For those who need to understand how the Web is transforming the way businesses work, yada yada yada
Issue: September 30, 1999
Author/Editor: David Weinberger
Central Meme: Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy
Favorite Beatle: John. Duh.
Current Personal Crisis: I recently denounced selling information and talking-head panel discussions while on a talking head panel where I was presented as one of the authors of a book to be sold for $23 by Perseus this winter. Why does hypocrisy feel so good?
Home page: http://www.hyperorg.com
Contact information: Click here.
Time-Jacking: Web returns control of time to the individual
Can a business be authentic?: Does the term apply at all? Existentialism lives!
Misc: Oddities that will change your life, guaranteed!
Links I like: Your guide to inessential knowledge
Cool Tool : PicoSearch lets users search your site, for free
Internetcetera: Portals doing business
Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs: The usual fabulous email
Bogus contest: Offensive Product Line Extensions
Internet Time is supposed to be seven times faster than normal, an idea originally designed to explain the pace at which Internet businesses rise and fall. But there's also such a thing as Web time which not only accelerates time, but also changes time's ownership. It works against "time jacking" —when somebody or some system takes control of your time, and just won't let go.
Think about what you used to have to go through to get information about, say, a part to repair your car. You'd look up a number in the phone book, call a service department, listen to the complete set of instructions for using their phone system, listen to the listing of items one through 8 that have nothing to do with what you want, press number 9, get put on hold, listen to the music, give up, call back, repeat, lather, rinse, repeat. You've just been time-jacked because they made you sit through their sequence until they got it right.
On the Web, on the other hand, you'd do a search to find the right page and go to it, scan for the information, maybe click on it, maybe decide to do something else for a while, come back to the page when you want —no having to re-navigate a phone system, no going back to the end of the line, no time-jacking. Web time is mine. I control it. It's not sequential — I can jump around any way I like. It's random in the best sense of the term.
In fact, it seems to me that overall we're getting less patient with time-jackers. Here are things for which I no longer have any patience:
Meetings because I can't skim them.
Speakers who go through an endless series of overheads when all I want is to click to the two points that actually interest me.
Videotapes that put 30 minutes of ads in the front because even with a fast forward button, they're still stealing control of my time. (Hurrah for DVDs!)
Waiting on line for anything.
Of course it's not just the web that's making us less patient with time-jackers —tv remote controls let us surf the broadcast streams and CDs (instead of tapes) let us hop, skip and jump among our favorite tracks. But there's something especially important about the Web because it was designed from the ground up to let us surf hyperlinks, rather than having to read through things in the sequence someone else decided would be best for us. That's why web sites don't have page numbers.
This ability to hop around as we want is, in fact, the defining characteristic of the virtual world, just as near-ness and far-ness —and having to go through all the nearnesses to get to a farness —is characteristic of the physical world where time-jacking isn't a crime, it's the norm. And that norm feels more than ever —off the Web —like we're just being bossed around.
Time just wants to be free, man.
Can a business be authentic?
"Authentic" is one of those words too important to be defined. It refers to the ineffable quality of being who you are, which also means owning up to who you are (a sense maintained in the word's etymology). Authenticity is discussed in words such as integrity, wholeness, honesty, genuineness, solidity. Inauthenticity, on the other hand, accretes words such as phony, insincere, disingenuous, deceptive, Nixon and Lycos.
People can be authentic or inauthentic (or, most commonly, a mixture of both). But does it make sense to apply these terms to business?
My pal and Cluetrain co-author, Doc Searls (http://www.searls.com ), implies "yes" when he talks about positioning as coming to grips with your company's identity, including its origins. For example, Doc points out how much of Apple —for better or worse —owes to the fact that Steve Jobs founded the company on a commitment to Art.
