August 15, 2001
Mind the Scaffolding: Our minds are out in the world, not inside us busy building an internal picture of the external world.
Post-Modern Knowledge Management: A One-Question Interview: Kevin Werbach tells us what KM is and isn't.
Downsizing Bob: How much would you pay to have Dylan sing at your next birthday?
The Annals of Marketing: Tidbits from around the world.
Dept. of Funny Namers: Adolescent fun.
Bush: Too big a target to walk around.
Walking the Walk: Johnson & Johnson get smart.
Cool Tool: Auto-fill those pesky Web forms.
Internetcetera: Who are the geeks? Who are the Webbies?
Search Engine Madness: The search issues you love to hate.
Links to love: Hey, you're the ones who said these were good sites, not me!
Who's Tired of Being a Millionaire?: Give till the cows come home.
Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs: Your email, you sly devils.
Bogus contest: 6 Degrees, Hold the Bacon
It's a JOHO World After All
I'm continuing to write a weekly column for Darwin Magazine Online. It's published on Fridays at http://www.darwinmag.com/read/swiftkick/. Let's push those numbers up, people! Thank you.
It's a Cluetrain Revival!
For some reason, in the past week there have been two articles revisiting Cluetrain. So take a nostalgia trip back to when Cat Stevens' peace train wasn't loaded with gelignite, and flasks and pipettes were being stolen from high school chem labs everywhere!
Barbara Rose, Chicago Tribune:
Robert Walker, Slate.com:
So, fire up a Lovin' Spoonful album and take a magic carpet ride, courtesy of The Cluetrain.
All of Cluetrain Now On-Line
The entire stinking book is now online at Chris Locke's site: http://www.gonzomarkets.com/cluetrain/index.html (We'll put it at www.cluetrain.com too once that site is back up — the hosts went belly-up without the courtesy of a warning.)
Frank Schmidt calls to our attention an article by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times about Cyc (pronounced "sike," as in "ensikelopedia"), Douglas Lenat's gargantuan attempt to misunderstand human thought. Seventeen years in the making, Cyc thinks that we're intelligent because we have an internal database of commonsense facts. According to the article:
The project already has consumed an estimated 500 person-years and $50 million in investments from, among others, the Defense Department, the pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline, and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The system today encompasses more than 1.4 million assertions—hundreds of thousands of root words, names, descriptions, abstract concepts, and a method of making inferences that allows the system to understand that, for example, a piece of wood can be smashed into smaller pieces of wood, but a table can't be smashed into a pile of smaller tables...
And what do we get from this massive investment:
In one recent demonstration for a Defense Department project, a Cycorp engineer informed the system they would be discussing anthrax. Cyc responded: "Do you mean Anthrax (the heavy metal band), anthrax (the bacterium), or anthrax (the disease)?" Asked to comment on the bacterium's toxicity to people, it replied: "I assume you mean people (homo sapiens). The following would not make sense: People Magazine."
Talk about your artificial stupidity! 500 person-years to get the thing to not know the difference between a bacterium and a heavy metal band without asking!
By coincidence, Cyc is the opening example in the book Being There by Andy Clark which I've been reading and was going to recommend even before Cyc's PR machine decided it was time to start pumping. Being There is brilliant. In fact, the second half is too brilliant for me: it goes down some capillaries of thought about the brain that lose me. But that's ok. The book has one central thought that is so obvious that it seems like we must have known it all along. Clark doesn't claim credit for the idea, but he's pulled together several lines of thought, extended them and expressed it in a way all his own.
Attempts at AI such as Cyc play right into what I've started calling our "default philosophy" in my book-in-progress. Thanks to a couple of thousands years of thought, we are now perfectly at home with the idea that our mind creates internal representations of the external world. We manipulate those representations and decide on actions that then affect the external world. Cyc attempts to make explicit our internal representation of the world. But, that isn't in fact how we work. I've argued for years, fruitlessly, against this representational model by pointing out that it fails to describe how we actually experience the world, but this "phenomenological" approach inevitably draws the response that the causes of our experience may not be like our experience — a position that I find maddeningly obtuse, but one I have never managed to subvert. Clark takes a much more effective, non-phenomenological path. He says that the brain is a literal neural net. Neural nets enable us to explain how we do things like catch a Frisbee without having to have an inner map of the space the Frisbee is traversing and without having to calculate complex arcs of motion: we learn to associate the position of the Frisbee in our visual field with the movement of our hand. Fine and dandy, but, Clark asks, how can a neural net explain our abstract thinking?
He starts with the example of doing complex multiplication problems. Our associative neural net masters the times tables (or "math facts" as the schools now say). We then learn a technique that lets us conquer a tough multiplication problem by repeatedly applying the times table. The technique involves writing the numbers on a piece of paper, drawing a line underneath them, etc. Clark's point is that our mind's ability to do the requisite abstract thinking depends on the paper and pencil. Abstract thought requires "external scaffolding" — Clark's term for stuff in the world that we can alter in order to help our neural net do tough, complex, abstruse reasoning. This external scaffolding includes the simple ways we organize the world (e.g., alphabetizing our CDs), the chalkboard the physics professor uses, libraries, the Web, language itself and social institutions. Without these, we are naught but damn dirty apes. The characteristics of our mind that we identify as most peculiarly human depend on our ability to alter our world to help us think. Our human mind is inextricably bound up with the world and its manipulation.
I find this thrilling. It redefines mind in a way that busts us out of our self-imposed mental prison so we no longer have to think that our minds are primarily individual and isolated from the world. Quite the contrary. Our minds are not only formed by our culture, they would be impossible without the things of our culture. And as we rapidly increase our "external scaffolding" — for example, with the growth of the Web — we are expanding not only our "information resources" but our minds themselves.
Note: The article is apparently no longer available on the LA Times site, but is still in Google's cache.
Kevin Werbach, the editor of Esther Dyson's Release 1.0 (http://release1.edventure.com/), wrote an excellent issue on Knowledge Management that's much in accord with what we've been blathering on about. Further, he says he's writing about "Post Modern KM" and we here at JOHO are such suckers for anything POMO that we once paid a guy at eBay an extra $25 because he offered to say the uninterruptible power supply we'd bought was in fact post-modern. So, we put the question to Kevin:
Q: What is postmodern knowledge management?
A: Knowledge management has traditionally suffered from the hubris of modernism: the belief that we can discover ultimate truths and organize the world according to rational principles using clever code. The idea was that we should capture and organize bits of "knowledge" in central databases. The people involved were relevant only as donors to the common ontology or as empty vessels into which knowledge could be poured.
