For those who need to understand how the Web is transforming the way businesses work, yada yada yada
|Issue: March 20, 2000
Author/Editor: David Weinberger
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.
Current Personal Crisis: 20+ years as a vegetarian and the guy who steals my credit card orders $6,000 worth of chicken parts: proof that the most powerful force in the universe is Irony.
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com
Contact information: Click here.
One-Question Interview: Naomi Klein: The author
of No Logo tells us how the Web is enabling the anti-brand movement
It's a JOHO World After All
Oy veh, there's so much going on that it's hard to know where to begin. The Cluetrain Manifesto (have I mentioned this book before) is doing incredibly well, climbing business bestseller lists and spawning action figures and Carvel ice cream cake illustrations.
Here are a couple of places you might find interesting. First, read all the way to the end of Jeff Bezos's open letter on patents:
Next, you can watch a streaming video of two of us authors at:
And, Upside excerpted my chapter on the hyperlinked organization:
Oh, there's plenty more. But enough about me. (Or is it too late for a sincere show of false modesty?)
Naomi Klein's book, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, is an unabashed piece of partisan writing about how global brands are assaulting human decency. It's full of insight, wit and passion. The last half of the book reports on the worldwide, grassroots movement to stop global brands and the exploitative practices that produce them. We asked Naomi how the Web is affecting the movement.
The first time I realized the power of the Internet was back in 1996 when I did a search on the word "Nike" and ended up at the "nikesucks.com" page before finding Nike's official site. The same thing happened when I searched on "Shell" and "McDonald's" and "The Gap." It's the kind of thing that doesn't happen much these days, with virtually all the search engines selling priority to the brands, but in that instant, I understood the power of this medium: some kid looking for the latest Air Jordan models could find himself reading about Vietnamese sweatshops entirely inadvertently.
Even if that kind of extreme democracy only lasted a short while, the Internet leveled the communication playing field between brands and consumers. Outside in the real world, corporate messages are more powerful and more forceful than anything an individual or a small campaign group can hope to muster, but on line, individuals and corporations can at times speak with equal force.
I also think that global brands have spawned a new kind of brand-based activism uniquely suited to the Net: activists and consumers around the word are using the common language that global branding provides to tell each other the truth behind the marketing. Where a previous generation of activists followed the money, these kids are following the logo, with the help of the Net, wherever it leads. That means that Gap sweater-folders at the mall know all about Gap seamstresses in the maquiladoras; it means that a worker trying to unionize his McDonald's can communicate with a farmer in France protesting "McDonaldization" and with peasants in India fighting genetic engineering of foods. The brand provides the political infrastructure for Internet age activism.
In fact, there's a case to be made that brands are the Anti-Web one-way broadcasting that attempts to strangle conversation before it begins by implanting a simple message in the minds of the undifferentiated masses, a message that lacks even a soupçon of truth, insight or humor.
But the real reason we asked Ms. Klein to comment was so that we could announce that JOHO is proud to be the first to offer the full line of Naomi! brand demonstration-wear, including Naomi! BillyBounce Headgear, Naomi! camouflage jackets with convenient CopGrab DragHandles, and Naomi! the cologne with just a hint of mace. All we need is a jingle and an ad agency and we're on our way!
From a conversation with a sympathetic journalist writing about The Cluetrain for an HR magazine:
Q: Ok, so there are all these conversations occurring all over the company, beneath the official radar, and that's where the real work of the company is happening. Ok. So, what advice do you have for managers? How can they manage these conversations, get 'em talking about what they want?
The Net is throwing us not only into new conversations but into new ways of conversing. This makes life confusing squared: we're exposed not only to topics we would never have imagined some of which actually turn out to be worth our while but to new rhythms and expectations of conversation itself.
Email in general has its own unwritten rules. You can tell when someone's new to the form: the message is too long, too polite, too much like a memo. But each interchange of email also sets its own sub-expectations. How funny is it? How many typos are allowed? What's the permitted level of profanity? How far off topic can you go before it counts as a digression?
