Hyperlinked Organization Title

For those who need to understand how the Web is changing the way businesses work

 
Meta Data
Vol/Issue: March 19, 1998  
Author/Editor: David Weinberger  
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy  
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.  
Current Personal Crisis: Midnight showing of Rocky Horror seems comparatively safe environment for teen aged daughter. 
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com  
Contact information: Click here

 
 

Contents

The Death of Docs: The Web is eating away the very heart of docs. With a reply by Frank Gilbane.
Imperfect IS: In an imperfect world, how upset can you get?
Cool Tool: AtomTime
Internetcetera: Laid Back IS
Unfortunate Juxtapositions
Email, Innuendo and Rude Remarks
Puzzling Spam
Why Search Engines Suck: Blue 2 Edition
Bogus Contest: DBA


 

dividing line

The Death of Documents and the End of Doneness

Monty Python Dead ParrotDocuments are dead! Dead, Jim! They aren't having a kip. They're not pining for the fjords. They are ex-documents.

Ah, feels good to say it!

In fact, over the past couple of weeks, I've been engaged in a spirited dialog (via email) with the document gurus at CAPV, the hosts of the Documation conference. As a result, I wrote up my conclusions and passed them on over to Frank Gilbane, the founder of CAPV, and asked him to comment on them; his comments follow mine immediately.

The Death of Documents

Business documents are being replaced not by Web pages but by Web *sites*. Instead of writing a business report, you'll create a Web site. Sites are real, real, real different from documents.

Here's a summary: At its heart, a document is something that (1) an individual writes, (2) taking responsibility for a position on a topic, that (3) gets published when it's done. Web sites deny this triad: a site is a place where (1) a group of people (2) argue various positions (3) over the course of time. The biggest change is, perhaps, in the notion of done-ness.

Why "Documents" Never Made Sense on Computers Anyway

Keep in mind that documents have had a short and confusing career on computers. The term was taken over from the non-computer world by word processing companies looking to distinguish their type of files from other files. The term outside of computers had -- and still has -- a very precise meaning: it's a piece of paper that plays a special role in our history or legal system. So, your lease and passport are documents, as is Napoleon's personal map of Waterloo.

Notice that what makes these documents is precisely the opposite of the characteristics of computer documents. Real documents are unique; a copy can't be used in the same way. (Try presenting a photocopy of your passport the next time the Immigration Canadian bullyboys try to keep you from visiting.) Computer documents are, of course, so virtual that it's not even clear what it means to have an original. Also, real documents tend to be high value, whereas any piece of turgid, self-serving, back-stabbing prose that issues from your word processor is automatically given a ".doc" suffix.

Since the hijacking of "documents" matters have only gotten worse. With word processors letting you plop videos into the middle of your turgid, back-stabbing, self-aggrandizing marketing report, a text-and-graphic document now can be a singing-and-dancing extravaganza. The line between documents and multimedia shows is famously blurred.

So, the death of documents (of the computer kind) is not like the death of God. It's more like the death of Chris Farley -- a troubled youth that never quite figured out who he really was in the first place.

The Usual Suspicions

Now, what about this death? I don't intend to make the usual argument which points out the ways the Web is transforming documents. Don't get me wrong: I like that argument and fully intend to charge good money to elaborate on it in public, pointing to the following transformations thanks to the Web:

That's not the argument I'm going to make. It's true, but it says that the Web is transforming documents, not that it's killing them.

Cracks in the Fundament

Here's how the Web is killing documents.

Beneath the deep assumptions about documents that the Web has been subverting is an even deeper set of assumptions that the Web is also subverting. To steal an example from Adina Levin (of CAPV), we're moving beyond the "horseless carriage" phase where we are ok with understanding the new technology in the light of the old (e.g., "web pages"), and are entering the "automobile" age where we are ready to accept that something fundamentally new has emerged.

I'm talking about what I think Web sites will become; I'm assuming a particular future here. (And, if I were often right in my assumed futures, Bobby Kennedy would now be governor emeritus of our 51st state, Cuba.) I am assuming that in the future, it will be as easy to post a page to a Web site as it is to attach it to email or run off photocopies. I am assuming that rather than shoving a document through the mail, people will build Web sites devoted to a topic -- branches off their departmental intranet site. These sites will welcome contributions from other team members. So, the site won't simply be where the author publishes her finished document; it is where the team kicks around ideas.

