[joho] JOHO - July 24, 2002

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 22:26:30 -0400

 Journal of the
 Hyperlinked Organization  ========================================
 July 24, 2002
 Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
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| CONTENTS                                         |
|                                                  |
| DREYFUS ON THE INTERNET: Hubert Dreyfus,         |
| philosopher, has written a monograph about the   |
| Net that is profound and off the mark.           |
|                                                  |
| BLUETOOTH PRO AND CON: How do you want to go     |
| wireless? There's no simple answer yet.          |
|                                                  |
| SHAM COMPROMISES: We're losing the Digital       |
| Rights Management battle                         |
|                                                  |
| KEEPING TELCOS SIMPLE, STUPID: How do you        |
| explain the telco mess?                          |
|                                                  |
| POCKETFUL OF STANDARDS: A bluffer's guide.       |
|                                                  |
| BLOGGER DEAD POOL: Who will be the first         |
| journalist fired for what s/he says in his/her   |
| blog?                                            |
|                                                  |
| THE ANALS OF MARKETING: Stupid, stupid           |
| marketing.                                       |
|                                                  |
| WALKING THE WALK: Automated integration: Boring  |
| but helpful.                                     |
|                                                  |
| COOL TOOL: Multi renamer.                        |
|                                                  |
| WHAT I'M PLAYING: Jedi Outcast.                  |
|                                                  |
| INTERNETCETERA: News on the Net and off.         |
|                                                  |
| EIGHTH FIRST NAME AWARD: Google searching for    |
| first names.                                     |
|                                                  |
| LINKS: You suggest 'em, I run 'em.               |
|                                                  |
| EMAIL: You write 'em, I run 'em.                 |
|                                                  |
| BOGUS CONTEST: Tomorrow's Moral Monsters:        |


First let me say some positive stuff because I'm
about to disagree with most of Hubert Dreyfus's
attempt to deflate the Web in his book "On the
Internet," [1] in particular his assumption that we
are still in an age of information scarcity, rather
than information abundance.

Dreyfus is a professor of philosophy at UC Berkeley.
He's the author of the influential and still-right
"What Computers Can't Do." His new book -- actually,
at 107 pages, it's more of a monograph -- is a
pleasure to read. Although Dreyfus is an academic
philosopher, he doesn't get bogged down in either of
the philosopher's diseases: the attempt to narrow
one's claim to something safely defensible and the
compulsion to dispel every possible critique with
paragraphs that begin "One might claim..." No,
Dreyfus writes like someone engaged with his topic
and his readers.

There's more good to say. This is a deeply not
stupid book. No surprise there, but it's worth
saying. He understands that thought occurs within a
history, and he has spent his life learning that
history. And his emphasis on the importance of the
body is such a relief! In fact, I invited him to
give the Founders Day talk at the college where I
taught 20 years ago and got to spend a day with him.
So, mark me down as a fan.

Now, here's why I think his book is wrong about
almost all its important points...

                      * * *

Dreyfus seems to me to go wrong in two related ways.
Sometimes he argues against a straw man. (Sorry,
"straw person" is too much of a stretch.) He seems
to think that the most extreme of the Extropians [2]
typify thinking about the Internet. And sometimes he
begs the question -- assumes what he's trying to
prove -- finding the Internet wanting when compared
to the traditional values the Internet
threatens/promises to overturn.

The book has the rhetorical form of debunking,
although it's high-level debunkitude. Each of the
four main chapters takes on some aspect of the Net
and shows why it's not what it's cracked up to be.

The chapter on distance learning is a good example
of Dreyfus arguing against a straw man. He carefully
discusses the various phases of learning and shows
that distance learning will never replace real world
mentoring and apprenticeships. But it's hard to find
people who believe that the Internet could entirely
and loss-less-ly replace real world education, so
the chapter isn't very compelling.

The first chapter -- "The Hype about Hyperlinks" --
is more interesting. Dreyfus wants to show that the
Net by its nature is going to remain an information
quagmire. He goes back to the theme of "What
Computers Can't Do" to prove that attempts at AI
solutions to this problem are doomed: lacking
bodies, computers have to be fed impossibly large
amounts of explicit information if they are to be
able to make sense of even the simplest of
situations. This is a profound point since it
unravels an entire tradition of thinking that
assumes that thought is held back by occurring in

But then why are we so happy with the way Google
works? He correctly points out that with so much
information around, Google only finds a small
percentage of the relevant pages. He attributes to
information retrieval pioneer Don Swanson the notion
that we've fallen for "the fallacy of abundance."
With so many pages to choose from, the search engine
is bound to find some that are relevant to the
query. The user doesn't see all the relevant pages
the engine has ignored.

Dreyfus thinks this is a criticism of search
engines. And it is if you're looking for a complete
survey of all available materials because you're a
graduate student or a lawyer. But most of us don't
need everything. We couldn't handle everything. We
just want enough. We are in an era of information
abundance. The old model of scarcity doesn't hold,
so what looks like a criticism is in fact a
compliment. And, of course, there is an entire
economic and political system built on the idea that 
information is hard to gather and can be held securely. Nope. Not any
more. Dreyfus is talking across a chasm in values created by the
Internet earthquake.

