May 11, 2002

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Contents

Pope on the Internet: The Church's message on the Internet gets it surprisingly right ... and unsurprisingly wrong.
Bombastic Truth: Christopher Locke's new book is brave personally and...
Getting Personal: ...the personal on the Web connects in a way that broadcast can't.
The Gift of Lying: Honesty is overrated.
Stop me before I'm inconsistent again!: Noting the inconsistency of the previous articles
Walking the Walk: the Navy gets all KM-y.
Cool Tool: Mitch Kapor may have something for us, and Kanguru storage.
Now Playing: The games people, um, I , play.
Internetcetera: CIO survey.
Beijing and Peru Escape Hostage Plot: Two slip past the Microsoft sentries.
Why Search Engines Suck: They just do. Except Google, of course.
Virtual Everything: On the heels of the virtual keyboard, our labs have been busy...
The Anals of Marketing: Why marketing sucks.
Links: Your contributions, outstanding as always
Email, Scurrilous Attacks and Premeditated Insults: Must get more email!
Bogus contest: Kids Versions

 

It's a Small Pieces World After All

Some reviews have started to come in. It seems that you either think the book is entertaining but New Age-y or you think it's entertaining and important. (New Age-y??? Oh, where did I go wrong?) I should keep an updated list at www.smallpieces.com. But do I? No.

 

April in China

I managed to spend most of the month in China, speaking four times for IBM (once in Thailand to be technically accurate). During the second trip over, I took Nathan, our 11-year-old, and the two of us wrote a weblog for the Boston Globe's www.boston.com.

But I'm back now and am over the jetlag. Sorry for the long gap between issues. Blame it on those damn Chinese.

 

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The Pope on the Internet

[I was about to send this issue when I read the Pope's message about the Internet. Here's a response, as if the Pope is about to start blogging and is looking for other people - Jews, especially - to kick his ideas around...]

The Vatican has put out a message today. Its heart is this:

The Internet is certainly a new “forum” understood in the ancient Roman sense of that public space where politics and business were transacted, where religious duties were fulfilled where much of the social life of the city took place, and where the best and the worst of human nature was on display. It was a crowded and bustling urban space, which both reflected the surrounding culture and created a culture of its own. This is no less true of cyberspace, which is as it were a new frontier opening up at the beginning of this new millennium. Like the new frontiers of other times, this one too is full of the interplay of danger and promise, and not without the sense of adventure which marked other great periods of change. For the Church the new world of cyberspace is a summons to the great adventure of using its potential to proclaim the Gospel message. This challenge is at the heart of what it means at the beginning of the millennium to follow the Lord's command to "put out into the deep”: Duc in altum! (Lk 5:4).

The Pope is way ahead of many others, including Leading Businesses, in seeing the Net as a new public place — actually, a new place for a new public — rather than as a lower-cost broadcast medium. And yet the broadcast model of evangelism still holds sway: the Church is in the business of propagating a "message," albeit put quite beautifully ("out into the deep"). That explains why the Pope sees the Internet primarily as a way of making initial contact: "How does the Church lead from the kind of contact made possible by the Internet to the deeper communication demanded by Christian proclamation?" There is not much recognition that the Net needs to become not just the knock on the door but also part of the continuing faithful relationships we humans have with one another. Nor is there any hint that the Internet threatens the hierarchical organization so evident in certain religions we could name, naturally favoring a more rabbinic approach in which seekers congregate around those who demonstrate learning and wisdom and faith.

While the Pope concludes by urging "the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put out into the deep of the Net," he does so in the context of the Internet as something that "causes billions of images to appear on millions of computer monitors around the planet." The implication ultimately seems to be that the Church needs to deliver the right content, metaphorically replacning pictures of Anna Kournikova with images of Jesus.

The fact that the Net allows conversations as well as the delivery of content shows up as a danger:

The Internet offers extensive knowledge, but it does not teach values...Moreover, as a forum in which practically everything is acceptable and almost nothing is lasting, the Internet favours a relativistic way of thinking and sometimes feeds the flight from personal responsibility and commitment.

Relativism need not be what we learn from our encounters with others. Respect and open-mindedness are more likely given the fact that the Internet as a technology teaches us one value more deeply than any other: the joy of being connected ... which in some parlances is more accurately termed love.

