Hyperlinked Organization  Title

For those who need to understand how the Web is transforming the way businesses work, yada yada yada

 
Meta Data

Issue: November 25, 1998  
Author/Editor: David Weinberger  
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy  
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.  
Current Personal Crisis: Unexpectedly disturbed by "frame-jacking" people who toss garbage into trash cans stacked for sale outside of hardware stores
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com  
Contact information: Click here

 

Contents

Document Communism: The means of publication are in the hands of the worker ... and the corprate document wall is coming down
Buzz Soup: DMA: Will this document management standard be Real Important?
Dumbass Ads and Business Diagrams: Andy Groves, pizza ads, and grammatical car violations
Linux's Good Week: The upstart OS gets some breaks
Where Do You Want to Market Today?: Microsoft's marketing-free zone is hardly
Boeing Walks the Walk: Their extranet saves them a bundle
Cool Tools: Set up your own free mini-extranet, and use a JOHO-developed tool for creating a table of contents just like this one!
Internetcetera: Ecommerce will be worth trillions! We're all going to be rich!
Links I Like (or find annyoing): Oddities, curiosities and bad rashes
Email, Innuendo and Unintended Inferences: The usual splendid email from our readers Desperate Cries for Help: Why errors are the big winners in life's Natural Selection Sweepstakes.
Bogus Contest: Computer shopping and extremely bad puns
Contest Results

 

It's a JOHO World After All

NPR's "All Things Considered" ran yet another commentary of mine, a mere 3 working days after one on the John Glenn Joke circulating on the Web,actually giving me a shorter Mean Time Between Commentaries than Andrei Codrescu! (AC's "Exquisite Corpse" beats JOHO, however, in the Worst Named Journal department.) Unfortunately, for "Internet copyright reasons," NPR cannot post the RealAudio file. So, if you want to read the transcript, click here. It's on how all of us boomer guys think we could have been Eric Clapton if we'd really set our mind to it.

(Tom Wolfe recently said something like "I don't mind hypocrisy so long as it's courteous." Delicious!)

KMWorld magazine has run a commentary of mine on why knowledge management might benefit from the existence of teachers within corporations.

Also, Internetworld online magazine has re-run an article originally in JOHO that was picked up by Intranet Design Magazine. Unfortunately, it's the "Ignoring Linux" article which is now somewhat out of date and embarrassing. Oh well.

Intranet Design Magazine is currently running last issue's article on the Document Object Model.

Also, if you look carefully at the recent issue of Sports Illustrated, you can see my knees 3,456 people to the left at the Hartford Expatriats' new stadium.

 

Document Communism

Comrades! We have entered the era of Document Communism! All power to the people (well, except to people who listen to right-wing radio programs, followers of fad diets, and, oh, the owners of Buick Skylarks ... you have to have some standards, even if you're a communist)!

How to maintain this ridiculous claim (but rather good article title, if I do say so myself)? We shall use the technique for which faux-communists are most famous: sloganeering.

The workers own the means of publication. And we're the workers. We can publish what we want, when we want, in the language we want. It feels good, doesn't it?

And it wouldn't be a People's Revolution without a little bit of Jacobin, let's say, over-exuberance, you know, the type of thing that sends the aristocrats to the guillotine, the land owners to the firing squad and the Tories to Canada. Today, it takes the form of overstatement, hyperbole, exaggeration, and the needless strewing of curse words where they're not strictly called for ... asshole.

As the owners of the means of publication, we (the people) have broken up the dominant Ink Cartel that once upon a time centralized all document production -- and flattening the life out of our documents by squeezing them between steel rollers.

There is no longer any real chance of containing information and we will soon give up on even trying. Then we'll have to change the laws to keep up. (But first we'll have the Email Martyrs who get sued for Corporate Treason for making jokes which turned out to be too true...and somehow ended up in the hands of special prosecutors.)

From each according to ability, to each according to need. When everyone can publish, a new information economy emerges. We are all information creators and consumers, but not in the same proportion. The creators take on new importance.

We are already beginning to see a new category of wise person emerge, the Word Shaman who is listened to because of the power, beauty, strength or humor of her words. Writers haven't been this highly regarded in corporations since the days of scribes. After all, you can view the past 40 years of corporate life (heck, the past 100 years, heck, corporate life forever) as aiming squarely at stomping out good writing, replacing it with the voiceless, tasteless, coming-out-the-wrong-orifice indigestible cracker dust that we've come to believe is a normal means of communication. You want to hear where the Central Committee moved after the Wall fell? Just listen into your corporate boardroom, read your mission statement, or listen to yourself on the phone when dealing with someone you think is more important than you. (Hey, we all do it.)

