Hyperlinked Organization  Title

For those who need to understand how the Web is transforming businesses work 'n stuff

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Issue: December 25, 1999  
Author/Editor: David Weinberger  
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy  
Favorite Beatle: Beck.  
Current Personal Crisis: Neurotic pre-publication jitters about the Cluetrain book ramped up to full-bore psychosis by arrival of pre-publication hardbound copies which sit unopened, mocking me.
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com  
Contact information: Click here



Predictions, lists and violence: Predictions can be an attempt to control the future, especially when it comes to the Web.
Millennial forecast: Continued Ignorance: JOHO's attempt to control the future.
Knowledge-based fingertips: We need new standards for keyboards so our fingers can continue to stay ahead of our brains.
How Microsoft could kill document management: All it'd take is one simple widget
Misc.: The abuse of "So" and other vital topics.
Links I like: Great places to go, discovered by our readers.
Walking the Walk: They want to track your every mouseclick. They must be stopped!
Cool Tool : Stupid PowerPoint Tricks I couldn't get to work on my computers.
Internetcetera: The Clinton Brand tracks detergents and all IT bows to the Gartner brand
Mail, smirks and outright lies: Your contribution, swell as always.
Bogus contest: Separation anxiety


Special Millennial Moment of Silence

At this deep moment in our history, we request that we turn our eyes away from the Millennium and accord some respect to 1999, this rounding-error of a year. You know, 1999 has feelings too.


It's a JOHO World After All

As you know, I am exceptionally modest and forbear from the self-promotion that people less secure than I (you know who you are, RageBoy) cannot resist. But I do like to mention the occasional National Public Radio piece that airs, including recently one on my fear that I won't live up to the Millennium's expectations, and one on closets as history.

Millennium: http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/atc/19991206.atc.15.ram

I could also mention the following Cluetrain events:

The Cluetrain Discussion forum on topica.com is still going too strong. You're welcome to hop on board:


Also, we've posted excerpts (about 7,000 words) at www.cluetrain.com/passages.html. And you can read happy blurbs from famous people at http://www.cluetrain.com/book.html

Ok, done with the plugs except for the 6 hidden in the issue itself. Betcha can't find 'em all!

Two articles on predictions, two articles on standards I'd like to see...this has to be the most consistent issue of JOHO ever! Sorry!

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Predictions, lists and violence

Oh, what a season for predictions we're passing through! Predictions and lists. In fact, we're all thoroughly sick of them already, aren't we? Frankly, given a choice of finishing off last Christmas' office eggnog and hearing another set of predictions, I'd go for the eggnog. And I hate eggnog.

I have no problem with our fascination with lists. It started as a fad in the 1970s with The Book of Lists, was enshrined as a post-modern comic technique by David Letterman, and now is a staple form of understanding. In fact, as syllogisms were to the Greeks, lists are to us moderns. Although lists look like a way to give ordinal evaluations to phenomena that often don't lend themselves to this, — is there a moose hair of sense in an argument over who was the greatest composer of the century, Igor Stravinksy or John Lennon? — in fact, these lists are about remembering, not ranking. And there's nothing wrong with that. They bring back to mind events, ideas, people that swept past our attention and would otherwise not have been recalled. (Is there a moment sweeter during the annual Oscars telecast than when they scroll the photos of all those souls who passed in the previous year, and we all sit there as one, saying "Hey, I thought he'd died years ago!"?)

Predictions are a different matter.

As we all know, predictions look at the present to try to anticipate the future. (This leaves out predictions based on ancient mistakes about the position of the stars and the reading of the Wall Street Journal.) And usually that's a useful guide; the old factoid is that you can beat the prediction rates of the weather forecasters just by predicting that tomorrow will be much like today.

But suppose the climate's changed dramatically so that one day isn't like another. Snow is followed by hail is followed by a tropical heat wave is followed by a rain of frogs. At that point, predictions based on the present are worse than useless.

And that, of course, is how matters stand at the turn of the Millennium. We have never experienced a period of such rapid technological change — especially because of the Web. Making predictions about the future of the Web is a way of telling ourselves that the changes are still within the realm of the predictable. But they're not. Predictions are a type of denial: tomorrow will be at least pretty much like today. Yeah, you wish!

Worse, predicting the future can be a way of trying to control it, ruling out possibilities that disturb us.

Here's an example. How do we predict TV and the Web will converge? Will we have separate devices — one for TV — one for browsing, or will we have a single device that integrates both? Make your prediction. But the truth is that we don't know and we can't know because the Web is unleashing new forces. TV makes couch potatoes. We're unable to talk back to the broadcasters, and, more important, we in the audience are unable to talk with one another while watching. The Web is a phenomenal medium for enabling huge numbers of people to communicate behind the backs of broadcasters. So, the commercial that's insulting to me and to you now via the Web we can make fun of together. This type of active audience simply has never existed before on this scale. And that changes the nature of broadcasting, and thus of TV, putting power — mainly the power of laughter and derision — into the hands of the market, the audience. So, how will TV and the Web converge? Who knows? We can't know because the Web's going to change the nature of broadcast TV to shape it to the will of a new type of active audience that's just beginning to emerge. Making a prediction makes it sound as if it's predictable ... as if nothing fundamental is changing. Predictions support the status quo.

