[joho] JOHO - June 26, 2002

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 14:09:01 -0400

Journal of the
Hyperlinked Organization
June 26, 2002
Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
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For the fully glorious illustrated and
hyperlink-saturated online version of JOHO, please
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  | CONTENTS                                    |
  |                                             |
  | dream of a Web of meaning is unlikely to    |
  | happen, at least the way he thinks.         |
  |                                             |
  | use the Web better than this.               |
  |                                             |
  | CLUEFUL MARKETING: Could you find a better  |
  | example?                                    |
  |                                             |
  | BLOGTHREADS: We need a way to refer to      |
  | 'em. Shelley is going to give 'em to us.    |
  |                                             |
  | THE INVALIDATOR: The official HTML          |
  | validator ought to loosen up                |
  |                                             |
  | WALKING THE WALK: Macromedia and a game     |
  | maker seek advice from outside their own    |
  | conference rooms                            |
  |                                             |
  | COOL TOOL: Pockey stores 10G USB-ly         |
  |                                             |
  | WHAT I'M PLAYING: Serious Sam: Second       |
  | Encounter. Too much fun.                    |
  |                                             |
  | INTERNETCETERA: Why am I still using        |
  | Office?                                     |
  |                                             |
  | ANALS OF MARKETING: Mainly bad ideas.       |
  |                                             |
  | LINKS: You found 'em, I intermediate 'em.   |
  |                                             |
  | SMALL PIECES: Alex Golub engages with it.   |
  |                                             |
  | HACKING COUGHS: More lovely messages from   |
  | y'all.                                      |
  |                                             |
  | BOGUS CONTEST: Upcoming Books               |
  |                                             |
  | From the Land of Self-Promotion comes this  |
  | bulletin: Tom Peters' site is featuring an  |
  | interview with me.                          |


      When the light turned green, the car ahead of
      me just sat there. I gave it a good five
      seconds (i.e., 0.5 seconds) and then blasted
      horn. "What did you do that for?" asked my
      wife. "The light is still red."

      So it was. I hadn't noticed the righthand turn

      So, how do I apologize to the driver ahead of
      me? We lack a gesture by which we beg
      forgiveness. In the online version you can
      find an illustration of what I propose.

      Use it often.


Tim Berners-Lee, blessed be his name (and shortened
be his name to TBL for now), has been pondering what
the Web could become. His vision is that it spawns a
"Semantic Web." I don't believe the Semantic Web is
going to happen. And it's not going to happen for
the very reasons that the Web did happen.

I get such a feeling of deja vu as I read about the
Semantic Web, at least the bits I can understand. In
the late 80s and early 90s, all of human reason
pointed to the inevitability of SGML as a document
standard. Here was a way of encoding every
conceivable document with semantic tags -- parts
lists labeled as "parts_list", definitions labeled
in two pieces as "defined_word" and "definition" --
so that machines could search them and assemble them
automatically out of pieces stored in a document
database. Business would be transformed by the
sharing and automation SGML enables. Further, SGML
had proved itself in highly-disciplined groups
producing highly regulated documents such as
aerospace tech documentation and telecommunications
data sheets. All you had to do was get businesses to
agree to standard document definitions (e.g., a
parts list would be tagged as "parts_list" and not
"list_of_parts") and entice/force office workers to
put in a minimum amount of metadata and, boom!,
productivity would soar! Power searching! Re-
purposing for multiple outputs! Seamless document
interchange! Electronic publishing! Predictable,
normalized documents! An eternally open standard! It
can't miss!

Of course it didn't happen. It turned out that
getting industries to agree on document definitions
takes decades. And it turns out entering even a
single bit of metadata feels like pointy-haired red
tape to office workers. So, SGML remains highly
useful in small pockets but has no traction at all
with the general business public.

