Hyperlinked Organization Title

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

 
Meta Data
Issue: September 7, 1998  
Author/Editor: David Weinberger  
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy  
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.  
Current Personal Crisis: I refuse to drink any more apple juice until I find out why it's brown
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com  
Contact information: Click here

 
 

Contents

 

One Square Inch of Silk: The first India InternetWorld reminds us why we started caring.
No Pun Jini Headline: Sun aims at a universal, operating system without an operating system. Lucent, too.
Making the Web Accessible: Sites for sore eyes.
Do Gooding: Look good, do good, be good.
Intergalactic Domains: NASA aims to out-universal Sun.
Cool Tool:Norton Travelers Kit -- Fluffy filler for bloated newsletter.
Internetcetera:Keeping senior executives comfortable.
Email, Comments and Rude Remarks
Bogus Contest:Web personals.
Bogus Mini-Contest: Parse the email addresses. Fun for old and young alike!

 

Special Information for Special People

We have published another Special JOHO-ette, this time a response from Chris "RageBoy" Locke to a passing comment in a previous issue. RageBoy rages on about fiction, fact, and why I suck. You can find it here.

Then, RB and I were engaged in some innocuous email in which I made the mistake of saying something amusing about the knee-jerk effectiveness of the phrase "So-and-so Gets It about the Web." Next thing I know, RB has republished my correspondence in his newsletter (simultaneously sending me a notice that he's sure I won't mind -- when it comes to permission, RB definitely doesn't Get It) along with a screed supposedly showing that -- surprise! -- I'm once again wrong.

Ok, to be frank, he's written an important statement about the spiritual side of the Web. Well worth reading. Get It here.

(As RB notes, this is something he and I have been talking about for a while. You'll be hearing from me on this topic just as soon as the draft of an article on it is rejected by a particular major industry publication. Any day now.) 

I've added a RageBoy Chronicles page to the JOHO web site so that you can follow all the back and forth (but really so I could get Chris's picture off my front page).

Scourge of JOHO

By the way, Chris has been appointed the official Scourge of JOHO, a title he richly deserves.

Finally, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" has seen fit to run another commentary of mine. I have to say, however, that I'm a bit ashamed of it. It's supposed to be funny, but to my ears I sound like everyone's annoying uncle who at Thanksgiving gets tipsy on hard cider and does The Napkin Trick to his own vast amusement. So, I discourage you from clicking here.

 

One Square Inch of Silk

Taj

I am overwhelmed. Close to speechless (but, alas for you, not close enough). I am reeling with ideas that smell of jasmine. I am projectile-sweating cardamom-scented yogurt. My bag is stuffed with color-soaked cloth and weasley gimcracks for relatives I don't like.

In short, I'm in India.

Why should you care? Because I'm at the first India InternetWorld where you can see -- with the freshness of the new -- what got us so excited about the Web in the first place.

Besides, do you really expect me to go to India and not write about it? I'm supposed to ignore the fact that outside my window 900 million people are walking to places I've never seen? That the air is wet with smells that drip the sweetness of the earth? That in each mustard seed you cut, you find another contradiction?

Is the prose purple enough for you? Yeah, fine. You know what, it's not still not as purple as India's reality. We're going to have to go for batik prose.

Or perhaps I should adopt the only suitable writing strategy: Surrender and give links to some works that actually communicate something about India:

Octavio Paz: In Light of India
Vikram Chandra: Red Earth and Pouring Rain
Ian Jack (ed.): India: Granta 57

The facts

The idea behind India InternetWorld held in Delhi was to do a cookie cutter on the other Meckler shows. Conference sessions, topics, exhibit floor, fonts ... all were happily lifted from the parent organization.

The cookie-cutter approach worked (granting that the dough itself had the delicious savor of tamarind). Oh sure, you could always tell you were in India. The exhibit hall could use some paint, you climb stairs on the opposite side of the step, and you're expected to make some body contact as you move through the crowd. And in addition to Microsoft, HP, SGI, IBM, and Computer Associates, there were companies such as DehliNet and PlanetAsia.com. But there was no mistaking it: We're at Internetworld, as placeless as the Web itself.

The conference did about twice the business as the organizers (Microland) expected: 25-30,000 souls traipsed through the exhibit hall in three days. Forty exhibitors. About 1,000 paid conference attendees. Sixty conference sessions. 45km of cable. Not too shabby. And very, very well organized.