Here are some of the document underpinnings this type of collaborative web site will kick away:

 

Topics

A document has a topic. But it not only has a topic: typically, it states a position on what it's about.

A web site has a topic but may not have a position, instead serving as the site within which can occur the processes by which a position may develop. In a crude example, think of Web discussion sites: the site has a topic but not a position. In a less crude example, a web site will be the way that a team discusses topics, sometimes in simple messages and sometimes with complex Web pages.
Authors

Documents are by individuals and are expressions of individuals. ("Author" and "authentic" go back to a notion of what is most one's own.) Even when they are representations of group will or a committee's desire to be done with meetings already, documents are necessarily written by individuals. Someone has the pen in his or her fist.

Web sites will be more like conversations. Individuals will contribute -- writing pages, linking in found pages -- but the individual contributions may not have much meaning outside of the Web site, any more than an individual message in a thread can stand by itself.

Responsibility

Writing a document means taking responsibility for the position it takes. If the position fails, the author loses standing. Documents are risky.

Establishing a web site and kicking off the conversation is just about risk-free. You are enabling the process to begin. You are not closing it off by taking a stand. You are always the good guy. (This is one important reason this type of web site will replace documents.)

Time Documents are assertions of individuals that mark the closing of a process of thought. Documents are the end of indecision. Documents are published when they're done

Places -- sites -- are not "done." They are where processes occur, not the finished result of processes. (When a site like this is "done" is precisely when it becomes uninteresting ... the opposite of the traditional document publishing model.)

Gender And, yes, there is something traditionally male about a good, robust, thrusting document -- especially one that's not just insightful but actually penetrating. I am not at all convinced that we should think that if documents have a musky manly smell, then sites are feminine. In fact, sites are (or will be) communitarian -- the real opposite of "masculine".

The cards are stacked against documents. We are seeing a massive cultural shift away from the concept of done-ness. The Web allows for constant process and enables open-ended groups of people to be invited into the process. Things on the Web are never done, and the damn "under construction" sign is implicit at every site. Why should anything be declared "done" when that means taking responsibility and arbitrarily picking a place to freeze a process in a context that is always always always changing?

Documents are things that are done. That is why the Web will kill them.


Frank Gilbane Begs to Differ

A couple of years ago David gave a number of presentations at industry conferences where he claimed that Document Management was dead. Notice the lack of quotes; he wasn't talking about the term, but about the actual thing. This sounded outrageous at first (especially to the document management vendors present and the users who had just invested large sums of money is a DMS). But David was right. What he was really saying was that document management was only one of a number of things we need to have and do in our office-worker world, and focusing on document management as the solution for productivity enhancement was wrong-headed. We should be focusing on an environment that helped us do our jobs, which of course would include document management (as well as other) kinds of features. Document management as a stand-alone product category was dying. He was also right that as a result the term 'document management' had become less meaningful.

I don't think David is right about documents or about 'document'. I think that our use of the term 'document' is simply evolving at a faster pace than some of us are comfortable with. If in fact Webs are categorically different things than documents (which I am not convinced of), then we still need a term that captures the idea of a logical (well depending on the document!) collection of information that we create for presentation to other humans (at least) in a particular space/time location. It is not a battle between 'Web site' and 'document', but a question of how Web sites and documents relate to each other.

Ought or Will?

David could be arguing that 'document' ought to be dead or allowed to die, or that in fact 'document' will be dead sometime in the not-unimaginable future. I don't agree with either, although I am a little hesitant to claim that 'document' will still be used the same way it is today or even at all in 2525AD. A more fruitful way to ask this question is to explore what would cause 'document' to become a dead term. David's answer is the Web. My answer is well I don't have an answer, but it will have more to do with the evolution of the whole language. The next four sections relate to the points raised in the four rows in David's table.

Topics

Documents do not necessarily have positions. Magazines, anthologies, collections of essays, academic journals are all documents that do not require a single position.

