For those who need to understand how the Web is transforming the way businesses work, yada yada yada
December 1, 1999
Author/Editor: David Weinberger
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.
Current Personal Crisis: Clumsy attempts by relatives at Thanksgiving not to refer to my weight gain have been noted and will be avenged.
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com
Contact information: Click here.
The Undernet: The intranet that's under
the radar is where the real work is getting done.
It's a JOHO world ... or is it??
On the plus side, National Public Radio ran a commentary of mine about rummaging through my closet (really). You can hear it at:
On the negative side, Amazon still doesn't list me as an author of The Cluetrain Manifesto. Sigh.
I hate to be the last to hear about a buzzword, so when Dr. Gerri Sinclair, CEO of NCompass Labs (www.ncompass.ca), asked the audience at a recent Documation conference if they'd heard the term "undernet," I was hoping some hands would remain down along with mine. Indeed, Gerri seems to be ahead of the curve on this one; AltaVista can't find any interesting instances of the term.
Whew! It's a great term for a really important phenomenon and deserves greater currency. Gerri uses it as the fourth type of 'Net, after Internet, intranet and extranet. The undernet, as I understand it (and since it apparently isn't in circulation yet, we can probably understand it any way that pleases us), consists of the intranets and intranet sites that escape the official gaze of The Corporation the pages created by ad hoc teams, interest groups and individuals with something to say. Your undernet is, in short, the lifeblood of your organization.
There's little doubt that the undernet is a real phenomenon. In the November 15 issue of PC Week, an article by Matt Hicks mentions that Wells Fargo has made its intranet available to about 35,000 employees. Since initially launching it as a Human Resources tool, "employee teams have created sites to manage specific projects..." There are now more than 1,000 sites, which Wells Fargo is attempting to organize through a portal. Likewise, Hicks reports that Lockheed Martin has more than 1,000 intranet sites. And several years ago, a chip maker installed a corporate intranet and invited anyone who'd created her own to get listed; within a few months, over 350 people had registered ... and who knows how many people chose not to? These may not quite be undernets, but they perhaps give some sense of the scale of locally-initiated sites.
So, the predictable has happened. Web technology is too simple and by its nature resists centralization. Of course Web sites spring up like mushrooms in dark, well-fertilized places. No permission or advanced technical skills are required. Why, even marketing folks like me can do it!
There are two characteristics of undernets that make them especially fascinating. First, as organizations try to regain control of their intranets by putting policies into place, by requiring that content by filtered, by building portals as a way to Authorize and Defend the glorious Corporate Image, they will merely push more people onto undernets. The same will happen if governments try to control the Internet. The Internet routes around censors, idiots, and control freaks ... and becomes an undernet.
Second, if you look at undernets as a fourth in the holy trinity of Internet, intranet and extranet, you'll miss an important change. Undernets don't (won't?) respect corporate boundaries. Frequently, customers have more in common with an employee than the employee's manager does. After all, both the customer and the employee are enthusiastic about the company's product (we hope!) and an employee who's neck deep in product competency forms a natural bond with a customer who uses the product every day. The undernet isn't going to respect the imaginary wall that's supposed to exist between the customer and the employee. (If it's a real fire wall, then there's a different type of issue.)
So, undernets are real. Undernets are where the untrammeled creativity of the Web is. And, most important, "undernet" is a cool word.
My teenaged daughter cracked open my old Bob Dylan tapes recently and I found myself listening to "The Ballad of a Thin Man " for the first time in probably two decades. What a great song. Pathetic Mr. Jones meets various Dylanesque freaks who let him know that he's the real freak now so he knows something is happenin' here but he just doesn't know what it is, does he, Mr. Jones? It's a bitter song of victory, rubbing The Man's nose in his loss. But now, it's 30 years since the song was written, and who's Mr. Jones and who's the freak?
Y'know, rock and roll used to be rebellious, not the background music for Chevy ads and elevator rides. Doesn't that make us Mr. Jones? Maybe that's why the Web's biggest enthusiasts and prime movers are aging 60s types. Maybe we see the Web as a way to avoid becoming Mr. Jones, a second chance for the revolution that got co-opted ... that we let get co-opted.
The 60s revolution may have succeeded in small ways but the fundamental fabric of American life is as it always was. We work during the day and play at night. We live in houses and pay mortgages. We do things we don't like to make more money than we need. We all dress pretty much alike. We raise children who think we don't understand them.
