[joho] JOHO July 17, 2003

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 19 Jul 2003 13:14:23 -0400

Journal of the
Hyperlinked Organization
July 17, 2003
Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
Please send subscription requests or modifications
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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 UNSPOKEN OF GROUPS: The implicit and    |
| ambiguous holds us together.                |
|                                             |
| SOCIAL SOFTWARE: A CODA: Software that      |
| respects the unspoken should give us hope.  |
|                                             |
| WEBBY PEACE: A SECOND CODA: Maybe the       |
| unspoken could teach the world to sing?     |
|                                             |
| candidates are doing, and watching Dean     |
|                                             |
| POLITIC LINKS: Skip this is if you can      |
| think it's important to be fair about the   |
| Bushies                                     |
|                                             |
| THE ANALS OF MARKETING: Ah, Marketing!      |
|                                             |
| WALKING THE WALK: Companies look at blogs   |
|                                             |
| COOL TOOL: Steal this DVD                   |
|                                             |
| WHAT I'M PLAYING: I'm the last one to play  |
| Battlefield 1942                            |
|                                             |
| INTERNETCETERA: Fun fact-ishness            |
|                                             |
| LINKS: You find 'em, we go there            |
|                                             |
| HACKING COUGHS: Your messages               |
|                                             |
| BOGUS CONTEST: Semantic anagrams            |
        | SPECIAL OUT OF DATE ISSUE!                  |
        |                                             |
        | I've been through PC hell for the past      |
        | couple of weeks. I finally have what seems  |
        | to be a stable computing environment.       |
        | (Knock wood, throw salt, eat a healthy      |
        | breakfast, kiss a Republican). My           |
        | triply-redundant backups saved my bacon     |
        | but resulted in some confusion in what got  |
        | unbacked up to where. Consequently, I have  |
        | tons of links and email that is all mixed   |
        | in several large bins. Sorting it all out   |
        | would further delay this issue. And it      |
        | would drive me mad.                         |
        |                                             |
        | So, this issue is light on links and your   |
        | email, and what the ones included tend to   |
        | be impossibly old. (I have, however,        |
        | removed the manual links written on yellow  |
        | stickies before the Web was born.) If       |
        | yours fell between the data cracks, I       |
        | apologize, especially since I thought that  |
        | your comments in particular were witty      |
        | and/or insightful.                          |
        | IT'S A JOHO WORLD AFTER ALL            |
        |                                        |
        | I was NPR's "All Things Considered" a  |
        | while ago talking about the effect of  |
        | carrying around on our computers       |
        | complete archives of everything we've  |
        | ever written. And Christopher Lydon,   |
        | founder of "The Connection" just       |
        | audio-blogged me, in three parts.      | 
        |    Actually, I was on The Connection   |
        | talking about spam not too long ago.   |
        | Oh, put me in front of a mic and I'll  |
        | talk about anything.                   |
ATC: http://discover.npr.org/features/feature.jhtml?wfId=1317383
Lydon #1: http://media.skybuilders.com/lydon/weinberger/mono1.mp3
Lydon #2: http://media.skybuilders.com/lydon/weinberger/mono2.mp3
Lydon #2: http://media.skybuilders.com/lydon/weinberger/mono3.mp3
   |                                        |
        | PROGRESS OR ANOMALY?                   |
        |                                        |
        | There has definitely been an increase  |
        | in interest in my consulting           |
        | business. Is this part of a trend      |
        | you're seeing too or is it just a      |
        | blip in the universe of data?          |
        | My Life in Linux                       |
        |                                        |
        | I've been real-time blogging about     |
        | installing linux, not the easiest task |
        | since rolling off of logs. It begins   |
        | here:                                  |
        | http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001764.html


This is a recapitulation (by no means a
transcription) of some of my comments at the
O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference [1] (April
26, '03 in Santa Clara) under the title "What Groups
Will Be." It was in some ways a response to Clay
Shirky's keynote, which he has posted here:

The full version of these comments (i.e., mine) is


"Learning from experience is the worst way to
learn." That's one of the many right things that
Clay Shirky [2] said in his keynote [3] yesterday
morning. Learning by reading is far preferable, he
said. Absolutely. Yet, he said when it comes to the
behavior of groups, we keep making the same mistake:
we don't come up with a "constitution" early enough.

True. Groups resist formulating a set of rules and
mores. But, we can ask why? If we've all have had the same
frustrating experiences with groups, why haven't we
learned by even experience?

I want to suggest -- eventually -- that we fail to
adopt group constitutions not because we don't learn
but because of the importance -- in even the most
vocal groups -- of the unspoken.


But first some stipulated definitions. For the
purpose of this talk, I mean by "group" a set of
people who know one another and know they're in the
group. This excludes "groupings," i.e., people who
have something in common but who don't know one
another. For example, a demographic slice is a
grouping but not a group.

This also doesn't talk about "communities," a word
that is important enough to preserve for considered
use. I understand a community to be a group in which
people care about one another more than they have
to. And I'm not going to talk about communities


I have two premises today. The first is that groups
are really, really important. I believe  they're
what's driven the public passion for the Net from
the beginning. But I suspect I don't have to talk
you into seeing the value of groups.

Second, the Net is really bad at supporting groups.
It's great for letting groups form, but there are no
services built in for helping groups succeed.
There's no agreed-upon structure for representing
groups. And if groups are so important, why can't I
even see what groups I'm in? I have no idea what
they all are, much less can I manage my
participation in them. Each of the groups I'm in is
treated as separate from every other.