So, here's a New Millennium resolution. Let's stop predicting the future. Instead, let's just go ahead and build it together.

Note: Chris "RageBoy" Locke probably thinks he came up with the TV example, but I'm pretty sure it was collaborative. It *is* in one of RB's sections of the Cluetrain book but most of Chris' ideas were mine originally. Chris generally just adds a couple of "fucks" and an LSD reference and ships it. Well, no need to go into that here. (Chris' newsletter: http://www.rageboy.com/index2.html)

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Millennial forecast: Continued Ignorance

Despite what I wrote above, I have just been informed by my KM Parole Officer that I am required by Industry Statute to pontificate before the end of the year.

As the Millennium looms, I find that I really just don't give a rat's hairy ass about it. New year's has always been a puzzling holiday to me. I understand why we care about commemorating our circling around the sun yet again, but we didn't start our trip on January 1. I'm waiting until we get evidence of the precise day of the year that the earth separated from the gelatinous mass that gave it substance. Until we know, new year's is completely arbitrary and I'll have no part of it!

Then, you add the additional arrogance of thinking there's any significance to a millennium dated from the we-know-the-date-is-wrong birth of one religion's top guy. Jeez marie, pardon me if my pulchas aren't all a-tingle at this one. If 2,000 means something to you, then I assume you're going to spend it in quiet prayer at your local church. As for me, I'm going to hang out with a bunch of Jews who are wondering why everyone is so excited about the 22nd day of the month of Tevet in the year 5760. (Damn Jews won't let anyone have a good time!)

Nevertheless, I cede to the law of the land and herewith issue my millennium-end predictions:

1. Except for scattered Y2K problems (a stalled escalator in the Podunk Nordstroms, a gerbil infestation in a fashionable West Side apartment, ATMs suddenly talking with Swiss accents), nothing will change because the year has three zeroes in it. World events just can't get it through their heads that occurring in a round-number year bestows a distinct competitive advantage. The alternative is to try to brand the year around the event, and while this has occasionally succeeded — 1776, 1492, 1066 and all that — that's the exception, not the rule. But will History listen? No, Marketing has been forced to exist in its own silo, cut off from History. For years Marketing has been calling out over the cubicle walls: Round numbers mean eyeballs! Think stickiness! But, alas, History, like Engineering, has thought that Marketing is just an afterthought instead of the reason that we have history in the first place.

2. For a full 12 months, we will be forced to listen to the cackle of people laughing at us because the millennium doesn't "really" begin until 2001. For one whole year they will think they're super cool, like Trekkies who think the rest of us are morons because we don't grok Vulcan wisdom, when in fact the point is that *we* can get dates.

3. Speaking of Trekkies, when the Starship Enterprise is really built, it will have no Chief Knowledge Officer because if there were, she would be required to say things like "Good God, Jim, I'm a CKO, not a mind-reader!" and "Good God, Jim, how do you expect Ensign Bowman to have known that when you've kept it tacit all these years!".

4. When the ball drops, it will seal off the past thousand years with a solid-steel excuse for not having to consider the history, literature and thought of anything older than yesterday. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, will become not merely "medieval" but positively "2nd millennial." These old guys will officially now be total losers not worth sneezing at. We will thus be free to probe ever deeper into the mysteries of the early John Hughes.

5. We will all be reduced to chattel serving evil slave-lord Linus Torvalds who has embedded code in the Linux kernel that causes Linux computers to hook up until the network achieves self-consciousness, bringing about the downfall of humanity out of shame of having been reduced to a rip-off of the made-for-TV movie "Colossus: The Forbin Project." Oh, the shame, the shame!

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Knowledge-based fingertips

We all know that the most important knowledge resides in our fingertips. Ask a pianist. Ask Aristotle: a good person has good habits. Who has time to think all the damn time?

So, recall a time when every application you used had its own best way for your fingertips to do things. If you were a WordStar user, you moved up a line with ^W and saved a document with the equally intuitive ^KS. If you were a WordPerfect user, to move ahead a character you'd use Shift-Alt-Function 5 while looking at yourself in a mirror once owned by a dead unrequited lover. Each configuration had its own justification, and once you were trained in any particular one, you entered a religious order devoted to the extermination of all the heretical scum who used other products.

