For those who need to understand how the Web is changing the way businesses work
Issue: August 17, 1998
Author/Editor: David Weinberger
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.
Current Personal Crisis:On vacation. Reading email. Writing JOHO. What's wrong with this picture?
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com
Contact information: Click here.
The View from the Knowledge Management Summit KMWorld's Summit raised lots of issues. Reports on:
Should KM be invisible?
The KM map
The Web effect on KM
Two types of KM
What is the opposite of information?
The degradation of tacit knowledge
Knowledge isn't in our heads
Extra bonus! The speech that was too hot for the KM Summit:
The New Science of F*cking Management
D.U.M.B., Period: How do you spell I.S.D.N.? Ask the N.Y. T.i.m.e.s.
How to feel like a Jew: Go down south.
Department of Too Much Time on Our Hands:How does Outlook decide what's an email address?
Thinkly Different:Queasiness Moments with the Apple ad campaign
Cool Tool:Screenporch.com is built for conversation
Internetcetera:What are the operating systems in use?
Email, Comments and Rude Remarks
Why Search Engines Suck:Two more reasons are added to the perpetual list
Bogus Contest: Creative advertising, and contest results
Special Vacation Issue!
Yes, we are on vacation as you can tell by this issue's devil-may care attitude, barely masking a tone of sullen resentment. So, rather than postponing publication and joining in the pina-colada-based celebrations here at JOHO's summer retreat (known only as The Lake of Solitude), we are instead, in a spirit of summertime adolescent rebellion, refusing to use the spell checker.
In the universe in which someone outside of my dead mother actually cares about such things, you might want to note that last issue's article on Linux was reprinted in Intranet Design Magazine.
The View from the (KM) Summit
KM World held the second annual Knowledge Management Summit in Camden, Maine. (Would they listen to me and rename it "KM-Den, Maine" for the weekend? Nooo.) This event was an opportunity for a slice of the industry to get together, albeit there is no industry and if there were this wouldn't have been a representative slice, and if it were representative then we all should be pretty depressed. Nevertheless, it was definitely the Feel Good KM event of the 90s. And quite worthwhile.
Over the course of two days of meetings and one boat ride during which I tragically thought the organizers had bought live lobsters to set them free, a couple of key issues arose over and over again among the vendors and analysts at the meeting.
Should KM be invisible?
There's software for doing many of the things that compose KM: smart searching, community building, collaborative filtering, smart push, etc. The question is whether there is such a thing as KM beyond each of those individual areas. Or, more precisely, is there reason and profit in calling yourself "KM" if you've got yourself tagged as something more particular?
(Clearly this hesitation reflects the market's reluctance to embrace KM. After all, you may see products that advertise "As Seen on Seinfeld!" but you are less likely to see ones say "As Seen on Hello,Larry!", much less "As Exposed on Sixty Minutes!" )
Conceptually, you can get all these products under one KM umbrella. The fact that many of them would rather stand out in the rain does not bode well for KM.
Andy Moore, editor of KM World and the event's genial host, asked the group how you reply to a customer who says, "Isn't this just search-and-replace marketing?" That is, do you become a KM vendor simply by taking your old marketing literature and doing a search and replace, changing, say, "information retrieval" into "KM"? This phrase, invented by JOHO reader Adina Levin and popularized by JOHO reader Bill Zoellick (both partners in the newly formed Fastwater consulting company), is a keeper.
The question rattled the group. Answers sputtered forth. This was obviously a sore subject.
It seems to me that there are three possible answers to the question "Is this search-and-replace marketing?" given that this question expresses customer pain and suspicion:
1. No, we've added important new features designed to help you with your KM chores.
2. Sort of. We have the same features as always but have discovered new applications for them.
3. Yes, you pathetic loser.
The first two answers are perfectly acceptable. The third is perhaps a tad too honest to make it in this imperfect world, although undoubtedly there is some "kewl" company that is contemplating using this as the center of its advertising campaign. ("Companies will love that we're being so upfront with them, man.")
The KM Map
There was much less discussion at this year's summit of what KM is. That isn't because there's a lot of agreement. The vendors still don't agree whether KM is about capturing tacit knowledge, leveraging strategic information, improving processes, building communities, or some, any or all of the above. In fact, there isn't even full agreement about whether KM is an application, a discipline, a methodology or possibly a little red rule book you can wave over your head when the KM revolution arrives, comrades!
