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Aaron Swartz's Jottit has been officially released (jottit.com)
51 points by rob on Sept 15, 2007 | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments

Awesome. A Web 2.0 version of 'echo'! My old joke about Web 2.0 version of "hello world" is not funny anymore.

What tx says is funny. The site is absolutely simple.

I love it though. I just started learning html and javascript last week and now this thing provides an instant compiler. I change the border size on a table and, BOOM! Right when I finish typing the border shows up with the correct size. I see what it looks like instantly and can change what I want when I want. There isn't any clicking, switching windows, sftp-ing, downloading software, or anything.

It's simple and I love it. Since it handles Javascript I now have an instant way to deploy simple functions and tables. I can figure some useful relation, put it up using html and Javascript, and suddenly anyone anywhere has easy access to my results.

This thing also provides an instant way to write and test content for Google Gadgets, something even more useful than the editor Google provides.

And I think the design is clean, nice, and simple.

If all you want is a preview functionality, how about

<textarea name=foo onkeyup="document.getElementById('preview').innerHTML=this.value;"></textarea> <div id=preview></div>

Hardly rocketscience is it...

Or try the Web Developer Extension for Firefox:


Woah, you're right. http://jottit.com/s2r9f/


Only works in the preview though, when you view the page normally all the script/style is stripped out looks like.

Yes. I wish it weren't dangerous to allow arbitrary Javascript in webpages.

Allows links, doesn't have nofollow or CAPTCHAs in place. Anyone wanna take bets on how long before it turns into a giant cesspool of spam?

I'm sure they'll make links nofollow. It's not hard.

It's very easy, but doing so degrades the value of the site for honest users.

Since Jottit doesn't link to its users' pages, their rank in the beginning is 0, and so is their attractiveness for spammers. Once Jottit builds a catalogue of user pages, it's dead.


If they build a list of links to users' pages somewhere on the main site, which presumably has a solid PageRank (I'm sure it will after some time), that would automatically boost users' PRs as well, no matter what's on the pages. And so the spam flood will begin.

They have at least two negative CAPTCHA already set up: an hidden submit button, and a ROT13 copy of the submitted data.

Who cares on a site like this? You only see pages entering their specific url - nobody will actually see spam pages.

Well, there's two separate philosophies -- one says that enabling SEO is bad because it distracts from the legitimate use of the site and the other is Squidoo.

If the site grows big enough, some significant part of spam would be easy to filter out statistically.

Easy? Please enlighten me what's so easy about filtering spam these days...

The same way as GMail and other large email providers. From my experience with GMail, its accuracy is near 100% and their heuristics is mostly based on statistical data, e.g. they probably detect large volumes of mail coming from one IP and having similar links, etc.

Yes. One of the nice things about a smart hosted gmail system is that when spam happens, they will see a corresponding flood of spam reports coming in over a certain amount of time, so that would make it much easier to stem the flood of spam. I am sure there is quite a lot to it which we will never know, but it does seem to be the best out there.

Now maybe his co-founder will leave, and the founders of Digg will be so impressed that they invite him to be a co-founder--on equal terms.

Oh, give it a rest. At least Aaron's still creating value even though he's already rich. He could just sit by the pool all day.

He could have or he could waste his time. He chose the later and why is that impressive?

That really was the deal of a lifetime. No vesting needed -- here's a third of the equity upfront.


That's how any merger works.

No, it isn't.

In a true merger, you can't have vesting for the people from just one of the incoming companies, as you might if you were hiring someone or doing an acquisition. The reddits would have had to make their own stock vest in order to make Aaron's.

It surprises me that the co-founders of reddit did not have a vesting arrangement in place in case one of them decided to drop out halfway for whatever reason well beyond their control. It's good that things worked out well for them.

Did Aaron bring anything to the merger other than his future effort -- like some code that was ready to drop into reddit?

What universal business maxim dictates that? As long as everyone agrees to the conditions of the contract before being signed.

Can I ask why they would have had to do that?

you called out pg. the universe is now collapsing.

Why is this interesting?

