[joho] JOHO - Feb. 14, 2003

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 14 Feb 2003 15:43:16 -0500

Journal of the
Hyperlinked Organization
February 14, 2003
Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
Please send subscription requests or modifications
to self@xxxxxxxxxxxx Or use our Sub/Unsub form at
For the fully glorious illustrated and
hyperlink-saturated online version of JOHO, please
To view this issue correctly, please use a
monospaced font such as Courier and stretch your
window until it all makes sense.

| CONTENTS                                         |
|                                                  |
| THE INTERNET IS NOT A THING: It's an             |
| agreement. And there's a big difference.         |
|                                                  |
| THREE CLASS SESSIONS: The topics of some         |
| classes I gave at MIT.                           |
|                                                  |
| CEO SPEAK: CEOs, the future and flowery          |
| language. How could it be bad?!                  |
|                                                  |
| TWO PHONE ACRONYMS: UNE-P and ENUM               |
|                                                  |
| ERODING DIGITAL FREEDOM: Snippets about how      |
| they're ruining it for us.                       |
|                                                  |
| MISC.: Misc.                                     |
|                                                  |
| WIFI NOTES: Lots going on in the wireless world. |
|                                                  |
| POLITICAL NOTES: Too much going on.              |
|                                                  |
| THE ANALS OF MARKETING: Astroturfing,            |
| analysts' predictions and more.                  |
|                                                  |
| FOTOFUN: Metadata illustrated and more.          |
|                                                  |
| WALKING THE WALK: The feds, believe it or not.   |
|                                                  |
| COOL TOOL: Opera is my browser, and it's about   |
| time.                                            |
|                                                  |
| WHAT I'M PLAYING: Ghost Recon add-on.            |
|                                                  |
| INTERNETCETERA: Email non-responsiveness.        |
|                                                  |
| LINKS: Places you think are worth a visit.       |
|                                                  |
| EMAIL: You write it, we all read it.             |
|                                                  |
| BOGUS CONTEST: Bart's Blackboard: If software    |
| packages were kept after school...               |


      I have chapters in two books that came out
      last week. The first is Viable Utopian Ideas,
      ed. Art Shostak, where I have an embarrassing
      essay called "The Web as Utopia." The second
      is a compilation of works by local authors to
      support the Brookline Library, where I have a
      humiliating essay called "Disliking
      Libraries." The book is titled the Fruitful
      Branch, published by The Brookline Library
      Foundation, 361 Washington Street, Brookline,
      MA 02445. $20 for 134pp.

| OPEN SPECTRUM FAQ                                |
|                                                  |
| You may be interested in an Open Spectrum FAQ I  |
| wrote, with content from Dewayne Hendricks,      |
| David Reed and Jock Gill.  Or not.               |
| www.greaterdemocracy.org/OpenSpectrumFAQ.html    |



I've been thinking about the end of the Internet.
No, not its collapse, but as in the"End-to-End"
(E2E) argument, put definitively by David P. Reed,
J.H. Saltzer, and D.D. Clark in their seminal
article, "End-to-End Arguments in System Design."
[1] The concept is simple: whenever possible,
services should not be built into a network but
should be allowed to arise at the network's ends.
For example, it's a good thing the Internet
designers didn't build searching into the Net itself
because then we wouldn't have gotten competition and
Google and whatever good idea comes along that's
better than Google.

This is a powerful principle, and not only for its
implications for network design (about which I know
nothing). David Reed [2] in particular has been
eloquent about what this means for the economic
value of the Internet: the Net's value is in the
possibilities it enables. David Isenberg [3] makes
the same point when he argues for "stupid" networks:
every time you optimize a network for a particular
type of data, you are de-optimizing it for others.

So, I've been wondering how this principle applies
beyond the core of the Internet. Clearly, it means
we should reject changes to the Internet Protocols
that make the Internet better for this or that type
of app. But there aren't many proposals of that
sort. On the other hand, there are frequent attempts
to institute software applications that would act as
if they were part of the core protocols: these are
apps that want to be ubiquitous and stand between us
and the other ends of the Internet.

So, here's a way of characterizing the difference
between evil, greed-head proposals and beneficent
webhead proposals...


The Internet is not a thing. We know this because we
could throw out all the material stuff of the
Internet, replace it with other stuff that's vastly
different, and it'd still be the Internet. For
example, we could theoretically replace the wires
with transmitters and receivers and the hard drives
with 3D optical memory, and it'd still be the

If the Internet isn't a thing, then what is it? It's
an agreement. That's what a protocol is, after all.
The Internet Protocol says that all those who
participate in the Internet agree to package up
their data in certain predictable ways. That's about

Nethead proposals (= Good) put forward an agreement
that only works if people agree to it. That means
that it makes the Internet more valuable to the
participants. And it also means that no one entity
owns or controls the agreement (unless we agree to
it). Because no one owns it, anyone can build an
application that accepts the agreement.The email
protocols are an example: no one owns the agreement
and anyone can build a mail client or server. The
Jabber protocol for instant messaging is another

Greedhead proposals, on the other hand, attempt to
coerce agreement. For example, they take an Internet
service we've come to rely on and they force us --
by legislation or by marketing muscle -- to accept a
new agreement if we want to keep on using it. DRM is
an example. Microsoft Passport is another. I think
digital ID is another, but people I respect disagree
with me. Sometimes greedhead agreements are owned
outright. Or they favor one company's software
application. They are shotgun contracts and thus
lack legitimacy.

Now, what does this have to do with End-to-End
networks? An E2E network consists of the minimal
agreements necessary to allow the maximum variety of
applications to be built on the edge. Additional
agreements can be layered on top, but they too
should follow the E2E principles: they are
agreements and thus are entered into voluntarily by
all participants, and they are open so that the
maximum variety of applications can be built on
their edges.

Webhead Good. Greedhead bad.


How does E2E apply when taken out of the realm
of the innards of network architecture? Does it help
to think in terms of agreements?

Email feels real good. A simple data standard, not
owned by any particular player, gets taken up by
developers creating all sorts of applications, from
email writers to readers to archivers. Its power
comes the fact that so many have agreed to it, and
it was easy to agree to because it's unowned.

Macromedia Flash and Adobe Acrobat, on the other
hand, each rest control of a standard for encoding
data in the hands of a private company, although
both make the standard fully public. Both let other
developers create compilers and players for files
written to that standard. Yet Flash feels less
intrusive to me. I think that's because I feel
compelled to use Acrobat because it's been adopted
by sites with whom I just about have to do business:
If you want to download a US tax form or an
application to a US college, you're going to have to
be an Acrobat user. On the other hand, while many
sites use Flash, generally they give me a way around
it: "Click here to skip the introduction." Flash
feels more voluntary than Acrobat, although
structurally they're the same.

Further, I worry about Acrobat's future. Adobe
currently has an ebook reader that enforces usage
restrictions ("Digital Rights Managment"). A PR
person at Adobe told me this morning that the
company is looking at making the next rev of Acrobat
into an ebook reader. If so, then the tool that we
accepted (grudgingly, perhaps) for downloading
printable forms will presumably have built into it
a set of restrictive capabilities to which we
didn't agree.

This feels bad because the Internet is an agreement.


I've also been thinking that this End-to-End thing
can be applied to businesses and other
organizations. Here are the basic lessons of E2E for

Controlled growth is slowed growth. If you really
want to grow fast, loosen up the control.

Keep the center stupid. Move as many functions as
possible out of the center of the organization.

Create a market for innovation at the edges. Not
only "empower" the edges, but encourage the growth
of a market that rewards interesting ideas and
enables them to fail or succeed quickly.

Make small bets. My friend Jock Gill has written [4]
about the importance of making many small bets in
government and politics. The same is true in
business (or at least some of them). The simple
reason is that given enough time, everything fails.
Thus, you don't want to place too many large bets.



I've been talking about this a lot with Doc
Searls [5]. His three cardinal rules -- No one owns,
everyone can use it, and anyone can improve it --
are at the heart of this discussion.