Now, the fact that the Internet is bad at supporting
groups comes straight out of the End-to-End
principle that recommends that in designing a
network [4] you put in as few services as possible
so that these services can be invented by people on
the "edge" of the network. (By the way, I find it
interesting that David P. Reed [5], one of the co-
authors of the original End-to-End paper, is the
author of Reed's Law [6] that squarely locates the
value of the Internet in its group-forming ability.)

So, if groups are important but are under-served by
Internet and if the Internet lets us innovate on the
edges, then there's a market opportunity for group


Lots of services have arisen. I want to pick on one
-- Friendster [6] -- because it's new and appealing.
Friendster attempts to provide a social network with
the special tools loose federations of friends might
want. And Friendster has done a good job of
providing a reasonable set of those tools in a
clean, easy-to-use interface.

Why do you join Friendster? Very likely it's because
a friend invited you. You get an email saying, for
example, that Halley Suitt [7] wants to be your
friend at Friendster. There's a button to press to
accept or reject Halley. This is already indicative
of the problem. Of course it's good that Friendster
requires my permission to be listed as one of
Halley's friends. And with Halley, I have no
problem: I know her virtually and I also know her in
the real world, and I have no problem saying, yes, I
am Halley's friend. But there are lots and lots of
people who might ask me to be their friend for whom
the situation is much dicier. There are people who
are acquaintances, or relatives, or former college
housemates I've been trying to avoid for years.
There are people for whom I'll press the Accept
button not because they're friends exactly but
because they're not enough not-friends that I want
to reject them, or because I want to impress them,
or because I want to kiss their butt in public, etc.
Friendster asks me to be binary about one of the
least binary relationships around.

I'm not suggesting that Friendster made a poor
design decision. I'm suggesting that there is no
good design decision to be made here.

Then you join Friendster and are faced with a one-
page profile. It's relatively inoffensive as far as
these things go. And I like that it allows free-form
entry of text rather than making me choose among
explicitly listed alternatives. But, for example, it
wants to know my favorite books. I don't have a list
of favorite books. When I finish a book, I don't
mentally rank it and say "Ah, it's #2057, pushing
The Thornbirds down a notch."

Worse, it asks me for my interests. People don't
know what they're interested in. Oh, I can list four
or five things, but I'm interested in many many more
things than I could ever list precisely because I
don't have a list implicit in me waiting to be
output. For example, I listed "weblogs" on the form,
but it didn't occur to me to list that I find it
interesting that John Wayne evaded service in World
War II. And I didn't know I was interested in the
history of the telegraph until I read "The Victorian

But we know that these fields aren't really asking
me to list my interests. Rather, they're asking me
to market myself, to pick out the interests and
books that I think will present me well and are
likely to pull me into circles of others who I might
want to meet virtually. But even there, common
interests often are precisely not how relationships
are struck up. For example, when you meet someone
new, not infrequently the conversation begins with a
statement about how you've never even considered a
particular area: "You're studying erotic taxidermy?
That's fascinating! I never even heard of such a
thing." Areas of disjunction often are the most
fruitful way to begin a conversation.

Further, as Zephoria suggested [8] when I posted my
initial ideas [9] for this talk, the Friendster
sign-up sheet assumes that there's only one me I
want to put forward. I should probably have a
profile sheet for at least several different me's:
the blogger who wants to find other bloggers, the
consultant trolling for clients, etc.

The real issue is, I believe, that any profile asks
me to make myself explicit. And that can't be done
without doing damage to the truth about myself.


But making explicit doesn't just do damage to
selves. In general, making explicit does violence to
what is being made explicit. It's not like
unearthing an archaeological find that's just been
sitting there, waiting to be dug up. Making explicit
often -- usually -- doing the dirty work of
disambiguating and reducing complexity.

The reason is simple. The things of the world exist
as they are only within deep, messy, inarticulate,
shifting, continuous, fuzzy contexts. This is
certainly true of human relationships, although I
believe it's also true of all that we find on the
earth, waiting in it, or promised above it. The
analog world -- the real world -- is ambiguous. That's
a source of its richness. In making a piece of it
explicit, we make it less ambiguous and thus lose
some of its value and truth.


Clay said in his keynote that we can't keep the
technical and social conversations apart. That's
because the technical, without the social context,
is just a pile of silicon. But when he talked about
groups creating "constitutions" (explicit rules of
behavior, membership and operation), I want to say
the same thing: you can't disentangle the
constitutional from the social. And this suggests a
reason why groups keep making the same mistake of
putting off drawing up a constitution.

Perhaps groups can't write a constitution until
they've already entangled themselves in thick,
messy, ambiguous, open-ended relationships. First,
without that thicket of tangles, the group doesn't
know itself well enough to write a constitution. A
constitution is descriptive as well as prescriptive.
For example, if a group with the disposition of
Slashdot were to come up with a constitution that
said "No sarcasm will be tolerated," it would fail.
The constitution has to match the group's nature,
but that nature emerges from the thicket of
ambiguous relationships.

Second, writing a constitution is an act of violence
because it's making explicit rules and mores that
were left unstated until some problem arose that
pushed the group into the constitution-writing
process. We all know how ugly constitutional
discussions can get. In order to have such a charged
conversation, the group needs a web of good will.
That web takes time to develop. So groups generally
dare not attempt a constitution early on.