There are counter-examples of course, but they actually help prove the rule. (By the way, does anyone know whether "the exception that proves the rule" means that there can only be an exception if there's a rule or if it's simply a way to weasel out of examples that disagree with what you're trying to say?) Volkswagen, for example, for most people has escaped its origins as Hitler's gift to the German Volk, and with the introduction of "SuperChunk Corn Flakes with Honey-Roasted Marshmallows and Buttercrunch Mix-ins" Kellogg's has definitely slipped the bonds of Dr. Kellogg's original health-food and enema vision.
Origins are one component of authenticity for companies and for people. But at the corporate level, there also needs to be some vision worth getting up every day for. While this vision may be expressed formally in the hollow language of a mission statement, it also has to be expressed in the body language of the corporation, in the unconscious ways a company tells you what it's about, from the layout of the offices, to the size of the CEO's car to the parental leave policy to how close in the salesperson leans when she scents fear across the table.
The authenticity of the company lives not in the abstractions the company puts forth but in the behavior and emotions of the people who work there. It shows up most of all in customer commitment because the vision that drives authentic companies is not the month in Tuscany the Management Team will take once the company goes public but is a vision of customers whose lives are made better because of the work we're doing, or of the exquisite beauty of the craft work being called forth by careful and loving attention.
Can a company be authentic if its vision is simply that of its own success? To answer that, we need to know whether one can be authentic and evil, or, possibly authentically evil. To put this in the words of the great philosophers: Can Lex Luthor exist? But we'll save that for another time...
The knowledge conversation
Knowledge isn't an asset.
It'd be nice if it were because, not only do we know how to manage our assets, we also can tell that an asset has value. Otherwise we wouldn't call it an asset, would we, hmm?
And, yes, some of the stuff called "knowledge" is clearly an asset in the semi-traditional sense. The formulation of best practices, for example, counts as an asset (although why it makes sense to call it "knowledge" occasionally escapes me).
But the sort of breakthrough companies look for from KM —that's implicitly promised by KM and the hype surrounding it —won't come from knowledge that's an asset.
The promise of KM is that it'll make your organization smarter. That's not an asset. It's not a thing of any sort. Suppose for the moment that knowledge is a conversation. Suppose making your organization smarter means raising the level of conversation. After all, the aim of KM was never to take knowledge from the brain of a smart person and bury it inside some other container like a document or a database. The aim was to share it, and that means getting it talked about.
This view puts KM at the heart of business since business is a conversation. (This is a major theme of The Cluetrain Manifesto.) It's not just that good managers manage by having lots of conversations (as sort of pointed out in Winograd & Flores' groundbreaking book, Understanding Computers and Cognition , which has one of the highest MAR (mentioned-to-actually-read) ratios in history. All the work that moves the company forward is accomplished through conversations —oral, written, and expressed in body language.
So, here's a definition of that pesky and borderline elitist phrase, "knowledge worker": A knowledge worker is someone whose job entails having really interesting conversations at work.
The characteristics of conversations map to the conditions for genuine knowledge generation and sharing: They're unpredictable interactions among people speaking in their own voice about something they're interested in. The conversants implicitly acknowledge that they don't have all the answers (or else the conversation is really a lecture) and risk being wrong in front of someone else. And conversations overcome the class structure of business, suspending the org chart at least for a little while.
If you think about the aim of KM as enabling better conversations rather than lassoing stray knowledge doggies, you end up focusing on breaking down the physical and class barriers to conversation. And if that's not what KM is really about, then you ought to be doing it anyway. Just, please promise that you'll never call it "Conversation Management."
Chris "RageBoy" Locke, in a recent issue of his 'zine, EGR (http://www.rageboy.com/index2.html), about his latest bout of ego-surfing (i.e., searching for his own URL at one of the web search sites):
EGR - 300 Matches. Is that outperformingly superb, hilariously pathetic? Probably the latter, but we have no real way to know. Wait a second... Yes we do! We'll compare our links against those of arch rival Dr. David Weimeraner and his nefarious Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization: JOHO - 65 http://www.hyperorg.com We come off looking pretty good here. And small wonder. Why do you think we picked a loser zine like JOHO?