The above doesn't pretend to be a technical
article. For an introduction to IP, try:

[1] http://www.reed.com/Papers/EndtoEnd.html
[2] http://www.reed.com/dprframeweb/dprframe.asp
[3] http://www.isen.com
[4] http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/2003_02_01_gd.html#90277464
[5] http://www.searls.com


I taught a three-session course at MIT as part of
their January independent study curriculum. I tried
to get at the ideas of "Small Pieces Loosely Joined"
in a different way. I posted my notes before each
session met [1] so rather than repeat them here, I'm
going to try putting them yet differently.


The Web is a conundrum: it's both weird and
familiar. What does the weird Web world remind us


The Web reminds us of the truth about ourselves and
our relationship to the real world. Why do we need
reminding? Because our"common sense" ways of
thinking are so alienated, partly because of our
tradition of philosophical thought.


We talk about the self as if it were an M&M: the
real stuff is on the inside, protected by a thin
shell. The public self consists of social roles that
may or may not reveal the Inner Me. In fact, we have
an important set of virtues that assume a gap
between the inner and outer self: if the two are in
sync, then you are sincere, genuine, authentic, have
integrity, etc.

But this picture of the self is seriously screwy.
Even if we are living an M&M existence, why claim
that the inner self is the real one? Why denigrate
the social selves we create and inhabit?

Suppose were to start differently. Suppose we were
to say that first we are social and can only have an
inner self because we first have outer ones. And,
more important, suppose we were to say that the
outer one isn't hard-shelled but is as contextual as
the meaning of a word. Richard Rorty, whom I stopped
reading during The Great Forgetting that began when
I left academics in 1986, talks about the self as
relational, i.e., as incapable of"existing
independently of any concern for others..." [p. 77].
(Philosophy and Social Hope is a really good book.
Wish I had read it sooner.)

Our Web self -- our presence on the Web -- is only
relational. It is all shell and no chocolate because
we have no presence on the Web except insofar as we
present ourselves this way or that way. Our Web self
expresses a truth about us that we often deny in the
real world: we are social and many-selved first.

[By the way, this is ultimately what makes me
uncomfortable about the digital ID efforts. Not only
will it change the Web default from anonymity to
identified, but it will reinstitute the old sense of
the self as a persistent inner core. But a cry
of"Ouch! You're stepping on my metaphysics!" is not
likely to stop the commercial proponents of digital
ID. Frankly, nothing is likely to stop them.]


One of the basic facts of morality is that an Is
can't imply an Ought. That is, there is no factual
description that by itself tells you what's right
and wrong. "People are starving" doesn't let you
conclude "We ought to feed them" unless we also have
a principle with an "ought" in it, such as "One
ought to feed the starving." Thus, philosophy has
focused on finding the right Ought statements and,
more important, explaining what makes them right,
how we could know, etc.

Now suppose we start with a different Is. Here's
more Richard Rorty:

  The emergence of the novel has contributed to a
  growing conviction among the intellectuals that
  when we think about the effects of our actions on
  other human beings we can simply ignore a lot of
  questions that our ancestors traditionally thought
  relevant. These include Euthyphro's question
  about whether our actions are pleasing to the
  gods, Plato's question about whether they are
  dictated by a clear vision of the Good, and
  Kant's question about whether their maxims can
  be universalized. Instead, a decision about what
  to do should be determined by as rich and full a
  knowledge of other people as possible--in
  particular, knowledge of their own descriptions of
  their actions and of themselves. Our actions can
  be justified only when we are able to see how
  these actions look from the points of view of all
  those affected by them.

  Seen in this light, what novels do for us is to
  let us know how people quite unlike ourselves
  think of themselves, how they contrive to put
  actions that appall us in a good light, how they
  give their lives meaning. The problem of how to
  live our own lives then becomes a problem of how
  to balance our needs against theirs, and their
  self-descriptions against ours. To have a more
  educated, developed and sophisticated moral
  outlook is to be able to grasp more of these
  needs, and to understand more of these self-
  descriptions. [2]

Thus, argues Rorty, novels are the third great
development in the history of moral thought: from
religion to philosophy to novels.

But then what do we make of the Internet which is an
unmediated reflection of the needs, passions and
outlooks of its 600,000,000 participants? If
morality is based in letting the desires and ideas
of others affect us, then the Internet's social and
architectural premise is: let us be moral.

[An aphorism: The Internet is about truth. The Web
is about morality. Discuss amongst yourselves.]


Quick, come up with an example of a real thing as
opposed to something mental or illusory. Got it? My
spidey-sense says you came up with a rock.

What makes it so damn real? It's got heft. It pushes
back. It doesn't change hardly at all. It doesn't
give a tinker's dam about whether we look at it or
stroke it or paint eyes on it and sell it as a pet.
It came out of the earth. It was there before we put
the shovel in and unearthed it. It'll be there when
we're buried in the earth. And it's got nice,
distinct edges. That's why when we're asked to come
up with a paradigmatic real thing we don't come up
with a river, fog, or Dick Cheney's one-sided smile.

A rock is real precisely because it's cold,
indifferent, perfectly edged, unchanging, without
inherent meaning, and independent of all
relationships. Reality is what's independent of our
awareness of it. Reality is the residue left after
consciousness goes.

Or so we've been taught.

What's the paradigmatic thing of the Web? A page.
It's meaningful. It speaks to us. It was created by
humans. It only is a page on the Web insofar as it's
linked to other pages.

Pages are the opposite of rocks.

But the view of realness of which the rock is
paradigmatic actually captures little of the world
in which we all live. Rock-reality may be
independent of our awareness and may be essentially
devoid of meaning ("We merely see it as a rock"),
but the world in which we live is linguistic,
"meaned," contextual, interlinked and

The Web reflects our world better than the real
world of the rock does.


The Web is both weird and familiar. It's weird
because it replaces matter with signs and distance
with passion. It's familiar because in it we are
what we were all along: connected through care.


Richard Volpato said well what I tried to say about
the self:

[1] Session 1: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001029.html
    Session 2: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001069.html
    Session 3: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001088.html
[2] http://www.stanford.edu/~rrorty/redemption.htm


InformationWeek (Jan. 27) gives itself over to
essays by the World's Leading CEOs on what to
expect in the next year. One after another they
engage in language as rich and evocative as Tang's
list of ingredients ("Real-time ROI, enhanced with
Polysorbatol!") and visions that never seem to look
past their own wallets. Herewith the short version,
in order of appearance...

[The table doesn't really work in text. You'll have
to go to the glorious, table-full, link-enabled,
photos-included Web version:


Here are two standards related to phone numbers. One
you should definitely know about. The other is in
the It-Can't-Hurt-to-Know-Stuff side of the ledger.

1. UNE-P

The one that matters now is UNE-P (Unbundled Network
Elements Platform). UNE-P lets a company offer
telecommunication services without having to lay
cable or string wires, instead using the existing
"local loop" that connects users to the incumbent
telephone company (ILEC). The Telecommunications Act
of 1996 required ILECs to offer UNE-P at wholesale
prices in order to make competition at the local
level feasible; if you had to lay your own cable in
order to offer a telecom service, you'd never get
off the ground.

Now the FCC is shifting away from this policy. It is
worried that the ILECs are going to go out of
business, so it's removing this avenue of
competition. For those of us who are urging the FCC
to let the incumbents"fail fast," [1] this is not
news. (David Isenberg does an excellent job
explaining the UNE-P issue in his newsletter. [2])

Then there's the IETF ENUM initiative [3] "which
seeks a mapping between telephone numbers and the
DNS." The official white paper on usage scenarios of
this mapping says:

  ...ENUM will allow end users to be identified by a
  commonly used name (i.e., their telephone number)
  for a variety of applications. ... [E]nd users can
  change IP service providers without having to
  change their destination identification. For
  example, an end user can change their underlying
  e-mail address from john@xxxxxxx to john@xxxxxxx
  but, with ENUM set up to handle e-mail ... still
  be reached by having ENUM-enabled mail clients
  send mail addressed to their telephone number
  (e.g., mailto:+1-973-236-6787).