Life — and business — doesn't work that way. It's messy, complex and subjective. Real workers have the disturbing habit of being human, so they refuse to change their behavior or to contribute metadata into a shared pool. And universal taxonomies are worthless if divorced from the subjective experience of those who use or generate that information.
Enter postmodern knowledge management. Postmodernism holds that our concept of reality is always warped by the lenses of individual subjectivity and group power dynamics. Therefore, postmodern KM can't be about management at all, because management implies external control of some definable resource. Its goal is simpler yet deeper: leveraging people. Postmodern KM operates within and on the basis of existing behavior patterns, mining conversation streams and relationships automatically to incorporate structure and context into the information human users already manipulate. It fosters human intelligence and interaction rather than trying to replace them.
Concretely, that means things like automatically parsing email messages and other internal content to draw out useful context and associations (an approach being pursued by Lotus and a bevy of startups including Tacit Knowledge Systems, Abridge, EcoCap, Krypteian and Neomeo); mining discussion content and user feedback on intranets (Newknow); adding workflow directly into email messages (Zaplet); and building on Weblogs as a powerful Web-native tool for knowledge sharing (Onclave and Slashdot derivatives). In other words, tools to help knowledge manage itself.
Excellent thoughts. We have nothing to disagree with, damn him! So, rather than standing mute in admiration, let's get POMO on Kevin's ass. And the first rule of POMO analysis is to ignore the content. Content is so Enlightenment, dude! Then you pick on a trivial word that shows through a series of puns (excuse, me semantic archaeology) that the writer has been blinded by his own language, reinforcing whatever patriarchal, sexual oppression you choose to attribute to him. For example, Werbach's use of "mining" betrays that he is "mine-ing" (possessing, capitalism) the underground explosives (mining) that are hidden by their own hiddenness until they rapidly deconstruct whatever has the misfortune of tripping (a rapid exposure of the nihil (pluribus) of the unum and an hallucinogenic delusion, de-lude, de-play) them. Werbach is clearly "mining" his own business (private self self-referentially or self-reverentially defining itself by its own otherness) when he "minds" (mines) what is known (no one) to no one (known) and what no one (gnome, Gnostic) knows (no's, negates, B. Gates, billingsgate, nonsense, non-scents, bodily excrescence known gnomically only through the non-sense of knowing garden gnome). In short, Werbach's own sexual knowing is mined (mind, mynah) and, therefore, we are led ineluctably (luce, light, lux, deluxe, bourgeois) to the conclusion (conk loose shun, words of release and bondage) that Werbach is an acid-head pomosexual who wants to have sex with mynahs and — the real point of POMO criticism — I am smarter than he. QED.
[Note: I've collected my writings on KM at http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/hyperkm.html]
Jennifer Lopez charges $750,000 to show up at your party for an hour. And The Boston Globe says that Tina Turner, Jimmy Buffett and Billy Joel will sing for your private party for something over a million bucks. That's a million each, not for Tina singing backed by Billy on the piano and Jimmy on the tambourine. The Rolling Stones performed for Pepsi executives in a tent in Hawaii, James Brown sang at a private party for Progress Software, Celine Dion for Gillette, Elton John for a Swedish businessman's 60th birthday...and Bob Dylan himself sang, if that's what we still call it, at a private party for Applied Materials. Why? Does he need the money, or does he just love the Applied Materials line of applied materials?
I find this depressing. I put up with all those years of Bob's nasal singing, of his bouncing from religion to religion, even the late decades of his slurred caterwauling, because he was free-wheelin' Bob Dylan who knew the times were a changing even without being a weatherman, who knew something was going on even if his pump was short a handle. Oh, sure, like every other tinhorn celebrity he can protest that if we think he stood for something, that was us saying so, not him. Still, he benefited mightily from his Cult God status. It hurts to find out his love for us is minus zero.
So, here's what I want on my 60th birthday, assuming, of course, that my plans for achieving gazillionairehood come to fruition by then. I'll pay the going rate — say a couple of million — to have Bob Dylan at my birthday bash. But I don't need to hear him sing; Bob's sort of uneven in the live concert department anyway. No, I'd like to have him spend his time painting my living room. I'll invite my friends over, and if they notice that the painter is in fact Bob Dylan, we'll have a laugh. If not, that's fine. We'll put on some Stones, some Tina Turner, and, of course, "The Times They Are A Changing," "Ballad of a Thin Man, and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll." Bob can hum along if he's forgotten the words by then. It'll be good for Bob to get a little humble and for us to remember that although he's Bob Dylan, he's also just a jerk like the rest of us. Win-win.
"Oh, Bob, you missed a spot."
Rob de Jonge tells us that Lucky Strikes — "The Smokes that Killed Mommy" — has come up with a new way of getting around the Netherlands' laws against cigarette advertising. He writes:
Over the last decade, the Dutch government, as I'm sure is the case in the USA, has been limiting the advertising of tobacco brands. Because of that, Lucky Strike has been changing the marketing of its brand. They're clearly aiming for the young audience that loves to go out, sponsoring things like the Comedynight and hot new clubs in the city. But when I started talking to the people of this store called 451 degrees Fahrenheit (the temperature at which paper burns...), I was really surprised. Besides cigarettes, the store sells small selections of snacks, drinks, magazines and some other stuff. But the store doesn't need to make money, according to the people that work there. It's a branding expression of Lucky Strike. Apart from what is sold there, you can come in for a cup of (free) coffee, sit down and read a magazine, talk to 'host' about what's going on in the city, listen to the music played by the resident dj. The idea is that you get comfortable there and over time start associating a 'positive feeling' with the Lucky Strike brand. ...
...Apart from the sign outside (somewhat like a beer brand sign hanging outside a bar) that says Lucky Strike, the rather prominent placement of Lucky Strike brand cigarettes (they sell every brand imaginable) and the coloring of the store (red/white ... the LS colors) there is really no way of telling it's a LS store.
As the Web makes us less tolerant of marketers shouting slogans at us, will other brands also try to move from being signs in the landscape towards becoming the landscape itself?
In any case, someone should tell Chris "RageBoy" Locke, author of the upcoming book Gonzo Marketing: Winning through Worst Practices, about this. By the way, you can read RB's self-congratulatory comments and selections of the book at www.gonzomarkets.com. I've read every jot and tittle of it — earning me a "I contributed hours and hours of my time talking with Chris about his stinkin' chapter drafts and all I got was this lousy half line in the acknowledgments" t-shirt — and it's going to kick up quite a ruckus.
