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For those who need to understand how the Web is transforming the way businesses work, yada yada yada

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Issue: July 8, 1999  
Author/Editor: David Weinberger  
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy  
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.  
Current Personal Crisis: Suffered electronic publishing flashback: voluntarily saw Phantom Menace a second time and found myself disturbed by the poor letter spacing in the opening title crawl.
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com  
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Microsoft's Near-XML Experience: A Conversation with Tim Bray: Why didn't Microsoft do the 1% of additional work to make Office actually XML useful?
Digital dashboard . Perfect example of nothing: The Digital Dashboard is highly touted, but it's not a product, it's not a demo...so what is it?
The Web is a world: Businesses that confuse the Web with a medium are not making a rare mistake.
KM Summit: The third annual summit shows the industry is actually advancing.
Payback time: Eat lead death, Creative Labs.
Links I like: Tom Petzinger's new newsletter plus lots more
Misc: Oddities of the Web world.
Walking the Walk: First person account of how travel books will be written
Internetcetera: Too much email
Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs: Never enough email from our fabulous readers.
Bogus contest : Expando-Theme Business Books
Contest Results


Microsoft's Near-XML Experience: A Conversation with Tim Bray

In the previous issue, I wrote:

Microsoft is continuing to commit to XML as a standard "save" format for its applications. Cool!

Fearless reader, Larry Fitzpatrick, who knows more about writing search engines than most of the people writing search engines, wrote:

Er... this isn't quite correct, although it appears to be what the marketing people want everyone to believe. In fact, o2k (the cure for y2k?) [o2k = Office2000] saves docs to HT-fucking-ML, which is not parsable or processable as XML. The only XML in the HTML documents that they emit are what they call "XML Islands" which contain metadata that tell O2K apps (et. al.) how to process some of the data ...

After several more rounds of email in which I enlightened Larry until he realized that I was making up whatever I had to in order to sound smart, I posed some questions to Tim Bray (http://www.textuality.com), one of XML's parents and co-author of the standard itself:

Q: There are questions about how thoroughly MS is implementing XML support.

XML support per se is not a design goal of O2K. They are using some XML machinery to store non-HTML-type information in their HTML++ save format, that's all.

Q: Is "WordML" — the XML Word uses — so complex and structured on whatever random paragraph styles the user has implemented that it is in effect proprietary? That is, could a developer write an app that processes MSW2000 docs, finds the XML islands, and does interesting things?

In terms of the popularly-held view of XML as a family of tag languages that mark up the *structure* and *meaning* embedded in data, the Office 2K stuff obviously doesn't qualify, for the reasons you state; although it's not fair to say it's unduly complex.

At a more concrete level, Office 2000 has no "save" format that conforms to the XML specification, thus there is no such thing as "the XML Word uses". The right way to think of their weird "HTML++" format that embeds chunks of XML in HTML — the result being neither valid HTML nor well-formed XML — is that it's a much more parseable and tractable version of RTF. The existence of such a thing would be of benefit to everyone - in particular if, as they've promised, they actually document all the tags and attributes that show up (they may already have, I could've missed it). So the answer to your second question is "yes"; of course, the hypothetical developer can't actually use a standard off-the-shelf XML processor - even Microsoft's - to do so. The O2K format could have, with only a moderate amount of extra work, been made into real XML. Whether you regard the failure to do so as commentary on MS's competence, attitude, or competitive strategy probably depends on how you regard Microsoft.

Q: Does MS's approach close off the possibility of using Word as an XML editor that produces clean, valid, DTD-conforming, no-presentation-info xml docs? I assume it does close off that possibility at this point; am I wrong?

Given Microsoft's resources and money, they could turn Word into a structured editing engine if they wanted to. Yes, it would be hard - months, maybe more than a year. They might get there quicker starting from scratch rather than building on Word or Frontpage. So far I don't think they see a market there. Their take seems to be that XML is primarily for app-to-app data interchange, they don't see why anyone would want to send XML to a human viewer.

The possibility always remains open. But first they'd have to be interested.

Q: The roundtripping in Word2000 seems to me to work really well. I'm impressed with the preservation of presentation info in the HTML docs (at least in IE 5). Am I missing something?