Groups are lessened when they are forced to make
their relationships explicit. Sometimes its
necessary in order for the group to respond, but
explicitness is a wound that only time's messy
tendrils can heal.

[1] http://conferences.oreillynet.com/etcon/
[2] http://www.shirky.com/
[3] http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001444.html
[4] http://www.worldofends.com/
[5] http://www.reed.com/dprframeweb/dprframe.asp
[6] http://www.friendster.com/
[7] http://halleyscomment.blogspot.com/
[8] http://www.hyperorg.com/movabletype/mt-comments.cgi?entry_id=1404
[9] http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001404.html


If in language and in groups the unspoken is the
source of the greatest value; if it is where
richness lies; if the tangly, messy, ambiguous,
latent, unstated, continuous, context is the reality
of who we are as people who share a world, then what
software might work for a group?

Social software.

Could a term be more vague? It could be taken to
include everything from email to instructions on how
to hold hands. But in fact it's coming to mean
something more specific: low-tech, easy-to-use tools
(many of them familiar) that enable groups to decide
for themselves how they will work together. But,
"decide" is misleading here since it implies a high
degree of explicitness. The most important aspect of
social software is that it's emergent. 

It's emergent in two ways.

First, it enables social groups to emerge. Social
networks are only actual in the first degree. From
the second degree on out, they're only potential.
That is, if I know you and you know her, my social
network reaches to you but not to her. And that's
for a very simple reason: you haven't yet introduced
me to her. Until you do, she simply isn't part of my
social network, no matter what the maps of the One
Unified Social Network may make it look like.

Social software enables social networks to become
actual (without, by the way, necessarily requiring
them to become explicit).

Second, social software enables the social network's
shape to emerge. Rather than, for example, dividing
the company into groups, structuring access
permissions, and provisioning them with the toolset
it's anticipated they'll need, emergent social
software is low-tech and relatively non-intrusive.
It may include such familiar items as chats, mailing
lists, instant messaging, weblogs and wikis. The
access controls are generally turned off at first.
The taxonomy is blank. The webspace is unfurnished
and undivided. The group builds what it needs as it
needs it. The structure of the group's tools follows
upon the group's growth into itself. For example,
the group may use a wiki -- a jointly editable web
site -- that starts off blank. As the group develops
interests, individuals will add in pages,
structuring the workspace. Because the site is
editable by every individual, what emerges is a
workspace that reflects not the group's expected
interests or its pretended interests or its satisfy-
the-boss interests but its real interests...
interests it may not even know it had.


If social software has been around for as long as
software has been, why is it becoming a buzzword
only now? Is it because consultants see a new wave
to ride? Sure, that's a part of it. But since most
social software is relatively simple and
inexpensive, this doesn't promise the big consulting
bucks that, say, knowledge management did.

Companies that have been burned by groupware and
stymied by knowledge management systems are
beginning to explore emergent social software. This
tells us not only that they're looking for something
simpler, but that perhaps they're willing to make
the most basic bargain as corporations, the trade we
made when we first got on the Net as individuals:
trust for hope.

Five years ago, the idea that idea of putting up a
page that anyone can edit would have been laughed
at. What's to stop vandals wiping out a week's work
with a Control-A Delete? But now wikis look like
they make sense.

Five years ago, it was obvious beyond question that
groups need to be pre-structured if the team is to
"hit the ground running." Now, we have learned --
perhaps -- that many groups organize themselves best
by letting the right structure emerge over time.

Such beliefs deliver trust and get hope in return.

But I want to go further. If such a change is
occurring -- I say if -- then it, too, is emerging
from a greater, implicit whole. And here's where I
place my own hope. Could it be that the this turning
of the greatest of the beasts of structure,
corporations, could betoken an even more significant
change? Could we at last be turning from the great
lie of the Age of Computers, that the world is
binary? Could we be ready to embrace the most
obvious of facts: The earth is continuous, with
every edge imposed? The world is ambiguous, and
every thought, perception and feeling is a surface
of an unspoken depth?

We can hope. Can't we? Please?


Maybe I've been on the Internet too long, but even
global politics is beginning to look to me like a
Webby thing. The Web has that effect. For example,
when I sign a guest registry at a comfy B&B, I think
I'm logging in. I think of shelving a book as
archiving it. And I've been known to mutter "Damn
404s!" when I hit a dead-end street.

So why not peace? 

It seems like it's a forbidden word these days.
We're supposed to talk about victory and bravery,
although really mainly what we hear about is fear.
Whatever happened to peace?

You can say that September 11th happened, but the
terrorists are not responsible for our reaction to
their terrorism. They would like to be, but they're

So. now that we're fighting a perpetual war against
terrorism, what type of peace is possible? We're
never going to have the old sort again, the type
where you have walls high enough that no one ever
attacks you. The world's too interconnected for
walls to work. So maybe we should look to the
interconnected world for an idea of what peace now
can look like now.

Maybe peace is the the opposite of walls. If
Internet groups only truly coalesce once the
relationships become thick, viny, twisty, messy and
implicit, maybe that's what peace means in a world
too interconnected for walls to work. Person to
person, town to town, business to business,
government to government, and every possible
combination. International agreements, of course,
but also every type of interchange of ideas and
goods and works of the hand and of the heart. Even
with people we don't like or understand. Especially
with them. Every chance we get. Every way we can.
Because every connection builds peace.

That's something the Internet teaches the real world
by reminding us of what I think we've always known.