Tearing down the document wall. And speaking of the collapse of the Wall, we are witnessing the end of the document Great Wall. Y'see, although corporations think they use documents to communicate with their market, in fact they use documents as a fence to keep the market out. The put up relentlessly happy billboards painting a picture of how they would like themselves to be, and they hope no one notices that it is, of course, 100% Boar's Head baloney. (By the way, if you had a mystery meat company, would you call it "Boar's Head"???)

Customers and suppliers are now poking through the paper wall. They know that your company has as many bad ideas, as many pointless internal political struggles, as many wrong-turnings as any other company, including their own. The document wall is coming down, like it or not.

What a relief!

Word Workers Unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!

[NOTE: I stole this slogan from one of my most treasured t-shirts, from Electric Word, the Dutch progenitor of Wired. It's right next to "I went to Woodstock and only got this stupid Melanie t-shirt" t-shirt.]

dividing line

Buzz Soup: DMA

The Document Management Alliance (DMA) is like the Holy Roman Alliance that wasn't holy, wasn't Roman and wasn't an Alliance: the DMA isn't just about documents, it's not managing them that's probably going to push the thing forward, and it's more of a catfight than an alliance.

The DMA is the result of the merger of two competing standards from rival consortia. For the longest time, it looked like the big babies were going to insist on producing incompatible specs. But, finally, after egos were smoothed ("Ok, you can be president if I can be treasurer and you hire my band for the dance"), the DMA was born and, eventually, put under the warm wing of AIIM, the document management association that has managed to keep "document" out of its name. [Disclosure: I'm on AIIM's Emerging Technology Advisory Group.]

The DMA aims at allowing document repositories to interoperate with one another and with other applications. So, if you have some documents in a Documentum repository, some in a PC DOCS repository and some in an Open Text repository, you should be able to work with all three (check documents in, search for them, change permissions, etc.) without having to worry about which you're dealing with. What a concept!

Except for three key issues. First, the DMA spec itself is (necessarily) daunting. Second, the vendors have little reason to want DMA to succeed. Third, the alliance is in danger of over-stretching itself.

Let's do 'em in order...

It's complex. Documents are the most complex type of data humans have invented. They're structured hierarchically and ad hoc. That's why document management systems aren't simply database apps that anyone could dream up (although companies very frequently make that mistake). The different document management companies have very different data models and offer different types of functionality. Coming up with a comprehensive API spec that will actually work across all document management systems is exceedingly difficult. Implementing it is also hard. Thus, the DMA spec has been muuuuuch slower in being developed and accepted than the confusingly-named ODMA (Open Document Management API) which allows an application such as a word processor to check documents into a document management system and do a few other basic operations.

Vendors want it to die. Say you're a document management vendor. If a customer wants to put a document management system into another department and have it talk to yours, the only way to do it is to put in another serverful of your stuff. Now someone asks you to support a standard that will let customers slap in any old competitor's wares. Plus, it's going to be a pain in the tuchus to implement this DMA API. Tell me again what my motivation is in this scene, Mr. Spielberg?

Documents are the wrong data. The holy grail is a system that can access data wherever it lives (while respecting the privacy rights of that data) and massage it in ways useful to humans and to other software apps. DMA aims at accessing documents but then sometimes it remembers that document repositories are just one data source. So, let's extend DMA so that it can access every type of data. Well, nah, let's not. The specificities of document access are very specificious (hey, the receptionist at The Opryland Hotel asked me when I'd be "departuring" so leave me alone about "specificious") and are very unlike the specificities of workflow systems, ERP systems, etc. Only a document fanatic would expect the Universal Key to come from a document management API.

What's the right way to get at all this data, document and non-document? There may not be one. But if there is, it will likely turn out to be an object interchange standard like CORBA which allows two compliant systems to recognize and interrogate each other's objects. Or, it may turn out to be (in many cases) a data standard like XML. But, while XML enables two systems to swap data (no, it's not that simple), it doesn't help you figure out how to ask your document management system and your order admin system (for example) to deliver up data in the first place. Some things in life are just plain hard. (Oracle, among others, is talking about tackling this issue. And XMI makes a stab at it for code databases.)

The outlook?

1. There is a possibility that enough DMA will be implemented to enable search engines to index the contents of document repositories, or at least (as is currently the case) their metadata. That would cover 95% of the usage of document management systems by non-document-professionals (= normal people) without requiring a nightmarish full implementation.