Nope, works just fine. The problem is that the HTML++ format is neither valid HTML nor conforming XML, and it could have been both with only a little more work. By doing that work they could have immensely increased the reusability of O2K docs, to their customers' huge benefit. Either they don't see that, or there is some cost to providing that benefit that they're not talking about.

NOTE: Shortly before going to press, we received the following from Tim:

Lauren Wood and Tim Bray are delighted to announce the arrival of their son Sean Duncan Wood Bray at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, at 4:43 PM on Thursday the 1st of July, 1999, at a weight of 7lb. 7oz. and a length of 20". Sean has a web site: http://seanbray.org

Congratulations to Tim and Lauren on the birth of Sean, and especially for not doing anything cute with metatags in the announcement.

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Digital dashboard — Perfect example of nothing

You have to listen well to what Microsoft is saying about its "Digital Dashboard." Otherwise, you might believe that the Digital Dashboard is real or someday will be.

Microsoft has been blowing hard into the Digital Dashboard (DD) balloon. It was the subject of a press release on May 25 ("Microsoft Announces Key Initiatives and Technologies to Deliver on Vision Of Knowledge Workers Without Limits"). It was the subject of another press release on June 8 ("Microsoft Announces Unified Messaging Strategy for Knowledge Workers"). And it's a highly touted part of Bill Gates' "1999 CEO Summit Keynote" on May 19, an address to key business leaders. Why, you can read all about it on Bill Gates' "personal home page" that he had as much to do with creating as he did his latest book, "Business @ the Speed of Windows."

The idea behind the DD varies depending on which pronouncement you believe. In one press release "The digital dashboard enables knowledge workers to manage their e-mail, voicemail, fax and page messages with the same interface they use to search the Web or an intranet, and access corporate data and applications." In Gates' speech, the idea is that "you need a system that can actually pull the data from all of those [information systems and applications], put it up at a very high-level, and yet lets you dive into its [sic] and see what's behind it." And elsewhere the spur is the notion that you ought to be able to see your entire business on one page.

These are related ideas, but importantly different. But that's ok. Microsoft will figure out what it is sometime before Digital Dashboard Service Pack 4 ships.

Let's get to the two galling points. First, Microsoft is reinventing the concept of the intranet and crowing as if they're bloody geniuses. Redmond innovation at work. Second, The DD turns out not to exist. It is literally nothing at all.

At the KM Summit on June 18, the very nice, young Jeffrey Kratz from Microsoft blew an hour of our time lecturing us on why it'd be good to be able to find important information and work on it. A highlight was his demonstration of the DD at work. After telling us that the aim is to put your entire business on one page, he then proudly demo'ed the type of glitzy multi-page (!) intranet site that lets you pull up a spreadsheet, browse to training materials, and see what important meetings are going on back in Redmond that you're missing because you've been shipped out to Camden, Maine to enlighten some chowdah-slurpin', syrup-pumpin' industry analysts on what's up with this KM craze.

What we saw was a demo of the power of intranets, about four years late. It was actually quite similar in feel to a demo I remember Netscape giving back when you had to spell "intranet" for people.

Ok, fine, so it's taken Microsoft four years to Get It. That's just stupidity. Now we get to the deception part.

So I raised my hand and asked young Mr. Kratz: "The Digital Dashboard looks a lot like an intranet. What is it that you're going to be selling?" He proceeded to re-explain how the DD brings together all the information you need, etc.

"No," I insist, "Is it a product? A tool kit?"

Mr. Kratz's reply: It's not a product. It's not a tool kit. Microsoft will never sell something called "Digital Dashboard."

So what is it?

In the words of Mr. Kratz, "It's an example."

An example of what? Of what you can do with special tools Microsoft will be providing? Not according to our Microsoft spokesperson. It's an example of, well, what you could do with some programmers and the applications and tools you already have.

It is, in short, an example of why intranets are good.


I am not all sure that the DD is an attempt to scare vendors out of the portal market because I don't think Microsoft begins to understand that market. Instead, I incline to the theory that Bill Gates had this cool idea of putting all your business on one page and maybe even came up with the name "Digital Dashboard" himself because, yes, the name sucks that bad. Then he told his lieutenants to go forth and make it exist. So they did. They built an example of what you could have done with an intranet four years ago. Bill got so excited that he called his PR people, and thus was an example turned into a product that isn't a product and is a perfect example of nothing.

