[joho] JOHO - Feb. 25, 2003

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 25 Feb 2003 12:31:18 -0500

 Journal of the
 Hyperlinked Organization
 February 25, 2003
 Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
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| CONTENTS                                         |
|                                                  |
| IS THE UNIVERSE A COMPUTER?: I don't understand  |
| it, but I'm pretty sure people are drawing some  |
| false analogies from it.                         |
|                                                  |
| customers get vendors to agree not to hurt us?   |
|                                                  |
| BLOOGLE: Google's acquisition of Blogger.com     |
| puts it in a position to do Good or Evil.        |
|                                                  |
| FLASHING AND TIME: Who is the master of my time? |
|                                                  |
| IT'S A JOHO WORLD AFTER ALL: A review, etc.      |
|                                                  |
| MISC.: Etc.                                      |
|                                                  |
| THE ANALS OF MARKETING: Don't be a moron when    |
| you market.                                      |
|                                                  |
| WALKING THE WALK: Presentation Do-Bees and       |
| Don't-Bees                                       |
|                                                  |
| COOL TOOL: Showing off your fancy graphics.      |
|                                                  |
| WHAT I'M NOT PLAYING: Syberia is a butt.         |
|                                                  |
| POLITICS: The Axis of AstroTurfing               |
|                                                  |
| LINKS: Places to go.                             |
|                                                  |
| ONE EMAIL: Just one.                             |
|                                                  |
| BOGUS CONTEST: Taking the issue off.             |
| WHY SO SOON?                                     |
|                                                  |
| Why is this issue of JOHO coming so hard on the  |
| heels of the previous one? Why is it only too    |
| long rather than psychotically over-stuffed?     |
|                                                  |
| Because I'm trying something new. Less is more,  |
| frequent. Maybe. We'll see...                    |.


Pardon me while I make a bigger fool of myself than
usual. In fact, I'd like to make fool of myself in
two stages. First, I want to tell you what I don't
understand, in the process getting much wrong. Then
I want to tell you what worries me about the topic I
don't understand and am wrong about. Sound like fun?
Here goes!


The universe is a computer. So suggests Stephen
Wolfram and others, an idea explored by Kevin Kelly
in the December issue of Wired. Reputable experts in
physics and in computer science, some of whom are
geniuses, take this idea seriously. I want to take
it seriously too, but I can't get past my initial
"Say wha'??"

Unfortunately, Kelly's article skips over the part I
find hard. He quotes John Archibald Wheeler, who
said in 1989 that "Its are from bits":

   Every it -- very particle, every field of force,
   even the space-time continuum itself -- derives
   its function, its meaning, its very existence
   entirely from binary choices, bits. What we call
   reality arises in the last analysis from the
   posing of yes/no questions.

Kelly elaborates by talking about how oxygen and
hydrogen bond to form water:

   As they merge, each seems to be calculating the
   optimal angle and distance at which to attach
   itself to the others. The oxygen atom uses yes/no
   decisions to evaluate all possible
   courses...Every chemical bond is thus calculated.

So how did we get from "seems to be" to "is"? What
possible sense does it make to say that an atom
calculates all possible angles and makes decisions?
Kelly is brilliant and this logical lapse is so
glaring that it must not be a lapse at all. I must
be missing something.

I think about bits as symbols. Perhaps that's part
of my problem with going from saying that the world
can be described as information to saying that it is
information. With a normal computer, we humans have
decided that we'll take a low electrical state as
signifying a zero. Without a human, the bits are
just voltages. Presumably, the Universe as Computer
(UAC) idea doesn't take bits as standing for
anything. At least part of UAC's appeal is in the
way it explains how complexity can arise from
simplicity, a point Wolfram makes visually with his
illustrations of the changes in state of "cellular
automata." Bits are the ultimate simples, consisting
of nothing but two distinct states: they are binary
but not symbolic.

But if the It Bits (the ultimate constituents of the
universe) are binary but not symbolic, then I don't
understand what we're talking about since (as far as
I as a layperson can tell), the real world is an
analog world in which things are generally
continuous. Doesn't the oxygen atom swing through
intermediate positions as it gloms onto the hydrogen
atom? Where can I find an It Bit? No, really, I mean
that as a question. What the heck are we actually
talking about?