The same happens in the chapter on nihilism. Dreyfus
is wondering if the anonymity of the Web leads to
nihilism and despair. He approaches this by looking
from Habermas' idea of the public sphere back to
Kierkegaard who worried, in the middle of the 19th
century, about the effect newspapers would have.
Kierkegaard foresaw the development of a public in
which every voice is equal and is equally
uncommitted. People can jabber about what they want
without having to take a real stand. Kierkegaard,
Dreyfus says, surely would have seen the Internet as
combining the worst of the press and the
coffeehouse. "Thanks to hyperlinks," says Dreyfus,
"meaningful differences have, indeed, been leveled.
Relevance and significance have disappeared." Thus,
the Internet leads to nihilism.

Worse, the Internet is breeding a new type of self;
he cites Sherry Turkle's work on the emergence of
selves that are "fluid, emergent, decentralized,
multiplicious, flexible, and ever in process."
Kierkegaard, Dreyfus tells us, would not have
approved, for this describes the "aesthetic sphere,"
a degraded way of life superseded by the ethical
sphere and then by the fulfillment of the self in 
"unconditional commitment."

     Kierkegaard would surely argue that, while the
     Internet, like the public sphere and the press,
     does not prohibit unconditional commitments, in
     the end, it undermines them.

Oy veh, where to begin? Kierkegaard's hierarchy of
the self was based on a Christian belief in the
importance of faith, which for Kierkegaard meant
committing oneself despite the irrationality of the
faithful beliefs. The commitment was supreme. So, of
course Kierkegaard would find the Turkle self to be
frivolous. But, so what? Why is Kierkegaard's sense
the right one? Dreyfus makes no argument. He doesn't
even wave his hands vigorously. He finds
Kierkegaard's views appealing and that's that. So,
yes, the Internet does lead us away from a
Kierkegaardian conception of the authentic self as
requiring passionate and constant commitment.

But there are reasons to think that the situation
has changed since Kierkegaard noticed that
newspapers were forming publics and that everyone
with a stupid idea felt free to pronounce it.
Kierkegaard accurately anticipated a mass public.
But the Web is a new type of public in which people
retain their faces. From the top down, it may look
like a faceless mass, but the view from our desktops
is quite different.

Does the Internet promote nihilism? It may seem so
because there are so many voices, so many opinions.
Everyone with a computer can become an online
columnist. But that view is deeply false for it
looks at the Internet as a collection of writings,
as a mob of opinions. That would lead to nihilism if
the Internet weren't simultaneously -- and more
importantly -- a web of people connected to one
another. Balancing the multiplicity of voices is the
reality of humans connecting and caring.

The fact that more of us care about more of us than
ever before is our bulwark against nihilism.

By the way, by coincidence Tom Matrullo was writing
about Kierkegaard as I was writing this review. [3]
Tom is always worth reading.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0415228077
[2] http://www.extropy.org/
[3] http://tom.weblogs.com/2002/06/25


I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago where
John Landry, ex-CTO of Lotus, and Dan Bricklin,
founder of Visicalc and co-creator of the first
spreadsheet, went at each other over Bluetooth.
These are two very smart guys who disagree

I blogged about this food fight and, like a pingpong
ball in a room of mousetraps (micetrap?), set off a
set of fervid and pellucid exchanges among some
people who know way too much about these issues,
including Glenn Fleishman and Bob Frankston (the
other co-creator of the spreadsheet).

With my usual desire to be liked by everyone, I ran
their responses in my weblog and tried to convince
each of them that he is my favoritist person on the
planet. But now I want to try to sort it out for
myself. (Please keep in mind that I am merely an
infomediator here. I know nothing about these things
myself.) So, here's the story as I understand it.

Bluetooth is a wireless standard created to enable
very local devices to work together: your computer
can talk to the printer, and your PDA can talk to
your computer, and your fax machine can talk to your
coffee maker if it feels like making prank calls.
It's USB without the wires.

But Bluetooth wants to be more. With Bluetooth, you
should be able to bring your laptop into an office
where it's never been before. and it discovers,
without your even asking, what Bluetooth-enabled
devices are there, and it works with them.

Who could argue with such a thing? You'd be
surprised. The arguments seem to fall into a few

The first group of complaints is the least
interesting. Bluetooth, it's claimed, is
impractical. It costs too much and current Bluetooth
devices don't play well together. The price argument
will be settled by increasing the volume and
decreasing the per unit costs. Bluetooth chips cost
under $10 now and will likely drop to under $5 soon-
ish. As for the devices not working together, the
current "personal networks" do seem to have some
problems. (See a recent article by Jim Krane, for
example.) This is either because the standard is
young or because it is terminally over-specified; I
don't know which.

The second group of complaints says Bluetooth has
been made obsolete, particularly by 802.11 (AKA
"WiFi"). Here matters are murkier because of the mix
of the theoretical, the practical and the futural.

