[joho] JOHO - March 17, 2003

  • From: "David Weinberger" <self@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <joho@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2003 20:32:08 -0500

Journal of the
Hyperlinked Organization
March 17, 2003
Editor: David Weinberger (self@xxxxxxxxxxx)
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| CONTENTS                                         |
|                                                  |
| THE WEB MATTERS: Familiarity breeds ennui. A     |
| little wonder wouldn't hurt.                     |
|                                                  |
| WORLD OF ENDS: Reaction and discussion about an  |
| article Doc and I wrote together.                |
|                                                  |
| THE RIGHT TO ANONYMITY: Is there such a thing?   |
|                                                  |
| OPINION TAGS: A proposal to let you link to a    |
| site without it counting as a recommendation.    |
|                                                  |
| NOTES FROM SXSW: Some highlights from a          |
| conference.                                      |
|                                                  |
| COOL TOOL: NewzCrawler. It's newz to me.         |
|                                                  |
| POLITICS: Wailing and gnashing of teeth. I am    |
| so depressed.                                    |
|                                                  |
| YOU FIRST SECONDS: A couple of responses to the  |
| "You First" proposal.                            |
|                                                  |
| ANALS OF MARKETING: Dumb and ugly.               |
|                                                  |
| LINKS: Your recommendations.                     |
|                                                  |
| SERVE: Your always insightful email.l            |
|                                                  |
| BOGUS CONTEST: Net monikers.                     |

| WHY JOHO NOW?                                    |
|                                                  |
| I'm rushing this issue into "print" rather       |
| neurotically. When I stop to think about it, I   |
| find two impulses.                               |
|                                                  |
| First, it takes my mind off doing the math: Two  |
| bombs hit NYC and it took a year to clear the    |
| rubble, a year for each victim to be written up  |
| in the Times, and forever for their families to  |
| stop grieving. Now we are about to drop three    |
| or four thousand bombs in just the first two     |
| days of this trumped-up war.                     |
|                                                  |
| Second, I figure I'd better publish while we     |
| can still pretend that JOHO and its topics       |
| matter even a little.                            |

      | THE DAY BEFORE THE WAR         |
      |                                |
      |          A Haiku               |
      |                                |
      | Winding in the kite,           |
      | it pulls up so hard, it writes |
      | a line in my skin.             |
| IT'S A JOHO WORLD AFTER ALL, PART 1              |
|                                                  |
| The venerable The Well for the next ten days or  |
| so is running a discussion with me as the        |
| interview subject.                               |
|                                                  |
| IT'S A JOHO WORLD AFTER ALL, PART 2              |
|                                                  |
| Salon is running "The Myth of Interference," an  |
| article I wrote about David Reed's idea that     |
| the federal policies intended to prevent radio   |
| signals from interfering are based on bad        |
| science.                                         |
|                                                  |
| There were over 500 comments on it at            |
| slashdot, some of them not calling me a total    |
| asswipe.                                         |


I somehow got slated to give the opening
presentation at SXSW Interactive [1], the conference
for latte-sippin', dogie-brandin' web designers and
internetellos. My presentation's title somehow ended
up "Why the Web Matters," requiring me to write new
material. I don't like new material. New material is
always worse than old material.

I decided to begin by taking a controversial stand:
The Web does matter. There, I've said it.

As the Web becomes part of our background, it's
getting easier to forget just how much it matters.
Here are some ways we all know, but I sometimes find
myself taking for granted:

  I have 10 times as many friends as I used to. I
  know 100 times more people. I have 1,000 times
  more people I can call upon for help, support or a
  well-deserved kick in the ass.

  My friendships last longer. I'm still in touch
  with people I worked with in the '80s even though
  in the real world, I forget relationships the way
  I flick crumbs off a table.

  Not only is there a gazillion times more
  information available, we expect the chain of
  information never to end. Whatever the topic, we
  expect to be able to browse indefinitely.

  Every conceivable topic has its own site and its
  own cluster of people around it.

  If I don't trust the voice of authority, all I
  have to do is turn my head a quarter turn to hear
  the voices of those whose stories that voice is

  Our kids take it for granted that they can publish
  to the entire world without first having to get
  their writing accepted by a publisher.

  Everyday I receive email from people I've never
  met pointing out amazing, funny, heart-breaking
  and sometimes merely amusing sites.

  Those who we know by reputation are no longer
  inaccessible on their own private Olympus. It's
  likely we can find their email address. And when
  we write, we may well get an answer.

