Joho the BlogDecember 2005 - Page 3 of 9 - Joho the Blog

December 22, 2005

Mixing the metaphors

Kevin points out just how wildly wrong are Susan Cheevers‘ metaphors when she describes how “intellectual property” works on the Internet. Kevin substitutes his own far more accurate metaphorical description.

Our moral reasoning always (?) moves by metaphors, but metaphors are never perfectly accurate (or, if they are, they’re uninteresting), so our moral reasoning never is utterly persuasive. Still, metaphors are all we have, and Kevin’s are MUCH better than Cheevers’.

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December 21, 2005

The Lion, the Witch and the Muslim?

Islamicate argues interestingly that CS Lewis’ tale works better as a Muslim allegory than as a Christian one.


Microsoft Word: 20 years and still wrong

After twenty years — twenty years! — Microsoft Word still can’t do the most basic of its selling points: Placing graphics into text. (Note: I am using Office XP, which puts me a rev behind.) For almost twenty years, I’ve been trying to tell Word where I want graphics laid out. Word still won’t listen to me.

I want my page to look like this:

But, after twenty minutes of trying, this is the way Word keeps insisting I want my page to look:

That happens to be with the layout set to top-and-bottom, but it’s what I get for various other layouts. If I drag the image where I want it, it bounces back to the top of the page where the top portion would be cut off if I tried to place it. Sometimes it bounces onto a new page entirely and I have to go hunting for it.

If I set the layout so that it’s inline, I get this:

Here’s a closeup:

No, it doesn’t help to create a drawing canvas first. All that does is limit the number of layout options Word can get wrong. Aaarrrggghhh!

I used to work for Interleaf. We were getting this right in 1986.

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Gaspar Torriero has discovered at least part of the problem. He writes in an email:

As I suspected in the comments, your document “Normal” style has the
line height set to “exactly” 18 points.

So when you insert an inline image which is taller than that, Word is
by design (and stupidly) sticking to that value and will not adjust
line height to suit the image. That is your problem. And in fact Word
is showing you the bottom 18pts of it…

To solve the problem, provided you do non want to revert to standard
line height, you should:

– insert new line
– modify Format -> Paragraph -> line spacing to “single” for that line
– insert inline image: line height will adjust accordingly
– everybody is happy

Well, we’re all happy except those of us who are chagrined because it turns out to have been our fault.

Nevertheless, based on 20 years of frustration and the weird transparency issue in the screen captures, I maintain that Word’s graphic placement is hinkey.

Thank you, Gaspar!


Marketing Blight award of the week

Apparently — no independent corroboration — Kodak hired women at a convention in Kiev to drop things so they could repeatedly bend over while wearing Kodak-logo-ed panties and short skirts. (Thanks to Jeneane for the link.) [Tags: ]

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Dan Gillmor’s center

Dan writes:

Starting in 2006, I’ll be putting together a nonprofit Center for Citizen Media. The goals are to study, encourage and help enable the emergent grassroots media sphere, with a major focus on citizen journalism.

I’m thrilled and honored that the center will be affiliated with two superb universities in a bi-coastal partnership.

The two universities: UC Berkeley’s Grad School of Journalism and the Berkman Center. Woohoo! With this sort of backing and Dan at the helm, the CCM is likely to be a hotbed of ideas, innovation, and research. I think this is an ideal situation for Dan, and thus good for all of us. There’s no one I have more respect for than Dan, and I have a very good feeling about this new project.

FWIW, I’m more convinced than ever that citizens are going to be keepers of the public record (as Jon Udell has put it) more than they’re going to be journalists, and that the biggest effect of blogging on journalism is and will be the moving of the editorial function into the hands of readers. [Tags: ]

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Universities as champions

The most powerful institutions in our society don’t like the Net much. Oh, they like their reduced IT costs and they like their delusion that they can use it to market their messages to billions of us essentially for free, but they don’t like what so many of us feel is the liberating, connected value of the Internet. These institutions look at the Internet and see a mix of threat and opportunity. We — some goodly set of us — look at the Internet and see hope.

