December 14, 2001


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NEWZ you can use: Parodies, ironies, and other natural extensions of reality.
Gonzo Marketing: Chris Locke's book is so good that you can disagree with it and still like it a whole lot.
Slumping the Shark: The difference between sitcoms and corporations when it comes to declining interest.
An Ex-Hippie Learns to Love West Point: What I learned about collaboration from 4 hours with the military.
Hunt for Strongest Possible Terms Ends: Groups that have denounced something in the strongest possible terms come clean.
Conference Report: High Tech Lives: Moribund economy? Not entirely.
Misc.: The anals of marketing and why searching sucks(tm) (excepting Google of course).
Walking the Walk: PTC enables collaborative product design.
Cool Tool : Little tiny utilities.
Internetcetera: Who we netizens are.
Politicklish: Death to terrorists, Bush is a moron, etc.: Your comments and denunciations about 9-11 and more.
Links to Love: Places you think worth a visit.
Email, Stray Insults, and Worrisome Flu-like Symptoms: The rest of your comments and denunciations.
Bogus contest: MRUs of the Rich and Famous


Weblogs Devour the Earth

I've been blogging with the daily consistency of a true neurotic. In some ways, JOHO is now an anthology of stuff that I ran on my weblog. That's making JOHO even more ponderous, and more onerous to produce. Something's gotta give, ladies and germs. In the meantime, my weblog is at:


NEWZ you
can UZE


The Wall Street Journal today reports that the person who sent anthrax in the mail made an error: he or she neglected to remove the electrostatic charge from the powder. As a result, it clings to surfaces rather than dispersing far more widely via air currents.

The Journal goes on to list other mistakes made by the bioterrorists: They could have contaminated much more mail if they'd used an envelope with small pinholes in it which could easily have been accomplished by running the envelope through a Singer sewing machine using a #6 needle and the "Colonial Crosshatch" setting. (Don't forget to leave the thread unattached to the bobbin!) Also, the Journal says that the envelope would have been routed through many more substations, substantially increasing the number of deaths, if it the barely competent bioterrorists had figured out — duh! — that they should make the city not match the zip code. Also, they should have sent it from the mailbox on the corner of Lopate and Elm in East Larchmont on any Friday or Saturday, which is when postal employee Jim McCahey makes his run, because Jim is like real sloppy and if he can't figure out that 98 Lopate isn't the same as 96 Lopate and keeps delivering Teen Seventeen to a house that obviously doesn't have any kids in it, then he probably wouldn't notice that his hands were covered with white powder anyway.

In a related editorial, the Wall Street Journal maintained that it could have done a much better job of it.

* * *


Al Qaeda spokesman Muhammed Qadir today said at a press conference that the hunt for American terrorist mastermind Dick Cheney is making "slow but steady progress." Vowed Qadir, "Whatever suburban hellhole Cheney is hiding in, we will find him and smoke him out."

Cheney is thought to have retreated deep into one of the hundreds of small towns within 100 miles of Washington, DC, with communication equipment and enough food and water to keep him and his entourage alive for an indefinite period. He was last heard from in taped comments a week ago in which he urged his countryman to "Fight the aggressor to the death in every corner of the world if necessary, including southwest Newport News, right across from Carl's Sports 'n' Stuff store." Al Qaeda believes that the remarks contained a coded message their cryptographers have deciphered as: "Send fabric softener; my shorts itch."

"We are pursuing every possible lead," said Qadir, refusing to reply to rumors that have placed Cheney in a basement rec room in Silver Springs, MD and in a converted garage in Roanoke, VA. Qadir said that the hunt would continue through the unpleasantly moist rainy season. "Make no mistake, Dick Cheney: no bumper pool table is large enough to hide you."

* * *


Attorney General John Ashcroft today unveiled the latest in a series of steps designed "to secure basic American values." Homeland Defense Goon Squads will be formed in order to enforce anti-terrorist policy directives issued by the Attorney General's office, the White House, the Office of Homeland Defense, the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs or Nancy Reagan.

"All Americans understand that we are at war," said the Attorney General in a prepared statement. "In times of war, when public safety is at stake, we can't rely upon the old, slow means of intimidation such as midnight visits by the INS and tax audits that can literally take years. The new Federal Goon Squads will ensure that those who would thwart our freedom will not do so without taking at least some of the lumps they so reichly deserve." [A follow-up statement corrected the misspelling of "richly."]

Democratic reaction was swift. Tom Daschle issued a statement decrying the new move. "When our Founding Fathers created this marvelous invention we call democracy, they carefully constructed a series of checks and balances. We will not be true to their vision until and unless the Legislative branch has Goon Squads equal in number and conscience-free thuggery."

* * *


Outraged parents in South Orange New Jersey today filed suit against a consortium of terrorists, militants and fanatics, claiming that their children's interaction with the images of extreme violence is leading them to more violent gaming, television and movies.

"We have nothing against dramatic news or even the use of violence when it's justified for narrative purposes and when the consequences of violence are shown," said red-faced soccer mom Suzie Nielsen. "But they've gone too far. And every parent knows it."

As evidence of the effect of violent reality on video games and movies, Nielsen distributed newspaper reports that Sylvester Stallone is seriously considering making a fourth Rambo movie in which he tracks down Osama Bin Laden. "Why can't we go back to a time when reality was simpler, kinder and more child-friendly?" asked Nielsen.

"Every parent knows," said Nielsen, "that if children see enough violent images in reality, it inures them to violence in games and movies. I hold those irresponsible terrorists and extremists directly responsible for Steven Seagal's comeback. For shame, for shame."

* * *


According to today's Boston Globe, based on a careful analysis of the letters' content and handwriting style:

FBI behavior scientists have said they believe the person sending the letters is a reclusive adult male with a tendency to hold grudges.

Stop the presses! This just in: FBI announces its analysis of the writer's handwriting indicates that he does not have hooks for hands. Repeat: No hooks for hands.

Also, there's evidence that the writer was probably subject to the law of gravity at the time he wrote it.