Oh yeah? If you search on AltaVista (suddenly my very favorite search page), you find sixty hits for the URL www.rageboy.com and 68 for my site, www.hyperorg.com. And, while it's true that it reports 480 hits on "Chris Locke" and only 234 for "David Weinberger," none of the first ten for "Chris Locke" point to our Chris Locke, unless RageBoy has taken a sudden interest in: Nature photography, "Cool links" to music pages, Brak (?) singing the Bean song, yachting, or the Advanced School of Addiction Studies (well, that last one might have been RageBoy, but it's not). In fact, it's not until you get to hit #29 —the 1992 SGML Year in Review —that *the* Chris Locke in question shows up. (Sorry to be immodest, but you have to get to hit #15 before one of the David Weinberger results is not about me.)
Perhaps more to the point, if you search on AltaVista for "paranoid egomaniac," you only get 5 hits whereas "thoughtful commentator" turns up 15 times, giving me a 3:1 edge over the RageMeister, Scourge of JOHO.
Jim Montgomery sends us the following article by Matthew Fordal from the AP (Sept. 8). I've abridged it.
Any two randomly picked pages on the World Wide Web are on average just 19 clicks away from each other, researchers say. The findings, reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature, suggest that the Web is so interconnected that any desired information is nearby even though there are 800 million documents available. The key is knowing which links to click. ...
The study was conducted by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, a University of Notre Dame physics professor, and colleagues. ... And even if the Web grows 1,000 percent, the distance would change only from 19 clicks to 21.
Ok, now for the inevitable mini-bogus contest. Can you find the shortest distance between these two pages:
(Look for a genuine bogus contest on this topic in an upcoming issue when I'm *really* out of ideas.)
Links I like
The improbably spelled Sharon VanderKaay points us to:
This page touts InfoRocket (www.inforocket.com), a site based on the premise that all humans are venal.
One of our favorite 'zines, tbtf, discusses articles about research at Berkeley into "smart dust," 5-mm devices that can "sense local conditions and communicate using beams of light."
Chris "RageBoy" Locke points us to a long article deconstructing the latest book by Bill Gates' ghostwriters, Business at the Speed of Windows: http://www.ctheory.com/a73.html . It's a fascinating philosophical discourse that manages to be insightful and erudite without falling into the trap of being readable. You can find it at the mother lode of such writings:
Chris also points us to a new site that he's editing intended as a resource on the practice of personalization, i.e., the automatic tailoring of sites and messages to the individuals viewing them so that we can feel that somewhere there's a piece of software that loves us for who we are:
The improbably-named Philip Arickx (come come, isn't the "x" just a tad pretentious, hmm?) writes:
Maybe I could point you to some stuff a friend of mine named Alan Carter put on the web. ... even though some bits are quite 'far out', there's a lot of collected wisdom in the site. The programmers stone is an ideal starting point, all the rest was created when I read it, started communicating with Alan, and even created a mailing list that ran for a couple of months generating lots and lots of information.
Since I know quite well that curiosity often needs some appetizers, I'll just list a few of the sources that influenced us (in no particular order): Richard Feynmann, Robert Wilson, Myron Tribus, Georg Kantor, Vernor Vinge, G.I. Gurdjieff, Terence McKenna, Linus Torvalds, and lots of others.
The site is www.melloworld.com/Reciprocality/stone/index.htm. The first sentence sets up the topic: "The work leading to this course was motivated by wondering why, in software engineering, there are some people who are one or two orders of magnitude more useful than most people." Answer: It has something to do with "mapping," i.e., "putting investment into building an internal object model of the world as it is perceived and getting leverage by identifying deep structure." (Hmm, this doesn't fit with my experience writing hangman with Visual Basic, but it's possible I'm not one of those two-order-of-magnitude type people. Damn!)
Ken Freed has put up a site that treats ICANN like the Trilateral Commission and the Warren Commission all rolled into one:
Although this is a section called "Links I Like," I'm not in agreement with Ken's analysis but I refuse to rebut his charges because that would require actually knowing something and I refuse to play that game, man!