The same is true of mailing lists and discussion groups, except even more so. Inevitably, such discussions quickly generate threads about the unwritten rules of the discussion. For example, a few months ago we started up a discussion of The Cluetrain Manifesto at www.topica.com/lists/cluetrain. Almost instantly threads emerged taking people to task for being off topic, only to be told that the off-topic topics were in fact the most on-topic topics. And, a few contributors were chastised for quoting too much of the previous thread, heaven forfend! That, of course, generated discussion about the chastising, etc. This is all part of the coming to agreement about the discussion ethos.
Conversations, no matter what the medium, represent a tacitly negotiated sharing of contexts. Thus, to enter them one must first learn to listen. Otherwise, you run the risk of stomping in wearing big ol' waders and stepping on the feet of people engaged in an improvised tap dance.
This holds for the conversations going on among the employees in a company. The Net has provided the means by which people who don't know one another well can find themselves in conversations of every type. These conversations are the lifeblood of your organization. Thinking you can channel them nay, thinking you can even *enter* them without first learning to listen can be fatal.
Not to mention the conversations going on among your customers about you, your products, your people. You run the risk of sounding like a ham-fisted corporate a-hole if you don't learn to listen. It's hard to do because companies generally think that they're the authorities about their own products and thus get to speak in the voice used for regal proclamations. Nope. Not only are your markets are now smarter than you, but they don't even expect you to be the center of the conversation. This is very hard for companies to learn because they're so used to speaking in the booming voice of broadcast media. But now that we can talk with one another, we only have conversations that are interesting to us. So, learn to shut up for awhile until you can hear the murmur of the conversations around you. Then shut up some more while you lurk, listen and learn.
[A new, open discussion of cluetrain topics has begun at: http://www.planetit.com/resources/roundtables.]
XML is the most fabulous standard since the Universal Flavor System expanded Pantone's trademark empire from all the known colors to most of the major flavors including licorice, chicken, the aftertaste of spoiled pistachios and Type O human blood. But there's just one small problem: XML is a standard for writing standards and if those standards don't agree, then we've balkanized data rather than united it.
XML allows authors and data designers to create their own set of tags, so we're not stuck with the set recognized by HTML browsers. To do so, you create a document type definition (DTD) that lays out the acceptable tags (and their structure) for a particular type of document or other data container. So, an aircraft maintenance manual may have one set of tags while a record of an electronic commerce transaction may have a different one. The problem occurs when two aircraft manufacturers create different DTDs for the same type of object, or when a merchant and its suppliers have different tag sets for encoding transaction data that they're trying to share.
There are only two ways to handle this problem, unless you count killing everyone who disagrees with you. Either you agree with your partners on an industry-wide DTD or you come up with a way to translate one tag set into another. Clearly, the first alternative is preferable, but just as clearly there are going to be times when it just ain't gonna happen.
Enter XSLT, Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations, which was recommended for general use by the W3C in November. It presents a standard way to map tag sets to one another and even to handle two differing tree structures. XSLT can also be used to convert an XML document into HTML for display in a browser, so the tag in the aircraft document called "Section_Heading" can be translated into an H2 (or whatever) when the browser goes to put it up on screen.
XSLT is designed to work with XSL (Extensible Stylesheet Language) that lets an author or designer specify the look of XML elements (e.g., "warning" tags ought to be as bold and red as a lobster crawling out of a pot and taking hostages). Unfortunately, the browsers don't all support XSL so publishers are hesitant to support it. And so the wheel of lost opportunity endlessly turns...
For more information on XSLT:
A good article, with links:
The pod people are taking over. The latest victim: PC/Computing which used to be a decent end-user magazine and now is Yet Another Business Rag with articles on how to increase your ROI by cheating on your spreadsheets and 15 ways to make your Office documents really boring.
No kidding, here's what the March issue's cover proudly proclaims:
Privacy: What Every Business Needs to Know
- Why you should snoop on your employees
- When it's ok to spy on your customers
- How today's technology makes it easy
How depressing. I mean, where can you go from there? What should we expect in future issues?