Then, things changed. Windows stole the mappings from the Macintosh and started "suggesting" — in the knee-cracking way that Redmond has of presenting ideas for our consideration — that application designers include those standard mappings. Thus did ^C come to mean copy and ^V come to mean paste, and all the fingertips were dancing in harmony. You could now take it for granted, and what else does "knowing" something but no longer having to think about it?

Now, grrrls and boise, it's time to take the next step. We need more mappings, dammit. In fact, we need a whole constellation of mappings. It's time to invoke a Federation of Keystroke Overlords ("Fk Overs?") who will "suggest" a standard set of extended mappings that will be offered as an alternative by all applications from now on. Topics would include:

New common functions that deserve their own standard keystrokes, including but not limited to: find, uppercase and lowercase, increase and decrease font, hide graphics, ignore this hyperlink, repeat previous command, and subscribe to JOHO.

Standardized meta-keys for extending the keyboard. PC users have Shift, Alt and Control readily available. Which do you use when, hmmm? While there's some agreement (Shift often means Extend Selection), let's have more rationality here!

Standard keyboard map files. Since all applications should have completely configurable keyboards, they all should have plain-text files that express those mappings. If we could agree on what those files should look like — it ain't hard, it's just a list of commands and keystrokes, one per line — then we could have a single tool for reconfiguring the keyboard for any application.

If we begin with smarter fingertips, who knows, we might end up with smarter larynxes, smarter orifices, and maybe even — dare we say it — smarter brains. (The brain is always the last to know!)

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How Microsoft could kill document management

If Microsoft wants to own the document management space — if only to spoil it for everyone else — it only has to make a small change in the file system. Heck, a small change in Windows Explorer would satisfy 98% of the need for document management.

What is document management? It's what you already do, although you — and the rest of us — do it rather badly. When you're working on a document with a word processor or presentation program, you sometimes want to save a draft without overwriting the previous draft. If you're like the rest of us, if the original is called "StrategicMeanderings.doc," you name the second one "StrategicMeanderings2.doc." And if you're giving a presentation tomorrow much like the one you gave yesterday, you end up with files named "ProductOverview-SantaClara.ppt" and "ProductOverview-LA.ppt." That's how Real Men do document management today.

That's different than how Word manages documents. You can create a new "version" of a document in Word, but this keeps all the changes in a single file, resulting in some large, unwieldy files that are made none the more stable for it.

Imagine instead that Microsoft provided a new sort of smart folder called a "DocFolder" (or "VersionManager" or "Collection" or "Bob," or whatever you like). When you save a version of "MyDoc.doc" by doing a "Save As New Version," it puts the file into a DocFolder called (by default) "MyDoc." Over time you might have, say, three versions in MyDoc. Like a normal folder, you can see the contents or just view it as a single object. If you double click on the MyDoc docfolder in Explorer, it shows a list of the files along with metadata such as author, date and comment.

Ah, but what about security and the other requirements of a document management system? The only security offered would be that provided by the file system. If you want more security than that, then get yourself a real document management system. Collaborative tools? Workflow? Compound documents? Leave it to the Big Boys. But the percentage of documents that require such treatment are in the sub 1% range for most organizations —although it can be quite high within particular departments such as Technical Documentation and Regulatory Compliance.

Yes, this new feature would only provide desktop document management. There's no database underneath it. But that's also why this approach just might work. It automates a process we all go through anyway.

(By the way, this article is represented on my own desktop as "microsoft_doc_mgt3.text")

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So, there's a Major Company I know where, if you take a handoff of a conversation, you begin your comment with the word "So." E.g.,

Fred: Ok, thanks for the report on the engineering effort. Now let's hear from Bambi about the PR plans.

Bambi: So, the PR campaign will begin in February...

This is technically known (i.e., I'm making it up) as a false connective, implying a logical connection where there is none.

This is uniform across one branch of this large company. Has anyone else noticed it in other situations?

In the second Republican debate, Steve Forbes referred to Linux as a Microsoft competitor. But he pronounced it "loon-ix." How fitting for the eerily blink-free Forbester. We can only hope it will catch on.

In other Linux news, Microsoft's Steve Ballmer has said (PC Week, Nov 25) that Microsoft will not port Office to Linux. Hmm, why not? Because while this might make sense for Microsoft the Application Software Company, it might boost a competitor to Microsoft the Operating System company? Jeez, I hope no one points this out to the Justice Department.

In yet more Linux news, Sun reports it's shipped a million copies of Star Office, a free word processing bundle like MS Office that runs on Linux, as well as on Solaris and Windows. JOHO is offering a reward for the first documented case of a businessperson who receives a Star Office document not generated by an engineering department. The prize: A free copy of Linux.

In a smug little letter to CIO magazine (Dec. 1), John Care, Technical Director of Clarify, writes

"I still get a kick from the people who e-mail the guy in the cube next to them instead of getting off their butts and walking five yards."