Instead, it seemed that we tacitly agreed that if we debated definitions too long, we'd find out that the industry isn't held together by anything more than a cool sounding phrase.
Well, a cool sounding phrase has been enough for mobs throughout the ages, but if you really want to establish yourself you have to take over some known territory. So, several of us began lobbying to create an industry map of KM. The idea is that some neutral party (KMWorld perhaps ... or JOHO if no one else does it) would draw a "concept map" of KM and would allow comments from vendors about where on the map they should be placed.
In short, in lieu of a definition we'd at least have a pretty picture.
Presentations and conversations veered between the Scylla of High Concept and the Charybdis of Low Pandering. Ultimately, what are the customer problems that KM solves? And who determines this? Should we be listening to our customers or should we be leading them? For example, should we be offering them what works out to be search engines that work the way they should and sales force automation tools, or should we be building a vision of businesses that are composed of knowledge-based communiites?
The fast money obviously will be made by listening to customers and addressing their perceived needs. But if KM is really something new, then we need to be leading our customers, not (just) listening to them. The horse-based economy was not crying out for cars, much less for double-trailer refrigerator trucks. As we know from The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, as well as from Aristotle, the real work of innovation is getting the questions right. Nothing is as blinding as a bad question. Nothing is as illuminating as a good question well asked.
If KM is worth anything, it needs to be asking some damn fine questions right about now.
My presentation: The Web Effect on KM
I gave a presentation on -- surprise! -- the effect of the Web on KM. You can download the PowerPoint slides in zip format (no script attached ... have I mentioned I'm on vacation?) if that will really make you happy.
The main point was that we are in danger of imposing upon knowledge management our previous centralized information management model. The Web makes KM possible and thus KM is thoroughly infected with the Web virus.
1. In terms of knowledge, that means that we should not view KM as a repository of our most sacred and holy knowledge. Instead, we should recognize that Web-based knowledge is not going to be abstract, universal, and eternally true but instead will be highly individualistic, highly voiced, and highly debatable. And nevertheless highly valuable.
2. In terms of management that means that since the Web is a profoundly unmanaged -- even anti-managed-- environment, we ought to aim for Knowledge UnManagement. That would mean building relatively unmanaged sites on our intranet where people can communicate, develop ideas, chat and gossip, and play.
Knowledge is a weed, not a hot-house flower. Man.
Two types of KM
Bill Zoellick, in an article for CAPV reflecting on The Summit, distinguishes two types of KM: Big KM where KM is an infrastructure, and Smart KM where KM consists of tools that help you find and develop new and smarter info. Excellent distinction. In fact, I'm going to have to maintain that I came up with it first. (Sorry, Bill. But you understand how it is.)
What is the opposite of information?
Steve Telleen of GIGAgave a presentation in which he said that knowledge management to a large degree means throwing out information without losing significant value -- cutting through the noise, if you will. This gave him an opportunity to talk about "exformation" as the opposite of information.
Steve, Steve, Steve, surely you know that the opposite of information has to be "outformation"! Tsk, tsk.
In fact, here are some other candidates for the title "Opposite of Information":
Contributions gladly accepted.
The degradation of tacit knowledge
Man, am I sick of hearing about tacit knowledge. This term was introduced by the philosopher Michael Polanyi. I recently went back to his The Tacit Dimension (1966) and within the first chapter discovered that it still has the power to produce large welts where my head slams down against the table in a narcoleptic seizure before I get to Chapter Two.
But, it's clear that "tacit knowledge" started out as knowledge that cannot be expressed. For example, we can recognize faces with great precision but cannot (at least most of us cannot) verbalize the differences with any great precision. Polanyi refers to some experiments in he 40s and 50s in which people were shown a series of nonsense syllables and were given a shock after some of them. After a period (he does not say how long these "subjects" were chained in their chairs with electrodes implanted in their genitals, all in the name of Philosophy), they could accurately anticipate a shock but not tell you how. Polanyi quickly spins this insight into the first philosophy of perception that involves the use of nipple clamps. (Now maybe you know why Polanyi never got the Nobel prize he deserved.)
This abstract and carefully thought philosophical term has been taken over by greedy marketing types (my brothers and sisters) who want "tacit knowledge" to mean "knowledge that has yet to be expressed." This then gets assumed to be "knowledge inside people's heads."