- Using your computer to cop cyber-feels - That hot new secretary will never
- How to use avatars to keep your management team all white, all male
- Marking your territory - Putting the P back into PC
Mini-bogus contest: Predict the PC/Computing covers. Go ahead, depress us all!
PC Magazine (Feb. 22) offers a side bar titled "8 Secrets of a Winning E-Mail Newsletter." We decided to see how JOHO does. And to make this all scientific like, we compared it to a message from our Junk folder from one of our favorite correspondents, [email protected] (That the message's subject line is "Need Extra Cash During The Holiday Season" is interesting since the message arrived on February 20, not noted for its festive nature.) Here's the entire message:
Need Extra Cash During The Holiday Season? Sell 3 easy products in your spare time and enjoy Dental/Vision and Pharmacy Benefits! Great for Sales Professionals, MLM'ers, Business Owners, Insurance Salesmen, Homakers! Call Today For More Information and join a company which has experienced 10,000% growth since 1991 Call Kurt at 1-888-522-7585. Call Now!! P.S. You can do this full time and earn serious cash!!
|"Keep it brief. ... Short newsletters of four screens of fewer get opened and read more often."||Number of screens in an average issue of JOHO: 896. You do the math. -5||Concise, pithy, to the point. 10|
|"Don't be a tease. Saving details for the Web site is fine, but the e-mail has to provide value as well..."||Online version of JOHO includes "Current crisis" feature and unedited version of articles that would be better off edited. 10||*All* the value is in the email. 10|
|"Write for scannability. This is the Internet Age. Everyone's busy. Give it to them straight and quick."||Email version contains handy table of contents. But it's a bit of a tease (see rule #2). 3||Couldn't be straighter or quicker. 10|
|"Format for scannability. Set margins at 70 characters of fewer to avoid awkward line wrapping. Use ever trick in the book caps, asterisks, dashes, white space to se items apart."||Margins set at a fashionable 52. But 10-30 "UNWRAP the URL" msgs in every issue. Also, no caps, dashes and white space, but asterisks. 4||Not much room for technique in a one paragraph letter, but notice the creative use of caps. 10|
|"Hurl the URL. For each item and ad, include the relevant URL."||Yeah, sure, but none are usable because rule #4 requires me to wrap them, thus catching me in a logical cleft stick from which there is no escape. 5||No URLs apply. Prominent use of 800 number, though. 9|
|"Embed the commerce. Surround ads and offers with relevant content."||Omigod, I forgot the ads! 0||All ad all the time. Bingo! 10|
|"Refine the content formula. Give time-sensitive information ... so readers will want to open your newsletter today. Include reference information ... so they'll save your e-mail for tomorrow. Add incentives (contests ...) to appeal to their self interest."||The one time I include time-sensitive information about Lotus Raven I get it wrong and am slammed three ways from Sunday. We're sticking with obsolete news and stale ideas from now on! 4||
Act today! How much more time-sensitive can you get? 10
|"Remember: Headlines matter. Always write a new headline for each issue and make it stand out."||Here's JOHO's headline: "JOHO" 0||"Need Extra Cash During The Holiday Season" - Brilliant! (Minus 1 point for no question mark, and minus another for not using a series of 5 exclamation points.) 8|
|TOTAL (out of 80):||
Brian Millar of Myrtle begins a campaign:
I note that the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] needs only 5 citations of a word for it to make it into the lexicon. And they're going online in March.
At Myrtle we have been amusing ourselves by inventing a new tense. This will cover annoyances like "The former Yugoslavia", "The artist formally known as Prince" and "Former human Kevin Warwick".
Thanks to nominative flux remover (our tense), the prefix ix- neatly makes these ix-Yugoslavia, ixPrince and ixhuman. Until we can think of a new word for them.
(this also gives postmodernism a place to move on to, as it becomes ixpostmodern)
So all it would take would be another 3 or 4 instances of the tense... ideally in different media.. and it's official! there forever.
just visit http://oed.com/public/readers/submitform.htm
and let's fuck up the language once and for all
Happy to help, Brian. We ix-need this tense (well, it's not really a tense, but let's not get all anal about it) like ix-Howard ix-Huges needed a toenail clipper.
