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TopTen First Names at Google award I've given to myself.

The Speech I Want to Hear

 

How to survive a nuclear war with just a hat

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Sunday, March 31, 2002

Notice of Service Interruption

I'm going to be in China and Thailand until April 7, speaking at a couple of IBM conferences. I will do my best to blog from there, but please don't think that silence in this blog means I don't love you all very very much.


3/31/2002 12:03:02 AM | PermaLink

MiscLinks

Lemurzone's interview with Tom Matrullo, a beautiful and remarkably learned writer, is a treat.


Peterme says: "You'll enjoy this." It's called "Web Radio, Community, And Streaming Capitalism (A Brief Meditation)." Peterme is right. For example, it says:

The cultural technology of the World Wide Web is invested with all sorts of utopian and dystopian mythic narratives, from those which project a future of a revitalized, Web-based, public sphere and civil society to those which imagine the catastrophic implosion of the social into the simulated virtuality of the Web. But whether such imaginings are optimistic or foreboding, they are indications of what Robert Romanyshyn has termed the "re-enchantment of the world" through the magic of technology.

This reminds me so much of RageBoy's saying that through the Web we're learning to love the world again.


Glenn Fleishman responds to my comments about that damned NY Times article about the fall-off of interest in the Web. He says he has "no malaise because I've reinvented myself every year or so. I'm not in the same business I was two years ago and certainly not the one from 8 years ago." Good point.

(I tried reinventing myself last year but ran into patent issues.)


Chip sends us to an article in The Chicago Tribune that sites the Asia Times about the "network of multiple Caspian pipelines" the US is developing. For example, a proposed pipeline linking Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey is represented by James Baker's law firm. Yes, that James Baker.


I know this has already made it onto and off of the Daypop Top 40, but Mark Dionne points us to truly snarky coverage of the Oscars over at Salon. Very funny.


Also already high in the Top 40 but well worth reading is Dan Gillmor's piece on the journalistic "pivot point." I get a little chill - the good kind - reading it.
3/31/2002 12:02:26 AM | PermaLink

 

Saturday, March 30, 2002

Hollings Is an Ass

From a posting by Peter Kaminski to a mailing list I'm on:

Here are some links [about the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act] I've collected. The first is a Declan McCullagh column that received wide weblog coverage, in which among other things he publishes a soon-to-be-felonious digital duplication program in its entirety:

10 INPUT A$
20 PRINT A$

Please visit the second and particularly the third links, wherein Senators Leahy and Hatch and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary are soliciting opinions on this and related matters via web form. Interactive government, what a concept!

Remember to cc your comments to your representatives, who may be found via the EFF link.

http://www.politechbot.com/p-03303.html
http://judiciary.senate.gov/special/feature.cfm
http://judiciary.senate.gov/special/input_form.cfm
http://www.eff.org/alerts/20020322_eff_cbdtpa_alert.html
http://www.digitalconsumer.org/cbdtpa/ http://www.stoppoliceware.org/
http://www.politechbot.com/docs/cbdtpa/
http://www.jerf.org/writings/CBDTPA.html


3/30/2002 08:45:49 AM | PermaLink

That Damn NY Times Article

Jennifer has blogged about the NY Times article about how no one cares about the Web any more. My own reaction to the article was that it's the typical "go contrary" topic that gives journalists something to write about. Heck, I do it all the time. (Stop me before I go contrary again!)

Then I tried thinking that it's just an artifact of mainstreaming of the Web. That we take the Web for granted actually proves how important it is. (Go contrary with a half-gainer!) E.g., when asked to point to a way in which the Web has affected real world business, I often point to email which we've already forgotten has transformed memos, meetings, org charts, etc.

Then I tried thinking that I have a tremendous self-interest in maintaining that the Web is a transforming technology, especially with a new book just out on the topic. So I put my fingers in my ears and cried "Nah ni nah ni nah ni" alllll the way home.
3/30/2002 08:44:28 AM | PermaLink

 

Friday, March 29, 2002

Is the Web a Medium?

I blogged yesterday about why I think the Web isn't a medium. My comment "A medium is something we send messages through whereas our talk of the Web indicates that we move through the Web — we go places, we surf, we enter sites" drew this response from C. McClellan

This is a very narrow definition of medium. Water is the medium through which a fish moves and in which it lives. All previous definitions seem to have been trampled underfoot and forgotten. Medium is not always equivalent to the various forms of broadcasting which dominate our society.

That said, the whole discussion of what the web is or isn't has gotten pretty silly. People will continue to use it as they see fit, and it will evolve as it must, regardless of how it is defined.

Yes, the term "medium" has many meanings. What word doesn't? But, our culture has broadly accepted the Whorfian idea that meaning / information / a message is transported between two points via a medium; that's why "The medium is the message" was such a powerful meme. In the context of communications, a medium is not like the fish's water. And, given the context, that is the understanding against which I was arguing. (Ok, "arguing" is a bit of a stretch. "Proclaiming," perhaps.)

As for who gets to define what the Web is: No one. Who gets to try to understand it? Everyone. (And I don't think it's silly to try.) Who gets to stipulate a new metaphor? No one. Who gets to try out new metaphors to see if they throw light on the topic? Everyone. Who gets to ask questions which he then answers? Apparently me. Who gets tired of this rhetorical device rather quickly? Everyone.


Jennifer Balderama also isn't entirely taken in by the notion that the Web isn't a medium. As almost always, it comes to what you mean by the term. So, let me recast my comment: The Web isn't primarily something through which we send messages. It is a space we go through.

But Jennifer anticipates this, writing:

But the fact is that I'm still physically sitting here in my chair...We use "go to" and "surf" to describe our actions because they are the terms familiar to us that best simulate our clicking from spot to spot on the Web.

Yes, but we use those terms because they somehow seem to fit our experience of the Web. It's navigable. And in our real world experience, navigable things tend to be spaces. And how did "spot" get into Jennifer''s description? If the Web has spots, it has spaces (or, possibly, measles, but I don't think that's what she means.) So, it still seems to me that there's something importantly spatial about the Web, although it's not clear exactly what.

As for us moving through the Web, yeah, I admit it's a stretch. But I'm not sure it's the wrong stretch. It obviously requires some hand-waving about what a "self" is, but waving hands is how big planes get parked. (Block that metaphor!)
3/29/2002 02:05:59 PM | PermaLink

New, completely self-centered issue of JOHO

I've just published a new issue of my (free) newsletter, JOHO. Here's the table of contents:

What the book is about: It's harder to say than it sounds...
The review I dread: It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of how many.
Free children's version: Yes, I wrote a children's version. No, I don't know why.
Links: Early reviews, etc.
Call to arms: Don't make me beg
The Bogus Contest: What the hell did I mean?

By the way, it contains a parody of RageBoy that has provoked him like a flashbulb going off near a tethered ape. What was I thinking?
3/29/2002 09:31:13 AM | PermaLink

 

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Saltire Reviews My Formerly Upcoming Book

Thanks, Steve.

Steve thinks he's summarizing part of my book when he says "It's not the medium, it's the message." The messages will continue, he says, even if the medium changes. By gum, I hadn't thought of it that way, but he's right! That's another reason why it's a mistake to think of the Web as a medium.

In fact, let's summarize the Top Three Reasons Why the Web Isn't a Medium.

1. A medium is something we send messages through whereas our talk of the Web indicates that we move through the Web - we go places, we surf, we enter sites.

2. When you call it a medium, the broadcast boys get erections. (And the broadcast girls get more head lumps from jumping up against the glass ceiling.)

3. The Web is "content" - us writing stuff to and for another another - not the transmission medium.

Anyway, I love Steve's review and not just because it's so positive.
3/28/2002 11:36:09 AM | PermaLink

A Plea to Bill Gates: Free the Ideas!

"But don't you worry about Bill Gates getting control of all your personal data and taking control of the entire Net?" I've been doing radio interviews in support of my Upcoming Book, and that's what the interviewer wanted to know after I said something optimistic about the Internet.

Damn straight I worry about Gates. Microsoft wants to own not just the desktops but the connections. They'd even like to own our identities. (See Doc on the topic.) They are clever enough to get away with it if we're not vigilant. But Microsoft is still constrained by some market forces. Yes, Microsoft twisted the market's Invisible Hand until all it could do was salute smartly in the direction of Redmond. But the market is still capable of containing Microsoft's hegemony. Just barely. Maybe.

I am far more worried about the entertainment-legislative complex. Because the market has emphatically rejected its business model, it's perilously close to rewriting the software and hardware rules to force the market to comply. The government is both venal and stupid enough to do it.

Too bad Microsoft, dreaming of being an entertainment company and getting to invite Jeff Katzenberg over for some barbecue, is siding with the IP anal-compulsives. Microsoft lusts after getting a micro-slice of every entertainment bit that passes on to one of "their" desktops. But you know what? They may make the Windows I run on my machine, but it's my desktop.

So, here's my plea to Bill Gates: Be the white knight. Swing your mighty sword in favor of building the most vibrant marketplace for ideas and creativity the earth has ever seen. Storm the halls of Congress. Make it your personal compaign, Bill. You'll help grow your market so radically that you won't need to own it all to be the richest man on the planet. And you'll also be one of the most loved. We all applaud the Gates Foundation, but this is your real chance to change history. Become the digital millennium's Medici, not its Savonarola.

