Weblog pioneer Dave Winer today posted a "who
cares" reaction to a major tech industry deal, Adobe's purchase
of Macromedia, along with a link to his old 2001 essay The Web is a Writing Environment. As a former Upside.com and
Business 2.0 tech reporter turned into a more traditional reporter, I had some
As usual, Dave was spot-on way back in 2001 with regard to the Web and
the old media. His was a very prescient essay. Only today does Rupert
Murdoch, ahead of the pack as usual, start to grok its message, and still the other publishers
clueless. And, no, buying About.com, Slate and Topix.net at vastly
inflated prices does not significantly change that cluelessness.
What surprises me is that Adobe and Macromedia -- Bay Area software
companies -- don't seem to get it either. Adobe is the second largest
software company in the country, last time I checked,
although you have
to disqualify Google and Yahoo which probably isn't fair.
More than ten years after the Web really took off, there is still not an
easy general-purpose writing tool from Adobe or anyone else. It's
fantastic that we have Radio and Movable Type and Blogger. But none of
those are the Microsoft Word of Web writing. Or the Compaq of ISPs.
When my brother wants to make a personal home page with his acting
headshots and resume and some personal notes and photos, I have nowhere
to direct him. When my friend wants to assemble a wedding website, I
don't know what to tell her. The restaurants and real estate developers
and brokers and politicians and governments I write about in the
newspaper every week either go without a Web presence or hire someone
else to build something unwieldy that is infrequently if ever updated.
The upshot is a weaker Web and less information for everyday people.
Web publishing is still rarefied. Macromedia has the most popular
shrinkwrapped software product, Dreamweaver, but that's not an easy
enough product and it doesn't know about the Web or broader Internet in a
meaningful way, as a blogging tool might. The blogging products are great
for blogging, but they need to make it easy to publish generally as it is
to publish a weblog.
The bottom line is a huge market opportunity for Adobe, maker of great
products like Photoshop and PageMaker and now DreamWeaver. But they have
not addressed the Wide part of World Wide Web for a long time so I'm not
sure they ever will. Dave's apathy is probably well placed, unfortunately.