Tom Matrullo, whose weblog (http://tom.weblogs.com) is always amusing, but ranges from insightful to deep, has discovered that the following on McDonalds' site:
The following trademarks used herein are owned by the McDonald's Corporation and its affiliates: 1-800-MC1-STCK, Always Quality. Always Fun., America's Favorite Fries, Arch Deluxe, Aroma Café, Automac, Big Mac, Big N'Tasty, Big Xtra!, Birdie, the Early Bird and Design, Black History Makers of tomorrow, Bolshoi Mac, Boston Market, Cajita Feliz, Changing The Face of The World, Chicken McGrill, Chicken McNuggets, Chipolte Mexican Grill, Cuarto De Libra, Did Somebody Say, Donatos Pizza, emac digital, Egg McMuffin, Extra Value Meal, Filet-O-Fish, French Fry Box Design, Gep Op Mac, Golden Arches, Golden Arches Logo, Good Jobs For Good People, Good Times. Great Taste., Gospelfest, Great Breaks, Grimace and Design, Groenteburger, HACER, Hamburglar and Design, Hamburger University, Happy Meal, Happy Meal Box Design, Have You Had Your Break Today?, Healthy Growing Up, Helping Hands Logo, Hey, It Could Happen!, Iam Hungry and Design, Immunize for Healthy Lives, Lifting Kids To A Better Tomorrow, Mac Attack, Mac Jr., Mac Tonight and Design, McDonald's Racing Team Design, Made For You, McBaby, McBacon, McBurger, McBus, McCafe, McChicken, McDia Feliz, MCDirect Shares, McDonaldland, McDonald's , McDonald's All American High School Basketball Game, McDonald's All American High School Jazz Bank, McDonald's All Star Racing Team, McDonald's Building Design, McDonald's Earth Effort, McDonald's Earth Effort Logo, McDonald's Express, McDonald' s Express Logo, McDonald's Is Your Kind of Place, McDonald's Means Opportunity, McDouble, McDrive, McExpress, McFamily, McFlurry, McFranchise, McGrilled Chicken, McHappy Day, McHero, McJobs, McKids, McKids Logo, McKroket, McMaco, McMemories, McMenu, McMusic, McNifica, McNuggets, McNuggets Kip, McOz, McPlane, McPollo, McPrep, McRecycle USA, McRib, McRoyal, McScholar, McScholar of the Year, McSwing, McWorld, Mighty Wings, Millennium Dreamers, Morning Mac, Quarter Pounder, RMHC, Ronald McDonald and Design, Ronald McDonald House, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Ronald McDonald House Charities Logo, Ronald McDonald House Logo, Ronald Scholars, Sausage McMuffin, Single Arch Logo, Speedee Logo, Super Size, Teriyaki McBurger, The House That Love Built, The House That Love Built Design, twoallbeefpattiesspecialsaucelettucecheesepicklesoniononasesameseedbun, Vegi Mac, We Love to See You Smile, What's On Your Place, When the U.S. Wins You Win, World Famous Fries, You Deserve a Break Today,
The final comma is in the original, indicating that this is a work so much in progress that final punctuation would be a lie. For instance, we have learned that McDonald's has recently won the trademark on "Beef-Injected Vegetarian".
Andy "Not a Coincidence" Weinberger points to a July 20 press release from Palm, Inc., not because it's interesting — it's a stop-the-presses announcement that Palm's EVP has hired three new people — but because one of the hires is named Hell and another is named Angel. Must be part of some sort of affirmative action quota system...
Meanwhile, Bruce Milne at Vignette writes that, according to another press release, the CTO at the Einstein Academy, "the nation's first online public charter school" with an enrollment of 2,000 students, is named Howie Mandel. (For those of you not as immersed in junk culture as Bruce knows I am, Howie Mandel is the comedian whose signature comedy routine was inflating surgical gloves. Oh ho ho, it don't get no funnier than that!)
By the way, Bruce would like to remind us that Vignette provides customer-driven Internet applications used by the most demanding and successful organizations to build lasting customer relationships. (Jeez, and I thought they made content management software!)
I tried to kill the anti-Bush tirades you all were sending me. I told you not to do it. But did you listen? Apparently not. I will limit myself to links to two readers who are writing about Shrubya, and one stray comment of my own. (And for those of you who think that political rants have no place in a dignified journal, I suggest you find a dignified journal and subscribe to it.)
Interactive Week (July 23) ran a picture of Bush on its cover with the headline: "It's the Digital Economy, Mr. President." Now, we all know that the original quote was James Carville's motto for the first Clinton campaign: "It's the economy, stupid." But, in a craven display, InteractiveWeek replaced "stupid" with "Mr. President" because, presumably, they thought their readers would take the "stupid" literally.
Hank Blakely writes:
As you will no doubt recall, I am the winner of the May 2000 Bogus Run-on Web-Based Title Contest, and holder of the coveted Smashed Third Dynasty Porcelain Vase Prize, now proudly displayed on my mantelpiece, bookcase, coffee table and kitchen cabinet.
Intuition tells me that you maintain a keen interest in the activities of your former winners, and, with that assurance, I am pleased to make you aware of the following. For the past five-months, I have been privileged to be the author/editor/publisher of my own e-publication, "W: The Phantom Presidency", about the semi-mythical President of a semi-mythical superpower. It's A blend of political humor and satire centered on our New Leader and his associates ...Be warned that this is an unabashedly liberal take on the issues of today. If you are of an impressionable age, you may want to avoid it.
You can find Mr. Blakely's find satiric work at http://www.dystopical.com.
Gary Stock has been writing about the appointment of an oil industry lobbyist as the Secretary of Interior's "special assistant" on drilling in Alaska: http://www.tbtf.com/unblinking/arc/2001-07a.htm. Gary also points us to the sick, sick site http://www.isdickcheneydeadyet.com/ which I will not here dignify with a mention.
Middle World Resources
Walking the Walk
Johnson & Johnson-Merck Consumer Pharmaceuticals Co. (soon to be a hyphenation question on the English SAT's) has discovered that extranets are good for collaboration. According to an article in eWeek (Apr. 9, Matt Hicks), they built a collaborative site to help coordinate the launch of Pepcid Complete (an upgrade to Pepcid Incomplete which itself replaced Pepcid Barely Adequate). Twelve different companies participating in the launch used the site to share collateral from print ads to video. The Pepcid product manager estimates the company saved $200,00 in travel expenses alone. More important, he says that rather than "a jousting match for agency fees," the site "became a place where ideas began to flow among our agency partners."
