Hyperlinked Organization  Title

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

 
Meta Data

Issue: May 20, 1999  
Author/Editor: David Weinberger  
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy  
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.  
Current Personal Crisis: Realized the gray label "Meta Data" above this metadata box is meta-meta-data — and then this comment is meta-meta-meta .... hee-lllpp meeeeee!!
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com  
Contact information: Click here

 

Contents

Metaphors and distraction: When it comes to valuing metaphors and valuing things just as they are, we're stuck in another Hegelian cleft stick — an optional article if ever there was one
0:1 marketing: In 1:1 markeing, one side of the equation is only pretending to be a one— and we need to do something about it
Webby collaboration: The Web has forever changed the way we work together
Open source bombing: Everything else is open source, so why not this?
The Other Y2K: Unix boxes are going to time out in 2038. It's not too early to frighten yourself
Links I like: Miscellaneous goodies
Misc.: Short takes and savage briefs
Why Search Engines Suck Dept.: The latest in the continuing series
Walking the Walk: Budget Rentacar is taking bids for your next rent-a-heap experience
Cool Tool: SurfSaver combines caching and bookmarks
Internetcetera: No one likes IT
Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs: The usual fabulous mail from our readers
Bogus contest: Classics as business books

 

Call for Stories
Cluetrain, The Book

Wanna be in a book?

Remember Cluetrain (www.cluetrain.com)? Well, the four of us who put the site together have a big-ass book deal with a Major Publisher. The only hitch is that they now want us to actually write a book. There's always a gotcha...

So, we're looking for stories of the clued and the clueless. What has your company done that is so way cool that it should be featured in a book rumored to be under option by a major Hollywood Producer (whose initials are, ironically, SS)? What has it done that's so boneheaded that it ought to be voiced by Dan Castellaneta in the big Simpsons Holiday Cluetrain special that we almost have lined up?

Send your printable stories to me, and achieve vicarious fame: self@evident.com . Thanks!

 

It's a JOHO World

Just as this issue was going to press (whatever the hell that means), National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" ran my most lugubrious piece ever, about why attempts to explain the Littleton (Columbine) high school murders are really a type of denial. You can listen here:

http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/atc/19990517.atc.14.ram

And, if you want to keep up with columns, speeches, etc., you can go to the new and annoying list of current events on Planet JOHO at:

http://www.hyperorg.com/johonews.html

 

 

NOTE
Continuing in our series of terminally uninteresting articles, here are two. To make matters worse, the first is nothing but a discursive introduction to the second, entertaining only because of the distance it's willing to stretch itself to pretend that it has something, anything to do with business.

 

Metaphors and distraction

Readers of JOHO know that we value a good metaphor. Why? We'll be happy to spell it out for you like a consumer placing a phone order on a cell phone in an elevator: Metaphors let us understand a thing in terms of some other thing we already understand, and that's basically how human learning works.

(Note to Aristotelians: Yes, we sometimes understand a thing by subsuming it in a category (and then seeing how it differs from the other things in that category), which is also a way of understanding the new in terms of the familiar. But metaphors are far more supple than categories since the aim of Aristotelian categorization was to get each thing fixed into its one, eternal spot in the eternal ladder tournament of existence. Metaphors, on the other hand, allow that every thing is like more than one other thing. In short, categories are hierarchical, metaphors are hyperlinked, hyperlinks subvert hierarchy, and the Web rulz, dudez!)

Add to this that a good metaphor forms the fundamental paradigm that guides further thought and action, and metaphors are damn important.

So what do we do with the following passage from Kaddish by Leon Wieseltier, a book I'm working through with a constancy remarkable only because I have no interest in its topic? He's writing about Aaron Berachiah ben Moses of Modena, an Italian kabbalist in the late 16th century who goes overboard in finding a symbolic meaning of wine. Says Wieseltier:

Symbols are sometimes degraded by their details. There are some things that are too small to stand for anything but themselves. They deserve to escape the frenzy of interpretation.

The special integrity of small things.

Damn that's good! You just want to savor it for a while, don't you?

But as you roll it around, you feel a rough edge. What about seeing the world in a grain of sand? Can you even see a small thing without seeing the context from which you're abstracting it? Hell, it's the context that makes it small in the first place.