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The Gonzo of Gonzo Marketing

Notes: 1. As regular readers of JOHO know (not that there is such a thing as a regular reader), Chris Locke is in fact one of my closest friends. This review is therefore not hardly impartial no how. 2. For reasons I cannot fathom, no matter how I tried to make this review Funtertainment, it kept coming out all serious-like, perhaps as a perverse reaction against Gonzo-ism. In short, I'm sorry the review is dull. The book is not.

Christopher Locke's "Gonzo Marketing: Winning through Worst Practices" is an ambitious business book, putting it on a short, lonely bookshelf. Locke aims at (1) understanding business as a social institution, (2) describing the deep changes in the society within which business is embedded, and (3) pointing business - and marketing in particular - towards a rebuilt relationship with that society. He accomplishes the first two aims brilliantly. There's more room for argument about the third.

Sounds like a pretty serious book, eh? And it is, despite the catchy, clever title. In fact, I think Locke was trapped by his own title. It sets the expectation that the book is about wacky, outrageous stunts your marketing department can pull. Nothing could be further from Locke's intentions. The problem is that while Locke is using "Gonzo" in a technically correct sense, no one else - except Hunter S. Thompson, the drug-addled hyper-rhetorician who invented the term - takes it that way. Locke doesn't think of gonzo marketing as a type of guerrilla marketing that mixes the decorum of Mardi Gras and the social graces of a vomitous hangover. Rather, he and Thompson agree that "gonzo" actually means "subjective and engaged." The fact that when Thompson is engaged he's also chasing acid with Jack Daniels overwhelms the sober importance of his place in our cultural history: the gonzo writer drops the pretense of objectivity and place-less ubiquity. A marketer, according to Locke, likewise doesn't need hallucinogens to achieve gonzo-hood; all she has to do is tell the truth from her point of view ... so long as it's a truth that she passionately cares about.

What may look like a marketing approach is in fact a crowbar for lifting the lid on business's worst nature. How did business get to the point that telling the truth, accepting individual voices and being passionate come across as a radical program? Locke has a complex answer to this complex question. Much of it has to do with the business's adoption of broadcast techniques and metaphors, delivering a "message" to a passive, homogeneous audience. As Locke maintains, this isn't just about economies of scale, it's also about the neurotic need to control one's market. The enemy of control is voice. Thus, corporations have taught us to speak, as employees, in reassuring voiceless tones.

This worked reasonably well so long as the audience was sitting passively on its couches, facing forward. But the Web enables people to find others with shared interests and to engage in spirited, passionate conversations. These conversations are in fact micro-markets that differ from broadcast markets not only in size but also in ... well, in just about every way. Companies need to learn how to enter into those conversations because yelling at them through megaphones just doesn't work any more.

So what's a marketer to do? Locke gives a taste of what "gonzo marketing" means at the start of the book, but he doesn't flesh it out until the last chapter. And that is where I have the strongest disagreement. After all of his wide-ranging, erudite, piercing and, yes, profound discussion of the nature of business as a social institution, he narrows gonzo marketing to a particular set of programs having to do with corporate sponsorship of internal and external sites that employees care about even though they may have nothing to do with the business of the corporation. This may or may not be a good marketing technique - and my guess is that it's both - but gonzo marketing should be more than a single program. Locke has convinced us that marketing needs new ways of addressing the newly fractionated markets, and that those ways need to be "voice-ful" and engaged; corporate sponsorships are just one way marketing can respond.

This doesn't affect the value of the book's ideas. But it does affect its drama. The reader has to wait to the last chapter to find out what to do in the face of the epic market changes Locke has described. We're in suspense. Locke pulls back the curtain and gonzo marketing turns out to be a single marketing program. Gonzo is bigger than that. Sponsorships are just one example of what gonzo marketing can be.

This is another way I think Locke was trapped by his own title. The great service of the book is that it gives us a conceptual and historical framework for understanding the newly-transformed markets. While some examples of what gonzo marketing can become would of course be helpful, Locke's attempt to make the book pointedly practical is, in my view, a distraction from its real value.

I think the book's title distracted Locke in another way. For a guy who's taken the nickname "Rageboy," his book is remarkably coherent. Locke's grasp of history, philosophy, business, sociology and technology is astounding. He deals with complex topics with grace, clarity and wit ... And then Rageboy shows up, trash talkin' like a mofo, dissin' the tone and content of what you've just read. The Rageboy interruptions aren't labeled. It's more like Sybil thing. It's as if Locke were afraid to be taken seriously, as if he didn't trust his story to be compelling enough without the asides and over-the-top rants. But he's wrong. What he has to say is enough to pull us through, for SeriousBoy is as good a writer as RageBoy - and that's quite a compliment. As Locke might put it, RB needs to give SeriousBoy permission to be himself.

On the other hand, there are some hilarious, outrageous sections of the book, including a chapter that goes after the current crop of marketing writers that's only so funny because it's so perceptive. Seth Godin is unlikely to ask have that particular chapter autographed.

This book is like Locke: brilliant, funny, over-the-top, purposefully erratic and more full of ideas than most Fortune 500 companies.

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Slumping the Shark

The always insightful Scott Kirsner devoted his column in the Boston Globe recently to the phenomenon of "jumping the shark" as applied to business. Here's Scott's explanation of the phrase, as promulgated by

In pop culture, jumping the shark is when something that was once very good — it could be a TV show, a band, or a series of movie sequels — makes a desperate attempt to remain fresh and relevant, and instead goes bad.

The origin of the phrase comes from the long-running TV show ''Happy Days,'' which immediately went south following a gimmicky episode in which Fonzie, wearing water skis and his trademark leather jacket, jumped over a shark

Kirsner suggests some examples of businesses that have jumped the shark - CMGI paying $120M to get a football field named after itself, for instance - but jumping the shark is all too rare in business. Most companies don't get fresh, relevant, creative or silly when they get desperate. They get mean and conservative. They retreat to what they perceive as safe ground. Or, to follow the metaphor, they let themselves be dragged around in the wake of the boat, heading as far away from sharks as they can. Slumping the shark? Humping the shark? Jumping the lark? Stumping the shark? Schlurping the spark? Mini-Bogus Contest: Come up with your own clever pun 'cause I can't. [Note: Scott, in an email, suggests "Jumping the Slug."]