Then, to add insult to being misled, the Microsoft attitude throughout the standard-slides presentation was "We can't do it ourselves. We need your help. Together we can build KM." As if Microsoft is being generous by inviting the rest of the industry along. How condescending can you get?

In short, Microsoft is mistaking being in a karaoke bar singing words you don't understand with industry leadership.

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The Web is a world

The Web is not a medium. It is not a publishing medium. It is not even a communications medium. It is a world.

No, not necessarily in the Neal Stephenson "Snow Crash," not in the science-fiction-y sense in which you put on your goggles and virtualizing gloves and see some weird planetscape out of one of the lesser Star Trek movies. The Web is a world in the way that business is a world.

The phrase "business world" is not simply a metaphorical use of the term. Business is a world:

It's a semi-separable realm physically. Generally, a business has its own space, usually its own building, preferably with plenty of executive parking.

We are different people at work, as our daughters discover on "Take your daughter to work Day." We hope there isn't a complete disconnect between our home and work selves — and given the sorts of jerks many of us become at work, we can only hope there also isn't too strong a connection between the two selves. But having multiple selves is normal, not pathological — we're different people to some degree with family, friends, strangers, people who cut us off in the car, etc.

The are special ways of behaving and special rules of conduct that only apply to the work space: how you dress, how you greet people, what types of jokes you can tell. We've internalized most of these rules, which only shows their power.

These ways of being and behaving are remarkably consistent. Unwritten laws and unspoken rituals abound and are assumed to be the same in every business — meetings are held while sitting around tables, office size roughly corresponds to importance, introductions don't discuss activities outside of work ("Hello, I'm Joe Blow, Product Marketing Manager and quite a good jazz vibraphonist. Also, my sperm count is low."), etc.

It's the consistency and predictability of these that make business feel like a separate world that operates along side of the "real" world.

All of the above is true of the Web. It is a space, a place. In it we are different than we are outside of it, although we hope and expect there to be some connection. And there are special ways of behaving and special rules of conduct, although we (all of us) are currently engaged in the process of inventing them and trying them out. (Hint: Let's vote against flaming as a permissible form of behavior. Thanks.)

The Web is a world, a broad context for behavior and personality. It isn't a medium.

And here's why the culture clash is so extreme and so important: Businesses frequently — usually — make the mistake of thinking that the Web is a marketing medium and the intranet is a communications medium.

It's not. The Web is a world ... a world that is in the process of swallowing the business world whole.

The rumbling you hear is the sound of digestion.

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KM Summit

The third annual KM Summit, put on by KMWorld in idyllic (well, unless you're a lobster or a vegetarian) Camden, Maine, proved that KM has survived its childhood. Now we just have to see if it becomes a productive member of society or a ne'er do well freeloader with substance abuse problems.

The Summit started two years ago as Imaging World magazine morphed into KMWorld. About 50 people crowded into the basement of the town library, with a heavy proportion of imaging vendors (ah, imaging, the very pillar of KM!), good representation from the industry analysts, and zero — count 'em, zero! — users.

At that first Summit, we spent two days arguing over whether KM was just a marketing ploy, and if it existed what its value was. Industry analysts tried out their pitches, mapping KM onto all the basic shapes: the KM circle, the KM cube, the KM triangle, the KM dodecahedron. One industry luminary (you know who you are) strapped his laptop on top of his head to demonstrate how KM would make us smarter, or at least make us look ridiculous.

This year's Summit showed the progress the industry has made. The fact is that KM *was* a marketing ploy, but eventually enough good stuff was invented to fill the hole the marketers dug. There's now actually something real about KM.

And there were actual users at this year's Summit. Imagine!

Now, it is certainly the case that KM has evolved into an umbrella term for technologies and tendencies that existed before the category arose or would have existed if the category had never arose. But KM is providing useful occasions for companies to think about how they could become smarter. I wish we saw more thoughtfulness about what "smartness" means — there are many ways for businesses to be smart, just as human intelligence doesn't translate straight into "knows lots of facts and stats" — but KM is stimulating some good conversations.

Not the least of those good conversations was the KM Summit this year.

Unless you were a lobster.