The Web is giving us a second chance. It's easy on the Web to say what you want in your own way of saying it. It's easy to be outrageous for the sheer adolescent joy of it. It's easy to start conversations through that literally span the globe and which remove the barriers of race, gender, class ... although speaking English still counts for a lot. The 60s ideals of equality, openness, connection, invention, play all are so easy to accomplish on the Web.
All these things were so hard to accomplish in the 60s whose downfall was, in one sense, reality: you have to eat, your family has to eat, it's just too hard to live out of a back pack for the rest of your life. But the Web is a virtual space, not physical. Reality doesn't impinge upon it. It's a world built of human conversations where many of the 60s ideals can finally be realized .
And, best of all, on the Web, no one knows you're Mr. Jones.
To hell with tacit knowledge. Go for tacit documents instead.
The originating goal of knowledge management was to capture the tacit knowledge that differentiates your best technical support person (for example) from all the rest. You see, your best techie carries around in her overheated brain a couple more pounds of "knowledge" than anyone else. Knowledge is a special type of extra-special content which she somehow has neglected to ever make explicit. If only we could mine this tacit mental gold and share it among all of our tech support staff!
There are lots of ways that this line of thought goes wrong, but let's take the main one: there is no such thing as tacit knowledge, at least not as a content. Our image is that we carry facts around in our head the way we carry coins in our pocket. But the mind is more magical than a pocket or even the latest computer. The only evidence we have that we have a brain full of facts is that we can answer questions. But in many cases in fact, most of the interesting cases it's not real plausible to think that we come forth with answers by fetching them from a mental knapsack. For example, if I ask you which way is north, you may well be able to answer correctly. But doesn't mean that you carry around a "which-way-is-north" fact that's constantly updating. I know it sounds weird, but if you look at our actual experience of ourselves, our minds are more about capabilities than about containers.
But forget the abstract question about the nature of the mind. Put it like this: Would you rather have tech support people with heads full of knowledge or people able to answer lots of different types of questions and solve lots of different types of problems? (Think carefully: there *is* a right answer to that question.) At best, transferring Knowledge Rocks from one head to another is but a small part of the task of making your organization smarter.
So, this tacit knowledge folderol is a distraction. But there is a type of tacit stuff that's well worth capturing and sharing: tacit documents. These are the writings that are under the radar of corporate information systems. For example, at one company I know, the support staff got so tired of waiting for the technical manuals to be updated that one of the support people wrote up his own set of installation instructions which then became the preferred documentation set among his colleagues unapproved, colloquially written, and far more useful.
More frequently, however, the tacit documents in an organization are email messages. That's where coworkers trade stories, ask questions, propose new methods, debate techniques. But the very thing that makes email an attractive medium also makes it hard to manage. People write email where they wouldn't write a memo because it's far more informal and far more entertaining.
The issue is finding the email that's worthwhile. But email has a couple of things going for it when it comes to management techniques. First it has a fair bit of metadata attached to it: you know who wrote it, to whom it was sent, when it was sent and what the author thinks the subject is. Even better, email is threaded: a message generates a reply which generates another reply, and so on until the thread reaches one of the three endings available to email: it dies out, one of the author gets called a fascist, or it becomes an exchange of dumb jokes.
Now, there are very serious issues around intercepting corporate email and making it available to anyone other than the intended recipients. Such behavior will cause email to dry up and you will roast in hell while being whipped by the spammers who are being punished less severely because they were merely annoying. We are still awaiting the solution that is incredibly smart about email and somehow manages to avoid invading people's privacy.
In the interim, here's a suggestion so obvious that if you're not yet doing it, you ought to be ashamed: Create mailing lists for the various groups in your organization that do a lot of emailing. For example, create a mailing list for your sales force so they can ask one another questions. Put some of marketing and engineering on the list so they can listen, learn and occasionally speak. Let everyone know that all email to this mailing list is being archived. Index it. Maybe even invest some time organizing it into a FAQ.
Once you've done that (today!), start looking for other tacit documents you can make explicit. The great thing about these documents is that they exist because someone needed the information and someone took the time to express it. Seek them out! Ignore all quests for the will o' wisp of tacit knowledge. Only thus will you achieve enlightenment, o grasshopper.