Whatever you call it, there's no shortage of examples: Blue Mountain Arts moving from a funky and personal site to a typical Browsable Taxonomy of Sentiment. Ford backing off its pledge to provide every employee with a free computer and an almost-free Net connection. ThirdVoice reinventing itself as a supplier of third-party links (and then completely de-inventing itself in April of this year). Zaplet moving from providing free, way cool mail applets to becoming a boring "enterprise software and services company." Gator moving from helpful sidekick to obnoxious, rude betrayer. Just about every company when it hits the 150-employee mark or when it nears $100M in revenues.

Sitcoms become outlandish when they're frightened because entertainment depends upon grabbing our attention. Businesses become boring when they're frightened because they prefer the risks they know to the unpredictable risk of being original. Different phenomena. Same tedious, self-defeating outcome.

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An Ex-Hippie Learns to Love West Point

I spent Tuesday with Maj. Tony Burgess, Maj. Nate Allen, and the team responsible for a remarkable site, As an unrepentant ex-hippie and reluctantly lapsed pacifist, I was surprised how impressed I was with the Army's style of business. This was a warmer and more collaborative environment than almost any I've encountered in the corporate world. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. But I was.

Tony and Nate started because company commanders need to talk with one another. Every Army officer serves as a company commander so that she or he will have hands-on experience leading soldiers. But there is surprisingly little guidance given to company commanders once they have gone through their training. And there are no horizontal communication channels. So Tony and Nate created a site at the heart of which are open, unmoderated discussion boards where company commanders can raise issues, ask questions, and share their insights. The site has succeeded well enough that the Army apparently is looking at ways to use it as a more or less formal resource.

When walking with Tony through the West Point campus, every cadet saluted him. Tony saluted back, as expected, but also gave everyone a "Hey, how's it going?" or the equivalent. Not the "Sir Yes Sir!" interchange I was expecting.

The two meetings I had were models of collaboration and enthusiasm. Officers spoke with respectful awareness of rank but simultaneously with obvious affection. At one meeting, the ranking officer had also had several of the participants as students in his leadership courses, and it was clear that they admired and liked him. The conversation was frank in every regard, including in its occasional criticism of the Army, but was also good-natured and funny. The participants always went out of their way to credit others for their contributions to the project and to the conversation. "That's a great point" they'd say before adding on to it, or "We implemented that a couple of months ago and Steve did a great job with it." This seemed unforced and totally natural: a team of people who like one another and who are focused on the same goal.

It struck me that this team of hierarchically-arranged soldiers was so truly collaborative perhaps in part precisely because of the explicitness of the hierarchy. In a corporation, rank is informal and thus is negotiated in every meeting. People position themselves by jousting with others in subtle ways, for explicit jousting is considered pushy. In the Army, you've got stuff sewn into your clothing denoting your precise position in the hierarchy. Thus, there's no need to joust, and teams can be more genuinely collaborative.

Believe me, this is not what I — wearing a tie dyed tee under my professionally-ironed blue pinstripe shirt — was expecting to learn.




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Hunt for Strongest Possible Terms Ends

Almost three months after the civilized world was brought together across the political and social spectrum in an unprecedented condemnation in the strongest possible terms of various events, the hunt for what precisely those terms are has ended.

Among those who joined the remarkable coalition hunting for the strongest possible terms are:

Amnesty International: "...condemns the attacks carried out in the USA in the strongest terms possible."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations: "We condemn in the strongest terms possible the vicious and cowardly act of terrorism..."
Oxford University Labour Club: condemns " the New York massacre in the strongest terms possible..."
The Afghan-American community: "We condemn in the strongest terms possible what are apparently vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians."
The National Union of Students: Condemns "the New York massacre in the strongest terms possible."
National Council of Churches in the Philippines: "... denounces in the strongest terms possible, the attacks made by the United States on Afghanistan..."
Anti-US protesters in Kolkata: "...condemned terrorism in the strongest terms possible and at the same time spoke out at the same time against what they called an imperialist design."
The Angolan Mission: "... condemn in the strongest terms possible these acts of terrorism..."
The Saturday School at Harvard: "The dastardly attack of September 11, 2001 must be condemned in the strongest terms possible. "
President Moi of Kenya: "...condemned in the strongest terms possible these cowardly and heinous acts."
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine: Condemns "in the strongest possible terms" "the decision of the Palestinian Authority to ban the military wing of the PFLP..."

Among those who condemned terrorism or the US reaction to terrorism in the strongest terms but were not committed enough to condemn it in the strongest possible terms were Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra and Philippines President Gloria Arroyo and The UN Security Council

In addition, a group of 100 families in New Zealand condemned a new school curriculum in the strongest terms possible, the Maryland Association of Buyers Agents condemned dual agents in the strongest possible terms as a consumer fraud, and Ian Jackson protested in a posting to a Debian-Linux discussion board "I OBJECT IN STRONGEST POSSIBLE TERMS" to doing a release with the XT security bug unfixed.

It was agreed last night that the strongest possible terms are "the strongest possible terms" with only Angola holding out for "double damn with a cherry on top."


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Conference Report: High Tech Lives!

Graeme Thickens reports that the high tech investment world isn't as moribund as it's often made out. He's back from Red Herring's NDA conference and has sent out his observations via an email newsletter that expands on the coverage he provides at (You can sign up for his newsletter at

Among his positive observations (each of which I've whittled down):

$45 billion is now sitting in VC coffers waiting to be invested, just from funds raised last year...

Security technology is suddenly mega-hot...

Nanotechnology, a growing new area of VC investment, will provide major advancements in a whole raft of industries...

Internet usage is still doubling every year...

The portable computing device market will continue to grow rapidly...

Neurogenomics, which addresses the causes of central nervous system disorders, is one of the hottest new drug therapy sectors in biotechnology...

Graeme's reports mix reportage, analysis and personal observation. They're often better than being there. Thanks, Graeme.

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Reading Machines Back in Business

The makers of Kurzweil reading machines for the blind and learning disabled have managed to avoid being taken down by the felonious bastards at Lernout & Hauspie. The management team of the reading machine company has bought it back from L&H. Thank goodness. The reading machines folks are Good Guys. For example, their CTO, Steve Baum, is not only an excellent engineer, but is also truly committed to making life better for others. And there's no one I respect more than my cousin-in-law Mark Dionne who's a senior engineer there. More or less the opposite of Leg-Irons Lernout and Handcuff Hauspie.