So: Are we assuming that Its are Bits because it
lets us explain the universe as a computer? Or is
there some other reason to think so? Is this
falsifiable the way new paradigms are? New paradigms
traditionally are accepted not because of a single
experiment but because they explain previous
anomalies and open up rich new areas of explanation.
Is that happening in this field? Or is the field so
far rich only in suspect analogies, such as oxygen
atoms that evaluate possibilites?


I have to admit that it makes me suspicious when the
scales fall from our eyes and the brand new paradigm
we discover just happens to mirror our latest
technology. For example, around the time of steam
engines, humans started to feel themselves "under
pressure" and started to "vent their feelings" and
"let off steam." The reshaping of apperception along
the lines of new technology happens often enough to
make one into a dialectical materialist, or maybe
just a fan of McLuhan.

But, let's accept the new paradigm: The universe is
a computer. Unlike with quantum mechanics, we
ordinary humans who hear "The universe is a
computer" think we know what it means. The
perpetrators of this new paradigm thus have to be
very careful not to let us ordinary mortals
understand it too quickly. Does UAC mean that there
is a giant programmer somewhere? Since we think of
computers as the ultimate rule-based machines, does
the new paradigm mean that the universe is even more
deterministic than we'd thought? Or is just
explaining the determinism differently? This matters
because 99.996% of us are guaranteed to conclude
that UAC means life is more programmed than we'd
thought: it will feel like we're moving from an
indeterminacy in which God plays dice with world to
a determinism as inevitable as the processing of a
set of punch cards.

More important, is UAC really "just" an analysis of
reality into ultimate, two-state simples and their
rules, or do these simples in fact stand for
something else, the way low-voltage is taken to
stand for a zero? If the latter, then the popular
takeaway of UAC will be further alienation: The
Matrix was right. After all, if the Bits that are
Its are symbolic, then (as is the case with
computers in general), the software is independent
of the hardware. Kelly suggests this when he defends
the idea that "All things can compute" by pointing
to the whacky, non-silicon materials people have
built computers out of. If that's what we mean by
UAC, then there's an enormous disconnect between the
world we live in and reality; the known universe is
a simulation that looks like it is based in matter
and energy and emergent organization but could in
fact be the result of a gigantic Tinkertoy set being
manipulated by a gigantic Danny Hillis. [Wolfram
seems (to my ignorant mind) to imply the opposite
when he says that computing the result of a simple
rule that leads to great complexity requires you to
step through all the steps; you can't just plug
numbers into a formula.]

So, on the ignorance front, I'm probably posing a
corruptly binary question (how ironic) that assumes
that there's a difference between a simulation and
reality. But on the fear front, I'm pointing to a
real concern: The popular conclusion from UAC will
be the ultimate Berkeleyian Idealism. loosening the
already frayed conceptual tie we have to our own
bodies. It will lead to an even bigger sigh of
"Whatever!" than we're experiencing now.

Now, my fears in no way are an argument against UAC.
I wouldn't dare since my veil of ignorance is 40
layers thick. They are, however, a taste of the
confusion and anxieties UAC is going to sow in the
minds of those of us terminally unable to grasp its
meaning. And it's a warning that those who do
understand it need to explain this topic as free of
metaphor and false argument-by-analogy conclusions
as possible.


Here's an idea so obvious that it's either been done
or there's a good reason why it hasn't been done.

My worry about digital ID is that even with the most
user-centered technology -- the sort the Eric Norlin
[1] and Doc Searls [2] are championing -- inevitably
users will be faced with a Hobson's choice: Although
the technology allows us to release only the ID
information that we want to, vendors will insist
that we give them more than we want to in order to
do business with them. So, we need more than
technology that gives us control. We need a
marketplace that lets us exercise that control.