Middle World ResourcesA Compendium of Resources
For the Hyperlinked Organization
In my never-ending quest to provide semi-adequate search services on my web site, I came across PicoSearch which seems to me to be pretty good — but you can be the judge just by going to:
For absolutely nuthin', PicoSearch will index your site and enable you to paste a search form (with the mandatory gif advertising PicoSearch) anywhere you want. The index itself is maintained on the PicoSearch site.
I like the fact that the results show you some context for the hit rather than just returning the title of the page since my page titles just tell you the issue's date. You also get pretty good control over how the results are displayed. In theory, the software also ignores duplicate pages.
There are a couple of drawbacks, You have to remember to ask them to reindex the site; it'd be handier if they re-crawled your site automatically. And, the results page shows banner ads, which you can remove for $7 a month, which I won't do unless they're willing to take sea shells or old KM articles in trade. Also, the free version only indexes 5,000 pages on a site.
Cavils aside, it ain't bad for free!
Here are the top portals according to a Media Matrix study done in July 1999 and reported in the Sept. 27 issue of The Industry Standard. (Ignore the two righthand columns for now.)
Portal July Visitors Change since Dec. 98 Visitors who bought online Avg. online spending Yahoo 32.3M 20% 36% $265 AOL 30.3 7% 36% $251 MSN 26.9M 44% 32% $340 Netscape 19.3M 10% 34% $277 Go 19.2M -3.4% 40% $328 Lycos 15M 14.5% 30% $231 Excite 14.6M 1.3% 34% $258 AltaVista 9M 19% 33% $298 Snap 8.8M 63% 33% $261 LookSmart 8.3M 113% 24% $204 Go2Net 3.4M 41% 40% $328 TOTALS 62.9M 10.8%
Interestingly, the data includes visitors aged 2 or older. Presumably, these are 2 year olds with exceptionally good typing skills.
The two righthand columns present information from a Harris Interactive study (done in May) published in the same issue of The Standard. Since there's no explanation of what "average online spending" means nor the period it covers, the numbers may strike you as a bit meaningless. But, having burned out the left side of my brain at a Grateful Dead concert in 1971, I couldn't tell a meaningless stat from the Name of God, so you're on your own.
Email, Arbitrary Insults, and Suspicious Hacking Coughs
In response to our article, enticingly mistitled "Pornographic Intranets," John Maloney points us to the first paragraph of an article of his that ran in a recent KMWorld
In the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio Supreme Court ruling limiting censorship, Justice Potter Stewart remarked on the indelicacies of the case, "I can't describe it, but I know it when I see it ." In the past, such a remark could have been also applied to the art of knowledge creation. Today, however, methods of producing relevant knowledge for businesses are emerging that can be described, facilitated and advocated.
After all these years of hearing this Potter Stewart quote, I feel like I finally figured out *how* Stewart knows obscenity when he sees it. I feel so embarrassed. He is, after all, only confirming St. Augustine's observation that the penis has a will independent of the will of the person. (Ah, but the scholars among you may want to compare Thomas Aquinas' belief that a witch is likely to be to blamed if a man's penis should wilt — not that that would ever happen to a really manly saint like St. Augustine.)
(One unexpected outcome of this search for information about Augustine's penis was the discovery of a soccer team in Austria that contains the teammates Schickelgruber, Penis and Augustine. Make a great law firm!) See: http://www.fctirol.at/saisonen/saison97_98/runde26/runde26.html
Craig Allen writes about our article on how to be smart:
I try to be smart, but as fast as I try to pack my brain with content, it leaks out even faster. Nonetheless, one factoid that seems to have stuck for the nonce is that an outfit named Autonomy, which seems to have been founded by Very Bright People Who Understand AI, claims to sell a little AI that watches over your shoulder and suggests source of material that it "thinks" might be of interest to you. Haven't seen it, don't even know anyone who's tried it, and my fear is it would be as stupid as a Gatesian animated paperclip. What I'd really like to know is: when are they (Autonomy) moving to NASDAQ?