Besides, wouldn't you rather barbecue with Courtney Love than Jeffrey Katzenberg?
3/28/2002 07:30:44 AM | PermaLink

My Upcoming Book - Upcoming No More

Although it may not seem like it, I've actually been restrained in promoting my Upcoming Book. But I'm girding my loins. Amazon is now shipping the book. Bob Treitman at the SoftPro bookstore tells me that books have actually arrived. So, apparently my book is Upcoming no more.

If you have already read an advance copy of the book, please feel free to write a review at Amazon. I wouldn't exactly mind a surge of interest.

Also, Marek elicited a Marekian interview with me about the process of writing the book. You can read it here.

So far, I've been pleased with the level of interest. The Boston Globe ran an excerpt in their Sunday magazine. I've done a few radio interviews and have a bunch more coming up. The book is being considered for review by the appropriate places. And I've solemnly vowed to become ruthlessly self-promotional. Any help you can give in getting the word out I will greatly appreciate.
3/28/2002 07:12:37 AM | PermaLink

Musical Blogs

Phil Jones writes:

BeatBlog is an attempt to blog in music.

Currently I'm just concentrating on posting musical fragments on a regular basis, but I'm hoping to find other people to join in with their own musical blogs and create a blogroll. Then we can link and comment by sampling and remixing each other's micro-pieces. The idea is to see what kind of music evolves in this ecology.


3/28/2002 07:00:50 AM | PermaLink

 

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Happy Celibate Passover

From Bob Treitman of SoftPro Books comes a pointer to an article from the Jerusalem Post that tells us that Viagra isn't kosher for Passover. Looks like the dough won't be leavened for some of my brethren for the next week or so.

Happy Pesach and here's wishing liberation to all of G-d's children.

[I'm in Miami this morning to talk with a Nasdaq marketing council so you won't be hearing more from me today.]
3/27/2002 07:14:16 AM | PermaLink

 

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Sufi and Wifi

Eric Norlin cites a Sufi rendering of imagination.


Paul English has started a Web site for Boston-area folks interested in providing wifi services to their neighbors — install a wireless network in your house, put an antenna on your roof, and anyone withing elctro-shouting distance can share your broadband for nothing. (Paul is currently installing a Neighborhood Network in his house in Hull which will provide wireless connectivity to all the boats in Boston Harbor.)

3/26/2002 08:22:10 AM | PermaLink

Blog-Crazy PC Forum

People are blogging like crazy from the wifi-enabled PC Forum. I've been enjoying Dan Gillmor and Doc Searls especially — Dan is cool and columnistical while I can envision Doc's fingers tapping at his Mac until they're red and swollen. You go, boys! This is is important stuff and your coverage is much appreciated.
3/26/2002 08:18:50 AM | PermaLink

Metaphorical verbs

Through email with Vergil Iliescu, I think I've realized what my problem is with the never-ending blogthread on new metaphors for the Web — which I, of course, am now extending yet again. While I like the direction the blogthread has been going, focusing on the associative, hyperlinked nature of the Web and comparing it to the imagination, maybe the problem is that we've been thinking about nouns instead of verbs and adjectives. If the Web is like a shared imagination, then what verbs follow? After all, the spatial metaphor is baked right into the everyday language we use for talking about our experience of the Web. A new metaphor would have to replace the quotidian "going to" and "leaving" language the spatial metaphor provides.
3/26/2002 08:15:45 AM | PermaLink

 

Monday, March 25, 2002

Spatiality, Imagination and Links

AKMA advances the blogthread on alternatives to the spatial metaphor of the Web by focusing on hyperlinks as providing an "associative space," tying nicely into his earlier comment that "imagination" might provide a better metaphor than mind. He also suggests that Jung might have something to say about this.

I find this more useful than the "mind" metaphor because the point of similarity is much clearer. It is also consonant with the spatiality of the Web since that spatiality is due to the Web's navigability which is in turn due to its hyperlinked geography.

So, the Web as a global imagination in the sense of an association of ideas. Interesting...
3/25/2002 11:07:36 AM | PermaLink

Meta-Oscars

They really did try to keep it short. No dance numbers. They kept Whoopi to a short, unfunny monologue. So why did it drag on for almost five hours? Because of all the damn special tributes. My free advice to Oscar: Next year, do the tributes after the last award is given out. People who really want to stay up until 1am watching Robert Redford thank the sky for shining above him are perfectly free to do so. The rest of us can go home at 11.

Biggest surprise: Jennifer Connelly's arms. You're supposed to have to bend over to tie your laces. If she's joined a bowling league, apparently she's using a monster ball."

Biggest relief: Now that Randy Newman, after 16 nominations, has finally won an award, maybe he can write a different song.

Best argument against regaining control: Halle Berry was great until she got a grip on her emotions and started thanking her lawyers for negotiating such good deals.

Best Living Up to Her End of the Bargain: Unlike her previous time hosting, Whoopi Goldberg didn't once use the word "beaver."


Julia Roberts unhinging her jaw
moments before mating with Denzel Washington
and then devouring him whole.

Best Money Spent on a Publicist: In the Oscar site's gallery of fashion-glam shots from the show, Ernest and Tova Borgnine are the second in the series, right after Nicole Kidman.

[BTW, the Oscahs! tabulator I wrote broke before I could even enter the fifth entry. If you were using it, I'm sorry.]
3/25/2002 10:48:36 AM | PermaLink

Small Photos Loosely Joined and in The Globe

Gary Turner sends a picture of him reading my Upcoming Book, joining the photos of Chris Pirillo and Ev.

BTW, there's a nice piece about Ev by Hiawatha Bray in today's Boston Globe. And Scott Kirsner has an interesting update on what's going on at PARC: modular robotics and collaborative sensing. Although they sound like phrases from the Tech Randomizer, they are actually interesting ideas. Also in the Globe is a good piece by D.C. Denison on Instant Messaging that as a sign of desperation actually quotes me.
3/25/2002 10:31:37 AM | PermaLink

 

Sunday, March 24, 2002

New Virtual Appliances

In the wake of the exciting virtual keyboard

new appliances have been announced in the past few days.


Virtual Watch


Virtual Car


Virtual Bono


Virtual Dentures

Also in the works: Virtual Belt, Virtual Umbrella and Virtual Birth Control
3/24/2002 10:05:27 AM | PermaLink

MiscLinks

Frank Paynter points us to an article (in PDF) in which Valdis Krebs applies what he knows about mapping social networks to mapping the terrorist cell responsible for 9/11. The key illustration is on Valdis' site here.


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

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


Megnut writes:

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


Gary Lawrence Murphy has written a spirited reply to Dave Webb's article "Blogging a Dead Horse."


Ryan Ireland has moved his always enjoyable blog, Becoming. (The new host, Movable Type, can suck in all your previous Blogger entries if you move from here to there.)
3/24/2002 08:09:20 AM | PermaLink

Small Pictures Loosely Joined

Now Ev has posted a picture of himself — well, his hands — holding a copy of my Upcoming Book. So did Chris Pirillo. One more and I'm going to start a gallery of Bloggers with Books. You've been warned.


3/24/2002 07:43:06 AM | PermaLink

 

Saturday, March 23, 2002

What's a Meta For?

[Note: I'm sure I didn't make up that punning headline.]

Dave Rogers weighed in with a response to the blogthread (see Akma's entry and my response to start with) about metaphors for the Web by telling us about C.S. Lewis' concept of transposition "when one attempts to adapt something of a higher or richer medium to a poorer medium." That's why, Lewis says (Rogers says) we can't describe heaven: as we transpose it into terms we can understand, it loses its richness. "Could it be," Dave wonders "that we have actually made a 'higher medium' that we cannot adequately explain in our 'poorer medium' world?"

This is a provocative idea. I think the evaluative terms get in the way, though. We could drop the "higher" and "poorer" and still use the idea of transposition to explain why we have trouble describing the experience of the Web. There are ways, obviously, in which the Web is a deprivation of the real world: five senses reduced to one, almost purely verbal, sedentary. That's how the Web looks to people who think that it's making us less social. (Hah!) The Web, it seems to me, is making us more social but also differently social — relationships mediated through keyboards are necessarily different than ones in which two people are close enough to breathe each other's air. And you are not going to get me to say that one is better than the other.

So, what's the richness of the Web that the RW can't appreciate any more than it can appreciate heaven? While it would be self-contradictory to expect a full answer ("Please utter the unutterable in 100 words or less"), we need some type of answer since the Web isn't something we can only experience by dying. Daniela Bouneva Elza at LivingCode suggests that it's the "superculture" described by Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen in Figments of Reality. A superculture knits together multicultures "like genuine multicellular organisms," say Black and Cohen. I don't know that I find this particular metaphor all that helpful, but Daniela sure seems right in pointing at the realm of culture and sociality as the Web's locus of ineffable richness. Culture, society, even civilization. These seem like good words for discussing what we're building on the Web.

(By the way, I really like Dave's explanation of why the Web's space and time are so utterly different than the RW's. And Daniela's passing use of the word "extelligence" struck me; maybe too cute to stick, but there's something right about it also. IMO.)
3/23/2002 08:51:01 AM | PermaLink

Government Cracks Down on State-Run Piracy Ring

Senator Fritz Hollings today announced the Fair Value Protection Act aimed at stamping out the widespread piracy of intellectual property that, according to testimony before his committee, deprives authors of almost two billion dollars a year of revenues they have earned and deserve.