Hmm, John, I wonder what reasons other than laziness might bring someone to send email to the person across the hall. Could it be perhaps a desire not to interrupt the coworker? Or maybe it's because email can be saved and consulted again? Or maybe the email is delivering an electronic document as an attachment. No, I guess you're right. Those workers are just goshdurn lazy.

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Links I like

Julianne Chatelain, emerging from the cacophony of the cluetrain mail list, writes:

My US$1.29 on communication and personal voice follows.

At present I'm all enthused about a communication "process" called Non Violent Communication (http://www.cnvc.org/). Not that I use it perfectly or anything, but I've found it a very helpful set of tools for listening/observing (to) others, discussing the feelings we all have, understanding others' needs, expressing my own. As the website says, "These skills emphasize personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others."

I'm sorry, what were you saying? I was distracted by a game of Quake 3.

Rob de Jonge points to notes on a conference on "Rethinking the Future" where there was an interesting discussion of brand


Rob adds:

Another one of your readers sent this URL to me. You might find this interesting reading. Emergence is a 'journal of complexity issues in organizations and management' and can be found at http://emergence.org

Chris "RageBoy" Locke suggests a snarky site:

terrific reading! might be an amusing and useful clip for your Journal of Hyperkinetic Onanism...

Interface Hall of Shame - Lotus Notes -


Andy Moore suggests this site, which he calls "'The Onion' for nerds":


Sample drawn more or less at random:

Pierre, S.D. . As his first act in office, Gov. Jim Barksdale signed an executive order today renaming the state "E-Dakota."

Middle World Resources

A Compendium of Resources
Walking the Walk  

CIO Magazine (Dec. 1) has an article by Rochelle Garner that's definitely a mixed success story, although the story's all a-glitter with happy points.

It seems that SBC Communications's ISPs were swamped with calls when it announced affordable residential DSL. The support people would have been lost if they didn't have "cheat sheets" on their intranet to help them give the right answers to customer questions. All well and good, but why wasn't there a Web sign-up form, instead of forcing people into the telephone support channel in the first place?

SBC Internet Services is now looking at deploying NEware from Net Effect so the ISP can monitor the user's every "keystroke, click and screen image."

The head of the program says: "We trialed the technologies early on, and found that people get a little jumpy when you can see their desktops. We decided not to turn on that collaborative environment just yet. We think we will but will have to come up with some way for the customers to really see and read the conditions they now agree to as a matter of course."

Oh, yes, this is as collaborative as a rectal exam. Maybe instead of hoping users will read the legalese you could send this software back to the satanic bowels that spawned it.

Cool Tool
For the Hyperlinked Organization

Sure, I tell people to burn their PowerPoints and just set themselves in front of the corporate fireplace and tell stories. Oh yeah. Of course, you couldn't pry the PowerPoints from my own fingers with a non-virtual crowbar. Without PowerPoints, I stand in front of large crowds and tell knock-knock jokes.

So, I was pleased to learn via opt-in spam from Microsoft that a partner has released some additional animation effects for PowerPoint. After all, all Microsoft would have to do to make PowerPoint into a moderately useful multimedia presentation package would be: 1. To include effects that occur after the object slides on screen; 2. Make VBA for PowerPoint even slightly useful (although that would require cleaning up the basically non-existent object model in PowerPoint). So, I eagerly downloaded all 8MB of CrystalGraphics' extensions to PowerPoint from


They do very cool slide transitions so that you can once again gain control of your audience's attention without actually having to say anything interesting.

Alas, the extensions are very fussy. They don't work on my desktop machine because, although I have a gamer's graphics card that renders Quake and all its 3D giblets, the extensions don't like my high resolution monitor. (And when it fails, it takes Windows with it.) On my laptop, it takes 10-15 minutes to pre-render the effects and then they play back at about the pace of a flip book being paged by an ape in gloves.

But, who knows, may it'll work for you...


Jeff Tarter, editor of Softletter and The Nicest Man in Software, writes:

I dug up the piece in Fortune (2/1/99) that talked about correlations between brands and political preferences. Study was conducted by DiMassimo Brand Advertising of New York and measured the share of purchasers of various "branded" products who were either pro-Clinton or pro-impeachment. Tide users were only 4% pro-Clinton and 75% pro-impeachment for example; Burger King customers were 79% pro-Clinton and only 20% pro-impeachment. Apple Computer owners I'm sorry to say were 67% pro-Clinton and 30% pro-impeachment... Kraft macaroni & cheese buyers were 65% pro-Clinton and 25% pro-impeachment; Campbell's Soup however scored 12% pro-Clinton and 84% pro-impeachment. Do you get mysterious stomach rumblings when you combine macaroni and tomato soup? Or maybe just gas?

So, do we think that if you put together everyone who uses Altoids, AstroTurf and cigars, we just might have a new Democratic coalition that could sweep both Al Gore and Bill Bradley off the front pages?