Although some authors get this right -- Tom Davenport and Laurence Prusack do in Working Knowledge-- the term is devolving. Inevitably. And the weird thing, is that knowledge isn't inside our heads...
Knowledge isn't in our heads
After the fifty-third casual reference to knowledge being in our heads, I cracked and exclaimed, "No it's not!"
We actually got an excellent example of this when C.J. Saft asked the assembled throng to point north. Hands pointed in roughly the same direction (except for one truly dys-directional soul who pointed into his own mouth. Odd.). The conclusion was that we have tacit knowledge of where north is. That may be, but to me this experiment shows that tacit knowledge is not a piece of content in a container-like mind but is the ability to answer a question when asked. I may be able to tell you which way is north, but I sure don't carry a map around with me at all times as a sort of unexpressed knowledge. "Knowing which way is north" means being able to go through some sort of thinking process and come up with an answer. (The process may be wildly different for different people -- from building a mental map to remembering where the sun set to knowing about how the breezes blow in the morning.)
So what? Well, if KM is about capturing tacit knowledge, and if tacit knowledge is a type of content, then KM is about building externalized containers of internalized contents. In short, it's about building big frigging databases that no one will ever use. But if tacit knowledge is the ability to get things done and maybe is the ability to answer questions, then KM is about making your organization more skilled and better able to get at better information.
The days when being smart meant being a walking encyclopedia are way over. These days, there's so much information that being an expert means focusing on a topic so small that it can be mastered. Experts are masters of trivia. Being smart means being able to find good information. It means being jacked in, Jack/Jill.
In short, if you read a Web 'zine, you're smarter than everyone else. Just another benefit brought to you by JOHO...
WARNING The following section contains a naughty word. But, in a George Carlin-esque way, we here at JOHO maintain, in a mature and steady voice, that this article is about words, so it's ok. Why, we could even say "doody" or "poopy" and get away with, so long as we say it in our mature and steady voice and don't giggle or seem to be enjoying it or anything.
EXTRA BONUS: The Speech Too Hot for the KM Summit
The New Science of Fucking Management
Here's how we like to pretend Knowledge Management got started: Analysts, consultants, and managers noticed that there was this really important type of information that was going unmanaged. So, we called it "knowledge" and set about managing it.
Now, suppose for a moment that all the analysts and pundits got together and announced the arrival of a new discipline that enables a corporation to increase its productivity and hasten its pace of innovation by managing not just any old process (a la workflow) but the absolutely most strategic and intimate of corporate processes. They call this new discipline "Fucking Management" on the grounds that "fucking" is the most significant and intimate type of process organisms engage in.
So now we're all going to conferences like "Fucking Management 2000" and "Fucking Management and the Web," and buying Gartner reports on "Enterprise Fucking Management " and even reading articles in feisty little Web 'zines that claim that "Fucking Management" is the wrong metaphor and it really ought to be called "Orgasm Management," and everyone is making money and happy.
Would you stand for it? No! You'd be on the ramparts demanding the return of the word "Fucking." It's just too important a word to be taken over this way. It has a long history and has a deep role in our culture. You can take over the word "gay" or "document" because we don't really need them very much in ordinary discourse, but "fucking" we need desperately. So, keep the content of Fucking Management but puhleeeeease come up with a different word!
This is how I feel about Knowledge Management. We need the word "knowledge." It's got a long, long history of thought behind it. There's nothing to replace it.
Can we puhleeeeeease have it back?
The NY Times (Aug. 6) has an article about Wuppies (Wired Urban Professionals ... my term, not the Times') who need more than one phone line. Talk about staying on top of trends! Throughout this article they refer to "I.S.D.N." and "A.S.D.L."
Raise your hand if you put periods into those words. Well, stop doing it!
It reminded me of the president of a company I worked for whom I could not persuade to stop referring to DOS as "D.O.S." and occasionally even as the "D.O.S. operating system." This was the same fellow who went out to Boeing to convince them that the company was really committed to Standard Generalized Markup Language and for three hours assured them that "our company is SMGL compliant, is SMGL-centric, has SMGL in its bones." Reassuring indeed.
