April 28, 2000
A New Type of JOHO
We have such a backlog of Articles 'N Stuff that we thought we'd occasionally put out a briefer version of JOHO - just one article, rotating the features a bit, parceling out the email, you know, just trying basically to get over ourselves. (This issue is actually a bit longer than I'd wanted.)
What do you think? Should we turn this into a regular thing? Drop me a line at [email protected]. Thanks!
The Five Stages of Web Grief
In the 1970s, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross broke the taboo about speaking about death with her book On Death and Dying. That she went on to try to break the taboo about talking about "psychic" experiences involving angel guides and spirits that are able to communicate by rapping on tables but are incapable of learning Morse code does not diminish the service her book provided.
Kübler-Ross pointed to five stages of grieving which have turned out to apply much broadly than simply to mourning someone who's died. For example, I recall ten years ago coming in the morning after a major layoff to find the five stages on the white board of one of the survivors, plus one more:
It turns out that the five stages also apply to the reaction of most large companies to the presence of the Web.
First, the companies went into denial. "The Web is for geeks!," they said. "Joe Six-Pack and Suzie Homemaker won't be doing the double-you-double-you-double-you any time soon!"
Then, when it became clear that even the Clampetts had bought a modem and signed up for AOL, the companies got angry. "People are being fooled! The transactions aren't safe. And there's porn everywhere! What sort of place is this?!"
Next came bargaining. Companies approached design houses and said: "If we give you $250,000 to put our brochures up on the Web, then we'll be ok. Ok? Ok!"
Alas, depression set in. "No one ever comes to our site. They don't love us any more. And some punk outfit with a combined employee age of 46 just put a dot-com after their name and now is worth more than General Motors. It's just not worth carrying on." It was at this point that Prozac started showing up on the company first-aid shelf, right next to the aspirin packets and Heimlich Maneuver poster.
Finally, acceptance. Companies recognized that the Web is challenging the fundamentals of the way they do business, exploding the old power relationships and transforming strategies right down to their details.
Just kidding! And the bad news is that acceptance is merely the starting point for a happy Web afterlife. If you can't get your company to that starting point real soon, it will skip directly to the real sixth stage of grieving: being totally ignored.
For the Hyperlinked Organization
Windows 98 crashes my system 2-3 times a day. Typically, after a few hours of work, I'll notice that graphics are getting glitchy windows don't redraw, icons are funky. Then applications will start telling me that they can't run, they can't find necessary files, etc., and I know it's time to reboot. I'd tried the Symantec CrashGuard program and one from Fixit, but they seemed to make my system less stable than before and scared me off of trying their latest versions. Then, thanks to the Lockergnome newsletter (www.lockergnome.com), I discovered Anticrash 2000, a Java application that somehow, magically, makes Windows run. I've actually had Win98 up for over 2 days without having to reboot, an all time record! And it's free.
Don't ask me how it works. For all I know, it's sending Windows out to the mother ship for repair. But I don't care. Well, I do care, so if you know how it works its magic, let me know. Until then, I'm going to keep using it, blissful in my ignorance.
Thanks to Derek Willis for pointing out a fascinating survey of 600 CEOs published at http://www.bizreport.com/news/2000/03/20000306-6.htm. Apparently, 40% are worried about unhappy customers venting on Web sites and 25% are concerned about employees using email to complain about the company internally. ("Omigod, now we can actually hear how unhappy our workers are? Quick, bind me to the mast and pour wax in my ears!") While 80% of CEOs say they spend 6 hours or more per week on line, only 11% "monitor the Internet regularly to keep abreast of what is being said about their organizations." Sounds like we could use some tracking software to find out where those pesky CEOs are spending their online time doing. You know they can't be trusted!
While many CEOs are concerned about the Net, few are doing much about it. "We expect at some point this level of concern will translate into a higher percentage of companies developing programs to more effectively manage Internet communications," said Tom Hoog, CEO of Hill and Knowlton and sponsor of the survey, thereby exposing the research as self-serving propaganda.
Margin of Prevarication
PCWeek is changing its name to wait for it eWeek. What a grabber! Publisher Sloan Seymour says in the press release:
"This name change just makes sense. One hundred percent of our 400,000 readers are Internet-connected and conducting e-business, and 98.4 percent purchase Internet, intranet or networking technologies. Their average budget authority is $14.7 million."