2. A few vendors will almost fully support DMA. For example, FileNet will support it because its "integrated" product suite is so poorly patched together that it needs a way for its component systems to talk with one another. But DMA will not become much more than a low-level API for some high end document management systems. The Universal Glue for data and applications will be a combination of XML and some elixir chased by Ponce de Leon.

The official DMA web site is: http://www.aiim.org/dma.

 

dividing line

Dumbass Business Diagrams and Ads

Andy Groves' Only the Paranoid Survive is interesting only when in narrative mode. Otherwise, it consists of obvious generalizations. In the attempt to make his book look more like a report from a business management consultant (like why would you want to do that?) he runs the following highly insightful diagram to explain his concept of "inflection points," i.e., big changes.

:

I think you'll find that this diagram tells you just about everything you need to know in order to chart your way through the rapids of technologic change...


Papa John's pizza is running commercials featuring an executive who bolted from Pizza Hut. "Better ingredients, better pizza," he says. Lord knows, we all know that pizza executives are all so committed to giving us quality pizza experiences that that's the only reason they change jobs.

Just like in the software industry.


A new Dodge Intrepid commercial begins with the narrator saying, "Let's cut to the quick." Excuse me? Let's cut away dead flesh until we expose living, sensitive tissue, causing excruciating pain? Let's pull off our own fingernails and bite down hard on what's underneath? Or did we mean "cut to the chase," hmm? If you can't get your clichés right, why should we think you can get the hair-trigger (heir-trigger) airbag mechanism right?

dividing line

Linux's Big Week

First, an internal Microsoft memo leaked, describing the Beast's fear and loathing of software that is open, free, and more robust than NT 5. (Sorry, I keep forgetting that they've upped NT 4.5 by a record 1,995.5 revision levels all at once and now it's Windows 2000.) The memo: http://www.news.com/News/Item/0,4,28356,00.html

Then Sun helped the Linuxians port the Sun JDK 1.2 so you can create Java applications, "servlets" (applets that run on a server since Sun is apparently conceding that Java is too slow for clients) and Java Beans that work on Linux machines.

And then the Object Management Group has made CORBA available to Linux developers. CORBA is another of the mighty Anything But Microsoft standards.

Finally, in Kuala Lumpur, Vice President "Al Gore" Rhythm denounced the anti-democratic, tyrannical, fascist hand of Microsoft that is oppressing people yearning to breathe the sweet, burning-tired-scented air of freedom. (I think. I didn't read the coverage very closely.)

The question remains not whether Linux will become a dominant flavor of UNIX but whether any flavor of UNIX, even Open Source Ripple, can de-cone NT 5.

 

dividing line

Where Do You Want to Market Today?

Microsoft is running an add for Microsoft TechNet that says:

 

0% marketing-speak.
100% techno-speak.

Let's just see how well they do with this claim, shall we?

On the day I checked, the lead item on the page (http://www.microsoft.com/technet) read as follows:

The launch of SQL Server 7.0 is the buzz this week at Fall Comdex '98, the computer industry's largest tradeshow. SQL Server 7.0 brings improved decision-making to all levels of business with scaleable solutions, powerful data warehousing, and integration with the upcoming Office 2000 suite.

As the best database for the Windows Family, SQL Server 7.0 is the relational database management system designed for a broad spectrum of customers and independent software vendors. SQL Server 7.0 supports current and crucial business applications like Data Warehousing, mobile computing, branch automation, and eCommerce. Look to TechNet for information on effectively deploying SQL Server 7.0.

Whoa, slow down, will ya, Microsoft! This technical lingo is waaay over the head of us poor li'l marketing guys!

 

Middle World Resources

A Compendium of Resources
Walking the Walk  

Information Week (Nov. 9) describes how Boeing is improving its relations with its suppliers and customers by setting up intranets, and also by gluing the wings onto its planes better.

Their Part Analysis and Requirements Tracking (PART) page enables 600 airlines to order parts from Boeing without going through their EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) system. The site processes 4,000 transactions a day and has cut the costs associated with processing orders by 25%. It's shortened turn around time, helps customers locate hard-to-find parts (e.g., fresh peanuts) and enables the airlines to cut down on inventory.

Most popular item ordered through the PART page? Really cool decals.

Cool Tool
For the Hyperlinked Organization
 

 

Once again, we have two tools for you.

1. You're all invited to visit the JOHO Community. Excite, desperate to succeed in some way other than by being a search engine, is enabling anyone and everyone to set up a site with some basic collaborative tools. Potential users include families that want to publish the latest pictures of Biff and Buffy and their little dog Binky. Or groups of philatelists who misunderstand what the term is and think they're doing something seamy.