So we find ourselves in yet another Hegelian cleft stick: To see the special integrity of small things you have to remove the context that lets it be a small thing.

What does this have to do with business? Wait a minute while I try to figure out a justification for having wasted your time on this crap.

Ok, got it!

The importance of context is a recurring theme of JOHO. Yet Wieseltier reminds us that that sometimes context and metaphor are distractions from the simple truth of what is before us.

And the contradiction of detail and context is becoming more acute, thanks to the Web. Yes, it's the frigging Web again. The Web has created a new, broader, deeper context — more indeterminate, more transient, but more present than ever before. At the same time, the Web is allowing individuals to give voice to themselves as the irreducible individuals that they are (for better or worse and for mainly what's in between). The integrity of the individual in a newly enlarged context.

Predictably, such contradictions cause us to go into denial. We focus on one side or the other because trying to hold both in our head makes us go insane and do things we regret later, like at the national sales meeting gala tipping the barkeep to put a cocktail umbrella in our double Stoli and before you know it we're insisting that it's perfectly legal to dance the limbo face down on our stomachs, causing a display of lewdness unmatched since we tried to lick the capuccino cinnamon dust from off our boss's moustache. Ah, memories!

For example, if the Web is a massive context of individual voices, how do we address the Web as a business opportunity? Do we spam the masses, ignoring the voices? Or do we deal one-on-one with individuals, missing the chance to do low-cost-per-million business with masses of people?

In fact, the next article addresses this question more directly, attempting to Embrace the Contradiction...

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0:1 marketing

The problem with 1:1 marketing is that one side of the equation is only pretending to be a one. So, when you get your personalized message reminding you that last year you [insert your name here] gave your mother [insert her first name here] a [insert gift purchased last year here] on Mother's day, perhaps she'd appreciate another one this year, you're being targeted with specific, personal information but there's only a machine at the other end.

This isn't 1:1 marketing. It's 0:1.

The Web, of course, enables better and better 0:1 marketing. And email is a 0:1'ers dream. But we're going to have to evolve much better — more honest — ways of communicating with these weird new massively individual markets. We have to figure out ways in which appropriate individual voice is maintained in conversations that may involve millions of people.

The market has already evolved one way: Usenet discussion groups. Strangers from around the world can join a discussion, posing questions, tendering answers, whining, flaming, and posting totally irrelevant offers to spend quality time with cyber-coeds who apparently find you, like, totally irresistible.

While Usenet newsgroups are incredibly useful and something genuinely new on earth (although they go back to the beginnings of the Internet), they are cracking under the strain. First, there are too many of them (over 20,000 topics) for humans to master. Second, they aren't persistent; the threads only last as long as the various hosting services decide to keep them, typically a week's worth. The job of archiving them has been undertaken by www.dejanews.com, which is an extraordinarily useful site, but which is still just a stupid frigging search engine. (Oops, as of this week it's just deja.com (http://www.deja.com) because having a unique franchise on Newsgroups was too differentiating and valuable, so they had to dilute its focus. Quiet, marketing geniuses at work!)

While businesses should actively participate in discussion groups, they're not the only way businesses need to talk to their massively individual markets.

The biggest mistake a business can make is to fall prey to what I call "frame jacking" — mistaking contexts in a serious way. For example, Raymond Burr defending himself in court is frame jacking. People who throw trash into the garbage pails for sale in a hardware store are frame jacking.

Here's an example of 1:1 frame jacking. I moderated a session at a conference a few months ago in which a representative of a national bank recited with pride, nay with glee, how his bank sends out emails touting services targeted to particular users, under the signature of the local manager. The messages artfully includes typos. And, they make sure not to send them out at 2am since that would strain the credulity of their pigeons, um, customers.

The bank representative responded to my question about the questionable morality of this (questionable? What's the question: Is lying and violating trust ok?) by telling us how successful it's been.

So, how do you do massively individual marketing without jacking any frames? I don't think anyone knows for sure yet, but here are some thoughts:

Be real clear to yourself and to your users which transactions are robotic and which aren't. No one wants an ATM to pretend that there's a dwarf inside who really loves us. And no one wants to get a mass mailing that treats us as if we were a close personal friend. (One of my least favorite spam ploys: "Hey, the site were discussing just came on line. Go check www.URasucker.com".) We're perfectly happy dealing with robots so long as we know that they're robots.