Brian has another idea. Brian seems to have many ideas.
I am currently working on a series of Great Literature as Powerpoint Documents for Busy Suits, complete with cheesy clip art. Wuthering Heights lends itself well to org charts, The Comedy of Errors to meeting timetables with little handshake icons.
What a great idea! Moby Dick as a Venn diagram! The Tibetan Book of the Dead as those clip art arrows in a circle! JOHO as a wipe between slides! Yes, I say, and yes and yes...
By the way, the Myrtle site (which is very funny in itself) has a link to The Ad Graveyard that runs ads clients didn't have the guts to run: http://www.zeldman.com/ad.html
We have passed through the next major Y2K barrier without a hiccup: international computing was not knocked by a loop because this is the one century in four that has a leap year. Now we approach the next and last threat to life on the planet: Y2DW day, my birthday. Only a handful of computers are set to even notice this day, and I own two-thirds of them.
In order to avoid a panic in the stores as people buy me presents at the last minute, I'll only say I'm a Scorpio. And a size 16 on a good day.
Quaker Oats, which until recently had the single ugliest page on the Web, has upgraded its site. Apparently, they went straight for the Delusional Template when creating their mission statement, which you can read at http://www.quakeroats.com/about/goal.html
To be the undisputed leader in the food and beverage industry. We intend to do this by making Quaker a winning company—a place where talented people have opportunities and are rewarded for contributing to an exciting, profitable growth story. Winning means that our products will be those for which consumers hunger and thirst. Winning also means that we outpace our competitive set with consistently strong financial results.
So what products are featured on the home page of the undisputed food and beverage leader? Rice-a- Roni, Gatorade, Fruit & Oatmeal bars and Cap'n Crunch. Oh, yes, that's the line-up we need for world domination in foods and beverages. And, by the way, it's certainly making Quakers around the world proud.
The Word 2000 Word spellchecker looks at words to see if they are two words run on. Excellent! It actually notices that when you wrote "Microsoftsucks," you actually meant to say "Microsoft sucks." (Alas, it doesn't recommend "Microsoft blows goats" as an alternative. We'll have to wait for the DoJ ruling before that'll happen.) But type in "SuperBowl." Not only doesn't Word recognize it, but its lead suggestion is "Superb Owl." Ah, don't we all look forward to Superb Owl Sunday?
We are hereby accepting your own discoveries...
Larry Fitzpatrick points us to Volume 2, Issue 4 of The Internet Security Conference Newsletter, "Insight." http://tisc.corecom.com/insight.html. Here's an excerpt from the summary of one of the articles:
How Search Engines Can Be Used To Locate Millions Of Vulnerable Web Sites
Perfecto Technologies' Black Watch Labs
Search engines have been used to locate vulnerable Web sites since they were invented. However, most people are unaware that millions of sites are exposed. Using simple queries, a hacker is able to locate those millions of vulnerable sites by searching for "signatures" of application-level attacks.
Here are a few examples (use www.infoseek.com):
Search for "link:file" to locate CGIs that accept file names as a parameter (431,794 matches).
To say any more would be to make us a party to the crime. Ah, something new to worry about. Thanks a whole heck of a lot, Larry!
Jim Montgomery recommends for the "aging hippie in you":
This page contains the top secret instructions that Pentagon is afraid will fall into enemy hands. Yes, it's a recipe for making your own lava lamp.
Jeremy Shapiro (I think!) sends along an address where you can opt out of having your privacy invaded by DoubleClick, the scruple-challenged Web ad company:
By the way, to unsubscribe from JOHO, simply send a message with the word "Unsubscribe" to everyone on the list. It's common web courtesy to let everyone know about these things.