I've noticed two behaviors on my part that I could view as pathological but which I choose to take as Harbingers of the Coming Age, much like the spoonful of Alphabits I had this morning that contained naught but the digits "666."
First , I reply by hand to every person who subscribes. Admirable, you think? Yeah, well, after you've typed your thousandth cheery "Thanks for the subscription!" you begin to think that robo-personalization software maybe isn't such a bad thing. At the very least, I could use a macro or something to create the reply. But, nooooo, I instead type in the same line, with small variations ("Thanks for the subscription," "Thanks for subscribing," "For subscribing thank you I," etc.). I've even considered not responding right away for fear that a speedy reply will be taken as automated. I pray for typos. I live for comments on the subscription form to which I can make any type of "personal" reply. The result is that because of my neurotic commitment to personal acknowledgments, I am turning into an auto-reply machine. Stop me before I thank again!
Second , I've started bartering. A company for which I've done work as a consultant asked me a couple of months ago if I were going to a bogus seminar put on by one of their competitors; if so, they'd like me to write up some notes and thoughts. I was sort of interested in going, but my half-day fee is totally unreasonable for this type of activity. So, I suggested that they give me a CD set I'd wanted for a long time (complete Beethoven string quartets, if you must know). Now, if they'd suggested that I cover the seminar for them for the cash equivalent of the CD set, I would have been insulted. And they could have sent me the cash for the CD set, but I would never have gotten around to buying it. So, instead I went to the seminar and received the CDs in the mail as a concrete reward for a morning's work.
The bottom line of the deal? I have the CDs. My client thinks I'm a total idiot. Win-win!
I've written about personalization software in an article called 0:1 Marketing
at the Personalization web site:
Tom Petzinger (http://www.petzinger.com)
of the Wall Street Journal has written about the irrelevance of money. Go to:
http://beta1.topica.com/read/index.html and click on the June 22 issue.
I recently received a spam from a laser printer reseller, Zar Corp., that included a 100K+ attachment. The email included an "opt out" 800 number that was -- what a coincidence -- short one digit. After going to the web site, finding the right number, and leaving an admittedly over-the-top message about why spamming people with large attachments is despicable, I received a call from the owner his ownself, apparently as a form of anthropological research about the type of person who'd bother to yell into an 800 line about why his marketing sucks. The conversation turned out to be hugely productive. I said this type of spamming is unethical. He replied that it's ethical. I said he should tell me why. He replied that it's ethical because: 1. It's legal; 2. He's made $50,000 doing it. I replied that those reasons have nothing to do with ethics. A reasonable discourse then ensued in which I called him names and he said I should get counseling.
Score: Two assholes, no change in the behavior of either party.
(I am sure that some of you have encountered larger spam attachments or other more outrageous messages. Let's hear about 'em!)
I received the following email a half dozen times over the course of a week, always with a different (and wrong) name in the "To:" field:
Subject: Re: How To Meet Beautiful Women
Thanks Dodo, I guess I needed that; whatever THAT is. I'll resist the temptation to respond in kind. I'm tied to the ball and chain anyway.
Sounds like you've got me pegged though. And all this time I thought I was coverin me tracts.
Give me a call, at home, sometime when you're feeling better.
This was followed by a pseudo-quoted email message that was the subject of the mini-drama enacted above. It promises to teach me how to meet beautiful women. Step one: I must stop referring to myself as Dodo.
Meanwhile, Outlook 2000's junk-and-porn filter remains not only stupid but uneducable. I was wondering why mail from a guy on a particular (non pornographic) mailing list ended up in my Junk-and-Porn folder. Eric Hall solved the mystery. The message contained a word with three X's in a row. That's enough to have Outlook leap into action like a Mountie with hemorrhoids.
So, be sure to tell your kids never to sign a letter with love and kisses (XXX OOO) or else they will have to be reported to the Keepers of the Flame of Purity in Redmond.
Harvey Bingham sends the following:
Ed Bertschinger points out the following lectures by Don Knuth... Don is in process of giving six lectures at MIT, titled
Things a Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About
... The announcement of this series is Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Artificial Intelligence Lab's 1999 God and Computers Lecture Series.
JOHO serving your spiritual needs since 1998.