  The largest network of human creativity and
  history's best operating system have both been
  created by distributed networks of people who
  never once have sat in on a weekly status meeting
  about the projects.

  We are learning that the world consists of people
  joined by shared interests rather than simply
  countries divided by patrolled borders.

The Web matters.

Until the first bomb hits.

[1] http://www.sxsw.com/interactive/


About ten days ago, Doc Searls and I put up a site
called "World of Ends" (http://www.worldofends.com).
It seemed to us that business and government
generally are just plain wrong about what the
Internet is, which is why they keep making proposals
that would so radically diminish the Net's value.
So, we decided to explain it in short words. For me,
the "take-away" is:

  1. The Internet is an agreement, and to succeed on
  the Internet, any new agreements -- e.g.,
  Digital Rights Management -- have to be actually
  agreeable to users as well as vendors.

  2. The Internet's ethos is governed by Doc's three
  rules: No one owns it, everyone can use it, anyone
  can improve it.

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? But since Doc and I
seem to become obnoxious whenever we're put together
-- it's apparently a recessive gene we both carry
-- the tone became "Yo, blockheads!"

The site generated more interest than either of us
anticipated: 22,000 hits between 2am and 2pm on the
first day, and that's before we were slashdotted ...

And a whole bunch of mail came in. For example...

Paul Boutin asks a series of incisive questions,
which Doc [1] answered decisively. Here's my
(edited) response:

  1) Who is World of Ends intended for?...

The intended readers are the boneheaded captains of
industry and government, but we didn't think they'd
ever read it if we didn't make it highly partisan
and obnoxious.

(I like Michael O'Connor Clarke's thoughts on this
topic [2].)

  3) Specifically who and what actions do you refer
  to in the passage about "government types ...
  tinkering with the Internet's core?"

The usual suspects, including DRM efforts, the
"broadcast flag," the killers of Internet radio,
etc. The "core" refers not to low levels of the
stack but to the services and values that most users
take as the heart of the Internet.

  4) You say telecoms should "bite the bullet."
  Which bullet, i.e. what exactly should they spend
  on or write off at this point?

If you put me in charge of a telco, I'd hire someone
competent for the job -- how about David Isenberg
[3]? -- and take a very healthy severance package.
(Then I'd appoint Lawrence Lessig to the Supreme
Court.) But I do believe [4] that the telcos are
standing in the way of what a free market would

  5) "The value of open spectrum is the same as the
  true value of the Internet." Help me out there...

I put that poorly. I meant that an open spectrum
policy would result in a marketplace for innovation
much like the one that the Internet has created.
More here [5] and here [6].

  7) ...I sense that very little of this seems aimed
  at Microsoft per se. Am I right?

It's aimed at any company that thinks it can and
should coerce us into accepting one-sided agreements
(AKA "leveraging its market position"), so, yes, it
is definitely aimed at Microsoft, among others.

[1] http://paulboutin.weblogger.com/2003/03/11
[3] http://www.isen.com
[4] http://www.netparadox.com
[5] http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/framing_openspectrum.html
[6] http://www.greaterdemocracy.org/OpenSpectrumFAQ.html

If you want to see how this works with a company
like Microsoft, see this article at InternetNews
about how the new version of Office seems designed
to lock us in further.


Bob Frankston (http://www.satn.org/about/) writes to
me and Doc to suggest two additions:

  The net is meaningless. It just transports bits
  and bits, in themselves, have no meaning. The
  meaning comes from interpretation at the edges and
  the interpretations are not unique and do preserve
  ambiguity. The tendency to introduce social policy
  at this level has perverse consequences.

  The net only operates if it fails. There must be
  sufficient disorder to assure that the ends are
  resilient (the analogy with our immune system) and
  there must be sufficient perturbation to allow new
  ideas to be reaped. We don't solve problem as much
  as discover solutions in the turmoil.

Good points. I think the first one is implicit in
our article or maybe I only assumed that it's
implicit. I like Bob's second point a lot.

Jonathan Peterson has cogent comments on his blog.
He begins:

  Marc Canter sent an email pushing back on World of
  Ends, reminding David and Doc that the user's end-
  game (two-way full-motion video), should be kept
  in mind. Doc and David's (stupid=flexible above
  all else) is the visionaries' message to the
  decision-makers. Marc is right about keeping an
  eye on what users want...

In truth, I worry about altering the Net at the
protocol level to accommodate any service, including
two-way video.