On the theoretical side, the argument against
Bluetooth rails at its basic process: a manufacturer
has to apply to a central committee to receive
authentication. This isn't the way the Internet
works (generally). It slows things down. It inhibits innovation. As
Jonathan Peterson writes:

     The real problem with bluetooth is that it
     isn't an open transport standard that anyone
     can build on. You want to build an atomic clock
     wristwatch that acts as a timeserver to keep
     all your devices in sync (a cool idea if I say
     so myself)? Not only will your users have to
     dick around with it incessantly to convince
     everything to take time information from it,
     but the manufacturer will have to apply for
     certification to 7 Layers AG, you they won't be
     able to sell the product until it has been

     How long would current WWW technologies have
     taken to mature if Tim Berners-Lee et al had to
     submit everything for ISO approval before
     moving forward with implementation?

On the other hand, the interactions of Bluetooth
devices seem tricky enough that having a central,
validating source seems reasonable. (Or does that
just mean that Bluetooth is over-spec'ed?) As for
the prices charged for the authentication service: I
just don't know what's reasonable.

In any case, Glenn Fleishman makes the argument that
there really is little difference between the
certification processes for Bluetooth and 802.11
devices. If you want to call a device WiFi
compatible, you have to join the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility
Alliance (WECA) for $25,000 per year. On the other hand, the two groups
may feel different to participants/supplicants. I just don't know.

But the big argument against Bluetooth is that while
the committees were arguing over it, another
wireless standard arose: 802.11b and, soon, 802.11a.
While Bluetooth was adopted grudgingly, the world
has embraced 802.11 with a glee that is almost
sexual. And 802.11 is much faster than Bluetooth:
11mbps vs. 720kbps. So, why do we need a second
wireless standard? Why do I need to put two wireless
networking chips into my devices?

One might as well ask why you need a specialized
cable to hook up your monitor when just about
everything else works via USB (or USB 2). Different
strokes for different folks, and different protocols
for different folks I'll call.

There are two big differences between Bluetooth and
802.11. First, 802.11 is a networking standard with
a fair bit of overhead: You need a network base and
have to do a lot of complex handshaking to get
admitted onto the network--you've got to use TCP/IP
or some other Ethernet protocol. That's acceptable
for WiFi because it's assumed that you're going to
be on the network for some extended session. But
Bluetooth is designed for smaller bursts of data,
not for a continuous network session. As a result,
it requires less software and much less handshaking:
Bluetooth ad hoc networks itself like a sumbitch (in
theory). It "advertises" its presence to other
Bluetooth devices in the area, sort of like waving
its hand and yelling "Oooh, oooh, pick me! Pick me!"
Yet, I am not convinced that avoiding the hurdles to
connecting to a full-fledged network is really much
of an advantage for Bluetooth; the limitations of
not being on a proper network--e.g., a maximum of
seven devices can be BlueToothed together --also
have to be considered.

The second reason is the killer: Bluetooth is
designed for very lower power consumption so that it
can be included in mobile apps where battery life
counts for a lot. Glenn Fleishman says, "Almost all
WiFi devices, even those designed for small form
factors, are designed to run 150 to 300 feet. This
is part of WiFi design spec." Distance requires
power. But couldn't you make a low-power, smaller
range 802.11 chipset? Yes, possibly. In the future.
Says Fleishman, a reformed "WiFi is God" advocate:
"Yeah, yeah, and it's taken almost two years to fix
the broken WEP [wireless equivalent privacy]
encryption layer in WiFi, and we're still looking at
maybe March 2003 for ratification and probably six
months before the firmware updates for older devices
roll out." (Glenn holds out the hope that we'll
eventually have a single chipset that talks both
Bluetooth and 802.11.)

So, short term it looks like Bluetooth is going to
implant itself successfully in our offices and
portable devices. WiFi we know is already in place
as a de facto standard. Longer term, perhaps WiFi
will edge down into the Bluetooth market, and
Bluetooth will persevere where battery size and life
matters above all; as computers become more
pervasive (and invasive), that end of the market
will grow in numbers as it drops in per unit cost.

                    * * *

Dan Bricklin on Bluetooth: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/archive/

Bob Frankston on Bluetooth:

Glenn Fleishman: http://80211b.weblogger.com/

Jonathan Peterson: http://www.way.nu/archives/000267.html#000267

Round up of links:

Jim Krane's article:

| KEVIN MARKS' GUIDE TO MAGNITUDE                  |
|                                                  |
| Kevin writes: "I know you have trouble with      |
| numbers, so here's a handy guide to relative     |
| speeds in orders of magnitude."                  |
|                                                  |
| Bluetooth is 10 times faster than a 56k modem    |
| USB is 10 times faster than Bluetooth            |
| 802.11b is as fast as USB                        |
| 10baseT is as fast as USB                        |
| 100baseT is 10 times faster than 10baseT         |
| FireWire is 4 times faster than 100baseT and 40  |
| times faster than USB                            |
| Gigabit Ethernet is 10 times faster than         |
| 100baseT                                         |
|                                                  |
| Thank you, Kevin.                                |


David Isenberg [1] recommends Grant Gross's coverage at Newsforge of the
Commerce Department's Digital Rights Management meeting last Wednesday
[2]. This meeting is intended to help forge a compromise for protecting
copyrighted works but the deck was entirely stacked against
customers/users and Right to Listen advocates. Says Isenberg: "Reading
his article seemed almost like being there . . . an excellent piece."