It's quite easy to set up a site and you get some nice capabilities, including the ability to publish pictures, engage in discussions, have a group calendar, share bookmarks, and publish a members' contact list. If only they let you post documents, you could use it as a mini-extranet site.

You can visit the JOHO experiment at
http://mycomm.excite.com/
mycomm/browse.asp?cid=.Phux4Z_1pOG
. And when that doesn't work, go to: http://www.excite.com/communities/directory/ and try to browse to my community. But since I forgot how I classified it and there's (ironically) no search capability, good luck finding it. Let me know. (I thought I put it in Religion -> Communities Pagan, but it seems to have been exorcised.)

2. If I may be so bold, the second cool tool is a little Visual Basic thingy I put together to automate the building of the !#@$% table of contents at the beginning of every JOHO. It looks through an HTML file for "name" references (e.g., <a name="section_name">) and automatically constructs the set of links that refer to those named elements.

It's a svelte 25K. You can get it here: http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/tocbuilder.exe.
But to run it, you'll need the VB5 DLL, "MSVBVM50.DLL" which is a bloated 700MB. In a really ungracious move, rather than put this DLL on my pay-per-byte web site, here's a link to someone else who has it posted: http://www.myspace.co.uk/fdz/msvbvm50.zip And here's a non-UK, non-zipped source:

http://www.xmission.com/pub/users/p/
plporter/MSVBVM50.DLL

I'd be happy to get your comments on this unsupported piece of freeware. Send them to [email protected]

 

 

Internetcetera

Information Week's online news service reports:

Forrester Research yesterday estimated that Internet commerce could account for $3.2 trillion in worldwide corporate revenue by 2003 and could represent 5% of sales in the global economy. The announcement was made at the annual Forester Forum in Boston, entitled "Preparing for Dynamic Trade in the Internet Economy."

Unfortunately, 32% of that will be at the Amazon.com site and the rest of it will consist of pictures of the stars of Baywatch 2000 (Pam Anderson, Marilyn Vos Savant and Madeline Albright).


In the last issue, we ran stats from Zona Research indicating that Netscape was gaining in its lead on Microsoft for ownership of the browser market. Now PC Magazine (Nov 17) has run the results of an IDC study that shows "Internet Explorer has surpassed Netscape Navigator in market share." Netscape is arguing that you need to subtract the AOL users from that number because, well, AOL users are Internet pond scum so you can't really count them or even let them live, in which case NS beats MS at 42% to 27%.

Links I Like (or find annoying)

Mark Schenecker was among those to send around some wonderful demotivational parody posters. He provides a link to the complete set:

http://www.cs.wustl.edu/~schmidt/demotivation.html

The home page of the company producing these lovely, morose, cynical, depressing reminders that there are necessarily more losers than winners, is, endearingly:

http://www.despair.com


Tim Hiltabiddle contributes a site with some fancy-ass web design and graphics:

http://www.nagafuji.com/

Is this the future or just a desperate cry for help?


The Industry Standard has published an article on XML that has some good content and excellent links but runs the unfortunate subhead: "Slowly but surely, the new Web development tool is winning friends and influencing people." I know authors don't get to write their own headlines and subheads, but shouldn't an "in" rag like The Industry Standard -- especially one with the words "industry" and "standard" in its name -- have jumped on the XML bandwagon a little bit earlier? And how much faster does a standard have to sweep an industry to escape the "slowly but surely" cloche? Jeez Louise!

Maybe they should read PC Week more regularly. On Nov 16, PC Week ran an article with the headline "XML Forges Smoothly Ahead." The author, Larry Seltzer (notice that with our newfound maturity, we're not making fun of Larry's name, but we encourage you to do so on your own), actually does an excellent job explaining what XML is, why it's important, and how it's being taken up by business. He even covers the DOM (see our previous issue). Larry, you might want to cold call the editors at The Industry Standard.

http://www.thestandard.com/articles/display/0,1449,2518,00.html?01


RageBoy points us to the IRSS Public Opinion Poll Question Database at http://www.irss.unc.edu/data_archive/pollsearch.html. Here you can search for questions asked in polls over the past 30 years or so. For example, a search for "Nixon" and "Impeachment" turned up the following from a 1973 poll:

Suppose the federal courts tell President Nixon he should let a panel of judges hear the Watergate tapes privately to decide which information on the tapes sheds light on Watergate, but the President still refuses to hand them over on the grounds that executive privilege is being violated. Do you think if that happened Congress would be justified or not to begin impeachment proceedings against President Nixon?