So, suppose vendors were encouraged to agree to a
set of statements such as these:

|         THE "YOU FIRST" DIGITAL ID PLEDGE        |
| 1. Your digital ID is yours. You own it. Only    |
| you get to decide who knows what about you.      |
|                                                  |
| 2. To do business with us, you need only give    |
| us the minimum information required to complete  |
| the transaction.                                 |
|                                                  |
| 3. If we then want more information about you,   |
| we will explain clearly what we want, why we     |
| want it, what we will do with it, how it         |
| benefits you, and any ways it might not benefit  |
| you.                                             |
|                                                  |
| 4. We recognize that if providing us with        |
| additional information benefits us, we need to   |
| compensate you for that information in some way  |
| that we both freely agree on.                    |
|                                                  |
| 5. We respect your privacy absolutely. We will   |
| never share what we know of you with anyone      |
| else without your explicit ("opt-in")            |
| permission.                                      |

If you agree to this, you get to put a button on
your site that, of course, links to a web page that
explains the details.

What do you think?

[1] http://www.unchartedshores.com/blogger/blogger3.html
[2] http://doc.weblogs.com/


Now we see what Google is made of.

Google got to be the #1 brand name world-wide,
beating Coke and Osama not by out-spending them or
by having a catchier jingle. No, they did it the way
(frankly) Cluetrain said: by having value and
values. So far -- despite some fear-mongering
recently -- Google seems to have earned our trust.
It's one of the best examples of a company adopting
the "End- to-End" principles I talked about in the
previous issue of JOHO.

But Blogger offers such a temptation to go wrong.
What is Google's business case for the purchase? The
purchase of Deja.com gave Google content that drew
more users and, more important, gave them more pages
on which to sell ads. Google's ad policy maintains
its value and its values: the ads are unobtrusive
and are listed in order of their utility to users
(based on clicks). But with Blogger, there are two
tempting ways Google could violate the trust they've
earned: They could start charging for all Blogger
accounts, even the ones that are currently free, and
they could weight searches towards Blogger blogs.

Weighting searches would clearly violate the
principle that has built Google's presence:
rankings that try to reflect the Web's own
preferences. Charging for all Blogger accounts
would violate the implicit bond that has made
Google not only known and used but loved, for it
would make the Web a worse place overall. Google's
record so far has been great: Whatever the business
reasons for rescuing Deja, the purchase also
preserved the UseNet archives, making the Net a
better place. And, of course, the superiority of
Google's searching ability has made the Web a far
better place than it was before.

Many companies get stupid when they get big. So
far, Google has bucked the trend. Let's hope it
doesn't give in to the temptation to get stupid now.


Just posted: Saltire takes a much grimmer view of
the acquisition:
and Doc Searls replies:


From Betsy Devine's blog [1] comes a link to Linda
Kim Davies' home page [2]. It's a Flash site and my
first reaction was impatience and annoyance. Images
and words fade in, leaving me feeling like Bob (or
was it Ray?) in the Bob and Ray interview with the
president of the Slow Talkers of America Society.
Likewise, her essays appear one slow-fading
paragraph at a time. "What right does she have to
take my time this way?" I thought.

And then I realized how stupid I was being. Or how
webby. I'm acting as if I've been made the Lord of
Time, that I have an inalienable right to control
the pace and editing of what I experience. The
sequential, non-random arts demand we trust them
with our time, a non-recoverable, non-fungible chunk
of our lives. When they squander it, we feel robbed.
But when they do more with that time than we could
have imagined, not just our ideas and feelings but
our lives ourselves have been made more valuable.

On the other hand, I wish Linda Kim Davies would put
in a list of links to her photos.

[1] http://BetsyDevine.weblogger.com
[2] http://www.lindakimdavies.com/flash6.htm


Michael Rogers in Newsweek Online discusses Links by
Albert-Laszlo Barabasi, Howard Rheingold's Smart
Mobs and my book. About mine he writes:

  "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" by David Weinberger
  is subtitled "A Unified Theory of the Web."
  Weinberger isn't quite serious about his subtitle.
  Rather, he provides a thoughtful explication of
  the phenomena that any such theory should
  unify...Of the three authors he's the most overtly
  philosophical, with chapter titles like "Space"
  and "Time." And he makes an interesting point: the
  idea of the Web is in some ways more important
  than the mechanism of the Web. The truly
  transforming impact of the Internet will occur
  when the linking and virtual existence that we
  experience on the Web starts to alter how we
  understand and manage society itself.