If you're providing a robotic service, put in a human escape valve. ATM's frequently have phone lines to human support people (for those who can't figure out how to pull money out of a slot).

Because of the massiveness of mass markets, we need a flexible notion of surrogates. For example, suppose you decide to host a discussion group for your millions of customers. For it to succeed, you'll need at least two levels of designated conversers. First, you'll need to have at least some employees who are chartered with participating in the discussion group. Second, consider building a channel of deputies, people who are officially not part of the official organization but who are officially designated as being knowledgeable enough to provide good information. These are likely to include some of your best customers. And the experience will make them even better customers.

In short, we are at an Hegelian moment in which the massness of the mass market is becoming addressable as individuals. To get past the phoniness of form letters pretending to be your best friend, we are going to have to evolve new norms, new roles, new types of voices.

We are just beginning...

 

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Webby collaboration

If there's one thing we can be certain of, the Web didn't become the fastest-adopted technology in history because it touched that deep, atavistic research librarian buried deep inside of each of us. The Web isn't primarily about information. Instead, people use the Web (and the Internet) to talk, joke, build ideas, look smart, get angry, become aroused, and for every other motive for behavior in public spaces. Information is a relatively small component of the Web experience.

A much more important component is and will be collaboration: people working together toward some goal, especially on intranets.

In fact, there's a continuum of business uses of intranets. At one extreme, people use the intranet for purely personal reasons (yes, even during business hours ... shocking!) including sharing games and posting The Top Ten Reasons My Boss Sucks. Next, there are the communities of interest that form, many of which may be vaguely job-related. And then there are the people who have figured out that the company intranet is actually a pretty great way to ignore the organizational hierarchy, cut through the red tape, and join with other motivated people to get some real work done.

That's good. In fact, project collaboration is the greatest value intranets have for business, far surpassing the benefit of circulating HR pronouncements so that people can not read them on screen instead of not reading them on paper.

But the Web also transforms the nature of project collaboration. It unmanages it.

After all, the Web itself is the largest, most successful, unmanaged collaborative project since the species voted to walk upright. The Web only exists because a worldwide group of strangers pitched in and made it work, put in the servers, put in the content, put in the heart and the energy and, most important, posted the pictures of Pamela Anderson.

And, arguably the most interesting developments on the Web have to do with new forms of collaborative development. Could anyone have predicted that the best shot at derailing Microsoft wouldn't come from the highly organized Department of Justice or highly organized competitors like IBM but from a radically disorganized, distributed group of collaborators working on Linux?

And perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Linux is how it is causing new forms of collaboration and management to emerge in its space. Competitors are cooperating — to the extent of making investments in Linux distributors — in unpredictable ways as the Web tries to figure out exactly how much and what type of management is required to make Linux really, really useful.

And on the Web — unlike in traditional organizations — the assumption is that the less management, the better ... and no management would be best of all. On the Web, everyone is a comrade.

We are seeing exactly the same sort of experimentation and openness on a much smaller scale in every business touched by intranets. Project teams form consisting of people who have found one another — not people invited because someone higher up has to be made to feel useful or loved. How do you decide who does what? How does the team make decisions? How does it know when it's done? The teams themselves are evolving answers to these questions.

The result is that collaboration no longer means that I do this and you do that and together we get it done. Collaboration now means that you and I will figure out how to figure out who does what, when, for how long, until when. And we'll resort to management tools — Gantt charts, weekly reports and power plays — only as a last resort.

Is it any wonder the Web is so exhilarating?

 

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Open source bombing

At a Cluetrain (www.cluetrain.com) panel discussion at Internetworld in LA, we were maintaining, in our fanatical, pointless way, that Openness Is Good. This caused someone in the audience to blurt, in a mock jovial (mockingly jovial?) way: "How about open source weapon systems?"

Oh, we all had a good laugh, and only 72 hours later did I realize what I should have said: Abso-frigging-lutely!

During the Cold War, open source weapon system treaties were signed. Although the logic behind deterrence now seems impossibly bizarre, the idea was that if you had weapons to deter the other side, then you had to be open about them, since otherwise the weapons had no deterrence value. And if they don't have deterrence value, then they must have first-strike value. And if I think you're about to strike first, then I have a motive for striking first. So, open source weapon systems were a requirement of the Cold War.