Q: How to feel like a Jew
A: Visit the South
On my recent trip to Nashville (to accept a lifetime achievement award for never having listened to a country western song all the way through), I got as far as the cab ride to the Opryland Hotel (motto: "The Hotel that Hates You") before being assaulted by the assumption that everyone under the surface is a Christian. Our cab driver (I was sharing a ride with someone attending the National Hairdressers Association meeting), after ten minutes of silence, growled "I'm as ready as any man alive for our sweet Lord to come take us all home."
Please, I thought, please let him be about to tell me how hung over he is, or about his intestinal disorders, or anything but his religious convictions.
No, he was out to save our souls. "He is coming to pick us up and the time is nigh," he continued.
My statement that I personally was going to wait for a bus with Moses at the wheel didn't faze him. I received another 15 minutes of edifying discourse about accepting Jesus, why His arrival is imminent, and why He is likely to pistol whip me upside the head when He gets here.
Needless to say, I felt obliged to over-tip him. Wouldn't want him to think I'm a cheap Jew.
Department of Too Much Time on Our Hands
In corresponding with Michael O'Connor Clarke, he, in a pique of adolescent rage so uncharacteristic of JOHO readers, wrote:
... without all the b@#$%* squiggly green lines under everything!"...
and noticed that MS Outlook was interpreting his deleted expletive as an email address. This immediately derailed us from the topic of our correspondence (we were on the verge of deciphering the ribonucleic code of the "aging gene" which, coincidentally is also the solution to Fermat's last theorem) as we tried out various combinations of symbols to see which ones Outlook would treat as an address.
Here are Michael's results:
The rules of interpretation while you're composing mail are not necessarily the same as for mail that is delivered to you. (This may also have something to do with whether you have opted to use MS Word as your email editor.)
The JOHO Institute (a distributed research team of people with too much time on their hands) is continuing its groundbreaking research. Feel free to contribute
A year into Apple's "Think Different" campaign, The NY Times(Aug. 3) has noticed it and ran an article on the front page of the Business Section hyping the hype, even including a "Do you recognize the people in these ads?" quiz.
"We're not trying to say these people use Apple," said Lee Clow, the chief "creative" office at the ad agency, "or that if they could've used a computer, they would've used Apple. Instead, we're going for the emotional celebration of creativity, which should always be part of how we speak about the brand."
Ah, so let's come up with a campaign that features photos of unlabelled celebrities. Wow, that was so original when the "Get Milk" campaign started, and even more original when the Gap did it for chinos and Converse did it for sneakers and even more more original when "Blackgama" did their "What becomes a legend most" campaign twenty-five years ago. It's an idea that just keeps getting more creative, every time it's used!
Clow says their first brilliant idea was to show "people currently using Apple technology... but that didn't seem a big enough statement." Then his team had what the Times calls a "Eureka moment": "We walked into a room and saw 'Think different' attached to Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Einstein." Rather than having any of the appropriate reactions -- which range from "That's ludicrous" to "That cheapens the lives of these great people" to "Yes, but it would be wrong" -- they pitched the idea to Apple who bought it without hesitation, thought or scruple.
When you see one of these adds beaming down at you, don't you always have a "Queasy moment"? "Is this really what Gandhi was about?," don't you ask yourself? "Is no one's memory sacred? Is there no one whose soul was so great -- Mahatma -- that we wouldn't dare use him or her to sell some crap?"
Yeah, well, think different.
We take you to the offices of Soulless, Shortsight and Divine, high tech ad agency, where they're discussing Phase Two of the Think Different campaign.
CLOW: Congrats, team, congrats. Phase One was successful beyond our dreams. Now all we have to do is top it.
DICKSTER [a young, ambitious junior member of the team]: Well, Mr. Clow, I walked into a room today, with my pencil in my hand, and saw what I think can be Phase Two.
CLOW [playing solitaire on his Windows CE palm computer]: I'm 100% ears, laddie.
DICKSTER: Well, of course we continue with the big photos of dead dudes...
INFARCTION [Dickster's manager]: Technically, they're not all dead, actually. I think Dylan is sort of alive. And is Baez dead yet? I'm not sure.
CLOW: Lucy is dead, that's for damn sure. Or at least she's in serious reruns.
DICKSTER: Ok, not dead, but, well, old. So, we keep showing these old guys, but we go back to the well and find people who made, like, bigger contributions.
CLOW: Plow on, Old Paint. Giddyap!