Learning the Lessons Over Again

The first keynote speaker was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu. He is a hero to the Indian Internet community and was greeted with a standing ovation. He then lit the ceremonial lamp and gave a PowerPoint speech that began with a bunch of slides to prove that the Internet is important -- very standard stuff, but still an important message in this emerging market. (You have to wonder how many people in the audience were familiar with Peapod, "America's Internet grocer.")

More interestingly, he presented the Internet as a cure for government "insensitivity, slowness, corruption and hierarchy," allowing for the delivery "of government services in radically different ways." He hopes it will help produce "SMART" government: Simple, Moral, Accountable, Responsive and Transparent. He sees the Web as a way of providing "one-stop, non-stop services" and is aiming at making sure that every village has access and that tariffs go down, in large part by withdrawing the telephone monopoly.

This is remarkable stuff. Here's a government minister in a country world famous for its bureaucracy who views the Web as a way of fundamentally reforming the way the government runs. When he was introduced, the conference host said proudly that all of the communication with the minister about the event was conveyed via email, short-circuiting the 10 layers of secretaries that stand between the minister and the public. There was spontaneous applause, not because some trees had been spared but because the Internet was enabling direct communication between government and citizen.

What a concept. And truly thrilling.

The State of the Art in Industry

In India, the question isn't ISDN vs. 56K or even 28.8K vs 14.4K. It's not even touch-tone versus dial. It's a basic issue of getting the phones into villages and getting them to work.

Yet, of course, there is a very vital software industry in India, from its "off shore programming" capabilities to the large presence of Indians in the US software industry, and including people such as Sabeer Bhatia, the founder of HotMail, who was treated like a minor deity at the conference. (Now for some penetrating global analysis: I got asked by a TV interviewer why I thought India had no well-known software of its own. Having nothing to say, I shouted "Death to Amerikan Capitalism!" and pretended to faint.)

But the broad base of attendees at the conference seemed to be where the similar US audience was about 18 months ago: You don't have to explain what an intranet is, but you do have to give examples of how intranets can be used for something other than publishing policies and procedures.

Then, of course, there is the odd fact that although the audience understands these issues pretty well, their hands-on experience of the Web is likely to be far more limited than any equivalent US audience. For many attendees, it was not yet an everyday part of their life.

One result may be that intranets will grow faster than the Internet in India, especially intranets running over the cable within a company's physical plant, thus avoiding the perils of the Indian phone system. ("We're sorry but your call cannot go through due to wild boars rutting in the cable trenches.") So, with a later start, India may be able to catch up faster, avoiding some of the distractions of the Internet. We'll see.

Cheap Political Points

During one of my sessions, an audience member commented that the Indian press is far freer than the American press. (He was making a point about how, in the flood of information unleashed by an intranet, one can identify the stuff worth believing.) No argument. India wins the diversity contest hands down. And not just in political opinions. The history, architecture, ethnic mix, religious mix all are diverse beyond our most liberal tolerances. (On the other hand, the local papers report that a play is being censored because it makes one of the Hindu gods seem too human. This is directly opposite the great American tradition of freedom which insists that all gods are human so that we can then tear them down with sleazy sex scandals.)

You may be bemused (well, that certainly isn't the right word) to know that India is insisting that America's bombing of Afghanistan gives India the right to bomb terrorist camps in Kashmir. The US maintains that there is an important difference: there are armies massed on both sides of the border, so an airstrike would quickly escalate in full-scale war.

Permit me translate this for you. India shouldn't attack Kashmir because Kashmir isn't helpless enough. Take a lesson: that's how you get to be a super-power, guys.

 

Mini Bogus Contest

In India, traffic ignores lanes. In fact, horns replace lanes.

Your mini-bogus task: Come up with a way in which this is a metaphor for some aspect of the Web.

 

Now for your gift

"Whadddya bring me? Whaddya bring me?" Oh sure, I know what you're thinking. Well, I didn't forget you. Each and every one of you loyal readers gets one square inch of genuine Indian silk! (This authorized gift must be claimed in person by September 15. Please bring a birth certificate and your official Web operator's license (photocopies not accepted). Offer not valid for employees of JOHO, relatives of employees, or readers of employees.)

 

And the Envelope Please...

At an award ceremony hosted by Computer Associates, The Economic Times and Microland, the first Indian Internet awards were announced. And the winners were:

Most Popular Indian site: www.rediff.com
Best Designed Indian site: www.rediff.com
Most Useful Indian site: www.homeindia.com

At the ceremonies, attendees were treated to performances by two Indian singers (including a rendition of "My Heart Will Go On," the love theme from "Saving Private Ryan" (I think ... I haven't been to the movies in a while) and, best of all, no acceptance speeches. Hollywood, I hope you're paying attention...