At the same time, a Web site may have a position. A discussion group might not, but not all Webs are discussion groups. In fact I think it is clear that most are not.

Authors

There are plenty of documents that are multi-authored (anthologies, etc.). Essays that are part of an ongoing debate in a journal are not much different (a bit more formal) than an individuals argument in a threaded discussion group. Both are meaningful in the context of the debate/discussion. Documents and discussion groups can both be collections of individual views.

Responsibility

Not all Web sites are discussion groups. Many, or most, are taking (mostly marketing) positions. In these cases there is no difference in responsibility.

Whether the moderator of a web site that is a discussion group is free from responsibility or not depends more on your moral philosophy than on the form or medium of the document or web that you publish. I lean toward the existential view that you are (morally) what you do. So, although a moderator or journal editor is not responsible for individual views there is some responsibility in choosing the views to publish and in moderating fairly. Hegelian style dialectic defining is a big responsibility!

Time (& Space & Location)

'Done' is relative. Documents are done until the next version, or the next edition. Even if there is no next, the thought process is not 'done'. This obviously takes more time in the paper world than in an electronic environment. Physical space used to be a more important characteristic of documents than time. There is a bit more equality these days. (There are some very interesting differences having to do with location.)

Web sites can change more than documents. But they don't necessarily change any faster than (electronic) documents. (OK, I'm begging the question). But my view (although I don't really argue for it here) is that there is a difference between electronic documents and web sites. (It is tempting to argue that web sites are no more than in-process collaborative documents? I'll resist for now.)

Gender (& Politics)

I think I'll stay away from the gender issue for now. But there seems to be a political message in David's argument. Bad, done, individual positions versus good, ongoing, community debate. I don't think there is good and bad here. Open inclusive discussion is good, but is useless if nothing is ever done.

In Summary

I think David is right about the how the use of webs will evolve, except that I believe webs will co-exist with documents. If webs replace anything it will be databases (There! Who wants to argue that!) I think webs will be "locations" that are defined by a changing combination of links, and both managed and unmanaged data and documents.

I think Tim Bray is right when he says (in the current issue of the Gilbane Report, vol. 6 no 1) "It is no more useful to demand that the objects in our computers be classified as documents and non-documents than it is to insist that an electron be classified as a particle or a wave." 'Document' needs to grow with the times to include complex electronic documents. It has already grown more than David gives it credit for. How many non-lawyers even know, nevermind pay any attention to, the more precise legal meaning David mentions?

How we use language is more important than how we think we should use it, and we don't use it precisely even when we are trained to and try to. I would like to think that we will continue to use 'document' because the term remains conceptually consistent in an electronic world, but we will probably keep using it because it is easy and familiar.

-- Frank Gilbane

 
 

Middle World Resources

A BiWeekly Compendium of Resources
Walking the Walk  

The Web will always be a little bit broken, according to Tim Berners-Lee, the singlehanded creator of the Web. This breeds a type of liberating imperfectionism.

Two IS people in Information Week provide confirmation. Mark Gransee, VP of Information Systems at Eddie Bauer says:

"In the old cycle, you could consider everything, but you could also hit analysis paralysis. Now you can't be afraid to make a decision just because the conditions are going to change and make that decision obsolete." He says you have to empower your staff to make decisions. Perfectionism isn't allowed. "You just have to do the best you can."

Meanwhile, at Owens Corning, Mike Radcliff, CIO, says:

"Our staff has to be able to work with incredible ambiguity, be self-confident, simplify and trust others, because we have an absolute interdependency with other departments. Most of all we have to embrace 'good enough' reengineering, good enough that we can progress ... not necessarily what we'd do in the ideal world."

Cool Tool
For the Hyperlinked Organization
 

This doesn't have much to do with a hyperlinked organization, but it's a neat little thang: a utility that automatically checks the time on the atomic clock and updates your computer. Now you can know exactly how late you are to your appointments!

And it does allow us to raise two key questions: 1. What time is it at the North Pole? 2. What time is it on the sun? (The latter comes from Wittgenstein, not currently a subscriber to JOHO.)