He liked Links and Smart Mobs, too. So do I.

The Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter has also given
"Small Pieces" a nice review.


In its monthly list of "Wired, Tired and Expired,"
the new issue of Wired lists "Loosely Joined" as

I believe that according to the terms of the Geneva
Convention on Lost Luggage, I am therefore entitled
to claim that "Small Pieces Loosely Joined" must
have been wired at some point, albeit implicitly.

Woohoo (by implication)!


Michael Jackson in a recent documentary Jackson
denies having had any plastic surgery to his face
except for two operations on his nose because "it
helped me breathe better so I can hit higher notes."

Looks we'll have to go to Hypothesis #2: There is a
God and Michael Jackson has really, really pissed
Him off.

Our middle child turned 18 last week. And what has
she been looking forward to doing now that she's
attained her majority? Getting a tattoo? Buying
cigarettes? Checking a pornographic movie out of the
video store?

No, she went out and got herself a subscription to
Nickelodeon Magazine for Kids without first getting
the permission of her parents.

(If you haven't figured it out, she's very funny.)

Before approaching me in the real world, please
certify that you have read Jonathan Rauch's "Caring
for Your Introvert." It'll save us all a lot of
heartache and misunderstanding.


A Freudian mishearing:

Our 6th grader has been doing a unit on poetry,
including having to write poems in the style of Walt
Whitman. I find this degrading to Whitman: When they
study da Vinci, are the 6th graders supposed to do
oil paintings in the style of da Vinci? Apparently
writing like Whitman is something that any 6th
grader can do. Jeez.

Anyway, my son started to tell me about a poem a
friend of his wrote as an assignment. My son said:
So-and-so's "'Song of Myself' poem." I heard: "Song
of My Cell Phone."

     I telephone myself;
     And what I assume you shall assume;
     For every ring tone belonging to me, as
         good belongs to you.


Too bad Happy Tutor's reappropriation [1] of the
Cluetrain Manifesto didn't take the opportunity to
fix #74, the most obviously wrong thesis in the

     We are immune to advertising. Just forget it.

     We are immune to advertising, whether corporate
     or political. Just forget it. [Tutor]

If only. Yesterday the guy behind the desk at the
auto repair shop complained lightly, "People think
I'm the Shell Answer Man." It has to be at least 20
years since the Shell Answer Man ads were on TV, but
there he is, still stuck in our heads. Marketing
shrapnel. And when my wife and I went to buy a new
washing machine, I entered the process sure that
Maytag is a reliable brand.

No, we're not immune. But the Internet does give us
a way to check whether we're thinking clearly or
it's just the shrapnel talking.


Jane Black has an excellent article [1] at
BusinessWeek on the real causes of the drop in CD
sales. Her conclusion:

  ...it seems irresponsible for music-industry
  officials to present these sales statistics as
  proof that piracy is overwhelmingly responsible
  for the industry's woes while conveniently
  ignoring the economic and technological context
  that puts those numbers in perspective.

Collection agencies scare me because they get to
write bad things about me on the permanent record my
high school principal warned me about. So, when I
received a letter from a collection agency today, it
made me nervous. It seems I owe AT&T Worldnet the
mighty sum of $16.95.

The nice guy I spoke with at the collection agency
cut me off in mid-outrage as I said that I'd never
received the original bill. It turns out that the
$16.95 was the final charge for a Worldnet account I
cancelled a year ago. AT&T had sent the bill to my
worldnet email account...yes, to the account that
I'd cancelled.

"I get this all day long," the collection guy said.

| MIDDLE WORLD RESOURCES                           |

Last week I heard two presentations that might have
been arranged one after another on purpose. The
first was an endless walkthrough of all of Microsoft
Project's features. "We looked at how teams actually
work together," the presenter said, and then
apparently they decided to see how much of the
humanity well-designed software could squeeze out of
the process. We saw endless grids, timelines, pie
charts, warning flags and drill downs that together
constituted informational white noise.

