and weblogs.com.

Weblogs was by far the harder of the two. In the process of moving them, we didn't anticiapte all the problems we'd hit. We came across the question of how are we going to do the hosting of the old sites that were hosted for free on weblogs.com? The DNS service provider just can't handle the number of different domains under weblogs.com. We had to put them all in one place, and they had to be on one of my servers. Lawrence and I moved the sites over, and when we put the sites on the machine the performance of the machine became incredibly bad.

If you were in the loop during that period, you saw that people were having problems. I watched it very carefully over the space of a few hours. It was very clear that this was not going to be running very well. I felt that I could get these sites working, get the server back up and performing well, but I'd have to do a lot of programming to do that and it would take quite a few months to actually get it to happen, and these are months I just simply didn't have. I'm really not doing programming. There's a reason why I'm not too--it has to do with health issues.

Without going into too many detail, the stress of keeping servers running for users that expect free service, it's just deadly combination for me. It's no fun, it's highly stressful, and it literally is dangerous given my health situation. It's like smoking cigarettes, it's one of those risk factors. I really don't want to go into the details on it; I'm sure you can use your imagination.

So basically, I sort of looked at it and said, "What can I do for people?" I could not put the sites up and say, "You have two weeks to download your sites" for a couple of reasons. I didn't know if that would work. The server had never been used for that before. It couldn't run those sites for two weeks without me having to take everything else that was running on that server off.

So I just did the best I could, which was to say, if you make a request by July 1st, then I will go through that list of all the sites that are there on July 1st, and I will create exported versions of those sites on that day.

This gives people basically the heads up that they were asking for. I understand that you would like to have had your site remain accessible during that period, but I just couldn't simply work that out. And you could say I should have explained it, and I could have done better, and you may be right. That I should have and I could have... it's possible... but it's also not clear to me that people wouldn't have found something else to find fault with. I mean, this is sort of the attitude on the Internet. It's sort of like people just love to jump up and down and it hardly matters how well you do something because basically certain thing happen and people will jump up and down so just accept that.

On the other hand, most of the people who are actually affected by this, who actually have sites that are hosted on weblogs.com, have been perfect ladies and gentlemen about it, which is something I'm enormously proud of, the association I've had with people who used editthispage sites and weblogs.com sites, these were pioneers, early adopters, people with a vision, people who understood blogs before they were written up in all the magazines they've been written up in since, before their were war bloggers, before most of the people complaining were even blogging for that matter.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that I will help you to the best of my ability, and I'll try to get others to pitch in. I've already talked with Rogers Cadenhead who wrote the excellent Radio Userland book and is one of my colleagues on the RSS advisory board, and he says he's going to help, and Thomas Creedon has provided a list of blogging hosts that can run Manilla sites.

If there's anything that we can do within reason to help. But understand that I'm moving on June 30th and my life is in sort of an upheaval state. This is not a company here. This is a person. So, to expect company-type service is un.. well, it isn't going to happen.

Anyway, so that's about it. Um, if you have any comments or questions, please send me an email. You'll find the link, look for the mail icon in the right margin at www.scripting.com, or you can send me email at dwiner@cyber.law.harvard.edu.

Thank you very much and see you again, talk to you soon.

Good night.