InformationWeek has published (Nov 15) fascinating research based on a study of 271 IT executives who were asked about their perceptions of eight top industry consultancies. Every chart shows all eight within one point of one another (on a ten point scale), including in terms of: satisfaction with reports, customer insight, accuracy, business strategy expertise, transformational wisdom, vendor strategies, customer service, veracity, e-business advice, and the strategic value of the firm's analysis. It's not surprising, then, that the same is true for the combined average rating of these attributes.

What's remarkable is that when asked which company provides the best overall strategic value, huge gap opens. Gartner Group gets 55% and the next highest — Ziff-Davis Market Intelligence — barely makes it above 10%. You have to guess that the question the respondents were really answering is: "Who are you most afraid of offending if we leak your answers?"

Branding is everything.


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Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs

In the previous issue, we discussed the new proto-buzz word "undernets." Gerri Sinclair, the first person I heard use the term, writes:

For clarification, the Undernet is a term currently in use in IRC circles referring to a black market branch of or backwoods alternative to the IRC chat network. The Undernet, I believe, is a particular affiliation of servers within IRC but somehow seems to operate under the radar of the traditional IRC network.

Like "gay" and even "black" a generation ago, we are now officially taken over the term "undernet." From now on, the little IRC'ers are going to have to say, "Meet me on the Undernet ... not that there's anything wrong with that."

RageBoy found an "undernet" citation:


"Most organizations today have a content management requirement, but they might not realize it as many intranets, or even 'undernets' as they have been termed, began life as isolated efforts to broadcast information more easily and effectively."

The quote comes from the META Group's David Yockelson, a sometimes JOHO contributor. Jeez, maybe it really is becoming a real word.

Robert "Chuck" Cary of what used to be Seattle writes:

The "undernet" is a great buzzword. On the one hand it represents free and open communication, not controlled by higher authority. On the other hand it may increase your legal risk. An organization which cannot control its web pages or email is in legal jeopardy...The "undernet" or "undermail" created on your company's computer or web access may be a Trojan Horse.

FLASH: WTO protests are much bigger than expected in Seattle. The down town is effectively closed off and the conference cannot proceed. This just happening as I write. This is an underparagraph.

And that would make this comment understated.

John Maloney wonders:

To build an Undernet do you use Underware?

Do you have any underware product briefs?

Do underware vendors provide support?

Is underware transparent to the user?

Etc., etc., etc.

Oh, etcetera me no etceteras. You just plain ran out of bad puns, didn't you?

I wrote about accepting small gifts instead of large fees for non-onerous work that my fee structure wouldn't otherwise let me do.

Ray Simonson grill wanted to know if I'm "stringing readers along." No, I'm embarrassed to say that the anecdotes were true.

Mary Tayor writes of my accepting CDs for work:

Quaint, yet much easier to move than south seas islands stone circles—this is the second time I have run across a barter for CD's—a shareware fellow who's name escapes me keeps a list of CD's that he appreciates in trade for his software—and suggests that rather than buying then sending and making him pay outrageous import tax fees, that the grateful user buy them in his name from bn.com or amazon.com or ....

As a newspaper publisher/editor, I was able to eat well and prosper through similar expedient—several of the advertisers were restaurants—but it would be a challenge to send you a plate of lasagna through the internet, sorry.

Or, as John Maloney might say, the check is in the meal?

Tom Kimmel reminds us that the notion that the mind isn't a container and isn't even a noun is hardly original with JOHO. Damn, there go the royalties!

Bruce Milne writes about our complaints about Outlook's stupid filtering of innocuous email into its junk-mail-and-porn folder:

An interesting coincidence- I was just conversing with an old friend at a KM company and Outlook filtered his response as junk or porn. A selective excerpt:

"...coding like fucking wildmen... brokered searching, aggregation, collaboration, filtering, web scalability..."

It appears using "fucking", "wildmen" and "aggregating" together in a message necessarily means that it's pornographic! And you thought KM was dull.

Yes, and now I think it's dull but capable of excessive enthusiasm about dull topics.

Gerald Glynn wrote because he thought I'd be interested in his company's service, which, unbeknownst to him we had already made fun of in a previous issue. He writes:

When a call is placed via your link, your office phone number will ring and say to you "you have a NetCall, someone is trying to reach you. Press "1" to accept or "9" to decline." If you were too busy to accept the call, you would press 9 and the browser's telephone would ring them back telling them that you are unavailable but you will return the call to them ASAP (You will you receive an email telling you who they were as you've capture their email address and phone number). When you accept the call, you will instantly be connected with the person who clicked your link.

Well, this is the last thing that I want on my site since my assumption is that the Web was built in order to relieve me from ever having to talk on the phone again, but maybe some of you want to throw some business his way.