I don't know enough to have an opinion. If you do,
let me know.

[1] http://www.netparadox.com/
[2] http://www.isen.com/archives/030107.html
[3] http://www.ietf.org/html.charters/enum-charter.html



Just as I was proofreading this issue -- don't
laugh, I do proofread it -- Eric Norlin blogged
about ENUM developments and the standard's
relationship to digital ID. Important!

[UNWRAP the URL, if necessary]


Where is the organized civil disobedience against
the DMCA? Am I missing it?

I'm up for something. For example, suppose we made
up two ribbons like the ones shown in the Web
version of JOHO. Each ALT tag contains half of a
DeCSS perl hack that lets you break the encryption
on DVDs.

Don't like this? Who could blame you. So come up
with something better, braver and catchier. I'll
probably be up for it.


The first ranking on Google for "DeCSS" in fact goes
to a site that has created innocuous software called
"DeCSS" precisely to make life a little harder for
those trying to enforce the anti-DeCSS effort (aka
The Bad Guys).


Here's an excellent column by Lawrence Lessig on
keeping the Net open.

Dave Curley writes to let us know that

  You will soon be able to check out e-books from
  the Cleveland Public Library, which is cool,
  broadly speaking. Of course, the devil is in the
  details: a limited number of each title will be
  available at any time. E-books - just like the
  real thing!

If there were e-drugs the way there are e-books,
would we be ok with limiting access to them in order
to maximize revenues for the drug companies?

Ok, so that analogy has some holes in it.

I'm a writer. I'm in favor of getting paid for what
I write. But Cleveland's attempt to balance the
interests of the author and the public is such an
unimaginative note-for-note copying of real world
limitations that you have to believe there's a
better way.


George Zimmerman's "RIAA's Statistics Don't Add Up
to Piracy" points out that while overall music CD
sales were down in 2002, the average sale per CD
went up, and in a down market no less. [1]

And Dan Bricklin has an extensive analysis of the
question of slumping CD sales. [2]

Meanwhile, Jonathan Peterson also points out that:

  if you purchased retail CDs between 1995 and 2000
  you should sign up for the settlement against RIAA
  for price fixing. [3]

[1] http://www.azoz.com/music/features/0008.html
[2] http://www.bricklin.com/recordsales.htm
[3] http://way.nu

Dan Gillmor's column says the lack of competition in
the access provider market may well lead to a
stifling of content itself.

  The question boils down to something fairly
  simple... Should giant telecommunications
  companies -- namely the cable and local-phone
  provider -- have vertical control over everything
  from the data transport to the content itself? Or
  should we insist on a more horizontal system, in
  which the owner of the pipe is obliged to provide
  interconnections to competing services?

Scary stuff. Important stuff.


From a mailing list comes a pointer to a change in
the Yahoo Privacy policy. They are using "Web
beacons" -- single-pixel GIFs -- to track "usage
information." They are sticking these into the
"Yahoo! network of web sites" and into all the HTML
email that Yahoo! sends.[1]

Although the privacy statement is scary and quite
badly written, it assures us that the information is
only aggregated and not identified with particular
users. To opt out, click here [2] ...and then repeat
for every browser and every computer you use.

[2] http://pclick.yahoo.com/p?optout

Denise at Bag 'n' Baggage [1] describes her thought
process in using a Creative Commons license [2].
It's a helpful discussion by a bloggin' lawyer. She
also answers reader's questions. [3]

The Creative Commons has its own useful blog.[4]

JOHO now has a Creative Commons License:

[1] http://bgbg.blogspot.com/2002_12_15_bgbg_archive.html#90079883
[2] http://www.creativecommons.org
[3] http://bgbg.blogspot.com/2002_12_15_bgbg_archive.html#90077201
[4] http://creativecommons.org/weblog/

There's a manifesto proclaiming a "wireless commons"
that has me just puzzled enough that I haven't
signed it. It proclaims the virtues of wireless
connectivity, and then commits the signatories to
some type of support in the wireless build-out:

  Becoming a part of the commons means being more
  than a consumer. By signing your name below, you
  become an active participant in a network that is
  far more than the sum of its users. You will
  strive to solve the social, political and
  technical challenges we face. You will provide the
  resources your community consumes by co-operating
  with total strangers to build the network that we
  all dream of.

I don't think I can live up to that demand, for I am
primarily a bandwidth consumer; I do have have a
wifi transmitter that my neighbors could use. Does
that mean I can sign?

Anyway, a "wireless commons" is a phrase worth


Bruce Kushnick's book, "The Unauthorized Bio of the
Baby Bells," is available as a free download [1] via
the Teletruth organization [2]. I haven't read it
yet, but I'm looking forward to it. Why, it even has
an introduction by the redoubtable Bob Metcalfe!

[1] http://www.newnetworks.com/downloadbook.html
[2] http://www.teletruth.org/

David Isenberg's SMART Letters remain an invaluable
source of highly informed opinion about what's
happening in telecommunications.


Seth Johnson, in an email, points to a fascinating
paper by David Walker called "Heirs of the
Enlightenment: Copyright During the French
Revolution and Information Revolution In Historical
Perspective." From the introduction:

  During the Enlightenment, two conflicting
  viewpoints on the nature of authorship,
  creativity, and copyright emerged. One view,
  proposed by the French thinker Denis Diderot,
  advanced the notion that literary works are unique
  creations of the individual mind, and thus should
  be protected as the most sacred form of property.
  The other view, advanced by the Marquis de
  Condorcet, saw literary works as the expression of
  ideas that already exist in nature, and thus
  belong to all and should be made available to all
  for the common good. Both viewpoints had a
  profound influence on the changing legal status of
  intellectual property during the French
  Revolution. Even more, this paper will argue that
  these two conflicting viewpoints, both of which
  were firmly grounded in Enlightenment thought,
  still continue to have an influence into the
  present, and the tension between the two continues
  to be played out in the arena of copyright in the
  United States in the year 2000.


Scott Bradner, one of the people who crafted this
Internet thing we know and love, has an excellent
article on the striking absence of the user/customer
in Sony's and Microsoft's dreams of living room




While writing an email to AKMA [1], I realized why
I'm not as happy as I should be given the
externalities of my life: I'm never done with

I used to be. I'd work on something and then it
would be complete. I'd mount the stuffed head on my
wall and move on. Now everything is a damn thread.
At best, things peter out. They may even end. But
they're never done, the type of done where you close
the door behind you and hear it click shut.

It's probably just me. Yeah, that's right.

[1] http://akma.disseminary.org/

In a comment in the discussion [1] of my blogging
about never being done, Dylan Tweney [2] writes:

  I watched "A Beautiful Mind" recently and was
  struck how much John Nash's schizophrenia was like
  my online life: ethereal voices constantly
  impinging on my attention, demanding responses,
  distracting me from the work (and people) at hand.
  Only in my case it's email messages, not

Too true.

(The entire discussion is well-worth reading. Lots
of great comments.)

[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/movabletype/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=916
[2] http://dylan.tweney.com/report.htm


Researchers at the Information Technology Center of
Tokyo University have calculated the value of pi to
1.24 trillion places.

And we're know they got it right because ... ?



Michael Quinlon's weekly newsletter, World Wide
Words [1], reports that the American Dialect Society
[2] has announced this year's Words of the Year:

Most likely to succeed: Blog.
Most useful: Google.
Most creative: Dialarhoea.
Most unnecessary: Wombanisation (feminization).
Most outrageous: Neuticles (artificial testicles
for neutered dogs)
Most euphemistic: Regime change.
Phrase of the Year: Weapons of mass destruction.