Chris "RageBoy" Locke (http://www.rageboy.com/index2.html ) was told about this site by a certain "jcarter." (Come on, Mr. President, we know you're lurking!)
This shows you "the web from above" by dynamically graphing the results of trace-routes run on several volunteer machines. In other words, it draws a pretty but incomprehensible picture. Fire up the bong and enjoy, dudez!
I believe it was tbtf.com that pointed out a site for self-referential web sites called NoWeDontHaveAWebSite.com. And merely by mentioning it, I've raised this issue of JOHO to yet one degree higher in the meta-ness food chain! Yes!
Jim Montgomery, editor of ZD's Small Office, writes:
Just bumped into this link. A good site for those who enjoy a good rant from an angry intellectual. One can almost catch a whiff of RageBoy here....which reminds me, I need to clean out my fridge.
Why ruin a perfectly good link with a childish swipe at RageBoy, Jim? That's why I'm here.
Middle World ResourcesA Compendium of Resources
CIO Enterprise (Nov. 15) in an article by Gary Abramson reports on Cluster Competitiveness, strategic consultants in creating industry-specific geographic clusters such as the leather tanning cluster in northern Italy and the caramel nut cluster in Spain. [Full disclosure: I made one of those up.] Because it's small, CC needs to have junior staff (their average age is 14 but they get to wear grownup outfits) able to act independently. So, they want to give them access to the combined wisdom of all of CC. For example, CC's cluster-building methodology consists of 27 steps (e.g., at a customer reception, serve canapés [full disclosure: I did not make this up]) and is stored on the intranet. All case materials and all "war stories" since 1993 are also available. And this type of intellectual communism is continued at the world headquarters where no one has her own office but has to share space. Each client time has the right to fill a single cardboard box with paper materials that resist the blandishments of the online world ("C'mon, baby, let me scan you. It'll feel so gooooood.").
As a result, the training capacity has doubled in four years. And because the shared intellectual resources mean all consultants are equal, they're able to hire faster and bill more. In fact, this paperless route is enabling CC to hire eight year olds away from their paper routes, turning them into revenue-producing junior junior consultants in just four short after-school sessions. Fantastic!
Chris Locke, our maestro of tools, writes about 1st Page 2000:
A little investigation, however, shows that while it's stuffed with features, some of which are cool, it needs some further baking.
1st Page is a direct HomeSite rip-off, right down to its odd use of a "Re-open" entry on the File menu instead of listing the most recently used files at the bottom. It adds peachy keen wizardry for creating Java scripts no one will ever use ("If you go to this page you will be stuck singing the 99 bottles of beer on the wall until you've sung it 100 times" really), DHTML effects that you might actually use (so long as all your visitors have the MS browser) and Dave Raggett's HTML source code tidy-upper. But, it doesn't have an interactive WYSIWYG mode, single-key snippet insertion, a searchable help system, a link verifier, or integration with DreamWeaver. More important, I couldn't get the integrated previewer to display this issue of JOHO as anything but a blank page (hmm, maybe it was filtering for value) and the HTML tidy-upper also crapped out when confronted with my exquisitely structured code.
Meanwhile, HomeSite 4.5 is out in beta. It adds some useful stuff, but nothing earth shaking (split screen editing, image map creation) because it's already a superb tool, well worth the $89 it costs. 1st Page is free. And it's ambitious. At the next rev it may give HomeSite a run for the money.
(You can download a copy of HomeSite at: http://www.allaire.com )
Jeffrey Tarter, editor of SoftLetter (www.softletter.com), contributes mightily:
A quick follow-up on the branding discussion in JOHO: I've noticed that the most powerful brands almost invariably convey a *promise* to the buyer, either explicitly or implicitly. Volvo (your example) promises you'll be safer in an accident, the Gap promises you won't look funny when you get dressed, IBM promises to take care of you (if you work for a Fortune 500 company), Tide promises your clothes will get cleaner, Joe Camel promises you'll be cool and studly... Whether the promise is true or not consumers generally respect companies that "stand" for something meaningful. At the other extreme we have what I'd call "empty brands" names that are well known but make no promise. Adobe comes to mind as a classic empty brand: Everyone knows who they are but what's the promise?