Responses: 51.20% Justified
34.20% Not justified
14.60% Not sure

Searches for "Clinton" and "Blow job" turned up no hits, unfortunately.

[Speaking of RageBoy, the current issue of his 'zine, EGR, is very amusing: http://www.rageboy.com/china.html. In it, he addresses the Chinese people on the topic of the Internet.]

dividing line

Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs

With reference to the commentary I did for National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" on the John Glenn joke that swept the Internet a few days before he (or an alien assuming his form) returned to earth, Bruce Milne pointed out that how soon you received the joke in your Email was an indication of how many degrees of separation there are between you and the Center of the Web.


On the same topic, Peter Merholz writes:

What interests me is that this is perhaps the first email joke that "gets" the medium in which it's being delivered.

This joke could not be delivered by postal mail, by phone, by fax. This was the first time I've seen a joke aware of the power of email to send a message, virus-like, to EVERYONE, yet understand that it's *not* being broadcast, that there is an element of possible subterfuge

Peter then has the good taste to not like Burn Rate (with regard toto comments in the previous issue):

I haven't read BURN RATE but I hate it anyway, because I find Michael Wolff's writing for The Industry Standard utterly banal, because he attacks friends of mine groundlessly, because he's not that funny, and he's a totally self-important prick.

In fact, maybe there's a Bogus Contest around the concept of Books We Hate Too Much to Read. It's a real time-saving category. (Contributions are being accepted.)


RageBoy points us to Dave Winer's site where he has a small app that lets you type in an URL and get back the XML (yes, XML) that Netscape produces when you click on its "What's Related?" button.

If you type in JOHO's home address (http://www.hyperorg.com), you find that JOHO is related to:

The Edge
Ditherati
Cyber Angels
Netizens Netbook
Cold Case
Captivated
Architects of the web
ACM Proceedings: Universal Access to the Net

This isn't such a bad list, and it's sort of flattering to be compared to The Edge.

You can find Winer's app at http://nirvana.userland.com/whatsRelated/.

But, RageBoy, pointing out that the "What's Related" button invokes Alexa, adds -- more trenchantly than he perhaps knows --

Would somebody *please* unpack this ALEXA scam for what it really seems, to this boy anyway: Total Hot Air -- which is of course related to the mating habits of subtropical fruit bats.

Well, Larry Fitzpatrick, in response to last issue's comments on the browser war, forwards the following about a piece of technology being built into Netscape:

Alexa technology, as used by Netscape, opens an alarming privacy hole. Once you click the button for the new "What's Related?" feature in Netscape Communicator 4.06 (or 4.5 beta), in its default configuration the browser sends the URL of every page you visit thereafter to a site owned by Netscape [6]. Thus Netscape (and anyone packet-sniffing on the path between you and Netscape) acquires a complete list of every web page that interests you...

This is from TBTF, one of our favorite 'zines You can get to this article at:

http://www.tbtf.com/archive/10-27-98.html#s03

Oh, sure, we once made Alexa our cool tool of the week, but that was back when we were young and in a "Let's build an embarrassing file on all our readers" phase. Rest assured that the resulting information has been either destroyed or already put to excellent use.


David Hansen went straight from RageBoy's recommendation of George Steiner's Beyond Babel to Amazon.com and came across the following:

 
List Price: $18.95
Our Price: $15.16
You Save: $3.79 (20%)

 

David found it amusing, in a "Web's Greatest Bloopers" way, that the Amazon price is actually more expensive than the listed list price.

Upon closer investigation, however (namely, pasting the Amazon snippet into JOHO), we have discovered that the list price is in fact listed as $18.95. But, because it is set in the strikethrough font, the 8 looks like a 0.

There's a free, slightly gnashed copy of Burn Rate for the person who comes up with the best way in which this piece of information can be used against someone we don't like. (Hint: We like RageBoy, we really do.)

 


Don Norman, author of a couple of really good books ("The Design of Everyday Things" and "Invisible Computers"), takes issue with one of the most persistent of JOHO perseverations: the role of documents. After some back and forth, he writes:

No, you have it backwards. Paper is for immediate, short-term, temporary use. Electronics is for permanent storage. Paper is the medium of choice for temporary documents. Electronics is the medium of choice for permanence. Why? Paper is a high tech, high resolution, high contrast, lightweight, rapid access display device. Books are good because you can scan them quickly and easily, hunting down the section you want. Electronics are harder to browse. But for long term, electronics can, well, they can be searched electronically.