 

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No Pun Jini Headline

I personally am already sick of all the punning headlines about Sun's Jini proposal. In fact, I wasn't going to cover it out of resentment of Sun's eagerness to make pun-worthy product names. But, Jini is important as a trend if not as a thing in itself (not to be confused with Kant's merry and oh-so-pun-worthy "Ding an sich").

Jini is Java middleware (sort of) that sits between all the different electronic devices in an environment such as computers, Palm Pilots, printers, fax machines, computer projectors, and aquatic tacit knowledge collectors (formerly known as water coolers). No matter what operating system these devices are running, in a Jini-fied world, when they plug into a network, they all know about one another's existence. So, when, for example, your PDA wants to output to the auto-tattooing machine in the corner, Jini moves the appropriate Java code into the PDA, and voila, nothing works because it's still networked software. But, at least it will have failed at something noble.

Since one of the original reasons to have an operating system was to enable a computer to talk to peripherals, Jini moves us closer to the dream of having computers without an OS. (Could this be aimed at Microsoft? Could hatred of The Beast of Redmond possibly be driving the entire computing industry? Could "It was a fruitless effort to escape from Microsoft" be the winning answer to the question "Why did the technology company cross the road?"?)

Keep in mind that Jini is a proposal for a spec for a technology for a product. In short, it's really a bunch of cool t-shirts.

It could happen.

Disco Inferno

Sun has Jini. Microsoft has Millennium. Lucent has Inferno. It's easy to spot Inferno: it's the one that's shipping. It's all part of the race to own every electric device on the planet.

Inferno is Bell Lab's strategy for providing an "information dial tone." By writing to Inferno, developers can have applications that run on Unix, NT, CORBA, DCOM, DCE, AppleTalk, TCP/IP, SNA, TDMA, CDMA, Cable TV, ODBC, LDAP and RDBMS's. Inferno is, in effect, a cross-platform (hardware and software) operating system. The aim is to provide a layer of abstraction above the network so that a single application can run on all types of networks, just as the Java virtual machine enables Java apps to run on any machine. (Just as Java requires a platform to have a Java VM, so too Inferno requires the platform to have a "Styx" connector.)

Inferno has a new programming language called Limbo, a derivative of C but without the pointers. (Java is a derivative of C++ without the pointers.) It has built in security, graphics and networking. It requires a smaller footprint than Java, making it more acceptable for running on lightweight appliances. (I gave Lucent a "Limbo: Lowering the bar" tagline that they're studiously ignoring, pretending that they don't care about cheap puns...)

Although Bell Labs is charging less per seat for Inferno than Microsoft CE, and although apps are beginning to show up (Philips has release a cool Internet phone for $650), and although Bell has created as many cute Dante references as Sun has created Java cute-isms, Inferno has far less mindshare than either Jini or anything Microsoft touches maybe because Bell has been marketing Inferno only to pasty-faced embedded systems engineers.

So why bring it up? Because it highlights the coming of the wired world in which everything with a current becomes a networked information server.

Yes, we're all going straight to hell.

 

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Accessible Web

Harvey Bingham recently gave a presentation to OASIS (a consortium of companies who care about SGML but are afraid to admit it -- sort of an SGML 12 step program) and sent along his references.

You can find his PowerPoint slides at his accessibility website: http://www.tiac.net/users/bingham/accessbl/index.htm

These include presentations on [in his own words]:

The Accessibility of SGML/XML/HTML

Why we should take seriously the accessibility of information delivery for those with disabilities, and ways to achieve it.

WAI Accessibility Guidelines: Page Authoring

HTML authors should use this list of markup guidelines to improve the accessibility of their pages.

Accessibility References

Descriptions of some important references on accessibility work



He cites [and describes in more of his own words] some other references:

The Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium has a lead role in developing guidelines for authoring and user agents, education and outreach.

http://www.w3.org/WAI/

The Bobby site evaluation tool checks the contents of the URL you supply for compatibility with many user agents and HTML levels, and makes suggestions for improving accessibility. Version 3.0 implements the latest WAI guidelines. It is downloadable for locally analyzing an entire site.

http://www.cast.org/Bobby/

The Yuri Rubinsky Insight Foundation has accessibility advocacy and technical education roles, and an extensive webABLE! database of accessibility materials.

http://www.yuri.org/

For further information contact Harvey at [email protected]

Why worry about this? Why do you have to ask?