But, you say, it has a great deal of traction
HTML is itself an SGML document definition.
Perfectly true. And what lesson do we learn from the
failure of SGML to take off and the unprecedented
success of HTML? HTML worked because it was so
simple, so dumb, and so forgiving. (Well, actually
it was the browsers that were forgiving.)

The Semantic Web will fail for the same reason SGML
failed. And it will succeed in the same way SGML
succeeded: niches and pockets will find it
extraordinarily useful.

The basic idea behind the Semantic Web is to put
more metadata into Web pages so machines can do more
with them. TBL sees RDF as the standard for encoding
this metadata. (Ed Dumbill [1] has an excellent
article about using XHTML and XSLT instead). RDF is
a flexible and open standard that lets you attach as
much metadata as you'd like to any object. But
that's not enough. If machines are going to make
sense of this metadata, they have to know ahead of
time what to expect. So, as TBL points out, you also
have to have "schema" which are like document
definitions in SGML. The Semantic Web gains power as
these schema cover more and more of life. For
example, if we had a schema for expressing contact
information, the Semantic Web would enable us to
search for web pages where the metadata attribute
"last_name" has the content "Bush" and it would find
all the Bush relatives without finding a single page
about rhododendra. But if we only had that one
schema, the Semantic Web would be confined to
searching for contact information. The more schema,
the more useful the Semantic Web becomes.

And that's how TBL leads himself down the branch of
AI known as "knowledge representation" in which we
try to figure out schema for all human knowledge.
Without the schema, the metadata are pointless. This
is a big big stinking problem of the sort that sank

The basic problem with the Semantic Web is that it
doesn't scale. Given TBL's track record and the
caliber of the people working on the Semantic Web ,
there is no doubt that it will scale as a
technology. But it doesn't scale as a social
phenomenon. A company, a set of trading partners,
and even an industry may be able to agree on the
schema and coerce its authors to put in the right
metadata. But as the Semantic Web gets more
comprehensive and more useful, it becomes harder and
harder both to come up with the schema and to
provide the incentive for compliance. The history of
SGML, where companies had hard-core incentives for
coming up with schema, shows just how difficult it
is to get people to do what's so obviously and
rationally good for them.

So, yes, the Internet will gradually become enriched
with metadata which will make it more useful. And
some particular industries and applications will
agree on schema; that's already happening. But the
TBL vision of a well-organized, rigorously tagged
Net that becomes a transparent database of knowledge
would require us to agree on schema and then care
enough to put in the metadata. Not gonna happen.
We're just not that grown up.

I do think there is a way to entice large numbers of
people to provide *some* metadata for their pages.
Have Google announce that it will now enable
searches on a minimal set of metadata such as the
Dublin Core [2] that provides the basic tags most
would find useful. If people knew that this would
make it much easier for people to find their pages,
they'd probably do it. Thus, we could get a limited
set of smarts into the data that would make much of
life on the Web easier, although the semantics would
be limited to pretty much what is on your dog's
license tag. This isn't the type of smarts TBL has
in mind.

There seem to be two approaches to making the Web
smarter: come up with smart AI-ish applications or
make the data smarter. TBL expressly excludes the
former from what he considers to be the Semantic Web
[3]. But let me suggest a third way.

Some questions are best answered by a database. And,
for that reason the answers are often already in a
database, solving the problem. If I want to know
which DSP chip will work in my multiplexer, I can go
to a chip manufacturer's page and query the
database. The harder questions are ones like: "Which
washing machine should I buy," "Can you give me a
hint about how I exit the fourth map of the game
Serious Sam?" and "Will I like the new Alanis
Morisette album?" For these questions, I really want
to talk with people I trust. And while I can
certainly poke around the Web and get answers to
these questions, it seems foolish that I can't just
ask the people I already know in the real world and
on the Web.

So, here's a different type of platform idea for
transforming the Web. How about if my view of the
Internet were to reflect my perspective on the
Internet? Suppose it didn't look to me like 20
billion pages swirling in chaos but looked like a
set of neighborhoods that reflect the groups I'm
actually in? We do this haphazardly now. Suppose
there were a more systematic and automatic way of
doing this?