The next presenter talked about how the Pentagon
rebuilt itself [1] after 9/11. A "slab to ceiling"
renovation was already underway, but the team
dedicated itself to restoring the hole in their
lives within a year of the attack. Contractors and
architects worked together, rather than positioning
each other to take the blame for overruns in time
and budget as is the usual custom. The "ends" were
empowered and given incentives to succeed. Spirits
were high. And Walker Evey, the ex-NASA guy who
headed the project, showed true leadership.

Now, I have every confidence that the Pentagon
restoration project used plenty of Gannt charts,
timelines, pie charts and grids to coordinate the
activities. For all I know, it used Microsoft
Project. But it succeeded because of leadership and
dedication...and because its managers didn't made
the common business mistake of confusing the
measurement with the measured.

[Note: Please don't bother writing to tell me that
you don't like the Pentagon or what it stands for.
Neither do I. But  you might want to do some yoga to
try to get the kink out of your self-righteousness.]

[1] http://renovation.pentagon.mil/


Let's go from the utilitarian to the extravagant.

First, there's the humble Nokia Monitor Test [1].
It'll put up a series of squares, patterns and
colors so you can adjust your monitor. It's also,
surprisingly psychedelic if you're really desperate.

Then there's the series of show-off pieces you can
get from ATI [2] that take full advantage of the
new Radeon 9700 Pro card that you got by lying just
a little to your wife about the inadequacy of your
current graphics card, maybe even implying that the
current card was actually broken. (I'm going to Hell
anyway. I might as well have a great graphics card
while I wait.)

These demos put the card through its technical
paces, but since I couldn't tell a trilinear filter
from a three-hole outhouse, I just want the graphic
buzz. And you get that with all of them, including
the woodland scene with reflective balls and the
chrome ants marching around the moebius strip. But
most of all you have to see Animusic. As you watch
the catchy little tune being played by an animated
robotic orchestra, you'll be entertained. But when
you realize that you can use your mouse to move
through the scene at will, your jaw will drop. Too

[1] http://www.construnet.hu/nokia/Monitors/TEST/monitor_test.html
[2] http://www.ati.com/products/pc/catalyst/dx9demos.html

| WHAT I'VE STOPPED PLAYING                        |
|                                                  |
| "Syberia": Lovely to look at ... and a pain in   |
| the frigging ass to play.                        |
|                                                  |
| "Syberia" is an adventure game. It opens in a    |
| tiny Alpine town, home of the world's most       |
| charming automata. You are a comely and highly   |
| professional lass out to close a deal with the   |
| automata factory's owner. But mystery            |
| ensues...something about a lady who may be dead  |
| or not but in any case used to draw pictures of  |
| wooly mammoths in a cave in the forest.          |
|                                                  |
| Oh, the mystery ensues all right. It ensues      |
| and ensures. Hour after pointless hour you       |
| ensue your ass off fetching a large and          |
| entirely arbitrary set of objects in precisely   |
| the right and arbitrary order. Failure to do so  |
| means that you will have to traverse the entire  |
| freaking landscape yet again. You can run but    |
| you can't just go from A to D without first      |
| passing B for the twentieth time and C for the   |
| thirtieth. And every time you think you're at    |
| the end of a chapter and the !@#$% train is      |
| going to leave the !@#$% station, the            |
| no-longer-charming a conductor --                |
| an automaton, of course --  tells you            |
| about some other random hurdle you must jump.    |
| And to jump it, you have to go back to D         |
| through B and C and don't forget to give the     |
| retarded little Momo character a good thwack on  |
| the back of his annoying little head.            |
|                                                  |
| Thank goodness for the Universal Hint System [1].|
| If I have no idea where to get the ink for the   |
| stamper for the permit for the train, UHS will   |
| tell you just enough to keep you from going      |
| back to the dam where Momo is waiting with       |
| another of his long boring stories.              |
|                                                  |
| This game is so annoying it might actually       |
| force me to go read a book.                      |
| [1] http://www.uhs-hints.com                     |


Two nights ago, Bush's speechwriter was on The
Daily Show, the Jon Stewart fake news program
that's funny because it blurts out the truth. The
speechwriter explained with glee how he came up
with the phrase "Axis of Evil." He originally wrote
"Axis of Hatred," but his boss (not Bush) took one
look at it and said, "No, it's the 'Axis of Evil,'"
repeating it a few times aloud to see how it

This constituted the debate over whether these
countries actually are evil and the effect
classifying them as such would have. A couple of
lobes short of The West Wing, eh?