Let's see, that means the readership of PC-W..., um eWeek, has a cumulative budgetary authority of $5,880,000,000,000. Either the eWeek readership is the most powerful cabal since OPEC or no, it couldn't be the $5.8 gazillion dollars actually represents not how much people have available to spend but how much they'll lie in order to qualify for a free subscription.
This could actually be a useful fiscal measurement. Call it the Margin of Prevarication. It is defined as ((p - a)/p) where p is the value required to be perceived in order to accomplish a business objective and a is the actual value. So, if to close a deal you have to say that a product has a value to you customer of $12M when it actually has a value of $3M, the PM would be 0.75.For startups talking to VCs, the MP approaches 1.0. For managers talking to their employees about a raise, the number can easily go negative. (Note: in order to accommodate Lycos, we allow division by zero.)
Signs of life (was: Links I like)
Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, one of my favorite recent books, will email you a copy of her weekly column for The Globe & Mail (Canada's newspaper of record) if you send her your email address. The first couple of columns she's done have been full of vim. (Can you Americans imagine a major newspaper giving a weekly column to someone who lives to bash corporate greed?). You can reach her at: [email protected]
Dave Paulsen sends this for our "sucky search engine" file:
An intrepid reporter interviews Jeeves (www.ask.com). Very funny.
Reader Madanmohan Rao has an interesting article on the Wireless Access Protocol:
He also has a good roundup of news from the world of sucky search engines:
Chris "RageBoy" Locke, the official Scourge of JOHO (and editor of his own little 'zine, EGR (www.rageboy.com/index2.html), points us to:
where you'll find the Infinite Monkey Protocol Suite. IMPS explains the origins of most of the universe.
Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs
Peter Macaveney noticed a small mistake in my casual quotation from Chairman Kennedy:
"Ask not what you can do for your country...,"
which is not the famous JFK quote, but rather its converse. Is this a typo, or were you checking to see if we're paying attention?
Actually, I was quoting from Bizarro World where everything is backwards, a place that was disturbing in 1961 when the Cubans invaded Florida (the infamous Pigs of Bay incident) but oddly satisfying when I went in for my most recent proctological exam.
The thread that won't die continues surprise! to live. In response to our repeating a cartoon about the difference between LA and NYC, we received this from the Rev. Dr. of Australia:
in australia [oz, 'straaya, whatever] a commonly overheard phrase? curse! runs:
"the fucken fuckers fucked"
yes, its broken but
"if it aint fucked, dont fucken fuck with it"
Ah, the power of the raw speech of the common folk of Australia, the muscular, shirt-off straight-from-the-shoulder creativity of our kangarooed brethren. Yes, indeed, there's life left in old Dame Language after all.
Rob de Jonge sends the following found spam:
WANTED 97 People
We'll PAY you to lose up to 29 plus pounds!
* All natural.
* Doctor recomended.
* #1 in Europe!
* 100% money back guaranteed.
* Works especially good for woman.
Yes, up to 29 pounds or more! Quite the concept. In fact, if you ever want to see me get *really* tiresome, point me at an ad that promises "Savings Up to 30% and More!" Make up your mind, folks. It's either up to X or it's more than X. Don't make me say this again...
Keith Davidson calls attention to an URL of a site PlanetIT that was hosting a Web discussion of the Cluetrain. (Gosh, I got this far into an issue without mentioning Cluetrain? Sorry! Won't happen again!) He seems to find "www.planetit.com" humorous:
...it made me think of a mother airplane nursing her young. See where this new way of no capitalization, no punctuation style language is leading us older literalists?
We'll count this as a belated entry in the Bogus Contest of Dec. 25, 1999 (http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-dec25-99.html) which called for more URLs such as www.lumberjacksexchange.com (exchange or sex change?) and www.triplex.com (it's a tri-plex theatre in the Berkshires, not an XXX site).
In fact, here's a mini bogus contest: Find URLs that contain naughty words. For example, www.publishIt.com is careful how they capitalize their name on their page. Special bonus for any URL that contains the forbidden F word (you know, the one the fucken straayans apparently use all the fucken time) embedded within it.
And Tony McKinley wins the previous mini-pseudo-bogus contest, finding the "fiendish" pun in the first paragraph of the previous issue's article about Napster. Tony unearthed the phrase "point, casting," a reference to PointCast, another bandwidth hog.
Finally, Australian Ron forwards the following Real Life URL:
This explains exactly how I fell into the Bizarro World in which JFK assassinates Lee Harvey Oswald and J. Edgar Hoover dresses like a man.
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