Quinlon also points us to the 2003 list of words
Lake Superior State University has banished from the
language for being overused or just plain stupid.
The list includes:

   Material Breach
   Must-See TV
   Untimely death
   Black ice
   Weapons of mass destruction
   Make no mistake about it
   Homeland security
   Now, more than ever
   Having said that (also: That said)
   Peel-and-eat shrimp
   It's a good thing
   As per
   Reverse discrimination
   Got game
   ___ in color (e.g., "Green in color")
   Frozen tundra
   Undisclosed, secret location

Now I'd like to see those American Dialect
Association eggheads rough up them Lake Superior
smarties -- even their name is smug! -- over whether
"weapons of mass destruction" is the phrase of the
year or deserves to be driven from the land in
shame! Pettifogs at dawn, gentlemen!

(For previous years' Words of the Year, see here

[1] http://www.cecm.sfu.ca/personal/jborwein/kanada_trillion.html
[2] http://www.americandialect.org/
[3] http://www.lssu.edu/banished/


Michael Powell, chairman of the FCC, was given a
TiVo for Christmas. He's already called it "God's
machine." It's only a matter of weeks before he'll
find himself at a staff meeting reaching for the
rewind button so he can re-hear what someone just

I'd heard that Powell was a part-time tech junkie.
Excellent. We want our tech policy driven by lust.


From Buzz Bruggeman [1] comes an email pointing to
a site where there are instructions [2] on
how to enable the much-desired 30-second skip
feature on TiVo:

  Grab your TiVo remote.

  Bring up any recorded program. (You have to be
  watching a recorded program rather than "Live TV"
  in order to enable the feature.)

  On your TiVo remote, key in the following

  If you've successfully entered the code, you
  should hear three "bings" in succession to inform
  you that you've successfully enabled the 30 second

It works! Now the little button above the number 3
button -- the one that looks like this: ->| -- will
skip ahead 30 seconds. Unfortunately, it no longer
skips ahead to the tick mark on the progress bar.
repeating the above procedure will restore it to its
previous operation.

[1] http://www.activewords.com
[2] http://www.bigmarv.net/how/tivo30secondskip.html


Jane Black deconstructs the Cometa story for
BusinessWeek [1]. Cometa made a splash recently by
announcing that AT&T, Intel and IBM had joined to
provide nationwide wifi access. On a closer reading
of the press materials (first suggested by Peter
Kaminski [2]), it turns out that the Big Three have
very little skin in this game. Further, it's not
clear that the game is about putting up 20,000
hotspots; it could just be an announcement that
Cometa is available if you're a telco or an ISP
looking to outsource your WiFi construction project.
(Jane's take is more detailed and fact-based than

Jane draws a parallel to ZapMail, FedEx's plan to
put them newfangled fax machines in their offices so
that they could fax business's documents. That way
individual businesses wouldn't have to buy the
expensive contraptions. But this centralized
approach failed as prices dropped and every business
installed its own. In the same way, centralized
provisioning of WiFi may (should!) give way to the
bottom-up installation of neighborhood networks.

For more on the ZapMail story, see Clay Shirky's

[2] http://www.istori.com
[3] http://shirky.com/writings/zapmail.html

Glenn Fleishman has an article [1] in the NY Times
(registration required) that includes a map of the
hotspots in NYC. Unsurprisingly, it maps to the
racial and economic divisions of the city: "92
percent of network nodes were below 96th Street."

Glenn mentioned this article in the hallways at
Supernova, a conference we were at. Bob Frankston's
[2] reaction (and I hope I represent it fairly) was
that the problem is really one of educating people
about the benefits of getting connected: all but the
very poorest in NYC have televisions, and if you can
afford a TV you could have afforded a connected PC.
It does seem that connectedness would spread further
down the economic pyramid if its benefits were
clearer. But I think very few people, except for the
upper reaches of geekdom, view TV and Internet as
competitive technologies. Having a TV is close to a
requirement for participating in our culture. As
long as it's an Either/Or, the digital divide in NYC
will be real.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/12/technology/circuits/12spot.html
[2] http://www.satn.org/about/



I'm annoying Dewayne Hendricks by refusing to spell
WiFi as "Wi-Fi," which is the official spelling. I
figure I'm already too stiff in my spelling because
I capitalize the interior "F." Hell, I think it
really ought to be spelled "wifi."

I also spell "e-mail" as "email."

Suppose I compromise by agreeing to put the hyphens
I save into "co-operation" and "margin-of-error."


I have come upon certain information about a hidden
weakness of the 10-missile defense shield President
Bush has decided to erect to protect our country.
Although some may call me unpatriotic or even a
traitor for telling our potential enemies how to
defeat the shield, I prefer to think of myself as a

So, here is the one can't-fail way to exploit the
hidden weakness of our missile shield: Fire 11

Joe Conason [1] previews an article in Esquire about
how policy decisions are made in the Karl Rove White
House. Here's a summary of Conason's summary: You
know how on The West Wing everyone knows everything
about every policy issue? Good. Now imagine the

And here's the source of much of the information
apologizing, but not recanting.[2]

[1] http://www.salon.com/politics/conason/2002/12/02/bush/index.html

Gary Stock is funny and telling on Senator Bill
Frist's past as a torturer of cats. It's Reality
Based Comedy, unfortunately.


Adina Levin [1] writes about some informal research
done by Valdis Krebs that resulted in a really
interesting diagram [2], which you can see by going
to the Web version of JOHO.

The diagram is a rough-and-ready map of the reading
preferences of the political left and the right.
Valdis, who does superb maps of complex information,
looked at some books easily identifiable as lefty or
righty (e.g., Michael Moore's Stupid White Men and
Ann Coulter's Slander) and then looked at each
book's "buddy list" ("People who bought this book
also bought..."). He followed those links and mapped
the results....

[1] http://alevin.com/weblog/archives/cat_political.html#000833
[2] http://www.orgnet.com/leftright.html

David Isenberg includes a quotation from Mark
Crispin Miller:

 "[U.S. President George W. Bush] has no trouble
 speaking off the cuff when he's speaking
 punitively, when he's talking about violence, when
 he's talking about revenge. When he struts and
 thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine.
 It's only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder
 of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he
 makes these hilarious mistakes."

Miller is the author of The Bush Dyslexicon.

Gary Stock [1] is all over the GOP AstroTurfing
brouhaha [2]: the Republican Party has been awarding
GOPoints, redeemable for cheesy gifts, for sending
prefab letters to the editor. Gary's page sends us
to DredWerkz [3] were you'll find a password by
which you can roam free at the GOP site.

  First go to:
  Next, log in. Use the username:
  gop@xxxxxxxxxxxxx and the password gopgop.

Then Gary recounts how he used the GOP Citizen Spam
engine to send a message to the editor of the
Kalamazoo Gazette warning him/her to watch out for
letters to the editor that are actually spam-for-
points sponsored by the Republican party.

[1] http://www.unblinking.com/arc/20030119.htm
[2] http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001099.html
[3] http://dredwerkz.com/news/blog/422


Back on the AstroTurfing topic, David Forrester of
Molecular [1] points to an article in NTK [2] :

  It's always good to see a thriving new community
  springing up in Usenet's barren wasteland -
  especially ones with interests as specific as
  those of "Richard Craft", "Kevin Steward", "Kyran
  Goring", "Danny Farrell", "Sean Rogers", "Mike
  Harding", "Oliver Hammond", "James Goodman",
  "Cameron Ellis" et al. Take it from us, these guys
  have a *lot* in common: they all post from a
  Mailbox Internet account, they all have Hotmail
  addresses, and the products they just can't help
  recommending to each other include student info-
  hub thesite.org, the musical output of Elvis
  Costello and Afroman, plus the Activision games
  Wreckless, Rally Fusion and Minority Report. All
  of which, any idiot with a search engine can see,
  are clients of new media marketing agency DIGITAL
  OUTLOOK, who define guerrilla marketing as
  "participating within a variety of carefully
  targeted online communities [...] and initiating
  'unofficial' discussions about our clients'

The only good news is that bastards like these do
eventually get found out. But the technique
undoubtedly still "works" in some instances since
more people will be fooled than angered.