A week ago another argument in favor of open source weapon systems was pushed into our collective laps. The US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade was due to the US working off of old maps. So, it would be to the benefit of both Yugoslavia and NATO for Yugoslavia to provide NATO with accurate, up-to-date maps of Yugoslavia with military targets carefully marked with a "Milosevic is here" arrow, or maybe they could use more of a "Where's Slobodan?" theme — you know, put him in a striped hat somewhere on a busy street — just to add to the festive atmosphere.

On the other hand, you can be the one to suggest this to Slobo.

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The Other Y2K

38 years after the Y2K bug puts out the lights of civilization, we're facing another temporal meltdown. Unix hackers already know this, but it was news to me (gleaned from a maillist connected to one of my favorite 'zines, tbtf). On January 18, 2038 at 7:14:07pm Pacific Time, Unix machines will face the same end-of-time bug. You see, Unix's time function counts seconds from the year 1970, but it uses a 32-bit signed integer to represent the number. In 2038, we run out of seconds.

Apparently, the solution will be to re-compile programs since at that point we'll be using at least 64-bit processors. This will give us enough seconds to watch either the Sun blink out or the last of the M*A*S*H reruns, which ever comes first.

 

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Links I like

In a previous issue I said the problem with Knowledge Management is that it wants to manage knowledge which will turn knowledge into information. Clark Brady points us to a column in Computerworld in whichHelen Pukszta argues the other side of this position:

http://www.computerworld.com/home/print.nsf/all/990503A24A

The aforementioned previous issue is at:
http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-apr10-99.html#kmcare


A new issue of Knowledge Manager is out. I like this feisty Antwerpian ("the only city with "twerp" in it") 'zine:

http://www.chironpub.com/frontpage.html


Chris "RageBoy" Locke, editor of EGR (http://www.rageboy.com/index2.html), points us to the streaming, multimedia adventures of The Available Temping Man at

http://www.keenerboy.com/

It's a cartoon. Very professional, slick and funny. And also pretty offensive (some pointless gay and Latino stereotypes).


Greg Cavanagh sends us to information about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SE TI):

http://www.scientificamerican.com/1999/0599issue/0599scicit4.html

By the way, the SETI screen saver project has gone live; during your computer's idle moments, it can process radio telescope information, looking for reruns of "Gort Loves Lucy."

If you want the Screen Saver That Discovers Aliens, go to:

http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/


Greg also points us to an article on magnetic ram

http://www.scientificamerican.com/1999/0599issue/0599infocus.html

Why he thinks I care is an issue that he and I are working on with a licensed therapist.

 


For pure pointless weirdness, you can't beat

http://hcs.harvard.edu/~igp/glass.html

This site harvests the fruit of a global, distributed effort to translate the phrase "I can eat glass. It doesn't hurt me" into as many languages as possible.

I believe had the original idea for this in 1967, but had the good sense to abandon it when I ran out of EZ Wider rolling papers.

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Misc.

What have you done with the real Larry Ellison?

Larry “Smelly” Ellison is quoted not once but twice in InformationWeek (April 26) being humble. In explaining Oracle’s calling an end to marketing bundles of software aimed at vertical markets, Ellison said:

“It’s a huge mistake to take responsibility for other people’s products.”

Not content with that, in a separate article  he’s quoted on the same topic as saying:

“I feel stupid.”

Be prepared. This is one of the signs of the coming of the Anti-Christ (the other signs being Gwyneth Paltrow winning an Oscar and the appearance of Linux on desktops).


Take my clip art ... please

Robert Horn is the inventor of the Information Mapping Method (www.infomap.com), a rigorously scientific (actually, it's at the point where science turns into religion) way of expressing the six different types of information in document form. He has now published a book called Visual Language: Global Communication for the 21st Century that lays out in minute detail the semantics and syntactics (ok, so I never remember which is which) of visual language (i.e., drawing diagrams to make points).

For all his brilliance, Horn has now taken the crown as Greatest Living Clip Art Abuser. Take a gander at:

http://www.macrovu.com/VLBkSemanticFusion.html

Printer spam

The 840 series of Tektronix printers have IP addresses and can send you email when they're running low on ink. So it may be useful, but wait until everything is sending us "Feed me, feed me!" spam, then you'll be singing a different tune!