The Vatican's enthusiasm for the Internet as a tool for world peace and evangelical outreach is impressive. But this papal communication is oddly mute about the implications of connecting each of us — even, eventually, the meekest and humblest — one to another, unmediated and direct. To one outside of the Catholic church and thus unreliable as a commentator, it feels like an important moment of denial in an otherwise surprisingly warm embrace.

Happy World Communication Day.

[Thanks to Peter Kaminski for pointing me to the Pope's communication today.]

 

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Bombastic Truth

It's not possible for me to write an objective review of The Bombast Transcripts: Rants and Screeds of RageBoy which collects the best of EGR into one convenient hardbound volume. EGR is Christopher Locke's 'zine which consists of equal parts industry insight, comedy and reader abuse. Chris is a good friend of mine, and mocks me at several points in his book. So, objectivity is out the window. But, that's conveniently the topic of the JOHO article following this one.

Christopher Locke is a brave writer. Despite the book's subtitle, this is Chris' book as much as it is Rageboy's, and not because Chris is the person behind the persona. The Bombast Transcripts is RageBoy and Chris Locke by turns. It's RageBoy interviewing Mr. Ed (yes, the horse) about ecommerce and postmodernism and RageBoy ranting about the demonic master he served (known to the rest of us as IBM). But it's also Chris trusting us with his heart, as well as with his art. It's Chris falling in love. For real. As in love poetry:

sitting in the lobby
of the Grand Wailea
there is no inside or outside.
the sky comes right through
it's a breeze.
everywhere clouds
water flowers
one world continuous
no edges.

so much
so much has happened here
and on the way to this place
which has taken a lifetime
to arrive at.

...

And there's Chris also writing in a lovely way about the Buddhist prayer flags on Mt. Everest. And there's Chris reporting on his trip to Denmark in which we feel him falling in love, but just for a moment, with one of the organizers of the event that brought him over. It's in that essay that he tells us flat out what we realize we've been waiting for him to say all along:

What's going on has nothing to do with ecommerce or broadband or any of that. Those are just tools. Like the horses we painted in the caves at Lascaux, like the bone axes and bows we made, the religions and mythologies we invented, the literatures, arts, intellectual disciplines. Just tools. What they are for is to help us fall in love with the world again, and again, and again forever.

The Web is the sound of us falling in love with the world again. RageBoy is just tough love.

The Bombast Transcripts is a tour de force. It is as right about the Internet as anyone has been. But that story is entwined with Chris' own. As he's throwing acid in IBM's face, he's also invoking his months of meditation, his decades of debauchery, his years of geekhood. Bombast risks everything in order to be true. Chris is willing to embarrass himself and to embarrass his readers if that's the way to say what's needful. No one will like all of this book but if you can't feel the gust of truth blowing through it, then, well, may RageBoy take your soul.

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Getting Personal

A stranger's just a friend you haven't met
- The Simpsons' upbeat ending to "A Streetcar Named Desire: The Musical"

Something remarkable is going on at Chris' newsletter, EGR, because something remarkable is going on with Chris. Chris has broken up with Laurie, the love of his life. What does "love of his life" mean? It means that Laurie was his great flaming love twenty years ago and they reconnected two years ago. A few weeks ago Chris said some things that were strong enough to bust 'em up, and he's been miserable ever since. Actually, "miserable" is too narrow a word. He's been beating on emotion's shores like a year's worth of weather rolled into a day.

Why is this any of your business? It's not, of course. Yet it's there as if it were. That's what's remarkable.

This is not the first time in our history that a writer has shared his passions and his pains in public. It's not even the first time that it's been done in relative real time. (It may be the first time a lovelorn author has asked his readers to spam his ladyfair with imploring letters, however.) But it's somehow not as voyeuristic as it should be, for the line between what we keep private and what we make public is becoming fuzzier. It's also more painful than voyeurism allows; Mike O'Dell says (in an email) that Chris is "peeling his hide off in public so we can hear him scream." It hurts.