See you in Hell.

[1] http://www.molecular.com/
[2] http://www.ntk.net/index.cgi?b=02002-12-06&l=31#l


And while I'm in the thrall of my embarrassingly
yuppie fascination with TiVo: Try to find
information on the TiVo site about what's new in
version 2 of their box other than a home media
package that hasn't been released yet and will cost
another $99. Go ahead, I dare you.



Scott Kirsner's always readworthy column in the
Boston Globe [1] has a table with predictions by
seven leading Boston tech analyst companies. I'm
assuming that these predictions were volunteered by
the analysts and thus should be counted as marketing
tools. Herewith an annotated summary:

| ANALYST     | PREDICTION       | COMMENT         |
| Aberdeen    | "Widespread      | Safe but        |
| Group       | rollout of WiFi  | trendy: it got  |
|             | high-speed       | "WiFi" and      |
|             | Internet access  | "dark fiber"    |
|             | in metropolitan  | in a single     |
|             | areas will put   | sentence.       |
|             | telecom          | (Won't this be  |
|             | companies'       | more like a     |
|             | 'dark fiber' to  | sproutup than   |
|             | use..."          | rollout?)       |
| AMR         | "Companies will  | Predicted       |
| Research    | invest in        | every year for  |
|             | 'enterprise      | the past        |
|             | performance      | decade. AMR     |
|             | management'      | must have a     |
|             | software that    | big client in   |
|             | supplies         | the "EPM"       |
|             | executives with  | field.          |
|             | real-time        |                 |
|             | information..."  |                 |
| Forrester   | "The DVD will    | Forrester gets  |
|             | be the last      | the award for   |
|             | physical format  | couching a      |
|             | for recorded     | provocative     |
|             | entertainment.   | prediction in   |
|             | After that,      | a               |
|             | it's all         | mind-catching   |
|             | delivered        | way.            |
|             | digitally..."    |                 |
| Giga        | "PC and laptop   | Ah, the         |
|             | market won't     | "Courageously   |
|             | recover until    | delivering bad  |
|             | 2004 or 2005     | news"           |
|             | despite          | approach. But   |
|             | revolutionary    | loses           |
|             | new chips from   | marketing       |
|             | Intel and AMD"   | punch with the  |
|             |                  | vague "2004 or  |
|             |                  | 2005." Giga     |
|             |                  | might as well   |
|             |                  | just say        |
|             |                  | "Never." (And   |
|             |                  | then Giga was   |
|             |                  | bought by       |
|             |                  | Forrester.)     |
| IDC         | "There will be   | Too Magic       |
|             | a major          | Eightball-y.    |
|             | cyber-terrorism  | Sounds like     |
|             | event in 2003,   | IDC is          |
|             | perhaps in       | launching a     |
|             | response to a    | Cyber-Security  |
|             | war in Iraq."    | division.       |
| Patricia    | "Companies will  | Web services,   |
| Seybold     | use new          | maybe. But too  |
| Group       | technologies     | transparently   |
|             | like Web         | shilling for    |
|             | services to      | Seybold's       |
|             | become much      | "Customer.com"  |
|             | more adaptive    | brand.          |
|             | to customers'    |                 |
|             | changing needs." |                 |
| Yankee      | "The advent of   | Solid,          |
| Group       | 'portable'       | concrete        |
|             | cell-phone       | prediction      |
|             | numbers which    | with numbers    |
|             | can be           | we can check    |
|             | transferred      | in 2004. Since  |
|             | from one         | Congress        |
|             | carrier to       | mandated that   |
|             | another, will    | portable        |
|             | spark a price    | numbers be      |
|             | war in 2003,     | available last  |
|             | leading to       | year, it's a    |
|             | unlimited        | fairly safe     |
|             | voice-calling    | prediction.     |
|             | plans for $50    |                 |
|             | to $60 a month." |                 |

Note: I have no predictions of my own to offer at
this time. I wouldn't dare.


Cory Treffiletti [1] in Online Spin writes about the
possibility that the Internet has become a mature
enough medium that it can provide "continuity" with
company's mainstream broadcast campaign:

  Maybe the Internet has actually become the best
  medium for running a continuity campaign, to
  sustain the message conveyed in Television and is
  clearly the second most important medium in
  conveying a message to the consumer?

After noting that 134M people in the US are online,
he writes:

  Given that the prices for Interactive media are so
  low, and that online ad spending has surpassed
  out-of-home and is quickly catching up on radio
  regardless of the cost cutting, it stands to
  reason that marketers are realizing this medium is
  indeed a great opportunity for reaching a mass
  audience effectively and generating a response.

You can't argue with that! Well, except maybe to
say: Noooooooo! Online marketing is almost always
like handing out business cards at a wedding.

Will someone just send Treffiletti a copy of Gonzo
Marketing [2] already?

[1] http://www.mediapost.com/dtls_dsp_Spin.cfm?spinID=190342
[2] http://www.gonzomarkets.com

The University of Phoenix spams me about once a
day. The spam's footer says:

  You are receiving this email because you have
  opted-in to receive email from publisher:

Ah, yes, the mark of a truly excellent institute of
higher education is that it gets its spam list from
swelldeals.com. (No, I never "opted-in.") Well,
that's what happens when you hire carney folk to
administer your college.

Subscribers to AT&T broadband are having their email
addresses switched for the third time in a year.

My guess is that there is no technical reason why
the domain names are being switched. Rather, Comcast
is using its customers as vehicles for its "brand."
This is perhaps the clearest example I've seen of
the confluence of the marketing and cattle farming
senses of "branding."


In the online version of JOHO you'll find an
illustration of the problem with metadata, an
example of self-defeating Web ads, a separated-at-
birth, a scary US logo, and a Freudianly obvious
drugs-and-terrorism ad.

| MIDDLE WORLD RESOURCES                           |


The feds are trying to knit together several
agencies to coordinate emergency relief operations,
starting with the efforts around the Columbia
disaster. According to an article in InformationWeek
(Feb. 10, Eileen Colkin Cuneo), the Federal
Emergency Management Agency is creating an inter-
agency SQL database, the Environmental Protection
Agency is using an intranet to create maps of where
debris is found, and the Louisiana State Police uses
GPS devices to locate debris pieces and shares the
data in standard formats. And, of course, NASA
quickly set up a site where citizens can upload
digital photos and movies that captured the

It's a start.


It's not like you've never heard of Opera before.
It's not even like you've never installed it before.
But it is like this is the first version that's got
me really excited.

Opera routinely beats Microsoft Internet Explorer in
download speeds. But there are a whole bunch of
other things I like about it. I like the tabbed
interface that keeps all the open instances of the
browser handy. I like the tabbed utilities in the
lefthand pane, much like Mozilla. I like the ease
with which you download and install skins to change
the look and feel. I like that I haven't hit any
pages that display wrong. I like its integrated
multiple search fields -- search Google, eBay,
Amazon, etc. I like its commitment to

And, by the way, it's not Microsoft.