I wrote a piece reviewing the candidates' web sites
and posted it here:

Of course, now that we have our first blogging
candidate [1]  -- a real blog, not the weekly column
Gary Hart is writing [2]  -- and now that he's even
guest-blogging on Larry Lessig's [3] site, this is
all wrong.

It's been fascinating watching the Dean campaign
deal with the wild fray the candidate's blog entries
at the Lessig's site have unleashed. The comments on
the discussion board are all over the place from
considered disagreements and thoughtful questions,
to outright trolling and name calling. Has any
presidential candidate ever in history been dropped
into a free-for-all quite like this? Could it be any
more different than Bush's scripted press
conferences and tailored, crotch-enhancing photo
opps? Democracy just got a little real-er.

It'd be easy to read the bluster and invective as a
failure of the system. Nah. It is the system.
Welcome to the Internet, Governor Dean!



In response to a comment questioning, in an
unnecessarily nasty tone, whether Gov. Dean was the
actual author of the posts at the Lessig blog, Joe
Trippi, Dean's campaign manager, wrote:

        Seth - can I ask you something? - don't you think
        that if we were ghostwriting this stuff we would
        have come up with something better than that?

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the
entire Wed summed up in one line. Take it in the
micro sense and you have the Web's Theory of
Authenticity with its corollary that Imperfection Is
a Virtue. Take it to the macro and you get the Messy
Network Axiom with its corollary that Efficiency is
the Enemy of Truth.

Dean's got a hell of a campaign staff, webby to its
bones. This is apparent not just in the "end-to-end"
architecture that staffer Zephyr Teachout describes
at Lessig's site but in Trippi's attitude. Put
it together and you have the beginning of the real
Internet revolution in politics.

[1] http://blog.deanforamerica.com/
[2] http://www.garyhartnews.com/hart/blog/
[3] http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/lessig/blog/


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

Richard Smith, who tracked down the Melissa virus
creator and caught the hands of Microsoft,
RealNetworks and DirecTV in the privacy cookie jar,
now has discovered that the Blair administration has
been covering up who screwed up its Iraqi WMD info.
from a U.S. researcher on Iraq.[1] As Michael
O'Connor Clarke explains [2]:

         As you'll probably recall - when it was revealed
         that the dossier was a work of creative cut &
         paste, the response of the PM's office was to
         feign ignorance of the source, bluster,
         obfuscate, blame the spooks, and generally wash
         their hands of the whole thing.

The Blairies posted the document to the Web as a
Word file. Smith looked inside and saw that Word had
automatically tracked the changes made by four named
users. Michael says: "...as Richard's excellent
digging reveals - far from being the spooks, it was
people very, very close to the PM who pulled this
thing together."

[1] http://www.computerbytesman.com/privacy/blair.htm

Billmon has knit a noose out of quotes.

Greg Linux Man Cavanagh challenges us to tell which
of these two is the original: http://www.gwbush.com/
or http://georgewbush.com/


Such a good Honda ad [1]! And it only took 606 takes[2].

[1] http://home.attbi.com/~bernhard36/honda-ad.html

According to the British Airways in-flight magazine,
Paul Gascoigne took Brut's money to endorse their
aftershave but reportedly suggested it was "for
nancies." Likewise, Ian Botham took Dansk's money to
endorse its low alcohol beer but noted that he
wouldn't be drinking the "gnat's piss" himself. Less
entertainingly, Helena Bonham Carter told a
newspaper that although she was the new face of
Yardley cosmetics, she doesn't wear make-up.

When will marketing departments learn that
endorsement contracts always should contain the No
Truth Telling clause!

AMC movie theatres, where I saw the Matrix:
Reloaded(R), runs a clip before each moving
reminding us that Silence is Golden. Of course, they
also slap a "registered trademark" sign on the
phrase thusly:

           Silence Is Golden(R)

Oh sure. And I wrote the lyrics to the taunt "Nah
nah nah nah nah nah" (Mary of Peter, Paul and Mary
wrote the music). Gimme a freakin' break!(R)

Tom is funny-because-it's-true about the way in
which MovieLink's attempt to protect its property
makes its property valueless.

Scott Kirsner reports in the Boston Globe on a
lawsuit brought by Pause Technology charging TiVo
with infringing on a 1995 patent held by Jim Logan
and a partner.

Pleeeease don't let them take my TiVo away!

When you call Western Digital's tech support line,
one of the options on the telephone tree is "Press 4
if you want scuzzy technical support." Yeah, I know
they're mentally spelling it SCSI, but it still
comes across as a trifle too frank..

Email subject line: "Breaking News: Save Over 40% on
Intel CPUs!"

Look, TigerDirect, you're a fine discounter, but
please don't send me any more email with "Breaking
News" in the subject unless there's some actual
damn news in it like a cure for ebola, Ireland
rotating 15 degrees clockwise, or President Bush's
succubus emerging and announcing that it's taking a
few well-deserved days off.



Blogging is beginning to happen in the two-fisted,
gem-hard, knife-edged world of business. At the
recent Jupiter conference on business weblogging, a
panel talked about what they're up to.

Rock Regan, CIO for the State of Connecticut said
the Architectural Review Board, composed of 9
different groups, is using blogs to capture
information, discuss stuff, and make decisions. He
wants to use blogs for project management.

Paul Perry of Verizon has created private spaces for
people to post to as their own private journal. This
helped ease them into blogging. "People need to be
able to post and make mistakes."

So, that's two. Only an infinite number of companies
left to go!