Take someone who doesn't have RageBoy's penchant for laying himself out as his own best argument: Halley Suitt. Halley is normal the way the rest of us are normal (i.e., not the way RB isn't). Yet she wrote frankly and carefully in her weblog (Halley's Comment) about her father as he was dying. In the past, this is is the type of stuff we might share with a close friend, but Halley posted it for all to see. Why expose this to strangers? As we all know, intimacy isn't a consequence of friendship, it is the cause of friendship. The strangers who read Halley's moving comments become Halley's friends. (And, by the way, for a normal person, Halley's pretty remarkable.)

Of course intimacy doesn't have to be about love and death, although those are damn fine topics. Mike Golby writes a blog from South Africa where he reflects on issues of race and prejudice, knowing he's skateboarding through a minefield. A couple have blown up on him. He refuses to stop talking about the truths closest to him.

So what's the difference between these blogs and 'zines online and old-style confessional articles? It's not just the immediacy of it. The old publishing model has us writing to a faceless mass of readers while the new one has us writing to faces, albeit faces we haven't seen yet. The form of speech and the topics are direct not as a rhetorical device but because the connection is real: a line connecting us, not a gap of space and time through which waves propagate. We don't feel that we're shipping content from us to others. We're not publishing, we're not broadcasting. We're connecting.

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The Gift of Lying

"Now Marge, it takes two people to lie: One to tell the lie and one to listen to it"
- Homer Simpson

Liars everywhere. A Pulitzer prize winner turns out to have lied to his classes about being in the Vietnam war. A congressman may have lied about having sex with an intern. A local candidate was caught lying to avoid repaying a student loan. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that by and large 21st century Americans are the most truthful people in history, we’re so shocked and outraged that someone might lie to advance his interests. We've developed a zero tolerance policy for lying.

But of course we all lie all the time, every day, about, well, everything. We shade our résumés, we exaggerate our daily exploits — heck, I once lied to a telemarketer. So why are we now so surprised at the revelation that politicians, among others, lie? That used to be taken as the foundation of their character.

It’s not just the old Puritanism that this country never really escaped: angelic standards we apply to humans to make us feel superior to those who have faltered. There’s something more disturbing about this. Our social interactions are so complex and rich, with so many motivations and fears and desires thrown together in an unruly stew of colliding interests that lying in all its variations is an inextricable part of being human together.

People aren’t liars alone. Lying is a social activity. The desire to limit us to saying true things is a desire to simplify our social nature. Truth comes in short, declarative statements, but our social lives are long threads with tangled strands and so much reflection and refraction from what I meant to what you wanted to hear that if we only said what we know to be true, we would be as interesting to talk to as ants laying down pheromone trails. A zero tolerance policy for lying if successful would make our time together more like a prison sentence than like a shared life.

So, sure, punish the liars who do real damage to others, but don’t act as if lying were a sin performed occasionally by nasty other people. We humans lie, and we’re better for it.

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Stop me before I'm inconsistent again!

Oooh, it seems inconsistent to have two articles about the personal nature of the Web and then one about how everyone lies. But that's only if we accept that to be personal is to tell the unvarnished truth. There's a reason we invented varnish.

Middle World Resources

Walking the Walk  

CIO Magazine (May) has an interesting case study by Stephanie Overby of the Naval Sea Systems Command's experience putting in place a knowledge management system. NAVSEA "engineers, builds and supports the entire U.S. Navy fleet," with more than 130 acquisition programs. Because it takes so long to build a multi-million piece of metal that floats, there was a special need for continuity of experience. So, they identified 16 "best practices" (i.e., processes that work) to share among its 45,000 employees. But gathering the information proved difficult because many employees didn't want to give up their "personal" knowledge. They were eventually persuaded to comply; that's why ships have yardarms. To convince them that there was benefit to following the best practices, NAVSEA introduced the practices one at a time to spread the pain across time. But, they failed to quantify the various savings, so when the top brass looked at the $65,000 it was costing to KM-ize each best practice, they balked. The program has been frozen with only 7 practices entered into the KM system.

Meta-best-practice: Gather supporting data when you work on your best practices.

My conclusion: Don't ever let a single measure — e.g., the cost — determine your judgment.

Cool Tool For the Hyperlinked Organization 

This tool doesn't exist yet. Mitch Kapor, the founder of Lotus and cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is working on an open source competitor to Outlook. He and his team, which includes Andy Hertzfeld from the original Mac team, are starting with a blank piece of paper and are designing an application that — they promise — will do a better job of managing the details that manage your life: calendar, contacts, etc.