Eric Norlin thinks we ought to take notice of the
face that the agreement that is the Internet is
dynamic. True enough. But, as the article says, new
agreements need to be voluntarily accepted and in
the interests of all. In my opinion, digital ID,
"digital rights management" and "trustworthy
computing" fail that test: the demand is coming top
down, not bottom up.


Arnold Kling has written a terrific piece that tries
to cure the geek version of the "Repetitive Mistake
Syndrome" (Doc's phrase) Doc and I talk in "World of
Ends." Arnold's five points are:

  1. Intermediaries add value
  2. Property is not evil
  3. Computer animation is not a killer app
  4. Bashing Microsoft does not make you
  5. Markets are not exploitative


Arnold also wonders [1] at Corante how The World of
Ends idea applies to spam:

  The World of Ends would seem to imply that the
  only weapon against spam is end-user filtering.
  Any attempt to stop spam at the network level
  would require opening up packets and looking at
  them, which violates the world-of-ends principle

Instead, he suggests:

  It is almost impossible to enforce a law against
  sending spam.  So we should try to pass a law
  against responding to spam.

  What I propose is that any American who makes a
  purchase based on unsolicited email be fined
  $10,000 and jailed for 30 days.

This is reminiscent of Chris Rock's suggestion that
we make guns freely available but charge heavily for
ammunition: If I want to shoot you, I'll first have
to come up with $5,000 for a bullet.

But the World of Ends principle -- which comes
straight from the End-to-End argument by Clark, Reed
and Salzer [2], and from Isenberg's Rise of the
Stupid Network [3] -- doesn't say that no services
can ever be built into a network, only that it's
generally better to move services closer to the
edge. So, as Arnold suggests, perhaps that means
that spam needs to be trapped by the ISPs. I don't
know if that's the case, but it could be.

Meanwhile, Popfile [4] continues to work well for me
here on my end of the Internet. I still have to look
through the folder it filters spams into because
about 1% are false positives, which means that a
solution that works now when I'm getting 250 spams a
day may not work in a couple of years when I expect
I'll be getting 25,000 spams a day. Sigh.

[1] http://www.corante.com/bottomline/20030301.shtml#24792
[2] http://www.reed.com/Papers/EndtoEnd.html
[3] http://www.isen.com/stupid.html
[4] http://popfile.sourceforge.net

A few bloggers take Doc and me to task (or, better,
to school) for portraying the Internet as a world of
ends when in fact those ends are joined in webs of
personal connection. Why do we misleadingly talk
about "ends" in "World of Ends?" Good question...

First, that's the language in the paper from which
we took the article's main insight: "End-to-End
Arguments..." Second, Doc and I wanted to talk about
the Internet's architecture so that we could make
the quasi-factual claim that boneheaded businesses
and regulators are just plain wrong in their
understanding; we didn't want to focus in this
article on all the good things that come out of that
architecture. Third, we liked the echo of "ends" vs.
"means" as in Kant's Kingdom of Ends.

But, yes, absolutely and definitely, the value of
the Internet is the groups it allows. In fact, point
#7 is called "The end of the world? Nah, the world
of ends" and says in the first paragraph: "...when
every end is connected, each to each and each to
all, the ends aren't endpoints at all. " There's
much much more to be said about this. Books and
generations worth. But that wasn't the point of
"World of Ends."


Michael O'Connor Clarke writes [1], in part:

  The rallying cry you've chosen to end on is lovely
  -- but without over-complicating things, I feel
  the urge to make a distinction in this piece
  between 'stupidity' and 'stupidness'. Stupidity is
  indeed something we should hope to lose, or hope
  big business, the recording industry, the telcos
  will lose.

  Stupidness, on the other hand, is a value to be
  treasured, protected, nurtured...

Michael then follows up with a lovely piece on "The
World of Ands" [2]. As a new father, he is well-
qualified to understand how AND-ing works where
sometimes only an OR seems possible.


Tim Moors has written an academic paper that
challenges the End-to-End argument. Much of it is
over my head, so I assume it's all true.


Christophe Ducamp points to an article on "World of
Ends" on the site of a French TV network. Google's
automatic translation service tells me that the
author finds our article "corrosive and didactic,"
although as far as I can tell, between the rest of
Google's translation and my limited French, they
actually sort of like it.

If you speak French and find I'm wrong, please
don't tell me. Thank you.