DVD Decrypter does what you think, but does it
easier than others I've tried. Although it has
plenty of options, it doesn't insist that you set
them. Give it half an hour and it will churn through
your copy of My Cousin Vinnie, producing a set of
mysterious files that you can then use a DVD writer
(sw and hw) to copy back onto a blank DVD.

Why would you want to do this? Maybe because you
want to keep a copy in your summer home or because
you want a backup. Or maybe you want to sell copies
on eBay, which would be not only illegal but just
plain wrong.

Note, however, that the Digital Millennium Copyright
Act probably makes simply the act of decrypting the
file illegal, regardless of the use to which you put
the copy. (Why photocopiers aren't banned on the
same grounds is beyond me.) So, you owe it to
yourself and to your country to get yourself a copy
of DVD Decrypter and make a couple of copies of
Weekend at Bernie's for your personal use. It's your
patriotic duty.



I'm finally getting around to last year's Game of
the Year: Battlefield 1942. You play online,
randomly assigned to one of two teams for that
particular game. The aim is to tag more of the other
team than they tag. (By "tag" I of course mean "blow
up.") It's set in some of the famous battles of
WWII, which I find offensive, but what the heck.
It's also damn fun. You choose a class of soldier,
which determines your weapon load-out: sniper, tank
blower-upper, etc. There are a variety of vehicles
around that you can hop in and out of, including
planes. Teamwork actually matters in this game. Call
it "Band of Strangers." And there are some killer
mods for it (mods are user-created extensions), most
notably "Desert Combat." It's a well-designed game.
In other words, fun.


According to a report by the Equal Opportunities
Commission (which I believe is a British body), in
1961, the average man spent 15 minutes a day caring
for his under-5 child. In 1999, he was spending two
hours a day at it, although I'm not sure that
beating your kid at Grand Theft Auto for an hour and
a half counts as "caring for him."


According to a Harris Poll:

        That very large majorities of the American public,
        and almost all (but not all) Christians believe in
        God, the survival of the soul after death, miracles,
        heaven, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the
        Virgin birth will come as no great surprise. What
        may be more surprising is that half of all adults
        believe in ghosts, almost a third believe in
        astrology, and more than a quarter believe in
        reincarnation -- that they were themselves
        reincarnated from other people. Majorities of about
        two-thirds of all adults believe in hell and the
        devil, but hardly anybody expects that they will go
        to hell themselves.

More precisely:

        Many people believe in miracles (89%), the devil
        (68%), hell (69%), ghosts (51%), astrology (31%) and
        reincarnation (27%)

Since it's a little hard to see how you believe in
both hell and reincarnation, that would mean that
just 4% of Americans believe that once you're dead,
you pretty much stay put. I myself believe in
deincarnation: When I die I get to pick one person I
don't like to take with me.



Note: These tend to be links from months ago when I
first started putting this issue together. See the
note at the beginning of this issue.

Paul Philp harvests some good lessons from "The
Great CSS Smackdown"


Interesting article in the latest (well, not
anymore!) issue of Information Research on metadata.
Terrence A. Brooks argues that the old assumptions
about information retrieval don't map to the Web:

         Web resources are characterized as evolving, not
         static, resources. They are more like loose-leaf
         binder services than time-invariant database

Further, the article says, if common metadata schema
were used, they would be exploited by spammers and
other scum-based life forms, which is why Google
won't tell us exactly how PageRank is determined.

He concludes that pages on the open Web are "poor
hosts for topical metadata."


David Isenberg is poppin' out copies of his telco-
maverick newsletter like pepperoni pies at an
airport Pizza Hut. And, believe me, that's where the
comparison ends. (Well, except that you can't
consume either without staining yourself. [Note to
self: come up with a less objectionable
similarity.]) This is must-read stuff. http://www.isen.com

Chris Green, who wrote the texture-mapping routines
for Ultima Underworld, refutes [1] Wagner James Au's
attempt to give him credit at the expense of id
software, thus fragging Au's review of the book
Masters of Doom in Salon. (My comments on the review
are here: [2].)
[1] http://www.salon.com/tech/letters/2003/05/08/doom/
[2] http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001470.html

Jack Schofield writes in The Guardian about the
emergence of social software [1] at the O'Reilly
Emerging Tech conference. It's a good overview of
the controversy over the hypiness of the concept.

He also writes [2] about Brewster Kahle's heart-
enhancing project, the Internet Bookmobile [3]. Each van
has a million digitized public domain books. Writes

         "It takes about 20 minutes to print out a 300-
         page Wizard of Oz," says Kahle, "and if you have
         four printers, you can produce up to 30 books an
         hour. And you can do an edition of one, which is
         interesting. Harvard says it costs $2 to lend a
         book out, then put it back on the shelf, so it's
         cheaper to give them away."
[1] http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,950918,00.html
[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/online/story/0,3605,946511,00.html
[3] http://www.archive.org/texts/bookmobile.php

Some real bad taste (but funny) posters are at
whitehouse.org (not to be confused with the
pornographic whitehouse.com or the differently-
pornographic whitehouse.gov).

These [1] may not be aircraft carriers [2], but they are
some big-ass yachts.
[1] http://www.eliteyacht.com/
[2] http://www.frenchcreekboatsales.com/details.asp?File_Number=BOP12

Tim Bray on Natural Language Processing:

         Even if I could talk to my computer (an idea
         that's never particularly appealed to me...),
         would I want to speak to it in full sentences
         stuffed with subordinate clauses and
         prepositional phrases? I think I'd want to grunt
         things like "Yahoo, Berlin weather" or "break
         line 238" or "spam!".