The Anals of Marketing

Sony is using laws aimed at protecting intellectual property to close down a site that helps owners of their robo-dog modify its behavior. Apparently Sony has sold more than 100,000 Aibos. They go for $800-$3,000 ... enough to buy your own real dog with money left over to hire a dot-com CTO to walk behind it with a pooperscooper.

Sony's being stupid about this. Tivo all but encourages people to hack their machine, adding bigger capacity disks and other tweaks. In return, they ask hackers to refrain from enabling Tivo output to be recorded onto other devices since that would mightily piss off the entertainment industry.

Two other product hacks of note: The Furby Beowulf cluster:
And the Visible Barbie: You can find other semi-humorous creations at

Webbing and Time

Julianne Chatelaine send us a long report about which she says:

If you're not in the mood for reading this long report, the key nugget is that these authors believe the *use of good email filtering tools* helped kill their community. Many many people began moving the postings into separate folders and reading them much later, or never, but as a result those folks were not able to react in real time when the community atmosphere went downhill.

The piece was written by Inke Arn and Andreas Broeckmann but I couldn't find a link to it. Nevertheless, it makes the eternal point that Time Is Everything ... on the Web and off.

Why Search Engines Suck(tm), except Google

A newsflash from Gary Stock: Google has posted an interesting page of Newsgroup historical markers: to inaugurate their indexing of 20 years of Usenet.

Gary also points out that Google — now up to over 3 billion pages — is indexing new files types, including Word, Excel, RTF, PostScript and PowerPoint.

Mark Dionne forwards from the Annals of Improbable Research an article that quantifies fame by doing comparative searches on people such as Maria Tomei at AltaVista, Google and others:

Dean Landsman brings us back to the always-popular autotranslation gaff. He's found a new one: He immediately points to a weakness:

Unfortunately, this one (like most of these utilities) does not offer translation to/from Polish. For quite some time I had net and connectivity business in Poland, and struggled to get past language barrier issues.

Poland, btw, is among the most web-stuff forward-thinking and net-oriented countries on the planet. There's a right of entitlement to web access for all Polish citizens who can afford a phone. Enhanced services (such as e-mail) come at a price from a local ISP type vendor. Access, however, is an inalienable right to the Poles.

Who woulda thunk?

Here are the first ten theses of the cluetrain thingie:



Systran (Alta Vista)

Markets are conversations.

Walked are conversations.

The markets are conversations.

Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors.

Walked consist of be human beings, not demographic areas.

The markets are composed of the human beings, nondemographic sectors.

Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice.

Conversations amid be human beings fit be human. They are behave in a be human parson.

The conversations among the human beings seem human. They are led in a human voice.

Whether delivering information, opinions, perspectives, dissenting arguments or humorous asides, the human voice is typically open, natural, uncontrived.

If commit information, estimation, outlook, dissent arguments or humorous asides, the be human parson is typically confide, inbred, [[uncontrived]].

If providing information, of the opinions, the prospects, the unmatched arguments or the asides full with humour, the human voice is in general open, normal, uncontrived.

People recognize each other as such from the sound of this voice.

People acknowledge each other as so about the fit of this parson.

People are identified as such of the noise of this voice.

The Internet is enabling conversations among human beings that were simply not possible in the era of mass media.

The Intern is [[enabling]] conversations amid be human beings that were merely not likely at the era about mass media.

The Internet allows conversations among the human beings which were simply not possible in the era of the mass media.

Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.

[[Hyperlinks]] subvert hierarchy.

The hyperlinks reverse the hierarchy.

In both internetworked markets and among intranetworked employees, people are speaking to each other in a powerful new way.

At both [[internetworked]] walked and amid [[intranetworked]] employee, people are confer at each other in a potent fresh lane.

In both internetworked of the markets and among intranetworked of the employees, people speak between them about a new powerful way.

These networked conversations are enabling powerful new forms of social organization and knowledge exchange to emerge.

[Ceux]-[ci] network conversations are [[enabling]] potent fresh form about social organization and know barter at emerge.

These conversations managed in network allow new powerful forms of social exchange of organization and information to emerge.

As a result, markets are getting smarter, more informed, more organized. Participation in a networked market changes people fundamentally.

As a end product, walked are achieve dainty, more informed, more arrange. Involvement in a network walked changes people basically.

Consequently, the markets become smarter, more with the current, more organized. The participation in a market managed in network changes people basically.

Mike O'Dell has a knack for finding odd sites. Here's one that lets you do searches for particular sequences of numbers: Perfect to see if your safe's combination is truly unique.


Middle World Resources

Walking the Walk  

Scott Kirsner's column in The Boston Globe recently described how Parametric (now known as PTC) is attempting to become interesting again. In the late '80s, it was an important player in the CAD market. And, with a market value of $2.2B and annual revenues of nearly $1B — that's a lot of CAD! — it's the largest standalone sw company in the Commonwealth of MA. Even so, it's such a dull company that Mike Dukakis was kicked off of its board of directors because his crazy antics were too distracting. (Note: I made this up for comic effect. How'd it work for you?) Now it's trying to reinvigorate itself with a new line of software called Windchill that opens up the product design process to all concerned parties, from internal departments to external suppliers to customers. The software is already being adopted by such thrill-a-minute corporations as Airbus, EMC and Lockheed "Lewis and" Martin. Owners of PTC's CAD software are averaging 14 licenses of Windchill for each CAD license. Product design is a conversation. Who woulda thunk, as Dean might say. (Well, Doc Searls for one.)

Cool Tool
For the Hyperlinked Organization

It doesn't take much to get me excited. For example, I'm about to recommend a screen capture tool for you. It's just that this one is designed real good. (I found it at, an oddly compelling site that features small, useful apps - like seeing a possum in the suburbs, it's heartening just to know such critters still exist.)

MWSnap, available from its creator at winfreeware/ sets hotkeys so you can capture any arbitrary piece of your visible desktop. As you drag, it shows you in a little window an enlarged view so you can position your cursor with pixel precision. Then you save it as a jpg or a bmp. That's it. But that's all you need.