I interviewed Jock Gill, former Internet advisor to the Clinton Whitehouse and currently a principal in a company trying to bring electrical power and Net access to the remote places of the earth. He talks about bringing power to isolated villages around the world:
James Sherrett lets us know that he's going to be writing a column every Monday for a financial information site called, rather ominously, Cassandra's Revenge:
Jeri Coates points us to http://www.ecmshow.co.uk/
I just had to see a Web site about a seminar totally devoted to managing us awkward little customers after I got a letter at work from the Marketing Manager saying that I needed to get my company "on the Customer Relationship Management adoption curve".... I didn't realise that; silly me! ... [T]he bash around the site I had unearthed such gems as Oracle doing a presentation on "Customer in a Box". Guess we across the pond are in for more and more of these treats as we try to catch-up with the good ol' US of A.
Jeri, it's all part of a hoary practical joke we fun-loving Americans like to play on one another. You see, you call up the local tobacco store and ask "Excuse me, do you have Customer-in-a-Box? You do? Well, don't you think you better let him out?!" Much hilarity ensues.
Chip, who also goes by the name of John and Maura, points us to an idiosyncratic quotes page http://www.catnmoose.com/quotes.shtml:
The page runs the gamut from Homer Simpson "Facts are meaningless. You can use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true." to Oscar Wilde: "Education is an admirable thing, but it is as well to remember that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."; from presidents: "I may not know much but I do know the difference between chicken salad and chicken sh-t"(Lyndon B. Johnson) to the practical: "The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese." (author unknown)...
I myself enjoyed it some stale quotes but many ones new to me. For example: "There are no poisonous substances, only incorrect doses" Paracelsus, 1536. Sounds like he's been reading JOHO.
Middle World ResourcesA Compendium of Resources
Remember Marlon Brando in The Wild One, back before he and his hog were in a statistically dead heat in terms of freestanding poundage? Can you imagine him engaging in a consultative, collaborative management environment? At Harley-Davidson Motor, they're apparently more interested in Brando's NY roommate during the Early Years: Wally Cox.
According to CIO (Feb. 15, Meredith Levinson), HDM wanted to get its corporate structure more in line with the values of its users. Bizarrely, rather than thinking that this means dissenters should be stomped, they decided to tear down the hierarchical structure in the IT shop. Now they have three CIOs, each overseeing one of three overlapping circles: manufacturing, sales and support. Although two of them report to the third, they do not consider the relationship hierarchical: the über-manager ties into the rest of the organization, but the three of them work independently and collaboratively as appropriate. Each division has its own steering committee made up of the managers who are going to have to implement what the committee decides on.
This is a result of a deliberate decision to move to a "distributed leadership" model that spreads responsibilities across groups. This requires them to respect differences, which they claim is the cornerstone of their success just as with the Hells Angels who love differences because otherwise they wouldn't have anyone to beat up.
One startling finding: HDM has discovered that people tend to work collaboratively until they're promoted. Well, pop me a wheelie, who would ever have thunk it?
Q: Is Microsoft Windows 2000 a cool tool or a huge pain in the butt?
I installed W2K onto my kids' machine because every time I'd come back from a trip, the kids would be wiping their runny noses, mewling about how the computer crashed and wiped out their homework. Oh, boohoo! Just wait until you get old enough for prostate exams. So, I reformatted the hard drives (that'll teach those kids to back up!) and did a clean install of W2K.
Of the 67,000 known bugs in W2K (no joke), I experienced 72% of them in the first hour. The computer couldn't find the CD. When it found the CD, it couldn't find the setup script. When it found the setup script, it told me that my OS needed to be Win 98, which the "ver" command said it was.
After Setup figured out where it was and set to work, things went well. At first. The Plug 'n Prey worked remarkably well. It even found my home network and made it easy for me to configure it. Woohoo! But then, all hell broke loose: The machine froze after running a few minutes. A couple of reboots and it actually decided to accept keystrokes.
Things have settled down. The machine seems not to be crashing more than Win98 did. And the W2K UI is useable by someone trained on Windows, not NT. Many of the games the kids loved don't run on the new system, and you have to move to a prior version of AOL to get it to work (or move to the AOL version 5 beta that rewrites 2000 Windows files and is about as uninstallable as a chest tattoo of the Hesperus). Oh, and the "Add Hardware" dialogue box still shows up blank with unformatted text running into the margin and a close button that is a no-op. But over all, it's been a learning experience: I learned that rebooting is all part of the rhythm of life. And my kids learned that Daddy can go for ten hours saying nothing but "Shit!"