Here's a brief update from Grant, in an email:

 During this workshop, the Commerce Department was
 just not interested in hearing from the public. So
 to get the point across that the public wasn't
 represented, the Free Software/Linux/fair use crowd
 almost had to shout and wave their hands.

 Those tactics actually may have worked. Sources
 tell me that the Commerce Department is now asking
 around for suggestions on consumer advocates to
 include in a future workshop.

 As for the EFF, Robin Gross tells me today that
 they've been invited to comment in writing, and the
 EFF is doing so.

 Here's what I *think* happened: The Commerce
 Department just didn't comprehend that consumers
 might want to be part of this discussion about how
 to implement DRM. Groups like EFF just didn't fit
 the focus of this meeting, so Commerce set up this
 workshop with the goal of getting the IT people and
 the Hollywood people talking again, but made no
 provisions for the public to participate.
 [1] http://www,isen,com
 [2] http://newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=02/07/18/0155208&tid=6

By the way, do you think "Right to Listen
advocates" could catch on? It sounds better than
"pro-piracy lobbyists."

Late updates:

1. More from Grant Gross on the opening up of the
panel: http://newsforge.com/newsforge/02/07/21/1941202.shtml?tid=4

2. Senator Hollings proposes that the FCC institute
a "broadcast flag" to protect digital TV without
bothering to go through the legislative process:


I was about to run an attempt at explaining the telecommunications mess
in words so simple that even a legislator could understand them, but
David Isenberg's latest newsletter arrived today and he has written the
best brief explanation I've read of what's going on technologically and
economically. It's at: http://isen.com/archives/020723.html. Here are

   Let's not call the current overcapacity situation
   a "bandwidth glut." Gluttony is one of the seven
   deadly sins. The scarcity folks -- the telephone
   companies (and others) whose business is based on
   the fact that communications capacity is scarce,
   therefore expensive -- are controlling this
   "glut" dialog. Nobody talks about a glut of clean
   air or a glut of traffic-jam-free roads. No -- to
   an end user it is great to have a lot of cheap >
   network capacity.


   ATM and SONET are not the only technologies that
   are becoming obsolete even as they're being
   deployed. There's DSL and MMDS and 3G and WAP and
   a whole lot more. Technology marches on. And it
   is not as if Telecom executives made the wrong
   decisions -- mostly they made the best decisions
   they could at the time.

   The debt movie is playing at the Global Crossing
   theatre and the WorldCom playhouse -- but soon it
   will be playing at a telephone company near you.
   Verizon and SBC and BellSouth will not be immune


   So if you hear that somebody is going to
   "enhance" the Internet -- to make it more
   efficient, to Pay the Musicians, to Protect the
   Children, to thwart hackers, to enhance Homeland
   Security, to find Osama, or whatever -- this is
   almost certainly propaganda from the powerful
   businesses that are threatened by the Internet.
   Remember that the Internet became the success it
   is today -- and the threat that it is to existing
   telcos -- because it is a Stupid Network, an end-
   to-end network.


I helped David Isenberg write a similar sort of
story at NetParadox [1]. And at that site you'll
find links to "The Rise of the Stupid Network" [2]
and David Reed's work on the End-to-End network [3]
that are behind this simple, stupid re-telling.

Vergil Iliescu has inaugurated his blog [4] with a
reflection on the telecommunications story. Vergil
once was a telecom guy and recalls being told
explicitly: "We in Telecom must not be reduced to
just carrying the bits - that will make us just a
commodity!". (He also has some provocative thoughts
about the nature of consciousness.)

Meanwhile, Kevin Marks [5] has posted further
comments. He has some great stuff there, although I
insist that we're not disagreeing very much. The
major point of disagreement is that he thinks that
there's a good, solid business selling commoditized connectivity (a
"stupid network") whereas NetParadox says that it's a more attractive
business to sell services over a tuned network.

[1] http://www.netparadox.com
[2] http://isen.com/stupid.html
[3] http://www.reed.com/Papers/EndtoEnd.html
[5] http://epeus.blogspot.com/2002_05_01_epeus_archive.html#85117053


Ed Nixon was prodded by my fun-poking [1] at an
HTML validation site [2] to point out that the Web
Standards Project is up again. Its mission: to
"fight for standards that reduce the cost of
complexity of development while increasing the
accessibility and long-term viability" of web sites.
The standards they like include XML, CSS, XHTML, DOM
and ECMAS. Here's a bluffer's guide to each:

  XML: Smarter tagging of documents (and other
  types of information) so that computers can do
  more interesting things than just display them
  in the right font.

  CSS: Define the look (and more) of document
  elements external to the document so they can
  be displayed in the right font ... and so those
  definitions can be applied - and updated -
  across multiple documents. Part of the
  conspiracy to turn authors into text monkeys.

  XHTML: Anal-compulsive HTML. Disallows sloppy
  tagging habits so that the pages are more
  predictable to computers. No shirts, no end
  tags, no service.

  DOM: A standard computer-eye view of the
  internal tree structure of a document so its
  elements can be found and understood in
  relation to one another. You never knew a
  simple document was that complex.