Automatic clustering has promise and Autonomy has conquered the crucial part of the technology challenge: Coming up with a waa-aay kewl demo. They also have some customers. (The Fulcrum folks, now part of Hummingbird, are also hot on this clustering stuff. And Lotus says they're "studying" it.) It's precisely the sort of thing I had in mind when writing the article. I think we're about at the point at which automatic clustering is as accurate as clustering done by stupid humans who aren't really paying attention and will stick content anywhere they have to if it will get them to their coffee break faster. It will get better fast, but it will have enormous difficulty closing the final gap between what machines can do and what humans can do. So, for the next few years, automatic clustering is likely to be something that aids human librarians but does not replace them. I think.
Bruce Milne points out that Interleaf has announced its Bladerunner product in the following language:
Bladerunner enables companies to create, manage, and publish structured e-business information - targeted, timely, personalized, intelligent, medium-aware business content - for web-enabled applications using XML as its technology backbone and Microsoft® Word(TM) for content creation. Companies are able to apply intelligence, structure and style to their business information, generate output in a variety of formats, and dynamically integrate that information with other electronic and business processes in support of their e-business initiatives. Bladerunner enables organizations to realize improved time to market, increase revenues and gain a competitive advantage by providing a solution designed to leverage information content and facilitate business transactions throughout the information value chain, connecting corporations with their customers, suppliers, distributors, and partners.
He writes: "I'm surprised you haven't taken on the burning issue of inane project names in JOHO yet."
Well, Bruce, we did in fact already mock the name "Bladerunner": http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-oct17-98.html But thanks for giving us the opportunity to point out that the last sentence of the Bladerunner press release you quote is the very model of corporate inanity.
Simon Stanton, in response to our noting that some Net-nanny software had blocked delivery of an issue of JOHO because it contained a purely peacetime use of the word "fuck," writes:
an Australian Judge recently declared fuck an acceptable word! And he threw the case of offensive language out of court. So now all the media here are toying with the idea of the f-word as a legitimate, legal, expression.
The only problem I have with the spread of the word "fuck" into general parlance is that we lack a word to fill its role as The Word that Dares Not Speak Its Name. Oh, well, yes, I do know one word that is still unutterable in even the raunchiest of business meetings. In fact, I'm ashamed to say it now.
Here's a mini-bogus: Come up with a word that can replace "fuck" as the unutterable word that can actually be uttered. Predict what it will be. Or invent one. Maybe we can make it happen, if not in the USA then certainly in Australia.
Michael O'Conner Clarke sends us a meditative message which is hard to excerpt. But here's one interesting chunk among many:
Portals. So fucking what, right? I mean - Single Point Of Access: who gives a shit? With most portal stories right now, you could hit "Minimize All Windows" and still have exactly the same "SPOA": it's called the Windows desktop, fercrissakes. What most of these idiots are doing is just assembling all the shite that normally clutters up your desktop and corralling it into a relatively static HTML page. Yawn. What the hell does that actually do for my business? It's a bigass infobulldozer that shovels all my infoglut into slightly neater infopiles, of which I still only ever have time to see the topmost layer.
Part of the problem here is the lack of "active" capabilities. Portals are a journey, not a destination - you don't want to just show up there and review stuff (passive), you want to live there and do stuff (including: working with the appropriate applications & content, framed in the context provided by the portal). So Single Point of Access becomes Shared Place of Activity, or something (it's a community, dammit!)
Why is Michael in such a lather? Because he *cares*, dammit! His company, PC DOCS, now part of he Hummingbird Family of Acquisitions (Motto: "Genetically programmed to stick our nose into red things") makes portal stuff. (In fact, the article on which he's commenting I actually plagiarized from some work I did for DOCS last winter.) Despite my every effort to pick a fight with Michael, I am forced to agree. Without some heavy honking functionality sitting underneath it, there's no difference between a portal and a home page (not counting, of course, the difference in the consultants' fees).
