More on edge cases

Liz Lawley was the one who said I was an edge case and has more on her blog about why she said that. (I didn’t realize until now that it was her, I just heard the voice in the back of the room and didn’t know who said it).

She says: “Someone who reads 840 blogs is an edge case.”

Here, let’s look at it another way. Do you ever go to Google News? That’s showing something like 10,000 news sources. So, you gonna call everyone an edge case who reads 10,000 news sources?

Or a newspaper. How many stories does the average newspaper have? So someone who spends two hours reading the New York Times on Sunday is an “edge case?” He would have been 200 years ago. Only the richest and most powerful in society had access (or thought they needed access) to that.

Or, look at Memeorandum. Gabe says he’s now added tons of new bloggers to his system. Thousands. So, when you read Memeorandum are you reading one page? Or thousands of blogs? Are you an edge case?

Yeah, maybe you won’t read 840 feeds in a feed-by-feed folder approach like I do, but there will certainly be millions of people reading TONS of stuff.

But, it’s more of a general sensitivity to the term “edge case.” I’ve been called that a lot over my career. I was called that in 1977 when I was among only five people at my Jr. high to hang out in the new computer lab. How many personal computer users came after me? Most — I got a tour of Apple computer when it was one small building in Cupertino back then. I heard it in the late 80s when I was a Mac evangelist. The IT guys at both West Valley and San Jose State University told me that no one needed those “toy computers” with menus and mice. Real computer users used command line. I heard it in the late 90s when I had the first Web site for ICQ (Yossi Vardi says I was first, anyway, and he was the guy who funded it). Hundreds of millions of people followed me. I was the first guy to show Internet Explorer on TechTV. Lots of my friends were Netscape advocates and thought that IE would never be successful in the marketplace. I’ve been a Tablet PC advocate for years and derided over and over for that, but now we’re starting to see sizeable commercial success. Yeah, Bob Sampson, I can’t live without mine either. I guess Bob and I are edge cases.

But, Liz has a good point. What’s the difference between early adopters and trend analyzers and “edge cases?” Well, when it comes to RSS I was pretty early (not as early as, say, Dave Winer, though, but I was using it before the New York Times was). RSS is gonna be very popular. Why? Cause we want our information to come WHERE WE WANT IT. But, how many of you will read 840 feeds? A LOT. But not in the way I’m doing it.

Here, go to Technorati. Do a search on “Liz Lawley.” Now, watch how long it takes for this post to get into the search engine there. Are you reading one feed or millions? (I’d argue you’re reading millions by doing that).

Or, back to Memeorandum. You do realize that Gabe started with my list of feeds, right? Gabe turned my reading behavior into an algorithm. So, welcome to my world of being an edge case! :-)

Really, I sensed a tone of “don’t listen to Scoble cause he’s a weirdo.” You can take that tack. But it’s no way for a big company to run. Today’s weirdo is tomorrow’s trillion dollar business. Just ask Steve Wozniak. His bosses at HP and Atari told him he was an edge case. Someone to be ignored.

Yoav Shapira has some comments about my edge case comment too that you should check his post out (he has links to a bunch of other news stuff too, including news from Search Champs yesterday).

Finally, Michael Bazzoni asked himself “what’s an edge case?” and found some interesting stuff.

Update: some of my friends have emailed me and said “give it a break” and then explained that I am taking too much personal offense. Oh, I see the disconnect. I’m NOT talking about my ego here. I’ve been called far worse than an “edge case” before.

I took so much umbrage because we were talking about FEATURES and not about my ego.

See, when someone says “you’re an edge case” in a discussion about FEATURES what they really are saying is that your feature request isn’t important. That’s bullshit.

All of today’s features started out as edge cases. Developers even have a name for that. It’s called “scratching your own itch.”

And, I know dozens of other people who read hundreds of feeds.

See, if you don’t plan your product for the edge cases it’ll suck. Why is Photoshop so good, for instance? Because they made it for professional photographers. Someone could have said “anyone who needs a histogram is an edge case.” They would be right. Very few photographers need histograms. But Photoshop was designed for edge cases. Why is that important? Cause everyone is an edge case sometime.

84 thoughts on “More on edge cases

  1. Someone who reads everything on google news is an edge case too. “Most people” who go to google don’t read everything. “Most people” don’t read every article or section of a newspaper. So maybe you aren’t really reading 840 blogs. You just say that because it sounds impressive.

  2. Someone who reads everything on google news is an edge case too. “Most people” who go to google don’t read everything. “Most people” don’t read every article or section of a newspaper. So maybe you aren’t really reading 840 blogs. You just say that because it sounds impressive.