  ECMAS: JavaScript removed from the vagaries and
  self-interest of the vendors and put into the
  hands of responsible adults.

If you'd like actual information, you can start with
the Web Standards Projects' own list of links.

[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/backissues/joho-jun26-02.html#invalidator
[2] http://www.webstandards.org/


Any bets on who will be the first capital-J to be
fired because of something she or he blogs?

The scenario is easy to predict in its general
shape: A journalist writes something in her blog
that the newspaper considers to be objectionable or unprofessional.
Letters to the editor appear that
say: "How can we trust this person to report the
news fairly when we know that she holds such
outrageous, insensitive, prejudiced beliefs? If
she's a bigot on the Internet, how can we trust her
not to be a bigot in your newspaper?" The journalist
refuses to retract. The newspaper fires her.

Unfortunately, the early adopters of bloggery among capital-J's, who are
some of my favorite and most respected bloggers, are the best candidates
because the fact that they were early adopters indicates that they are
unafraid of speaking their minds.


I was talking with Dyke Hendrickson, a reporter and
columnist at Mass High Tech, a weekly in
Massachusetts about pastry making (just testing your
alertness) and he raised the fact that apparently
many authors are upset that Amazon is offering used
copies of their books on the very pages that offer
their books for sale. It's easy to see why: Given a
choice of buying Small Pieces for $17.50 new or
$11.00 used, you may opt for the used book and
deprive me of my $3.75 royalty (well, $3.19 after my
agents get their well-deserved cut).

I have thought long and hard about this and have a well-worked-out
position that I believe argues irrefutably from first principles while
also incorporating the relevant utilitarian and social- communitarian
considerations. It argues the following to authors:

              Tough sh_it.

Authors have never gotten paid by everybody who
reads their books or else we'd shut down those dens
of iniquity: libraries and used book stores. As a
society, we want to encourage people to have access
to ideas. So, yes, authors are going to lose some
money they could have made if it were harder for
people to find used books. But that's the nature of
the business you're in. I.e., as I said, the fecal
matter is sturdy and impervious. And the world is
better for it.

Peterme reports that the Oxford English Dictionary
is considering including the word "blog," which
Peterme coined. But the OED can only accept printed
pages as sources for word coinages.

How long do you give that rule before it's amended
in a flurry of embarrassment? I presume it was
originally meant to keep the OED out of arguments
about oral origins: "I was the first to use the word
'magikal' with a K. It was in a shouting match I had
in 1964." Now it just keeps the OED out of relevancy
and accuracy.


HWM, a glossy magazine from Singapore for the
hardware industry, surveys the field of new cell
phones and opens its review of the Mitsubishi Trium
Eclipse as follows:

  Somewhat traditional in its design, the General
  Packet Radio Service (GPRS)-ready Mitsubishi
  Trium Eclipse is a dual band 26-color display
  phone that comes with built-in microphone for
  hands-free operation.

Gosh, a cell phone with a built-in microphone! What
will they think of next? A toothbrush with a built-
in handle for easy placement into a toothbrush

| MIDDLE WORLD RESOURCES                           |


I'm all in favor of conversations 'n stuff, but
sometimes the topic is just too damn boring. That's
when automation starts looking like a glass of
lemonade on 95-degree day. And it a central registry
service, UCCnet, may enable automated collaboration
(which I'd rather call "coordination") among very
large retailers and their very large suppliers.
According to an article in InfoWeek (Steve Konicki,
July 1), we're talking about Procter & Gamble,
Sears, Best Buy and other megacorps. They supposedly
spend $40B a year in setting right transactions that
have gone wrong, frequently because of mixups in
product codes and inaccuracies in availability
statements. To give you a sense of the scale: P&G
makes 60,000 products. (I didn't know we had that
many orifices to disinfect!) A recent report said
that 30% of the info in the product bulletins
retailers use to order from is inaccurate. (Raise
your hand if you believe that.) The UCCnet registry
will create a "single point of truth" for 62
retailers that spend over $400B a year. They hope
that in in addition to smoothing the boring
transactions of business, the system will also
eventually enable only slightly less boring
activities such as collaborative planning and
inventory replenishment.

It's just a little utility, but there's nothing I
like better.

It's called "multiren" (multiple rename) and that's
what it does. If you have, say, a whole folder full
of digital photos with names such as MSC000001.jpg,
you can select any set of them and give them a name
such as "Thanksgiving 2002 - 01.jpg," automatically
numbered. In fact, you can do pretty complex string

It's simple. It's free. It's from PC Magazine.