Tim Rohner, responding to the same article about how to be smart, writes:
exactly the issue that doug lenat from MIT ai lab fame is addressing with his 1 million rule common sense base at http://www.cyc.com although the site doesn't do the product justice. touted as the framework for the standard user interface of the next century.
I particularly like http://www.cyc.com/halslegacy.html, which looks at some of HAL's dialogue in 2001 and asks what it would take for a machine actually to be able to understand what Dave says. Of course it would take a huge pile of "common sense," and Cycorp plans to simulate that by building a base of hundreds of thousands of rules. They've been at it for over a decade. (So far, their machine can order a sensible meal at McDonald's, but the statue of The Hamburglar at the drive-through window absolutely terrifies it.)
Keith Casner responds to my mentioning that it's a mystery "why Julia Roberts is a star even after her first on-screen smile."
Yes! For long years I have been fighting a lonely battle to overturn the absurd, Hollywood-hype-fed mass hallucination that Julia Roberts is attractive, and that her gaping maw of destruction and its gruesome bone-white dental mass is somehow "sexy" rather than, in fact, deeply disturbing. Alas for our nation, and the world, this loathesome falsehood has a pernicious tenacity, and all are caught up in her oversized mandibles of illusion and destruction! Is it coincidence that she appears every few months in yet another film with Hollywood's incarnation of all that is corrupt and perverse in manhood, Richard Gere?
I am perhaps not as deeply disturbed as you by Julia's smile, but it is true that whenever she does her horse laugh, I half expect to see crushed gerbils between her teeth.
The donut controversy continues. Susan Scherer writes:
I seem to remember, in the deep, twisting caverns of my middle-aged mind, that the original "Dunkin' Donut" was identified by a leetle, teeny doughnut handle that otherwise marred its circular shape. It looked sort of like a Q. The (pardon me) consumer used this handle to dunk the doughnut into the beverage of choice. I suppose I could research this somehow to discern reality, but I prefer to live in my head.
Susan, you must report the store to the EPA. The serving of donut tadpoles is expressly forbidden by the Dunklands Preservation Act. No matter how tasty they are, if the demand for them were to be met, the world's population of donuts would quickly dwindle and even possibly vanish entirely. Is that the type of world you want to live in? I think not. Please, think of the future we'd be leaving our children. Thank you.
Kyle Patrick asks if we attended the recent DCI Data Warehouse World and Knowledge Management Conference. He says he knows little about it ...
...But what I do know is that we won something, and that it was at a place with a bunch of KM boys—staggering drunk, as usual—and that you occasionally frequent such shindigs. However, since you and The Gang are reportedly so enrapt with your latest project ("Cluetrain II: This Time, It's for Money!"), it seems likely that you opted out. In fact, to ease that burden a little:
Ping 188.8.131.52 (port 14916) once if you attended the event, saw Dennis and his lovely sidekick Kyle (not me, a different Kyle), and shook everyone's hands (single-pump, firm grip, unwavering eye-contact).
However, ping 184.108.40.206 (port 14916) twice if you never heard of the event, DCI, or the concept of Data-Warehousing in general.
...I consider this method to be a breakthrough in human communication, someday we'll all be talking in pings...
If you can only come up with a way to pong as well as ping, we can bring back Morse code.
Bret Pettichord reacts to my Current Personal Crisis (visible only in the web version of this 'zine) in which I felt shamed by Controversial Philosopher Peter Singer:
Peter Singer is a utilitarian. How can an Heideggerian like yourself follow him? Surely ethics must start with the fact that we are situated in the world and have varying relationships and obligations to the people around us. Our ethics must respect these relationships, or else it would be ok to forget about our moms on mothers day as long as we gave a bunch of flowers to a strange lady on the street.Utilitarian ethics are appropriate for lords governing the little people and for fish lovers and their aquaria.