Besides, JOHO will take any opportunity to remember Yuri Rubinsky.

 

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Do-Gooding

While we're on the topic of Good Works, here's a good idea for public sites and corporate intranets as well.

Franz Liszt, a site that collects a list of listserv mailing lists (i.e., discussion groups delivered via email), has a page called Good Deed for the Day. Here's an example:

June 16, 1998:Americans in particular need to know about the Human Rights Campaign, working for lesbian and gay equal rights. This politically-oriented site contains voting records, action items, and coming-out resources. Have you or someone you know been the victim of a hate crime? Do you know someone coming out, in need of a sane resource? Or are you just tired of pigheaded Neanderthal homophobia and wanna kick a little reactionary behind? If so, pull up a chair.

Ok, so your corporate ethos may have you editorialize a bit differently (e.g., "Please be advised that StinkyCo encourages all employees to exercise their freedoms in a professional manner and in ways that do not interfere with the course of business, with the rights of others, or with the bribing of foreign officials"), but the idea of giving the tiniest gasp of bandwidth to ways in which we might all Be Better ... well, why not, ya bastards?

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Interplanetary domains

From tbtf (July 27), the web 'zine I cite most often (although the pure plug winner has to go to RageBoy's EGR):

One of the fathers of the Internet, Vint Cerf, said that plans are underway to design an interplanetary Internet. NASA is likely to take Internet equipment on its Mars mission and is considering leaving an interplanetary gateway in orbit when the mission is done. Cerf joked about new solar-level domains such as .earth and .mars, but indicated he wasn't kidding about the coming interplanetarization of the Net. (Let's just agree now to say "I20N.") One of the problems to be solved is the choice of underlying transport. TCP/IP doesn't take kindly to 6-hour roundtrip traffic. Cerf said more announcements will be forthcoming in the week of August 3. Tune in to tbtf.com.earth.solsystem.milkyway.localgroup.greatattractor for breaking news.

Somehow, having the US-dominated domain name system assigning domain names makes as much sense -- and is as purely American -- as naming someone from Milwaukee as Miss Universe.

No, here's the SF scenario we want. The Intergalactic Federation (which, by the way, fields the meanest set of professional wrestlers in the cosmos) has created the WGW (World Galaxy Web). It somehow has overcome the lag times one might expect from a multi-parsec system (although pictures of Pamela Lee still take too long to download). Jodie Foster discovers it and the earth is astounded by its new ability to tap into a multi-species network of creatures and information. Then, all progress on the planet grinds to a halt for the next 500 years as our species engages in massive chatting with what eventually turn out to be adolescent intelligent mollusks that happen to sound very sexy but which have a typing speed of 2 words a minute because they only have one pseudopod.

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JOHO's Middle: A Compendium of Resources

Cool Tool
For the Hyperlinked Organization
 

Ok, so the "Cool Tool" I was going to tell you about in this issue I had to postpone because there's another outfit with a somewhat larger readership that may want to run the little article I'd written. So, now I'm stuck for a cool tool. What to do?

Go to ZDnet, close your eyes, wave your mouse, and hope you land on something actually useful.

So, the Totally Random Cool Tool of the month is Norton Mobile Essentials, a set of low-value tools that supposedly prep your laptop for travel. It checks to make sure you have the key files you need and that your hard drive and modem and working. In short, Symantec decided it'd be With-It marketing to give something away, so they swept up the left overs from the last photo shoot of P. Norton standing with his arms crossed and his white shirt rolled up, and gave it a fancy name hoping that pathetically time-strapped newsletter authors would recommend it to their readers even though they -- the authors -- haven't actually even bothered to download it.

So, here's my review: This package is a traveler's dream. Don't leave home without it!

With some luck, this phrase will now be picked up by Symantec's vigilant PR folks and JOHO may actually end up quoted on the box.

Thanks for reading.

http://hotfiles.zdnet.com/cgi-bin/texis/swlib/hotfiles/info.html?fcode=000QGP

Internetcetera

PC Magazine (June 30), glomming from a Deloitte & Touche survey, reports that by 2005 senior executives expect to use the following media as the source of business news:

Radio: 14%
TV: 35%
Daily newspaper: 50%
Email: 74%
Internet: 91%
Factoids stolen from fawning subordinates that then become the basis for strategic marketing decisions: 100%

 

 


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Email, Rumors, Rude Remarks

Joseph Sloan was the first to point out Yet Another Error in a previous issue. He writes:

Linux is NOT public domain. Linux is fully protected under the GNU license.