| WHAT I'M PLAYING                                 |
|                                                  |
| Star Wars: Jedi Outcast is a worthwhile          |
| straightforward first person shooter. The        |
| graphics are excellent and it's got a whole      |
| bunch of puzzles integrated into the missions,   |
| ranging from box-jumping (hint: look up the      |
| cheat code for no clipping) to vent-finding to   |
| code-entering. Pretty entertaining, although     |
| sometimes the puzzles have been obscure enough   |
| that it was more fun to look up the answers in   |
| the excellent walkthrough at Epigamer.com.       |
| INTERNETCETERA                                   |
|                                                  |
| According to a new study by the Pew Research     |
| Center, "the dramatic growth in online news      |
| consumption has ebbed, as increases in overall   |
| Internet penetration have slowed." (As if slow   |
| penetration were a bad thing.) Their survey      |
| reports that 25% of Americans go online for      |
| news at least three times a week, up from 23%    |
| in 2000. For the under-30s, though, online news  |
| is second only to local TV news (= sports,       |
| weather and murder). 32% regularly watch one of  |
| the nightly network news broadcasts and just     |
| 41% say they read a paper the day before, down   |
| from 47% in 2000. Meanwhile, only 31% of those   |
| over 65 say they feel overloaded with            |
| information, down from 41% two years ago.        |
| However, 27% were hunched in a corner,           |
| gibbering and chewing on their red-tipped        |
| fingers, trying vainly to hide from the          |
| unceasing bad news blaring from the TV, radio    |
| and newspapers.                                  |
|                                                  |
| The survey also shows that Americans just don't  |
| give a crap about any international news except  |
| for terrorism and the Mideast. For example, 6%   |
| paid very close attention to the failed coup in  |
| Venezuela despite its comic opera elements.      |
| Only 30% could identify Donald Rumsfeld as       |
| secretary of defense, with another 54%           |
| identifying him as that nasty pharmacist who     |
| made jokes about when filling their Viagra       |
| prescription.                                    |
|                                                  |
| http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=156


David Gallagher has written a very amusing article
[1] about his attempt to get his full name moved up
Google's hit list, a challenge complicated by the
fact that there was a teen actor named "David
Gallagher" ahead of him in the listings. At the end
of the article, he gives himself a new challenge:
Move himself up the list when you search just for
his first name.

I had never searched Google for "David" but, guess
what? I'm Number 8, baby! Woohoo! I am introducing a
new award for myself, on display in the online
version of JOHO.

Feel free to copy and reuse the award. But,
remember, it's the honor system, so cheating will be

By the way, David Gallagher says that there's some
"back story" to his article [2]. He also has an
entry about the Making Of his piece on Mahir "I Kiss
You" Cagri that ran in the NY Times [3]. His blog
has lots of pictures, too, including one of a
handlettered sign advertising "Waterbaloons already
filled - 10 cents" -- it could be a New Yorker
cartoon if it weren't already a photograph.

[1] http://www.business2.com/articles/mag/0,1640,41488,00.html


Gary Unblinking.com Stock has two pointers for us.
First, there's a list of philosophical humor. I'm
laughing. I think. http://www.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/phil-humor.html

Second, Gary lets us know that the mnftiu book, Get
Your War On, is coming soon. 

All profits go to landmine clearance efforts in
Afghanistan. (Here's the latest Get Your War On
comic strip: http://www.mnftiu.cc/mnftiu.cc/war12.html)

The Valley of the Geeks has some ads-we'd-like-to-
see for well-known companies.

The Chronicle of Higher Education raises the musical
question "Do libraries need books?"

Dotster.com, which has been my favorite place to
register domain names, is circulating a letter [1]
to all its users asking us to tell ICANN that we
don't like Verisign's proposal for the "secondary
domain market." As far as I can tell from this,
Verisign is proposing that SnapNames be the only
authorized provider of the "Domain Name Wait Listing
Service" that lets a user grab an existing name as
soon as it becomes available. So, if I want
"www.amazon.com," I can pay a service a subscription
fee so that if Amazon forgets to renew its
registration of "www.amazon.com" it goes to me.
Verisign -- the owner of Network Solutions, which is
the monopoly ICANN was established to break up --
apparently would be the only one entitled to offer
this service, which is currently widely available on
the Net. It would charge $24/year whether or not the
name came available, whereas other services charge
less and only charge if the user succeeds in getting
the name.

The Verisign proposal does address a real problem.
As it stands, if two people register for
"www.amazon.com" with different services, and Jeff
Bezos forgets to put "Renew domain name" in his Palm
Pilot, which of the two wins? There's no rational
answer to this. But giving Verisign a monopoly on
this service seems like a really bad idea.

You can register your opinion at ICANN [2] by the
end of July. And you can sign the online petition
[3] against the proposal.

[1] http://www.dotster.com/resources/wls.pdf
[2] http://forum.icann.org/wls/
[3] http://www.petitiononline.com/antiwls/petition.html

Euan Semple (who is moving The Obvious weblog to
http://www.theobviousblog.net/blog/) writes

     I thought of you as soon as I saw this:

Paragraphs that begin that way almost always end
badly, as does the answer to the question "Do you
know what Hollywood actor you remind me of?"
Nevertheless, I assume this street guide to sign
language reminded Euan of me because of the
forgiveness gesture I have initiated, trademarked,
copyrighted, legally adopted and cryogenically

Jorunn Danielsen has translated Small Pieces for
Kids into Norwegian. http://vitsen.agane.com/

Warchalkers mark, in chalk, areas that have free
wireless (WiFi) connectivity. A very cool idea.

Turbulent Velvet [1] has a fabulous piece on
pseudonymity that provides a context to the modern
phenomenon by looking at pseudonymity in 18th
century newspapers. Fascinating and, of course,
directly relevant to what's going on with weblogs.