I've participated in two startups with great ideas
for doing something like this. Both failed. I still
believe not only in the problem they were trying to
address but in their approaches. But lots more
approaches are possible. We should invent them.

Because that's where TBL goes wrong, I believe, or
at least doesn't go right enough. The first line of
the first paragraph of the introduction to his major
work on the Semantic Web says "The Web was designed
as an information space..." [3] Who could argue with
TBL on what the Web was designed as? But no matter
what it was designed as, it's succeeded as a
connection space, not a mere information space. If
the Net's topology is to be improved, I'd rather see
it first reflect its social nature than its
metadata-enhanced informational nature.

[1] http://www.xml.com/pub/a/2000/11/01/semanticweb/
[3] http://www.w3.org/DesignIssues/Semantic.html


I hadn't been back to the home page [1] of The
Office of Homeland Security since I went to get a
copy of the color-coded alert system to make fun [2]
of it. But I had breakfast recently with David
Stephenson [3], a consultant to business and
government on how to use the Internet to change
their ways of doing business. He's been thinking
about what Might Be when it comes to using the Net
to help protect our country from terrorist attacks.
David reminded me of just how bad the Homeland's
home page is.

Have I mentioned that it sucks? And in this case,
sucking isn't a laughing matter.

The basic problem with the page is that it's
primarily intended as PR for the grand job the
administration is doing. There's the endless photo
montage of Bush signing legislation and Ridge
looking tough but slightly bewildered at press
conferences. There's the "Homeland Security
Timeline" [4] that lists speeches and budget
but somehow misses the anthrax-based evacuation of
the Senate and doesn't list a single one of the
alerts Ridge's office has issued.

Most clearly featured are the press releases: "Tom
Ridge Speaks to the Associated Press Annual
Luncheon," "Remarks by Homeland Security Director
Tom Ridge to the Electronics Industries Alliance."
The impression this leaves: the greatest weapon in
the anti-terrorism arsenal is the rubber chicken.

In one of his speeches [5], Ridge says, "We're going
knock down the information 'stovepipes' throughout
government and turn them into pipelines." Excellent
and important. So where are those pipelines on the
Homeland home page? Where's even a link to the FBI
page? How about a link to something -- anything!
-- that isn't just more PR about what a swell job
Ridge is doing?

In that same speech, he says:

     The American people must become active partners
     in their own protection. More than 30,000 have
     already signed up for the President's new
     Citizen Corps program. They'll contribute to
     homeland security at the grassroots,
     neighborhood level. I urge all Americans to

And how might we serve? Where on the site can we
leave a tip, get educated about what "be on alert"
means and what "suspicious behavior" is, or ask a
simple question? (I'm too civic minded to make fun
of Ridge's suggestion that attending a PTA meeting
constitutes an anti-terrorist action.)

In fact, the URL is within the whitehouse.gov
domain, sitting there along with the pages for White
House tours, the first lady, and the "Kids Only"
page - all listed as buttons above the Homeland
Security title, just one click away. Swell.

Government PR = Propaganda. For shame.

[1] http://www.whitehouse.gov/homeland/
[3] http://www.stephensonstrategies.com
[4] http://www.whitehouse.gov/march11/timeline/four.html


As one of the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto
(www.cluetrain.com), I thought I'd pass along this
outstanding example of "clueful" marketing that
arrived in my inbox this morning:

     From: Jenny Witherspoon
     Sent: Tuesday, June 18, 2002 7:57 PM
     Subject: hello

     Hello this is Jenny Witherspoon I am one of the
     featured girls on www.amatureacadamys.com We
     are giving away 100 % FREE memberships for this
     week to see how people like it. Please check it
     out and let me know what you think! Hit me up
     on AOL Instant Messenger My Screen Name is
     JennyAmature82 If you don't like watching XXX
     videos , webcams, and looking at my NUDE
     pictures you may not want to join.