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  4. It’s the implementation, not the tech, that brings something out of edge case land.

    Someone in Silicon Valley should frame that. No truer words spoken. At one time mp3′s were “edge case”, I mean I camped out for the first Diamond Rio, stuffing as much (CD-ripped) Siouxsie I could onto that (now pitiful) 32 meg. But lots of years until the iPod somehow made mp3′s a cultural force.

  5. It’s the implementation, not the tech, that brings something out of edge case land.

    Someone in Silicon Valley should frame that. No truer words spoken. At one time mp3′s were “edge case”, I mean I camped out for the first Diamond Rio, stuffing as much (CD-ripped) Siouxsie I could onto that (now pitiful) 32 meg. But lots of years until the iPod somehow made mp3′s a cultural force.

  6. could you be more defensive? Your pattern is way too predictable. Someone calls you out and you take on a bunker mentality and lash out in a childish, defensive manner. How enlightened! Scoble, you are a wierdo, nut job, edge case. It’s obvious whenever you attempt to talk about something mainstream (auto racing, Super Bowl.. etc). But, it’s okay to be an “edge case”. Without people like you we wouldn’t have Comic Book Guy or Professor Frink, or Artie Ziff from “The Simpsons” or movies like “Revenge of the Nerds”. Really, its okay. The world needs people like you to remind the rest of us that we are really are normal.

  7. could you be more defensive? Your pattern is way too predictable. Someone calls you out and you take on a bunker mentality and lash out in a childish, defensive manner. How enlightened! Scoble, you are a wierdo, nut job, edge case. It’s obvious whenever you attempt to talk about something mainstream (auto racing, Super Bowl.. etc). But, it’s okay to be an “edge case”. Without people like you we wouldn’t have Comic Book Guy or Professor Frink, or Artie Ziff from “The Simpsons” or movies like “Revenge of the Nerds”. Really, its okay. The world needs people like you to remind the rest of us that we are really are normal.

  8. RSS is almost not edge case, but that’s because it’s showing up in common applications, like web browsers. I never gave RSS a second thought or even a first thought until it showed up in Safari.

    Why?

    Because it was inconvenient to have yet another application open, when I normally have to deal with 20+ throughout my day. But when I was able to easily use it in an application I have open all the time anyway, I started to work with it more.

    I don’t think it’s that world changing, but it did push me to redesign my site, because I couldn’t get one feed to work with all the sections. It’s when you see things show up in a convenient, reasonably intuitive way that they stop being edge case uses.

    Wireless was totally edge case until Apple made it cheap and easy to use.

    It’s the implementation, not the tech, that brings something out of edge case land.

  9. RSS is almost not edge case, but that’s because it’s showing up in common applications, like web browsers. I never gave RSS a second thought or even a first thought until it showed up in Safari.

    Why?

    Because it was inconvenient to have yet another application open, when I normally have to deal with 20+ throughout my day. But when I was able to easily use it in an application I have open all the time anyway, I started to work with it more.

    I don’t think it’s that world changing, but it did push me to redesign my site, because I couldn’t get one feed to work with all the sections. It’s when you see things show up in a convenient, reasonably intuitive way that they stop being edge case uses.

    Wireless was totally edge case until Apple made it cheap and easy to use.

    It’s the implementation, not the tech, that brings something out of edge case land.

  10. Tabs are something that a significant number of users appreciate and benefit from.

    I am with Ash, 200%. When my tech-phobic sister is actively using them, it’s not edge. Maybe in the mind’s eye of Microsoft, but then if they’d ever get up from their desktops and blogger dinners, and interact with the world at large, they might see this.

  11. Tabs are something that a significant number of users appreciate and benefit from.

    I am with Ash, 200%. When my tech-phobic sister is actively using them, it’s not edge. Maybe in the mind’s eye of Microsoft, but then if they’d ever get up from their desktops and blogger dinners, and interact with the world at large, they might see this.

  12. Robert, tabs were never an edge case feature. We wouldn’t have included them if they were. Tabs are something that a significant number of users appreciate and benefit from. That was obvious from the start.

    - A

  13. Robert, tabs were never an edge case feature. We wouldn’t have included them if they were. Tabs are something that a significant number of users appreciate and benefit from. That was obvious from the start.

    - A

  14. And his paper was not the only one in town. Reading the newspaper wasn’t just for the rich.

    Yes. For someone who “studied” Journalism, Scoble sure knows little about the history of newspapers. And Ben Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Bache, continued the tradition, with the American Aurora, which is truly incredibly fascinating reading. (See at bottom).