It reminds me of Dan Bricklin's terrific piece [2]
on the ways in which 18th Century pamphlets were
similar to today's home pages. Dan wrote this before
weblogs were common so it is even more relevant
today since weblogs are what home pages were
supposed to be.

[1] http://www.ufobreakfast.com/archive/00000159.htm
[2] http://www.bricklin.com/pamphleteers.htm

Kevin Marks [1] points us to a BBC piece about
Afghan women blogging their way back into the
daylight, and Halley [2] reruns a related blog
entry. The BBC piece is one of those things that
makes you think this Internet stuff might actually
make a difference.

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/sci/tech/newsid_2044000/2044802.stm

Graeme Thickins points us to a Salon review (By
Andrew Leonard) of a book [1] -- Ruling the Root by
Milton Mueller -- about the way in which the special
interests that control ICANN control the DNS and
thus inhibit free speech. The review makes it sound
as if the regrettable advantage the incumbent brands
have means that the Internet is doomed. To me, the
most alarming point in the review is:

  "With the emergence of domain name-trademark
  conflicts, the WHOIS protocol took on a new
  function," writes Mueller. "It became a
  surveillance tool for intellectual property
  holders...Copyright interests now view expanded
  WHOIS functionality as a way to identify and
  serve process upon the owners of allegedly
  infringing Web sites"

Sounds like a must-read.
[1] http://salon.com/tech/books/2002/06/14/root/index.html

And while we're worrying about the fate of Net
freedom, Eric Norlin reminds us to pay attention to
Digital Identity and the Digital ID World
Conference, October 9-11: http://www.digitalidworld.com/conference/2002/

Eric's blog: http://www.unchartedshores.com/blogger/blogger3.html

Ryan Ireland wants to start a group read of the book
Empire by Hardt and Negri. If you're interested,
head on over. http://www.irelan.net/becoming/archives/000413.html#000413

Michael O'Connor Clarke [1] links to a very funny
database of chat quotes [2]. Be sure to see what Michael selects as his
favorite. (Kudos to Michael for having the least visible permalink on
the Web. Runner up: Eric Raymond.)

[2] http://www.geekissues.org/quotes/

If you are confused about Slashdot but are ashamed
to admit it, here's an interview with the site's
founder that will explain it all to you in the
privacy of your own bedroom.

Jeneane [1] points us the Greenpeace weblog [2], as voice-y
as you'd expect.
[1] http://allied.blogspot.com/
[2] http://weblog.greenpeace.org/

An anonymous source has forwarded to me a PDF of a pay-for-download
article -- "Can You See the Real Me? Activation and Expression of the
'True Self' on the Internet" in Journal of Social Issues (vol. 58, no.
1, pp. 33-48), by John A. Bargh, Katelyn Y.A. McKenna and Grainne M.
Fitzimmons of NYU.

The researchers' begin with Carl Rogers belief that
people often feel that elements of who they are
don't surface in face-to-face interactions. Their
hypothesis is that the anonymity of Internet
encounters enables those elements to surface. They
then did a set of experiments that confirmed this.
Further, "features of Internet interaction
facilitate the projection onto the partner of
idealized qualities." While this sounds to the naive
(= me) like a Bad Thing, in fact:

  these are precisely those features that
  previous research has determined to be critical
  for the formation of close, intimate relations:
  Internet communication enables self-disclosure
  because of its relatively anonymous nature ...
  and it fosters idealization of the other in the
  absence of information to the contrary...

Note that this study looks at anonymous
interactions, not at long-term relationships built
up through email and weblogs.

Normally, I wouldn't pay much mind to this type of
research, but since it confirms my prejudices, I'm
suddenly all in favor of it.

You can find the abstract here.
But you'll have to pay to get the article. So, here
we have a journal that undoubtedly sees its mission
as filtering and distributing serious and important
research that in fact now is in the access-
prevention business. It sucks no less for being

Jon Schull is visualizing blogthreads. To him they
might look something like this: [See online version]

BTW, don't forget the discussion of Shelley's
ThreadNeedle project at QuickTopic. It's how we're
going to get honest-to-object blogthreads. 

Dan Gillmor attended a seminar at Harvard on
Internet law and blogged his notes. But Dan's notes
are better written than the final drafts of the rest
of us. And his notes on Lawrence Lessig's session on
exactly how we can -- and will, according to
Lessig -- lose what's most important about the
Internet are a superb critical summary of Lessig's
position. Read it and weep. Or, better, read it and

Have we (well, S. Lamb) found the most pointless use
of the Google API? It's a Google mirror in case
Google is running too slowly. But, you have to go
there to understand...

Neil Crofts has started a site called www.authenticbusiness.co.uk which
aims to encourage businesses to be, well, authentic.

In the right-hand column of my weblog you'll see a
little face drawn in blue. That's my "blogchalk," an
attempt to provide some semi-standard metadata so we
can search for weblogs more precisely. The metadata
goes like this:

  Google! DayPop! This is my blogchalk: English,
  United States, Boston, Brookline, David, Male,

There are complete instructions on how to enter your
own blogchalk here:

Thanks, Steve Himmer, for your improvement on the
citizen-snoop TIPS campaign:

One suggestion for a link on Steve's RATS page: "How to
Tell an Arab." America needs to know!