By the way, Gerald's NetCall link is:


Be sure to say hello for me.

No need to take the following message from Lawrence Lee to cluetrain.com as a comment on the NetCall item above:

Today on ClickZ, Nick Usborne on How To Be Human 101:


A few days back, I was at a site and used its online help/chat function. Great idea. It's wonderful to be able to reach out and ask someone a question.

A moment to be human, one-on-one.

But each time I asked a question, the reply was wooden and flat. I was puzzled - until I realized that the real, live operator was simply dragging and dropping pre-written replies.

Yes, a real live person was trying hard to impersonate a computer."

Great! This will really screw up the Turing Test!

I wrote in the previous issue:

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."

Lilly Buchwitz demurs:

I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you were holding your spoon upside down. Those bits were actually the number 9. As in 1999...

Tomorrow morning, when that creeping millennium fever starts to overtake you, dump those Alphabits down the garbage disposal and have some good ol' Red River instead. And keep a happy thought: In 27 days it'll all be over.

Wait a sec. I don't like the looks of that last sentence.

Here are my New Millennium Eve's plans. My wife and I are going to walk up Summit Hill at midnight, with its great view of Boston, to watch the lights go out.

Scott Oglesby comments on Joshua "See Below" Newman's anecdote about AltaVista's sucky searching that returned non-English documents in the top ten when Joshua had explicitly asked for English only:

>... "maaf numpang lewat" just isn't good English.

"Ma'af" means approximately "excuse me," or "sorry"; more appropriate than it looks. Altavista should add that expression at the bottom and top of every page of search results.

This "Ask a question" search engine technology is misrepresented. AskJeeves is similarly useless:

"Who was Schuyler Merritt?"

gives you

Where can I find a map of [Schuyler], Nebraska? The unofficial Schuyler Grant website Andy Merritt's game site. etc.

Any human butler that resoundingly stupid would be fired.

Jeeves is simply searching on keywords, like any SE does. It's not smart enough ... to realize that "Who was" followed by only a word or two is asking about a name, and the parts of the name should be kept together, or inverted with a comma.


Type "who was Schuyler Merritt" at Google, which does not profess to answer questions. Still, 9 of the first 10 links are pertinent.

You mean Schuyler Merritt (1853-1953) of Stamford, Conn who was born in New York, was U.S. Representative from Connecticut 4th District, 1917-1931, 1933-1937 and is interred at Woodland Cemetery, Stamford, Conn.? Why would anyone need to look up information about such a household name?

Valdis Krebs comments on our article on tacit documents:

Did you know that it was thru 'tacit docs' that the anthropologists at Xerox PARC discovered the concept of 'communities of practice'?  They found that the repair people often could not find the explicit info they needed in their foot thick repair manuals — but they could find the knowledge they needed in the self-organizing network/community they were forming.  Next to a part diagram would be two names and two phone numbers and a little note:  If broken call Susan, if bent call Bill.  All of the manuals where full of names and numbers and rules of thumb. Soon Xerox provided them all with mobile phones to aid this process — imagine that, this mega-corp didn't kill the emergent network!

Other tacit docs — meeting notes [for self, not those for publication as 'meeting minutes'], post-it notes, the stuff in your Palm Pilot [I'll beam you my tacit if you beam me yours].  Yes, this stuff is everywhere...

Ah, PARC, where great ideas get born and die -- the birthplace of air ("People will never pay for something invisible and weightless"), money ("Hey, it's just paper. Way too abstract") and sex ("They put what where? Omigod, it's just too funny"). Gotta love 'em.

UK Eddy puts in an internationalist plea:

please, when giving dates, use 5/Jan/97 or May/1/97, not the thing that I have to guess to read as the latter because I guess you're an American ... Using letters for the month does, at least, reduce the confusion: and its language-dependence is harmless by comparison to the total ambiguity of pure-number forms ...

Since I can never remember whether we Yanks put the day before the month or vice versa except in months like neighbor and weigh, I will do my best to grant your wish. When I remember. I.e., never.

Avi also chooses this season of good cheer to whine and bellyache:

You keep having URLs that wrap and as you know, that is not good. One thing that helps (in Eudora at least) is brackets.

this doesn't work:

http://www.personalization.com/soapbox/ contributions/weinberger.asp [UNWRAP it]

but this does:

<http://www.personalization.com/soapbox/ contributions/weinberger.asp>

So could you please add the brackets?

It may work in Eudora, but it doesn't work in Outlook which — gird yourself, I'm going to say something nice — does a good job of figuring out what's a link and making it active. (Of course how hard is it to figure out that a string of text is a link if it has http:// or www at the beginning. Duhware.)