Wanna see a funny take on the color coded Federal
Panic Button? Try here:
[Thanks Gary Stock, www.unblinking.com]

Demonstrating a remarkable lack of irony, the
Republican Team Leader site that was caught
astroturfing letters to the editor (write a letter
and get GOPoints redeemable for attractive GOP logo-
wear) is now urging members to astroturf the Boston
Globe in response to the Globe's editorial against
the Team Leader's site's astroturfing. (Yes, that
sentence does make sense.)

And, quite wonderfully, the pre-composed letter you
can click and send is in fact the original letter
about President Bush "demonstrating genuine


I find something moving about this collection of
photos of peace rallies around the world. 
[Thanks, David Isenberg, www.isen.com ]

Peter Jung has a new blog [1] that so far is about
politics and has a sense of humor. If you love da
Dubya, you will not like his site.

BTW, from this site I learned that Joe Lieberman
called the commuting of all death sentences in
Illinois "shockingly wrong." He added, "It did
terrible damage to the credibility of our system of
justice." [2] Yeah, Joe Orthodox thinks that
acknowledging the fallibility of human judgment is a
terrible thing. (FWIW, Jewish law makes applying the
death penalty just about impossible. On purpose.)

[1] http://e-town.blogspot.com/
[2] http://www.wsws.org/articles/2003/jan2003/ryan-j23.shtml


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


Phil Becker has a helpful update on Palladium, the
Microsoft project to provide "secure" computing. Its
name has now been changed and, more important, it is
going to be made a standard part of Windows over the
next few years. In fact, the fact that Microsoft has
moved from the "hot" name "Palladium" to a name that
can be neither pronounced nor remembered -- "Next-
generation Secure Computing Base" -- indicates that
Microsoft wants to lower the project's visibility
and make it sound not like a product but like a
service that will be buried inside of its Windows


Here's a balanced article [1] on the impact of
Palladium on colleges and on Fair Use and the
enforcement of the UCITA [2].

[1] http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i24/24a02701.htm
[2] http://www.4cite.org/

Eric and Andre Durand have written a white paper [1]
for PingID about federated digital ID. This is from
the abstract:

  This document explores the complexity,
  requirements and merits associated with wide-
  scale deployment of identity federation, including
  strategies for pooling resources and the creation
  of standardized business frameworks for assuring
  quality, maintaining security, managing liability,
  reducing risk and resolving disputes.

In fact, there's lots of intellectual foment goin'
on over at DigitalID World [2]. Don't forget to sign
up for a newsletter. (Hint: When the sign-up form
requires that you give your real name, don't use
Bogus McBogusman. That's mine.)

[1] http://www.pingid.com/misc/Whitepaper_Identity_Federation.pdf
[2] http://www.digitalidworld.com

I just got a copy of The Wireless Networking Starter
Kit [1] by Glenn Fleishman [2] and Adam Engst. I've
thumbed through it and it looks like a clear and
lively explanation of everything you wanted to know
about goin' wifi. Maybe now I can find out how the
PPPoE bone connects to the Tx bone.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0321174089/dweinbergers
[2] http://glennf.com/gmblog/


Jonathan's newish blog at Corante has a manifesto
that says it all. Cool!

Ray Bid [1] writes to alert us to the online diary of a
backpacker, Marlowe Bidforth, who is trapped in
Borneo and at this point must be assumed to be
dead. [2] I also assume that the site is a spoof. [3]

Why aren't we seeing more fictitious weblogs? I
don't mean RageBoy's postings about being a babe
magnet [4], but a genuine form of narrative fiction:
daily postings from a fictitious character.