The utility recently went commercial, charging $5 for the latest version. If you're content to have last year's model, I've posted the previous, freeware version on the JOHO site. If you want the latest, you can get it here.

Internetcetera

At Optika's user conference, Gerry Murray and Amie White presented the results of a new survey of senior IT people at 1,600 user organizations in 20 countries. Here's a snippet.

Rank the importance from 1-7, with 7 being the most important:

  • internet/intranet 5.5
  • document management 5.5
  • document imaging 5.3
  • year 2000 5.2
  • workflow 4.9
  • groupware 4.8
  • text retrieval 4.7
  • micrographics 3.8

What a laid back group! Nothing strikes these IS people as being of really critical importance. Jeez, I'd expect even the towel handlers at the local Y to at least have a couple of 6's:

  • Unprovoked snappings: 7.0
  • Wet towels mildewing behind the massage table: 6.7
  • Year 2000: 6.1
  • Grecian Formula stains: 5.9

 

 
divider

Unfortunate Juxtapositions Dept

From the March 9 issue of PC WEEK:

Item #1:
"The [Open Market] Network Sales Patent [awarded recently] covers the 'electronic shopping carts' metaphor used when picking out products from a Web site, said Win Treese, director of security at Open Market," (p. 8)

Item #2:
"ICS [Oracle's new product] maintains a shopping cart for each user registered with a store..." (p. 14)

 
divider

Email, Rumors, Rude Remarks


Bret Pettichord responds (sort of) to the bogus contest in the issue before last which asked for odd categories for trademarks:

1. Harley Davidson (not honda) filed trademark protection for the sound of their engine. I know this is true because i heard it on NPR. Also, a couple years ago my son got this cheesy two-wheeler with a fake engine/noisemaker attached to it with the Harley sound. I think the bike manufacture had to license the sound from Harley. (My son ripped it off the bike immediately; what can i say, he has class.)

2. The coke bottle shape is trademarked. Or copyrighted. Whatever.

3. What i think would be great would be if they allowed crappy business strategies to be trademarked. Then other companies would not be able to reuse them. For example, if Sony had trademarked the strategy of not licensing superior technology (beta) so that suckier technology can win out (VHS) then Apple would not have been allowed to make the same mistake. (Hmm, or maybe they would have just had to stand being sued by Sony.) (Nevermind.)

And if I may enter my own contest (albeit in a much less amusing way than Bret), we should add Esther Dyson's typography to the list of trademarkable stuff. Release 1.0, bless its heart, is set in a monospaced courier font that denies that desktop publishing ever happened.


Chris RageBoy Locke, oft-quoted in this and most issues, is a clear winner of the Haiku contest in the previous issue:

Learning to think outside the box,
"Crackerjack concept," she said,
removing the toy.

Jon Waldron also wins the Bogus Contest (remember, To Enter Is To Win™) with the following:

I love contests. Even bogus ones. Too bad I'm too late with my top ten list of reasons high-tech companies should hire Greek scholars (Trojan Horse viruses, Pegasus mail...).

Here's a politically un-correct haiku on a popular subject:

Not enough bandwidth!
...miscreants sending spam? No,
ordinary fools.

Has the hierarchy been subverted yet?


The Chief of the JOHO Checker Board has discovered a broken link in the previous issue. Bob Treitman writes:

"The requested URL /~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/ was not found on this server."

Seems to have moved; it was there not too long ago when Keith Dawson brought the article to our attention.

Note the implication that I stole this link from the venerable TBTF, Keith Dawson's newsletter. I deny this entirely! I stole it from Mark Dionne who got it from Keith. So while I may be in possession of stolen goods, I am not a crook™.