I heard from three, count 'em three, Lotus guys telling me my comments about Lotus Raven were wrong wrong wrong when I said that this new KM product depends upon users filling in profiles. For example, Scott Eliot writes:
Looks like someone slipped you some bad shit on what Raven is and does. I am the product manager for Raven and we have a mantra given to us by a customer that goes "If you add another minute to my day you're not helping me out, you're just getting in my way". KM is supposed to help, right? Not give me a bunch of new tasks. Filling out profile sheets qualifies as one of those empty and unreliable tasks. With Raven we look at all published documents associated with an author and calculate "affinity trends" or strong themes that seem to represent an individual's interests. Periodically the user is sent an email with a list of what's been discovered and they select the ones that should be placed into their profile. This is more desirable as we'd all rather take a multiple choice test than an essay test. Plus it's easier to edit from your actions (which speak louder than words) than create from anew.
A lesser person would point the finger of blame at the PC Week article that gave me the erroneous information, but I'm too big for that. Instead, I blame RageBoy (www.rageboy.com/index2.html), the Scourge of JOHO. And my poor dead mother. Yeah, you heard me.
Steve Telleen, in the course of a discussion of last issue's article on ClearType, writes:
...I noticed that you control the fonts on your newsletter. I guess you don't like my preferences. A little of the traditional marketing control freak habits peeking through?
Control freak? Was James Joyce a control freak because he micromanaged the typography of Ulysses? Was Nixon a control freak because he taped all the conversations in his office? Was OJ Simpson a control freak because he butchered his wife and a local waiter? No, each of us, in his own way, is expressing himself freely. In short: Sure you can control my type size when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.
And would a control freak run the following reply to last issue's article on Why Email Is Good, received from Lisa Maxon, cool person extraordinaire?
i like that email allows you to communicate throughout the world without any linguistical handsprings....i like that i can communicate with people from another country instantly and when they use their own name i'm not certain of their gender. you ever get those emails signed "peace! baba ganoush" and you can't determine where they live, their gender or if english is a second language (unless it's evident).what i like most is being free of conventions. i think the more self-expressed people are, the happier they tend to be. nothing is worse than carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and not being able to unload it. i liken this situation to a hard drive. the more information you store on the hard drive, the longer it takes to pull up the relevant data, the slower the system works, the less satisfied the user is, and you begin thinking...i've got to get a new computer. when you have a clear hard drive the system hums along and your data is a click or two away from wherever you are...ah bliss is a big hard drive with little data/info crowding the space. so if people were hard drives, some people would have a history file that they'll never want purged. i think purging is great. it leaves more operating room and more space to store what your really want.
Well, who doesn't like a good purge now and then? In fact, I purged this morning and I feel like a million bucks.
In the previous issue, I confessed confusion about a British newspaper twittering about "nub" as if it were close to a dirty word. Dave Phelan explains:
Knob. It's a mild English profanity for penis. Goes quite nicely with the opposing political parties verbal slip - and you must not underestimate the school-boy humour quotient of British journalists...
So *that's* why our British house guests choked on their bangers when I said that I'd just be upstairs purging my nub! Omigod, I'm so embarrassed!
Michael O'Connor Clarke takes ownership of the anecdote about my bartering consulting services for CDs:
I’m grateful to you for being so discreet, of course, but really wouldn’t have objected to you revealing the other half of this entertaining and mutually-rewarding contract at all. Actually, I was quite proud of our little bartering episode.
...But there is one thing I would beg to differ about:
“...The bottom line of the deal? I have the CDs. My client thinks I'm a total idiot...”
Why on Earth would you think that? In fact, I still believe this was a thoroughly sensible, dare I say, even “clueful” piece of business.
So. I hereby declare that your are NOT a total idiot. In fact, I’m attaching an official “David Weinberger is NOT an idiot” chiclet here :– use it as you see fit. If I ever get around to creating my own web site, I promise to post this chiclet prominently on the first page as my link to hyperorg.com
Sure, *you're* not going to tell me I'm an idiot. After all, you're the one who got the consulting services for the moral equivalent of a Hershey bar and a pair of nylons. But I'm telling you most sincerely, Michael: I am a total idiot. Proof: I lost the chiclet.