And what was the outcome of this orgy of creativity? The "main message": "Works in seconds and lasts for hours." Oddly, this was Shakespeare's original close to Macbeth's speech at the beginning of Act I, Scene 7. And they say that committee's can't produce great work!
The company is maintaining the site even after the launch. The extranet cost about $10,000 to set up.
For the Hyperlinked Organization
It's a little thing, but those of us who don't like filling in forms (i.e., all mammals) and those of us who don't trust Gator (i.e., all primates) can avail ourselves of a handy free utility from PC Magazine. FormWhiz automatically fills in forms on Web pages. It looks at the internal field names in the source document; if it recognizes one, it fills the field in with the data you've supplied. You can configure what it counts as a relevant internal field; for example, you might want to tell it that whenever it sees "cnumb" used as the internal name of a field, it should fill in your credit card number. Flexible but also a pain in the tuchus.
FormWhiz has the advantage over Gator of not being just a legal clause away from uploading your marketing-worthy browsing activity; everything FormWhiz does it does on your own machine. FormWhiz has the advantage over Cheez Whiz of not being gross. You can pick up your free copy at www.zdnet.com/downloads/stories/info/0,,77410,.html
By the way, here's a fun way to pass some time in between downloading pornographic pictures of seniors in lace. On the Cheez Whiz site (click on "Make it now") you can tell it the ingredients you have on hand and it will recommend a recipe. For example, when I said I wanted to use peanut brittle and broccoli, but not clams, it came up with Brittle Crunch Tortoni. I wish I were making this up.
The Industry Standard (July 2) has analyzed consumer data to tell us "What Geeks Do." The results are surprising. In fact, they're so surprising that they indicate that the Industry Standard doesn't know what a geek is.
According to the analysis, geeks are athletic, watch Entertainment Tonight Weekend, are nearly twice as conservative as liberal, and only 35% have attended (not necessarily graduated) college. But before you redo your picture of the Jolt-cola guzzling geek, notice that only 78% of geeks sent e-mail in the past month, only 15% have been online for more than five years, and only 30% go online daily. What sort of geeks are these? "Americans who use the Internet, have a home computer, and own two or more high-tech gadgets." In other words, anyone with an AOL account, a Gameboy and "smart" toaster oven suddenly is a geek. Puhleese!
Matt Oristano points us to an article by Lou Marano (UPI, June 27) that tells us that researchers at the University of Maryland —having failed to uncover the truth behind the Blair Witch Project — have decided that "Internet users appear to be more open, tolerant, trusting, optimistic and literate than non-users," even after the demographic factors have been controlled for. On the other hand, there were no significant differences among the Webified and the non-Webified on political issues such as divorce laws, capital punishment and interracial marriage. Webbies have more confidence in business, the courts and science, and are more optimistic. We support sex education in the public schools but not birth control for teenagers, although we also have a great tolerance for premarital sex, an inconsistency perhaps explained by the near universal support of continuous masturbation.
Jeffrey Tarter, publisher of the venerable Softletter (www.softletter.com) writes:
Are you aware that it's now possible to set Google language preferences to such choices as Pig Latin, Elmer Fudd, hacker, and bork, bork, bork (spoken by the Swedish chefs on the Muppets)? I'm not sure what you'll actually DO with this piece of information, but it certainly seems to challenge the whole philosophical infrastructure of your new book.
You can also set preferences for Macedonian and Nepali, but not Klingon. Go figure.
My God, man, couldn't you have gotten news of this to me sooner! Think of the rewriting I have to do!
Chris "RageBoy" Locke (http://www.gonzomarkets.com) points us to http://www.atomica.com that lets us search the RealNames database. RealNames (www.realnames.com) is an attempt to rationalize the domain name mess by registering names and phrases (for $50) and associating them with web sites and other information. For example, if you search at atomica.com for "joho," you don't get a list of every Japanese site that uses the term ("joho" means "information" in Japanese, and, yes, it's a coincidence); you instead get a neat little box of information about this very journal. (On the other hand, searching for "David Weinberger" brings up a screen of information about the odious Caspar Weinberger.) Internet Explorer 5 is wired so that if you type in a word or phrase registered at RealNames, it will take you to the registered site; for example, type in just "joho" and you'll get to my home page. (I didn't pay 'em for this. I don't really know how "joho" got registered.)
Lilly Buchwitz, who came up with the idea of selling listings on search engines probably before anyone points us to Ralph Nader's attempt to prove that he didn't stop evolving the day the last Ford Falcon was decomissioned. There's an article at http://searchenginewatch.com/sereport/01/07-ftc.html
Jessica Stephan writes (=spams) from the PR point of view:
I noticed that your web site, www.hyperorg.com, links to the metasearch engine Dogpile.com.
I would be appreciative if you would consider www.ixquick.com for inclusion on your web site. Ixquick is a metasearch engine that was given the highest ratings by both Search Engine Watch and ZDNet's SearchIQ.
Ixquick.com has a number of powerful features: - Outstanding search relevancy (find what you're looking for immediately) - Comprehensive results (searches 12 engines simultaneously) - Fast response - Advanced syntax support (beyond the capabilities of any other metasearch engine) - Web, Picture, News and MP3 category searches - One dozen languages are supported
At this point, I have a massive emotional investment in Google. It will take more than superior searching to sway me. Nevertheless, I ran my standard battery of tests — I ego-surfed for my name — and came up rather disappointed. There were some clearly irrelevant results in the top twenty, including one wildly misleading porno site. Plus, it doesn't search Google.
Dinah Sanders, who was very helpful during the Go-Go days of Cluetrain Mania, writes:
... if you're in the mood for something amusing to point at and laugh, I suggest visiting www.rockport.com and trying to search their site for "walking shoes". No results found. Hmm, and here I thought they made those things; I guess they've got a marketing message problem.
Similarly, Peter Merholz responds to my inability to locate car information on the Mitsubishi site using the Mitsubishi search page. He says his Number One Rule of Web Happiness is:
If you're going to search ANYTHING, do it at Google. Searching for "Mitsubishi Cars" at Google takes you right to the appropriate website.