Here's the right address: http://sagan.earthspace.net/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/


Steve Birnam writes to explain what the acronym "ACI" meant in the paragraph we cited in the last issue:

To answer your question regarding the + ACI -, I guess that the code got mangled during transfer - I put quotation marks around the words such as object and activity. When you received the message the quotation marks were interpreted as + ACI -

Well, to ACI George Bernard Shaw, ACI+I often ACI myself; it adds spice to my conversation.ACI-. And to ACI Fred Allen, ACI+Hanging is too good for a man who makes puns; he should be drawn and ACIed.ACI-


Jon Pyke leaps onto the "bag" cliche bandwagon with the following category-killer email:

Sorry, bag's out - there is an ad campaign in the UK thus "say good by to the old bag." It's for a vacuum cleaner but that's not the point, what it means is - no bag for tricks, you can't just bag it and poppa no longer needs one (brand new or otherwise)

Chris RageBoy Locke -- one of our favorite authors and a frequent contributor to these pages -- writes:

wrt John Battista's remarks,
"...we found that we got valuable information from the maintenance and production people -- and this resulted in changes to the engineering designs during the course of the project."
it's called concurrent engineering and is still a Big Aha for many companies -- if they even get *that* far. most companies that make STUFF (atomic, not digital) still lock out the shop floor. really bright, because if knowledge is based in practice -- like where else would it be based? -- this is where it's generated. however, power relations have *always* gotten in the way of intelligence, so what else is new...

First, for the Web incognoscenti, "wrt" does not mean "wart" or "who reads this?" but "with regards to."

As to the substance of Chris's remarks, well, as Lily Tomlin once said, "No matter how cynical I get, I can't keep up."


RageBoy again, this time referring to my threat in the previous issue to write a boring-but-obvious article on why there's no such thing as a document:

RageBoy's Pedantic Word o' The Day for this one: intertextuality.

comes from pretty much the same set of addled academics who brought us bricolage...

interestingly, it's not in either my on-disc versions of Merriam-Webster's 10th Collegiate or The American Heritage, but HotBot returns -- are you ready for this? -- 2866 hits!

you may enjoy the brief and related rap at

http://raven.ubalt.edu/staff/Moulthrop/hypertexts/hoptext/Intertextualit y10133.html

Aren't there any new ideas any more? Hey, RageBoy, I'm thinking about writing a B-B-O article on, um, let's say, how the Web started out like crunchy peanut butter but is turning into smooth -- and maybe becoming like the PB-and-jelly swirled in the jar (one of the category of food stuffs that look the same going in as coming out). Find some obscure references and links to that one, eh RageBoy!


Larry Fitzpatrick, keying off John Battista's description of the benefits of opening up the information portal, writes:

It seems to me that the the tension between security and KM [Knowledge Management] (reuse, sharing) has yet to play out. If everything starts out "locked down tight" then it's not sharable (available for reuse, to teach others, ahem, potential knowledge) until its "unlocked".

What's the motivation to unlock? How does one know who to unlock to? Can things be partially unlocked? (e.g., the system says to knowledge-hungry user: psst, there's something over here that might help, but you cannot see it, go talk to George, he has the keys) Can one come up with brain-dead simple rules for future-perfect unlocking (e.g., it's locked for a year and then it opens automatically)?

What class of professionals knows how to think about this stuff?

This has gotten the US Govt into a pickle (Congress last year ordered that all classified things over 25 years old had to be unclassified by 2000.... but these need to be redacted first. Only 65 million pages, and the people who can redact them are dead, retired, alzheimered.)

In consulting firms, you might have rules like: people who work on projects with competitors cannot see this stuff. Ever.

Isn't it just easier to keep everything locked and rely on word of mouth (... REFERRALS...) or keep everything unlocked (does anyone do that anymore?) and risk any downside?

Thus Larry continues his streak of asking questions without known answers. But let me venture one anyway: The solution to 98% of security issues is ... get ready for disappointment ... *push*.

The difficulty with security is an artifact of the newness of the Web place. In the non-virtual world, "security" adheres to places. We know that you are allowed to admire the scrollwork on someone's front door, that you are not allowed to look through the windows, and you're practically expected to rifle through their medicine chest when at a party. We have mechanisms for securing private objects in relatively public spaces, e.g., locks, gummed flaps, scary-looking "Confidential" stamps. What we generally don't have are complex, overlapping groups of people with overlapping permissions -- you don't go to work with 100 keys for the different shared drawers and file cabinets in your office.

My point is that we have very sophisticated "honor system" security models in real life, which means we get confused when thinking about how to provide non-voluntary security models in the virtual world. We want to come up with schemes that are so complex that no one will use them.