NewsBytes Brian Krebs (Nov. 12) reports:

For the first time in the history of the World Wide Web, native English speakers are no longer the dominant demographic group on the Internet, thanks to a surge of more than 100 million new Internet users in 2001, a report released today found.

The third annual "State of the Internet Report," produced jointly by the U.S. Internet Council and International Technology & Trade Associates Inc., (ITTA) found the new users - mainly from the South Pacific region - helped shrink the share of native English speakers online to roughly 45 percent of the estimated total of 500 million Web users.

Within the United States, 59 percent of households have home Internet access, a 15 percent increase over last year.

The report also details significant progress in efforts to eradicate the so-called "digital divide" that persists along racial, gender and economic lines. Women now make up 52 percent of U.S. Internet users, and 51 percent of African-American households are online, a 35 percent growth over 2000 and only slightly below the 60 percent penetration rate among white households.


ITTA President Mark Rhoads said this year's report makes clear that economic and policy divisions in the offline world translate almost seamlessly into Internet space.

"We are realizing that as the Net becomes more part of culture, the same fault lines that are out there in the economy and culture at large are going to manifest themselves on the Internet," he said.

The report goes on to note that the Internet also failed to live up to its initial promise to cure morning breath and make men impotent except when with those they truly love.

[The report is at]

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Politicklish: Death to terrorists, Bush is a moron, etc.

Mark Dionne (him again??) alerted us to the fact that when the BBC and the London Times reported that documents were found in an Al Qaeda hideout describing how to build a nuclear bomb, they were fooled. As reported originally in The Daily Rotten (Nov. 16), the video footage shows a document that was a parody run in The Journal of Irreproducible Results (now The Annals of Improbable Research) in 1979.

Gary "Unblinking" Stock was the first — as usual — to point us to the Economist's incredible statement:

An election correction Nov 15th 2001
From The Economist print edition
In the issues of December 16th 2000 to November 10th 2001, we may have given the impression that George Bush had been legally and duly elected president of the United States. We now understand that this may have been incorrect, and that the election result is still too close to call. The Economist apologises for any inconvenience.

Gary is a fount of links. He points us to for our conspiracy theory needs. And, although, as Gary points out, isn't as funny as, it's worth a look. (Mnftiu is a work of genius. Caution: it contains bad words.) Gary also recommends, but it too pales in comparison to the other-worldly mnftiu.

Val "Mighty Organ" Stevenson hasn't forgotten that Bush is a moron:

Yet another corker from the Global Village Idiot: "Redefining the role of the United States from enablers to keep the peace to enablers to keep the peace from peacekeepers is going to be an assignment." Jaw-droppingly dumb, bless him... is a goldmine (or minefield) of his bons mots.

Chip the Unrelenting sends us to with a warning:

Caution: Graphically gruesome gut-wrenching images.

Slate has run an article debunking the oil/war conspiracy ( but it debunks mainly by saying that there isn't enough evidence. I don't get it. Why would you need a conspiracy theory if there were enough evidence? Besides, the article doesn't give enough weight to this administration's oily predispositions.

David Wasser points us to for an article about Google the Good's response to 9-11.

Tony McKinley writes in response to my article on why I'm not a pacifist any more:

Way to go! Never thought I'd hear you writing this!

Tony's a little too happy about this. While I've moved away from the classic pacifist position, I'm still in favor of assuming pacifist positions (e.g., fetal and prone) for the long term and wimping out in all but the most dire of short term situations.

(Aphorisms I Made Up But Don't Quite Understand Dept.: The difference between pacifism and cowardice is which way you face when the scary stuff happens.)

Sean Ross responds to that same non-pacifist article:

...It can't *possibly* have escaped you that this sentence:

"Having your friends murdered by people who now threaten to kill you and your children, and who support outrageously vicious governments at home, leads to hate also. And it should."

could have just as easily come out of Osama's mouth as yours... Or maybe you're assuming that our government is merely "vicious" and not "outrageously vicious" — yeah, that must be the distinction.

Yes, of course Osama and we say some of the same things. And Hitler loved little kids and was a vegetarian, just like me! So what? The fact that both sides feel justified in their violence doesn't mean neither is. I don't say and have never said that fighting back is all that's required. We also need to make the world fairer, and do so on an unprecedented scale. (See my bogus Generation Alpha speech.) But we also need to kill them before they kill us.

Sean continues:

On a happier and completely unrelated note:

Oh, don't get all cheerful on me!

Is the person that runs the machine that puts the fake grill marks on the meat in a frozen chicken meal "frame jacking"?

Absolutely. But, then the person eating the chicken is also frame jacking ... at least from the chicken's point of view.

Jock Gill, technology advisor to the Clinton White House, has an article that draws parallels between fundamentalists of both the Islamic and right-wing political faiths:

Jim Wint responds to our suggestion that Osama be punished by being forced to undergo a sex change and then work as a stripper in a club outside Baltimore:

I take exception to your denigration of the hard working strippers in the Baltimore area. ... A better suggestion would be to perform the breast implant surgery suggested and then lock bin Laden up for the rest of his life in the Department of Corrections in Jessup, MD.

I sincerely apologize for the miscommunication, Jim. I myself come from a long line of Baltimore strippers. Perhaps you've seen my mother, Shirley Tassels. She had been a KM consultant, but she got tired of the tawdriness of it.

Dividing Line
Links to Love

Mark Dionne [again!], in response to our comments about haiku, sends us to It's a haiku site, "free to all nice people." Fortunately, they rely upon your own self-assessment. What type of business model is that??

Jim Montgomery goes haiku crazy and points us to:

Sysadmin haikus:
Haiku movie reviews:
Gangsta haiku:

To this I can only reply in five, seven and five syllables:

Jim Montgomery -
Mark Dionne: Haiku Death Match.
Mark: "Two out of three?"

Bob Filipczak sends us to watch remakes of famous movies — remakes created out of Legos. . This is just one of many Lego oddities at the site.


Dylan Tweney has brought his report back from retirement:

Julianne Chatelaine sends us to The site says:

The n_Gen Design Machine is a rapid prototyping graphic design engine that generates savable graphic files from the user's own text content filtered through n_Gen's Design Modules.