DICKSTER: Well, I don't know much about history, but I do know that you can thumb through old Time magazines and find cool pictures. So, how about ... [he unveils paste-ups of the new ad campaign]: Martin Bormann. Leon Trotsky. Ho Chi Minh. Jack Kevorkian. And -- Ta-da -- Underdog.
INFARCTION: I like the Underdog one. We could do a whole series. Huckleberry Hound...
INFARCTION: Marmaduke. I really learned a lot from that hound.
CLOW: Brilliant, Dickster!
DICKSTER [emboldened]: There was one more thing. I thought we might modify the tag line, just a little.
CLOW: I'm open. We've been getting some grief for not meeting certain people's schoolmarmish expectations for grammaticity ...
DICKSTER: Well, this should do it. And it will sort of emphasize the deadness of these guys. [With a flourish, reveals the new tag line...]
CLOW: I love it! "Thunk Different"! A definite positivitory!
INFARCTION: That's my boy...
Middle World Resources: A Compendium of Resources
For the Hyperlinked Organization
Screenporch (at http://www.screenporch.com) lets you play with their Caucus software (or download a free copy), which they describe (accurately) as "software for teams and learning groups online." After registering (free), you can participate in some demo conference threads. In addition to the straightforward "let's chat about something" threads, there 's also a demonstration of using Caucus for reviewing a document and for creating limericks interactively. (Unfortunately, I couldn't find any demo threads that were actively active).
The software seems full-featured and well-designed. And, of course, "screenporch" is a great name.
Information Week (July 27) ran a chart from a Datapro worldwide survey of 829 IT sites, asking which major operating systems does your company use:
Windows NT: 75%
Sun OS/Solaris: 32%
HP UX: 27%
IBM AIX: 25%
(Numbers are approximate since I'm reading them off a bar chart.)
Not a bad showing for Linux, the Web's do-it-ourselves operating system. Unfortunately, the articles goes on to note that these results contradict an InformationWeek survey of 150 managers according to which only 3% planned to deploy Linux "in a significant manner" in the next two years.
Email, Rumors, Rude Remarks
First, several smarty pants types wrote in correcting some little errors with the Linux article in the previous issue.
Dr. Andrew Sweger wrote to say:
I'd like to point out one happy factual error in your article.
"For example, the big database companies have just announced that they won't be porting to Linux in the foreseeable future."
Very recently, the big database makers, Oracle and Informix, have announced that they *are* going to be making Linux ports of their products. More information is available at: http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/zdnn_smgraph_display/0,3441,2121004,00 .html
Netscape jumped on the bandwagon at about the same time. Unfortunately, this happened immediately after I published the article. Actually, it happened immediately beforeI published it, but thankfully I am not in the sights of the press release mortars of Oracle, Netscape or Informix. Meanwhile, on Sybase's site the only reference to Linux I can find is a proud announcement that Linux is one of many environments they will never, ever, ever support, so help them God. I expect their announcement of Linux support momentarily.
Lincoln Stein, Famous Columnist, actually sent me the Oracle press release and -- faced with having to acknowledge either Oracle Corporation or JOHO as a bald-faced liar -- had the good grace to ask if the press release was a hoax. Yes, Lincoln, absolutely. As is Oracle 8. It is this type of blind devotion to JOHO that, frankly, makes it all worthwhile.
For those who continue to care about this, here are some links:
Oracle's press release
Informix's press release
ZDNet articleon Informix's "about face"
There's also an excellent report on a Linux conference in a 'zine I wish I got a dime for plugging, tbtf.Among other things, it reports that the originator of Linux, Linus Torvalds, pronounces the "i" in "Linux" short as in "linen." [The true webnoscenti (literally: "On the Web, no one can tell that you smell"), however, pronounce it "lynn-nukes."]
Stan Scott (who calls himself "a faithful reader since 1998" as if proud to have missed the dark days when JOHO was a struggling young 'zine powered only by a favorable mention by Bennett Cerf and oil money from the Shah) writes:
BTW: It was "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd", not the other way 'round. God and the Devil (or vice versa?) are in the detail. Uh, details.
Look, Stan, I personally have a friend (whom I haven't seen since 1981) who claims to have slept with Blair Brown in the late '60s, so I certainly think I know what I'm talking about on this particular topic. End o' story.