     Jenny Witherspoon

She really seems to have read and absorbed our book!
This is non-money-focused ("FREE"), acknowledging
that connection is more important than shoving coins
over the line. It's all about joining with other
people ("memberships") rather than mass marketing to
a faceless crowd. In fact, she even gives out her IM
account number so we can make direct contact! She
doesn't put on a phony veneer of perfection -- you
can really hear her own voice. This doesn't sound
like it was written by a committee and then deloused
by lawyers! She signs her own name. And she's
totally upfront about the fact that her product
isn't perfect, acknowledging that we may not even be
interested in it. Wow! It's great to know we've had
this type of effect!

I'm so proud!


Shelley at BurningBird [1] has announced plans to
build a service that will put the thread into
blogthreads. If you register your blog with her new
service -- ThreadNeedle.com, a few months away from
launch -- it will automatically scour it for
links to other blogs so that when Tom replies to
AKMA and Jeneane replies to Tom and then Tom replies
to Jeneane and then Jennifer replies to AKMA, all
that will be saved and will be made reference-able
and link-able as a blogthread. Excellent!

This is something we really need. In fact, I hope
that Shelley's work will be taken up by sites that
are in the business of aggregating blogs -- Google?
DayPop? Are you interested? -- so that blogthreads
can be assembled from blog entries on sites that
haven't registered with ThreadNeedle.com and, most
of all, so that they can be indexed and returned by
the search engines. Wouldn't it be cool to search
on, say, "forgiveness" and have Google and/or DayPop
tell you not only that AKMA, Tom and Jeneane have
blog entries about this but that there is an
extensive blogthread on the topic?

I've written before [2] about this and about the
need for a threading standard; a conversation about
the broader standard continues over at QuickTopic
for anyone who's interested [3]. There's a
discussion of the Needly standard itself.[4] Jump

[3] http://www.quicktopic.com/7/H/rhSrjkWgjnvRq/m96
[4] http://www.quicktopic.com/14/H/P96CAYje2yc.


AKMA [1] points us to Dorothea who points us to the
W3C HTML Validation Service [2], a nicely done tool.
Put in an URL and it instantly comes back with the
list of syntactical errors in its HTML -- attributes
that need to be within quotation marks, paragraph
tags within block elements, ALT attributes left out
of graphic links. Why, there are hundreds of
mistakes in this issue of JOHO. It's completely,
totally, irredeemably INVALID! In fact, the home
page for OASIS, the SGML/XML standards group, is
INVALID, XML.com is INVALID, the O'Reilly home page
is INVALID, Linus Torvalds' home page is INVALID,
and the 12-line home page of Google has a bold-faced

Reminds me of an old joke. A man goes to a doctor.
"Doc, it hurts when I go like this," he says, poking
himself gently in the foot with his index finger.
"It hurts when I go like this," he says, poking his
knee. "It hurts when I go like this," he says as he
pokes his thigh. He proceeds the same way up to the
top of his head.

"I see," says the doctor. "You've got a broken

[1] http://www.seabury.edu/faculty/akma/blog.html
[2] http://validator.w3.org/

| MIDDLE WORLD RESOURCES                           |


Michael O'Connor Clark points us to an article in
Wired about Macromedia's setting up five of their
"community managers" with blogs to talk with the
developer community.

Andy Mahood, columnist on game simulations (that is,
games that are simulations, not simulations of
games) at PCGamer, gave the product of the year
award last year to Microsoft Flight Simulator which,
in his view, narrowly edged out IL-2 Sturmovik.
According to this month's column (July), not only
was Sturmovik developed more or less in public by
developers who tried out their ideas at gaming
message boards and other online forums, but the
company has also been collecting bug reports and
enhancement requests there as well. They've been
issuing "an aggressive series of patches" whereas
"Microsoft recently issued a statement saying that
it would not be providing any sort of patching
process for the bugs found" in their product.