It apparently lays stuff out for you automatically.

Eric S. Johansson posted to another discussion group. It is a high-quality presentation about an aircraft graveyard.

Mike O'Dell, in the spirit of international understanding, suggests where we get to make fun of Japanese misappropriations of English. I'd get on my high liberal horse if I didn't find the site so damn amusing.

Jacob Shwirtz has reinvented his site, It's gone from an edgy discussion space for people whose age is probably mine minus yours, to an edgy group upload site. Here's how Jacob describes it:

...the new website (no flash, barely any graphics) has been doing amazingly well. I'm getting in one day what the old site would get in a week. People can upload any file they want without creating an account or looking at crappy ads. People see something they like, forward it to friends, and the cycle continues and expands. The latest wacky thing posted was- Don't ask!

Mike O'Dell has found an academic paper that argues that analytic philosophy is:

well represented-indeed, often best represented-in the work of Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin, collectively and henceforth referred to as "Monty Python." Since I have all of fifty minutes to make my case, I expect we'll have time for a song at the end. So let's get to it.

Chris "RageBoy" Locke, author of Gonzo Marketing, has found a way to spend his long lonely days as he waits for Oprah to call: Chris reports: "I got him going at 320 m.p.h." as if that's something to be proud of.

Gilbert Cattoire recommends, a site that catalogs the transition of free sites to for-pay sites, a move the businessperson in me applauds and the part of me wearing the tie-dye underwear finds depressing.

Nick Usborne, marketing guru and author of a forth-coming book on the language of marketing, recommends an article in The New Statesman that Tom Matrullo referred him to: newTop=200 111050017&newDisplayURN=200111050017 It's an excellent, incredulous account of what corporations sound like.

David "Stupid Network" Isenberg has found a "syntho-techno-hip-hop-rap" by Lawrence "Rational Alarmist" Lessig whose two books — Code and The Future of Ideas — ought to scare the bejeesus out of you: Lessig is way too smart and too right about the perilous state of the freedom we take for granted on the Net. Be afraid. And do something about it.

Mike O'Dell has unearthed one of my favorite sites: It's full of nostalgia about the old Kresky cop show on TV. Brings back memories.

Then, when you're done, be sure to read Really. Make sure you read it.

dividing line

Email, Stray Insults, and Worrisome Flu-like Symptoms


Robert Swanson responds to something I'd written about forgiveness, although I'll be damned if I can remember what:

Yes, forgiveness is a good thing, most of the time. But, not always. As you mentioned your being Jewish, there has been no forgiveness of Nazi's by the Jewish community or organizations for the Holocaust, in fact quite the contrary. I interviewed a Rabbi for a feature film I was doing, to discuss this exact conundrum, and he made it clear that forgiveness was not overridden by evil intent; i.e., you definitely can do some things which will never and should never be forgiven... 

So, while I agree that most times, forgiveness is good, the concept's applicability should be limited to those acts which people do callously without thinking at the maximum, and never to those whose actions are deliberate, sustained, violent, permanently disruptive, or immoral.

If you are saying, "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff", I agree. Some things, however, should be "sweated" and never forgiven. Go see the Museum of Tolerance in LA if the distinction ever blurs for you. BTW, I am not Jewish, I am of German extraction, and my view of my homeland's culture and warts requires selective admiration and forgiveness, just as yours does.

I purposefully left blurry the question of what is forgivable, but I did want to put in the markers that some things are not forgivable and repentance has to mean more than just feeling bad. I left it blurry because it's too hard a question. It is in fact the question of what is evil. You draw the line in your comments in a way that seems reasonable to me although I don't quite agree with it. For example, I could see myself forgiving Adolph Eichmann had he repented, had he worked for the rest of his life to help undo some of the pain he caused, had he been haunted. In fact, Albert Speer met many of this criteria and I think in some sense I did personally forgive him. BUT I think this is entirely beside the point. We can argue all day about the Big Cases — the Hitlers and Pol Pots and Kissingers — and whether you and I forgive them or not doesn't make a speck of difference. I'm much more interested in forgiveness as a social phenomenon, as a way imperfect humans live together. I'm never going to meet Hitler, Pol Pot or Kissinger. Whether I'm able to forgive you for not inviting me to your birthday party or forgive Marcy for returning my lawn mower empty of gas is, for me, a much more important question.

Craig writes:

Hello, David ... I pass along the above link with the caveat that I tend to agree with a lot of what Jakob [Nielsen] has to say about usability, though extremists of any stripe raise my suspicion antennae. However, I can't quite agree with what he says here:

Suggested Payment is $2 for each year you have been reading the Alertbox (or about 10 cents per article). Using this Honor System is an early experiment in micropayments, so let's see how many people are willing to pay a small amount for a continuous good service.

This is clearly an early experiment doomed to immediate failure. I have to think that many Alertbox readers are alert enough to realize that Jakob pulls down a cool $20K for four hours of corporate consulting, so why would anyone with that knowledge add two more bucks to the Nielsen coffers?...

Speaking of Nielsen, this is a pretty entertaining article about Jakob using a graphic on his home page:

RageBoy tried this voluntary micropayments idea, but he at least had the good grace to bully and abuse his readers.

I think Jakob's experiment is worth trying, although asking people to pay for the service they've already received is more like a fund-raiser than a business model. This is fine for a guilt-based economy, but I suspect that Jakob's experiment won't tell him "how many people are willing to pay a small amount for a continuous good service" but how many people are willing to donate to a not-very-worthwhile cause, namely the Jakob Nielsen Enrichment and Guilt-Removal fund.

[BTW, JOHO was the first to break the Nielsen Graphics scandal:]

"Unsolicited Pundit" Glenn Fleishman comments on Peter Fromherz, mentioned in the previous issue because for his integration of silicon and neurons:

"pious heart" in German (fromm + herz); also the same in Yiddish!

And who should know better than Glenn "Valley of Butchers" Fleishman?