He then proves his rule by finding the song played on a Mitsubishi commercial that another reader was asking about:
Some Google-sleuthing of "mitsubishi car ad music" turned up "Start The Commotion," by the Wiseguys. Download it here: http://www.kazaa.com/search.php?search_type=simple&page=search&query=Start+T he+Commotion&Submit=Search+Now&type=music (Napster? Napster? We don't need no steenkin' Napster!)
In fact, here's a Mini Bogus Contest: If you find a search engine on a site that comes up nugatory when you enter a search term basic to the site's business (e.g.,, "walking shoes" at rockport.com), let me know.
Tom Erdmann forwards a long, long story by a guy who deposited one of those phony snail mail spam checks — and found an extra $95,000 in his checking account. It's not so clear to me that the tsuris he got wasn't the tsuris he deserved, but it's a pretty good read: http://www.dnai.com/~pcombs/$$tablecontents.html
If that doesn't satisfy your hunger for evidence that banks are soulless, Gary Turner writes:
Banks are funny, sometimes. I bank with the Clydesdale Bank and their website http://www.cbonline.co.uk/ makes me chuckle. Out of a total of 826 words on the homepage , 754 (89%) are taken up with disclaimers. Even the first entry on the quick find drop down box is Disclaimers!!!!!! I need a new bank.
Jeret Madei points us to a site that has an animated version of the perennial favorite of high school science classes, "Powers of Ten." It's pretty durn cool: http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/primer/java/scienceopticsu/powersof10/index.html
Oliver Ryan writes to the Cluetrain discussion list (http://www.topica.com/lists/cluetrain) to say:
...The nitty gritty of open source licensing is being hotly debated right now at www.siliconvalley.com/roundtable/ by a bunch of industry heavyweights including Craig Mundie from Microsoft and Bruce Perens from Hewlett Packard. The discussion has covered the BSD implementation, but not yet the Mac efforts. Fascinating topic and a great example of a complex issue being engaged by various private interests in a public forum online...
Oliver was punctual with this notice. I was tardy.
Joe Murphy writes:
"How to unearth millions of dollars in market intelligence buried in online discussion groups."
This sort of looks vaguely interesting. Companies would be able to listen to newsgroups and conversations. Which is a start.
The article discusses software that scours the Web for discussion groups that mention your products. It's at the nexus of spying and listening. Hard to know why it makes me just a little bit queasy.
Mark Hurst's Good Experience (www.creativegood.com) has found an optical illusion I'd never seen, and I thought I'd been fooled by every one in existence: http://www.kristoffbertram.com/images/weird.jpg (Instructions: "Focus on the black dot while moving towards or away from the monitor.")
Peter Merholz also has a very cool optical illusion on his site: http://www.peterme.com/archives/00000016.html. He also has a link to an excellent example of a more familiar one: http://www.eyetricks.com/0102.gif
Joe Mahoney has a different sort of trick in mind. He wrote to a rather technical discussion list:
... fwiw, I think I've finally come across a site with some serious hard AI behind it: http://www.smalltime.com/dictator.html
Only the most overly-serious took him to task, telling him that the AI isn't really all that tough. Duh.
Bob Filipczak forwards from Salon a well-told story by and about a high school senior who enabled his schoolmates — and teachers, for that matter — to get around the school-imposed filters protecting students from "objectionable" sites. Daniel Silverman is entering Brandeis this year, and taking over the world — we hope — in 2007. http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2001/06/14/net_filtering/
Chris Heathcote points us to a site — www.makeashorterlink.com — that lets you give a shorter URL to pages you're passing around. For example, http://www.palmgear.com/software/showsoftware.cfm?sid=80838120010529173517&p rodID=15635 becomes http://makeashorterlink.com/index.php?U2205200.
As the promotional materials for the service make clear, "makeashorterlink.com" is itself longer than it needs to be. But I've come up with a hack. I've used makeashorterlink.com to make a shortened link to http://makeashorterlink.com/. Unfortunately, a bug on the site prevents this; you get a message that says "If we made you a shorter link it would be longer so we're not going to bother."
Britt Blaser suggests we try out a tool his group has developed:
You may be interested in the xml-based forum tool we developed last year. It addresses several shortcomings I saw in existing discussion boards. Blaser & Co. developed it for a client, but it can probably be made open source via a modest level of barter, $$ or good karma.
It's written in Perl and may be a candidate for adapting as you suggest. It currently is password based.
Feel free to try it. Your username is "evident" with pw of "joho".
The Perl code is handled by eight 4-20K scripts & libraries totaling 100K.
Among the envisioned improvements is a way to alert users of postings.
This is a fast but bare discussion board. Because it's XML-based, presumably it wouldn't be hard to get it to support the threading standard discussed in a recent issue. You'll also find some interesting manifesto-like materials at the site's home page: http://xpertweb.com
Stephen Lamb wrote to another list:
There's a very cool java applet at: http://feed.projects.sfmoma.org/feedloader.html.The applet displays abstracted charts and graphs updated continuously based upon text and pixel streams from web sites.
The ever-delightful correspondent, Julianne Chatelain, forwards a contest:
In March, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) announced that it was establishing an international student essay contest asking the question: "WHAT DOES INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY MEAN TO YOU IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?" ... It quickly became obvious to us what type of essays WIPO wanted. Anyone who answered that intellectual property (IP) means: "I can't purchase anti-HIVS drugs because of patent law" or, "as a farmer, I can't get access to patent-protected seeds for planting" or, "as a visually impaired person, I can't read books due to copyright restrictions" or, "as a teacher, I can't distribute materials to my students for the same reason" or, " I was fired from my job because I was a whistleblower" or, a thousand other similar responses would not be winning a prize from WIPO, no matter how articulate or well-argued such an essay was. And, once again, the negative consequences of IP would go unchallenged in a flood of congratulatory rhetoric.
And so what is the solution? Set up a counter/alternative essay contest, ask exactly the same question as WIPO, encourage a range of rather more critical responses, create a website where the essays can be posted and viewed, then find some judges, and, at the end of the contest, award some (admittedly modest) prizes. And that is what a group of us who teach, study, produce, use, and research intellectual property are now in the process of doing...
The essay contest and the web site will be launched simultaneously on 4 Sept. 2001. The contest closes 15 March 2002 and the winner announced on 26 April 2002, the same day that WIPO announces its winners.