I come from the doc mgt industry where paper is the medium for permanence because it is currently usually the only legally accepted medium and because you don't have to worry about how you're going to play back paper in 20-50 years. But, in the sense in which I meant my original comments, I believe (= I'm guessing here) that over the next 5 years, we'll continue to use paper as the way of bringing closure to decision processes -- the kiss of ink on paper (well, toner anyway) still strengthens our spine as we resolutely take up arms in some business cause, etc. (Paper business docs are part of an heroic view of business life.) While it makes more sense to record decisions electronically, culturally we still think of electrons as evanescent but paper as permanent. I.e., God uses scrolls and tablets, not an XML-based word processor as He should.)

 


Clinton Glenn was pleasantly surprised by the recent special issue on "hijacked Predictions" in which RageBoy took over my attempt to prognosticate in a particularly gaseous form.

I'm shocked and amazed!! You and Rage Boy have finally said something of substance - and in the same issue even!!

Thank you for pointing this out. We'll make sure it doesn't happen again.

Clinton adds:

I wonder how many of these CEOs pay annual dues to The Media Lab at MIT. It seems I read just about everything they "envision" long ago on the Media Lab web site. They pay their bucks, read the reports, and become instant experts on the future. Not an original thought in the bunch!!!!

On the other hand, what a great way to make extra bucks for us weenies. Just read the MIT web page for six months and then go out on the lecture circuit as a visionary expert. I now have a new goal in life!! What a racket!!

Shhh. Don't let the others catch on...


Jock Gill took seriously (as you should have) our request for suggestions about future trends. He writes:

Well my infrared vision sees it differently with murky clarity:

Wireless. Technology that does more for us without our involvement -- real time auctions of the electricity generated by our fuel cells when not in demand by our personal requirements is a good bet -- but mostly, It's the Culture, Stupid. What will the culture of the smart edge be? When everyone of us has the equivalent of a System 7 communications switch woven into their shirt, who needs a Ma Bell, or the Seven Dwarfs, in the middle? With the Internet, who needs Sys7 anyway?

Look at paper and think monologue. Look at wireless bits and think dialog. Like the man says, It's the Culture, Stupid. Now if we can just relearn how to talk with one another, preferably face to face, and to take care of the 'we' of the relationship .....

On a barely-related topic, feel free to sign up for the SETI (search for extra-terrestial intelligence) distributed computing project from UC Berkeley. Starting in April, 1999, you'll be able to download a screensaver that will do background processing of satellite data trying to detect the patterns that would indicate purposeful signals. This is one of those feel-good projects that has the potential to mess up millions of computers all at once: http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/


Eric Springman also rose to the challenge to find some predictions a little less expected than the ones we cited in that previous issue. I've had to edit out some really good stuff because this issue is already longer than Kenneth Starr. If you want to read the full essay, go to http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/springman.html.

The only reliable prediction is that some simple factor that nobody had envisioned will cause things to turn out radically different from what is projected. Here are a handful of examples of how this principle works.

Projection: People in cities will live in immense towers and exist in stratified communities according to elevation due to the limitation of vertical travel (this from Jules Verne who predicted lengthy undersea voyages and space travel among many other now commonplace realities). Result: The elevator was invented, and now the people are stratified by rank and income but free to mingle in the ground floor bar.

...

With that said, here are my more tenuous predictions.

...

1) The biggest craze since actual sex will be virtual sex, where one can purchase a virtual home-sex system complete with attachments available as upgrades or add-ins/ons that will allow the user to connect with any other self-conscious, tool-using entity on the planet in corporeal ecstasy. ... [T]he user will select actions by verbal or touch command and experience the look and feel of performing that action.... People will work for the sole purpose of financing this activity and acquiring upgrades - the possibilities are unlimited.

2).... Intermediate Future: Things get big again, because no one could really push the buttons on that watch-sized computer anyway.

...

Distal Future: 5) Following the lead of the sex industry, as usual, people realize that being connected to every semi-sentient being within light-seconds is a REALLY BIG TIME-SINK filled with mostly unsatisfying interactions, annoying delays and disconnects, and brain-numbing advertisements - much like television. ... Then they will go back to the Discotheque to seek comfort and real sex in the arms of another human being.

...


Australian Ron rises to the same challenge [which I've also edited down]:

I'll save you the detail of one particularly chilling vision of a future where the internet replaces TV as the passive medium of choice, with mindblowing ads auctioned to the highest bidders and all supply metered by licensed corporate providers...

in the marionette's eyes
glimpse the nature of the wire

snapping back to the point then, ( just in case there was one somehow framed here within the longview ;) to muse on the speculative future and which bit of the past's ass it happens to be kissing right at this moment - here's a little pearl I found earlier this week that's perhaps on topic - perhaps not..