| WHAT I'M PLAYING                                 |
|                                                  |
| I was surprised when Ghost Recon won a whole     |
| bunch of Game of the Year awards. It was good.   |
| In fact, it was very good. But not the best      |
| game of the year, IMO. But it certainly got      |
| some things very right, from fluttering leaves   |
| in trees to pretty good enemy AI. Most of all,   |
| it was fun to play, even though I generally      |
| don't like either squad-based games or games     |
| that require stealth and patience.               |
|                                                  |
| So, now I'm playing an expansion pack            |
| called"Island Thunder," set in Cuba a few years  |
| from now after Castro's kicked el cubo. (By      |
| coincidence,"cubo" isn't the male form of Cuba;  |
| it's Spanish for"bucket.") An expansion pack,    |
| for the uninitiated, is a set of new maps and    |
| missions, sometimes with new weapons. This one   |
| is as much fun as the original. I'm enjoying it. |
| INTERNETCETERA                                   |
|                                                  |
| According to a study:                            |
|                                                  |
|                    ---                           |
| Of the 227 U.S. companies that were surveyed by  |
| Jupiter Research in August, only 38% responded   |
| to customer email within 6 hours, and almost a   |
| quarter (23%) of the companies took three days   |
| or longer, or didn't respond at all.             |
|                                                  |
| Overall, of course, this is an improvement. In   |
| December 2001, only 22% responded within 6       |
| hours and a whopping 46% took three days or      |
| longer, or didn't respond at all.                |
|                    ---                           |
| I'm happy to report that JOHO's response time    |
| has dropped by an astounding 78%. This is        |
| coincident with our installing the new Up Yours  |
| AutoResponder that issues a kiss-off message     |
| within 8 seconds of its arrival.                 |
|                                                  |
| www.internetnews.com/stats/article.php/1487891   |


Norm Jenson is the one who recommended the article
by Richard Rorty, mentioned above. Rorty is one of
the few practicing philosophers who makes me wish
that I had actually kept reading philosophy. Here
are a couple more Rorty links:

Home: http://www.stanford.edu/~rrorty/index.html
Another article:

From Vergil Iliescu comes a link to a BBC lectures
on trust and digital identity. For example, Tom
Bailey writes a philosophical history of trust [1]
(Glaucon, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hume) that's clear
and engaging, and works itself around (in its
philosophical way) to saying that the traditional
pessimists think trust is irrational because they
have forgotten that first and foremost humans are
social. I'm not satisfied with Bailey's resolving
sociality into individuals taking responsibility for
the parts they play in our lives, but the article
remains highly readable and readworthy.

[1] http://www.open2.net/trust/oneill_on_trust/oneill_on

Joe Mahoney went cold turkey. He didn't read the
first page of the newspaper for a week:

  I read the newspaper every morning. Two of them
  often. By the time I finish the front section I
  have a kind of brain sickness. I feel like God
  just before the flood

God speed, Joe.


Andrew Leonard in Salon writes about a topic I was
going to write about: how damn good video games are
compared to movies.


Buzz Bruggeman points us to an article by Jonathan
Welsh in the WSJ online about Grand Theft Auto 4
from an automotive writer. Conclusion: The SUV he
drove in the game drives like an SUV in the real



Vergil Iliescu reminds us of the silly but enjoyable
VillainSupply site.


Avi Rappoport points out that a "new" weblog has
begun: Samuel Pepys diary. Every day, one entry will
be published. It's rich in annotations. And if you
want to add information, you can in the form of a


Jonathan Peterson [1] writes in response my request
for some travel tips:

  Check out virtualtourist [2], I used them a lot 2
  years ago when we went to France. Very bloglike
  community with a lot of english content.

  The navigation can be a bit confusing, as it mixes
  individual with commercial content. The best stuff
  is in people's travelogues, off the beaten path
  and restaurant reviews:

  It's especially great when you get a local who has
  spent some time talking about their city

  I'm amazed at how much more content there is than
  last time I looked. Viva la camera digita'l!

Yes, I'm a fan of VirtualTourist also.

[1] http://way.nu/
[2] http://www.virtualtourist.com

John Husband in an email points to an article in
the NY Times (pay-to-read) [1]:

            New Premise in Science
       Get the Word Out Quickly, Online

  A group of prominent scientists is challenging the
  leading scientific journals with the creation of
  two peer-reviewed online journals this week....

The way the Web has broken the lock between
perfection and eternality is quite remarkable. We
can go public with work in progress and not have to
wait for the Wite-out to dry on our perfect
manuscript before we acknowledge its existence.

And all of this is made possible through the magic
of metadata: so long as we know that it's a draft,
we're willing to make allowances and read it for
what it is. (And the great virtue of blogs is that
they're understood to be perpetual rough drafts.)

So, let's try to get syllogistical here. Metadata
allows for imperfection. Imperfection hastens time.
Haste leaves little time to erect defenses.
Therefore, metadata lets us be who we are. QED.


I'm participating in a group blog about what the
government of a connected people might look like.
It's at http://wwww.GreaterDemocracy.org.

Dan Gillmor has launched the meme he's been

  Journalism is evolving away from its lecture mode
  -- here's the news, and you buy it or you don't --
  to include a conversation. ..

  ...it boils down to something simple: our readers
  collectively know more than we do, and they don't
  have to settle for half-baked coverage when they
  can come into the kitchen themselves. This is not
  a threat. It is an opportunity. And the evolution
  of We Media will oblige us all to adapt.

Of course, Dan being Dan and the Web being the Web,
he's been gestating it in public. Nevertheless, the
appearance of "We Media" in the prestigious Columbia
Journalism Review is a marker worth celebrating.


I wax incomprehensible in an interview at the SXSW
site. Jon Lebkowsky asked good questions. I drove
down the road into thickets every time.

I'll be leading off the SXSW Interactive conference
in March. See you in Austin?


Madan Mohan Rao writes:

  Warm greetings from cool Bangalore! Just returned
  from a great trip East; thought I would point you
  towards some of my recent articles:

  Asian wireless scenario (ITU Summit)
  Corporate/government portals 
  Case study: Knowledge Management at Tata Steel

Here's the beginning of the KM case study:

  At Tata Steel, one incident more than any other
  drove home the point that they had to find a way
  to combining intellectual and technological assets
  via knowledge management. In 1999, a foreign
  technical consultant was summoned to the Indian
  steel giant to solve a problem. He replied that he
  had already been engaged and solved it the year

The article also mentions that Tata rewards
"intelligent failure" as a way to encourage

That settles it: I'm buying all my steel from Tata!

Jock Gill points us to GNU Radio [1], and, in
particular, to Eric Blossom's work. (He's been
slashdotted here [2].) GNU Radio is a software-
radio. Unlike regular radios that are hard-wired
about what they do with the information they
receive, software-defined radio can do anything
it's programmed to do... including simultaneously
receiving two broadcast FM stations from a single
input. (Say wha'?)

In fact, the GNU Radio -- which may be your
computer with a little hardware added -- doesn't
have to assume the inputs are sounds at all.
Although I'm only following this topic by the skin
of my teeth, it seems to me that this is where the
real promise lies.

(As with all GNU Brand(TM) products [3], GNU Radio
is a
public and free software project.)

[1] http://www.gnu.org/software/gnuradio/gnuradio.html
[3] http://www.gnu.org/home.html

Michael O'Connor Clarke [1] points us to a
hyperbolic tree of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
[2] I'm not quite sure what's going on (how
appropriate!) but it is rather wonderful.

[1] http://llareggolb.blogspot.com/
[2] http://textarc.org/Alice2.html

Gary Boone starts off his new weblog [1] with a
thoughtful essay on the relationship of trains and
the Internet, and a link to an "impossible" puzzle
from Simon Coggins [2]. (Actually, since I don't
understand the solution that's provided, it remains
to me truly impossible.)

Welcome to Blogland, Gary.

[1] http://garyboone.com/
[2] http://members.evolt.org/simonc/images/puzzle.gif

Adina Levin reviews my book "Small Pieces Loosely
filtering it through her interest in Talmudic
interpretation. As you know by now, Adina is way
smart and an incisive reader.


Dethe [1] has found a very funny ... well, here's
the relevant excerpt from the email he sent me:

  ...there's a wonderful paper on Postmodern
  Programming [2] ... My favorite part is when they
  define the essence of the PoMo programming
  language: Languages get defined by the problems
  they solve. The first exercise for many
  programmers is to compute the first thousand prime
  numbers. Here's their solution:


  I thought you'd enjoy that, seeing as how it
  combines PoMo, Google, and a wickedly funny smack
  on the head in one go.

My friend Paul English, when asked if he knows
someone's phone number, has been known to reply:
"Yes. It's 411."

