This is admittedly a bit off topic for our normal look at all things code, but I couldn’t let this slide and HTMList represents the best place to publish my rant. With that said, I’ve tried, with great focus and much medication, to read through Steve Gillmor’s incoherent ramblings on TechCrunch. I’m clearly on the wrong stuff. Just the opening paragraph alone from today’s post is enough to make me wonder which psychotropics do it for him:

Who controls TinyURL controls the high ground in the battle for the Internet platform. Here’s why: Our brains are wired to protect ourselves from threats to our food, oxygen, and water sources. Most attacks on our supply chains come from those closest to us, our families, friends, business associates, and combinations of those groups.

The hell? So clearly, the logical conclusion to draw is that a commoditized, simple service which I could create myself in 5 minutes and teach you to create in 10 has any bearing on the “battle for the internet platform”? Let’s start with “most attacks on our supply chains come from those closest to us.” I don’t personally recall the last legitimate “attack” on my food, oxygen or water supply chain from either friends, family or coworkers. Or my internet service, electricity or cell service for that matter. Let’s get into it full on, after the jump.

Steve explains:

We handle nourishment requests from our loved ones by sharing, which is another way of saying dividing the materials to just above the point where each portion proves insufficient. Children come first since quieting their cries reduces the possibility of alerting outsiders while requiring relatively small amounts compared to peers. Then the spouse or friend is satisfied, setting up a social interaction around the breaking of bread. “Let’s grab a bite and talk about the deal.”

Steve is apparently a survivor of Jumanji, forced into a jungle, kill-or-be-killed environment, unable to shave or break bread in a selfish, him-first manner for many, many years now, dragged down by those parasitic leaches around him: his friends, family and business associates. I’m glad I’m not on any social graphs with him, lest I feel racked with guilt for someone using up precious photons, streaming forth from his monitor to update him on my Facebook status, never to be recovered, lost forever.

I can’t even parse out the next several paragraphs. He talks about identifying “morsels of necessity” and comes close to making a valid point that, past the bare necessities, we learn what other elements are of interest or desire to us by the examples around us. It comes so utterly close to being sentient but then veers wildly off, insisting that resource priority identification is one of the most expensive processes we endure. Again, I’m going to say that I’m pretty damn well hard-wired for eating, drinking and sleeping. And my preferences don’t really take much time to make themselves known, either. No, I would insist that procuring the means to those ends takes up the bulk of my time, in the form of a job that earns me money to spend and the effort put forth driving to the store and buying my pint of Cherry Garcia. Because in my jungle, there’s ice cream on demand, dammit.

We almost touch on another semi-valid point again; a Steve Gillmor piece likely to cause whiplash as he flails wildly from “almost valid” to “utterly ludicrous”:

This is the point where social media constructs have begun to break down – identifying not just the holders of authority but the very rules by which we decide what constitutes authority, integrity, and credibility. Do we friend everybody, nobody; follow, track, hide? Interestingly, the words mirror the dynamics of the hunt, the foraging, the kill, the triage known as sharing.

Steve’s right: with so many social networks, it can be difficult to triage and manage the level of interest you should take in all of the information you have coming towards you. Google is trying to open up the social graph with their Friend Connect system, but Facebook would prefer you stay right there. FriendFeed has something going with an aggregator, but Steve spent his last article bashing them to hell. I think. To tech nerds in this space, it represents some epic, Foundation-triologyesque quest to catalog everything about you and to make it work from site to site.

To the common MySpace or Facebook user, they have no earthly clue what you’re talking about when you say “data portability” and they stare at you and repeat “well what’s your MySpace/Facebook?” Those who are on both, trend towards maintaining one more than the other, but are content to maintain both. And those who run these companies are desperately trying to appear cool while balancing the fact that their business demands they keep you and your data on their site and servers. Data portability is bad business, but no one wants to say it. What incentive does Facebook have to warehouse all of your actions and data if you’re just going to API everything away to another site that displays someone else’s ads and generates someone else revenue? Please. This stuff costs money to develop, host, maintain and make work.

I’m getting off topic here. I’ll take some more time to rant about the data portability myth at a later date. Back to parsing the Codex Seraphinianus of Gillmor:

Our nervous systems are designed to use these real time feedback loops to manage the flow of body resources to confront the task of survival. Establishing the relative weight of signals becomes a substantial portion of our investment in survival. Those nodes that produce the highest value of data in the most efficient form reliably over time win. Applications like Twitterly demonstrate the aggregate power of these distilled signals. Whether Twitter is the ultimate instantiation of this intersection can be debated, but the TinyURL in the center of that system is the payload that most directly connects to our core instincts for preservation.

No, seriously, what the hell? Because our nervous systems determine what needs to be done and when… and because we can rank what nodes present the most value to us… SHORT URLs ARE THE ANSWER TO LIFE, THE UNIVERSE AND EVERYTHING?!?

I guess so. The moral of the story: TinyURL: Shortening URLs and curing cancer. For the hell of it. And in the mean time, you can take a look at Joel On Software try to do the same thing on an earlier piece of Steve’s:

Explaining Steve Gillmor [Joel On Software]

Posted in: Rants