Ron points us to James Finn Garner's "Apocalypse Wow!" which you can read at: http://www.hyperorg.com/jfgarner.txt


Keith Dawson, editor of the venerable tbtf points out that he persists (despite last issue's use of the past tense) in maintaining a list of sites that only work with one or another of the major browsers, although frankly I think he'd better off not advertising this obsessional behavior. In any case, the list is at http://tbtf.com/exclusionary.html

Keith also writes:

(BTW I've dropped the wuh-wuh-wuh from my links. Come to think of it, that may not be such a good idea if I ever need to move the site, because another ISP may not serve the triple-dubless URL, at least not for free.)

This means that the correct address for tbtf is http://tbtf.com. And, I'm proud to announce that I have picked up the three wuh's that Keith abandoned and now can be reached at http://www.www.hyperorg.com.


Mike Muegel made the mistake of using the term "ontology" in some correspondence with me. Why a mistake? Let me give you a hint. The title my doctoral dissertation was "Heidegger's Ontology of das Ding." If only I were kidding.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that "ontology" no longer means the study of being (no, not of being something), but instead means something like "task-independent knowledge bases" (to site one source of many that I didn't really understand) or a model of some particular patch of expertise. This seems to be coming out of a desire to give computers not only a coherent model of the world within which they can act but also a true model. I have to say, however, that at the moment I'd be more interested in setting an "intelligent agent" free into the world of, say, Pride and Prejudice than the typical corporation. We'd learn more.

For those who give a wuh-wuh-wuh -- and I would recommend against it -- Mike points us to: http://www.ladseb.pd.cnr.it/infor/ontology/Papers/OntologyPapers.html.


Patrick, Lord of Kyle, responds to our fulminations about Post-Modernism:

Okay, this is by far the coolest thing I've ever seen.

http://www.cs.monash.edu.au/cgi-bin/postmodern

Someone wrote a program that randomly generates PM essays. Seriously. And they are pretty good, aside from the fact that they don't make any sense. Which is actually why they're good, because neither do real post-modernist essays. Have a blast.

Kyle, I'm waaaay ahead of you. Perhaps you've read a little tome entitled Heidegger's Ontology of 'das Ding'? Yup ... completely auto-POMO'ed.


The Frequently Present Tony McKinley sends the following email:

By publishing via email, I am hereby staking my trademark claim on the phrase:

Ask-Kicker.

Thank you.

Tony explains that "This is all about Information Retrieval, Automated Knowledge Creation..." My formal definition would be: "Ask-Kicker: Software that provides the information a user wants before the user knows enough to ask." It will soon be complemented by "And Sir!" systems that respond to what you're Ask-kicking by appending an honorific to make you feel better in your Quest Shunning.

Tony, in a later message, adds:

And, I suppose it's inevitable that the gaps, rips, tears and other imperfections in the shared fabric of knowledge would be called Ask-Holes.

You will be delighted to know that I am forbearing the obvious Bogus Contest on the topic (while hypocritically -- but courteously -- accepting submissions on the topic).


Paul Dupuy, Jr. (he had been Sr., but he was demoted for reasons I've promised not to discuss) writes:

A gentle reminder that some people see the Web through a 640x480 viewport. If a table has a WIDTH attribute set to, say, "665", it is a little hard (impossible, actually) for folks with a narrow view to see the whole thing at once since 640 < 665. Your "Table of Contents" table at http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-nov5-98.html has WIDTH="665"...

Perhaps you intended some kind of subtle "subliminal" (sub-mental?) inducement for those who might happen to "view source"? 665 is damn near 666 and an inherent "urge" for homeostatic symmetry completion will call to mind this digitally reduplicative number. The value 666 is of course immediately identifiable as the summation of 1 to 36. And 36 is 6 squared. Since "6" sounds like "Sex", the (sub-)mental acrobat will thus be induced to imprint a positive association with the current stimuli (i.e., your website). Clever. But I still have to scroll sideways to read the text in the table.