It'll run on Windows, Macintosh and Linux. It'll be free.

It's pre-alpha now.


Ok, since that tool's not available, here's another. The Kanguru Microstorage Drive holds 16MB-1G in a package about the size of your thumb. No moving parts, no batteries, no cables, no drivers. It's great as an emergency backup so long as someone else in the building has a USB port. As soon as I bought mine for $70, the list price dropped to $39 for the 16M version. But it was worth the $70.

 

Now Playing

In an effort to embarrass myself further, here are the games I'm currently playing:

Alien vs. Predator 2. First-person shooter that won a bunch of game of the year awards. Good Quake-style graphics. But despite the layering in of a complex narrative between levels, I'm finding it repetitive: hide, bang, run. Also, more graphically violent than it needs to be.

Ricochet. Breakout for the new millennium. Imaginative game play given that you're just bouncing balls off a paddle into bricks. Lots of fun for $20.

Internetcetera

InformationWeek (April 29) surveyed 10,000 IT managers and discovered the following:

The median base salary for managers is $83,000 and is $61,000 for staffers. VPs make $135,000, down $10,000 from last year. CIOs dropped from $133,000 to $119,000. Best of all, the savings were passed on to you, the customer! (Ha ha. Just kidding.)

"Web-security staffers" make $20,000 more than the average staffer, resulting in the sudden proliferation of "My country went to Afghanistan and all I got was this lousy $20K raise!" t-shirts.

The top changes in the workplace for managers were: It's more stressful, employee morale is lower, and there are fewer employees overall and in the IT department.

"Women still make less than men in IT, and the gap seems to be growing." The gap for staffers is $7,000, up from $6,000 last year; for managers, the gap is $10,000. So, if you see a manager's penis offered at eBay for significantly less than $10,000, you're getting a real bargain.

 


Beijing and Peru Escape Hostage Plot

Now that the Chinese central government is getting serious about cracking down on piracy, the Beijing municipal government is going to switch from Windows to Linux. And Beijing is the pacesetting local government.

Meanwhile, Michael O'Connor Clarke has blogged a Peruvian congressperson's reasons why his government should go open source...

One by one, the world comes to its senses...


Why Search Engines Suck

At NetworkSolutions, go to the Manage Account tab, type in the name of the domain you want to manage, and click "Go!". You're taken to a page that presents an Ask.com search query box where you can type in the question you want answered. Could it be any easier?

Unfortunately, apparently I was the only person ever to ask "How do I change domain servers?", "How do I change name servers?" or "How do I change nameservers?" because the response was:

"Thanks for asking your question! Unfortunately, we couldn't find any answers for this one."

Ok, How about something a little easier? Why not try the example thoughtfully provided right under the instructions: "How do I renew my domain name?". Response:

"Thanks for asking your question! Unfortunately, we couldn't find any answers for this one."


Virtual Everything

In the wake of the exciting virtual keyboard

new appliances have been announced in the past few days.


Virtual Watch


Virtual Glasses


Virtual Car


Virtual Bono


Virtual Dentures


Virtual Facial Appliances

Also in the works: Virtual Belt, Virtual Umbrella and Virtual Birth Control

 


The Anals of Marketing

Reductionism at Work Dept.:

"The Internet is obviously a critical part of any e-Business. But the Internet is only a common set of protocols for the transport of information."
— Sybase ad.

And reading is only the common set of protocols for the translation of oral words into written marks. And Sybase's products are only the semi-intentional arrangement of bits.


And Now for Some Good News:

Simon Wistow over on the Cluetrain discussion list points us to BigBlueSmoke.com, a site that proclaims: "Sun Launches Web Site Debunking Big Blue Claims." It attacks its competitor with a ferocity and sense of humor I can't recall before seeing coming from a multi-billion dollar company. (Simon points out that a "whois" on the domain name does indeed indicate that Sun owns the site.)

 


Links

David Isenberg has published another issue of his SmartLetter.

Article 1: More states are barring public ownership of telecommunications. This is a bad thing.

Article 2. Dewayne Hendricks and David Reed (an all-star cast!) on packet relay radio as a way to get around the impending 802.11 spectrum mashing.