It seems like a relaunch of Infogami.com, but with a really clever entry point. Infogami had a couple of cool ideas, like "we'll release one new feature every day" and optional commercials (support us if you want). I liked Infogami, but I stopped using it when Aaron stopped doing any development on it.

I guess I never really understood Infogami either. What's the market opportunity for Wikipedia without any of the content, controls, or attention? If it's a blogging tool, why is it better than Typepad, Blogger, or Wordpress? I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'd just really like someone to give me their take on why this is a good business idea, and how it could possibly be defensible.

The "feature-a-day" thing was a clever marketing idea; it did keep me coming back. But where was it going? Where is this going?

I think Aaron's evil plot was to use machine learning to provide an automated friend-of-a-friend introduction service based on what you wrote on your infogami page. I'm pretty sure he posted about it somewhere - I remember because I had the same idea. Maybe this is a new platform for that idea.

I always wonder about google and that - gmail was (and still is I think) spread by sending invites. So there is the FOAF angle there as well - and the same accounts are used in all their apps not just email. Mix in search history (if you use it - which I don't) and that is just frightening.

It just makes life easy to have a website without having to do anything else. It's a central place where you can put up stuff and let people see it. No hosting, no payment and its simple. It's nifty for many applications: its an open wiki for anything.

You mean like... Writeboard? An application so simple that even 37 "We'll Charge You $100 For A Calendar Plugged Into An Address Book" Signals gives away for free? I wonder why Google doesn't have something just like this already... oh, wait, they do.

In the first place it shows how user registration should look like.

Saying the user registration is good speaks volumes :) No real product or reason to use it, but at least it's easy to sign up!

You mean, like Mediawiki?

Have you tried jottit? I can't imagine anything simpler than that, I mean the registration process. Although the idea itself is probably not new.

I don't get it. Can you really "win" with an application just by making registration easier? I know the "every field, half your users" rule, but... is there anything more to this application?

Here are my observations.

It's clean

A demonstration of what the site does happens in one click.

The editing view is responsive and fun to play with.

claims-redemption registration isn't effective for a majority of the sites. when security is a prerequisite for your application, this isn't the way to go.

security is likely not a serious prerequisite to the target demographic here

Because it is probably the easiest site to test out that I've encountered. I've never demoed a site and had it be so easy to get up and running. It should be a model in user interface.

The reason it's interesting here is that it was partially made by a well known y-combinator person (who also worked on reddit).

I'm not being clear. What does this site actually do? All I saw it do was echo the text I entered back at me, and store it the equivalent of a tinyurl.

It can password protect it, and you can link things from page to page. Some of the best sites don't do anything "impressive", really...

For example?

Reddit, LiveJournal, FaceBook?

Wow. I can't remember ever seeing a negative nostrademons comment. Obviously that's not earth shattering but it is feeling like downvoting is more generally on the rise around here.

You can criticise many aspects of Facebook... but it does a lot of impressive things.

Actually? I sort of think that facebook's impressiveness is in its ability to scale the features so nicely.

I don't think there are any features on facebook that couldn't be made by your average ycombinator news reader (they might be slow as all hell, but I bet most of us could create working demos of most features).

Facebook does a lot of almost invisible but extremely smart things. Two examples: when you specify the type of relationship when adding a friend, Facebook uses the info to decide how much information to present about the person in your news feed. Or when two people list themselves as being in a relationship, Facebook will show the most recent picture of the two together (if such a picture exists, and privacy permissions permit it in your case).

Nothing fancy. Just extremely well thought out.

easy to test because it doesn't do much...

Neither did the first iPod.

Edit: Okay, okay, sheesh, I'm not insulting it. I meant that it had one feature, which was to play music. It did exactly what it needed to do and no more. That's all I'm saying.

You mean besides fitting ten CD cases worth of music into something that fit in your pocket? What a silly argument.

We're talking focus. The iPod wasn't especially innovative, but it was extremely focused on exactly one thing: playing music. And that focus was executed perfectly.