The fundamental reason I'm sorry to see the
emergence of digital ID is that until now, the
default on the Net has been that we're anonymous
unless we choose not to be. I hate to see that
default change. In fact, I've sometimes
thoughtlessly referred to a "right to anonymity."
But is there really a right to anonymity on the

As far as I know, no court has recognized such a
right. But not all rights come from law. For
example, most of us feel comfortable saying that
Afghan women under the Taliban had a right to be
educated even though they had no such legal right.
The Right to Lifers assert a right for fetuses that
the legal system hasn't recognized. And the parents
of the American Revolution certainly were asserting
rights not yet recognized by law.

But what is a right? It's the other side of a duty.
If I have a right to not be X'ed, you have a duty
not to X me. Rights generally are not absolute if
only because they sometimes conflict. For example,
your right to privacy (a legal right in the US) can
be overridden if you're at an airport and have
criminally dark skin.

Rights only become explicit when we need others to
perform duties. For example, we may have always had
a right to clean air, but it only emerged as a right
worth mentioning once our air got fouled. The
emergence of a right can make explicit what had been
an inconspicuous, default state.

That's how I see the right to anonymity. It's been
the default on the Internet. A world in which that
default is maintained is a better world than one in
which our every click is tracked, our every purchase
becomes a datum to be turned against us, our every
download is assumed to be shoplifting. Anonymity has
been and should be the default. It should be allowed
to emerge as an actual right.

Constitutional Amendment anyone?


[Thanks to Eric Norlin for provoking this. Eric
apparently is unconvinced:


Kevin Marks proposed to the emergent democracy list
recently a way let us link to things we don't like
without implying to some apps like Google that the
link constitutes a recommendation.

After the mailing list kicked it around for a while
-- wondering whether we should call it "whuffie" [1]
and whether it should take a binary value or a range
-- Kevin formulated the proposal. We're calling it
"vote links" (not my favorite since voting is just
one application) and it's simplicity itself: you
optionally add "vote=X" to any link, where X can be
"1", "-1" or "0". To take Kevin's example:

<a href="http://ragingcow.com"; vote="-"
title="nasty corn syrup drink">Raging Cow</a>

The best place for info is Kevin's site [2] where he
a discussion and links to other list members' blog

[1] http://www.craphound.com/down/
[2] http://epeus.blogspot.com/2003_03_01_epeus_archive.html#90699163


I spent 4 days at the South by Southwest (SXSW)
Interactive conference. Here are a couple of notes
and comments.


Based on Doug Lenat's keynote...

Doug Lenat's been running the CYC (www.cyc.com)
project for twenty years. CYC is a software program
intended to understand enough of common sense that
it can answer questions and make deductions useful
in the real world. To do this, Lenat's team -- and
now anyone with Internet access -- feed it millions
of rules about how the world and humans work. Lenat
says that the project has now crossed the line from
"priming the pump" to being useful. He pointed to
some deductions CYC had made about oil shipments
based on information from several large databases.
The surprisingly labored demo showed CYC making
reasonable assumptions about giving someone a gift
of a Segway. For example, it "knew" that the Segway
needs a light if it's going to be used at night. Big

Lenat said that CYC can think the way any particular
culture does by specifying the rules relevant to
that context. So, to use Lenat's example, it could
think the way an 18th century Italian nobleman did,
although it seems to me that that learning which
rules would model such a person would require
putting in more knowledge than we have and more than
could result from the effort. A good book set in
that period would probably do a better job of it.

My reaction to the presentation and the demo was
that this just proves that humans don't think the
way CYC does.


Cory Doctorow talked about the Hollywood Agenda.
(His desktop wallpaper is Dr. Bonner's label, a
psychotic babble of philosophy, scripture and self-
improvement aphorisms.)

Cory says: The role of technology is to create
opportunities for the entertainment industry. The
entertainment industry's role is to seek legislation
that will close down those opportunities. From piano
rolls to TV to Napster, that's been the story.

The most important theme in Cory's talk: Hollywood
does not want us to have general purpose computing
devices. The "broadcast flag" bit the FCC is
considering would only work if all digital
technology supported it and if devices that don't --
like the computer you're reading this on -- are

Factoid: "If you were to tape digital movies and use
Fedex to ship them to your friends, it would be
about 100x less expensive than shipping them to your
friend over the Net." Even at the fastest
connections, it'd take several days to move a movie.


Cory pulled together links [1] to various bloggings
of the conference. Heath Row, reporter for
FastCompany, stenoblogged it here [2] and here [3].