Tom Wilson has an observation about the intern application form on Gary Condit's site:

I particularly loved the indication of his or his assistant's grasp of English usage by mention of "assisting with phone's" :-)

Not to mention the other typos on the form. For example, it says "Must be able to fit oversize objects into steamer trunks," when it should say "oversized." The form says "Preferable if assistant has removed their fingerprints with acid," when it should say "his or her fingerprints." And, most damning, the form says "I did it! I murdered Chandra Levy because she was going to secretly tell my wife about my involvement in the Joan Benet Ramsey case!" How embarrassing for the Congressman! You'd think he know by now that he shouldn't split his infinitives!

Grant Whittle points out that Condit also has "a link to a missing and exploited children site."

GS Chandy was apparently intoxicated by last issue's report on searches for words such as "good" and "evil":

I conducted searches (on google) for several of the words and phrases noted in your latest JOHO, and I find that you may have misrepresented things a bit, as the following should indicate:

1) Cattle mutilation by aliens: about 2,220 hits (And some of these were fascinating, indeed - though none has yet convinced me of their cases).

2) behind ear scratching your puffy putty tat: zero
2a) behind ear scratching: 39,100

For whatever it's worth, I also made the following searches:

3) Bahoozabachahooeyfump: zero
3a) Bahoozabachahooeyfump Goodrich: zero
3b) Likewise <>: zero

Google informed me, somewhat sniffily, that my search for <> -

"did not match any documents. No pages were found containing <>. Please make certain all words are spelt correctly.

4) Muck a muck: 1,49,000 (I guest most hits were for "muck" alone)

Footnote: My search for "GS Chandy cattle mutilation" resulted in 0 hits, so I guess you're in the clear. On the other hand, "GS Chandy has too much time on his hands" resulted in 17 hits.

Dethe Elza proposed three more conspiracy theories:

1. Bill Gates dunnit. He's got the resources, the motivation, and now the Government has a agreed to a settlement which has strange provisions about national security. It's got to be cheaper than buying a country and moving Microsoft there (which is something Robert X. Cringely assures us was being seriously considered in Redmond)...

2. Frank Herbert dunnit, albeit inadvertently. This is more of a "who inspired" rather than "who conspired." See, the word jihad (holy war) had drifted out of Arabic language hundreds of years ago. The CIA revived it when they created the Pan-Islamic Movement to oppose the Soviets. But where did they get the idea? From a science-fiction novel called Dune...

3. Cat Stevens dunnit. Yes, the singer of "Peace Train" has encoded the entire plot into lyrics from his songs. Sound crazy? Sure. Plausible? You tell me. Check out all the details at "Conspiracy Theory du Jour,"$127

When I heard the Cat perform in '71, I thought to myself that he had the makings of a crazed terrorist bomber. "Piece Train"? "TNT for the Tillerman"? "Osama, It's a Wild World"? I mean it was so *obvious*.

Mike O'Dell spills the beans about APRS, a group he mentioned in a letter in the previous issue:

The base technology is APRs (the Automatic Position Reporting System), which uses packet radio to send out little packets with GPS location information and room for some other stuff. Often the other stuff room is filled with output from a computerized weather station.

The first APRs"application" was to track the runner carrying the football from Annapolis to Baltimore for the Army/Navy football game circa 6 years ago. Bob Bruninga, ham call WB4APR, is on the faculty at the Naval Academy and is the inventor of APRs Bob and his students just orbited a micro-satellite with an APRs unit to allow global relaying of APRs data, but that was just last week, and the satellite only cost $50K to build, so it probably won't last too long.

Anyway, there are relay stations which pick up the ham-band APRs messages and forward them to several web sites on which you can view all active APRs stations. ( is one)... is a web interface to a specific sailing application of APRs technology. As you observed, APRs is often used on the ham bands, but it isn't limited to that. Using the HF radio email technology, the little APRs message can be forwarded even when far out at sea to the site. The email message is parsed out of the email body just as if it was delivered by an APRs packet interface (which produces text output, actually). The map processing stuff puts up the display of where the boat was when it sent the position message, along with anything else, like the weather data, if available. ... This site is a fusion of the inexpensive HF radio email technology, coupled with the Internet to handle the email, APRs technology on both the boat end and the display end, and web stuff.

It gives everyone interested in the boat easy access to the information at a microscopic fraction of cost of the alternative. All of the pieces were technologies "growing in the Petri dish", doing their own thing. But the Internet let them come together and interact to create something very, very cool which addresses real human need.

Sean Ross writes in response to my saying: "For the KM junkies among you, there's a new issue of Knowledge Manager magazine at its new URL:"

Good trick. It's a porn site now (or was it all along?). "Whoa, I'd sure like to manage *her* knowledge!" ;-)

How interesting. This used to be a KM magazine. Really. Well, it reminds me of the old joke: "What's the difference KM and masturbation? There's less to clean up after you're done masturbating." [Yes, there is an assumptive male in that joke.]

Marketing master David Wolfe responds to my not-very-interested comments on Patricia Bush's invocation of "Cultural Creatives" as a new and important demographic group:

It's no surprise that a goodly percentage of adults (24%) reflect the "kinder and gentler" values ascribed to Cultural Creatives, given that the median age of CCs is the same as the median age of all adults — age 45. Contrary to the commonly held belief that the values of CCs are a reflection of that allegedly unique group, boomers, they are the values of emerging self-actualizers as Maslow described them.

... If you compare the leading values in society today as reported by the Yankelovich Monitor with the values of people in the second half of life as described by Maslow over 40 years ago you come up with an impressive match. Maslow would have read Monitor's profile of current leading values and exclaim "Of course! The majority of the adult population is 45 or older, so why wouldn't society's values be reflecting the values that are typical of people in that age group"

So, there really isn't much that is unique about Cultural Creatives, including their belief that they are so. (Generations, the same as individuals, have egos.)

Aaron Spencer writes:

I've been meaning to write to you about a great new thing that my employer's decided to do. They've purchased something called LiveLink from Open Text. (I think you were once a high mucky muck with Open Text, weren't you?) I'm thinking great, maybe somebody got a clue and our intranet won't suck wind anymore. I thought "Great, hyperlinks will subvert hierarchy", and then I find I've been designated as a "Knowledge Rep"for my group.