"The FVPA goes a long way to restoring the fair relationship between creators and consumers," said Senator Hollings. "Honest consumers want to pay for the value they receive. They understand that creators deserve to be paid for their work and for what they contribute to our proud American culture."

Mark Miwords, president of the Book Lovers for Fairness, a publishing industry trade association, said in testimony before the committee, "This buy- once-share-with-all practice has to stop. It's unfair, it's unreasonable and it's Unamerican. The fact that governments themselves are funding this type of terrorism against intellectual property is outrageous."

According to the terms of the FVPA, all public libraries will be closed permanently as of June 24.
3/23/2002 07:48:39 AM | PermaLink

 

Friday, March 22, 2002

Bombastic Truth

The Bombast Chronicles: Rants and Screeds of RageBoy collects the best of EGR into one convenient hardbound volume. EGR is Christopher Locke's 'zine which consists of equal parts industry insight, comedy and reader abuse. Chris is a good friend of mine, and mocks me at several points in his book. Now that we've gotten that out of the way...

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

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

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

...

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

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

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

The Bombast Transcripts is a tour de force. It is as right about the Internet as anyone has been. But that story is entwined with Chris' own. As he's throwing acid in IBM's face, he's also invoking his months of meditation, his decades of debauchery, his years of geekhood. Bombast risks everything in order to be true. Chris is willing to embarrass himself and to embarrass his readers if that's the way to say what's needful. No one will like all of this book but if you can't feel the gust of truth blowing through it, then, well, may RageBoy take your soul.
3/22/2002 11:17:02 AM | PermaLink

 

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Damn Canadians!

Thomas Vincent writes in response to my running Gary Lawrence Murphy's call for ripping CDs as a form of civil disobedience against the coming legislative stupidity:

All for bootlegging, all for the argument and I think it's our duty as partiots...but did you notice...it's easy for him to talk....he's in Canada.

If our legislators keep this up, we'll all be in Canada, pal. Eh?
3/21/2002 09:41:55 AM | PermaLink

Web Space, Web Mind

AKMA continues his quest for a non-spatial metaphor for the Web. He wonders if the Web isn't "a mind that we are building from the ground up." AKMA is uncomfortable with the spatial metaphor because space is so familiar and the fit is so inexact that the metaphor may blind us to what is truly different about the Web. He likes the mind metaphor better because:

...we would be comparing something we're only just beginning to apprehend (the Web) with something we've been misapprehending for millennia (the mind).

Nicely put, as always.

Given Akma's misgivings about the spatial metaphor, I think he likes the mind metaphor not because we misapprehend the mind but because we are less certain of our understanding of the mind than we are of space, so we are less likely to fall into old habits of thought if we compare the Web to the mind. That is, the benefit of the mind metaphor is precisely that it's less obvious to us.

There's been a lot of thought given to the relationship of the Internet and the brain. My problem is that the more accessible that research is to me, the less I agree with it. The incomprehensible bits about the mechanics of the brain's literal neural network seem promising and thought-extending. The parts I can understand talk about consciousness and suggest that the Internet as a whole is becoming aware, as foretold either by Nostradamus or Colossus: The Forbin Project, I forget which. This seems to me to make the old error of conceiving of consciousness as a set of formal, instantiate-anywhere processes ("Just add matter — of any type! — and stir!")

People also intermittently notice that the Web is like Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere, which also has the advantage of comparing the Web to something we don't understand. I find that the noosphere comparison helps to focus my attention up from the many individual ideas and rants on the Web, but I'm not sure what else it adds.

The question about the mind as metaphor is whether it fits well enough to be obvious but is rich enough to shine light on corners otherwise left dark. And there are dangers, as with any metaphor. In particular, I personally find almost totally unappealing the notion that the Web, like the mind, is self-aware and self-interested. And the concept of a "hive mind," as some have suggested, strikes me as actually repellant. (Note: I am announcing my prejudices, not justifying them.)

So, now the task might seem to be to write a 100-word essay on "How the Web is like a mind" but I think it's actually to think about what it would be like to talk about the Web in mind terms. For the talk about metaphors swirling through the blogthreads is in fact really about a new rhetoric, replacing the old spatial one of "going" and "leaving," etc. I don't see what that new rhetoric would be. But I'm sure my co-bloggers will have suggestions...


Speaking of Akma, how could you not read a blog entry entitled "More Saints Endorse Plagiarism," especially if you know that the blogger is a theologian?


The Obvious?'s Euan reminds us that Lawrence Haggerty's "The Spirit of the Internet: Vol. I: Speculations on the Evolution of Global Consciousness" talks about minds, the evolution of consciousness and the noosphere. (The implication that I have read it would not necessarily be warranted.)
3/21/2002 09:06:38 AM | PermaLink

 

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

Keep on ripping

Gary Lawrence Murphy encourages us to keep on bootlegging as an act of civil disobedience against the coming Punish the Spread of Ideas and Creativity Act:

Unfortunately, mass civil disobedience is historically the best antidote to an unjust law. We can make it as clear as we can what our intentions will be. Let them sign it into their law. We, the people, will follow our law. Let Congress make his-story. We will make our-story.

Bootleg everything you can get your hands on.


3/20/2002 10:23:54 AM | PermaLink

The Instant Gratification of Stupidity

AKMA, reflecting on sermons, writes

As I stop and look around, I observe both the amplified tendency toward speed that Dave [Rogers] cites and a patience for interesting narration (taking as examples Garrison Keillor, Lily Tomlin, Spalding Gray, Eve Ensler, extended raps, poetry slams, and other such cultural practices and practitioners). I don't see people unable to follow a story, an argument, a sermon, but people who have diminished patience for tedium.

Oooh, a diminished patience for tedium! I like it!

But it reminds me of a line in my Upcoming Book with which I have become uncomfortable. It says something like "Are our attention spans getting shorter, or is the world becoming more interesting?" Facile, glib, and missing the real point which is that both are happening simultaneously. Likewise, part of the tedium for which we are losing patience seems to me to be the patience required to start slow and build, to do scut work so that your thinking can advance later. Instant knowledge gratification. As AKMA, a seriously well-read, multi-lingual scholar obviously knows, mastery often requires tedium. I worry about this, seeing my own impatience eroding my ability to think and to learn.

(Flameproofing myself: Yes, mastery is a sexist and politically charged term. But you know what I mean: If you want to learn ancient Greek, chemistry, medicine, piano or how to dance, you're going to have to endure some boredom.)


BTW, AKMA also has a thought-provoking piece on the significance of the facelessness (literal) of the Web.
3/20/2002 10:06:35 AM | PermaLink

Why search engines suck™

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

Unfortunately, if you ask "How do I change domain servers?", "How do I change name servers?" or "How do I change nameservers?", the response is:

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

Ok, How about something a little easier? Why not try the example thoughtfully provided right under the instructions "Type in your question and click 'Go!'": "How do I renew my domain name?". Response:

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


3/20/2002 09:46:05 AM | PermaLink

Nothingness Explained

Judging from email, it seems that some of you have missed the hilarious point of my What Type of Nothingness Is the Universe and the Pathetic Bit of It You Call Your Life? quiz. Hint: It's a quiz about nothingness. Get it?

Oh hohohoho. Oh, that's rich.
3/20/2002 09:31:22 AM | PermaLink

Wild Utopia

Kevin Marks writes, in reference to my "Web as Utopia" piece:

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

Hell no! I don't see the Web as socratic. I see it as connective, and socratic dialogue is only one form of connecting, and a pretty paltry one at that. Yelling, joking, teasing, provoking, criticizing, grieving, and flirting are all forms of connecting. So is simultaneous masturbation (no, I don't mean blogging). What makes the Web utopian (in some sense) is that it's connective, not that it's polite, rational or even intelligent. At least that's what I meant to say. If I threw off the estimable Kevin Marks, I must have put it badly.
3/20/2002 09:22:41 AM | PermaLink

 

Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Links and Stirrings

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

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


Eric Norlin is feeling the urge to be involved in "the content side of things" and wonders whether others are feeling the same stirrings. Judging from the explosion of "content" in weblogs, I gotta say: Yeah, it's a trans-hemispheric springtime. Long may it last.


Mike O'Dell sends us to a site about a project he's involved with. Hint: What might be the opposite of a Segway scooter?
3/19/2002 11:22:53 AM | PermaLink

Telco Pro and Con

David Isenberg has published another issue of his SmartLetter.

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

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

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

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

Not that George Gilder thinks so. Gilder, the swami of telecosms, goes after the article Isenberg and I wrote together with the subtlety of a velociraptor in a bunny farm. Unfortunately, he's locked his ideas into his $600/year newsletter so you'll just have to believe me when I tell you that he's wrong. (Yo, George, how about publishing the article on your site for free so we can have a decent conversation about it?)
3/19/2002 10:13:15 AM | PermaLink

 

Monday, March 18, 2002

What Sort of Nothingness Are You?