The Web site for the contest hasn't yet been announced. But you might check with www.rtmark.com, one of the sponsors. Julianne, in a separate message, points out this site to us. JOHO has mentioned it before, but it's gotten even better. The site sponsors anti-corporate projects and in general is as subversive as a Web page allows. And for those of you who are pro-mega-corporations, you can always check the page to see what "those other folks" are thinking.
Julianne Chatelain also points us to http://www.onthepage.org/offthepage.htm, a page that tries to drive a stake through over- and misused phrases. She points out that it's a rough opposite of the "Jargon Scout," a service run by Keith Dawson, publisher of the estimable Tasty Bits from the Technology Front (http://tbtf.com) that covers neologisms from the technoculture: http://www.tbtf.com/jargon-scout.html.
Marek J, on the cluetrain list at topica (http://www.topica.com/lists/cluetrain) points an article about 'Storytelling as a tool for knowlege management' http://www.destinationcrm.com/km/dcrm_km_article.asp?id=823. So POMO you could plotz!
Eric Hall on another list has found a highly commercialized voodoo site: http://www.pinstruck.com/
Mike "Chief Scientist" O'Dell points us to a paper by Jeanette Hofmann on using mailing lists as research sources. The fact that a message from Mike to a mailing list is Frau Doktor Hofmann's example assuredly has nothing to do with his recommendation: http://duplox.wz-berlin.de/people/jeanette/gortextengl.html. (Actually, it actually doesn't.)
Mike also points us to http://www.k2bh.com/CorpInfo/thebusnsumry.cfm where local people get put in touch with other local people and with local news and services. You can see an example of one site at http://camden.k2bh.com/. Pretty durn cool. Let's hope they make it.
Christopher Locke, looking for yet another plug for his upcoming book (have I mentioned that it's called Gonzo Marketing: Winning through Worst Practices?) recommends we visit what could be the Expose of the Year:
Thanks For The Memories ... The Truth Has Set Me Free! The Memoirs of Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's Mind-Controlled Slave http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0966891627/
Hey, wait a minute, I thought I was Bob Hope's and Henry Kissinger's mind-controlled slave! Why, that hussy!
The needy don't stop being needy just because you're down to your last million. So, where are you giving that you'd encourage others to give to?
R. Morgan Gould (slap a "III" on him and he sounds really rich) writes:
Craig from CPBarnum recommends www.poundhounds.org
Don Feith writes about our article maintaining there are two forms of information on the Web, databases and jokes.
When I read your piece "The Database and the Joke", I thought you were going to tell the story of how the internet was built by nerds passing jokes around the world in rec.humor and rec.humor.funny.
These were probably the most active news groups on usenet, prior to the WWW. Rec.humor was doing about 5,000 jokes/day.
This raises an interesting question. What is the world's population of jokes? Not one-liners used by comedians, but jokes passed from one person to another, prefaced by something like "Hey, wanna hear a joke?" I hear maybe a handful of jokes a week — it's actually fewer than that, but I don't want you to think I'm not a social butterfly. Say 2.5 a week, times 52, times a biblical three score and ten, comes out to 5,200 jokes in a lifetime. So, you could get your lifetime quota of jokes just by reading rec.humor for one day, and never have to listen to another salesguy telling you the funny one about the guy with the fax up his wazoo.
Dan Kalikow responds to our thought that the story about Werner von Braun suing Tom Lehrer is an urban myth:
I certainly think so. The standard answer he [Lehrer] gives, to my recollection, is that when Henry Kissinger got the Nobel Peace Prize... oh why bother remembering anything anymore. Just http://www.google.com/search?q=lehrer+nobel+kissinger+prize&btnG=Google+Search . QED.
Dan goes on to berate me about the QuickTopic discussion I started looking for Bushistic logical lapses:
Finally, anent http://www.quicktopic.com/7/H/y3Yi7TYzbFFz — things have come to a sorry pass when the guy who starts a Topic doesn't subscribe to it. Hermph. And here I just subscribed, hoping to get a more regular fix of anti-shrubya-isms than you are delivering via JOHO.
I did forget to subscribe for email delivery of all contributions to the board. But, in this case, subscribing or not subscribing works out to the same number of messages being delivered. You can do the math yourselves.
Paul Waterhouse is even more pessimistic about saving bulletin board's messages in the absence of a threading standard such as one we proposed. (If you're interested in helping to fashion the standard, take a look at http://www.quicktopic.com/7/H/rhSrjkWgjnvRq)
This is hardly a new problem. It appeared with BBS's.
Actually 90% of the data online today is hardly likely to last more that five years (at most) unless technology gets it's act together.
Not even optical systems have a shelf life longer than a decade.
And bear in mind that in the span of 3 years data storage formats and methodologies may well have changed completely.
The moral is: whatever you create, on-line or on your computer if you want it to last copy it often and to at least two different media - one of them transportable.
Do not rely on backup systems and software. Vendors of these do not guarantee long life.
Every 18 months copy your archive data to a different media. This ensures that you stay within the compatibility window and it ensures that your old media still works.
For example, within the next 18 months (towards the end of that period to allow for first generation fixes) go DVD if you are serious about personal archival.
Business note: The first fully functional data archival service that guarantees continuity for retail markets (just ordinary folks) will make more money than MS in half the time.
And as a final passing whack at the whole internet and PC industry: neither computers nor web services OF ANY KIND come with the built in ability to backup or protect your data. This is possibly the biggest bug in today's software and hardware market.
Oh yeah, if you have a zip drive you may as well have saved your money and flushed your data into the loo ...
Will someone ask Andy Clark what to do when the scaffolding keeps getting changed from underneath us?
The ever-euphonious Christel van der Boom writes about our snarky comments about PR folks (The Three Strikes Rule for PR):
...For years I thought it was only Dutch PR people who don't get it. But it seems to be a universal phenomenon. Unfortunately I know you are right. A lot of people in PR go about the way you describe. Do they lack empathy? Because otherwise it would be easy to imagine what an editor would want from them (and what not). Besides lacking this basic skill, I wonder if they realize what the actual purpose of PR is. They probably don't even know what the P and the R stand for... Sometimes I feel that PR is more often abused for marketing than used for its true purpose: to build and maintain relationships with the public (these days also know as stake holders).
The person I wrote about suffers, I believe, from an advanced case of Secrecy, part of a worldview that says that what the company is doing is so incredibly important that it has enemies who can't wait to betray them. Even if Andy Grove is right that "only the paranoid survive," you don't want to make them the head of your PR department.