[1] http://www.rabid.oneuk.com
[2] http://www.marlowe.worldfriend.com
[3] http://www.marlowe.worldfriend.com/info.html
[4] http://www.rageboy.com/blogger.html

You can watch a debate over the "broadcast flag"
copy-protection proposal. The debate on Feb. 5
featured: Fritz Attaway, Motion Picture Association
of America; Jim Burger, Dow, Lohnes & Albertson;
Mike Godwin, Public Knowledge; and Andy Setos, Fox
Entertainment Group. (I haven't watched it yet.)

(Note: It requires Real video. If you haven't
installed Real before, be warned that it is sneakily
and persistently opt-out.)


Larry Lessig's conference on Open Spectrum in
Stanford, CA, March 1-2, will feature a moot court
case arguing the issues in front of Michael Powell,
Chair of the FCC. There will be a live feed. (I
wish I could go to the live event. It sounds

Alex Golub [1] has written some Lessig fan fiction
[2]. The idea is funny enough. The execution
actually works. The story begins:

     Grand Inquisitor and Supreme Arbiter of
     Earthling Law Lawrence Lessig leaned back
     in his ultra-schmancy executive chair and
     sighed heavily

This is part of Alex's Small Ensembles
blog-fiction [3] .

[Thanks to www.onepotmeal.com for the link.]

[1] http://lancelot.uchicago.edu/log/
[2] http://lancelot.uchicago.edu/log/archives/2003_02.html
[3] http://lancelot.uchicago.edu/smallensembles/

Have you yet seen the pencil carvings? Oh, sure,
they're flashy in a show-offy sort of way. But I've
been doing the same thing for years, and I only use
the sharpened nail of my left pinky. Go to the Web
version of JOHO to see two of my recent



The Lucrative Project has released a new version of
its code:

  Lucrative is based on Ben Laurie's Lucre project.
  Lucre is a system of blinded digital cash. It is
  unlinkable and untraceable: the bank cannot record
  the coins it issues to customers, and cannot
  identify which account is paying which, except by
  traffic analysis.

  This is 'true anonymous digital cash' folks.

  Lucrative is building a server anyone can use to
  build their own digital bearer instrument
  underwriting business.

First I've heard of it (which puts me at least two
releases behind)...


Anyone with a grain of sense is at least conflicted
by Halley's Alpha Male series [1]. If you hate what it
says, I'm not going to try to argue with you --
as an Omikron Male (my math scores pulled me down),
I'm pretty durn uncomfortable with the throwback
sex roles -- although I will tell you that Halley
isn't writing it because she's anti-feminist. Hah!
I know Halley. Something much more interesting is
going on.

Read her latest [2]. Two memories vividly recounted,
connected by the outwardness of day trips and the
inwardness of casual love. Told through details.
Personal and specific yet illuminating beyond its
subject. Risky in Halley's exposure of herself.
Risky even in its style.

It's not just good writing. It's brave writing. If
nothing else, give Halley that.


The Happy Tutor has started a blog focusing on
"Philanthropy, Democracy and Weblogs"[1]. He's
posted there a remix of the Cluetrain Manifesto [2],
applying it to democracy in corporate America.
Democracy is a conversation and -- just as important
-- corporations aren't citizens. (And if they were,
we'd hate them.)


David Spector, on a mailing list, points us to some
parodies of the inadvertently absurd Homeland of
Office Security site, www.Ready.gov.



I recently said that Mac the OS X uses Bayesian
probability to filter spam. I said that because I
read it somewhere on the Internet. (Damn
Intermenet!) Kevin Marks [1] not only wrote to correct
me -- the Mac uses Latent Semantics -- but also
cc'ed Tim Oren who then blogged a brilliant
explanation and analysis of the two techniques [2]. Thus
has my stupidity made us all a little smarter.

Don't thank me. It's what I do.

[1] http://epeus.blogspot.com/
[2] http://www.pacificavc.com/blog/2003/02/10.html


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  • » [joho] JOHO - Feb. 25, 2003