Here's my contribution to the ineffably stupid genre of "What sort of ..." quizzes: What Type of Nothingness Is the Universe and the Pathetic Bit of It You Call Your Life?
3/18/2002 12:58:12 PM | PermaLink

Unprecedented Humor Attack

Simon Wistow over on the Cluetrain discussion list points us to BigBlueSmoke.com, a site that proclaims: "Sun Launches Web Site Debunking Big Blue Claims." It attacks its competitor with a ferocity and sense of humor I can't recall ever before seeing coming from a multi-billion dollar company. (Simon points out that a whois on the domain name does indeed point to Sun.)
3/18/2002 11:52:59 AM | PermaLink

Is the Web Utopia or Switzerland?

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

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

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

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

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

The real question is: How would we ever settle this issue?
3/18/2002 09:52:08 AM | PermaLink

It's Like a Metaphor

Kevin Marks' blog reflects on the analogies the handcuffs-and-copyright crowd are using:

"If someone figured out how to unlock the gas in the gas station, people would be outraged," Mr. Eisner added. "They wouldn't say to the oil industry, `You need a different business model.' "

If someone worked out how to make gas from water using a chemical reaction, you would expect the oil industry to adopt it instead of passing a law against it so they can continue to spend millions drilling holes in the ground and storing highly explosive chemicals every 10 blocks in our cities.

But Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation suggested that matters might be different if the tables were turned. "Let's say I decide to broadcast on my network the code for how to make Intel chips or Microsoft software," he said. "I think they'd find a way to stop it."

Yes, they'd sue you. They wouldn't lobby for a law making TV illegal. After all, the code for the Linux Kernel is being broadcast on the radio...

I've quoted beyond Fair Use (yeah, so sue me, Kevin!) but it's just too good...
3/18/2002 09:14:30 AM | PermaLink

Small Pieces Loosely Mischaracterized

This just in from Powell's Bookstore's listing of my book:


Click for full page screen capture

Apparently, I am a CIA operative who has written a tell-all book. (PS: Powells is one of my favorite sites. And, as if to confirm this, they fixed the problem within three hours, and sent me a nice, human email msg about it.)


In other Small Pieces news, Eric Norlin's welcome warm-up comments already provide a blurb sure to make it onto the cover of the paperback edition: "...muted gnosticism..." This will definitely put the book over the top with the Mandaeans, sole surviving Gnostic group, living in Iraq and Iran!

Iran??? Hey, this can't be a coincidence. Maybe I am an ex-CIA spook who's the only one who knows the location of Saddam Hussein's secret supply of Mysterium 238 but - and here's the twist! - I've got amnesia and have settled down as a geeky sort of Web guy. Oooh oooh, can I be played by Tom Cruise? Or at least Steve Buscemi?
3/18/2002 09:01:35 AM | PermaLink

 

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Made My Morning


Chris Pirillo, delighted with the clerical error that sent him two reviewers copies of Small Pieces Loosely Joined, moments before the same error resulted in the confiscation of the past four years of dental work and the arrival of 104 women claiming to be his wife.


3/17/2002 08:29:31 AM | PermaLink

 

Saturday, March 16, 2002

New Issue of JOHO

JOHO is my free newsletter. I published a new issue last night. (Much but not all of the material showed up in this blog first.):

The End Is Nearing (or March for Your Rights!): So much bad legislation, so little time.
Web as Utopia: The Web is a place where we can perfect our imperfect nature
Why I Don't Write... : ... as considerately as Dan Bricklin or as sympathetically as AKMA
Words of the Year: The results are in!
Same Grim Games Mire Gas Mimer: The results of the Grammies are in!
KayPro Nostalgia Corner: Strolling down memory lane at 5mH
The Anals of Marketing: They so crazy.
Searching: A feature we'd like to see
Walking the Walk: IPS Funds' experiment in mutual democracy
Cool Tool : An easy, low-end backup program
Internetcetera: Dept. of Big Numbers
Puzzles and games: Quirks and oddities
Links: From you, as delightful as ever
Email: Will you people never let go of the past?
Bogus Contest: Jakob Nielsen Ratings


3/16/2002 05:06:05 PM | PermaLink

MiscLinks and Retorts

Chris Heathcote points us to the poignant story of what happened when Steve Mann, a professor at the U. of Toronto who has been wearing cyber gear for 20 years — sensors, display glasses, etc. — was forcibly unplugged by security guys at the Toronto airport:

Without a fully functional system, he said, he found it difficult to navigate normally. He said he fell at least twice in the airport, once passing out after hitting his head on what he described as a pile of fire extinguishers in his way. He boarded the plane in a wheelchair.

"I felt dizzy and disoriented and went downhill from there," he said.

Note to Prof. Mann: That's how all of us non-enhanced people feel all the time. Welcome to the real world.

[Note: Because this is a NYTimes story, it may require registration after 7 days.]


Rex Hammock counterblogs the snotty reference to Nashville I made while explaining why I think Opryland is the worst hotel in America.

I spent about 3 hours in Nashville a few years ago, walking the main streets. I am in no position to judge the town as anything except a tourist destination And keep in mind that the particular tourist is a no-fun, non-drinking, non-country-listening, cynical, snide, northern Jewish asshole. I'm fully ready to believe that Nashville is a fine place to live, work, raise kids and open a neon recycling business.


Michael Mark suggests we click on the "Invoice past due" link on the No Media Kings site where we can read the results of the attempt of the author of the novel Everyone in Silico to collect from companies for the "product placements" he put into his book. Reminiscient of Don Novello's "Lazlo Toth" art-prank from the 80s.


At Minciu Soda's site, you will find people — including the lovely and talented Peter Kaminski — who are willing to write (programs or words) for you under terms of a license that "adds to the public wealth." Sponsors purchase "work packs" for $480, of which $360 goes to the author. How much work would a work pack pack if a work pack could pack work? That's up to the author.

Soda is serious about trying to improve the world's intellectual wealth. Browse through the scrolling list on his home page to see what else he's been up to.


Here's a military photo photo looking straight down at ground zero. (There's a widget in the bottom right to zoom in or out.) Startling.


Chip recommends a slick Flash that puts the imbalance of resources and justice into numeric perspective.


Chris Herot points us to Andy Oram's Stop the Copying, Start a Media Revolution.


AKMA, that unpredictable man of many cloths, runs his own Extended Alert System with color-coded warnings about life's other dangers. (And where did he find the official government Impending Doom font? In my own little spoof I had to settle for a mere approximation.)
3/16/2002 10:37:39 AM | PermaLink

 

Friday, March 15, 2002

Tom Reviews Small Pieces

And what a review it is. Two weeks before publication and we've already hit our critical highwater mark.

Thank you, Tom. I am ready to have your babies now.
3/15/2002 10:38:44 AM | PermaLink

The 5 Stages of Homeland Security

The announced rationale of the new national alert system is to enable the nation's security forces to coordinate their actions better. If they need a color-coded system to do that, we are in deep shit: "It's gone from orange to yellow, guys. You can those Arab-looking teenagers put their clothes back on."

If you need any convincing that the War on Terrorism is 5 parts PR to 1 part action, just take a look at the Homeland Security Archive page. Press release after press release announcing Ridge's travels, his press briefings, his photo opps ... and an occasional action. If it weren't so terrifying, it'd be a joke.

Office of Homeland Security: Color-Coding Your Fears for the Illusion of Control
3/15/2002 08:46:01 AM | PermaLink

Email Pong

The text-based version of Pong is a funny idea, but I've always wanted to play an email-based version of it:

From: PongServer@dumbideas.com
To: self@evident.com
Subject: MailPong Move #23

The ball has been served to you
Velocity: 10px/second
Angle: 32.85

Please indicate the parameters of your move
(All measurements in pixels)
Top edge of your paddle:
Point of impact:
Speed of paddle:
Velocity of paddle:

Hit Reply to send.

Now that would be fun!
3/15/2002 08:17:14 AM | PermaLink

 

Thursday, March 14, 2002

What about the Body?

Kalilily, in part spurred by my comments on the Web as Utopia, writes:

And so, while David is right that we are at out best when we are social and connected, we need to remember that passionately connecting minds is only half what we humans need to feel truly alive.

As the inhabitant of a gradually decaying body parked about 14 hours a day in front of a computer — ay caramba, that sounds like a symptom, not a lifestyle — it's easy for me to ignore the little fact that we are our bodies. And, yes, I do tend towards the intellectual side (although I as a child I once enjoyed the sensual thrill of Vicks VapoRub). So it's always good to be reminded of this.

FWIW, in my upcoming book (which I'm thinking of re-titling "My Upcoming Book"), I make a weird argument that the Web returns us to the sort of rich, messy, fat knowledge that comes from having a body, as opposed to the anorexic knowledge and bodiless selves that our culture has been favoring.


And I'm sure it's merely a coincidence — yeah, that's what it is — that it's another woman, Halley, who raises the same issue in her blog. Halley, though, sees the disembodiment of the Web as liberating because it removes the threat of bodily harm.

By the way, I found Halley's plain-spoken account of a day in her life to be oddly moving. Or maybe it's not odd at all.