Colin Plumb expands:

... almost no part of Linux is actually "in the public domain". There are copyright holders. Lots of 'em. Because copyright exists from birth and nobody assigns copyright in the Linux world, it's such a tangled and overlapping quagmire that obtaining special permission from all of them to do something funny is virtually impossible.

Fortunately, all of them have already given pretty broad permission to copy their work. This is the GNU General Public License (GPL), whose use Linus [Torvalds] has called the single best move he ever made in Linux development.

The important thing about the GPL is that it says that "you may include my copyrighted source code in with your work only if you release your source code as well." It's not relevant if you're writing programs to run on Linux, but if you're modifying something existing - the Linux kernel or the hundreds of programs that come with it to make a "Linux system," you're welcome, as long as you contribute your work back to the public pool.

A lot of people like this deal.A lot of corporations get very anxious about it, but they're starting to come around - see the Forbes story about IBM and Apache for an example.

Me, I'm having fun using Linux. And hacking on it. And I've never been to a Star Trek convention.


Instant Irony's Gonna Get You

This one really hurts. In the previous issue, I made fun of the NY Times for putting periods into "I.S.D.N." and "A.S.D.L." I then went on to make fun of an unnamed company president who tried to persuade a customer that the company was committed to SGML by referring to it as "SMGL" for two hours.

The ever-watchful Tim Bray(co-editor of the MXL standard) writes:

Uh, and that'd be ADSL - did they really get the S and D wrong?

Unfortunately, it was me, not the Times, thereby proving that Irony is the strongest force in the universe.


While we're talking of Linux, Australian Ron has delivered a mighty, funny tome describing his experiences installing the beast. I'm excerpting one of the least humorous parts because it contains a heartfelt recommendation:

Installing Debian Linux proved amazingly simple and quick. I won't foam in their favour because www.debian.org says it so much better than I could, but so far I can't say enough nice things about these folk. The sort of machine savvy prowess that can keep a busy network free from crashing for a year and a half before someone decided to unplug it and move it upstairs has risen to the task of providing equally effective documentation, and a capable, informative, install package that operates very well on the simple ethos of when in doubt press enter and you *will* get something that works ...


Eric Hall, editor of net.Opinion, takes exception to my list of "opposites of information." He writes:

Misinformation is wrong info, but it is still info. Lack-of-info is the opposite of info. Ignorance, silence, etc.

It has struck me for quite a while that we don't have any conception of information except that of the information theorists who don't mean by "info" what the rest of us mean by "info." (And for them, the opposite of info isn't silence, it's noise.) Here's one of the most important words of the second half of the century and, as far as I can see, it's just about totally un-thought.

But I expect I'll hear from a few of you pointing out the major and obvious works I never heard of. Thanks in advance. Sigh.


Australian Ron has a different take on the list of candidates for the title of "Opposite of Information" in the previous issue. (The list included misinformation, disinformation, marketing and special prosecutors.) Ron writes:

I'll leave it to RB [RageBoy] to explain how these are the only sources of information many base their every waking moment on, (and how they are in fact the founding principles of education as we practice it), to suggest this looks like it could be the start of a DTD (document type definition) for KMML (KM markup language) ...

No, no. The DTD for KMML includes structures such as: inflated language, pompous assertions, hasty generalizations and superficial insights. (Maybe I can sell 'em JOHO's DTD.)

 


I repeated a manager's remark that corporations will never buy into Linux because there's no one to sue if things go wrong. Keith Schwartz writes:

The manager mentioned ... must work for GOD, cause I don't know of anyone else that thinks they can SUE and GET SOMETHING from Micro$oft.

Jeez, you sound as if Microsoft were above the law. You just have to get the right lawyers. Look for the law firm with Linda Tripp on the masthead.


Some readers were not real happy with what they perceived as my Southern bashing in the previous issue. Of course I was not engaged in bashing anything. I was whining. It's a totally different thing.

Warren Culpepper, a management consultant for whom I have a great deal of respect (I'm reforming ... no more needless snarkiness), refers to my headline ("Q: How to feel like a Jew A: Go down south"):

Q. How to feel sad as a southerner...
A. Read a newsletter written by a guy whom you otherwise respect, but who stereotypes Southerners as bible-thumping idiots.