But one large institution may turn out to be special, as Charlie Nesson of the Berkman argued against my despair a couple of weeks ago: Universities. And here’s a little sign of hope: According to the NY Times, seven American univerisites have agreed to make freely available software they develop collaboratively. Janice Brand, who blogged the NYT report at CIO, says:

Peter A. Freeman, assistant director for computer and information science and engineering at the National Science Foundation, came up with today’s best quote: “It’s the science, stupid.’ It’s not the intellectual property.”

Bingo. And it’s the culture, stupid, not the copyright.

(Thanks to Kurt Starsnic for the link. Kurt also makes a good point about the Web coverage of the NYC transit strike.) [Tags: ]

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December 20, 2005

Open source bounty

The Participatory Culture Foundation has started aggregating open source bounty projects at For example, solve GNOME’s Addressbook’s LDAP configuration problem and earn yourself $250… [Tags:]


A thought for my Christian friends as Christmas approaches

Jesus was God’s blog. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Hmm, then I suppose the Talmud would be God’s blog for the Jews.

Anyway, I know I’m off base and off track here. Nevertheless: A Merry Christmas to you and your families. [Tags: ]


December 19, 2005

SiteAdvisor – Flagging the danger zones

When I was first introduced to Chris Dixon, a founder of, a few months ago, I was highly skeptical about his project. SiteAdvisor was going to tell people whether Web sites were safe. It struck me as over-ambitious, over-simplified and ripe for corruption. But after looking into it, I was impressed enough to join the board of advisors.

The site is still in stealth mode, but Ben Edelman — a security expert, Berkman fellow, and also on the board of advisors — has posted a long and thorough explanation of what SA is up to. So, the company is apparently no longer in full stealth mode.

Read Ben’s excellent post for the full story. Here’s my version:

SA has set up a slew of machines that crawl the Web, download whatever software they can find, and sign up for every email offer. They then run the downloaded software on virtual machines and note exactly what gets installed and how the registry is altered. They make up a unique email address for each site and note how many messages they get as a result. They also analyze the links to see if sites are part of nasty affiliate networks.

They then make all that information public via a Creative Commons license. You can go to the SA site and see exactly what will happen if you download software from an unknown Web site.

SA also sums up the results of this testing in a red, yellow, and green system of alerts. You can get a plug-in that will put those alerts next to every result on a Google results page. Hovering over the alert gives a summary. Clicking on it takes you to the full explanation. You can dive pretty deep into their analyses if you want. It evens build a mock inbox that shows you the subject lines of the spams you would have received had you signed up at a site.

So, I became a believer. First, I’ve spent a little time at the SA office and have gotten to know Chris fairly well, and I trust the SA team. Second, they answered all of my “Yeah, but” questions well: The data will be available through CC, there will be an API, there is room for users to comment on each site, the basic version will be provided for free and will be generously provisioned, their privacy policy looks good, they will accept zero advertising or other forms of vendor compensation. (Their business model includes offering a premium version at some point.)

I’ve been playing with the private beta, and I find it helpful and good-natured. And its database of empirical data, open via Creative Commons and an API, can become a very useful Web resource.

The site should be open for beta-business early next year…

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Structured blogging

The new structured blogging initiative is interesting and could be important. It establishes simple data standards for some typical types of things blogger blog about: Reviews, events, media, etc.

These types of metadata effort have the same basic dynamics: If they were widely adopted, there would be tremendous system-wide benefits — e.g., computers would be able to find, aggregate and normalize reviews of local restaurants because the phone number fields and ratings fields would be identifiable, etc. But, people don’t adopt metadata standards all that readily, despite the potential benefits. So, the success of structured blogging depends on how easy it is for bloggers and how appealing the benefits are.

Right now, the plug-ins are in beta Do not attempt installing them unless you are unalarmed by instructions such as “mkdir -m 777 ../sbimages” and “You will also want to edit your RSS 2.0 Index and change the<$MTEntryBody encode_xml="1"$> .” It’s pretty straightforward but, at this point (in beta), definitely for early adopters.

The success of structured blogging depends on the blogging software providers making it one-click easy to use the structures. Then we’ll see what happens… [Tags: ]


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