Mickey Allen responds to a contest entry "bluetrain" as a porn site from the previous issue:
The Bluetrain is actually a very prestigious luxury rail service that runs between Cape Town and Pretoria (a bit like the Orient Express)
Yeah, sure. Hey, we know what goes on on those trains with their rhythmic clackety clacks and tunnels and cramped little bunks and attendants straining against their tight, tight uniforms. Well, actually, I have no idea what goes on, but I'd be interested in hearing from someone who does.
The campaign to come up with something with the force "fuck" used to have continues. Australian Mike writes:
Incidentally, having had a quick squizz at the newsletter section on expletives here's a piece of trivia for you: fuck originally was a Police charge from England. For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge!
This is, I'm afraid, an urban legend, much like the idea that "posh" derives from the mnemonic for the most favorable side of the ocean liner (Port Out, Starboard Home) or that "JOHO" stands for "Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization." No, as we've all discovered on our very best of days, "fuck" is onomatopoetic.
(There's a discussion of the etymology at: http://www.wilton.net/etyma1.htm)
Craig Allen is also looking for a word to replace "fuck":
why fuck around - go right to the source:
Forbidden American - Essential Dictionary of Taboo American English - further subtitled The Authoritative Guide to the Most Offensive Words in American English. No author or editor claims credit. It was published by an Italian publisher (we picked it up in Italy several years ago) Zanichelli / National Textbook Company. From gross carnality to slander, racism, and just plain bad manners, it covers most of 'em.
For us self-styled urbane, sophisticated folks, quite amusing.
And for the rest of us, it's a way of life.
Craig Allen has more on his mind than replacing fine old cuss words. For example, he writes about the WikiWebs discussed in the previous issue:
I have been intrigued enough that I have implemented several flavors of them on my server (implemented as in "installed software someone else wrote", not "wrote a WikiWeb server myself").
I've also been a big fan of and user of [as in "developing in the platform which is"] Zope - http://www.zope.org - which is probably known to you as it is a great content management framework.
One of the user-contributed tools available on the Zope site is Zwiki, which is an implementation of a WikiWeb in/on/under Zope. I have one you could look at at http://alchemy.nu/zwiki but I think that once you grok wiki, they're all the same.
And I won't get started on Squishdot, a Slashdot workalike that runs on Zope...
I hadn't intended this to be an infomercial about Zope, but I guess you get plenty of mail from zealots. Zopistas tend towards passion...
Craig, do you realize that you used the words "grok," "wiki," "zope," "squashdot," and "zopistas" within 50 words of one another? You are now officially out of Scrabble tiles..
David Greenwood responds to last issue's Cool Tool:
Here's a couple more of those browser add-ins that help you "manage" the web like SpotOn. They are both seem like good products and don't appear to have the "flaws".
Correlate is a former Cool Tool which, like a child actor, has a moment in the sun and then fades from awareness. It is indeed a very cool widget but I don't actually use it. On the other hand, I haven't looked at the new version.
Catch the Web sounds a bit like SurfSaver (www.SurfSaver.com) which I use frequently, except CatchtheWeb stores your pages on a server where team members can access them, and charges you $75/month.
I confessed my Most Embarrassing Moment in the previous issue and heard immediately from a Web Big Wig who doesn't want me to use his name:
As usual, I got you beat.
Back when I was a testosterone-filled young field grunt doing PC support, I had the habit of using words like "pussy" for my login password. Anyway, one time I configured a brand new laptop for the president of the company (a fortune 1000 concern, no less), and handed it to him while walking out the door to catch a flight.
Once I arrived at my destination, I called in to check on problems and other messages. Oops, the big cheese wants to know why he can't get into his laptop! After trying everything else I could possibly think of, it was narrowed down to a problem with his password. I had to whisper to the man who wrote my boss' boss' paycheck: try typing "pussy".
