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Doc Searls

Doc Searls is the Senior Editor of the Linux Journal, a co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and a prolific writer on the Internet.

About you

What did you do before the Web?

Compuserve (sysop on the broadcast professionals forum), AOL, Dialog, AppleLink, a little Prodigy, Delphi... wanting an Internet connection but lacking the university connections to make it happen.
Before that, hanging around computing since the later '70s, on a PC or Mac since the early 80s. Heavy Mac use since the first one came out in '84.
Was in the ad agency biz for a long time. Expanded that into PR and marketing consulting. Kind of did that as an anti-marketer. Very much hyperconnected and against the grain.

How did you find the web?

When John Gage spoke to PC Forum in '95, I think. I knew about it already. But he demo'd it on Mosaic using a Mac Duo, live on stage, and it blew my mind. Later I got on the net through WombatNet in Palo Alto, with Netscape .9 or something.

Why are you here?

You mean ... the Net? I live here. It is my native habitat.

Methods of production

What do you use to create your sites?

My home site, Searls.com, sits on a server at Xo.com, and I change it with Adobe GoLive 4.0. It's pretty static. Mostly archives and pointers. My active site is http://doc.weblogs.com, and I relate to that with Radio Userland or with the edit this page mode. Sometimes I'll write HTML with GoLive or just plain ASCII. I don't like HTML I can't understand just by looking at it. I also maintain http://www.linuxforsuits.com out of a Linux box at my house, although that get's fed several times a day by a pushme function out to the actual server for the site. I moved this Spring and took down the local machine. Should have it up again next week.

About the Web

What do you see as the greatest strengths of the web?

It is a world -- the first one created by and for human beings. It is, like the air, sky and the core of the Earth, a profoundly public place. It's good for business, but business has no business trying to replace its essentially public nature with private ones.

What do you see as the greatest dangers?

Forgetting how public the place really is. Mistaking it for yet another "medium" like TV and newspapers. It is far less a shipping system (upload, download, moving content, delivering services...) than a place (home, site, address, location, something you find and do stuff *on* rather than *through*).

I'm mostly a Libertarian when it comes to regulating business, but I'm militantly ... I don't know if there's a word for it, naturalistic? ... when it comes to protecting public places with laws that protect the public nature of those places. So I'm with Larry Lessig on this stuff. What he calls the "end to end" nature of the Net and the Web must be protected from both public and private encroachments. So I'm just as concerned about legislators who want to regulate what can and can't go on and through the Net as I am about Microsoft wanting to own the means by which we all identify ourselves there.

What would you say to folks who want to work the web?

Here are its virtues:
1) Nobody owns it
2) Everybody can use it
3) Anybody can improve it

Anything that attempts to compromise those virtues is fucked and needs to be fought.

Anything that expresses those virtues is good and worth working on.

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Doc Searls

Doc Searls is one of those folks who gets the web.

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