Article. Mini-Article 3: Steve Talbot on Evil.

This is important stuff even if — especially if — like me you find these issues more than a little confusing. My rule of thumb: Isenberg is right.

Not that George Gilder thinks so. Gilder, the swami of telecosms, goes after the article Isenberg and I wrote together (www.netparadox.com) with the subtlety of a velociraptor in a bunny farm. Unfortunately, he's locked his ideas into his $300/year newsletter so you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that he's wrong. (Yo, George, how about publishing the article on your site for free so we can have a decent conversation about it?)


Arnold Kling juxtaposes a sourpuss interview with David Gelernter in The American Spectator with a quote from my Small Pieces site. Given the Jonathan Katz slashdotting of Small Pieces, I can see the way my book may polarize some discussions, with dyspeptic cynics squaring off against vapid optimists. The important point to remember is that the debate over whether the Net is Good or Bad is not an empirical argument. It's not even a religious dispute like Macs vs. PCs. It's more like two different moods encountering one another:

Cynic: "I'm depressed and angry. "
Optimist: "No, I'm not!"


AKMA, one of my very favorite bloggers, has a thought-provoking piece on the significance of the facelessness (literal) of the Web.


I mentioned Teilhard de Chardin's "noosphere" when commenting on Akma's blogthread-inspiring idea that the Web might be usefully compared to the mind. I heard from Trevor Bechtel, Assistant Dean at the Loyola grad school:

In your deliberations about the web and the brain you should know that Jennifer Cobb Kreisberg wrote an article in WIRED in 1995 on just this subject. The article compares Teilhard de Chardin's thoughts about the noosphere to the rise of new information technologies.

I liked much of what Teilhard had to say when I read him in college. I was particularly impressed by his founding his ontology on love. But the noosphere seemed like a stretch. It's turned out to be a bad idea rescued by an improbable technology.


Mike O'Dell sends us to a site about a project he's involved with. Hint: What might be the opposite of a Segway scooter?


Mike also writes: "The entire psychogenre of 'dancing pages' is a new revelation in self-display." The page he sends us to is like a catalogue of annoyances.


Daniela at LivingCode points to InvisibleCities, a collaborative site that seeks to encourage being creative as an alternative to being entertained.


Megnut writes:

I'm doing a monthly column now for The O'Reilly Network entitled, aptly enough, Megnut. You can read the first one here on "Attendee-Centered Conference Design" aka My Observations from the SXSW Interactive Festival last week in Austin TX.

Megnut was one of the inventors of weblogging and is an always-delightful observer.


Ryan Ireland has moved his always enjoyable blog, Becoming. (The new host, Movable Type, can suck in all your previous Blogger entries if you move there.)


Valdis Krebs, the network mapping king, charts the relationships among small terrorists loosely joined: http://www.orgnet.com/MappingTerroristNetworks.pdf


Bob Filipczak writes

"Heard about this on the radio this morning. Sounds pretty funny. It's essentially a synthetic voice reading spam aloud all day long. It's at www.spamradio.com."

If you sign up for the pay service, they come to your house, remove your TV remote and prop open your eyelids with toothpicks so you have to watch the commercials. And they say there are no business models on the Web!


Mark Dionne reminds us that his favorite Salon writer, Cintra Wilson, is back and boy is she viciously funny. Here she is on The Oscars: http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/feature/2002/03/25/oscars_2002/index.html


I've lost who sent this to me, but SciTech Daily compiles lots of news about, well, sci and tech.


Michael Mark has unearthed a campaign by an enterprising marketer (actually, a socially-aware novelist with a sense of humor, although it can be hard to tell the difference) to get companies to pay him for mentioning their products in his work: http://www.nomediakings.org/invoice.htm


Gary Unblinking Stock reminds us that the foul-mouthed, funny-by-being-true mnftiu "Get Your War On" comic strip has a new issue out: http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war9.html. And it's taken me so long to get this issue of JOHO out that there's actually a new new issue there: http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war10.html

Gary also recommends http://toy.thespark.com/burn/ that turns even the mildest of prose into a curse-like-a-sailor flame. But you still won't be as funny as mnftiu.