While we're discussing my fallible nature, within seconds of publishing the previous issue, I heard from Chris RageBoyLocke. I pointed y'all to a column he had written, and for a change I got the URL right. But, as he rather peevishly notes:
Thanks for the pointer -- but it's The *Industry* Standard, not The National Standard. butthead.
Well, excuse me! Apparently Mr. Perfect never gets anything wrong. Hey, Chris, how'd you like if I revealed to everyone that your middle name isn't RageBoy ... it's Maurice! How do you like them URLs, "RageBoy"?
Gavin McGovern writes in response to my Jeremiah-like whimperingsabout XML balkanization:
... Veo Systems (www.veosystems.com) says they're gonna fix this XML namespace problem by layering on a smattering of EDI stuff (a la the data dictionary: Address1 = StreetAddress) and a whisper of CORBA (a la Registries for service & host resolution) with a public domain (and Veo blessed) hierarchy of "Business Document Objects" like a Purchase Order and a Receipt.
What does that buy you? A relatively small subset of possible document types (and consequently DTDs) as opposed to Any Possible XML Document. I'm not yet convinced, however, that makes it any easier to understand automatically (which is really what we're after.) As long as you're using the Veo Method you're ok, stray outside the lines (e.g. a new non-Veo vendor) and you're on your own. Ug. I'm back where I started.
I like XML for shuffling structured docs in and out of DBs. That's all. Random XML interchange is too hard.
There is an XML Namespace proposal at the W3C. But I think you're exactly right about the limitation of Veo's solution. There are going to be ton of public domain (and private domain) object hierarchies ... if you're part of of the solution, you're part of the problem (or something).
Bob Morris (not the infamous Robert Morris who singlehandedly brought down the Internet by sending an email message with a too many emoticons -- or something -- but the Bob Morris who has been under surveillance for eight years by confused agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Naughty Bits) writes, in thoughtfully pre-coded, multi-color HTML (advancing JOHO's cause to "Make the Web a Rainbow"™):
I like the web version.Unlike readingthe plain text version in emacs, and especially using a MicrosoftIntellimouse with MSIE, I can scroll through it faster than I can read. (.6)
Thanks for that vote of confidence, Bob. But, not meaning to boast, I venture I can not read your academic articles faster than you don't read JOHO.
And don't think we didn't notice your use of the gallic "(.6)"emoticon, introduced in the last issue by Danny Boulanger, promising us sexual pleasures we know you are not actually going to deliver. Please, can we kill this emoticon before it actually starts to mean something? We delayed with the phrase "knowledge management" and now look what's happened!
By the way, Prof. Morris mentioned that he is engaged in research into certain ergonomic questions about computer usage (if you're right handed, and have the mouse on the right, which side do you put the beer on? -- a $150,000 National Institute of Health grant), and I asked for some advanced news I could break to JOHO readers. He obliges with:
Most people report a preference for one typeface over another and can do so with statistical reliability. They will assert that their preferred face is more readable than others, but in fact objective measures of their reading performance usually shows no statistically reliable performance advantage of the preferred typeface. One of the few well-controlled studies in the literature could only find a 5% improvement in reading speed of one typeface over another, and that study wasn't controlled for certain typographical factors (such as setwidth) which might account for the results.
In short, Bob's research further confirms the general conclusion of all science this century: you, Joe Reader, think you know everything but you're so full of it you make me want to puke.
Australian Ron notes:
I thought you might get a kick out of this: http://www.microsoft.com/BillGates/BillGates_L/COLUMN/1998Essay/3-25col.htm
... it's a whiny piece bemoaning how spam merchants can do for free what his associates have charged him millions for... Apparently his vision (and answer to spam) includes *you* getting paid the sum of your choice to receive unsolicited email...
The One-to-One Marketing folks (e.g., Rogers and Peppers) have been touting this type of thing for quite a while -- you get cheap phone call rates if you'll first listen to an ad, you get ticket discounts if you'll first tell them what United Airlines just loves to do, you get to be sworn in as President if you preface the oath of office with the KitCat "Gimme a Break" jingle.
Trevor Sharpe writes, unprovoked:
Everyone with even half a clue knows that the next big rage for collaborative, open, web-based, standards-compliant applications is SELF ACTUALIZATION.
Who's got time to create knowledge, let alone manage the damn stuff. I mean, c'mon!