Concludes Mahood: "Is it too late to change my


I just got a Pockey 10G external hard drive and I
find my geek gland is engorged. It's a little
thinner, longer and lighter than a deck of cards
(the Pockey, not my gland, children), plugs into a
USB port, and is letting me free up 10G of space on
my laptop. In fact, it is now the main repository of
my vast MP3 collection. (I have over 7 gigs of the
classical repertoire recreated in dog yips.)

On the minus side, the data transfer is noticeably
slow, although it plays back MP3s without a hitch.
On the plus side, it's powered through the USB
connection and thus I don't have to stack another
piece of furniture in order to make room for one
more transformer plug. http://www.pockey.com

It cost $80 through ReturnBuy.com, which I found via


Serious Sam: The Second Encounter is just plain
great. Built in that hotbed of gaming excellence,
Croatia, Serious Sam is a first person shooter
that's less gothic and more Chuck Jones. The
graphics engine is fantastic and is only outdone by
the graphics themselves. Set in large interiors and
huge exteriors, SS pits you against endless hordes
of alien mutants. Nothing subtle about it. It is
refreshingly funny, and not just because of the
hero's wisecracks. The creature design is original
and ridiculous and the maps take advantage of the
engine's ability to bend gravity and light to its
will. Total, mindless fun. And a steal at $20.00.


eWeek runs a table (June 17) comparing the prices of
various office suites:

Office XP, standard, non-upgrade version: $479
Office XP upgrade: $239
    For students and teachers: $149

Sun's StarOffice: $76
    150+ users: $25-$50
    Teachers and students: Cost of CD & shipping

OpenOffice.org: Free download

But the real cost, of course, is that with the new
phone-the-mothership licensing, we have to buy
separate copies for every computer we own, not for
every user. I upgraded my desktop machine and my
laptop, but I'll be damned if the kids are ever
going to see anything past Office 2000!

With the increased interoperability of XML-based
systems, why do we feel locked in to this software?
I forget. (Apparently so has Wal-Mart which is now
shipping Lindows on some of its PCs.)



Dave Curley writes:


     Essentially, it appears that a PR company -
     presumably hired by Monsanto - planted postings
     on a listserv that ultimately led to Nature
     retracting an article.

     Leaving aside the question of whether or not
     the article should have been published, this,
     to me, helps show how the internet's strength
     as a "create your own identity" medium is also
     a weakness: on the internet, nobody knows
     you're a dog, and nobody knows you're a lying
     PR weasel.

     Yes, astroturf lobbying exists in the physical
     world, people are planted in opposing groups,
     and so on, but it's much harder. Just as the
     internet makes it so much easier for me to
     contact you and communicate/connect with you,
     it also makes it that much easier for me to lie
     to you.

The Science story is more complicated story than it
should be if it's to serve as a simple fable, for it
seems that there may have been real problems with
the article that was retracted. But, Dave's
certainly right. There's no doubt that the there are
shills and worse on the Web. We'll be in a constant
battle with them as we invent ways of discovering
trust and Evil Marketers invent ways of abusing that

Google the Good has, in my view, taken a rare

From Tom Gross comes a link to Christophe Bruno's
article "The Google AdWords Happening" about his
experiment with using Google AdWords to have people
see his art: www.iterature.com/adwords/ He bought
some keywords so that his ad would show up when
people searched on those words, but ran poetry
instead of ads. For example, if you searched
Google for "symptom" you'd see:

          | Words aren't free anymore     |
          | bicornuate-bicervical uterus  |
          | one-eyed hemi-vagina          |
          | www.unbehagen.com             |

As the clickthrough rates fell -- Bruno's aim was
to present poetry on Google's page, not to get
people to click through to his -- Google's bot
noticed and decreased the frequency with which his
ad was served. Finally, his ads were disapproved and
Google suspended the "campaign."