Moreover I think in most cases there's a very objective metric for the value of a brand: the amount of money the buyer will spend for the branded product above the price of the generic counterpart. In film Kodak's brand is worth almost a 50% premium; in PCs the premium (at least recently) was about 10%-25%. If there's no premium attached to the brand it's worthless: Witness NEC's decision to decision to shut down its well-known but notoriously crappy Packard-Bell nameplate.
The promise presumably is "Buy X and get Y," but it seems to me that there's such a huge a difference between a promise of value and a promise of membership in a "lifestyle" that we shouldn't lump them together. (BTW, let's remember that lives don't have styles unless you're the lamented Quentin Crisp or can't-be-lamented-soon-enough Zsa Zsa Gabor). In any case, if Jeffrey is right, then moving away from simple/stupid brands would mean no longer making simple/stupid/impossible promises inside and outside the company.
Jeffrey also forwards the following:
Here's a refreshing example of an online marketer who's willing to have an open, honest relationship with his sales prospects:
sup? got a website? well, if you do then just go to http://100topsites.hypermart.net and sign up to my famous top100 websites! youll get way more hits then you normall do plus youll be recognized as someone instead of the loser you really are! its fun! ... oh, and dont bother blocking my email, ill just change names and send it until you sign up! HAHAHAH! pece, strilla
Oh, yeah, this is *exactly* the sort of open and honest customer relationship I had in mind.
You know, sometimes honesty isn't enough, as per Jesse Ventura whining "Hey, I was just being honest" when people were upset with him for his 38-D reincarnation remarks.
All I did was ask if a chiclet that says the Cluetrain is "basically right" was offensive in unfathomable ways as Chris "RageBoy" Locke thinks.
In return I got the following from a certain John:
I would have guessed that you are acidically left.
When the applicability of this remark didn't hit me, John explained:
you asked for a response for whether you were basically right.
Base-ically right, acid-ically right...get it?
Kevin Johansen writes:
Let me be one of the first to jump on the "Cluetrain is basically right" bandwagon. I would like to publicly state that I am 110% behind this effort. Please let me know when we plan to storm the Bastille, graphically enhance our web sites to show our support, write letters to Congress, etc. I will go there, be there, perform with distinction and/or die with honor with bells on.
...PPS - If in agreeing with you means that I disagree with Chris, and Chris benefits from the process, am I really disagreeing with Chris? Or would this depend on whether Chris *wanted* to benefit from this process? And if he doesn't, what does that say about Chris? Or would that be saying something more about RageBoy? And just what the hell is it with this RageBoy stuff he does, anyway?
All I can say about Chris is that at this moment he's just back from chairing the Personalization conference, which is at best incongruous. At the very least he ought to be chairing the Multiple Personalization conference.
Bob Morris reassures us that the site we mentioned in the last issue that promises to donate to the UN world hunger fund every time you press on a button http://www.thehungersite.com seems not to reek the foul breath of scam:
World Hunger Site does seem legit. See http://urbanlegends.tqn.com/culture/beliefs/urbanlegends/library/blmail2.htm which seems to have researched it, for whatever that's worth.
I found this with Copernic, which I really like. www.copernic.com
Tip o' the hat, Prof. Morris. Thanks.
We mentioned John Austin's question about why someone who stabs a pitchfork under a bed isn't tried for attempted murder if he mistakenly believed that his wife's lover was hiding there. Nigel Williams responds:
So many of our laws are similarly based on the premise of "Do that, and you are likely to be guilty of something else, so we will put you away anyway"
For example if I drive my trusty Ford all alone along a back-country road at 3 in the morning and get pinged by a speed camera, then I get a fine based on the premise that if I did the same thing in the High Street at High Noon then I should surely kill someone. Bullshit.
So shouldn't the Bishop be castigated and or pilloried for what he did in the bathroom at midnight, for if he did the same thing from the pulpit at noon on Sunday he would cause a lot of swooning!?
So many of society's rules are proxies for the actual behaviour we seek to encourage - life would be a lot cleaner if we got rid of the proxies, and hardened the consequences of the unwanted actions. Like no fine for speeding, but death for death. Simplicity. Hell - who needs it anyway!
Well, of course the rationales are that if we allowed people to decide when to follow the law, there would be more cases of bad consequences (the freak crash at 3am), we would lose the habits we're trying to instill, and trying even the simplest of cases would require proving the mental state of the perp.
On the other hand, you're right, of course.