Steve Giovannetti blogs about the importance of the Web's tie to physical space, warning us that the single greatest threat to the Net comes from system administrators with plumber butts. (Ok, so maybe I'm mischaracterizing his comments for comic effect.) And it's good to be reminded of the material nature of the Web. But there's also a sense in which the Web "place" (as I think of it) isn't located anywhere in the real world (while remaining dependent on the real world for its existence). Not all worlds that are spatial are in a specific locality. For example: the past. You can't show me where the past *is*. (There's something very screwy about this example. If it tweaks your flame knob, I preemptively withdraw it.) I don't think there's any real incompatibility between what Steve is pointing to and what I've been on about. Complementarity.
3/14/2002 10:05:16 AM | PermaLink

Poetics of the Web

Akma has gathered a superb collection of blogs that discuss alternatives to the spatial metaphor of the Web, continuing a blogthread I accidentially initiated. I particularly like blkros's raising time, not space, to our attention; one of the commenters at the site refers us to a Darren Tofts's essay on cybertime vs. cyberspace. In fact, there are a whole bunch o' links there that sound well worth following. (I have the space this morning, but not the time.) And I also like AKMA's suggestion that Tom's piece on the music of the Web is a richer invocation of the Web's temporality.

Two meta-comments on the question of new metaphors for the Web:

First, it feels to me like this conversation, while highly stimulated by its blogginess, would profit from a more interactive form ... such as being in the same room together. We're disagreeing with one another often based on differences that could be worked out in person: "Oh, when you say 'space' you mean .... and when you say 'metaphor' you mean ..."

Second, although anything is possible (except for what isn't), in my heart I don't believe that any discussion of new metaphors can surface a new metaphor. I accept AKMA's plea that we be open to the "more" that hasn't been thought yet:

But an ocean is lapping at our toes, and it hasn't yet dawned on us to swim in it. After all, we experience the ocean by walking in it, "walking" is necessary, right?

(Now there's a metaphor that works!) But I don't think a conversation about metaphors is likely to produce new metaphors. That's the job of poets. And, in this case, I think it's more likely to come from a poetic engineer who creates a new piece of software that shows us the world through its eyes. After all, that's how 2D vertical computer screens became desktops and resizeable rectangles became windows.
3/14/2002 08:54:49 AM | PermaLink

Best and the Rest of Human Nature

Dave Rogers points out that when I said that the Web is a reflecton of our best nature, I must have been smoking jimson weed. Heck, one look into my inbox on any random morning would show you that the Net is 70-80% a reflection of the desire of co-eds named Tiffany and Crystal to party with me via a webcam and a credit card.

So, yes, the Web is a reflection of our nature, not our best nature. It is a purer reflection than the real world is for so much of the real world is beyond our control. We made of the Web what we wanted. And are still making it.

So why did I say "best nature"? Because the part of the Web I don't delete from my mailbox or click the back button on is a relection of the caring, curiosity and humor that makes me proud to be a human. I'm so happy about that part of the Web that the rest is just the static on the line.

[Yeah, I know the difference between the Web and the Internet. I just choose to ignore it.]
3/14/2002 07:31:07 AM | PermaLink

 

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

The Girl with Green Eyes

The National Geographic photographer who took the 1984 cover photo of the young Afghan woman with the beautiful green eyes has finally located her again.


3/13/2002 10:07:40 PM | PermaLink

Place, Space and Music

In writing about responses to my piece on the Web as Utopia (which have turned into a discussion of the Web as a place). I somehow forgot to point to Tom Matrullo's densely beautiful musings on music as a metaphor for the Web. Sometimes reading Tom is more like swimming than like reading, and I mean that in the good sense.

And on the same topic, the last thing AKMA wants me to do is agree with him. But, darn it, I do. He is worried that the familiarity of the spatial metaphor will keep us from appreciating what is new and important about the Web. As he says, the shoe can begin to pinch:

The weird part is the Web I want to explore, and I don't want to have trouble recognizing it because I'm wearing "space"-colored glasses.

Absolutely! It's the ordinary about the Web that's most extraordinary. New metaphors - new poems - are essential if we are to illumine the parts that have either been in the shadows or were too close to us to be visible. But - and here's where AKMA and I actually disagree, at long last - I don't think spatiality is a metaphor the way that, say, "Links are like caesuras," as Tom suggests, is. Space isn't a way of thinking about the Web. It is (in its weird webby permutation) how we experience the Web. You can't replace a deep metaphor like that with even the most piercing and achingly true similes. It can happen, but only over time as language and its accents and dialects change.


Daniela at LivingCode writes beautifully about the meaning the Web place has for us. It's filled with bloggable lines, such as:

...With all due respect Dave Winer is a place, more specifically the town square.

...I watch the destruction of communities, the mobility we have achieved, the shaken roots both of trees and people, how we have put a price on every step we take, how we are forgetting to do the part that we are really good at doing (being human) ...

...Here at Livingcode (which is another spacial representation) we see Utopia as a transitory place, because nothing stays with the good intentions it was built on. That is the "real" web for me: Building spaces of honest and good intentions in which to perfect ourselves....


In the course of the blog entry, she points to InvisibleCities, a collaborative site that seeks to encourage being creative as an alternative to being entertained.
3/13/2002 08:13:22 AM | PermaLink

<EOM>

Mike O'Dell writes, in full:

So how come the Instant Messaging conference lasted several days?

And Jacob Shwirtz writes:

The verb: SURF
The nouns: superhighway and web

How do you put on your body suit, wax your board and surf something weaved by a spider? How do you surf asphalt?


Mike O'Dell also writes: "the entire psychogenre of 'dancing pages' is a new revelation in self-display." The page he sends us to is like a catalogue of annoyances.
3/13/2002 07:40:59 AM | PermaLink

 

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Web Space and Place ... More

A number of really interesting responses to my blog on the Web as Utopia came in, especially on the nature of the Web's spatiality, which AKMA had blogged about.

Jason Thompson of MuseUnlimited has a fascinating spin. He thinks we see the Web as space because we're so desperate to find a utopia to save us from the real world: "In other words, we strive to design the Web as a space, another world safe from necessity." What a great way of putting it. It says compactly what I struggle to say in the last chapter of my upcoming book.

John Peters of Competitive.com writes in response to AKMA's call to come up with a metaphor for the Web that is non-spatial:

On the face of it, I don't think that I could conceive of the web as anything but a space. It's connected, ordered, has measurable dimensions (number of hops required to jump between points, with points defined as URLs, time to transition between URLs...) The measured dimensions, however, squirm about constantly. It's not a fixed space, not even in the relatively short term. ... Anyway, let me try a new definition of space: something that can be explored. This the Web satisfies. Just don't ever expect to be able to get back home.

Oddly, I get to the same conclusion through the opposite reasoning. I don't think the Web feels spatial because its measurable or ordered. Rather, I think that because the Web feels like a set of navigable places (not abstract, measurable dimensions) it feels like the real world. It could, of course, be both. Or neither.
3/12/2002 09:57:17 AM | PermaLink

DayPop Titles

I'm happy to say that my blog entry on Web as Utopia made it into the DayPop Top 40 and then the follow-up on it made it in. But I couldn't understand why DayPop lists the follow-up with the title "acknowledged and refined." Those words don't appear on the page. DayPop's title for the first entry was just as odd.

Answer: "Acknowledge and refined" are the words AKMA chooses to link to my blog entry. Aha! Or, possibly: D'oh!
3/12/2002 09:51:57 AM | PermaLink

 

Monday, March 11, 2002

Here are some musicians

Both AKMA and Steve Himmer emailed me immediately in response to my blog about the music biz to say that They Might Be Giants have been doing the web-economics thing. Steve also points to Jane Siberry. Thanks.

Michael Fraase, of Arts and Farces, weighs in with www.etree.org, gdlive.com and StringCheeseIncident.com.
3/11/2002 10:30:15 AM | PermaLink

Web Space, Web Place

AMKA responds to my meanderings about Web as utopia by wondering whether the Web is spatial at all. And well might he wonder since if the Web is spatial, it is definitely a weird type of space. Indeed, as AKMA says, "...space has dimensions of height, breadth, depth, all of which are absent (or extremely different) with relation to the Web."

There was a really interesting discussion of the spatial nature of the Web over at Peterme's site that something I'd written spurred Peter to surface again. The point I was making (and make in my upcoming book) seems weaker than the rest of the discussion, but, fwiw, I argue that the Web is "place-ial," not spatial for it has no dimensions. Rather, it consists of places, each of which has its own character and meaning.

But the main point of difference between me and AKMA on the spatiality of the Web seems to be that I'm trying to be a dutiful phenomenologist, pointing out that a weird spatiality deeply informs our Web experience, while AKMA seems in this instance to believe that we can change metaphors if the current ones are so based in real-world habits of thought that they "constrain our behavior." AKMA writes:

How might we imagine the Web if we tried to conceive it nonspatially?

I am totally down with this project so long as we agree that what AKMA's asking for isn't a more accurate description of the Web because the current one isn't effective. Instead, he's asking for new poetry. And that's much harder to do.
3/11/2002 08:45:16 AM | PermaLink

Where Are the Musicians?

From a private discussion list comes a link to Ani DiFranco 's letter to Ms. magazine explaining the art-above-bucks ethos that enables her to escape the recording industry's death clench.

Not caring about money is one way out. But why have there been no — NO — established bands that have been willing to try an alternative revenue model? Why has not a single band that we've already heard of released an album over the Internet either for free or for a third the cost of a CD (= 4x what they make from the recording industry)? Why not any experiments in giving away MP3s while selling a year's subscription to the work of the band over the next year? Is it as simple as the fact that all established bands are locked into contracts that forbid them from innovating? Or have I simply missed the music sites that are economically innovative?

Hell, where are the book writers, too? (Oh, shut up!)