Well, clearly, not everyone south of the Mason Dixon line is a Bible-thumper, but there does seem to be in the South (and I'm trying to phrase this in a value-neutral, multicultural sort of way) a higher percentage of people who are forthright about the great joy their religion brings them and their desire to spread that joy to certain hook-nosed taxicab passengers who are just trying to get to the Opryland Hotel (motto: The Hotel that thinks you want to live in a theme park) without being told that their religion has been made obsolete, incomplete and hell-consigning. Hey, all I can say is that in New York, NY (motto: The city so nice they named it New York), cab drivers are too busy trying to get you to foul your pants in fear to want to ask you about your religion.


Continuing the list of people that the previous issue needlessly offended, there's Bob Morris. I said that the conclusion of his research was (like all scientific research done this century) "You, Joe Reader, think you know everything but you're so full of it you make me want to puke." Well, little did I realize that Bob has selflessly devoted himself and his research to helping the lame to walk and the blind to see (pretty much literally). He writes:

Hey, I would never puke on Joe Reader. Whine, maybe, lament and moan, perhaps, ask for more grant money, certainly. But puke, no way. Without Joe we wouldn't havea grant.

Well, in truth, it's Joe's grandmother because our funding is for studying low-vision readers. Many of our subjects suffer from Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD). This most likely includes Joe's, your, and my grandma, but only if they are alive. (Death halts the progress of ARMD). We only tested Joe because his grandma said he was such a nice boy. Besides, at 45, he has another 20 years before he's likely to develop ARMD and we wouldn't be interested in him except for soothing grandma and the putative god of experimental science, Control.

So, you're saying we already know how to halt the progress of ARMD but you're still getting funded? Are we just talking about unacceptable side effects? Can we tell Jerry to call off the Telethon?


While I frequently get email pointing out mistakes that were not mistakes (or, more exactly, out of which I can wriggle), it is rare that JOHO gets praised for something not in it. But, not only has this occurred, the praise came from none other than Chris "Scourge of JOHO" Rageboy. I wrote:

What set him off this time was, apparently, my including "fiction" on a list of things that might be considered "the opposite of information." Why this lit his fuse...

Chris replied:

is the last sentence an intended pun? if so, I salute you, Sir!

Well, no. I thought Chris was referring to the fact that I always get "lit" and "lighted" mixed up. But I had actually looked up the usage, knowing that I never get it right/write/rite/Wright.

I had to ask Chris to crack the code for me. After many days of putting out saucers of warm milk and making encouraging, non-threatening sounds, I won Chris's confidence, and he responded:

fiction - lit - literature... get it?

I'm not sure, Chris. But I'm willing to play along...


Tom Freeman attempts to catch me up in an error. He writes:

I thought particularly glaring and easily recognizable lies were Bold Faced Lies not Bald Faced Lies

There is some potential that this was a Freudian error on my part, but even if Tom is right, I would then stand accused of not using a cliche, a charge with which I can live.


Philip Randall has a late entry to our contest asking for names of house bands for the Web:

Too late for your "house bands for the Web" competition, but if you value a Perl Jam CD you should also have Awkwind!

Ack! This makes me realize I left out "C++ Train"! (This is getting a bit obscure, perhaps. Perhaps we should let this thread die its long-awaited death.)

But wait! Mårten Byström writes:

There is a band in Sweden called "Webstrarna" which would translate to English as "the Websters". That is definitely a good name for a www house band. They could play with R.A.M, Frank [email protected], Johnny Cache and Fleetwood PC.

Excellent! And extra points for creative use of the "at" sign!"


Mårten Byström also writes:

Some days ago when I was riding home from work on my bike, I saw an unusual sight. On a billboard there was a picture of a doctor's prescription. Amazed I was to see that the drug prescribed was Win98. This is the main theme of the Win98 advertisement campaign in Sweden.

As you can see in the picture (which I sent as a hyperlink) in the top of this message, Microsoft likes to think of their latest OS as a tube of painkillers.

Dazzled, I surfed in on their site to find a game in which the plot is to avoid viruses and catch the soothing pills that win98 drops at you. Quite cute.

How about the question which it raises? What is win98 a cure for? -- Yup, you've guessed right. It's a cure for the disease win95. ...

When confronted with this interpretation Jonas Widegren at Microsoft Sweden said to a reporter from Computer Sweden: (published 14 August) (translated)

"Yes there is something to what you are saying. But we do know that many home users are having problems and that they regard the problems as the computer not working."