But why should I have to speak like a computer in
order to communicate with it? In fact, I wish my
computer would only speak French so that maybe I'd
be motivated to make my way through those Learn
French at Home CDs I bought 17 years ago, you know,
back when l'email was l'email.

I enjoyed Dan Bricklin's history of the development
of VisiCalc. Ah, memories! (Of course, Dan's
memories of VisiCalc started before I put my hands
on my first KayPro.)

Dan "Walk the Walk" Gillmor is working on a book and
 he's inviting us to participate:

         The book will explore the intersection of
         technology and journalism. The working title is
         "Making the News" -- reflecting a central point
         of this project, namely that today's (and
         tomorrow's) communications tools are turning
         traditional notions of news and journalism in
         new directions. These tools give us the ability
         to take advantage, in the best sense of the
         word, of the fact that our collective knowledge
         and wisdom greatly exceeds any one person's
         grasp of almost any subject. We can, and must,
         use that reality to our mutual advantage.

         I'm doing the typical research: reading,
         interviewing, thinking, organizing, etc. I think
         I know a lot already about this subject.
         Naturally, I also am aware that I could know a
         lot more. So let's practice what I preach.

         To that end, I hope you will become a part of
         this book, too. You can start by reading the

From the outline, it sounds like the book is going
to be the definitive stake in the ground for the new
new journalism. And the very process Dan is
initiating -- open the outline, continue the online
conversation after the book is published -- points
to one of the most important changes the Web has
brought to publishing: publishing is no longer a
discrete moment of done-ness when the private is
made public. We Media is continuous media.

(FWIW, I wrote Small Pieces Loosely Joined entirely
on-line which was a great experience, but I got the
increment wrong: Do not post drafts every day,
especially when you know that what you just wrote is
crap that you're going to un-write the next day.)


Have some summer fun and go read Halley's short story.

Esther Dyson is blogging [1]! In fact, I had
breakfast with Esther Dyson recently (yes, lucky me)
which she blogged [2]. We talked about the
importance of ambiguity. (IMO, nothing is more important
than preserving ambiguity.)

And Geoff Cohen, my town-mate and recently of the
Center for Business Innovation, has also taken up
the blogging pen [3].

[1] http://www.release4.blogspot.com/
[3] http://www.coherenceengine.com/blog/

In the previous issue of JOHO, I wrote [1]:

         [Heidegger] traced this back to our desire not
         to die, but somehow forgot to notice the fact
         that we're embodied: no one can die our death
         for us because no one can first take our shower
         for us.

In an interview published in Salon [2], Joss Whedon,
talking about why Buffy acted more like a male hero
in her last year, says:

         It also came from "I've come back from the
         dead!" This is no small thing, no coming out of
         the shower.

Omigod, am I on the same psychic wavelength as Joss
Freakin' Whedon? 

If only!

[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-may17-03.html#body
[2] http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/int/2003/05/20/whedon/

That old memester, Nicholas "Mr. Bits" Negroponte,
is at it again. In an interview in the Boston Globe
he says that at an FCC technical advisory committee
meeting he responded to the charge that there's no
economic model for wifi as follows:

         ...I raised my hand and I said, "There's not
         only a precedent, there's a very strong economic
         model...flower boxes"

         Think about it. If you put a flower box outside
         your house, you're first of all using your own
         money to buy the flowers. You're hanging it out
         there. You're doing it for your self-esteem, for
         the beauty of looking out the window and seeing
         he flowers, of decorating your house and making
         it look well. But it also, if everyone on the
         street puts nice flower boxes out, makes the
         street look nicer. [Caution: Snobbery ahead] It
         happens a little bit on Beacon Hill, it happens
         a lot in European cities.

         Now the theory of flower boxes...could be taken
         to wifi. I put in a wifi system in my home for
         my own use, but it radiates out into the street.
         There's no incremental cost for me to let other
         people use it...If everybody does that, then the
         entire street has broadband.

Cool analogy.

Here's an interview with me in Hungarian. I don't
know what I said, but I renounce it all.

The Happy Tutor explains where he writes his X on
the Post-Modern map.

The new issue of Wired has a column I wrote on why
leeway is more fundamental than rules. Conclusion:
DRM really sucks. No, really.

Plus, you get to see an artist's rendition of my

NASA's Deep Impact crashes into the Comet Tempel 1,
in July of 2005. Now you can have your name
inscribed on a disk that gets incinerated in the
explosion. It's a can't-fail gift for both the
complete egotist or terminally depressed loved one!
[Thanks for the link, Mary Lu.]


I like Renee Zellweger so I don't know why I did
this. It's mean. I'm not proud of myself:

Michael O'Connor Clarke has done some detective
work. Having noticed several sites that babble like
a brook, he decided to check who owns them. He finds
links to Scientology. Yikes.

This reminds me of the shortwave radio stations that
do nothing but read lists of random-sounding


Alex Vallat has useful little utilities, many of
them freeware, on his site. I'm using CopyPath that
copies to the clipboard the full path of the
currently selected item in Internet Explorer.


I'm woefully behind in this area, so I'm sure others
have proposed this and then disposed of it. But
here's a question for the Moravek/Kurzweilians [1]/[2]who
think it's obvious that if we model a brain's 100B
neurons in software, the computer is conscious: If
we were to model an entire body's molecules or atoms
in software, would the computer now be alive?