This accords with my own experience with AdWords. I
bought the keyword "Lessig," as an experiment and
submitted an ad that began "If you like Lessig...";
the rest of the ad touted Small Pieces as a book
that Larry Lessig liked. But I couldn't get the
three dots past Google because they do not permit
"excessive" punctuation. The bot did let me get away
with "If you like Lessig-" but I then received a
personal email telling me that my use of a dash was
ungrammatical. Admittedly, but that's only because
they wouldn't allow me to use the grammatically
correct ellipsis.

Methinks they're a bit overscrupulous...

Enfish, which makes a great search engine for your
own email and desktop files, has a very responsive
email support system. So, when I replied to one of
their replies, I was aghast with delight to receive
a bounce-back that began as follows:

     Your reply did not process correctly. Please
     REPLY to this message and enter the text
     between the specified lines. Your message has
     been included below.

Let's see. The robot knows what my message was. It
knows which lines my message should have been
entered between. But it needs a human to do the
cutting and pasting for it.

This makes as much sense to me as the phone error
message: "Your call could not be completed. You need
to dial a one before the number." If they know it
needs the one, then put it in for me!

Jeez, do I have to do everything myself around here?



Steve Yost, the creator of QuickTopic and one of the
Web's Good Guys, has started blogging.

...As has the always-inventive Stowe Boyd. The fact
that he posted a glowing, thoughtful review of Small
Pieces doesn't influence my recommendation, although
the fact that he's an old pal certainly does...as is
only proper.

AKMA has reconceived his blogroll as a new
university, the U of Blogaria. AKMA also received
tenure at the real-world college where he teaches.
Congratulations and enjoy your new life of
invincible slacking off!
[Unwrap the URL]

The ever-vigilant Chip recommends Eric Alterman's
big-J-ish blog. Alterman writes for The Nation as
well as for just about any other journal that hasn't
completely hocked its soul.

Jeneane's husband is blogging from Hong Kong where
he's spending a few months with his band. Diary,
letter home, article? I dunno. It's a blog!
Jeneane's blog: http://allied.blogspot.com/

J. Thomas Vincent blogged a conference on the
intersection of digits and entertainment the other
day. It's an excellent report of what sounds like an
actually useful conference. You'll actually hear
people give a more reasonable defense of the
Hollings Bill than I'm willing to listen to.

Frank Paynter has interviewed Denise Howell of the
Bag and Baggage blog. "Interview" isn't the right
word, though. More like, um, a one-act play
presented as an e-epistolary interchange with the
public looking over its shoulder. It's got
anecdotes, banter, theories, jokes, links, poems,
photos, a top ten list and therapy. Also homeless
people who smell like Dungeness crab.
And now he's interviewed Jeneane:

Glenn Fleishman was one of the semi-frozen bloggers
on the Geek Cruise into the Cold and Dark. He writes
about it -- and includes photos -- here.

Doc has the definitive comment on David Gallagher's
piece on "warbloggers" in the NY Times.

And he also has some great quotes from David Bowie
in a John Pareles piece in the aforementioned Times.
Bowie says, matter of factly, that the music
industry isn't going to be around in a recognizable
form in ten years and that "Music itself is going to
become like running water or electricity." Rock on,
GlamBoy! http://doc.weblogs.com/2002/06/10

David Isenberg (http://www.isen.com) has found an
interesting French search site. It shows the results
graphically, connecting the nodes to display, well,
I have no idea what it's displaying. But other
people on the mailing list to which he sent the link
seem to think that it's quite helpful to those who
didn't sell their graphical lobes to artistically
challenged millionaires in the early 70s. It's
called www.kartoo.net and if it works for you, then
I delight in your success.

Marek (http://soapbox.radiopossibility.com/)
recommends www.ResultsUSA.org, a site that works on
world hunger.

