[joho] JOHO - SPECIAL SMALL PIECES ISSUE March 28, 2002

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 16:50:35 -0500

JOHO
Journal of the
Hyperlinked Organization
========================================
March 28, 2002
Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
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           SPECIAL SMALL PIECES ISSUE

     My book is published! I thus luxuriate in
     the safe, warm environment of JOHO as I
     watch it be launched against the cold
     shoals of the sea of reality.

  +---------------------------------------------+
  | CONTENTS                                    |
  |                                             |
  | WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: It's harder to say  |
  | than it sounds...                           |
  |                                             | 
  | THE REVIEW I DREAD: It's not a matter of    |
  | if, it's a matter of how many.              |
  |                                             |
  | FREE CHILDREN'S VERSION: Yes, I wrote a     |
  | children's version. No, I don't know why.   |
  |                                             |
  | LINKS: Early reviews, etc.                  |
  |                                             |
  | CALL TO ARMS: Don't make me beg             |
  |                                             |
  | THE BOGUS CONTEST: What the hell did I      |
  | mean?                                       |
  +---------------------------------------------+
  
---------------------------------------------
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT

I can tell you what The Cluetrain Manifesto is 
about. It's about how businesses have their heads up 
their asses when it comes to the Web. It says that 
the Web isn't a marketing opportunity, it's a new 
global conversation: people talking together in
their own voices about the things they care about.

I can't tell you what Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A 
Unified Theory of the Web is about except that it 
doesn't really present a unified theory of the Web. 
This is not a good thing, especially from the 
marketing side of life.

Nevertheless, here's a stab at it.

     Small Pieces tries to explain what's behind the 
     global excitement about this relatively simple 
     bit of technology, the World Wide Web. Why is 
     it affecting so many of us so deeply? Why has 
     this set of digital tin cans and string sent an 
     electric charge through our culture? The book 
     explores the Web as an idea, just as you might 
     try to understand the idea of democracy by 
     looking at its effect on a constellation of 
     other words: liberty, equality, citizen, 
     authority, etc. Small Pieces looks at bedrock 
     concepts the Web experience is altering, 
     including self, group, space, time, perfection, 
     knowledge and even reality. It finds that the 
     Web is helping to clarify our understanding of 
     ourselves, overcoming the alienating 
     misunderstandings that have become taken-for-
     granted in the real world.

See? That totally sucks. Even I think the book is 
more interesting than that.

Maybe a more marketing-savvy approach would work:

     Move over McLuhan!

     The Web isn't just spam and porn! According to 
     Visionary, Futurist, and Leader of the Free 
     World, David Weinberger, the Web is changing 
     the way we think about ourselves in the real 
     world. But in a fun way! Really fun! Jokes, and 
     anecdotes and stories! Like The Cluetrain but 
     without all the swearing and rock and roll.

Ack. Maybe it would help if I tried to summarize it
in the voice of RageBoy:

            I can still remember
            It wasn't long ago.
            Things you used to tell me,
            You said I had to know.
                        - The Ramones

     Margaritaville is filled with hard-stoned 
     executives in bleached denims, their pagers set 
     on stun as they await the call from the 
     mothership. The wind-whipped stars puncture the 
     black curtains forming constellations that for 
     a moment spell out the death sentence I once 
     saw in the eyes of an armadillo I watched die 
     by the side of a road outside of Albuquerque. 
     One minute it was plodding ahead, peering 
     within its 30 degrees of vision, and the next 
     it had achieved oneness with the asphalt like a 
     slab of vertiginous yellow cheese melting into 
     the pre-broiled, pre-charred, pre-preserved, 
     pre-carcinogenic burgers they serve in the 
     flourescent-scented stands that grow like the 
     mushrooms I had just chewed. That was 21 years 
     ago or may be a hundred. I don't do 'shrooms 
     now. Or drink. Or epoxy robins to my window 
     sill. Well, ok, sometimes...

Ok, that's not doing it. Let me try one more time:

     Why do we care about the Web? Not because of 
     dot coms and online shopping. Something more 
     important is happening. We're connecting. The 
     Web is a social world free of so much that 
     impedes our sociality that it reveals a 
     clearer picture of our own human nature. In 
     fact, it brings us to rethink some of our most 
     basic assumptions about what it means to live 
     in a world together.

Better? Maybe. But please check this issue's Bogus
Contest immediately. Help!

---------------------------------------------
SMALL PIECES LOOSELY THOUGHT: THE REVIEW I DREAD

Once upon a time, in a land far away, some self-
proclaimed Internet gurus wrote a book about how the 
Web was going to end business and transform the 
world into the sort of place middle-aged hippies 
have always insisted it ought to be. The Cluetrain 
Manifesto, a book with the depth and staying-power 
of The Strawberry Statement, was distinguished as 
much by the obnoxious adolescence of its writing 
style as by the emptiness of its thought. Now one of 
its co-authors has labored mightily to bring forth a 
new book about which we can safely say: it's not as 
obnoxious.