The always-provocative Arnold Kling (
http://arnoldkling.com) responds to my despairing
comments about Tim Berners-Lee's "semantic web" in
the previouse JOHO:

  Methinks that the decentralized solution of blogs
  works better than a semantic web see:

Himthinks the way methinks, too.

Norman Jenson of OneGoodMove.org writes:

  I just saw your post on CYC and the link to Andy
  Clarke's book "Being There." I would agree with
  your comments; it was an eye opener for me as
  well. Since you enjoyed Clarke's book so much let
  me recommend Flesh and Machines - How Robots Will
  Change Us by Rodney Brooks, on the off chance you
  haven't read it yet. I read this several months
  ago and made a few comments about it on my site.
  Clarke also has a new book titled Mindware: An
  Introduction to the Philosphy of Cognitive Science
  that is quite good.

I'm a fan of Brooks, although I like his critique of
AI ("The world is the model") more than what I've
read of his positive comments about the nature of
the mind. But I should read more before Issuing
Pronouncements ... not that ignorance has ever
stopped me.

But how about if for once one of you wrote in to
take a book *off* my plate? "Hey, David, here's a
book people say you should read but you don't have

[My CYC post:

Someone -- I've lost her/his name -- points out that
my "Forgive me" gesture has been done already.

  I recall this being discussed some years back-- in
  SF Chronicle? Jon Carroll? & the consensus was
  that we already have such a gesture, uniformly
  understood, namely administering a smart slap to
  the side of the head.

  Unfortunately I keep forgetting to use it at the
  relevant moments

Ah, but the "D'oh!" gesture says "I'm dumb" not
"Please forgive me." The two statements may bear a
close relationship, but they are not the same, just
as "I'd rather not" and "Go to Hell" are related but
not identical.

Forgiveness gesture:

Steve Yost writes with regard to The Gesture:

  I wonder if it's best made clear that your palm
  should be facing away from you -- at least that's
  the way I see it, as a sort of blessing/peace
  sign. Palm toward you looks too much like its
  negative to catch on as obviously benevolent.

Actually, I initially posted a photo showing the
back of my hand, but it just lacked the impact of
the full frontal. I have assumed that the proper
gesture is palm toward the gesturer, with a quick
upwards thrust. But I claim no special authority on
the matter.

Alex Golub, a philosophical anthropology grad
student whose site I admire, writes:

  I thought your article about the Torah et al. was
  interesting. Except one thing - you left out the
  Talmud! Kinda an important part of our heritage,
  eh ;?) Lots of facile analogies have been made to
  postmodern stylistics, the web, and the Talmud. It
  seems like here we've created a field of
  possibility where this sort of thing could get the
  attention and analysis it deserves. FYI check out
  www.baraita.net for someone more erudite in this
  sort of thing. Also, as a Jewish Heideggerian you
  may be interested in Anything By Emmanuel Levinas.

I'd actually made a made a backhand reference to the
Talmud by talking about the hyperlinked nature of
Jewish scholarship. (There's also "The Talmud and
the Internet," a brief book that is still padded,
although I'm sure the author thought that story of
his grandmother was an essential part of his topic.)
I've read a little Levinas and and don't remember

Vergil Iliescu responds to a link to a site with
philosophical jokes on it:

     ...My favourite philosophical joke is this one
     (though it may be well known to

     "I will always remember the day Rene Descartes
     died. We had just finished a wonderful meal and
     were sitting around plotting our next move over
     coffee. The waitress came up and asked, "More
     Coffee?" Descartes replied, "I think not." And
     just disappeared right before my eyes."

Here's a joke that was considered oh so funny when I
was in grad school:

A logic professor spends 40 minutes chalking a proof
on the board. He's very near the end when he writes
a step and says "And that, of course, is self-
evident." A student calls out, "Are you sure?" The
logic professor leaves the classroom and comes back
30 minutes later.

"Yes," he says.

Oh ho ho ho. That killed at the American
Philosophical Association smoker!


150 years ago, owning African slaves was considered
reasonable in this country. A hundred years ago,
having children work in factories was considered
reasonable. Fifty years ago, keeping women out of
the workforce (unless typewriters or sewing machines
were involved) was considered reasonable.

So, what do we currently do that will cause our
grandchildren to shake their heads and say "How
could sweet old Grandma and Grandpa believe ..."?

For example:

| TERM           | MEANING                         |
| Distancism     | The lessening of moral concern  |
|                | and sympathy the further away   |
|                | the object of concern and       |
|                | sympathy is.                    |
| Physicalism    | Sexual attraction based on      |
|                | physical characteristics        |
| Measurementism | The making of value judgments   |
|                | about people based on any       |
|                | quantifiable characteristic     |
You don't have to agree with 'em. You just have to
come up with your own. (The winner will be exempt
from the Nuremburg-style trials held 50-75 years
from now to punish violators of these future crimes.


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  • » [joho] JOHO - July 24, 2002