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Email, Scurrilous Attacks and Premeditated Insults

In my highly implausible bloggery about the Web as utopia, I wrote:

The Web is a world that is profoundly social. Its geography itself is social, a map of connections and passions. It is thus a world that we've made for ourselves that is a reflection of our best nature and a place where can imperfectly perfect our imperfect natures.

Kurt Kurosawa puts his finger on the issue in an email to me:

Nah, it amplifies the powers not only of trolls but True Evil.

There's a lot of truth to that. In fact, it's undeniably true. But, ultimately (i.e., indefensibly) I don't think it's a neutral technology. It's an amplifier because it's connective, and connectedness isn't neutral.

The real question is: How would we ever settle this issue?


I was all set to reply to a blogger who wrote, in reference to my "Web as Utopia" piece":

Dave, being a nice bloke, sees the web as utopia. A transcendent Platonic ideal of Socratic discourse, where those of good faith commune on the nature of the world. Then there are those who see in the seedier side of the web the darkness of their own souls, for we are all fallen creatures, and the line between good and evil runs through all our hearts.

But the blogger took down that entry. Damn! Well, I'll be damned if I'll waste the reply I'd already written:

Hell no! I don't see the Web as socratic. I see it as connective. Socratic dialogue is only one form of connecting, and a pretty paltry one at that. Yelling, joking, teasing, provoking, criticizing, grieving, and flirting are all forms of connecting. So is simultaneous masturbation. What makes the Web utopian (in some sense) is that it's connective, not that it's polite, rational or even intelligent. IMO.


Joe Murphy writes:

...I've an account at LiveJournal at the moment. I've been quite enjoying recording little moments of creativity, commenting in other journals, that sort of thing. By far the biggest userbase is kids, though. And they use the Net as a whole in amazing ways. I feel completely outrun and outdone.

Their webpages aren't so much a piece of virtual territory, as a combination of cute t-shirt and expressionist artwork - "look at me, I have style!" Some of the designs are just *terrific*. Most pages have a few meg of self-portraits, perhaps a handful of links to other sites, and *many* more links to their friends. A couple of different kinds of 'community' pages have sprung up, linking people together who like the same band, live in the same town, or share other interests. Lots of communities are just circles of online friends, with all the cliquishness you could imagine.

There's a huge lack of privacy, or need for anonymity, which I'm not used to...With the kids, 'asl' is the first 'question' asked. It baffles me, and makes me laugh, but to the kids it's absolutely second nature. Anonymity just isn't important. Friendliness and openness is. And when the first page one is directed to by a new friend is a journal, you get to read *everything*. Want a picture? Pow, one just got mailed. Want to chat? Here's my cam and there's my cat. Want to send me a text message on my mobile? There ya go.

So while I'm proud of my little efforts online, and very proud of the friends I've made over the last 7 years, and while I very much consider myself at home online, I'm amazed at what kids are doing with it.

Joe, I'm a little confused by your need to tell me what's going on with the kids. I'm 14.

And here's the nine-one-one on my A/S/L: Golden Delicious/10.5D in loafers but I like to go up a half size for sneakers/Harold Bloom.

 


Steve Giovannetti writes in response to something I said about the Web being spatial:

From my perspective you really need to consider that although the net appears or can be observed to be somewhere else it in fact is very tied to the physical world and to specific localities. e.g. If an overweight UNIX admin with plumbers butt bends over in the right aisle at my hosting facility in NJ and knocks over the system where my pages are served from my site is gone for the duration. Similarly it is not unheard of for sites to be brought down by a backhoe digging in the right (wrong) place. Granted it is very resilient to this kind of damage, but it just can't exist without this ligature to the world of servers and pipes.

Sorry to be so concrete but this has led me to consider the following. If you want to talk about the web as a place then where is it? The answer is that it's everywhere. It's all around us. Bits may be passing through your body right now encoded at 802.11b or as CDMA packets. Servers and clients are all over the world and in orbit above our heads. Sure the net stops where there is no electricity to drive the devices or where the cellular signal drops off to nothing but these are only minor technological limitations. This notion of the web as an omnipresent space fascinates me...

Well, neighborhood networks — people supplying wireless connectivity to the rest of the physical community — will make the Web close to ubiquitous and not just in the sense that bits may be passing through me. (Those long sends from Bob Frankston make my molars tingle.)