So how do we handle security now? We use the magic of push. If I have a memo I only want Larry and RageBoy to see, I only send it to them. End of security. Security is done at publication time and is done by sending it only to the people who should see it.

So, here's the official JOHO recommendation: Make it easy for people to publish new material to secure groups. Have smart people create the groups and, of course, let the users create their own. Anything more complex will take more time to use (and undo errors) than you'll risk by letting the information be free, man.

As to the legacy problem, well, that's why God created boring people. Find some and let them handle it. They'll be glad for the opportunity.

By the way, here is JOHO's Law of Data Entropy:

All Information Tends to Becomes Gossip.

ReccoLink™ Recommended link of the week is David Isenberg's site at which you'll find "The Rise of the Stupid Network: Why the Intelligent Network was once a good idea, but isn't anymore. One telephone company nerd's odd perspective on the changing value proposition."

(My only hesitancy in recommending this site is that his article is getting picked up all over the place, from the WSJ to the JSW, triggering a savage Reprints Envy in me. It's not a pretty sight, but there you have it.)


Tony McKinley, author and industry analyst, writes about what computers are doing to our children (I'm excerpting):

My biggest question is: Did all this early exposure to computers dumb them down, or dumb them up?

In my view, they're Differently Dumbed.

However, not as a kid but as a pragmatic old bastard, I think all search vendors should adopt a Search "BASIC" language. It would only require a few commands and conventions, which are already popular. That way people could get past the face-licking friendliness of Dogpile and so on, and hopefully have a little more accurate and productive experience.

We can probably divide the world into those who prefer boolean search languages to having their face licked. And then we can form teams and kill each other.

A universal search language sounds like a damn fine idea to me. If you're interested in forming a committee with Tony, you can contact him at tonymck@imagebiz.com. (To achieve fully global support, I recommend that the standard support Unicode, Esperanto and the truly universal language: music.)


Trevor "Tacky" Sharpe writes in with some alternatives to the needless Frenchitude of the term "bricolage":

Brick-o-'ledge (as in a brick of knowledge, and we all know that bricks are useless independent of one another, but a whole bunch of them can build neat and useful stuff like, oh, a hardened hangar capable of safely storing weapons of mass destruction from wanton destruction by Yankee Cruise Missiles ;-))

bri-college (bri is sanskrit for "many". Together you get "many colleges" which basically translates into "collections of knowledge". Pathetic, non?)

Et finalement, je pense que "bricolage" est perfectement parce que il est en francais. Toute-le-monde pensent que francais est la premiere langue, plus meilleur d'englias et les autres.

(I just called you a dumb ass in French, in case you care!)

Trevor is exhibiting a truly rare malady known as "scribiolingualism" in which one can write in a language but is unable to read it. This is similar to but unrelated to coprolingualism in which one is unable to speak a language although one is able to swear a blue streak in it. I myself suffer from dipsolingualism: I can speak German but only after heavy drinking.


Subscription of the Month. Russell Jones (webmaster for KM Magazine) filled in the comment field when subscribing via the Web to JOHO:

firstname: Russell
lastname: Jones
companyname: KMWorld Magazine
howyouheard: Investigating what to do in case of a nuclear explosion.

If JOHO has saved just one person from the ravages of nuclear incineration (see how), then it's all been worthwhile. Welcome aboard, Russell.

 
Divider

Puzzling Spam

I received this spam recently. Would someone care to venture what the trick is?

Princess Diana Commemorative Dollar Bill

If you are like millions of others around the world, you were moved by the beauty and compassion of the late Princess of Wales. In this limited time offer, you have the opportunity to own a piece of history - an authentic U.S. dollar bill bearing the likeness of Princess Diana.

This is genuine currency, legal tender in the US, and has not been defaced in any way.

The Princess Diana Dollar Bill is a unique item to add to your personal collection, or to give as a special gift this holiday season. Not sold in stores, these lasting tributes to the People's Princess are only available for a short time.

Princess Diana Dollar Bill $7.00 (4 for $20.00)

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the Princess Diana Dollar Bill will be donated to the Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

We accept checks, money orders, MasterCard, Visa , American Express, and Discover.