Having an extremely narrow focus isn't a bad thing, so to use the statement "it doesn't do much" to suggest that Jottit a bad product seems weak.

and the iPod was the first hard drive based MP3 player to use the new 1.8" hard drive.

All due respect to aaronsw, but, the iPod's "one feature" was EXTREMELY FUCKING IMPRESSIVE. Help me understand what's impressive about this site, other than that it still has me talking about it hours after its launch?

I said exactly one thing: Suggesting "a product has a narrow focus" == "a product is bad" is lame. I didn't compare Jottit to the iPod, I compared the number of features. There's a subtle difference.

Also, sorry for the 'hominem, but it's people like you that turned Reddit into Digg. Keep your fucking language clean, your caps lock off, and your rhetorical questions to yourself, or get out. This is not Slashdot. It's really sad that you act like a total troll since you're an excellent hacker, judging by http://www.matasano.com/log/thomas-ptacek

I know you have more to contribute to News.YC than your ego and your snarky remarks. Try harder.

Grow up. You compared Jottit to the iPod. Ludicrous.

Why can't we all just get along?

This argument is about nothing. Jottit doesn't have to be the greatest thing since the iPod. Aaron doesn't need the money and he wanted to do something with his code wizardry. Here we are.

I apologize.

One of the lessons of the net so far is that there's always opportunity in making web authoring & self-expression easier: HTML, FrontPage, Geocities, blogs, wikis, friend-linked profile pages. Jottit looks like another point on that curve.

Wow, I'm quite surprised that so few of the people that have commented see the value in this. I just took a look at the site and I have to say it looks awesome and I can definitely see exactly what it was trying to address. It's not a blogging tool and it's not anything like Wikipedia. IMO it's simply a place to take notes, have them be available from anywhere else and I'm guessing to share them with others. As the name implies you simply jot something down. I love the fact that you can do that right on the home page, no annoying clicks. It reminds me of OneNote which I used to use on Windows or Google Notebook.

I too am struggling with the value of this site. However, I think the minimalist design is very compelling.

I'm reminded of the story "The Emperor's New Clothes". Jottit is the emperors invisible clothes.

another pointless project. yawn.

Hey, Google has this same layout but when I click the button it gives me back something useful

I like the user interface a lot. The color scheme picker is sweet, and it's fun to see changes in real time. Since it's so easy to use, I'm sure there will be people who find it useful.

At least you guys got to see it.

Right now, this is what http://jottit.com/ says:

500 - Internal Server Error

What, no customized error page?

I checked it it's up again. Tried using it but I can't seem to find the value in it....

This site is neat in that it works simply. However, since this site is largely geared to hackers AND startup founders, what is its target market and how can they make money off of it? Or is the object here to be purchased by Google or one of the other sites that have bad HTML editors as their default?

I don't think Aaron started it with the idea of how to make money from it.

Dangit, Aaron beat me to the punch with the idea of creating a globally-modifiable page and then later creating an account to claim ownership. The demo I'm working on right now works the same way. I'm still one-uping him, though -- just a button on the front page, no text box.

Really? I'm doing the same thing, except it's just a button. When you click the button, a page comes up and says, "You have clicked the button. To click the button again, click the button" When you click the button again, it says, "You have clicked the button again. To click the button again, click the button again."

I'm trying to get it down to the absolute minimum of annoying configuration and deployment options. I don't think I'll ever match the masters though:


You have way too much text on your front page. It should just say, "Button clicked. Click again to click again." Better yet, why not just click it for them automatically? If they intended to do something else they'd have already gone to another page.

It just keeps saying "welcome to zombo.com"

Also try this: www.holdthebutton.com

I'm missing the comment functionality here though. Jottit may become a perfect semi-blogging platform once they add commenting. "Semi" is because articles won't be linked to the date of publishing - something that always annoyed me on all other blogging platforms.

What's the point of Jottit? I don't get it...

So nice and so simple. I'm amazed

I actually like the simplicity and usefulness of this website. Congratulations Aaron -- well done!!

It's a good site in its own subtle way, but where's the purple cow?

Anyone know what they've written it with?

Probably Python and web.py.

And AJS JavaScript library ;)

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