I like your mother's day example, but you expect me to look to Heidegger, an active, indeed rabid, Nazi, for my ethical advice?? (Ok, so it's an ad hominem argument, but everyone knows those are the most fun.)
Singer would cover your example satisfactorily (your mother would be distressed more than the stranger would be pleased), but I think the real (= my) phenomenological take on ethics is that examples and counterexamples are at the root of how we evaluate moral principles. We trust our sense of the rightness and wrongness of the examples to evaluate the principles, not the other way around. E.g., simple utilitarianism is wrong because it lets us hang an innocent man under some circumstances. So then we come up with rule utilitarianism (or whatever) which doesn't let us hang the innocent man. Intuition trumps principles; we only feel our way to principles via intuitions.
This is a scary conclusion. Our intuitions are notorious for being historically conditioned and sometimes god awful —slavery, patriarchy, holocausts, and, yes, even carnivorism. The fact is that I don't think phenomenology gives us good grounding to figure out what to do in truly confounding moral cases (of which there are surprisingly few) because those are precisely the cases where our intuitions are in conflict. And phenomenology isn't very good at all at enabling us to swerve from our historical directions. I once thought there was hope for a phenomenological ethics based on the notion of sympathy —turning to the world in shared feeling —but I think it actually doesn't get much more complex than this: follow the golden rule, take utilitarianism as a sometimes helpful way to see past your own interests, and try not to be an asshole.
Chris Worth writes:
Submitting a negative review on Amazon recently - it happened to be for that ridiculously misguided "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" by Kuhn - I noticed that the ratings thing defaults to five stars. In other words, no matter what you write, if you forget to set the star count in a dropdown menu, you've rated that book as excellent. So, after years of congratulating myself on my fine tastes when browsing Amazon's shelves, I'm now intensely cynical and never look at the ratings. And I thought Amazon was on the Cluetrain. Sigh.
Grade inflation is all part of the game. So, I know you'll understand me when I say that Chris also forwarded a pointer to an article he wrote called "The Microsoft Matrix" which is super-de-duper fantastigasmo! No really. It's about the emotional aspects of moving to Linux and it really is worth a look. Really.
As for T.S. Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, it is totally non-ridiculously misguided. In fact, it's one of the Great Books of the century. Why? Because I said so. (On the other hand, it *did* introduce the term "paradigm" into everyday discourse.)
Kyle Lord Patrick also sends us an update on his attempt to wrest utility from the jaws of XML, referring to a timesheet application he's been developing. I've edited this for space:
We can observe this stunning, semifunctional demonstration of how XML is going to make everyone's lives easier, yadda yadda yadda. Anyways, it's a simple (yeah, right) ASP which lets one create, update, and view timesheets, which are stored in XML documents. The transformations which render it for display are done via XSL, which no one still really knows how to use. .... The really fun stuff is when I eventually get around to writing the VBA macros (still existing only in the Realm of the Forms) which will allow Excel and Access to talk to the server, get the most updated timesheet for a person, and display it in the spreadsheet or add it to the database.
So, here we have a textbook example of how XML is (eventually, probably by the end of this week) going to be able to unify applications and the web, thus removing the need to do everything through databases which is notably what Diversified Computer Strategies (www.performart.net), my employer, does. So I'm kind of actively making my source of income obsolete.
Kyle, so long as there are arcane programming languages and java-sotted 19-yr-olds, there will always be a place for you in the universe (or, as you kids like to say, in "the matrix").
Stowe Boyd, sage of Virginia, writes to correct me:
Its Knowledge Manager, not Knowledge Management Journal.
Well, at least I got the URL right: http://www.chironpub.com/Current/frontpage.html
RageBoy apparently had trouble parsing the following from the beginning of the previous issue:
>According to an article Post by Alan Sipress in the
Is that, like, Polish word order?
For those of you who think RageBoy is slurring the ethnics, this time he isn't. Reverse Polish Notation puts mathematical terms in an order that makes it easier for machines and harder for humans to understand. In the interest of those who run JOHO through a summarization engine in order to get it to readable length, I do on occasion put particularly important ideas in the Polish order.
