The best from 1999

Hard to choose something I liked from 1999 because it’s some slim pickings. Boy were blogs just random dumps of junk in the early days, at least mine. (Please refrain from pointing out that’s still the case…)

But upon review, two things struck me:

1. I hadn’t realized, or had forgotten, that we launched the public beta of the Pyra project management app on August 4, 1999. And then Blogger on August 24, 1999. In my mind the Pyra app lived for a few months publicly before Blogger, but it was only twenty days. No wonder Blogger kicked Pyra app’s butt. Poor thing never had a chance!

2. The web sure has come a long way, baby! We all know that, but it’s funny to see posts like this one where I want online travel planning to work better. Or this one about how the average person uses the Web once every 13 days and stays there for an hour. I “joke” I use it once a day and stay for 13 hours. Somewhere between then and now, the Web arrived at where I thought it should have already been in 1999.

Oh yeah, and my favorite from 1999? A true maternal conversation, wherein my mom questions my boyfriend databases choices.

Talking about Ev and the Blogger days

I rarely get interview requests anymore, and usually when I do, it’s because people want to hear about Evan Williams. If you haven’t read this site since 1999, maybe you don’t know that he and I co-founded Blogger together, and that he went on to co-found Twitter. Anyway, last summer I talked to Bloomberg about Ev for a program called “Game Changers”. But there’s quite a bit about the early Blogger days in the show, including some old video footage of us in our offices (and me with short platinum blonde hair!) and some old photos. It was neat to see, and made me kinda sad. Bonus for viewing: you can hear me talk about Ev, kinda like those “Behind the Music” shows where some old band mate no one remembers talks about the guy who went on to become the huge star.

VIDEO

Yikes! I embedded the video and it’s auto-playing. So here’s the link to watch if you’re interested: Bloomberg Game Changers: Twitter.

Go Stellar

If there’s some way you read this site but you don’t read my husband’s, you should know that he’s launched a new web app called Stellar. The story is here on kottke.org if you’re interested. I’m totally addicted to the site these days and check it like five times a day. And that’s a lot for me, considering how little time I spend online. Also I have a few invites, so shoot me an email if you’d like one. Also also? I’m so proud of him! He’s been working very hard on it and I’m happy to see it open up to more people. Yay!

Update: All my invites are gone. If/when I get some more, I’ll let you know. And if you’re using the app I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Feel free to comment here or drop me an email. Thanks!

Out of the Loop in New York City

A pretty long article in today’s New York Times, Out of the Loop in Silicon Valley, looks at the dearth of women in tech, both in leadership roles at large companies and as entrepreneurs with their own start-ups. There’s no new information about why women aren’t present in any significant amounts, or about why less women study comp sci or engineering in college. And after various interviews and mentions of “women like jobs with more interaction with people”, it closes on this optimistic note:

Silicon Valley shows signs of changing, albeit slowly. New organizations are sprouting up for young women in tech, like Girls in Tech and Women 2.0. One-quarter of the partners at Kleiner Perkins, the venture capital firm, are women, and some of the hottest start-ups — including Gilt, Hunch, Ning, Eventbrite and Meebo — were founded or co-founded by women.

They could change things for the next generation of girls aspiring to engineering careers and women already entering the field, Ms. Fleming hopes. “If their success becomes visible, so girls can identify with it, they will think, ‘Oh yeah, anyone can do this,'” she says.

But why would this be true? Three of the most successful start-ups from Web 1.0, Blogger, Flickr, and Six Apart (and I define successful as millions of users, transformed how people do things on the Web, two acquired for large sums of money by the biggest companies in the Valley) were co-founded by women. Not one of these companies or women was mentioned in the article, though all companies have existed for nearly a decade or more.

If an article asks “In the wide-open world of tech, why so few women?” and can’t even acknowledge some of the early female leaders, how can we expect anyone else to know that there are women entrepreneurs. In the quote above, a woman says “if their success becomes visible.” Key word here apparently is if.

I’ve joined the RSS Board

Though this was announced nearly two weeks ago, I've been distracted so much with other things I've failed to mention it on this site: I've joined the RSS Advisory Board. With the continuing (and surprising to me!) growth of RSS, I'm looking forward to working with the others to help make RSS easy to use and easy to understand, for the techies and the non-techies alike.

Remembering Challenger at 20

It's hard to believe that it's twenty years since Challenger, twenty years since our confidence (we'll send a civilian!) and optimism (we'll send a teacher!) was shattered. I still remember everything about that morning so clearly.

The launch (originally scheduled for January 22) had been pushed back for days, until it was scheduled for the 27th. By that time, I was in exams at school, so we didn't have our regular schedule, only three exam periods a day. Since I had no exams at the time, I was home watching the countdown and hoping to see the lift-off. This was during my "I want to be an astronaut" phase (a phase I'll note that's never really ended for me) and I watched as many shuttle launches as I could, and this one especially because teacher Christa McAuliffe was aboard. In 1985, I'd been to Florida and seen the Challenger lift-off, so of all the shuttles, Challenger was the "best" in my adolescent mind.

The launch was scrubbed that day, I don’t remember why. Maybe winds? Maybe the cold? (Ah, "ground servicing equipment hatch closing fixture could not be removed from orbiter hatch" says NASA) I remember being disappointed. The next morning, I was up and the TV was on again, but again the launch was delayed, this time as they waited for it to warm up. And finally, I had to leave to head to school and take a math exam. I was walking from the T stop next to my high school towards the main building when my friend Kevin stopped me in front of the gym.

"Did you hear about the space shuttle?! It blew up!"

"No, that's impossible." I told him. I'd been there! I'd seen the thing! I had mounds of packets from NASA at home, all about the space program! I even knew an astronaut! But then I noticed everyone around me was talking about. I hurried into the building, trying not to think about it. As we got settled in our seats for the exam, the headmaster came on the loudspeaker and announced the accident to everyone. Then Mrs. Young handed out our exam, which I promptly flunked.

It's hard to believe it's been twenty years, and that during that time, human space travel has become no more routine. In fact, we've lost a second shuttle, and the whole necessity of manned space travel continues to be called into question. But there's no doubt in my mind that we'll continue to explore the final frontier. Eventually we'll return to the moon and head to Mars, and hopefully farther. We'll continue to explore the worlds beyond our own, and when we do, we'll carry the memory not just of the Challenger crew, but all those who've lost their lives doing something amazing: heading into outer space.

Apollo 11 at the Smithsonian

If I lived in Washington DC I'd totally be doing this on Saturday: it's a family day at the Smithsonian about Apollo 11!!

Touch a moon rock and then find out how it got to Earth! See the command module Columbia from the Apollo 11 mission, the first to land a man on the moon. Learn how the astronauts from this and other Apollo missions ate, played, and slept in space. Programs will be available in English and Spanish.

Here are the details:

Milestones of Flight: Apollo 11
Saturday, January 28
10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Milestones of Flight – Gallery 100
National Air & Space Museum
6th & Independence Ave., SW
Washington DC

Sounds like fun for anyone interested in the space program.