Ken Freed comments on the same article:
A related example: A man recently sent a 42 kb email about why I must publish his essays. He replied angrily to my brief emailed rejection slip advising shorter query letters. Should have ignored him altogether, as likely did most others, but I was trying to help. Go figure.
Imagine someone rude enough to send a 42KB email! (Um, except, unless of course the email was in fact a zine, course.) This is another example of what Christel thinks of as a lack of empathy: your correspondent doesn't have the slightest idea of how such as massive missive will seem to its recipient. (Wait, this also doesn't apply to zines, right?)
John Peters comments on my saying that "increasingly trade publishing is at its worst: a bottomline exercise in brand name merchandising" :
The superfluous word is "trade."
I've been out-cynicked!
Rich Persaud has a semi-solution for those of us desperate to Save Our Threads:
...a quick-and-dirty solution is to bookmark the board index using IE, then select "Make page available offline". You can then specify the link depth (e.g. 2) and IE will crawl the site and pull all images, HTML into your "Temporary Internet Files" folder. Caveat: too-deep crawling can become recursive. The size of IE's "offline cache" is controlled via Tools-Internet Options-Temporary Internet Files-Settings. Best to empty the cache, synchronize the offline pages, then backup the cache. This isn't as nice as the spider->Access solution, but it will work for future emergencies (sans friendly neighbourhood spider),
I once knew this, but then couldn't find the "Make page available offline" option. Rich wrote back and pointed out that it's on the Favorites menu. Well, obviously!
Peter Mcaveney draws a different lesson from my complaints about the lack of a threading standard:
No, no, noooo ... Dave, it's time to learn how to write a computer program, dude.
There must be some piece of software out there which will spider the site for you and copy it to another location.
There may be, but we still need to solve this through a data standard, not through applications.
As for writing computer programs, you'd be amazed at how much time I spend writing programs to automate tasks that occupy far less time than it takes to write the programs to replace them. (Re-read that sentence and it will make sense.) I just spent probably 12 hours *re*-writing the program that lets me assemble a rough draft of JOHO out of the messages you send me because, although the initial version works fine, I thought of a more "elegant" way of writing the program. (BTW, if you want to know why Visual Basic's TreeView control totally SUCKS THE HAIRY BIRD, please send me a plugged nickel. Aaaaarrrrgggghhh. And please spare me the condescending remarks about VB. Thanks.)
Jonathan Vinson writes:
I was going to point out that the NNTP protocol and the "References" header works quite well for threading messages, but someone already beat me to the punch on the QuickTopic board. However, what they didn't mention was that this has already been incorporated into a mail reader in use by lots of computer geeks.
The emacs-based news reader, Gnus, has been undergoing constant revision and improvements. For the last six or seven years, I have been using it to read both mail and news. It automatically inserts the references header for messages I send from it, so any compatible mail reader would ostensibly be able to thread messages properly. Of course, that pretty much limits the feature to other emacs users, but it does work just fine. It's particularly useful for things like mailing lists, as you probably already know.
The question of archiving the thread is then a matter of archiving the individual articles, much like one would need to do for a Usenet newsgroup or a mailing list.
And yes, emacs has been packaged for those of us stuck on Wintel machines. I've been using this for nearly as long as I have been using Gnus for mail and news.
I used to work in a place that made a religion of emacs. The sophisticated programming and collaborative environments were stitched together with emacs extensions. In fact, the company ended up deciding on using Lisp as the extension language to its own products (and I ended up writing a book about programming documents in Lisp that catapulted onto the all-time Worst Sellers list). In short, I have seen the power of emacs and I believe. Nevertheless, as you point out, packaging up threads for other emacs users doesn't address the bigger issue: creating an application-independent standard for saving threads.
I wrote in a previous issue: "I bought a sandwich today for $6.50. Do you know how much good I could have done with that $6.50? And the pathetic thing is that there's no justification. I should have foregone the sandwich and added $6.50 to our charitable donations." Bill Spornitz replies that US$6.50 is about $10 in Canadian "dollars," and
CA$10 will buy about 35 lb. (almost 16 kg) of fine Manitoba Potatoes these potatoes, in soups and gruels, should feed a family of five, for one prairie month. at the end of that month, when the moon is full that family will never want to eat potatoes again, provided enough garlic and onions.
So, if I want the Canadian family to have garlic and onions, I should have gotten a side salad with my sandwich? Or am I missing the point?
Turbulent "One Toke Over The Line" Velvet began his correspondence by referring to an issue from a year ago that ran the Spanish translation of Cluetrain through two different automatic translators, both of which translated "Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy" as "Hiper-I connect undermine to the hierarchies." Turby wants me to turn this phrase into a T-shirt or bumpersticker. He then adds:
1. Stop it with the open source already! If the Church of Scientology invented a car that ran on water, it would still be the Church of Scientology. See what I mean?
2. Something in my basement smells. I thought it was coming from the sink in the utility room but I'm not sure now. This is very distressing because I have out of town guests arriving tomorrow and it stinks down here! Do you have any advice?
1. The analogy should be to Birkenstocks inventing a car that runs on water. Anyway, Open Source is a good thing, at least sometimes, whereas Scientologists will always be sharing a religion with Tom Cruise.
2. Have you considered applying the same technique used in noise-cancelling headphones? Simply dip your guests in the exact opposite of the smell in your basement and no one will be the wiser.
Grant Whittle writes with regard to our saying some damn thing or other:
You know what I'd like to see: a new metatag which would allow webpage authors to enter relevant Open Directory or Yahoo categories for self-categorization. That way the respective directories could supplement their human-edited directories with simple metatag search which would locate all of the relevant self-categorized pages. As an Open Directory volunteer editor, I posted this idea in their editor forum and essentially got "flamed" for the idea. However, I still think the idea has merit.
I completely agree. In fact, I want a whole set of metatags. (At one point I proposed calling this "dogtags," but no one was listening.) Join the Good Ideas Rejected Ignominiously Club, my friend.
Mark Hurst, of www.CreativeGood.com, responds to my cri du coeur: "...all I really want is a full-power search engine that lets me search every which way from Sunday and that doesn't want to take over my life, hard drive and desktop."
mac os9 + sherlock + good filing practices = about 80% of this.
Oh, I'm not falling for any of your cult's subtle conversion techniques! I'm on to you buddy-boy!
By the way, Mark has moved his zine, http://www.goodexperience.com/, onto an irregular schedule. His current issue points to some sites he think actually provide customers with good experiences.