By the way, here's how Microsoft Word 2000's auto-summarizer sums up the issue you're currently reading:
Web time is mine.
The knowledge conversation
Knowledge isn't an asset.
Chris "RageBoy" Locke points us to a long article deconstructing the latest book by Bill Gates' ghostwriters, Business at the Speed of Windows: http://www.ctheory.com/a73.html .
The site is www.melloworld.com/Reciprocality/stone/index.htm. The knowledge conversation
Knowledge isn't an asset.
For information about trademarks owned by Evident Marketing, Inc., please see our Preemptive Trademarks page at http://www.hyperorg.com/misc/trademarks.html.
Sharon Vanderkaay writes:
I read something or other you wrote about musicians you went to high school with...guess who was in my English class...Iggy Pop. Did I have any inkling on the annual Ann Arbor HS Talent Day that Jim Osterberg would soon be cutting himself up with glass and have a hit album "Blah, Blah, Blah" (so much for that English class)?
Someday we'll have a Bogus Contest asking people to volunteer their relationships with famous people so that JOHO can replace Kevin Bacon as the center of the Six Degrees Universe, as is our birthrite. Until then, Sharon, we have to say that — how to put this nicely ™— your Iggy Pop story needs what we professional writers call "a hook." For example, perhaps next time you tell it, you went to the prom with Iggy and he said that if you broke up with him, he was going to turn town his scholarship to MIT and ruin himself by becoming an ugly, talent-less singer whose only claim to fame is that if he were stuck in a lifeboat with Mick Jagger and David Bowie, they could kill *two* of them for food and the third would still die of starvation. But, while you were dancing to "Moon River," your best friend Chachi was being picked on by the school bully...
Work on it and get back to us...
Bogus contest: Offensive Product Line Extensions
Novell has announced the latest extension to its ZenWorks brand of network management software, the Zen certificate manager. "ZenWorks"? Isn't that somewhat offensive to Zen Buddhists? What's next, Novell JewWorks?
In fact, that leads us to this issue's bogus contest. Take a world religion (ok, you may include Scientology) and design a set of branded products around it. For example:
Product Line Name Description Jew Network Management Software Diaspora Distributed network Shylock Resource manager Bar Mitzvah Certificate server Mohel Compression software Yenta Communications layer Islam XML Content Manager Jihad Validator Koran DTD designer Mecca Valid instance Imam Parser Karl Marx, the OS Politburo Control panel Manifesto Help documentation Yevteshenko Helpful "Bob"-like figure that makes the whole system seem almost likable Surplus value System overhead Republics Windows Berlin Wall / Pravda Memory manager Workers Users
Have at it, young'uns!
In the previous issue, you were asked to contribute three terms that have the same denotation but different connotations, in the form "I'm thrifty, you're careful with money, he's a cheap bastard."
Thomas Jones suggests:
Duplication of Effort
Jeffrey Millar chimes in with:
I am a pioneer of eCommerce - You have a web storefront - He runs a porno site
I have a portal - You aggregate content - He is a fucking thief
My site is multimedia-rich - Your site is slow - His site times out the browser
I use chat rooms for stimulating conversation - You troll for sex - He has learned to type with one hand
I provoke conceptual thought - You provide ideas - He demos vaporware
For a Web Design Firm: I am more of an Idea person - You are out of your depth - He is dead wood
I build synergistic relationships - You cross-sell - He is a whore
I am done, you are released, he is delighted. All is comparative in a relative universe in which Chicago can without irony declare itself the sister city of Paris (it's true) and outlaws have in-laws and the cabbage of kings is cole slaw. In a world defined by the constancy of change, JOHO defies relativity like the still point of the axle of a revolving door, the circle coming around and going around, the karmic amercement for having once in an earlier life rebelled against the notion of reincarnation, and so is JOHO doomed to be reborn every few weeks, without cease, making even suicide of no use in the end...the end...the end...
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