[1] http://livingcode.manilasites.com/
[2] http://www.mcs.vuw.ac.nz/comp/Publications/CS-TR-02-9.abs.html

The Boston Globe ran a history of the Open Source
movement by Laurence Schorsch that's quite positive,
citing it as a threat "peering over the horizon ...
that just might topple Microsoft." Appropriately, it
begins with Richard Stallman's contribution. Yet,
although Linus Torvalds and Eric Raymond are
interviewed, local-boy Stallman isn't. The second to
last paragraph explains why:

  (Stallman declined to be interviewed for this
  article unless we promised to call the operating
  system "GNU/Linux" instead of the more common

Every time Stallman interrupts a conversation to
insist that people change the way they speak, the
damage he does to the social values GNU was created
to support are mitigated only by the impression that
he's nuts.

Language: The ultimate open source project.



RageBoy now has two -- count 'em, two! -- blogs. His
new one [1] is at the Corante site and sounds a lot
like the RB of Gonzo Marketing and Cluetrain, a
voice I've missed. Here's a taste:

  ...We're making up stuff and feeding it to each
  other. Lies and fictions and contrafactual
  fabrications of the worst sort. Or the best sort.
  We think we're hiding behind all these random
  words we sling around. Then we're horrified to
  realize we've betrayed ourselves. Our masks have
  given us away.

  Scary. And beautiful....

Meanwhile, over at his first blog [2], RB's monkey-
boy shadow is still pulling up the maenad's skirts
and engaging in various forms of satyre.

[1] http://www.corante.com/adhominem
[2] http://www.rageboy.com/blogger.html

Ruth Lipman sends us to a site that she knows will
raise the blood temperature of those of us who
believe in animal rights. It's quite graphic so I
urge you to shield the monitor from young and
impressionable minds.

(BTW, I prefer to eat them head first.)


From the online free version of the irrepressible
Annals of Improbable Results [1] comes an improbable
journal entry [2] recounting the day Oliver Sacks
visited a guy who made a literal table of periodic
elements. It includes videos of a self-induced
sodium explosion and of how to turn eggs, cream and
sugar into ice cream simply by pouring in liquid
nitrogen. Also, there's a snippy argument over who
has the larger lump of tungsten.

I'm at a loss.

[1] http://www.improbable.com
[2] http://www.theodoregray.com/PeriodicTable/Stories/SacksVisit/

The very same Annals of Improbable Research's also
unearthed the following research:

  "Mandibular Angle Augmentation with the Use of
  Distraction and Homologous Lyophilized Cartilage
  in a Case of Morphing to Michael Jackson Surgery,"

So, we may have found the only thing weirder than
Michael Jackson: a guy who wants to undergo
extensive surgery in order to look like Michael

 http://www.improbable.com/news/2003/jan/jackson.htm l


Ellen Smith of Columbus, Ohio is annoyed about what
I said about libraries [1]:

  ...Are you sure that a group of Librarians
  described themselves as"the gatekeepers of
  knowledge"? That is so whack. In my Library School
  days we were instructed that we are more like
  guardians of culture...

  The concept of information as residing only in
  books has been completely antiquated for well over
  50 years. Information takes many modalities, and
  part of my professional role is to understand the
  who, what, where and why of it all so that I can
  locate the information that a patron needs. I am
  Google with a human face and (unless you really
  enjoy slogging though thousands of lame web pages)
  I can save a busy professional a lot of time.

  Please don't sell us short. Hopefully the people
  you talked to are well on their way out the door.

The"gatekeeper" language was theirs, but the picture
they painted was similar to Ellen's.

[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-dec20-02.html#librarians

Anna Gieschen writes about the same piece :

  As a librarian with a sense of doom, I'd like to
  respond to your librarian item.

  I've never thought librarians and libraries were
  gatekeepers, or that it would be a good thing if
  we were. This may be because I've always worked in
  healthcare, where we are clearly amateurs as far
  as judging content per se, whatever professional
  expertise we have on reliable sources, information
  searching and general background.


  Five years ago, the last hospital in which I
  worked merged its library into a multi-
  institutional information center outside the
  hospital, where I now work as reference librarian.
  In partial agreement with your thought that
  "gatekeeping is self organizing" it is my
  impression that since this move, other departments
  and individuals do more of the stuff we used to
  do, acting as links to information sources,
  including the library, than they used to do. Many
  of the requests that come to me seem to be proxy
  requests where the end user is someone other than
  the requester. Perhaps that's evidence that the
  role, though not gatekeeping, (maybe link
  maintainenance?), and not called "librarian", has
  a future?...

We will always need:

1. Help finding information.
2. Sources we trust.

Librarians -- whatever they're called -- can help
with both, now and in the future.

Jeff Stecker writes about the same article:

  ...one paragraph caught me - the analogy of manna
  everywhere and the manna protected by the
  gatekeeper. I agree with your conclusion, however
  I think we might both be wrong, or why is AOL
  still in business? Perhaps the AOLs of the net
  may be the prototypes of the librarian of the
  future to be used by those who haven't the
  inclination to look for their own *books*.

Since Jeff wrote this letter, AOL has dragged
AOL/Time Warner to a $99,000,000,000 loss and has
fired its CEO. Ouch! Nevertheless, Jeff is right,
except we should use Yahoo! as our example: a site
that aggregates a million or so pages, each
carefully glanced at by an underpaid grad student.
Doing this for a company or some other institution
is of genuine value.


I heard from Mark Federman of the McLuhan Program in
Culture and Technology [1]. He teaches a graduate
in "Mind, Media and Society" at the University of
Toronto, my alma mater. He writes: "Essentially the
course teaches people to think like Marshall McLuhan
did... you know... come up with cute aphorisms,
predict the future, that sort of stuff..." The
course has a blog [2] jam-packed with ideas. Here's
of an entry [3]:

  ...We left the seminar with the following probe:
  The invention of the phonetic alphabet changed us
  from a primarily oral culture to a primarily
  literate culture (starting in ancient Greek times,
  and accelerated by Gutenberg). The effect of this
  transition was, among other things, to create
  private, silent reading (via books), hence private
  ideas and therefore personal identity and
  individuality. Now that the acceleration of
  instantaneous, multi-way communications has put us
  back into "acoustic space" (centre is
  everywhere/anywhere, boundaries are nowhere), we
  are regaining our oral culture. (This is one
  aspect that led Marshall McLuhan to note that we
  are "retribalizing" in the sense that we move back
  to acoustic space, from which the Global Village
  metaphor emerged.) What effect might the nature of
  Internet as acoustic space have on personal
  identity, individuality, privacy and so on? Do we
  still have privacy, or is there a new medium of
  "publicy" that emerges?

Wow! What a paragraph!

[1] http://www.mcluhan.utoronto.ca
[2] http://www.mcluhan.utoronto.ca/blogger/blogger.html

Dethe writes:

  You mention in your open spectrum
  whitepaper/manifesto [1] that Jeffrey Beir is a
  former electrical engineer. As I'm technically
  (but only technically, I can explain at length if
  you're not careful) an electrical engineer, I'm
  curious how one can become *former* in this field.
  I have little in the way of skills, and I've never
  worked as an EE, yet I have been unable to achieve
  formerness, however hard I try.

  I hope you'll be able to clarify this for me.

Easy: start writing about all the scientific
evidence for the existence of personal auras. (By
the way, that'll also work for those of you trying
to become ex-physicists and ex-UN Arms Inspectors.)