Adam Bolowski points out that the Stop Eating and Lose Weight diet contributed by Joshua "Schuyler Merritt" Newman in the previous issue actually already exists:

[H]ere in NZ there have been a few news articles about this Australian woman promoting said diet - apparently a few Australians (I was going to say people) have died as a result of this diet - though the promoter claims it works for her!

...truth is stranger than fiction...

Adam adds the book "Living on Light; A Source of Nutrition for the New Millennium" to the discussion:


...The Australian author Jasmuheen has not eaten any food for 5 years. This book describes how this came to her and a special 21-day process to convert the body to the new way of being sustained. It explains in details from a metaphysical view, how the body works and methods selfhealing, regeneration and rejuvenation. Breatharians get nourished from the purest source, the Universal Life Force which contains all bodily needs.

Truly a fresh of breatharians! Made my day.

Andrew Seldon

It's quite surprising to see the "land of the free" (etc) imposing a curfew in Seattle. One thought such militaristic policing only happened down here in South Africa in the past (doesn't happen anymore though)! Using the people to control the people to the detriment of the people - or something like that

Maybe William H. wanted to go for a stroll.

Oh, it's got nothing to do with Bill Gates and everything to do with nostalgia.

I made the mistake of asking you to respond in 25 words or less if you thought I was spamming you by sending a note that there was an interesting discussion at the cluetrain list at topica.com. A few of you thought that, yeah, maybe I was (although several also said you were just kidding when I responded with a tear-soaked apology/threat). For example, Donald Hodun wrote:

A "special issue" should have content that wants me to come back. You have shamelessly plugged a site that leads to your book, pffffftttttt!!!!!

And Arthur "The Fourth" Vanderbilt wrote:

You're abusing your network. You're propagating Cluetrain propaganda.  You have vested interest in the success of the discussion group. Mail begging credibility is still Spam.

(that's 25)

Unfortunately, your remark "That's 25" pushed your entry to 27 and thus the judges have discarded it.

Julianne Chatelain wrote:

Are you expecting people WILL think the SPECIAL ISSUE is spam, and anticipating the objections in a humorous way? (That's what I thought you were doing but I'm having problems with my humor today. It's been wonky since I changed the ink cartridge...) Just in case it wasn't humor, I'd like to enter the contest on the opposing side. [begin]

Special Issue Not Spam Because:

JOHO is opt-in. You are a cluetrain author AND the discussion covers some of your (& JOHO's) core issues.

[end; 24 words!]

Yes, your analysis is exactly right. We are therefore ruling that your comment on the word count does not itself count as part of the word count.

John Pyke knows how to bring an entry in under 25 words:

25 words or less ? - it don't

Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes. Ring Lardner wrote: "'Shut up,' he explained."

Kenneth Powers wrote:

Get a clue (train) Weinberger, this isn't spam, it's a "tacit document" - non-existent knowledge management at it's best!

And the winner is Leo from The Netherlands:

My answer to the bogus contest.

'One man's spam is another man's spasm.'

This has left me sputtering for a response. One man's orgam is another's man's orgasm? Cham ... chasm? PanAm ... PanAsm? Somewhere there's an incredibly witty reply. Please, won't someone tell me what it is and put me out of my misery? Thank you.

Michael Lukaszewski noticed a rare (?) typo in the issue. I apparently omitted the word "years."

I suspect you likely intended a Unit of Measurement to accompany your multiple millennia... "...important words in our culture with 2,500 of philosophical thought behind it .."

Actually, I meant to say "2,500 denkums of philosophical thought." The "denkum" is the standard measure of philosophical thought. It technically is the amount of mental energy required to find a way to make a slighting remark about Descartes' Cogito.

In further "You Were Wrong" mail, in an especially awkward phrase last issue I wrote:

an employee who's neck deep in product competency forms a natural bond with a customer who uses the product every day

Chris Worth wrote to say:

Been there, done that, except the forms I'm neck deep in say things like "workflow optimisation report' and marketing objectives summary' on them. Actually, wouldn't it be great if more companies DID have 'product competency forms' to fill in?

This calls to mind a Cute Saying from my 9-year-old son Nathan. The subtitle of the Cluetrain book (hmm, have I mentioned the book in the past 6 sentences?) is "The End of Business as Usual." Yesterday my son saw it and read it as The End of Business ... as Usual.

Don't kids say the durndest things though? We laughed and laughed, and then punished him severely.

I wrote:

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.

Bob "Professor" Morris replies:

Just one?

Ah, but the subject of my dissertation turned out to be a Nazi. Don't I get extra wrong credits for that?

Joshua Newman is neurotically fixated on getting a nickname in JOHO. He apparently didn't like last issue's try and responds:

Joshua "Bebe Rebozo" Newman? Or - let me rephrase that: ¡¡¡¿¿¿Joshua "BEbe ReBOzo" Newman???!!! I had hoped you might at least respect the decencies of debate.