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Payback time

When the soundcard in my kids' computer started going all flaky, I of course saw an opportunity for a Justifiable Upgrade to my own system. I gave the kids my sound card and got myself a Creative Labs Live! Value card — the low end of their higher end. Why Creative Labs? Because I was hoping to minimize the spiritual wear and tear of installing a noname cheapie into an NT system that already was about as resilient to change as my 94 year old great aunt who died thinking that pizza was just a passing fad.

After my system refused to boot with the new card and drivers installed, and after a support rep had helped me through the process, here's the message I wrote into the text box on their "feedback?" page:

Dear Creative Labs:

One of your tech support folks (very nice, btw) over the phone told me I need to download sblnt4uo.exe, a 2MB file. Since this is to correct a crash bug that you already know about, I'm already somewhat putoff by you — I mean, jeez, fix it on the CD instead of making me make a long distance call, download 2MB over a 56K line, etc.

So I go to the page he tells me about, click on the link to sblnt4up.exe, read your CYA legal disclaimer, and find out that the only way I can get this 2MB file that should have been on the CD is by downloading a *22*MB set of files! Come on! 22MB just doesn't fit real well over a 56kb line! Do you think we all have T1's? This has NOT been a very user friendly experience

David Weinberger
[email protected]

After writing this into their cramped little comment box, I hit "Submit" only to be told that I didn't answer the 11 demographic questions on the page and so they won't accept delivery. The questions are of the sort: "How happy are you with your new Sound Blaster Live! card: 1. Very, 2. Ecstatically, 3. Transcendentally, 4. Wiping Myself Up with Tissues."

Hey, Creative Labs, loosen your grip

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Links I like

Tom Petzinger, the mage of the Wall Street Journal and the author of the only readable business book in the past five years, has started a sort of wonderful newsletter. I think of it as a reality-based JOHO:


Margaret Bailey writes:

For an intriguing model of connectivity which may or may not have implications with hyperlinked organizations, do check out Giles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's "1000 Plateaus." It is the long-awaited sequel to NY Times Bestseller "Capitalism and Schizophrenia," (Movie adaptation directed by Quentin Tarrantino/Robert Rodriguez and starring Michael Keaton AS John Travolta).

Now that we have Noah Wylie as Steve Jobs and Anthony Michael Hall (swoon!) as Bill Gates, the entire Actor-as-Geek mini-bogus contest raises its ugly head. Christopher Walken as Marc Andreeson. That Felicity actress as Kim Polese. The late David Niven as Nicholas Negroponte. Christopher Lloyd (or is it Crispin Glover?) as Cilfford Stoll. Entries to a mini-bogus contest are being accepted ...

Pat McGrew writes:

We just returned from a really great conference in Finland. I met a wonderful gentleman from the German national Research Center who gave a presentation on their latest project: the interactive landscape for creativity and innovation.

If you haven't been following this one it includes a Dynawall, an InteracTable, and CommChairs. Lots of fun stuff. Website for more info...

GMD/IPSI is at


Doug Cohen points us to a site that gives comparative stats over the course of time:


Chris "RageBoy" Locke (http://www.rageboy.com/index2.html) sends the following oddity, "the zine about going places you're not supposed to go":



Netscape has added the Google search engine to their home page. Breakthrough: the page summary shows the word in context.


From Andy Moore, the editor of KMWorld, which means he lives in a town (Camden, Maine) where the only speed limit is politeness:


Doc Searls was doing a search on Linux and Business and came across this phenomenally catty site:


This is a vivid piece of folk cattiness. Well worth a visit...

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Instructions for a MS wheelie mouse:

To jump to a hyperlink, place the pointer over the link, and hold down the SHIFT key as you roll the wheel forward.

So much simpler than clicking!

I wrote in a discussion group that was trying to disengage from a particular thread that the thread was indeed ending:

A second sign is that the message you're currently reading is a meta-meta-message (and this sentence itself is a meta-meta-meta comment)

Jamie McCarthy replied:

Delightful! I never met a meta-meta-meta I didn't like!

That means that Jamie's comment is meta-meta-meta-meta! Excellent.

Of course, necessarily, this comment is itself meta to the 5th degree.

So, to Jamie I say: Meta-tag, you're it!

Andy Moore passes along the following annoying spam, which you'll be delighted to know I've excerpted heavily so you can get to the delightful last two words:

Now there is a new, different, low-cost way to advertise your website offline.