You can read a related article from a previous issue at:
http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-jan4-98.html#everything

Unlikely remarks

The Portable Network Graphics (PNG) standard hasn't taken off the way people expected. It's designed to replace GIF and was the very first official recommendation ever made by the W3C, in October 1996. Not only is it supposedly technically superior to GIF, it also doesn't have any of the messy patent problems that in theory plague GIF. (Unisys has the right to look at every GIF on your desktop, confiscate the ones they like, and bill you whatever they want for them.)

Perhaps one problem has something to do with the attitude expressed by Glenn Davis, CTO at Project Cool, towards the fact that PNGs (unlike GIFs) don't support animation:

"Animation is taking a little more of a back seat," he said, comparing animation to background GIFs, which were once pervasive on the Web but which are now used less prominently, if at all.

So so wrong. Animated GIFs are an absolutely standard part of the Web repertoire, especially in banner ads. A graphics standard intending to replace GIFs that doesn't support animation is a non-starter, sort of like proposing we replace paperclips with straight pieces of wire because curves are so yesterday.

Office 2000 is KM

From MS's Office News Service, email newsletter about office:

WANT BETTER KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT IN YOUR ORGANIZATION? ... What features of our upcoming desktop suite help to streamline the management of knowledge?... The above Web page is a useful point of departure for understanding the advantages of Office 2000 as a knowledge management client, or as an integral part of what we like to call a company's digital nervous system.

The page referred to is:

http://www.microsoft.com/office/enterprise/dns.htm

Here you'll learn that Microsoft has entered the KM business by defining KM as a "digital nervous system" and then defining DNS as "everything that we do, that Bill says, or that might occur."

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Why search engines suck Dept.

Do a vanity search on "hyperorg" (as in www.hyperorg.com) at Yahoo. It finds 28 hits, the first of which is a temporary home page from when my site was down a few months ago. No other pages on my site are found.

But wait, there's more. The first page of returns shows the first 20 hits. Click on the "next" button and it tells you that there are no hits for "hyperorg" on the Web. At the upper left, however, the Inktomi engine proudly claims that it's found 18 hits on "hyperorg."

 

Middle World Resources

A Compendium of Resources
Walking the Walk  

According to Computerworld (April 30, Tom Diederich), Budget Rentacar is letting people bid on the cars they want to rent. You go to their web site, pick the city of origin and the type of car you want, and then enter an amount you'd like to pay. (Negative numbers are not allowed.)

In one of the more insipid comments from an industry analyst, the article says:

Ron Rappaport, an analyst at Zona Research in Redwood City, Calif., said BidBudget could end up threatening Budget's existing sales if consumers are consistently bidding at lower prices than Budget normally charges.

"I don't see the value, unless Budget is only going to allow consumers to bid on cars that it otherwise wouldn't rent," Rappaport said.

In a rare moment of fairness, let's acknowledge that this could be a bad job of quoting by the article's author, but, jeez! Obviously the point of this is to rent more cars (= "cars that it otherwise wouldn't rent") by offering them at a lower price.

The article says that the bids have to be "reasonable" and uses $2 as an unreasonable bid.

Do I hear $3? $3 is the bid...


When the site goes public, you can get there at:

(http://www.drivebudget.com/

You can read the Computerworld article here:

http://www.computerworld.com/home/news.nsf/CWFlash/9904305car

Cool Tool
For the Hyperlinked Organization
 

Although I hate to thank RageBoy for anything, I'm enjoying a piece of software he recommended: SurfSaver (not to be confused with SafeSurfer or SurfSafer).

This browser add-on makes it a snap to save any page you're looking at. A right mouse click adds the page to SurfSaver's cache, automatically grabbing all the images. You can build folders to help you sort stuff. And you can do Boolean searches through all the material you've gathered.

Not an amazing breakthrough concept, but it's well-executed. You get 30 days free and then it's the Magic Price for shareware: $29.95

http://www.surfsaver.com

 

 


 

Internetcetera

According to InformationWeek online (April 29), "top executives" don't think information technology is delivering what it should. The Department of Information Systems at the London School of Economics (= Mick Jagger's alma mater) surveyed 650 CEOs and other senior executives and found:

32% feel IT has met expectations for improving business performance

24% think it's done well in reducing costs

19% think it's done satisfactorily in delivering competitive advantage.

