'sfearthquakes' on Twitter

Apropos of NOTHING AT ALL, you can now get Bay Area earthquake information through Twitter by following sfearthquakes. Nice, Coda! (Coda’s had a busy week — he also backed up a righteous beat-down with code to fix it. I like working with people who are hilarious and right at the same time.)

One of my favorite business model suggestions for entrepreneurs is, find an old UNIX command that hasn’t yet been implemented on the web, and fix that. talk and finger became ICQ, LISTSERV became Yahoo! Groups, ls became (the original) Yahoo!, find and grep became Google, rn became Bloglines, pine became Gmail, mount is becoming S3, and bash is becoming Yahoo! Pipes. I didn’t get until tonight that Twitter is wall for the web. I love that.

[Update: added ls and mount, plus find at Nat‘s suggestion. Having fun with this. The comments are good, too.]

  • Why mess with the original?


  • Andrew Sidwell

    Surely rn became Google Groups? The closest to Bloglines I can think of is “tail –follow”.

  • Brilliant, Marc! Of course pipes is trying to be more than just sh, it’s also including sort, uniq, grep, and working on cat as built-ins.

    Following your analogy, we have yet to truly see perl for the web.

    But the command I’m really missing is su!

  • Marc, good point about taking UNIX commands to the web, as a business model. I’d take that one step further – increasingly, I feel that good business models for the web are just taking desktop GUI tools and bringing them to the web.

    For example, there’s plenty of versions of ‘dig’ for the web, but a version of http://www.applesource.biz/software/momd/ meets a wiki would be great, and in many ways, a more natural and logical fit than a $20 desktop tool.

  • Tim:

    Maybe Pipes is more like busybox then?

  • Tim and Jeremy: You’re right, but I think Pipes will do better if it has as much support as possible for /usr/local/src, and doesn’t try to make everything a shell built-in. That would be great.

    su…..hmm, not sure what that would be. OpenID might become rlogin?

  • Kristopher: Jinx, owe me a coke!

    It looks like we had the idea at the same time (after last night’s trembler), registered our accounts at the same time (you’re #805369, I’m #805339), had the same idea for the user photo (I like yours better though), got the code working at roughly the same time, and even had the same idea for prefixing the data with “Whoa.” (Though my prefixes change with the magnitude — it starts cursing above 6.0.)

    Great minds think alike?

  • OpenID could be the new ssh-agent.

  • Jeremy: that would be awesome. I hope it does. I think it needs more than what it has now to become ssh-agent, but if it gets there, that would be fantastic.

    Oops, in my previous comment I should have said /usr/local/bin, not /usr/local/src (though the latter would be great, too).

  • Pushing the joke a bit:

    finger: linkedin.com
    mv: travelocity.com
    man: wikipedia.org
    chown: ebay.com
    sudo: secondlife.com



  • Alan, man is clearly Safari! Remember your manners, sir! ;)

    chown/eBay is awesome. I guess you’re right about finger/LinkedIn — maybe ICQ was really w + talk.

  • jobs: monster.com
    yes: [nsfw]
    join, merge: myspace.com

    OK, enough of this game!


  • Alan — you’re taking it as a joke, but I think Marc was both serious and right-on. The old Unix commands were ways to make the computer do something useful. People have been re-creating those functions on the web.

    The very first one, of course, is the analogy between the shell prompt and the URL line, something Andrew Schulman first called out ten years ago at the first perl conference. (See Early history of the web pipes concept.)
    Even more primordial though: the internet itself replaced uucp.

    Marc — thanks for speaking up for Safari. It’s certainly a recreation of man, and a very successful one, but you’d have to say that wikipedia is an even more successful incarnation.

    A few more:

    vi –> writely

    perl –> openkapow (for a gui tool trying to do some of the same things, since of course perl is still perl on the web)

    dd –> S3?? (that one’s a stretch)

    dd’s ebcdic/ascii translation could be babelfish :-)

    ascii as stdin/stdout –> html as stdin/stdout

    I keep thinking that there ought to be some others that are untapped, but they won’t occur to me until someone, in a stroke of brilliance, realizes just how to transfer old ideas to the new medium.