On the one hand, your poor excuse for a poor excuse made it clearer than ever that if I wanted the thing done right, I'd have to do it myself.

But on the other hand, I found myself wondering if it's entirely your fault that you have a tin ear and "Joshua Newman" doesn't sing to you. (And since anyone who has heard me sing would raise serious questions about that word and my name appearing in the same sentence, I'll be kind - I'll be generous I'll be the very essence of humanity - and while I myself marvel at my ability to rise above it and address you as an equal, I will make no further mention of your vile and disgraceful insults.)

If you think that no nickname can be made to work (and if "think" will stretch sufficiently to cover whatever it is you actually do), I felt I probably should take notice, if only for a moment and only out of deference to your advanced age and years of so-called experience.

And besides, it's your rag.

Ok, Joshua, here are 63 4-letter anagrams of your name. Feel free to pick one.


Pick your own. Or else we'll go with my own favorite: "He jam anus now." Your choice.

dividing line

Bogus contest: Split Decisions

One of my Cluetrain colleagues (howdy, Rick) points us to a site called: www.lumberjacksexchange.com. The joke is that you can break the words in the domain name either of two ways: lumberjacks' exchange or lumberjack sexchange.

Similarly, the old AltaVista Forum has been renamed Sitescape which can be broken as site scape or sit escape.

And if you go to www.triplex.com, you won't find triple-x content but the exact logical opposite: "TRI-PLEX designs, develops, manufacturers, and supports high performance mass storage and data acquisition peripherals." (Similarly, the Triplex Theatre in rustic Great Barrington is a three-screen movie house given to running arty movies about days in Flanders when absolutely nothing happened, not triple-x sextravaganzas.)

So, come up with some sites — real or plausible — that change meaning depending on where the break is. (No, www.hype - rorg.com just doesn't work.)


Gershon Bazerman gets around to the contest from two issues ago asking for useful buttons that let you undo mistakes on the Web.

What You Did: What The Button Says: What It Does:
Opened a page with midi/flash/a java "rippling pool" Increase Signal Quit Netscape and fire up the page in lynx.
Decided to "rig" one of those contests where people vote for Hank the dwarf and etc. Mess with "old media" types. submit the form over and over and over.

The previous issue asked you to find Web and non-WEb celebrities who look like they were separated at birth.

Joe Rassenfoss suggests

Steve Ballmer


Oh, yeah, like, say, Larry Ellison looks like Harrison Ford.

John Miller suggests Rob Glaser matches with Jim Belushi, but I'm taking the editorial liberty of suggesting he must have meant John Belushi:

Rob Glaser

Jim Belushi

John Belushi

He also has noted a similarity between, well:


Iggy Pop


Laurie Goldberg, referring to a former boss of ours, writes:

.. I don't think he is famous enough, but Brett Newbold and Mitch Pileggi (Inspector Skinner on X-Files) might not have actually been eseparated - I don't think anyone has ever seen them together. I know you've heard this one before (from me.)

Brett Newbold
Mitch Pileggi

Laurie, I love you like a sister which is why I feel I have to tell you that I am shocked at your blatant, unabashed scalpism. Sure, "all bald men look alike," yeah, and they all sing like Michael Stipe. Frankly, I thought we had moved past this.

Laurie adds that this contest was hard because

not too many computerati are particularly recognizable..... still it seems we should be able to come up with a Larry Ellison doppelganger.

Might I suggest the many moods of Larry "Smelly" Ellison:

Larry Ellison

Miguel Ferrer

Larry Ellison

Matthew Broderick

Larry Ellison

Billy Crystal

Larry Ellison
Milton Berle

Finally, Dan Kalikow suggests:

I have the honour of proposing the following two putative siblings (.JPGs attached).

Nature created the bone structures, as if from the same mold; Nurture/Culture, the differential mustachioes. Years of gazing into CRTs have apparently also damaged the eyesight of one.

Your Ob't Idiot Svt., etc.


JOHO man


Oh, I'm known to have a rollicking good sense of humor when it comes to making fun of myself. Oh yes. Hahahaha. Haha. I am kissing you.

And so, as JOHO readers around the world draw likenesses as a form of insult, and as sleighbells rattle like ideas in a CKO's empty suit,, the circumcised sled of JOHO flits over the rooftops, keeping its goodies for itself, tacit presents doomed to remain wrapped, as the silent present presents itself to the echoing past and the gestured future, the warmth of the season all the more inviting because of the coming black night of technology, the seasonal moon burning bright as a fresh memory to taunt us as we read by the embers of our first novel, our love poetry, our last will and testament, as pages turn from ideas to fuel and we pull together our loved ones because they're warm and perhaps looking a bit too tasty — the thin stream of laughter says "Jo Ho Ho, to all a night —good or not is, frankly, totally up to you."

Editorial Lint

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 [email protected]. 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 protected].

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.