Gary "Unblinking" Stock (http://www.unblinking.com)
sends us back to our favorite comic strip, mnftiu,
to discover that there's going to be a "Get Your War
On" book. All of the proceeds will go to landmine
relief efforts in Afghanistan. http://www.mnftiu.cc

Bob Frankston has an excellent, readable, and clear
article on what needs to change at the FCC. Must

Vergil Iliescu writes

     At The Edge (http://www.edge.org/) there is a
     wonderful set of images called "Twelve Flowers"
     by Katinka Matson. What is different is that
     these are produced via a flatbed scanner, not a
     camera. The images are quite beautiful - they
     are of flowers - with a kind of depth and
     colour that is remarkable. I'm viewing them on
     a modern high resolution LCD computer screen,
     and they are breathtaking!

Yes they are. There's an example in the online JOHO,
but you might as well go straight to the source:

Hank Blakely is funny. He just is, durn it.
Especially if you think Bush is a moron. His Bush
Diary is good, but what I really like are the email
messages announcing new entries in the diary. He
writes with great confidence which is hard to do
with comedy because humor writing is inherently a
type of pandering, and his confidence is justified
... which is also rare with comedy. For example, in
a recent message he waxes comedically about the
sorry state of readiness of the National Guard
patrolling California's bridges and recommends that
we replace them with trolls. He archives his msgs
here: http://www.dystopical.com/W2/wweeks.html

I think it's Chip who recommended the following

  Forwarded message: The Breast Cancer site is
  having trouble getting enough people to click on
  it daily to meet their quota of donating at least
  one free mammogram a day to a woman. It takes less
  than a minute to go to their site & click on
  ""Fund Free Mammograms"" (pink window in the
  middle). Their corporate sponsors and advertisers
  use the number of daily visits to donate a
  mammogram in exchange for advertising. Here's the
  website! Pass it along to all your friends!!


There's a very cool "powers of 10" trip at
[Unwrap the url!]

Brian Millar, who is in my pantheon of the Just
Plain Funny, is collecting words he cannot pronounce
or at least so uncertain about that he is afraid to
say them out loud [1].

My list includes:


And my number one word that I can't pronounce:

     President Bush



Alex Golub has written not so much a review as a
critical piece about Small Pieces:


In the best sense. In fact, it is a superb response
to the ideas in the book. He kicks at the spots in
my "argument" that most need kicking and, most
important, he laughs at my jokes. You can read my
summary and response in the online version:


Mike Fitzgerald writes with regard to the email
version of JOHO:

     I changed to a monospaced font and stretched my
     window -- but that didn't help it all make

Mike, Mike, Mike, did you check out the message
spelled out by the second letter of the second word
on each line? I mean, how obvious do I have to make

Frank Schmidt seems to be having a bad day (or week
or even a year):

     Subject: f_uck the internet...and the piece of
     s_hit that it has become...

     ...and f_uck verizon pop-ups, and orbitz pop-
     and viagra spam and every one of the scumbag
     marketeers who are driving me crazy with their
     goddam merchandising and f_uck all of the
     b_ullshit email that is flooding my inbox

     swear that i will NEVER, EVER, go near any of
     the products that they push in a thousand years

     will go out of my way to ignore any product
     that any of them are behind

Does this mean you're never going to Nigeria? At the
very least, can't we donate some lower case letters
to them?

[Note: I introduced the spaces into the swear words
to see if this will sneak this issue past your
corporate Firewall of Niceness.]

Jeff Chapman cogitates in response to a blog entry
[1] about Thomas Friedman's comments [2] about the
role of the Internet as a source of mis- and

     ...traditional journalism is based upon a
     certain model that no longer applies. The old
     model is that you can produce a newspaper for a
     dime and sell it for fifty cents, which (if you
     sell many papers) will make you enough of a
     profit. You can include things in the paper
     like national news, foreign news, business
     news, weather, sports, and want ads. Even
     though a reader might only be interested in one
     quarter of the national news, the weather, and
     one quarter of the business news, that has
     enough value that the reader will pay the fifty
     cents for the newspaper...