Further, in a survey of 429 CFOs by the Financial Executives Institute and Computer Sciences Corporation, half report "low, negative or unknown" returns on their investment in IT.

Of course, what percentage of CFOs, CEOs and other top executives are going to have their heads handed to them in the next three years, and will go off whining through their neck holes "I *didn't* miss the Web opportunity/threat! We had a home page and everything!"?

 

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Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs

 
Note from the Editor to New Readers
We love mail. Write in. As for the snarky replies, well, we all understand the spirit of love in which they're written. Hope to be hearing from you..

 

Clark Brady responds to last issue's article on trying to make sense of KM by looking at examples:

I summarized your ideas on the definition of KM to "groups working smarter by any means".

So, warriors eating the brains of their victims then would count as practicing KM? Groups getting the earwax removed to accomplish a 42% increase in communications? Groups taking typing lessons?

Look, man, I used to teach philosophy and would spend all day showing why students' attempts at understanding terms all fail, so don't mess with me!

On the other hand, I think your summary pretty much covers the ground we want covered. Thanks.


Jim Montgomery responds to our article on portals:

Perhaps You have finally hit upon the holy grail of KM marketability, whereby knowledge management really becomes resource management which really means time management.

The capabilities presented to the average desktop user via local resources, intra- and internetworking, are so far beyond the control of a single IS department, what does the IS department have to offer upper management in return for its existence other than fire-fighting?

Ahh...enter the illusion of becoming a profit center. Give your users two buttons and three avenues and A) the chances of your users fucking something up go *way* down and B) the chances of your users downloading satellite weather maps...well you get the point.

Woohoo! dumb terminals all around!

Yes, let's not forget that the secret to command-and-control is to enforce ignorance (or at least the illusion of ignorance) upon those being commanded and controlled. This is why the Web — networked intelligence — is making command-and-controllers irrelevant.


Matthew Cornell writes about the personal crisis published in each issue but only in the online version:

On your personal crisis: The snippet of the gruff Beatles cover in the Philips ads is a wonderfully placed sonic virus that replicates itself in the inner ear of the host. I heard a piece on NPR about the band that recorded the now-jingle, Gomez.

From the Gomez site (http://www.gomez-online.net): "Virgin/Hut have announced that Gomez will definitely not be releasing the old Beatles song "Getting Better" which everybody hoped they would release after seeing it on the Philips ad."

I merely heard the song, but I'll imagine how nice it must be to be able to see it. I guess Gomez are noble artists wagering their own songcraft will produce a hit—or they don't wish to make loads of royalty money for Philips (or MJ himself).

I listened to the snippets on their page at cdnow.com and decided that this would not be the first pop album I've bought since the Lovin' Spoonful broke up.


Glenn "Clinton Glenn" Clinton writes

Okay Dave, what is going on here? This is the second issue in a row that has made a lot of sense to me. So, that's two issues and the release of Cluetrain that all have a lot of good, thought provoking information in them. I don't necessarily agree with all of it, but it does make me think, and that's good.

All of which makes me ask - "Do you feel okay?"

Thanks for your wake up call. I will try to get JOHO back to its staple of pointless meanderings and undeserved personal attacks as quickly as possible. In fact, I think this very issue will not disappoint...

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Bogus contest: Classics as Business Books

Maybe it's because of the book deal the Cluetrain Manifesters have just swung, or maybe it's just because I'm clearing out my shelves, donating books to our local elementary school's annual tag sale, but I find myself despising business books more than ever. (Big exception: Tom Petzinger's The New Pioneers which is quite wonderful, even though Petzinger is the guy who wrote the Wall Street Journal piece on the Cluetrain which means he has bought 12 years of unconditional love from me and my family.) Buy the Petzinger book here and I'll make a buck: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0684846365/davidweinbergers )

I hate business books' one-idea, everything's-fixable, I'm-rich-and-you're-dumb attitude. I hate the way they recycle ideas that once came from great minds the way shit comes from dinner. I hate the fact that other people have written them and I haven't.