    And actually Ben was working in the newspaper industry even before Philadelphia, with his brothers, ‘The New England Courant’, but it was just a reprint of British news, and Ben had to make up character called ‘Silence Dogood’ to actually get a ‘byline’. But he had to escape Boston, as he was against smallpox inoculation and made snarky and sarcastic fun of the Mather’s, the ruling Puritan family that supported inoculation. Ironically, Washington’s later order forcing inoculation, saved the feeble American Army camped at Morristown from withering away. Franklin was for inoculation then. :)

    Franklin BOUGHT the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1729 (he wasn’t the founder), and later doing the famed bookish-newspaperish ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack’. Notice the word “poor”, it being a Farmers/Land Owners newspaper of useful info.

    Here’s a list of Philly newspapers from my Tomeraider database (yes, I am a historical-buff edge case, freely admit). But the point of this list is to show that newspapers were quite common, and not at all, only of well-to-do-means; hereby destroying (actually wholesale pulverizing) Scoble’s contention, that newspapers were but for the rich.

    Royal Pennsylvania Gazette (1778), American Herald (1784), Scott’s Philadelphia Price-Current (1813), American Star (1794), American Weekly Mercury (1719-1746), Finlay’s American Naval & Commercial Register (1795-1798), Freeman’s Journal (1781-1792), General Advertiser (1790-1794), Grotjan’s Public Sale Report (1812-1820), Independent Gazetteer (1782-1796), Pennsylvania Chronicle (1767-1774), Pennsylvania Evening Herald (1785-1788), Pennsylvania Evening Post (1775-1784), Pennsylvania Ledger (1775-1778), Pennsylvania Mercury (1784-1792), Philadelphia Gazette (1794-1802), Porcupine’s Gazette (1797-1800), Poulson’s American Advertiser (1800-1820), Spirit Of The Press (1805-1813).

    On the Aurora…

    Here is a view of America’s postrevolutionary era so subversive it makes Gore Vidal look like a traditionalist: John Adams wants to be king, George Washington is a hypocrite, a standing army is a mercenary force. Yet it’s not fiction—well, not totally. It is based on the Philadelphia Aurora, a newspaper founded by Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Bache, and whose political barbs, according to independent historian Rosenfeld, led to the passing of the Sedition Act of 1798. – Kirkus Reviews

  15. And his paper was not the only one in town. Reading the newspaper wasn’t just for the rich.

    Yes. For someone who “studied” Journalism, Scoble sure knows little about the history of newspapers. And Ben Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Bache, continued the tradition, with the American Aurora, which is truly incredibly fascinating reading. (See at bottom).

    And actually Ben was working in the newspaper industry even before Philadelphia, with his brothers, ‘The New England Courant’, but it was just a reprint of British news, and Ben had to make up character called ‘Silence Dogood’ to actually get a ‘byline’. But he had to escape Boston, as he was against smallpox inoculation and made snarky and sarcastic fun of the Mather’s, the ruling Puritan family that supported inoculation. Ironically, Washington’s later order forcing inoculation, saved the feeble American Army camped at Morristown from withering away. Franklin was for inoculation then. :)

    Franklin BOUGHT the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1729 (he wasn’t the founder), and later doing the famed bookish-newspaperish ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack’. Notice the word “poor”, it being a Farmers/Land Owners newspaper of useful info.

    Here’s a list of Philly newspapers from my Tomeraider database (yes, I am a historical-buff edge case, freely admit). But the point of this list is to show that newspapers were quite common, and not at all, only of well-to-do-means; hereby destroying (actually wholesale pulverizing) Scoble’s contention, that newspapers were but for the rich.

    Royal Pennsylvania Gazette (1778), American Herald (1784), Scott’s Philadelphia Price-Current (1813), American Star (1794), American Weekly Mercury (1719-1746), Finlay’s American Naval & Commercial Register (1795-1798), Freeman’s Journal (1781-1792), General Advertiser (1790-1794), Grotjan’s Public Sale Report (1812-1820), Independent Gazetteer (1782-1796), Pennsylvania Chronicle (1767-1774), Pennsylvania Evening Herald (1785-1788), Pennsylvania Evening Post (1775-1784), Pennsylvania Ledger (1775-1778), Pennsylvania Mercury (1784-1792), Philadelphia Gazette (1794-1802), Porcupine’s Gazette (1797-1800), Poulson’s American Advertiser (1800-1820), Spirit Of The Press (1805-1813).