     The new paradigm though is different. If I am
     interested in the Weather, I go to the
     particular sub pages at the specific weather
     sites that interest me. I then go to the
     particular pages of the specific business sites
     that interest me, et cetera. Each site provides
     deeper information with immediate cross-links
     to related information that I can't get in the
     paper, and I don't have to wade through the
     stories that don't interest me. And hence my
     viewpoint of the value attached to each site is
     less. The whole glob of daily information is
     still worth fifty cents to me, but now it's
     source is split between ten web sites, so the
     data at each individual site is only worth a
     nickel. And the point is that the nickel's
     worth of information at each site actually
     isn't worth charging for, because if you don't
     supply it for free I can find some other site
     that will. Newspapers have hence lost their
     "aggregation value."

     Journalism and reporting is still alive; it's
     just that the vehicle for delivery has been
     struck into millions of ""small pieces loosely

     Hee hee hee.

And RSS helps automate the aggregation. I just added
RSS tags to my blog and will do so to this
newsletter as soon as I figure out some of the


Greg Carter points us to Brad Blanton's amusing site
on the concept of radical honesty
http://www.radicalhonesty.com/ On its surface, the
site is bland, but if you poke around you'll find
pockets of genuine voice (and a whole lot of o'er-
weening self-confidence). Here's a snippet of a
description of one of Brad's seminars:

     This is an eight day program which provides you
     with the hilarious experience of a new family
     based on honesty which will give you all the
     training necessary to sustain ongoing
     transformation for yourself and ongoing torture
     of your real family and friends back home. It
     will also serve nicely to mess things up at

Now, Greg points this out because of my recent
comments about the importance and inevitability of
lying [1]. Judging from what I can glean from Brad's
site, he seems to think that there is such a thing
as The Truth and that we either tell the truth or we
don't, although he acknowledges that there are many
ways in which we "lie." The difference between him
and me is that he doesn't like any of 'em, whereas
I'm quite fond of a whole bunch of them. In fact,
our human relationships are so complex and mutually
refracted that there is no such thing as The Truth,
and shaping and shading our stuff together
constitutes much of the joy of sociality. Two people
just telling one another the truth would be boring
when it wasn't insulting. Oh, and, by the way, it's
also impossible.


Val Stevenson responds to our article
about the Pope's Internet pronouncement. I wrote:

    But this papal communication is oddly mute about
    the implications of connecting each of us --
    even, eventually, the meekest and humblest --
    one to another, unmediated and direct.

Val responds:

  You may have missed www.avemariasingles.com, a
  unique dating agency. (Also the very lovely
  www.catholicfreebies.com, where the offers include
  "The Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People".
  What a neat idea to re-purpose corporate ladder
  manuals for people who want to fast-track to

Thank you, Val, for sharing your very personal
religious experiences with us.

And to think that I recently let www.AmIDamned.com
expire! (Really.)


USAToday reports that Katherine Harris, Florida's
Secretary of State during the first annual Florida
Fraud Month, is working on a book about her
experience. It's called Center of the Storm:
Practicing Principled Leadership in Times of Crisis.

This should make us think of other upcoming books:

     The Stealth Executive: Managing the New
     Distributed Business by O.B. Laden

     With the Help of My Friends: Succeeding in the
     New Gift Economy by Senator Robert G.

     Letting Go: The Art of Creative Severance by
     Gary Condit

     Tough Love: The Slobodan Milosevic Story

And your favorites would include ...?

(How dare I compare Harris to Bin Laden or
Milosevic? You're right. I don't.)


Morbus Iff, whose www.Amphetadesk.com I am only now
beginning to truly appreciate. responds to our
perpetual Ambiguous URLs mini contest:


     AnalBumCover or AnAlbumCover?

Hmm. This was a category in one of Saturday Night
Live's parodies of Jeopardy. Nevertheless, it
suffices to keep this contest alive and accepting

Until next time. If there is a next time.


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  • » [joho] JOHO - June 26, 2002