My new motto: "JOHO: One Digit Short of Pure Evil."

dividing line

Desperate Cries for Help

Tony McKinley writes:

Mr. Wrong Way grows up. The guy learns he has the worst sense of direction in the world.
He realizes every time he thinks he should turn right, he should turn left.
He tries to teach himself this simple lesson: Every time you think you should go one way, go the opposite.
It's a hard rule to learn.
When does he draw the line, when did he think to go one way or the other?
Which choice should he override?
Which one of his decisions does he decide is the one which is the original wrong turn - the one he is turning, or the 'last' one he decided to turn?
It's a value judgment, but when?
How do you know when you are wrong?
What a problem.
Can JOHO please answer this, once and for all?
It's a hard rule to learn,
Don't trust your last decision.
... o shit.
Thanks

This leads to JOHO's Paradox of Confirmed Errors which says that once you make a wrong turn, the next time the wrong turn feels familiar so you are more likely to make the same error again, thus leading to a further sense of familiarity until the wrong turn carries the sense of certain knowledge. (Thus, companies fail while certain they are in fact succeeding. And tacit knowledge is never to be trusted.)


Windows Magazine (Nov.) published an Easter Egg for Microsoft Word 97 that looks fantastic. Unfortunately, it turns out that it leaves out a couple of important steps. But even after tracking down the right instructions, I can't get it to work. Let me know if it works for you:

1.Open a new document
2.Type "Blue"
3.Select word
4.Go to Format -> Font
5.Choose Font Style Bold, Color Blue
6.Type " " (space) after word "Blue"
7.Go to Help -> About
8.Ctrl-Shift-Left click the Word icon/banner
9.Use Z for left flipper, M for right flipper, and ESC to exit

Jeez, you'd think MS would have better things to do, like making Win98 work without freezing every 4 hours or destroying another product category by releasing mediocre software that drives out meritorious entries. In any case, let me know if you can get it to work.

dividing line

Bogus contest: Electronic Shopping

Here's a really dumb contest. Stupid puns. Ack. Clearly it's time for a vacation.

Anyway, your challenge is to come up with really annoying, dumbass puns about buying stuff through your computer. Here are some examples -- and, please, don't drink milk while reading this unless you want to run it through your nasal passages, it's just that funny:

 

Cheerios come through the cereal port
Wine comes through the communications port
Visible baking soda deodorant comes through the C-PU
(see PU)
Poppy bagels through the CD drive (seedy drive)
Dissatisfied perambulator customers press the carriage return

 

Get it? Oh ho ho ho, I'm still laughing.

If you can't do better than this, then you don't deserve to be a JOHO reader.


Contest Results

Gabrielle Taylor adds the following to our discussion of childishly insulting ways of making fun of the names of computer companies:

I use "Netslug", the obvious "Internet Exploder", and the inappropriate-for-prime-time "Microfuck". However, when an acquaintance of mine was dating a Microfuck programmer in '92 or so, my friends and I called him "Mr. SmallSoft."


Danyel Fisher adds to our list of "e" words with whole words left when you take the "e" off:

...those ancient porno web sites that have ceased to turn you on? e-rot-ick.


Brent Eades closes out the genre with the following:

E-Spouse: The Web's very first virtual-reality husband/wife. Comes in frames or no-frames, so to speak.

E-Squire: The cyber-d0oD who's fooling around with your e-spouse behind your back.

E-Scape: The corporate or technological entity we blame for all our problems on the Net. Currently Microsoft.

E-Rode: Synonym for the "info-hiway", "info-autobahn", etc. As spelled by semi-literate Usenet posters.

E-Quip: e.g., my lame attempts at humour above and below.

E-Poxy: A skin condition suffered by legions of adolescent wAreZ d0oDz and the like.

E-Migrant: One of those poxy teens, above, who moves from freebie homepage site to freebie homepage site, usually after getting busted for distributing wAreZ.

E-Merge: What numerous portals and search engines do; e.g., Lycos/HotBot.

E-Lapse: A temporary failure to pay attention while online, which may result in your sending posts like, "God, the moderator is such a shit- sucking DORK!!" to the entire listserv rather than to just one member.

And so we close not just the genre but the e-nt-ire (anger at your Microsoft web server) issue as our wing-finned 6-seater rolls down the information highway, a hydrocarbonous mist of bad puns trailing from the exhaust and the promise of dubious insights always just ahead. Drive on ... !


Editorial Lint

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.

Subscription information, or requests to be removed from the JOHO mailing list, should be sent to [email protected]. 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 [email protected].

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


The Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization is a publication of Evident Marketing, Inc.

"The Hyperlinked Organization" is trademarked by Open Text Corp. JOHO gratefully acknowledges Open Text's kind permission to use this felicitous phrase.

For information about trademarks owned by Evident Marketing, Inc., please see our Preemptive Trademarks™™ page at http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/trademarks.html.