To Order, call 818-982-9318

A dollar bill with a removable picture of Diana Princess of the Undead taped over Toothless George? A bill with George cut out and Diana pasted in -- which you can trade in to the US Treasury for an un-defaced bill? They cash your $7, unhitch their trailer and move to the next town over?

 

 
divider

Why Search Engines Suck: Blue 2

Bret Pettichord has a brilliant solution to a problem adumbrated in the previous issue, i.e., discovering that the word "blow" is indeed being used with more frequency than before the Clinton-Lewinski affair blew up (so to speak) but not knowing if this is due to the increase in the text base being queried.

Compare your search for "blow" with a search from some other innocuous word that you are reasonably confident has not changed in usage. I don't think "and" and "the" are indexed, so you may have to use something like "dog" or "run" or "write". Then see if "blow" beats the trend.

Following Brett's advice, I ran searches for: (1) Blow AND Clinton AND NOT "blow job"; (2) (Blow AND Clinton) AND NOT "blow job"; (3) Lead AND Clinton; (4) Lead. I did these for the same three date ranges as last time. You don't need a rocket scientist to figure out the results.

Well, yes you do. I have no idea what they mean. But I do know that the results from the query I ran in the previous issue have dramatically changed. Unfortunately, I don't have the exact query from last time (was it #1 or #2 above?), but either way of reconstructing it gives results that vary from what we got last month. Anyway, here's the complete table.

 

Date Range blow AND clinton AND NOT "blow job" (last issue) blow AND clinton AND NOT "blow job" (this issue) (blow AND clinton) AND NOT "blow job" (this issue) lead AND clinton lead
5/1/97-6/12/97 770 6,930 1,439 37,711 1,714,548
11/1/97-12/12/97 2,545 8,106 2,006 42,802 1,150,367
1/1/98-2/12/98 3,818 3,802 2,006 16,035 388,930

Conclusions? Beats the hell out of me. But it looks to me like Alta Vista has many fewer documents from the first six weeks of 1998 than from the last six weeks of 1997, but the number of "Blow and Clinton" references is way up.

Case closed?

 
Divider

Bogus Contest: BDA

As discussed above, "wrt" is Web shorthand for "with regard to." other common shortcuts include:

BTW By the way
IMO (IMHO) In my opinion (In my humble opinion)
LOL Laugh out loud

So, how about other abbreviations email causes us to need? (I'd call 'em acronyms, but Bob Treitman learned me muh lesson real good.) For example:

 

 

FTFTIHI Funny the first time I heard it
YCGAVBOAEM You can't get a virus by opening an email message
ASSTMBIFWOS As someone smarter than me but I forget who once said
WTFITTKOTK Where the f___ is the tilde key on this keyboard?
CWPPPLTBTLEITS Can't we please please please let this be the last exchange in this series?

 

Your turn. And remember, only with JOHO's Bogus Contest is To Enter Is To Win

(Special Meta-Bogus Contest: I can't remember why I named this contest "BDA." Figure it out and win yourself a handsome JOHO business card...)

 


Editorial Lint

The following information was found trapped at the top of my washing machine when I ran some issues of the JOHO through it.

The 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.

Subscription information, or requests to be removed from the JOHO mailing list, should be sent to self@evident.com. There is no need for harshness or recriminations. Sometimes things just don't work out between people.

Dr. Weinberger is in a delicate nervous state, but if you want to send positive comments to him, his email address is self@evident.com.

Dr. Weinberger is represented by a fiercely aggressive legal team who responds to any provocation with massive litigatory procedures. This notice constitutes fair warning.

Any email sent to the JOHO may be published in the JOHO and snarkily commented on unless the email explicitly states that it's not for publication.

Note to distributors: If you are interested in reselling the popular Hyperlinked Organization brand line of memorabilia, please contact our manager of JOHO Channels, Divad Regrebniew. (The JOHO corn dog attack vehicle with lifelike action figures is no longer available, and will return once we fix the eject button and pending the outcome of the lawsuit.)


The Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization is a publication of Evident Marketing, Inc. "The Hyperlinked Organization" is trademarked by Open Text Corp. Information on preemptive trademarks™ can be found at http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/trademarks.html.