[1] http://www.frc.ri.cmu.edu/~hpm/
[2] http://www.kurzweilai.net/


Gary Lawrence Murphy writes about the issue long ago
and far away (i.e., the previous one) [1] that talked
about bodies and the Web:

        ... reminds me of the comment from composer Udo
        Kasemets regarding "synthesized" music ... how is
        causing a speaker cone to vibrate different from
        causing a violin body to vibrate? Both are
        contrived, both highly mathematical if you want to
        look at them that way, but the mechanics of /how/
        the sound is produced is irrelevant to the
        purpose(s) of music.

        ditto with webpresence. you've even said it is a
        world of ends, it's like Einstein's aether, it's
        pointless to say light travels /through/ some medium
        when all we can experientially know is that light is
        emitted and light is received. The analogy with
        intelligence is very precise.

        ....The fat-fiftyishness of someone is not
        apparent in a dark room, or to a blind person --
        do the blind only deal in metaphysics? My
        physical stature is not apparent when you look
        the other way (like the Invisible Boy in the
        Mystery Men) so what's your point? If I talk to
        someone across a cubicle divide (remember
        Carlson the Doorman in Mary Tyler Moore?) are
        they metaphysical? Nonsense, they are as real as
        ever because all you /can/ know is that a
        communication is emitted and that the
        communication was received, and we /generally/
        only know one or the other.

        True, in-person does add bandwidth, and
        bandwidth probably has a minimum (somewhere just
        short of morse-code) but the only difference is
        the bandwidth metric, and we all /know/ that too
        much bandwidth can also be misleading and do
        more damage than too little.

        I think everyone plays the game of imagining their
        unseen companions, and I think everyone is
        amused by how seldom their stereotypical
        expectations are met. I think most of us have
        also been fooled by appearances.

This line of thought makes bodies irrelevant, and
that seems wrong to me. There's a big difference
between two people talking over a cubicle wall and
communicating via writing weblogs.

Besides, the doorman was named "Carlton" and he was
on the first Bob Newhart show, not on the Mary Tyler
Moore show. How can I carry on a conversation with
someone so uncultured?

[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-may17-03.html#body

Steven Telleen of Giga writes:

         I have always thought that true Turing AI would
         be impossible without some form of "body"
         awareness. I suspect the same is true for
         meaning. Can you give me an example of something
         "meaningful" that does not in some way relate
         back to existence in the real world?

         When we share meaningful insights on the Web, or
         via email, we are sharing insights that in some
         way incorporate our sensory experiences and
         memories. This is not to say that meaning
         requires either human or even carbon based
         physicality. It requires that the entity
         experiencing meaning have an awareness of the
         relationship of its own underlying physicality
         and other physical entities. Without that
         awareness of the physical relationships (and
         probably the ultimately selfish drive to protect
         our own physical being) I doubt meaning would
         have much ... well,

Yes, the Web is parasitic on the real world.
Language itself arises from the real world in which
we live. That is indeed a way that the Web is
related to the body. And yet, here we have a
touching world (the Web) in which touch isn't
possible. I don't think that it's just cheap pun.
The Web seems to teach us that the mind body split
is just fine now that our minds have dragged into
the virtual world the bodily context of the real

Or maybe your 're right. In any case, I'm going to
shut up now. See? I'm shutting up. This is me
shutting up.

Kimbo Mundy writes about Nick Bostrom's idea [1]
that we're probably living in a simulation:

         I'm always amused by philosophers' propensity to
         model reality on the latest technological
         breakthrough. At a meta-level, it's clear that
         this line of reasoning will seem ludicrous in
         100 years. Perhaps there should be an reverse
         statute of limitations (a "statute of
         application"??) required of all such
         conjectures. (At least if they don't have good
         actions scenes.) ;-)
[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-may17-03.html#sim
Jamie Popkin writes:

         You should check out "The Best Science Fiction
         of 2002". It has a number of stories that
         wrestle with the same issues as Bostrom.

Why couldn't this sentence ever have been written
about Kant or Hegel instead of fellow philosopher
Bostrom? Discuss amongst yourselves...

Ralph S. Ashbrook writes:

         In the old days metaphysics included
         mystical/spiritual possibilities. (Note: when I
         was a kid reading delicious science fiction of
         Phil Dick, Leigh Brackett, Ted Sturgeon,
         Kutner/Moore, William Tenn and C. M. Kornbluth,
         I wondered why sf was allowed to speculate about
         everything in this and other universes except
         Edgar Cayce and Rudolph Steiner worlds.)

         One hypothesis suggested in all seriousness by
         several ancient traditions is that all times
         exist simultaneously and that we experience time
         sequentially by choice and/or design. We don't
         need Bostrom's proposed simulations if all those
         possibilities are actually here and now. We
         thread our way through possibilities that are
         'coherent' (except for invading Iraq - I don't
         know how that got in here!) and ignore the other
         worlds for the time being.

         I think the sim worry is a red herring.

Oddly, in the possible world I'm currently in, we're
all red herrings.