But, of course there is a physical component to the Internet. I think we agree that it'd be a mistake to think of it only as physical.


Tim Bouma writes:

I'm doing a project on 'values' - but discovering they're mostly blah blah (e.g. enron: respect, integrity, communication, excellence; bureau of atf: excellence, integrity, quality of service,we control the smokes- yada yada). These values are like a warm glass of milk gone cold . So I decided to try to come up with a core list of values of a 'successful' company that you totally wouldn't want to work for... So far I've identified four core values (or anti-values). What I've learned especially in my most recent experience that these values are certainly in operation but they don't end up on the corporate web-site

1. Money: Money is the ultimate measure of success. Less money means less success
2. Unchecked Ambition: Because unchecked ambition usually leads to certain types of success. And these types of successes normally lead to money (refer to value 1)
3. Our Success first, others second: If you don't first succeed yourself, how can expect others to succeed?
4. Ends matter; means don't: It’s the end that counts -how you get there doesn’t.

I think these values pretty much cover it - if you can think of any more core values, i'd appreciate it.

Wow, this is a rich field of study. How about:

Only instant answers accepted.
Mistakes are only made by incompetent people.
Death to the competition!
The real work is done at the top.
You can't handle the truth.

We are accepting entries in a Mini-Bogus Contest...


Bob "Professor" Morris writes, apropos of something else:

A mathematician walks into a room where the drapes are on fire. He notices a bucket of water on the floor nearby. He says "I know the solution to this problem," and walks out.

The engineer sees it, adds it to the bugs database, and walks out. The marketing sees it, and walks out before a shaft of sunlight can touch him and kill him.

Mini Bogus Contest!


Mike O'Dell writes, in full:

So how come the Instant Messaging conference lasted several days?

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Bogus contest: Kids Versions

Chris Heathcote, reading that I've written a kids version of my book(www.smallpieces.com/kids), suggests other business books be done as kids books, too. Here are some thoughts:

 

From Tom (Peters) I Am:

I will not settle for what's good.
I will not settle although I could.
I will not take my chips and cash in.
I will wear the Red Bang of passion.
I will not think in time with clocks.
I will not think within the box.
I will not think about my optioned stocks.
But I will think, sparing no dollars or pence!
About becoming His Excellency of Excellencel.

The Grinch who Stole Six Sigma.

Lawrence Lessig's The Code, darkly illustrated by Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are

Richard Scarry's Busy Book of Web Services

Who Moved My Chee...oh, wait, that's already a children's book.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Better ideas?


Contest Results

Our contest asked you to explain my book in 100 words.

Matt Carmill writes, based on reading only the kid's version:

Our lives are made of connections.

We connect to our family, connect to our neighbours, connect to our workmates. We can connect to anyone we can touch, anyone we meet.

The more lives we touch, the more our differences and similarities bring home the fantastic diversity of life and help us to understand both other people and ourselves.

The web is a place made of connections, made the way that we want them to, with no reference to distance or space.

It lets us reach out to people all over the world, and realise just how different and how similar we all are, bringing us all closer together.


Bruce Burn gives us several versions at different word counts:

"Small Pieces Loosely Joined" is a book about the world wide net: the Internet.  Well, no, that's not quite accurate.  "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" is a book about the bits that go together to form the internet.  No. No, that's not quite what it's about.  "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" is a book about the links formed between bits and pieces that become part of the structure of the world wide net.  Hmm.  Yes, that's about it.  (76 words)

The book reviews the processes which produced the Internet, and discusses the means by which the whole network has developed into a vast communication pool.  It details how individuals are able to contribute to an assemblage of knowledge, opinion, fact, and fiction.  It is a survey of the present state of development of the Internet, allowing for future changes as the communication tool responds to the needs of its users.  Although the author also calls his book "A Unified Theory of the Web", there can be no such theory, because the web constantly changes beyond the scope of what might be at any one time unified!  (182 words)

One day, if I'm a very naughty boy, I may have to read it. (195 words)

Until then, I'm keeping clear of any towers of Babel.  (205 words)


Ross Knights writes:

Your book's title reminds me of the description I heard long ago of a really old car: "10,000 automobile parts flying in close formation."

Haven't we all felt that way sometime? Until next time, keep those small pieces loosely joined! (RageBoy, this means you.)


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