  • Twitter is also finger dude….. think about it :)

  • Untapped possibilities:

    whois – OpenID could become this in addition or instead of ssh-agent, LinkedIn and other sites are currently filling this role, but they will have to interoperate at an OpenID-like level to become truly ubiquitous.

    top, traceroute, mtr – we don’t yet have fundamental tools to tell us how the web infrastructure is performing.

    diff, patch – pastebin sites could become this with a few tweaks.

    latex, cups – should be obvious.

  • Jing Lee

    ‘whoami’ & ‘id’ ==> openid et al.
    the ~/.login file ==>various dashboards (personalized default ‘home’ page)

  • John Herren

    tail -f | grep: technorati.com
    sort: digg.com

    And an opportunity:

  • I may be biased, but I think Cheat is the new man.

  • Maybe a stretch… but it’s fun!
    less .bash_history | grep -e “tag” > del.icio.us

  • Actually we were having that discussion when twitter was first a spark of an idea. It was a combination of .plan files and finger. Back in the pre web university days everybody was updating their .plan files to say what they were doing, and fingering eachother to read them. That’s twitter today.

  • My fortune says, I want more.

  • Not sure if this is available in Unix, but the CTRL + ALT + F# Linux combo to switch between multiple shells reminds me of tabbed browsing, and both brilliant features (maybe not commands).

    Im currently working on something that could be said to be inspired by Cls, but the command I would really like to have is Del to clean up.

  • If vi is Writely, pico is Writeboard.

    bc is Google calculator.

    whatis is Wikipedia. (Wikipedia is a lot of things, isn’t it?)

    ln is TinyURL.

    tar is Archive.org.

    . is any site vulnerable to XSS.

  • That Unix commands as business model thing is dead-on.

  • Not to be a troll, but actually listserv became eGroups, who got bought out by Yahoo!

  • Hey, Jamie,

    Well, LISTSERV became ONEList, which merged with eGroups, which got bought by Yahoo! and then became Yahoo! Groups. Or so I understand. :)

  • Thought of another one: tee became RSS.

  • Nick S

    I’d been thinking of Twitter as access to more frequently-updated .plan files, obtained by finger. (It must be nearly a decade now since I kept track of friends by checking their shell logins.)

  • Nick S

    And double-checking, rabble confirms it.

    I see a lot of the UNIX one-liner thing in Google’s search shortcuts: the spell-check (ispell), the unit conversions, etc. And I’m left wonderin how much of Danny O’Brien’s secret-kludge-dotfiles translates to the web.

  • podcast subscriptions = cronjob + rsync

  • wikipedia = the all powerful MAN command

    myspace= groupadd + chown?

  • top, ps aux are Alexa and Google Analytics
    latex is Textile and Markdown formats

    And more abstractly:
    chmod is Creative Commons

  • Hmmm. emacs -> firefox?

  • qlock.com=date
    ytalk=ajax chat (meebo etc)
    tags=symlinks (break the hierarchy model)

    On the programming side:

    webwait.com=time (shameless plug)

  • Eric TF Bat

    fortune = http://www.davesweboflies.com

    perl or python or whatever = Greasemonkey, perhaps?

    mkdir = the late, unlamented infogami

  • Hmm.

    Make -> Ning ?

  • For the ways they are mostly used, rather than for how they operate, sed could correspond to greasemonkey

    “transfer old ideas to the new medium.”

    Speaking of business instead of unix commands, this conversation reminds me of a recent post by Om Malik:

    “These young businesses are not inventing new things that distinguish them. It is the way they are using technology to execute and interface with their customers that makes them special.”

  • OpenID can’t be the new ssh-agent simply because it would require a huge switching cost for everything to be rewritten for this new process.

  • Unix code working well

  • The web design is a sensitive area. The functionality defines limits but knowing these we have enough freedom to be creative. Most clients are looking for original and unique layout designs. In such cases, creativity is an absolute must. Even an artistic touch can be helpful…

  • Design is not art, that’s for sure. Design is one of the basic parts of the Engineering process which involves applying knowledge and resources to achive a desired objective.

  • Where did you get trailers feed? You’ve done something I want to do for the redesign of my site, but I can’t seem to find a feed to read from.