So I was blaming the computer all the time. He is telling us that the OS is faulty....

Win is not the cure. It's the disease.

To Win™ is to lose.

This reminds me of an old, old, old article in Mad Magazine about what a product should say on its box before they put "New" on it. E.g., if the current tissues are "Now soft and gentle!" then the old box should have said "Scratchy and Harsh!". You get the idea...


In the previous issue, for reasons I don't fully understand, I responded to a message from Jim Montgomery by urging him to leave the Island of Lost Boys which, for some reason, I temporarily mistook for KM World magazine. I apologized in an email to Jim, and he replied:

Michael Jackson

Anyone who likes (and memorizes) images of boys on deserted islands should be sanitized. With a jeweled glove. By a marsupial named Bubbles.

The sad truth is that the day I received this, I'd gone into Chuck E. Cheese (a children's theme restaurant) by myself because I like their salad bar (and because it was right there when I was durn hungry). So, there I am, a business guy with an attaché, sitting amidst the tots, with Chuck E. himself giving me suspicious looks. I am now probably on some official watch-this-creep list. And all because I like salad.

Suddenly I feel a deep sense of kinship with Michael Jackson. When you think all that poor man (and loving father!) has been through...!

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Bogus Contest: Webbified Ads

While on vacation, there's nothing I like better than to curl up with a good supermarket tabloid and catch up on the prosthetics (hair pieces, boob jobs, penile implants, etc.) of the stars. And then, after finishing a gen-u-ine Yonkers cigar (100% natural leaf wrapper with filler from Queens) and a glass of 100-year-old brandy fumes, when you've read and reread the Weekly Sun Inquiring Standard and you think you've sucked the marrow from its bones, you find yourself face to face with the personal classified ads.

Ah, the classifieds! Has anyone ever placed a personal classified because he or she feels just so damn good! So hopeful! So confident! No, it is a sinkhole of despair. Each and every one of them sounds so enticing, so appealing, yet we know that each and every one is a last gasp before the black hole of loneliness closes above them like Leo DiCaprio sinking beneath the waves.

No wonder we rubberneck.

For those of you who pretend only to read wholesome edifying works like Dean Koontz stories of men who kill women or Bret Easton stories of men who kill women or Dostoyevsky stories of men who kill women, let me refresh your memories with a couple of real ads chosen almost at random from The National Examiner:

 

Country boy, 47, 175lbs., likes C&W music, rodeos and car races. Looking for pen pal, maybe more. Any reply welcome.

White male, 60s, 5'9", 160 lbs., blond, blue. Wants a long-term platonic relationship with slim woman, who like him is lonely, wanting platonic love. He's on S.S., therefore needs someone with a little income. He's a Mason but very lonely. Send photo please.

Angel with horns, looking for her devil with a halo! Pretty blonde seeks man who likes her world, nonjudgmental, likes charm, humor and quality time getting to know each other. Inmate ok. Past is unimportant, future is ahead! Photo gets photo.

Makes you squeamish? The raw pain, the stories that'll be poured out in the first exchange of letters, the tiny shoot of hope struggling up through the long frost?

(By the way, don't you have to wonder about a lonely Mason who wants a platonic relationship and still wants to see a photo? Does this tell you everything you need to know about men or what?)

So, this issue's challenge is to come up with personals for The Weekly Web Inquiring Standard World Examiner that tell a story in under 50 words. For example:

 

40-something white male, tall, slim, cute but geeky. Late to the Web, struggling to catch up. Seems dominating but really shy inside. Object: marriage and/or destruction of my enemies. Photo and complete vetting by security agents upon request.

Linux hacker looking for soulmate. Latte-loving trekkie male ready for distributed love to be shared freely. Aim: broaden my horizons to support more peripherals, if you know what I mean. PGP code gets mine in return. (If you're running Windows at home, don't bother replying.)

Mid-level business manager has progressed from relationship with palm to relationship with Palm Pilot. Now ready for romantic commitment that doesn't require backlight.

 

I have every confidence that JOHO readers can match any group on the planet for the sleaziness of your imaginations. (EGR readers, take this as a challenge.) So, now it's up to you. And remember, only here at JOHO is To Enter to Win™.

[Note: In the interval between writing this bogus contest and publishing it, RageBoy published some stuff about Web personals. Purely a coincidence. Sigh.]


Mini Contest

Two new subscribers have interesting addresses.