Michael Lukaszewski responds to my screed against trying to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time. He notes an ironic error:
Hey, you're right... You'll all learn more in the raucous *convesation* that ensues than you ever would have by being right.
I was referring, of course, to the Indo-European Ur-word. The "r" was a late addition (4th century) from a band of nameless nomads in the Indus Valley. Yeah, that must be it.
My pal Jon Pyke adds:
How come it took so long to say in the opening bit (the right information) "that you never know what you have asked until you see the answer ?"(Anon) - I'd put in a whole diatribe at this point on why right and wrong are irrelevant and only accurate vs. inaccurate and the context matters ... - but I decided against.
You'll be unhappy to learn that many years ago I actually talked with my thesis advisor about doing a dissertation on ways of being wrong. I had to settle instead for writing a dissertation that was wrong.
John adds, in response to my casual swipe at the phrase "eprocess":
BTW What's wrong with eProcess? - I'm an eVP
The "e" prefix indicates an attempt to make the drab sound exciting and the clueless sound clue-full ... so, yes, I guess I have to agree with you about eVPs.
Paul Edmiston sees fit to take seriously my request for comments on my new web page:
Who is picking out your colors anyway? Fire that goon.
I am the Color Goon. I actually agree with you, but in 1995 I foolishly purchased a hogshead of Frisson Blue and Eye-Gouge Red, and am still working my way through them. My projections show me running low on them in mid 2003. Of course, you could hurry up the process by encouraging friends to visit my site frequently.
I heard from a gen-u-ine anonymous source in response to my skeptical comments about Microsoft's Digital Dashboard. This person seemed a little too joyous about dumping on Microsoft, but what the heck. He she or it writes:
Did you hear that Microsoft lost the GE account to domino.doc? To the tune of $20million......ouch! ...They should announce the news late this week.....huge loss due to NO PRODUCT! Very similar to the 'Digital Dashboard Deception'.....
Much as I dislike Microsoft's Digital Dashboard, I am afraid my journalistic ethics prevent me from running unattributed information unless it concerns Bill Gates, RageBoy or Pamela Anderson Lee (and preferably all three together).
Joshua Newman contributes to the infinite library of proof that Search Engines Suck!"
Saw an article about Star Office (Sun's hopeful competitor for MS Office) and wondered where I might download a copy. And as you probably tried to forget, I'm an occasional sucker for AltaVista's "Ask AltaVista a question" pitch.
So: "Where can I download Star Office?" Select English-language responses only. And - voila!
1. SOFTSEEK.COM - Download Star Wars: Episode I Teaser Trailer by Lucasfilm Ltd. Nope.
2. KD Mac Download: Star Wars: The Gungan Frontier Uh-uh.
3. SOFTSEEK.COM - Download Star Trek: 25th Anniversary Demo by Interplay Producti No.
4. Alta Star's FAR/BAR Contract Download Page No ...
5. Download Chinese Star for Windows Demo Ixnay ...
6. Re: [id-linux] Download Star Office
Aha! Success is mine! Click the link and ...
Re: [id-linux] Download Star Office
Maaf numpang lewat...
Kemarin yang dari ITB yang sudah download Star Office siapa yach ? Saya pingin download nich ada di ftp ITB mana ?? ...
To possess a second language is to possess a second soul.
Before y'all write in outrage that Joshua shouldn't be an English language bigot, please note that he did ask AV for English pages, and helpful though the message may be in whatever language it chooses to adopt, "maaf numpang lewat" just isn't good English. (In fact, when Joshua ran the message through his spell checker, it came out "Mao numbing leeway..").
Andrew Seldon writes in response to the article in the previous issue on how vendors propose open standards for closed purposes:
I remember in a past life when I was a technology journalist and the Unix vendors (specifically the Sun crowd) used to make a big hoohah about open standards and Microsoft's lack of adherence to any. They seem to have lost the "open" religion since they invented the Java "standard" - which they naturally want to control and profit from... I wonder how long it'll be until Microsoft starts warning people that Linux is not a "standards-based" operating system or that MSN is a standards-based portal as opposed to any of the other link-heavy Web pages out there?
Why bother when you have own an application-based standard if it's not written in Word or Powerpoint, you are presumed guilty of violating the Standard Business Document Act of 1997. WordPerfect has now taken on the mythic dimensions of Siberia. In fact, if Dostoyevsky were alive, he'd write his next novel using WordPerfect.