From someone whose name I've lost:

         For an intriguing (and shocking) take on the
         implications of Bostronomy in novel from, read
         http:// www.kuro5hin.org/ prime-intellect/mopiidx.html

Joachim Vansteelant writes, in reference to my example of a 
nonsensical proposition:

         you're more likely an evil Belgian being
         hypnotized by Amanda Fishfry ... or wait a
         minute ... nah ... evil belgians don't exist

Clearly Joachim has not seen the latest Austin
Powers in which the evil Goldmember is pointedly
pointed out as a Belgian. Nor does Joachim seem to
recall the completely unrelated Python slur. Perhaps
this will refresh his memory, the miserable, fat

Joe Mislinski writes about my peacenik tendencies:

        ...This approach points to the naive side of
        liberal thinking: that there really aren't any
        bad people out there, and that if you only
        applied a 'generous and loving' attitude toward
        others magic can happen.  Bad people and bad
        nations can 'turn good'.  The fact is, that
        there will always be both 'bad' individuals and
        'bad' regimes in the world, whose behavior can
        only be modified by the threat of force or its
        actual use. Today's difference is that the
        untrustworthy regime in possession of WMD can
        'pop a nuke' in any major city while we take the
        time to show them the 'loving side of the
        American character'.

        As a former military officer, I took an oath to
        'protect and defend' the constitution of the
        United States. Although I am no longer on active
        duty, I truly believe that the President's pre-
        emptive approach on Iraq will result in more
        long-term safety to our nation and children than
        alternative approaches.  Note that I said it
        will result in 'more' long term safety - not
        also that there is no such thing as perfect
        safety, neither before nor after September 11th.
        The world has always been a dangerous place.

Whoa, big fella! You're attributing to me a bunch of
beliefs I don't hold.  I'm in favor of killing
terrorists. And going to war when it's justified.
And I don't believe everyone can be redeemed. (Well,
at a personal level I always hold out that hope, but
it's not a reasonable hope to base policy on.)
Ultimately (long-term), I think that living
generously is the only way to help create a peaceful
world. That doesn't mean that we'd never be
justified in using the military to kick the tar out
of people like Hussein. And I think you're wrong
about the modern "difference." It's not that a
country can nuke a US city, because our 15,000 nukes
stand at the ready to retaliate. The difference is
that now 20 people can bring down our culture with a
dozen box-cutters -- enormous loss of freedom
internally, bullying externally -- and force will
never prevent all of them. The best way to keep
ourselves safe, I believe, is to integrate ourselves
back into the world and stop being such selfish,
self-centered, bullies...while killing as many
terrorists as we can find. IMO, of course.

Mike O'Dell writes:

         ...composing another piece of email earlier
         today, i coined the phrase "to be archived into
         Googletuity" to describe the undead existence of
         any scrap 'o text posted to a web page,
         especially if written in haste and therefore a
         bit purple or otherwise breathless.

Oooh, how linkalicious!

Mark Dionne recounts:

         Someone wrote me, and mentioned this quote:

         Coincidence is God's way 
          of remaining anonymous

         I hadn't heard it before, so I looked it up with
         Google. It was surprising how many people it was
         credited to, but the winners seemed to be Albert
         Einstein and Doris Lessin. I decided to count
         who was the winner. Albert got something like 33
         hits with the quote written exactly as above.
         Doris got NONE. But if I look for the
         "coincidences are" variation, Doris gets about
         36. Einstein gets NONE.

         This is pretty interesting, suggesting that on
         one (or both?) branches of the history, there
         was an early misquote that has been perpetuated
         very accurately. OR, that both came up with the
         same quote. OR, that one of them stole it from
         the other. OR, that both were quoting an earlier

Of course, it could just be a coincidence.


WordWays, the increasingly odd journal of
recreational linguistics (http://www.wordways.com/),
has an article by ANIL that consists of anagrams of
words that define the words. In the current issue,
he only has time for words that begin with A-C. Here
are a few:

         Ambidextrously = mix at L/R body use

         Amphitheater = a hear-them pit

         Astuteness = taut senses

         Awakened = a dawn "Eek!"

         Billiards = I rid balls

         Capture = crate up

         Circular = I curl arc

         Cogito ego sum = micro ego gusto

         Cough medicine = Chug, I'm codeine

No, none match the classic "Astronomers = moon

Here are some. And the embarrassing thing is that I
can't remember composing these. Some sound a little
familiar ("Home Page") but others definitely don't
("extended markup language"). On the other hand, I'm
not seeing them in Google. So, if I swiped them from
you, I'm sorry. But they're mine now(R).

| Home Page            | Ego amp. Eh.    |
| Extended markup      | Make extra      |
| language             | glue gun, add   |
|                      | pen.            |
| Aggregation          | I.e., Go gang   |
|                      | art             |
| Syndicate            | Send a city     |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Candy ties      |
| Wireless network     | Links sweet,    |
|                      | worse           |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Swore sweet     |
|                      | links           |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Wee worst       |
|                      | linkers         |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Writers now     |
|                      | sleek           |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Slow writers    |
|                      | keen            |
| World of Ends        | DOD news: ROFL  |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Red flows, nod  |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Do drown self   |
| End-to-End           | Don't need      |
| Blogosphere          | Hopers globe    |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Help bores go   |
| Social Software      | We float        |
|                      | across I        |
|                      |                 |
|                      | O, face ass or  |
|                      | wilt            |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Saw facile      |
|                      | roots           |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Was fair cost.  |
|                      | Ole!            |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Retool as if    |
|                      | Wacs            |
|                      |                 |
|                      | Force toil as   |
|                      | was             |
Have any favorites of your own? Or maybe you can
just steal them and then conveniently "forget."
Works for me.

And now maybe I can count myself as being all caught
up, sort of the way burning down the library catches
you up on your reading. I'll try to get the next
issue out sooner. Like you care.


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