John Longstreet's address is teachcischi@foo.com
Alok Nandi's address is: [email protected]commediastra

(I've changed the non-relevant portion of their addresses so they won't be flooded with JOHO "Welcome Muh Buddy" mail that got out of hand two years ago this month thanks to the immaturity of several thousand of our readers (you know who you are).)

Click here to see the answer.


Contest Results

Bob Morris provides us with an "infokoan" -- a zen-like gem of puzzlement which, if one ponders it well enough, will lead to enlightenment as surely as sending a message to a Usenet discussion leads to spam.

When I dust my living room, the dust goes onto the cloth. When I reformat my hard drive, where does the information go?

Very good, grasshopper! In fact, when you're done with that one, I have another for you to ponder, closely related:

When I delete a file from my Windows desktop it goes to the recycle bin. When I delete a file from the recycle bin, where does it go?

Wow, that's heavy!

And when it comes to infokoans, Tony McKinley has this to say:

The customer kept on making a certain insect-like noise "Immichizzit .. immichizzit .. immichizzit" like a cricket in the kitchen.

"Like knowledge itself, the value of knowledge can be either tacit or explicit, and so quite naturally, organically, knowledge management systems are imbued with a value that can not be spoken but can only be known," the salesman said explicitly, with deepest compassion.

"Immichizzit ?" the cricket chirped again in his annoying sawing noise. "Immichizzit .. immichizzit" the grating buzz went on incessantly, in unpredictable intervals, like Chinese water torture.

"Some things you just know when you know them, like love at first sight in the mind's eye, like a mountain emerging from the mists a great truth comes clear re: the value of knowledge management. It can be immeasurable in the terms we speak in our waking sleep, it has a value that we feel more than we know," the salesman explained as if he were the Bodhisattva and the customer is the very last soul in the universe that He was bringing to enlightenment before His sacred self dissolved into the big blink of Oneness.

"Immichizzit ?"

What, the salesman thought when heard the noise again. Trying to bring this trainwreck to a happily rapid climax, he responded with a reflective veneer of self-deprecation masking an oozing ball of impatience. You don't have to do an actual ROI or anything like that, do you? Perish the thought.

Finally, the damn noise stopped. But a worse cacophony boiled forth from brother customer.

"Tell ya what, buddy. Since I already got a handle on my explicit knowledge, you can manage my tacit knowledge for me. And, I'll pay ya in tacit dollars."

I had to cheat on this koan. I supplicated myself to Tony and found out that "immichizzit" is a Mad Magazine phrase from the 60s (Tony thinks) that is to be translated "How much is it?" This is a bit like finding out that "Om ne pad me om" was Joe Piscopo's hilarious rendering of "Oh man, you're putting me on!" Well, ex-cuuuuuuuuuuse me! (= "Sh'ma Yisroael!")


Kevin Johansen replies to a previous contest asking for new units of measurement relevant to the Web:

Is it too late to enter? This is the best that I could do. I stole it from somebody else. Which after reading your latest JOHO, it's all that I had time for. Which brings up some interesting (To me, at least...) questions: Considering that we're all as busy as we are, do we have time to be truly creative anymore? Or are we just drilling derivatively into the same old, same old and keeping records to prove that we kept busy? And if this is the case, have I just redefined KM as a filing system for the junk info that we generate simply to keep us occupied so that we don't have to involve ourselves in the important stuff? (You know, the IMPORTANT STUFF - whatever that is. I forget. Which presumes I once knew. Which I'm not sure about. So I steal stuff that sounds cool from other people so that I can sound like I know what I'm talking about. Which brings me back to: "This is the best that I could do." Which if it's good enough, scares the shit out of me. To Enter is to Win, my ASS! Look what you've done to me! Jung! Paging Carl Jung!)

Onosecond: The distance in time between when you've clicked on the *send* button, and the time when you realized that you've sent your email to the wrong person.

Best Fucking Regards, Kevin Johansen

Paging Carl Jung? Hey, Kev, I'm no psychotherapist, it sounds to me like you should be paging Nurse Ratchett. Maybe you should see if Michael O'Connor Clarke has any left over Prozac. But this leads to one last koan:

If I steal a joke and say that I've stolen it,
have I stolen it?

 

Answers
to the mini-puzzle
.

teachcischi: John teaches in a Computer Information Systems Department in Chicago

commediastra : Alok's company name is "Communications and Media Strategies," but it is also a pun on "Comedy of the Stars" and maybe on "Comic disasters."


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.

To subscribe or be removed from the JOHO mailing list, click here. 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.

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