As far as I understand, it's a collaborative workspace type thing. It's supposed to replace the rats nests that are the shared network drives. At least that's what they told us in the meeting. So here we have this tool, which looks like it could be cool, and only one person in each group can access it. And then.. there's the litany of regs. And I think, "I guess they don't get it."

What do you think? Is my employer messed up?

And now.. a possible framejacking.

As you're aware, there's a new cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security. One of the Supermarket chains around here is Homeland, so every time I hear about the Office of Homeland Security, I think of guardhouse at a grocery store. Is the framejacked or do I need to seek psychological care?

Yes, Livelink is a collaborative intranet system. No, it doesn't suck wind. Yes, I used to work at Open Text. Yes, your employer is completely messed up. No, the framejacking is solely in your own head. Yes, you need psychological care.

(Two mentions of frame jacking in one issue. Maybe this term actually will catch on! Nah.)

Sean Ross points us to a Subaru site for and by owners:

A great example of C2C [customer-to-customer] that I've enjoyed since its early days is "" — a site devoted to Subaru owners. Initially its focus was strictly Subaru Impreza owners (thus the "I" Club), but they couldn't contain it. This site (and more specifically its BBS/Forums/multi-person-blog/whatever-the-f&uck-you want to call it) are probably the single best and largest place to get (and put) any information about Subarus in the country (and possibly the planet, although some European and Japanese sources ar good too). Its forum membership recently exceeded 11,000 people — that's people who have actually registered to post, you don't need a membership to view.

Subaru was not involved *at all* during the development of this. They grudgingly got together with some of the key members pretty late in the game to discuss the release of the 2002 Impreza WRX. Subaru corporate folks probably look at it every once in a while, but they have no real presence. Several subaru dealers do maintain an active presence, and some manage to sell quite a bit through there without most of the usual car dealer crap.

James Montgomery has a thing about curly quotes:

...Just tried to send you an example of curly-quote pasted from Word, and it crashed Outlook. Big cheer for interoperability!   Open a new Word document. Type a quotation mark (").  Word will display a quote mark with a tail that curls up or down (hence the name). This is a non-ASCII character, and doesn't display accurately onto the Web—often is mistranslated as a big square, or an ampersand, or a number. Very jarring when reading online text.   Now go into any text editor (Notepad, Homesite, or even an e-mail message) and type a quotation mark. It will display a straight quote, where the tail is straight up & down, doesn't curl at all. This is a legitimate ASCII character, and displays perfectly on a Web page.   Microsoft sux, qed.

By the way, strips Word's ornate HTML stylings from a document, leaving a cleaner, leaner HTML version. So does Dreamweaver.

Carol Anne Ogdin replies to our article on Microsoft Passport and the Liberty Alliance's alternative, and proposes a different model for maintaining a database of personal information. She wants to keep it on the user's own PC:

... technologically, it doesn't require cookies. It's a client-server model, in which the eCommerce servers would send specific information TO your client (not browser, but perhaps a browser plug-in) to which that client software would respond...if deemed appropriate.

So, imagine a vastly expanded Password Tracker ( as a plug-in to your Web browser. You visit Amazon, and you click on the "one-click order" button. Their software, using a standard XML lexicon, would then request the necessary information (name, address, shipping address, credit card to use, etc.) from your software. Your software could then have as much convenience or security as you wish (for convenience, you could inform your local software that is a "trusted" site, and whatever they ask for you give them; for security, you would inform your software to present all items to be submitted in a dialog box for your approval, for this specific transaction).

Think of it as an "intelligent cookie, owned and operated by the user."

What it needs is a standard XML DTD that all sites and all software vendors would use to intercommunicate. The server software could be developed and sold by anyone; the particular client software you use could be developed and sold by anybody.

What is means is that major software vendors couldn't "own" the eCommerce information database, which is why the large firms would be dead set against it.

Or they could take the Gator (Booo! Hisss!) route and still find a way to compromise our — and their — integrity.

Chris Worth comments on our own attempt to hide the identity of someone with a particularly moronic sig:

Jxxxxxxxx Axxxxx / [email protected]
Chief Marketing Officer
"Driving Measurable Multi-Channel Web ROI" +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

So Jennifer Aniston moonlights as a marketer?

No, because her slogan would be "Driving Measurable Brad Pitt." Duh.

dividing line

Bogus contest: MRUs of the Rich and Famous

Suppose you could visit the Most Recently Used lists of famous people - the sites they've most recently visited. Would that be hysterically funny, or perhaps would it be simply a cheesy excuse for yet another Bogus Contest? Who cares. If you've read this far, you're clearly amused by anything.

For example:

Carli Fiorina, CEO HP


Matt Drudge


Al Gore

Care to do better?

Contest Results

Grant "Contrabass" Green responds to our request for little things about web sites that drive you nuts.

How about If you receive email via hotmail, and click on a URL in the message, hotmail opens a new window (which is fine), but the page opens in a frame still linked to the site. The sole purpose of framing the new page is to tell you that you're now at a site outside (duh), and that you can return to hotmail by closing the new window (again, duh). In the process, hotmail mangles the URL so that copying the URL (e.g., to paste into email or bookmark) results in a horribly long and ridiculous string. Sure, you can "open frame in new window", by taking the time to open third browser window: I've had computers that begin to run out of memory about then...

Jay "InternetTime" Cross

The thing that drives me up the wall is sites that have a fixed font size. These sites invariably use tiny, tiny type. I sit about 3' from my monitor because it's comfy and it lets the radiation dissipate before it gets to my brain. Most of the perpetrators use Cascading Style Sheets.

Michael O'Connor Clarke helps perpetuate our never-ending search for URLs that are amusingly ambiguous:

"....try this:

This is a site for investor relations (IR) on the Net. (Hint: If you do decide to iron the Net, be careful around the pleats.)

Pete McAveney has his own:

This one is under construction, no doubt awaiting an XML standard for oflactory information exchange:

Jonathan Vinson points us to He writes that they "sell refrigerated containers, of all things." Well, what else would they sell?

And thus closes another too-big JOHO. We really have to do something about this. Think weblogs. Slim, frequent weblogs. Mmmmmm weblogs....

Editorial Lint

JOHO is a free, independent newsletter written and produced by David Weinberger. If you write him with corrections or criticisms, it will probably turn out to have been your fault.

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