Mark Federman forwards a message from a certain Liz Cantrell that contains a final exam she gave on a course on The Future of Computing. Questions include:
2) A product you buy based on a rave review opens your email address book grabs your entire list of friends sends itself to them and sends your password files to a mysterious IP address...
4) You start receiving thousands of emails from organizations you don't know all hawking their wares...
7) Someone claiming to be you starts roaming the Web making wild claims...
Cantrell thinks that if you can know how to address each of these issues "you probably know why thousands of new laws are not the right way to make the Web "safe." I think the right answer to all of them is: Flee while there's still time!
Dan Kalikow quotes the following sentence of mine back to me:
Sometimes of course the standards become real either because the company pulls together a real coalition (e.g. SoftSolutions and ODMA) or because the company yields such a large stick that its standard becomes de facto.
... Umm Wields ...
He somehow thinks that I meant "wields," not "yields." I meant what I said, no matter how nonsensical, and that's the end of the convesation.
Borrowing from Spy Magazine, here are some efolks that seem to bear a certain resemblance to off-line celebrities, at least close enough that you could see the celebrity starring in the TV movie made about The Heroes of the Web.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon
Esther Dyson, Release 1.0 & ICANN
Rob Glaser, Real Networks
Nicholas Negroponte, MIT Media Lab
Kim Polese, Marimba
Keri Russell, TV's Felicity
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
David Ogden Stiers
Suggest your own, but please be gentle in your comparisons, unless, of course, they really deserve it.
In response to a truly lame contest I ran about Web scams, Joshua Newman suggests one:
Scams to trap the truly gullible... my favorite, and (I think) my own idea:
FREE!!!!! NEW DIET lets ***YOU*** LOSE WEIGHT WITHOUT EATING!!!!!
Need I say more?
Maybe it should read, "even YOU," instead, so to carry the glorious implication that everyone else manages to do everything sooner, and probably better, than you do, you poor sap. Sort of like the radio and TV talking heads who constantly address us all as "Moron." ("Moron - that story later.") Now I wanna cool nickname.
Getting a nickname in JOHO really has nothing to do with your level of contribution and everything to do with how naturally the nickname flows. For example, it was easy as pie to provide a nickname for Henry Horsesass (Henry "Two-H's" Horsesass) and for Make Me A. Sandwich (Make Me "Four Names" A. Sandwich"). There just isn't much going on with "Joshua Newman." So, here goes: Joshua "Bebe Rebozo" Newman. Does that work for you?
Perhaps not. Names are such shy things, held in place by agreement and habit, supposedly ducking out of the way in favor of the things themselves. Yet they are a second skin, enshrouding what they reveal. JOHO itself is such a shroud, more turbid than pellucid, covering nothing but its own emptiness, words banging on words, sounding the gong proudly announcing ... nothing but the announcement. Stop the presses, the news is that there's news. Thus we achieve seamless identity, Lem's perfect vacuum, the sound of one hand clapping itself on its back. Congratulations for being congratulated! I accept this award for being honored, and what an honor it is to be honored for being honored! And no, this is not a pipe, it's a sentence about a pipe that is a sentence. Thus does JOHO end not with bang (if only!), not with a whimper, but with a self-reference such as this one.
The following information was found trapped at the top of my washing machine when I ran some issues of JOHO through it.
JOHO is a free, independent newsletter written and produced by David Weinberger. He denies responsibility for any errors or problems. If you write him with corrections or criticisms, it will probably turn out to have been your fault.
Subscription information, or requests to be removed from the JOHO mailing list, should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
This journal eschews the use of the word "fuck" except when it is deemed the right word for literary purposes, although we use it in this disclaimer because we enjoy confusing censor-savant netnanny programs.
Any email sent to JOHO may be published in JOHO and snarkily commented on unless the email explicitly states that it's not for publication.
The Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization is a publication of Evident Marketing, Inc.
"The Hyperlinked Organization" is trademarked by Open Text Corp. JOHO gratefully acknowledges Open Text's kind permission to use this felicitous phrase.
For information about trademarks owned by Evident Marketing, Inc., please see our Preemptive Trademarks!"!" page at http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/trademarks.html.