For those looking for the gumption to actually care about little things like profits and revenues, Eric Norlin's latest econowarrior newsletter is highly recommended.
3/11/2002 07:39:05 AM | PermaLink

 

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Web as Utopia

[This is what I remember saying to a session yesterday at the Eastern Sociological Society meeting.]

I was an academic philosophy professor up until about 17 years ago and I've spent the intervening time doing my best to learn how to think sloppily. What I'm about to say is an example. And, by the way, I conflate the "Web" and the "Internet" because that's what the vast majority of users do.


I'm not defining a utopia as a perfect place. Rather, it is a place with a particular nature. Humans also have a nature. That's probably a terrible thing to say at a sociology meeting, but I mean simply that — whether it's socially conditioned or not — there are characteristics that make us humans. So, just go along with me for now. A utopia is a place whose properties enable us to perfect our human nature.

Now, I don't mean that we become perfect in a utopia. That's not possible. We're humans. We're imperfect. That's why we're not gods. Besides, imperfection is the only thing that makes life interesting. Perfection is homogenizing, at least according to the tradition. Imperfection is where all the fun and interest is. It's a bit like the fact that the price of free will is the existence of evil in the world: the price of the world being interesting is that we are imperfect creatures.

So, what I want to argue is that the characteristics of a utopia that enable us to imperfectly perfect our imperfect human nature are properties the Web has.

First, utopias are always new starts, a fresh page. The Web is definitely new and a fresh page.

Second, a utopia is a place and so is the Web. In fact it's a world. It is not a medium. A medium is something we send messages through, and while we can do that with the Web, I believe — and the fact that I believe it should definitely be enough to establish it as a fact ;) — that the excitement about the Web hasn't happened because it's a messaging medium. Rather, our language says that we move through the Web. We, not our messages. This is very weird. While the Web consists of pages, we go to them, enter them and leave them. We don't do that with real world pages or documents. We experience the Web as a navigable space.

This Web place has certain characteristics.

1. It's persistent.That's one reason we experience it as a place. Sure, sites go up and down, but there is a basic persistence to it, unlike other instantaneous media such as telephones and ham radio.

2. It's conversational. It's not really primarily about companies marketing crap to us. The excitement of the Web has something to do with the fact that we're connecting with one another by the most basic social act: talking.

3. It's hyperlinked. The Web wouldn't be a web if the pages weren't linked. But every hyperlink is an expression of interest. I link to your page because I think my visitors might find your page enlightening or amusingly wrong. The real world is shaped by a geography of rocks and water. The Web geography is shaped by links of human interest and conversation.

Compare this to the real world. We're born into the real world. None of us asked to be born. Even if God gave us the world as a gift, it's still the given, the datum. And fundamentally this world is indifferent to us. We get buried in it, our atoms dissolve, and the worms are happy and the atoms don't care. We make of this world what we will, but it's damn hard. You can't move the mountains and it takes a lot to make the desert bloom. It fundamentally isn't our world.

But the Web is a world that we're making for ourselves. And we're doing so by connecting to one another in conversation and by linking to one another out of human passion and caring.

I can't defend the following so I'll just state it: we humans are at our best when we are involved with others. We are at our best when we are social and connected. The Web is a world that is profoundly social. Its geography itself is social, a map of connections and passions. It is thus a world that we've made for ourselves that is a reflection of our best nature and a place where can imperfectly perfect our imperfect natures.
3/10/2002 10:16:08 AM | PermaLink

 

Saturday, March 09, 2002

MiscLinks

Why didn't anyone tell me that I Love Me Vol. I is Michael O'Connor Clarke's blog! I really have to do a better job of keeping up. I've been urging Michael to publish his stuff for years because he's sharp, funny and wickedly arch. It looks like with weblogging he's found his form. I'm so excited!


Kevin Marks sends us to a site that scans your brain for memes and diagnoses which areas are most deeply infected.


Glenn Fleischman has a site that lists comparative prices for any book you care to mention. (Cluetrain for $2.99!)


Jonathan Peterson is recommending "bombstickers" as a way of playing with Google's linked-based relevancy rankings. (Call me a stick in the mud, but I sort of don't want to mess with Google's rankings. Yes, I love Google that much.) (Jonathan counterblogs, capturing and better expressing the ambiguity I feel about googlebombing.)

John Hiler at MicroContent News has an article explaining the theory and practice of GoogleBombing.


Halley blogs in response to my proposed comments to the Instant Messaging conference. Insightful as always.
3/9/2002 02:15:57 PM | PermaLink

A Joke I Didn't Make

Right before I was due to speak at the IM conference, I went to the men's room. On the urinal was written "1.0 GPF" (gallons per flush), but the font for the F was odd so it looked like "1.0 GPL." I decided not to begin my presentation by saying that for a moment I found myself thinking: Cool! An open source toilet!

It's bold decisions such as that that makes me such a sought-after speaker and genial host. That and the fact that I look particularly good in a smoking jacket.
3/9/2002 08:07:33 AM | PermaLink

 

Friday, March 08, 2002

Instant Messaging Conference Report

The Instant Messaging Planet Conference and Expo ("The Enterprise IM Strategies & Solutions Event") going on in Boston yesterday and today attracted about 150 people for a lively set of discussions about moving IM into the corporate world. It presented a picture of an industry attempting to struggle out of the swamp of commoditization...with the lead commoditizer, AOL, not in attendance.

[Note: My view is doubly skewed. I am basically a populist when it comes to IM, and I only heard the morning panels, although I hung around after my keynote to talk with folks. So, this is hardly full and unbiased coverage. As if you needed to be reminded.]

The problem the attendees face is simple: Why should anyone pay for what they can get for free? Answer: Businesses should pay for it because of the features the vendors provide: security, integration with other apps, security, archiving, security, configuration for a particular set of business problems, security, the filtering of irrelevant messages, security, and security.

It's no coincidence that as soon as IM looks like a business application, it becomes primarily about control and the reduction of information. After all, businesses literally define themselves in terms of what they control, and their control comes primarily through the selective release of information. The problem the IM industry faces is that what has made IM so massively popular among consumers is that it is uncontrolled and increases the flow of information. We've adopted IM because of connection but now it's being sold to businesses in terms of control.

This led a couple of people on the first panel to deny the importance of interoperability among IM systems. One panelist said that business doesn't want interoperability because it just means that people outside your company can bother you with interruptions. Another said: "It just enables me to IM with my kids from work, which is not very high on the business needs list." In other words, interoperability decreases control and increases connectivity. But, as someone in the audience said, you could say the same thing about email. And, as I said in my presentation, one clear lesson of the Internet is that you make the transport layer open and put your added-value features at the edges of the network. First connect. That enables innovation and the development of added-value industries.

That ultimately is the problem I think the IM industry faces. They first have to build an industry, which you do through openness. But non- interoperability provides some short-term differentiating benefits to the IM vendors. In pursuing their short-term self-interest, they are hindering the creation of a market for the long term. And in sacrificing connection for control, they are removing from their product the very factor that has caused people spontaneously to embrace it.

Now, that's easy enough to say if you're a writer- consultant-speaker guy who drops in for a morning and then takes the trolley home where you can write up your high-minded critique. It gets a lot harder if you're trying to keep your company afloat knowing that the owner of the desktop is already building IM into the operating system for free. Nevertheless, if I were a prospect, I wouldn't even consider an enterprise IM product that didn't begin its pitch with an explanation of how it "embraces and extends" the coming interoperability standard.

There was another disconnect between the business vision of IM and the popular view. We the People have embraced IM in large part because of buddy lists. Without buddy lists, IM would be just another opportunity to be spammed. Buddy lists constitute a person-to-person network on top of the network. A map of buddy lists in a corporation would be, in some ways, more valuable than the org chart for it would show you who is really talking with whom. Yet, there was almost no mention of buddy lists during the morning sessions ... except by the two customers who talked. To the vendors (to generalize), IM looks like a way of interrupting someone you know is in her office in order to get a quick answer to a question. To the rest of us, IM looks like a way a set of buddies can stay in touch. I would have thought that businesses would be eager to capitalize on the untapped knowledge management potential of buddy lists. Instead, buddy lists apparently look like a way people can distract one another.

There's lots of room for IM. In fact, considered simply as a messaging layer (as the guy from Jabber, the open source IM folks, suggested) it can and will show up in tons of other apps as a way of moving data from A to B. I am completely in favor of vendors making a ton of money embedding and extending IM to address every conceivable business need, from the most controlled to the most connected. Of course! But there also has to be room in business for IM of the sort that has become wildly popular already. The social network IM creates is of immense value not only to teenagers and shut-ins. Businesses run on their messy social networks. They are the source of the trust that makes working together efficient and feasible at all. They are the source of much innovation. They are the way bad ideas are identified, usually through ridicule. They should be an important part of the business application of IM.


Jeneane has a provocative blog about team blogs as a way of organizing a business: "Gonzo Engaged the most mature of these team blogs in its sixth month, has all the makings of a really smart company." This has stimulated a discussion at the Gonzo Engaged team blog.

For another view of the conference, see Colin C. Haley's coverage of the morning.
3/8/2002 11:09:36 AM | PermaLink

 

Thursday, March 07, 2002

A Day without the Internet

In response to Doc's call for a much-needed march on Washington (right on, Doc!), Greg Cavanagh suggests that marching is so old world. Why not shut the Internet down for a day, he wonders.