[1] http://boingboing.net/2003_03_01_archive.html#90445709
[2] http://www.cardhouse.com/heath/2003_03_02_archive.html#90425912";
[3] http://www.cardhouse.com/heath/2003_03_09_archive.html#90428523


  The man who enters
  Lets the door slam behind him.
  A fish flops on board.

| MIDDLE WORLD RESOURCES                           |
| COOL TOOL                                        |
| For the Hyperlinked Organization                 |
|                                                  |
| I just installed NewzCrawler, an aggregator of   |
| feeds, blogs and pages. After one day of using   |
| it, I'm impressed. It may even be a keeper.      |
|                                                  |
| It uses the standard Windows Explorer/Outlook    |
| arrangement of folders on the left and content   |
| on the right. The folders are in fact            |
| collections of links to pages you visit often    |
| or to RSS feeds from your favorite weblogs.      |
| (Just in case: if a blog is RSS-enabled --       |
| usually they put a little XML button on the      |
| page to let you know -- that means that it       |
| automatically makes available to aggregators a   |
| snippet of each blog entry. Typically the        |
| snippet is the first 100 words or so.) Click F5  |
| on a PC and it checks all the sites and flags    |
| any that have been updated. Click on the link    |
| and it shows you the RSS snippet. Double-click   |
| and it shows you the entire article.             |
|                                                  |
| I've tried aggregators before, but I never got   |
| into the habit. I might with this one. I may     |
| even pay them the $25. http://www.newzcrawler.com|


Jack Bury, a 20-year old poet, is co-creator of a
Microsoft IE add-in called Eyebees. If you join a
"swarm" - people interested in the same topic - the
add-in shows you the movement of all other swarm
members as they go from site to site. Click on one
of the dots representing a swarm member and you are
taken to whatever site they're visiting. It promises
to be a visceral visual experience.

To join the peace swarm, download the Eyebees
software from www.eyebees.com and join the "Eyebees
March on Washington" swarm at Eyebees.com. Jack is
suggesting that Friday at noon EST might be a good
time to flock together.

This software is way at the beginning. There have
been a handful of downloads so far. So if you don't
see anyone in the Peace Swarm, check back later.

Writes Jack: "The enveloping presence of thousands
of minds, tracing across the Internet Sky in strange
union - hissing and livid and one in censure of war
- would be a conspicuous, awe-inspiring sight of
this next social revolution taking firm hold."


I know many of you don't like my politics. At least
you have the satisfaction of knowing that your
politics kicked my politics' ass.

Kevin Sites, CNN reporter, is writing a blog (and
sometimes audioblog) from Iraq.

USAToday recently ran an interview with President
Bush. It prefaces the transcript with:

  Excerpts from USA TODAY's interview Thursday with
  President Bush, edited for length and clarity.

Editing for length, maybe, although they could post
the whole thing on the Web. But editing for CLARITY?
Since when is a newspaper supposed to be fixing up a
politicians garbled language? That's what we have PR
flacks for.

I talked a few days ago with a visiting Dutch
businessman. After introducing myself by apologizing
for my country's behavior, he said that he was
surprised by the loudness of the drumbeats. His
example was CNN's official title for their coverage:
"Showdown: Iraq." "It's as if they can't wait for
it," he said.

Good point. A showdown has to have an outcome in
which someone wins and someone loses. America would
never "back down" from a showdown. But this is a
showdown only because we have insisted that it be
one. CNN calling it a "showdown" ain't journalism.

What does CNN think it is, a blog?

Here's a page that lists Bush's promises and what
he's delivered. (Thanks, Stu Rubinow.)

Kevin Marks [1] recommends (which is, of course, not
the same thing as endorsing) an interesting essay by
Roger Scruton [2] about how a smart guy thought his
way into a classically conservative standpoint. AKMA
[3] does an excellent job assessing and undermining
it. AKMA's main point is that Scruton poses "a
binary choice between banal liberalism and sensible,
prudent conservatism" as if shallow liberalism were
the only variety on the shelves. And yet there's a
further irony here.

The issue for Scruton seems to come down to whether
we humans can escape our traditions and culture. If
not, says Scruton , then we must embrace who we are
instead of thinking -- as liberals do -- that we can
re-invent ourselves.

It is certainly the Enlightenment prejudice to
believe that "abstract rational systems" should
replace older prejudices, but that is not the only
liberal alternative. For example: "Moral progress is
a matter of wider and wider sympathy," writes
Richard Rorty (in Philosophy and Social Hope);
sympathy is not an abstract rational system.
Further, the very person Scruton goes out of his way
to malign rather nastily -- Foucault -- is in fact
one our subtlest thinkers about the way prejudice
(pre-judgment, not racial bias, of course)
simultaneously enables judgment and undermines it.
Rather than saying we are all open to radical self-
reinvention -- something no one except Sartre and
motivational speakers espouse -- Foucault provided
exactly the sort of nuanced analysis that would help
Scruton move past the simplification of naive
liberalism vs. coldly-brilliant conservativism.