Put a webdecal on your vehicle's window and advertise your website every time you drive your car.

A webdecal is a clear, vinyl custom-made window decal that displays a website address...

...starting at $12.95 each ... Of course, this is a one time cost certainly not a monthly cost or annual expense. Once your webdecal is in place on your rear window, no further attention is required, it just sits there and promotes your website over and over again in a very classy way.

Middle World Resources

A Compendium of Resources
Walking the Walk  

Tom Brosnahan writes:

I'm a longtime travel guidebook author. In recent years, traditional print publishers have disempowered us road warriors in favor of corporate; bureaucracy, making it more difficult for us to communicate directly with our readers, the travelers out on the road. It used to be that we'd write our books in the way we thought best; now editors and corporate types with little experience out on the road are telling us what to say and how to say it 'in the company's best interests.'

Entranced by the promise of complete corporate empowerment, traditional publishers now want to gather travel data and set up huge'knowledge bases' of facts, rather than relying on the research, guidance and opinions of professional authors (ie, real people).

This is not the way to do it.

So I got together some other professional travel authors and set up http://www.guidebookwriters.com. After centuries (literally) of having to communicate with the traveling public via print publishers, we're going straight to our readers, thanks to the 'Net. The site is stillabuilding inpreparation for its formal launch on July 1, but there's enough there now toshow that your philosophy is right on target (as far as we're concerned).

Sure, we'll continue to write paper books as one medium for our communication. But we'll also skip the age-old paper stage completely and gostraight to the people who need our services


Eric Hall (http://www.ehsco.com/) sent the following:


A Gartner Group survey of 13,000 e-mail users shows that more than 90 percent receive junk e-mail at least once a week, a probability that increases to 96 percent for those Internet users who have had an e-mail address for at least four years. The survey shows that one of every three Internet users receives six to 20 spam e-mail messages per week. Money making schemes, adult ads, and software offers were the most frequently received bulk e-mail. Survey respondents said they are loath to deal with spam because it wastes time, violates privacy, and is often offensive. The survey shows that ISPs lose 7.2 percent of their new customers every year due to spam. Forty percent of those surveyed would like to see a ban on spam, 25 percent say it should be regulated, and 25 percent say that deleting spam is the only way it can be controlled. Not everyone detests spam — 1 percent enjoy receiving it and 2 percent enjoy it somewhat. (USA Today 06/14/99)


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Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs

Craig Landrum writes about my Digital Dashboard (DD) piece, published in this very issue (which he read at KMWorld last week):

Watching MS's press announcements on KM never fails to fill me with dread - on two fronts: One - unknowledgable potential purchasers of DM or KM systems who are MS worshipers will tend to put off exploration of real products by real KM vendors while swallowing the press bilge from MS. Sales decline (ouch!) while waiting for non-existent products. Two - in an effort to ensure that they are not left out in the cold, panicky KM vendors will attempt to latch on to the MS strategy, diverting efforts from real R&D into real products. ("Documentum today announces a strategic alliance with MS to deliver on key elements of the Digital Dashboard", etc). ... The best thing MS could do for the KM industry is to ignore it entirely. Let them go co-opt someone else's hard work.

Oh, vendors don't need Microsoft to position themselves totally implausibly as KM companies. Adina Levin calls this "search and replace" marketing. But, yes, Microsoft's hauling its bloated self aboard this bandwagon is going to slow the market for everone else. Which may not be the worst thing that ever happened.

Chuq Von Rospach responds to last issue's piece on ThirdVoice and why moral reasoning about the Web flounders so often

I try to use real-world analogies a lot in discussing net issues. It drives some people crazy, but it helps us (or at least me) translate these virtual issues into things we can grasp via acceptable real world situations.

I think this is the *only* way to proceed. In fact, we only validate principles by checking them against our moral intuitions expressed in examples. E.g., the utilitatarianism principle fails because it would allow an innocent person to be hanged and this we *know* is wrong.

The problem, of course, is that they rarely match 100%. But you can learn at least as much from how the analogies fail as from how they succeed. And that, I think, is how we can figure out the virtual world and migrate real-world social patterns onto it (and give those patterns the ability to mutate to work in the virtual world....)