    On the Aurora…

    Here is a view of America’s postrevolutionary era so subversive it makes Gore Vidal look like a traditionalist: John Adams wants to be king, George Washington is a hypocrite, a standing army is a mercenary force. Yet it’s not fiction—well, not totally. It is based on the Philadelphia Aurora, a newspaper founded by Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, Benjamin Bache, and whose political barbs, according to independent historian Rosenfeld, led to the passing of the Sedition Act of 1798. – Kirkus Reviews

  16. Robert:
    “edge case” seems to me to be the new term for “innovator”, long ago (1962) defined by E. Rogers in his diffusion of innovations theory and used all over since. Here’s a good definition, http://www.zonalatina.com/Zldata99.htm
    Seems like you fit pretty well. Look here for why innovators are vital, but not desirable, to the market: http://www.mitsue.co.jp/english/case/concept/02.html

    In the end, you’re wired the way you are. Let it go, and keep on keeping on.

  17. Robert:
    “edge case” seems to me to be the new term for “innovator”, long ago (1962) defined by E. Rogers in his diffusion of innovations theory and used all over since. Here’s a good definition, http://www.zonalatina.com/Zldata99.htm
    Seems like you fit pretty well. Look here for why innovators are vital, but not desirable, to the market: http://www.mitsue.co.jp/english/case/concept/02.html

    In the end, you’re wired the way you are. Let it go, and keep on keeping on.

  18. Asa,

    Your post is ironic. I remember being one of the first people at Microsoft to talk to developers inside Microsoft about Firefox (the browser you developed). What was their answer? “Who needs tabs?”

    Tabs aren’t for my dad or mom.

    They are for the edge cases. I loved them.

  19. Asa,

    Your post is ironic. I remember being one of the first people at Microsoft to talk to developers inside Microsoft about Firefox (the browser you developed). What was their answer? “Who needs tabs?”

    Tabs aren’t for my dad or mom.

    They are for the edge cases. I loved them.

  20. Lets get back to basics, you cover alot of MS stuff, they have a lot of cool products especially coming down the pipe, I want to hear about them and get sneek peeks like with Channel 9 and thurrot. if people think firefox is way better and that IE7 is a train wreck then ya you have a right to your opinion. Microsoft has cool stuff and so do alot of companies out there and just people. I love that you cover the inside track in Microsoft and I want you on the edge, if reading/feeding this is not your thing and you absolutely hate microsoft (aka borg) then why are you even here and want to shout your point at every turn??

    blog at will (:

  21. Lets get back to basics, you cover alot of MS stuff, they have a lot of cool products especially coming down the pipe, I want to hear about them and get sneek peeks like with Channel 9 and thurrot. if people think firefox is way better and that IE7 is a train wreck then ya you have a right to your opinion. Microsoft has cool stuff and so do alot of companies out there and just people. I love that you cover the inside track in Microsoft and I want you on the edge, if reading/feeding this is not your thing and you absolutely hate microsoft (aka borg) then why are you even here and want to shout your point at every turn??

    blog at will (:

  22. Sometimes it’s easy to get overly defensive when living in the (echo chambered) fish bowl and I think that’s what Scoble’s done here.

    Robert, you are most certainly an edge case. You’re the last person that anyone developing software for “Regular People” should consider.

    That doesn’t mean that some of your geek ways won’t eventually get watered down and filter into the mainstream (probably mostly unrecognizable at that point,) but to try to argue that you should be considered anything but an edge case is just plain silly.

    - A

  23. Sometimes it’s easy to get overly defensive when living in the (echo chambered) fish bowl and I think that’s what Scoble’s done here.

    Robert, you are most certainly an edge case. You’re the last person that anyone developing software for “Regular People” should consider.

    That doesn’t mean that some of your geek ways won’t eventually get watered down and filter into the mainstream (probably mostly unrecognizable at that point,) but to try to argue that you should be considered anything but an edge case is just plain silly.

    - A

  24. Subscribing to 840 feeds is edge case behavior. It’s your attempt to act cool, informed with it. Your examples are absurd. You point to digests, anthologies, etc… Butwhat you do is like going to the library, taking out 1000 books, and routining them two days later, saying, “I just want to make sure that they circulate and I’ve seen them.” (In this case, I mean “edge case” as in nut job, not trend setter or nerd or geek.)

    And what’s with this silly “features” cover story when you recount how kids knew you were a nerd in high school, etc… You are getting sensitive because you are a weird nutbag nerd. You aren’t much of a trendsetter or innovator. But a geek. Yeah.

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