But, Scruton begins the article by saying that it
was conservativism's bold statements that attracted
him. So we shouldn't be surprised that his embrace
of conservativism is in fact a rejection of nuance.
The irony is that Scruton is so smart and subtle in
his support of this position.

[1] http://epeus.blogspot.com/
[2] http://www.newcriterion.com/archive/21/feb03/burke.htm
[3] http://www.seabury.edu/MT/akma/000769.html#000769

Public Conversations [1]  is a remarkable group,
enabling and facilitating conversations among people
across high fences. Here are ten questions they
suggest as ways to start a real conversation about
Iraq [2]. Of course, that was back when we were
pretending that our talk mattered.

You can listen to an NPR piece on Public
Conversations here [3].

[1] http://www.publicconversations.org/
[3] http://www.npr.org/news/specials/roevwade/conversations.html

From Mark Federman [1] comes a link to a press
release from the Los Alamos Study Group [2] (a "non-
profit, research-oriented, nuclear disarmament
organization...") that describes the recently-
released minutes of a meeting of "thirty-two senior
nuclear weapons managers from U.S. nuclear weapons
laboratories, the uniformed military, the National
Nuclear Stewardship Administration (NNSA), and the
Office of the Secretary of Defense." The meeting was
set up to plan an August meeting about how to build
nuclear weapons that can be used on the battlefield,
not merely for deterrence.
Feel safer?

[2] http://www.lasg.org/PressReleaseFeb2003.htm

John Brady Kiesling, a US diplomat with twenty years
of service, resigned a couple of weeks ago because
"the Bush administration has squandered U.S.
legitimacy through a 'swaggering and contemptuous'
approach to foreign policy."


Now that I've registered at the GOP Team Leader
site, the one that astroturfs newspapers and
politicians, I've discovered two serious benefits...
three, if you count the points I'm earning towards
Valuable Free Gifts by spamming my elected

First, I'm encouraged to send letters to newspapers
and politicians. All I have to do is press a button,
and the pre-written, pre-thought message will be
fired off. Of course, you can edit the text. In
fact, I wrote a message to Senator Bayh that began
as follows:

  coming from the GOP "Team Leader" site and is

Second, yesterday I received in the mail a lovely
faux-signed photograph of President Bush along with
a request for a donation to the Republican Party.
I'm getting to like being a Republican!


If I were heading Bush's PR campaign, I'd have Tom
Ridge immediately block all broadcasts of Tony
Blair's question period in the House of Commons. The
implicit comparison is just too painful. In fact,
David Deans recommends that Saturday Night Live do
a sketch in which Bush steps in for Blair.

Niek Hockx, who takes beautiful photos [1], blogs
the Netherlands about about one detail Bush and
Rumsfeld might want to consider [2].

[1] http://home.planet.nl/~nhavd/index.htm
[2] http://home.planet.nl/~nhavd/clog/2003/02/22.htm#a171

According to Human Rights Watch, in order to protect
US soldiers from being brought to justice for any
war crimes they may commit, Bush last August signed
a law [1] that

  ... authorizes the use of military force to
  liberate any American or citizen of a U.S.-allied
  country being held by the [International Criminal]
  court, which is located in The Hague.

Since the Hague (or "den Haag" as those beastly
Dutch refer to it) is in the Netherlands, this has
stirred up some consternation, including in Dutch
blogger and future enemy soldier, Niek Hockx [2].

In protest of Holland's outrageous aiding and
abetting of The Hague, I pledge that from now on,
when my wife and I each pay our own way, I will
refer to it as "going freedom." Also, I'll refer to
the tree blight as "Freedom Elm Disease." That that,
Wooden Shoe Legal Pot boy!

[1] http://www.hrw.org/press/2002/08/aspa080302.htm
[2] http://home.planet.nl/~nhavd/clog/2003/03/13.htm#a276

John Perry Barlow has written a surprisingly even-
handed message to Farber's list that says: "With the
possible exception of Bill Gates, Dick Cheney is the
smartest man I've ever met." So, he asks, what's
going through Cheney's head? How can the world's
only super-power protect its global interests and
stabilize the world? Answer: By acting like

  "the Mother of All Rogue States, run by mad thugs
  in possession of 15,000 nuclear warheads they are
  willing to use...By these terrible means, they
  will create a world where war conducted by any
  country but the United States will seem simply too
  risky and the Great American Peace will begin."