Well, that is indeed the problem. I'm not as optimistic about going from the failed match to new knowledge. And I think the dispute over ThirdVoice is a case in point. The gulf is so wide because the analogies fit so poorly (because the Web is so different from the non-virtual world). It'd be interesting to look into *what*'s so different about the Web that the analogies fail ...

I took a mindless swipe at Windows because "If you rename a file to something unacceptable, it doesn't remind you what the original name was." Kimbo "Yes, That's My Real Name" Mundy responds:

Just hit ESC (i.e. Cancel) and you'll get the old name back.

Ack! You make me look like a fool! I mean, glad to have learned something new!

I also wrote: "Oh, and it crashes twice a day," to which Kimbo replies:

That's not bad. [A person who works with Kimbo] crashed Windows NT six times today. But that's a "rock solid operating system," so it must have been her imagination.

Tell her to type slower. I mean, why are we always in such a rush?

Jim Montgomery, in reference to last issue's article on 0:1 marketing, sent us the following link:

And Now For Some Bad Grammar by Nick Usborne Nick tells you how to make it easier for people to get through your email copy without losing interest. By breaking lots of perfectly good rules of grammar. Like starting a paragraph with the word 'and.' And ending a paragraph with three periods instead of one... Why butcher the English language like this? Because people's inboxes are becoming fuller and fuller, and their attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter. And breaking some rules can help. Full Story http://www.searchz.com/Articles/0621991.shtml

And I'm supposed to infer that I, like, butcher English this way? ... i don't *think" so, Jimbo. I'm rubber and you're glue, and whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you ...

Greg Cavanagh, Linux Acolyte, writes in response to last issue's plea that Microsoft switch from a desktop view of the world to a web view, enabling us to maintain a "personal web" that's of a piece with the Big Web:

Netscape for unix lets you browse your local desktop. It looks like a remote ftp server, folder for directory, white paper thing for a file.

All Netscape and IE browsers (I believe) let you browse the file system. But it's a file system, not a web. The key difference, from the end user point of view, is that with the Web you don't care where your files are physically located. Also, the slashes may reverse polarity.

In response to my article about discovering human touches in software, Larry Fitzpatrick writes:

Some of the best easter eggs are in Disney movies. These seem to be quite well known in the the cultural stratum peculiar to 8-14 year olds. For instance, in the Mermaid movie during the wedding ceremony the bishop grows quite a boner (which can be seen quite clearly in slow-mo). In the Aladin movie, there is a scene where Aladin is leaving the Princess's balcony and one of the characters makes a lewd, barely heard comment. Your kids and their friends (or their baby sitters if your kids are still outside that age group) can point out a few more.

Yeah, sure. And if you hold this issue of JOHO up to the light, you can see Jessica Rabbit buck naked. Oh, and Larry? I buried Paul.

I wrote that PNG isn't exactly sweeping the web yet so RageBoy forwarded the following:

PNG Has Finally "Made It," Claims O'Reilly Author Sebastopol, CA—"Designed as an open-source format to replace GIF (which uses a proprietary compression scheme for which software makers must pay a licensing fee), PNG is better, smaller, more extensible, and—best of all—free," says Greg Roelofs. "PNG has finally achieved the broad level of industry backing in which its support is taken for granted; applications are criticized for NOT supporting PNG." Roelofs is one of the designers of PNG (Portable Network Graphics) and the author of the just-released O'Reilly book, "PNG: The Definitive Guide".

And be sure to look for the sequels: "Mastering Bob: Putting Microsoft's Friendliest Interface to Work for You," "Millennial Dukakis: A Campaign Biography" and "Edsel2000: A Pictorial History."

Frank Schmidt writes, in response to an article on why understanding frequently escapes from the clutches of knowledge management:

if emergent properties "emerge" as higher level phenomenon that contain more than the sums of the parts of the lower level phenomenon, it would make it kind of tough to go backward from knowledge to information so, maybe you can't get from knowledge to information, or from information to data - and maybe it's a waste of time trying to mine knowledge and store it as information...

If you mean by "knowledge" what I mean by "understanding," then we're having each other's thoughts. Information is stuff you get by stripping out context. E.g., the info in the human resources database consists of a dozen fields about you that leave out just about everything interesting. We strip you down to name-rank-serial# because that's the only sort of stuff that our databases can handle. So, I agree that you can't go backwards without an enormous loss of context and value.