[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-dec20-02.html#spectrum


Rob Charlton responds to my article on Open

  ... your piece on Open Spectrum does raise some
  interesting points, via: Is the issue of
  interference really so cut and dried? The comments
  from Michael K. Powell (to which you hyperlinked
  so helpfully) suggest NOT. If interference is an
  issue -- even an isolated one -- then it becomes
  harder (in my mind) to argue for full open
  spectrum. Surely there would have to be some
  mechanism for handling frequency collisions? If
  interference can occur -- even in a small
  percentage of cases -- should spectrum management
  policies be oriented to managing that problem or
  isolating it? That may become an issue of
  judgment, based on the degree to which it actually

The problem isn't interference or frequency
collisions, as I understand it, because the photons
don't actually hit one another. The problem instead
is the inability of the transmitters and receivers
to process information well enough. And that indeed
is an issue. There's a discussion about this,
several leagues over my head, here:

Craig Allen writes:

  This may be common knowledge, but I learned from a
  brief article in Doctor Dobb's Journal (ya gotta
  pay on the web, I get the print edition free, how
  weird is that?) that way back when the Internet
  was being designed, AT&T somehow forced the design
  to rely on a relatively small number of central
  routers rather than a more distributed,
  decentralized approach. As a result, the net is
  more vulnerable to various kinds of Denial of
  Service attacks, various unplanned disasters, and
  (I'm not sure if this is an assumption on my part
  or the article said it) less throughput. AT&T's
  reason was that otherwise it would be too
  competitive with the phone network (most of which
  they owned at the time).

(Craig notes that he's summarizing from memory and
thus may be off in some of the details.)

News to me. Sounds plausible. But everything sounds
plausible to me.


Jack Vinson writes:

  Your Dec 20 Joho mentions your penchant for
  misreading headlines/comics/etc. My wife and I
  frequently laugh at our own misreadings. There has
  to be a better term that "Freudian slip," because
  most of them don't feel terribly "risque." (Or
  does "Freudian" imply any subconsciously-generated
  mis-step?) For now we just say"It sounded better
  the first time I read it."

It was Freud who suggested that apparent "slips of
the tongue" in fact had meaning, a radical notion at
the time. That he thought the meaning was usually
sexual just shows that he had a dirty penis, um, I
mean penis. Did I say penis? I meant he had a dirty
penis in his behind. I mean mind.

Gary Lawrence says he found this on his desk, but he
thinks it's for me:

    Dear Mr Weinberger,

   In your JOHO Journal of the Hyperlinked
   (Dec 20, 2002) you have specifically written the

      ...talking here about two recordings of
      This is like suing me because I erased the
      words as you. By the way, I've just composed a
      piece called"Beethoven's Rests."

   This message is to inform you that the blank
   line used between these paragraphs is a copyright
   infringement as the identical blank line was used
   for the identical artistic purpose within a prior
   composition by our client in a text message in
   and therefore qualifies as prior art.

   Under the provisions of the DMCA, you are hereby
   _required_ to remove all similar blank lines in
   your writing, and do so immediately, refraining
   from all use of blank lines until the matter can
   settled in court.

Some of you responded to my cri de coeur in the
previous issue about why it's taking me so long to
get JOHO out.

Kurt Kurosawa writes:

  Publish JOHO whenever you feel like it. Let it go
  for a week or a decade. Something in you isn't
  getting back out of it what you're putting into
  it, and it's letting you know. You might be
  preparing to go on what Pirsig called a lateral
  drift, something you do when you're stuck, like
  being trapped under ice. What else is there to do
  but just drift along until you find a hole or
  edge? (If you have the Kate Bush tune Under Ice it
  really doesn't have much to do with this e-mail,
  but it's a great tune to listen to while
  drifting.) Anyway, if you're ready to drift, you
  may as well go there. You can put it off but you
  can't avoid it, and if you put it off, you'll get
  more and more annoyed at your"disobedient" self.

No, no, Kurt. You were supposed to plead with me to
keep it going, not tell me the truth.

Bill Spornitz writes:

  I think you should make an email address called
  JOHO-in and then send all your joho-related
  snippets to JOHO-in, and write an xml schema that
  handles these emails and sorts them by subject;
  maybe employ subjects like *bitchy: justice:
  musings:What I think we should do with that
  President-guy* and then let the Machine do all the
  Work! It's the only way; capitalize ( there's that
  word again) on the inherent structure in the
  process that is You....

Except for the XML part, that's very close to what I
do now. I write my blog entries in a little app I
wrote for myself that does the HTML markup the way I
like. Any that I think may be worth running in JOHO
get saved into a text base. Another app lets me
click on any entries in that text base, assign it a
category, and assemble a rough draft of JOHO. Yet
another app goes through a directory of saved email
and turns it into this section you're reading.
Nevertheless, the amount of hand clean up is
formidable. Just getting it wrangled into text takes
a day.  And then I have to go through, hand-
inserting typos and randomly breaking links so that
you'll know that the issue was created by a human.

Ryan Irelan has his own suggestions

  How to save JOHO's royal brokenness? There are a
  few possibilities:

  1. Talk more sh_it, more often.

  2. Write the entire issue in German, with no
  explanation to the readers.

  3. Fall down on your knees and beg the newsletter
  gods for help.

  4. Fall down on your knees and cry like a baby.

  5. Bring another contributor/editor onboard to
  help with the logistics, i.e. cutting and pasting
  and getting the thing in the mail.

  6. Downy, the quicker picker upper.

Sehr gut Vorschlage, Ryan! Aber wie ich meinen neuen
Assistenten zahle?

Kevin Marks had an idea:

  I fed the current contents of your weblog through
  the OS X summarizer program, and turned it down
  to 2% of paragraphs- this can be your next

Even 2% of JOHO is too long, so I'll spare you the
summary. Suffice it to say that the OS X summarizer
apparently thinks the previous issue was mainly
about Eric Norlin.

Jeff Stecker, wondering how I could make the issue
shorter, asks:

  "Have you tried smaller type?  ;-)

No, but I've contemplated getting subscribers who
read faster.


Bart Simpson is shown at the beginning of the
Simpsons writing some sentence over and over on a
blackboard as punishment. Some samples:

| I will return the seeing-eye dog                 |
|                                                  |
| I will not bury the new kid                      |
|                                                  |
| I am not authorized to fire substitute teachers  |
|                                                  |
| I will not re-transmit without the express       |
| permission of Major League Baseball              |

If software applications were Bart, what might they
be writing on the board?

| Microsoft Outlook: Spamming everyone in my       |
| address book doesn't make me popular             |
|                                                  |
| Linux: Not everyone who likes to use a mouse is  |
| a loser                                          |
|                                                  |
| Mac: I can be superior without being smug        |
|                                                  |
| Quicken: Inflating deposits is a misplaced way   |
| of expressing sympathy                           |
|                                                  |
| Real: You can't opt-in for someone               |
|                                                  |
| Microsoft Passport: I will not peek. I will not  |
| peek.                                            |

Your turn.

             CONTEST RESULTS

David Wasser has some contributions for the Web

  JAVAlin throw: Programmers are scored on speed,
  elegance and sneering comments about C++

  DISKus: Who can throw and AOL giveaway disk the

And so another Olympic-sized JOHO comes to an end.
And I'm already two weeks behind on the next one.
Oy! And in addition to the usual work, now I've got
a war to stop. Hey, I know! Why don't we all meet in
the streets and stop the war together!

[Note: JOHO will not be accepting pro-war responses
with our usual feigned good humor. This time it's


JOHO is a free, independent newsletter written and
produced by David Weinberger. If you write him with
corrections or criticisms, it will probably turn out
to have been your fault.

To unsubscribe, send an email to
with "unsubscribe" in the subject line. If you have
more than one email address, you must send the
unsubscribe request from the email address you want
unsubscribed. There's more information about
subscribing, changing your address, etc., at
www.hyperorg.com/forms/adminhome.html. In case of
confusion, you can always send mail to me at
self@xxxxxxxxxxxx There is no need for harshness or
recriminations. Sometimes things just don't work out
between people.

Any email sent to JOHO may be published in JOHO and
snarkily commented on unless the email explicitly
states that it's not for publication.

The Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization is a
publication of Evident Marketing, Inc. "Hyperlinked
Organization" is a trademark of Open Text. For
information about trademarks owned by Evident
Marketing, Inc., please see our Preemptive
Trademarks(tm) page at

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons

Other related posts:

  • » [joho] JOHO - Feb. 14, 2003