Yes, that Cheney is brilliant! And the plan can't
fail ... so long as the people we're subjugating
can't get their hands on any box cutters.


I got asked on a mailing list why my views on the
Iraqi war are so simplistic and one-sided. Ouch!

Actually, I'm ambivalent about it. I am completely
suspicious of the actual motives of the Bush
administration and don't trust the information it's
providing. But I don't need Bush to tell me that
Saddam is a horror whom we should never have
supported in the first place. That doesn't
necessarily mean that this war is the best way to
get rid of him. Our only hope for long-term safety,
IMO, is to live in the world generously, building
bridges and trust by showing the generous and
loving side of the American character. So, even if
all goes perfectly with the war, it will (I'm
afraid) establish a policy that I think makes us
and our children far less safe.

Ambivalent but not undecided.

Reading the Circulars the Week before the War

Sampling the circulars in the Sunday paper.

  Buy One at 6.99 Get one FREE
  Dawn or Charmin' 88c Your choice

  Change the World With a New
  Wireless Phone/Camera Combo

  Wireless Phone With
  Full-Color Display

  Shoot now,
  print now
  with digital imaging from HP

  Spring is just around the corner --
  so is RadioShack!

  Turn up the fun
  in your home entertainment system

  Procter & Gamble will donate 10c to
  Special Olympics
  each time you buy one of these supporting

  Arm c Hammer
  Laundry Detergent, 100 oz

  Celebrate Family
  Eye Health Month.
  50% off a complete pair

  Simply White
  Even Easier Whitening
  Just Apply and Go

  It's your roll to voteTM;
  for the New 5 Flavors
  Vote now at

  Pop, Peek and Win!
  with ACT II Microwave Popcorn!

  If you're serious about
  keeping your bones healthy...
  "Don't take chances.
  Take OSCAL".

  You'll see stars when you get hit
  by our low prices

  Kids Won't Skip the
  Breakfast They Dip!

  When Tough Stains
  Can't Be Removed.
  Get Spot Shot.

  Pine Kneewall Chest
  Build-em In
  Top quality Pine
  Rough cut opening
  Today Is Savings Day

  Mitsubishi digital projection TVs
  Grab the remote and hold on!

At the odd 20x2 event [1], Neal Pollack [2] used his
2 minutes to kick off a campaign to get every
weblogger to make fun of Lynn Cheney on April 1 in
response to the White House's heavy-handed attempt
to censor a parody of her at WhiteHouse.org [3].

Fine idea, although we've gotten to the point where
blatant attempts at censorship by the White House
now are way down on my list of Things to Worry
About. Sigh.

[1] http://www.20x2.org/
[2] http://www.nealpollack.com/
[3] http://www.whitehouse.org


I'd suggested, lamely, that sites post a notice that
they support the You First policy guaranteeing
maximum anonymity to the people who buy from them

From Phillip Wolff [2] comes these comments:

  Potential additions to your pledge:

  - Transparency/FOIA. If it's about you, you can
  see it when you want. We will share with you all
  the information we hold that describes you or is
  associated with your identity. This includes data
  provided by others.

  - Two-Degrees Exposed. We'll keep a list of those
  people/accounts/organizations that called up your
  information. You can see the list.

  - Three-Degrees Transitive. Here are the policies
  agreed to by those third parties (employers,
  headhunters, et al) who call up your information
  as our customers. May be less stringent than our

  - Sunset. We will expire our copies of information
  about you according to rules we'll publish. Old
  data won't haunt you.

  - Amnesia on demand. If you want us to purge our
  databases of information about you, we will,
  subject to legal obligations.

  - Bind successors. If we sell off the business or
  a part of it, we'll shred your data or force the
  new owners to abide by all this. See opt-in.

  - Civil Rights. While we will cooperate with law
  enforcement, we won't ebay your information. Our
  policies will defend your information like it was
  our own, requiring court orders or other lawful
  compulsion to turn over your data.

Excellent! Thanks, Phil.

[1] http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/mtarchive/001191.html
[2] http://dijest.com/aka

Gary Lawrence Murphy actually put a "You First"
pledge button on the Teledyn site.


It looks sort of nice there And it actually feels
pretty good to press the button and read the pledge.
Thanks, Gary.

Two vendor sites down, 5,433,22 to go!

[Note: All numbers in JOHO are guaranteed to have
been made up.]


  Dear Sir,

  My name is Andy Hudson.