So, imagine, if you will, that the great books were re-issued as business books. How might the title and sub-title read?

For example:

Classic
New Title
Subtitle
Moby Dick
The Big Swingin'
Business Dick and How to Be One
Focused monomania is the key to outrageously successful business leadership
Crime and Punishment
I'm OK,
You're Dead Meat
You can only succeed if you write your own rules
The Odyssey
There's No "You"
in Hero
The Greatest CEO in history tells you how to inspire loyalty among your doomed followers
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Ice Floe Marketing
You can only break out of the pack if you're business nimble and business quick!
The Bible
The Ten Eternal Rules of Business
— and How to Break Them!
How to turn your business from stone to gold

 

Hey, kids, it's fun! Come up with your own! Win nothing at all!


Contest Results

Jim Montgomery responded to last issue's challenge to write a press release that smells of death and then give the plain speakin' equivalent:

Why make one up, when real life examples abound? From today's Boston Globe, re yesterday's WSJ front-page article hinting that Lotus' Jeff Papows should have quit reminiscing while he was ahead:

" ' You shouldn't expect to see him leaving the company, said Lotus spokesman Bryan Simmons." Later the author says some Lotus employees do expect his "resignation."

Papows will keep his comfy chair, but he'll be unable to sit down in it for a week.

Rageboy responds in a typically rage-y way, citing my own business's home page as a source:

from http://www.hyperorg.com/evident/evihome.html:

"We here at Evident are a pretty conceptual bunch. Great with ideas, but not exactly your quantitative marketing analysis whiz kids."

translation: we're still trying to figure out how to make a buck at this. maybe if we can trick you into paying us to tell you what you're doing wrong, we'll figure out what you're doing right — at least to a sufficient degree that you could pay us...

Hey, now that's just plain not funny!


Mini Contest Results

Our very special mini contest challenged you to diagnose the problem with my kids' computer after I had spent dozens of hours and lots of money before discovering the dead-simple cause of its woes.

Mark Andrews writes:

Perhaps the fish in the aquarium were splashing around and the water got onto the cord that your puppy had been chewing on. Or your kids get very excited playing doom and their forcefulness with the joystick causes the soundcard to jump from its socket. Can I have all the parts that you replaced ;)

Sorry, Mark. All spare parts have already been used to assemble a large object suitable for kicking.

But we do have a winner

Rick L. Smith writes with the astonishing assuredness of someone who stole the answer book from the teacher's drawer:

What is wrong with your kid's P200?

hmmmm..... The infernal long-life-my-ass cpu fan...... You actually increased the Ram? ...snicker....increased your HDD capacity.....guffaw....what'd you think the problem was?, not enough swap space...heeheehee.....and then you re-formatted the hard disk and reinsta...snnnck....snnck...sorry, reinstalled all the freaking software ??!!!

You are a MORON!

For $4.99 and five minutes labor, you could have replaced the fan.

You get a slight break if the fan wasn't completely dead and only spinning slowly.

If it was DOA, then you should stick to your musings of the over-educated, philosophy phucks and leave the hardware to those who have the ability to see a situation for what it's worth. Leave it to those of us who can avoid being mired in the melodramatic search for the underlying purpose and who can accept that our ego's are regular sized and the world isn't nearly as complicated as some seem to want it to be.

"Oh, my computer isn't working......it must be something huge...something beyond the simple explanation....let's over-analyze this and blow it completely out of proportion and take up the cry for a grand solution....."

As for the fan: Okay, I confess, been there....done that....I hate those damn fans....where are the super-conductors we were promised?

And, so with Mr. Smith's rebuke (oddly consonant with the article above on seeing the integrity of the simple) ringing in our ears, I find my eyesight clarified and a whole new purpose coursing through my constricted veins, a tinkling boom like firecrackers in a tin can or the confined explosions of a cylinder block, little bursts of energy that come in a series of ons and offs, causing micro-bipolarizations of mood and attention, no swing periods in between, low high high high low low low, energy becoming information, the noise of discharge becoming the signal of direction and intent, low low high high high, fingers hitting keys, typing out a stream of letters but a second, sotto voce message in the spacing of the clicks and clacks — one message a web 'zine and the other a low-throated inducement to sleep ... sleep ... sleep...


Editorial Lint

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