Kevin Johansen writes:

If your JOHO's showed up in my email box in the morning after I got into the office instead of in the evening when I got home, I would like them better. As it is, I took time at home last night that I could have spent doing my laundry. When I get them at work, I waste time that I could be spending with my Investors and Directors. As it is, my laundry is undone. Had I gotten this at the office, my shareholders and Directors would be pissed off some more, but they were pissed off anyway. In deference to my need for clean laundry, I'd appreciate it if you would send these out at a different time.

Please advise when would be the precise right moment according to your astrological charts and I'll arrange to have it delivered within 24 hours of that time.

Chris RageBoy Locke responded to last issue's tirade about the racism of Star Wars:

richard goldstein wrote at http://www.villagevoice.com/features/9923/goldstein.shtml In A Galaxy Far, Far Away, A Fretful People Ponder the Fateful Question: Is Jar Jar Gay? "A bit disingenuous for a director who never met a movie-serial trope he didn't like." stealing from the Voice now are you? for shame, for shame!

By coincidence, I came acrosss that very same article just hours before RageBoy sent it to me, an admission that sounds disingenuous even to me.

In response to last issue's listing of http://www.philosophynews.com Bret Pettichord writes:

That philosophy news service delivers. Buried in an article listing all the women that A.J. Ayer has slept with is this gem:

Perhaps that was why, in 1987 at the age of 77, he was confident enough to intervene at a party in New York when he saw Mike Tyson forcing himself upon Naomi Campbell. "Do you know who the f—- I am?" demanded Tyson. "I am the heavyweight champion of the world." Ayer stood his ground. "And I am the Wykeham Professor of Logic. We are both pre-eminent in our field. I suggest we talk about this like rational men." They started talking, and Campbell slipped out of the room.

Yet another way in which philosophy can be used in everyday life.

Indeed, while I was in The Profession, I actually wrote a little work that you may have heard of (12 weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list) called "The Philosopher's Guide to Picking Up Chicks," featuring Big Phil's can't fail, unfalsifiable pick-up lines, including:

I bone, therefore I am
Hey, baby, I gotta categorical imperative that can't be denied.
No one knowingly does the nasty...
All men are mortal, I am a man, so let's get it on!

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Bogus contest:

I hate business books. The fact that I'm currently writing one (with the other three Cluetrain guys) has done nothing to moderate my irk about them. I hate them because almost always they take a simple idea and spin it out across ten chapters so that they can charge $25, instead of putting the idea on a postcard and mailing it to anyone who's willing to pay the 0.22 postage.

Worst of all are the books that take some shopworn theorem and apply it to business. For example:

"Pythagorean Leadership: The Three Angles of Successful Management"

"Newtonian Business: How to Get Predictable Reactions"

"Chiropractic Corporations: The Cracking Sound of Health"

"Schroedinger's Corp: Indeterminate Management for Finite but Unbounded Success!"

"Acupunctural Marketing: Unblocking Energies through 'Wrong Place' Stimulations"

Outdo me, please!

Contest Results

In our previous issue, we asked you to find real-life no-ops, i.e., things that only look like they do something.

Bret Petticord suggests:

How 'bout those little circles you fill in on voting ballots: no-ops!

Jim Champoux has a surprisingly similar idea:

Primary elections are pretty much no-ops, and should just be replaced with gotos.

in BBEdit, do a "Find" command. Among your options (after Replace All and before Cancel) is a button called "Don't Find." Perhaps more of a Frame Jack than a No-Op. Or not. Whatever, I find it amusing.

Robbert Baruch suggests:

Push-up bras
Airconditioning in certain Japanese cars
Third toy and onwards for children younger than 1 yr
Spoilers for European cars.

And so Joho bravely fights the perception that it is itself a no-op, a Noh play dreamed by an actor asleep on stage, music by John Cage, performed for an audience that has knowingly opted out of the theatre scene entirely, preferring not to be seen, or perhaps we are a no-hop pogo stick or a no-hope operation or is this paragraph itself — could it be? please let it be? — a self-referential no-op, a gravy so thick that it sops up its own juices, a way to end this empty, self-sopping know-op of an issue of Joho?

Editorial Lint

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.

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