What we really need is an application that can analyze the pages we surf, and the email we send to start making business decisions for us. I think I might call it application "self-actualization" (coincidently, the highest level of Trevor's Hierarchy of Knowledge Management).
Of course I'm waaaay before my time, so you might actually see a step between KM and SA applications called "knowledge-based reasoning" applications. You simply drop a shitload of content (in the form of email, infomercials, nudie-pics of Pamela A and letters from the teacher) into a "knowledge distiller". Out pops a well-formed, content rich, chunk of knowledge. One that can be tacitly and explicitly reused by hordes of hyperlinked office-autonomorons....
Trevor thinks he's kidding (let's hope), but at the KM Summit, Mark Tucker from Delphitrotted out the ol' Maslow self actualization pyramid to explain why people don't trust Chief Knowledge Officers -- CKO's are aiming at self-actualization whereas most of the grunts are merely trying to meet their physical and emotional needs and thus look at self-actualizers as self-indulgent.
There's at leasta grain of truth there, but, we all know the real reason people distrust CKO's is that they smell of death, hanging on to careers by nothing but the fingernail grip of a faddish name and verbal epaulettes.
Rob Charleton, from Australia, responds to a comment in a previous issue about how Americans butcher da lingo.
Many years ago, I was attending a computing conference in Phoenix. Whilst 'networking' (v.t. buying the drinks), I gently chided the Americans in our little group about the state of their English expressions & grammar. One looked me in the eye, and with an air of some resignation told me "Don't you know any noun can be verbed?" Fair dinkum. Talk about really giving me the drum!! All I could say, weakly, was "Your shout..."
Speaking for all Americans, I'd like to apologize for the verbifications of the man you met in Phoenix. Clearly, nouns cannot be "verbed" unless they have been pre-verbificationized (and even then it's only allowed once they've been properly administrated).
Michael O'Connor Clarke (when he's not attempting to turn expletives into email addresses) points us to an article about computers that know -- because you're wearing sensors wiring your erectile tissue straight into their sensitive circuit boards -- how you're feeling:
...Slightly bizarre, but certainly interesting article (and not just because it quotes the talented & fragrant Ros Picard):
These computers know you don't like them By Margaret Kane ZDNN July 23, 1998 11:28 AM PT
Conjures up all sorts of mildly entertaining mental images - such as a PC that gets so ticked off with my constant mumbled tirade (hmmm...can a tirade be mumbled?) of expletives (viz: "stoopid, muthaf***in' machine, just type what I type with out all the b@#$%* squiggly green lines under everything!"), that it shuts down completely in protest and refuses to boot up again until it detects the presence of either huge doses of Prozac or a huge bill from my shiatsu practitioner.
The mind curdles.
Hmmm, Michael, has it occurred to you that you may be seeing those green squiggly lines becauseof the Prozac? Perhaps it's time to lower the dosage.
In any case, for the time being my guess is that people won't willingly hook themselves up to psycho-organic monitors just to let their computer know how they feel. What we reallywant are keyboards that put things in bold if we bang on the keys hard enough and italicize words when we type them in all slanty-wise. A million dollar idea, and it's yours for free. All part of the JOHO credo of customer service.
Why Search Engines Suck -- Sub-Parts 1 & 2
At CMP's site, with all its collected wisdom and magazines, a recent search on "Linux" turned up no hits. Neither did a search on "Oracle."
Today, when I redid the searches, "Linux" turned up one hit. More interestingly, "Oracle" turned up 128 times...but the first eight were actually links back to the search page, and the next two were informational pages for CMP advertisers and did not contain the word "Oracle."
From spam recently received:
This report reflects your web sites [sic] standing within the top 200 listings on the following search engines: AltaVista, Lycos, LycosPro, Magellan, Excite, InfoSeek, Webcrawler, PlanetSearch, Northern Lights, Yahoo, HotBot The keyword(s) used for the search are: [EVIDENT] Your web sites URL: http://www.hyperorg.com/
I don't know what this means, but my guess is that being in negative numbers is a Bad Thing.
Bogus Contest: Creative Advertising
Wake up, webmasters! Comet Systems lets you turn a cursor into an ad so that anyone wiping her or his mouse off on your welcome mat will get a little commercial completely unbidden. Hooray. I've been waiting for this moment. It marks the end of the last hope that we might achieve civilization. We can all relax and give up trying now.