What does that mean exactly? Could it be done? I don't know, but there's a mythopoeic rightness to the idea.
3/7/2002 08:22:57 AM | PermaLink

Blogs Meet Direct Mail (via Golby)

Mike Golby's entry explaining why he's taking the night off from blogging is hilarious.

Similarly, his summary of my upcoming book is so profound that I can barely see through my tears as I type it in: "This is what happens when you suffuse The Big Red Button with Fucknozzle and build a world out of conversation.” Beautifully put, Mike. I'm just sorry it's too late to put it on the cover.

But Mike's not all fun and games. His reflections on racism and anti-semitism would carry great weight even if he were not speaking as an anti-apartheid white South African who can — and how exhilirating it is to be able to say this — speak from hope validated by experience. He says, for instance, "I've seen infinitely more people twisted, broken, or driven crazy by the hatred they carry within than I have people who've been crippled by any viciousness voiced."

Then there's Mike's report on South Africa in fact and in the media... Aw, hell, I'm just going to blogroll him.
3/7/2002 07:43:36 AM | PermaLink

 

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

Internet Radio Ruled Illegal

The copyright office has ruled that Internet radio must pay royalties that broadcast radio doesn't have to pay ... according to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act , a law that is giving us what we don't deserve. Doc has pointers to more details (as well as a call for a march on Washington). A new site, SaveInternetRadio.org has pulled together lots of details.

Stupid stupid fuckers. This is so depressing.
3/6/2002 11:57:59 AM | PermaLink

Conspiracies: Real, Possible and Absurd

Riding on the Daypop Top 40 is a page with photographs that "prove" that the Pentagon explosion on 9/11 could not have been caused by an airplane. It was caused instead by a truck bomb, according to this site.

I can give you the name of a friend in DC who saw the airliner hit the building. He's a journalist. He watched the plane come down. So, what the photos on that site actually prove is that we don't have reliable expecations about what a plane hitting a slab of a building will do.


Hiawatha Bray has a good column on the return of the Security Systems Standards and Certification Act, Fritz Hollings' extremist response to the entertainment industry's demand to have their stranglehold on creativity backed by law and hardware. As Bray writes:

Read it and gasp: ''It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies.''

This proposed law got derailed by public opinion in December. The addresses and phone numbers of the members of the Senate Commerce Committee are here. You can send an email to Hollings via a Web form here.


Chip writes:

Who would have thought that that bastion of yellow journalism, the Enquirer, would devote space to acquaint millions of ordinary Americans with Enron and the pipeline?

The article is quite provocative. But, the source of The Enquirer's information is (yes, I'm about to go ad hominem) the Executive Intelligence Review, a Lyndon Larouche organ. Larouche is a paranoid, neo-fascist, anti-semitic nut job who believes that Israeli and British intelligence were behind the "failed coup" of September 11, the British monarchy was behind the Oklahama City bombing, and the Grateful Dead were "generated as a British intelligence operation by the Occult Bureau..." This would be funnier if Larouche weren't so intelligent (in some sense) and didn't have such a devoted following.
3/6/2002 09:59:15 AM | PermaLink

Instant Response to Messaging

Jeneane takes issue with some of what I plan (um, planned) on saying to a conference on instant messaging. I, naively, suggest that the at-work use of IM will take on the flavor of its at-home use. Jeneane responds:

For me, IM in the work world has become less like chatting and more like an air raid siren—red alert, incoming incoming! I need help putting out a fire. Which is all fine—that's what we're paid for. But it's definitely not like my home IM experience.

Tom Matrullo thinks I've too readily assimilated the at-home use to other, more public Web conversational forms:

IM is more like typing through a telephone; it can be intense and tends to grab all my attention. ... [I]n my experience of IM conversation, not much in the way of public speech seems to occur, and there seems little motivation for masks and personae.

What you say seems right on the mark. Thanks for the help, Jeneane and Tom.
3/6/2002 08:58:54 AM | PermaLink

 

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Stop Me before I'm Stupid in Public Again

On Thursday I'm supposed to give a keynote to an instant messaging conference in Boston. Why, you ask? I don't know, I reply. Presumably they expect something Cluetrain-y from me. (By the way, Andrew Orlowski has one of the best commentaries on Dvorak's "critique" of Cluetrain. Orlowski's comments both make a lot of sense and make me intensely uncomfortable. I still like Halley's spirited defense, though, not to mention that she's been pushing the blog envelope with short sexual reminiscences. Wait, wasn't there a track I was supposed to be on here?)

So, here's roughly and telegraphically what I'm going to say. Please pass it through the fire of your criticism so that it may come out as pure and and brilliant as a diamond. I.e., kick the shit out of it now so I won't look like a total fucking moron on Thursday.

Instant Messaging and the New Conversation

How IM will affect business?

We are in a new age of conversation. We can differentiate different types of conversation — IM, chat, email, Usenet, Web pages, etc.— by how interruptive they are and how interactive they are. But this leaves out a crucial dimension: groups. The Internet is about groups. (Metcalfe's Law vs. Reed's Law.) While the persistence of IM messages is quite low, the persistence of IM groups is quite high. In other words: buddy lists rule.

We need to make more of buddy lists. First, we need a way to move threads among all the different conversation forms: see the threadsML initiative.

Second, research (e.g. Albert-László Barabási shows the self-organizing networks naturally create "super nodes." These are invisible in buddy lists. There ought to be some way of developing them.

The importance of groups goes beyond their mathematics, of course. In the real world, there's a Paradox of the Masses. We are each individuals but as we join a crowd, we become more and more faceless. There's a positive and a negative to this (being just one more member of the voting public vs. being just one more consumer in marketing's crosshairs). But the Web resolves the paradox: We are members of the Web masses only through our individual voices. IM and buddy lists are an important way of being individual within a mass.

But Web conversations are different than the ones we're used to having, particularly in the real world of business. Business has been about control, which is itself part of a larger cultural neurosis. Let's look at that briefly. Then let's look at some examples of Web conversations to see their characteristics: funny, passionate, admitting of fallibility, etc.

If voice, passion and connection drive the Web then, IM is not just creating a new network of groups but is also (almost necessarily): Messy (the clean line between personal and business is smudged), subversive (IM as passing notes in the back of the classroom), hyperlinked (driven by interest) and entertaining (multiple persona, exaggeration, humor). IM at work is not much different than IM at home. IM is part of the permanent, pervasive adolescence enabled by the Web ,, and part of the rebirth of play.
3/5/2002 10:24:58 AM | PermaLink

This Just In: Opryland Really Does Suck

Apparently I am not alone in detesting the Opryland Hotel. Julian Bond writes:

...Did you notice the fake birdsong coming out of speakers in the undergrowth? The revolving bar in the waterfall atrium, where the waterfall is *so* loud you can hardly hear the person next to you? The "Dancing waters" fountain and light show every evening at 7:30? The Liberace look-a-like performing on the piano from his second story balcony with full electronic orchestral accompaniment? The strange way that none of the restaurants are open for breakfast because they are always closed for refurbishment? Or that all the rooms look inwards.

But then if you cross the parking lot to the Mexican restaurant or wander into Nashville to one of the many themed C&W bars, it doesn't get much more real. Strange town altogether...

And AKMA blogs — complete with a photo — about the time the Society of Biblical Scholars convened there.
3/5/2002 09:37:34 AM | PermaLink

 

Monday, March 04, 2002

TED Transition

I heard from Chris Anderson, the new head of TED, the conference from which I blogged last week. He reports that the main hall for next year's conference has already sold out. So, apparently the transition from Richard Saul Wurman is going well.
3/4/2002 08:59:46 AM | PermaLink

The Worst Hotel in America (Non-Fleabag Division)

If you don't want to hear me whine about my hard life in a hotel, please turn your attention elsewhere. I wouldn't blame you for an instant.

The worst hotel in America is ... [drumroll] ... The Opryland.

What makes it suck so bad?

  • It is gigantic. Acres. If it were outdoors, they'd be morally obligated to give each guest a golf cart.

  • Each of the wings has its own faux theme. Fake river. Fake bayou. Fake Gone with the Wind. Real annoying.

  • The worst signage since Londoners randomly switched their street signs.

  • The corridor ceilings are low so you feel like not just like a rat in a maze but a rat in a maze who's hunching his shoulders.

  • They play loud background music everywhere. Or maybe it just seems that way.

  • It's not within walking distance of anywhere.

  • The nearest city is Nashville.

  • It's hermetically sealed. I'm breathing air first captured in during the Carter administration.

Does it have its good points? Of course. For example, there's a sense of camaraderie among the guests who are wandering lost among the potted mangrove trees. But I'm just not in the mood to talk about the positives.

Thank you. I feel better now.
3/4/2002 08:52:22 AM | PermaLink

Home Storage

It looks like Steve MacLaughlin's idea of a home storage network was so good that it's being done. According to Tony Perkins column in Red Herring (March 2002), Sony calls it a Personal Network Home Storage System and it's designed first for multimedia: 450 hours of DVD, 1,500 CDs and 600,000 high res images.

Using a wireless home network, consumers will be able to user their TVs to manage and interact with their Walkmans, PlayStations, and video cameras. [Sony President Kunitajke] Ando also hinted that, by 2003, every TV as well as nearly every product Sony produces will come standard with an IP address.