Now *THAT* was embarrassing. But it worked.
You reprint this with my name on it and I'll hunt you down and kill you like the miserable dog that you are.
Surprisingly, this person is not RageBoy. But whoever he is, he ought to be ashamed of himself.
Billy Bly writes
In the current issue of JOHO, you invite "haiku about life, 'zines or Monica Lewinsky." 'zines can supply their own bleeping haiku, and Monica has suffered enough by now, don't you think? However....
The following could be called found haiku, overheard as they were on the Staten Island Ferry, accompanied by the percussion of snapping gum and the ritual gestures of vigorous teasing of the hair*:
Nevah, EVAH, pass up a oppatoonity ta SHUT THE FUCK UP!!!!
So what do I got against huh [her]? Cuz she had fuck wit me regulah.
They're not exactly 5 - 7 - 5, as some pedantical fusspots demand, but do conform to the seventeen-syllable requirement.
*See Melanie Griffiths and Joan Cusack demonstrate this peculiar orchesis in the feel-good greed flick Working Girl it will explain everything!
Your mention of "Working Girl" has inspired me to write my own haiku:
and Joan Cusack together.
Kill the pretty one.
In fact, I feel a limerick coming on:
A plain-faced actress named Cusack
To Griffiths addressed, "Why uhack!
My talent is bigger.
You're out-acted by Trigger.
So why'd *you* get Antonio in u'sack?
Margret Bailey writes in with a site she discovered by "googling Nietzsche and Marketing." It turns out that she means that she did a query on those two terms at www.google.com, her favorite search site. Why those two terms? I'm sure we're better off not knowing. But what a great Waste o' Timer! Thanks, Margret!
We've taken unlikely pairs of words and run queries on them at Google. (We could have used any search engine, but not only is Google our favorite this morning, but then we get to call the contest "googling.") Your job is to look at the top three links and figure out what we were searching on.
The following are the top 3 listings at google.com, eliminating duplicates and those that don't actually have the search terms in them (sigh):
Challenge #1: 1,209 hits
Challenge #2: 789 hits
Challenge #3: 48 hits
Challenge #4: 6 hits
I'll be nice and run the answers at the end of this issue, but you should send me your own vastly entertaining forays.
Rob Charlton submitted a completely splendid Anagriddle in which a Famous Computer Person's name is anagrammed twice and placed into verse.
(5,1,4) of the electromechanical circuit
Trust your thoughts; ignore the ephemeral stigma.
Bells (4,5,1) revolution came, and aim to work it
Revolution of peace, born of a bellicose Enigma.
I'm embarrassed to say that I got the name but then couldn't figure out the anagrams. D'oh! The answer is at the end.
And here are two more for you since this has turned out to be such a vastly popular pastime (i.e., Rob Charlton apparently liked it):
(5, 4 4) and show us the mosaic of life, cruel and stark.
When the (4 4, 5) of Names, you lose but have made your mark.
For selling (5 4) in illegal ways, he was tried as if fated;
the mighty one whined "(3 3," 3) down and waited.
The second one is pretty durn good, if I do say so myself (but not as good as Rob's). Answers at the end.
Oh, wait, this *is* the end!
Here are the answers to our googlings:
1. metaphysics monkey
2. cellular molasses
3. "John Lennon" Heimlich
4. "Marshall McLuhan" "pork bellies"
And here are the answers to this issue's Anagriddles:
Align a turn of the electromechanical circuit
Trust your thoughts; ignore the ephemeral stigma.
Bells rang until a revolution came, and aim to work it
Revolution of peace, born of a bellicose Enigma.
Crane, damn seer, and show us the mosaic of life, cruel and stark.
When the race ends, Namer of Names, you lose but have made your mark.
For selling legal bits in illegal ways, he was tried as if fated;
the mighty one whined "I'll beg," sat down and waited.
The following information was found trapped at the top of my washing machine when I ran some issues of JOHO through it.
JOHO is a free, independent newsletter written and produced by David Weinberger. He denies responsibility for any errors or problems. If you write him with corrections or criticisms, it will probably turn out to have been your fault.
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