Clearly Comet hasn't exhausted the possibilities for advertising. Sure, we have banners and "interstitials" (pages that impose themselves for a few seconds before taking you where you asked to go), but there's got to be lots more places we can sell ad space. For example:
Placement Area Example of Advertiser
Wally's Wallpaper World
"The page you're looking for couldn't be found. So why not take a break with an ice cold 6-pack of Lost Surfer Ale?"
Brought to you by Otis Elevators, Inc.
"See the Future at Universal Studios!"
"Unconscious memories recalled, documented, avenged -- Schumacher & Smith, Attorneys at Law"
Now it's your turn. Remember, here at the Bogus Contest, To Enter Is to Win™
Last issue's Bogus Contest asked you to come up with the names of house bands for the Web.
Chris RageBoy Locke immediately fired back:
- The Boors
- Jefferson Airhead
- The Nyrds
- Pink Droid
- T. Rexx
- Perl Jam
- Iron Buggerfly -- esp. their Y2K version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which literally goes on forever.
- Big Brother and the Holding Company -- still works w/o modification
- The Zombies -- still works w/o modification
(Apparently some of RageBoy's entries refer not to the Web but to the corporate world in which the Web is placed. I must say, though, that I am deeply ashamed of having missed "Perl Jam." D'oh!)
Kyle Patrick responds to a mini-bogus contest (well, it's fully bogus, but the contest is mini) in which we asked for new units of measurement of time.
This doesn't really conform as a measurement of time, but here goes:
Delta HD, Delta M, and Delta P: The rate of change of affordable hardware (respectively Hard Drive, Memory, and Processor) with respect to time. Used in form: "Well shit! The Delta HD is up to 1.2 gigabytes/month. I knew I should have waited before getting that Dell."
These measurements are, of course, almost infinitely variable depending on the values of the affordability range, amount of time measured (just try to get the instantaneous derivative), and the idiot who is crunching the numbers. These proposed measurements CAN be used to determine a length of time, however, when their value is integrated to find the sum difference between your computer and the current affordable, thus giving a nice way to measure the amount of time it takes your machine to go from Industry Standard to Doorstop. This value (also quite variable) shall be forever known as a Sonofabitch! throughout the lands.
Jim Montgomery responds to the same contest. (It's important to understand that Jim works at KMWorld where Andy Moore is the sadistic impresario, and Andy is a frequent email contributor to JOHO.)
Other possible units of measurement:
a d'oh: the time span between a cop zapping you with his radar gun, and you seeing him in your peripheral vision.
a tulait: the amount of time spent applying the brake after you see said cop. Inversely proportional to the odds of being pulled over.
a tab: the amount of time it takes an on-duty police officer to develop a hole in the seat of a chair in Dunkin Donuts. (from the act of sitting, not enzymatic reaction.)
(on a separate note, I just mailed in a speeding ticket today.)
OK so they're not the best. But to enter is to win, or something. More importantly I can't let Andy be the representative KMWorld voice, even (especially?) if you're the only one listening. Others of us have brains too. At least that's what he tells people.
Run, Jim, Run! Once you escape from evil KMWorld the donkey ears and tail will magically go away and you will be transformed from a wooden puppet into -- dare we say it? dare you dream it? -- a real little boy! And all it takes is ... self-esteem.
Our prayers are with you, Jim. (Pardon me for a moment. I'm all verklempt.)
The following information was found trapped at the top of my washing machine when I ran some issues of the JOHO through it.
JOHO is a free, independent newsletter written and produced by David Weinberger. He denies responsibility for any errors or problems. If you write him with corrections or criticisms, it will probably turn out to have been your fault.
To subscribe or be removed from the JOHO mailing list, click here. There is no need for harshness or recriminations. Sometimes things just don't work out between people.
Dr. Weinberger is in a delicate nervous state, but if you want to send positive comments to him, his email address is email@example.com.
Dr. Weinberger is represented by a fiercely aggressive legal team who responds to any provocation with massive litigatory procedures. This notice constitutes fair warning.
Any email sent to the JOHO may be published in JOHO and snarkily commented on unless the email explicitly states that it's not for publication.
The Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization is a publication of Evident Marketing, Inc. "The Hyperlinked Organization" is trademarked by Open Text Corp. Information on preemptive trademarks™™ can be found at http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/trademarks.html.