I'm assuming that you'll also be able to network in non-Sony products.

Perkins reminds us that the XBox has similar designs and Apple also wants to own the home entertainment network. And Moxi. The fact that this will be TV-centric only seems like a mistake to those of us who spend most of our day in front of the computer.

Sue the bastards, Steve!
3/4/2002 08:40:32 AM | PermaLink

 

Sunday, March 03, 2002

Misc.

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper has an article that actually gets it right about the intellectual ferment on the Web. Rather than saying that it's just a bunch of foul-mouthed teenagers ranting about sex, drugs, rock 'n roll and sex, Jeff Warren writes:

Instead of self-contained essays, the Web's new intellectual hothouses offer diverse networks of opinion, and active participation. Reader power is where the Web really comes into its own.

Other than Jeff's focus on Mature and Respectable blogs (presumably to legitimize blogging to his readers), this is piece is a welcome alternative to the hostile crap the media has been writing about blogging. (Full disclosure: He quotes me a couple of times.)


Some lovely maps of the Internet at Albert-László Barabási's site. He's the Notre Dame physicist who found that there are 19 degrees of separation between any two randomly chosen sites on the Web. (This is back when there were only a billion pages on the Web.) More significantly, he and his team have discovered a pattern of nodal clustering that seems to pertain not just to the Internet but to any self-organizing network. I had a chance to talk with him a couple of weeks ago — a very enthusiastic and engaging fellow. He has a new book, Linked, coming out soon.


Kevin Marks responds to my posting of a little Oscars-scoring program that I wrote in <shame>Visual Basic</shame>:

You don't wanna use that, you wanna use this:

http://runrev.com

Makes binaries for Mac, Windows, Linux and load of other Unixes. Free trial version that lets you have 10 lines of script per element. The scripting language is HyperTalk, give or take.

Or if you really love Basic, use this:

http://www.realbasic.com/

No, I don't love Basic. Back when I was running DOS I far preferred C. (I could never master C++ or Java.) But VB has one compelling strength if you're strictly an amateur programmer: Microsoft has made it really easy to bash together a UI. (Make your OS too hard to develop in and then sell the dumbed-down kit so people can develop in it! It worked!)

Ah, let the flames begin.


Jock Gill, White House Technology Advisor to Pres. Clinton, has a fiery, enjoyable partisan column at Democrats.com that paints a picture of

An incumbent corporate elite determined to establish a risk free, global regime without regulation, with guaranteed profits for owners and with all disputes resolve in secret without appeal.

Note: I'll be on the road to Nashville the rest of today and tomorrow, so the blogging may be a little thin. I'm giving a talk at SHARE, an IBM national user support group.


3/3/2002 10:22:00 AM | PermaLink

Multiple Blog Disorder

A multi-personaed person possibly named Matt Moore or Daniel Byron has started "evil twin blogs." One charts his travels and stays in India. The other is more contemplative, although I'm not confident that I've characterized either well. From the second blog:

To understand the dour, masochistic nature of Reformist Christianity you can either read 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' or, if lacking the time, simply sit down to an English meal...

It's interesting that we're seeing a multiple blog disorder growing to accommodate our multiple voices.
3/3/2002 09:34:01 AM | PermaLink

Circumstantial Conspiracy

Chip recommends a long article by Ron Callari of The Albion Monitor (reprinted in Alternet.org) that provocatively lays out the circumstantial evidence that It's the Oil, Stupid. Many fascinating tidbits loosely joined. For example, Zalmay Khalilzad, former consultant to Unocol, the oil company that was negotiating with the Taliban for a pipeline, "is the Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council member responsible for setting up the post-Taliban 'Pro-Unocal' regime in Afghanistan."

Monitor.Net is a stronghold of lefty conspiracy theories and outrage ("Olympic Torch Bearer Uniforms Made In Burma Sweatshops," "Could Irradiated Mail Cause Super-Anthrax?"). Just because they're lefty and conspiracy theories doesn't mean they're not true.
3/3/2002 09:19:10 AM | PermaLink

 

Saturday, March 02, 2002

Defendant Relationship Management

Rageboy points us to an article at Wired about profitless companies successfully suing disgruntled customers who go on line to say mean things.

And they say there's no viable ecommerce business model!

(By the way, I know for a fact that RB ran the blog entry at least in part so he could use the word "fucknozzle" as in "Xybernaut chairman and CEO Edward Newman is a nasty, frightened little fucknozzle.")
3/2/2002 09:20:30 AM | PermaLink

Note to AKMA

First, you know my teasing you about your ecclesiastical circumlocution was entirely affectionate, don't you? I did somehow manage to omit the part saying your blog entry containing the circumlocution is as generous of spirit as always.

Second, in today's entry situating yourself among the various possible religio/theologico disciplines, you write:

I entered the "postmodern" discourses by way of biblical interpretation, in deed by way of literary interpretation.

Did you intend the "in deed" to be two separate words? Seems appropriate. Where can we read what you think about the possibility of reading the Bible without a faithful commitment (of some sort), i.e., the Bible as literature? Can it be done? (I'm curious in part because I've been attending a small Talmud class taught by a brilliant rabbi although I am at best agnostic about whether Scripture is divinely revealed.)

Third, I continue to read your book What Is Postmodern Biblical Criticism? (Fortress Press), a model of clarity about one of the murkiest of topics. Totally enjoyable. (Amazon reports it only has one copy left, but more are on the way.)

Fourth, herewith my Proof of Objectivity: You suck. (In the future, I may just abbreviate this to "POO: ____" with selected insults where the blank is.)

Fifth, is this a blog entry or a public email?
3/2/2002 08:45:50 AM | PermaLink

InformationWeek's Three Topics

While going through a stack of InformationWeeks yesterday, it struck me that you could divide the magazine's contents over the past few months into three evenly divided piles: The usual technology reports, security concerns, and how business is becoming more decentralized and more hyperlinked.

Yes, this is a backhanded response to Dvorak.
3/2/2002 08:28:50 AM | PermaLink

Puzzling

A friend (you know who you are, Steve) points us to the Wonderlic 12-minute IQ test given to athletes to see if they're smart enough to fall down instead of up. The site gives a 5-minute version and sample scores for various professions.

As with all such tests, I turn out to be a freaking genius ... but only if given enough time. (Steven Wright: Everything is within walking distance ... if you have enough time.)

So, who's smarter, a brainiac who scores high on an IQ test sitting in a sealed room or a normal person who scores higher on the test in the same amount of time but with access to the Internet ... and a way-smart buddy list?


An engineer I know likes to "stress test" prospective employees by asking them to come up, on the spot, with the algorithm for determing the angle between the hour and minute hand of a clock at any given time.

My attempt to distract him by reciting the theme song to "The Fllintstones" in the voice of Barbara Walters did not work.


There's an entertaining article in this week's New Yorker about Henry Hook and other puzzlemaniacs. One of them famously took on another puzzler in a timed test to fill in a crossword puzzle written for the occasion. The first guy won handily ... even though the second guy was the author of the puzzle.
3/2/2002 08:20:11 AM | PermaLink

 

Friday, March 01, 2002

From RageBoy with Tough Love

RB quotes himself to remind certain, ahem, people what the Cluetrain Manifesto was actually about. (The whole book is online for free, by the way.)

And don't miss the sensible rave review of Gonzo Marketing at Smart Business.
3/1/2002 08:29:13 AM | PermaLink

Dang Diddly Darn!

Please hie yourself over to AKMA's site today if only to see how a man of the cloth manages to avoid saying "Blow me."

On the other hand, AKMA gets to sign his email "Grace and peace" while I'm stuck with the polite-sounding grunt "Best."
3/1/2002 08:22:47 AM | PermaLink

Raymond: Cheap PCs Kill Microsoft

Eric Raymond, open source guru and lead guitarist of Guns n' Linux, says that the asteroid that will kill the Microsoft dinosaur is a waaay cheap PC:

"When the price of a PC falls below $350, Microsoft will no longer be viable," Raymond said in an interview with ZDNet UK. "The reason is that if you sell something below that price, you can't afford to pay the Microsoft tax and still make money." He said the best illustration of this is the handheld PC market, where Microsoft software powers relatively expensive devices, but has no presence in the lower-end market.

It seems to me that for a way-cheap PC to get over the perceived hurdle of being cut off from the mother's teat of Microsoft, it will position itself as an application-specific device, and the obvious application is Internet connectivity, and the obvious company to pursue this is AOL. Bring on the Linux-based AOL PC's! Where's that RedHat-AOL deal when we need it?
3/1/2002 07:48:40 AM | PermaLink

Download: Oscar Scorer (beta)

In my never ending quest to waste my time, I've written a utility for your Oscar party. People enter guesses about who'll win the Oscars and then, as you click on the actual winners, it totals the score. (This would have been easy for someone else to do with a spreadsheet, but my irrational fear of rational numbers causes my hands to tremble past the point of typing whenever one of the beasts crawls across my desktop.)

This is beta software! If you'd like to try it, you can download a zipped file here. It's about 800K, almost all of which is the Visual Basic DLL. (To uninstall it, you just erase the files you installed.)

Price of Admission: Your soul. (I.e., it's freeware for Windows users.)
3/1/2002 07:20:21 AM | PermaLink


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