Susan Scherer agrees with our saying that markets are conversations.
We've all been in social situations where we were the unwilling partner of the converspammer - the soliloquist who doesn't need a listener so much as a target. Despite the recipient's glazed eyes, yawns or furtive attempts to leave the building, (s)he continues droning on about something terminally boring, or incomprehensible or both. Yes, I know that one can't be victimized without consent, but most of us (unlike dear Mr. Locke)haven't turned rudeness into an art form. We may escape, but nowhere near soon enough.
My point is that each of us has at least one subject on which we become the aforementioned. Despite our enthusiasm for the subject, others are often bored shitless. It's our responsibility to remember that conversations go two ways and read signals to make we're sending a message that someone is interested in hearing. If not, find someone who is, change your delivery or just shut up. If we don't set the example in real life, we only continue to encourage the clueless.
I'm done now.
Huh? Sorry, I must have dozed off ... Nah! Just going for the cheap laff. (So what else is new?) I like "converspammer," although we could probably shorten the definition to "a man."
Zimran Ahmed begins his subscription to JOHO just the way we like it: mightily PO'ed:
for someone who talks about markets being conversations etc., you sure have a tone-deaf registration process. it's not much good you asking for nothing more than an email address but then putting your subscribers through the Topica 3rd degree (let's see, zipcode, phone number, parent's phone number, color of hair, etc...)
And after going through that, to have to crawl through 3 screens of ads, looking carefully to make sure they haven't "opt-ed" you into something, and then having to hit "cancel" to actually register!
You can register on my home page without supplying any information other than your email address: www.hyperorg.com/forms/admin. You can register at Topica.com without filling in any of the extraneous information; they don't make it obvious that you only need to register if you want extra services on their site. But, heck, Topica does a great job for JOHO and does it for free. Thank you, Topica. And I know Zimran in his heart thanks you also.
Donna Berry writes:
I understand the importance of voice, and I agree that the Internet makes real conversations possible in a way that they have not been possible before. But the experience is disembodied. This is not so unusual—the same is true of letters & the telephone ("reach out and touch someone" — just what you *can't* do over the phone). But because the Internet does feel like a place (telephone conversations take place in time, not space, as we think of it) I have the nagging feeling that online conversations (and relationships) are threatening to replace face-to-face relationships and conversations—at least for some of us some (too much) of the time. A conversation/relationship on the Internet is so appealing in part because it is so easy to get out of. Nobody knows where I live. Other relationships are a lot messier to get out of or to limit so they don't make me uncomfortable. And since I often find that I learn most about important stuff when "Oh shit, there is no way out of this except through it!" I am suspicious of "places" like the Internet which offer some kinds of authenticity, while also offering an easy out if things get sticky. (Now, in fact, I have almost no time to browse, and don't frequent chat rooms, but I have seen some marriages go through some tough times over online time, and some kids sort of disappear into the online world.) This is surely not an original thought—you and others have probably written about it lots, and I just missed it — where do I go to find this discussion?
Yes, it does seem like the purpose of space is to make it hard for people to get together, and to make it hard for people who are together to get apart. So on the Web, we can vanish into the landscape, never to be seen again. The (or at least "a") question is whether being freed from the constraints of space enables us to be more authentic or less authentic. Suppose the self is an artifact of the inconvenience of space. Put differently for those uncomfortable with the notion of authenticity, what will virtue look like on the Web?
Bob Bob Filipczak has an idea:
As I was sitting in the coffee shop this morning, I thought to myself, "Well, the net is going to be slow today," because of this code red virus. It was really bad yesterday and I figure it will be bad again today. Then it occurred to me that these viruses that sweep through from time to time are a lot like weather. They aren't really controllable, they slow things down to a crawl and they make it difficult to navigate and get work done. And coming from Minnesota, where snowstorms can gobble up hours of time getting to and from work, the analogy seemed particularly apt. Don't know what else to say about that, but I felt philosophical, so I thought I'd bounce this off you.
"Virus" is one of those truly apt coinages. But there's something to be said for thinking about their effects on the global computing environment as a type of weather. Or maybe a type of mood. "The Internet's a little depressed today."
Gary Turner pops back with a thought:
I had another good bad idea.....if your website generates user specific content or requires a user to login you should offer a password generation service which contains subliminal instructions like
USER Garyturner99 PASS 1W1LL8UYN0W
This is guaranteed to generate explosive sales growth.
Thanks for this minD-blowing tactic, yoU eMarkaBly adroIt thinker, my DEAr dear friend.
Mad Magazine has run a feature that connects two dissimilar people or events through a series of tangential relationships. Here are a couple of examples of our own to give you the idea:
Linux to Windows:
Linux is created by the Open Source Movement...
... A leader of that movement is Eric Raymond who is a gun nut ...
... as is Charleton Heston who supported George Bush...
... who is from Dallas where JFK was shot through the Book Depository's ...
... open windows.
Electronic Freedom Foundation to the KKK:
The EFF has John Perry Barlow on its board...
... who used to write for The Grateful Dead...
... whose guitarist was Jerry Garcia ...
... whose graphic designs have been turned into neckties...
... sold in department stores ...
... that also sell sheets ...
... worn by the KKK.
So, here's the contest. Come up with the fewest (or cleverest) steps to link the following:
Papal Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on birth control (1968)
Maps (i.e., www.mapquest.com, et al.)
Sun (Myung Moon)
To keep it honest, there have to be at least three links. Otherwise you could link any two things by saying they both exist on earth, you damn dirty cheaters!
Morbus Iff, who runs a truly odd site (www.disobey.com) has a site called "devilshat.com." When I pointed out that this can go on our list of ambiguous domain names, he suggested two more:
Keith Watson brings us an emoticon:
Although this isn't original, one I've seen before and liked is ~)
[no it's NOT a smiley face!!], it's supposed to be a tongue in cheek and means "If you believe this, then I've got this bridge across the Hudson in New York I'm looking to sell real cheap!"
Jacky Eacott contributes some meaningful punctuation and symbols:
& Quiet: Zen at work
= Parallel lives/worlds/lines etc etc
~ Year of the Snake
^ It never rains but it pours
ç Pogoing has never been easier
µ Quiet: one-legged juggler performing
Ah, the delights of the extended character set!
And so I bid adieu for now to the set of extended characters known as JOHO readers. Enjoy the rest of your summer (and believe me, rest is the joy in summer).
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