In Small Pieces Loosely Joined, David Weinberger 
sets the bar seemingly high. "The Web has not been 
hyped enough," he writes. Well, now it has been. As 
if oblivious to the failure of the Web to live up to 
its promise -- or, more exactly, to live up to the 
promises made by professional cheerleaders such as 
Weinberger -- the author contends that the Web is 
transforming the core concepts of the real world. In 
chapters with titles such as "Time," "Perfection" 
and "Hope" -- could they possibly meet the 
expectations they set? -- Weinberger instead shows 
that if you close your eyes and wish real hard, you 
can get yourself to believe anything. And he writes 
about these topics without any acknowledgment of the 
work of the real thinkers who have been tackling 
similar issues, except for a stiff-armed salute to 
Herr Heidegger.

While the writing style may not be as over the top 
as Cluetrain's, it is just as mannered, a faux New 
Yorker-ish voice without the grace. The book is 
quite funny, but the humor is unintentional. The Web 
Weinberger describes is so unlike the Web the rest 
of us, who don't spend 14 hours a day in front of 
our computers, deal with that the author manages to 
put himself into a fugue state, issuing such thigh-
slappers as the Web is "a return to our best 
nature." I invite Dr. Weinberger to check the 
contents of my inbox on any particular morning to 
tell me how the ads for comely coeds and penis 
extenders represents our soul at its most buff. 
Please!

Self-seriousness, willful blindness, intellectual 
pretension ... you know what, The Cluetrain 
Manifesto is looking like a pretty brilliant
achievement in comparison.

                       * * *

[Note for those who find this review via a search 
engine: It is a nightmare version written by the 
book's author. Don't cite it as a real review. Got 
it? Damn search engines!]

---------------------------------------------
CHILDREN'S VERSION

For reasons I can't begin to fathom, I've written a 
children's version of Small Pieces. It's called 
"What the Web Is For." You can read it online at 
www.smallpieces.com/kids where you'll also find a 
printable Word version and a legible PDF version. 
(Note: I've gotten some reports that the non-HTML 
versions aren't working on every system. When in
doubt, go with the HTML.)

---------------------------------------------
LINKS

The two weblogged reviews I've seen so far are
fantastic:

Tom Matrullo:
http://tom.weblogs.com/stories/storyReader$891

Steve McLaughlin:
http://saltire.weblogger.com/books/smallpieces

Steve, Lord love him, says the book  "just might be 
the first classic of the new century." Let's keep 
those overstatements coming, folks! 

No, really, I mean it.
                      ----

Marek is running and oddball discussion with me
about the process of writing the book:
http://soapbox.radiopossibility.com/conversations/weinberger/LooselyJoin
edOne
[Unwrap the URL!]
                    ----

You can listen to an hour-long interview on the
Voice America "Inventing the Future" program,
hosted by Janice Maffei and Joanne Spigner:
http://www.voiceamerica.com/cgi-voiceam/hlarc?0=01085-180302-1500
                    ----

The Boston Globe Sunday magazine ran an excerpt from
 the last chapter of the book, but it's not online.
So, this doesn't count as much of a link, I guess. 
                        ----

By the way, I'll be on Talk Radio Network, the Frank 
Foster Show, airing on 69 stations, at 3-3:30pm on 
Saturday. Check your local listings... 
http://www.frankfostershow.com/Affiliates.htm. I 
should maybe start posting the rest of the radio 
interview schedule.

                    ----

I'll be responding to reviews and posting links at
my weblog: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger.

---------------------------------------------
CALL TO ARMS

What can you do to help make Small Pieces a
success? First read it to see if you think it
should be a success. (Note: A new act of Congress
declares the sharing of books to be a blatant
violation of the author's right to profit from his
or her intellectual labors, so please buy your own
copy.)

Tell someone.

Write a review at Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0738205435/

Discuss it on the Small Pieces home page:
www.smallpieces.com

Better yet, discuss it on someone else's discussion
site or in a mailing list.

If you are a journalist, please contact Lissa Warren 
at Perseus (lissa.warren@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx), and look 
forward to my personal gift of hookers and cigars.

---------------------------------------------
BOGUS CONTEST: WHAT THE HELL DID I MEAN?

Tell me in 100 words or less what the hell Small
Pieces is about. Do a better job than I did in this
issue.

In other words, please do my marketing work for me
free. 

Thank you.

--------------------------------------------------
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