  I'm an online marketer, and am currently searching
  for like minded individuals and web site owners to
  network with, and to explore potential
  opportunities that can bring mutual benefit to
  both of us.

  I just visited your site, and would like to
  congratulate you on a nice clean, crisp site -
  it's very professional.

Oh yeah, this is a guy who's looked at my site. If
ever there were three words to describe it, I think
we'd have to go with "clean," "crisp" and

Here are the closing lines from this Seasoned
Internet Marketing Professional:

  Many thanks.

  Your name.

  Andy Hudson

It's ok not to realize that "Your name" is
placeholder text in the spam generator you're using,
but it is most definitely not ok to spray your spam
around without even first testing it on yourself.

So, when I say "Shove your spam up your integrated
marketing portal, Andy Hudson," I hope you
understand that I mean this only in the most clear,
crisp and professional sense.

Creative Labs, the people who pretty much own the
default for audio cards for PCs, continue to publish
ugly ads. The current one shows the back of a bald
head with a third ear attached. The point: You
really want to add a rear center speaker to your
current five-speaker set-up.

To me, the ad says: You need a sixth speaker like
you need an ear in the back of your head.


There's an excellent article by Sir Lawrence Lessig
on Open Spectrum here:

Sarah Lai Stirland [1] has started a new blog called
Connected: Nodes & Networks over at Corante:

  This Weblog is meant to be an accompaniment to my
  work as a journalist. It's also meant as a
  discussion forum between myself and people whom
  San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor calls
  the "former audience." As Gillmor puts it, the
  media world has evolved from Old Media to New
  Media to "We Media," [2] ...

It's off to a promising start. (Here's [3] an
interesting article by Sarah on the difficulty of
putting things into the public domain.)

[1] http://www.corante.com/connected/
[2] http://www.cjr.org/year/03/1/gillmor.asp

William Du Bois has written an article on a
possible conservative bias in the Encyclopedia
Britannica. I didn't find the article entirely
convincing, but it was thought-provoking.


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


John Luke, reading my ramblings about selves,
recommends Robert Kegan's work: The Evolving Self
and In over Our Heads. But I ask: Why should I read
people who have thought deeply about this topic and
have developed ideas based on observation and
research when I can make up whatever I want? I mean,


Eric Norlin has a good explanation, based on Bryan's
explanation, of how the Liberty Alliance spec
handles account linking. There's a comforting
indirectness about the scheme.


Mike O'Dell sends us to a site with images from the
past of our present. Very cool.


Firesign Theatre has a home page and a moribund
'zine. How about a weblog, boys?


Michael O'Connor Clarke points us to the new color-
coding of airline passengers [1] based on their
perceived threat level and suggests his 5-alarm
system [2].

[1] http://www.cnn.com/2003/TRAVEL/02/28/airport.security.ap/index.html

David Isenberg's new SMARTletter is terrific again.
This one leads with the story of oil and applies it
to the telephone system:

  If John D. Rockefeller were alive today, he would
  be building fiber to the home...

And that David goes on to explain everything you
need to know about how the future of
telecommunications will unfold. Must reading.


And David has unearthed a graphic that's astounding
because of its source.


In a wide-ranging interview (with with Julian
Matthews), Vint Cerf the serendipitously-named
Father of the Internet, explains the popularity of

  I think this is merely an indicator that we would
  collectively and individually like our lives to
  "count" somehow and if someone finds our blogs of
  interest, it is confirmation that our lives and
  opinions are making a difference to someone.

I am not that pathetic!

Ok, yes I am.


The new issue of Mark Hurst's newsletter, Good
Experience [1] , has links to fun stuff in addition
to its normal load of useful ideas and pointers
about designing web sites real good:

  A really fun and elegant game from my friends at
  gameLab here in New York. You can play the first
  three levels for free. I wish there were more
  games as well-designed as this. [2]

  A difficult version of the old Lunar Lander arcade
  game [3].

  A well-done movie quiz, using visuals from the
  film, except without the characters' bodies. If
  you're a film buff, well worth a look [4].

  And finally - the coolest thing I've seen online
  in months. It's creative, fun, friendly,
  thoughtful, and very funny in certain parts. Best
  of all, the design is understated and seems to use
  very little technology to accomplish its magic.
  Turn the sound on [5].

By the way. Good Experience is having its first real
world conference on May 2 [6]. Quite the eclectic

[1] http://www.goodexperience.com/
[2] http://www.shockwave.com/sw/content/crash
[3] http://www.titoonic.dk/products/games/spacecab/default.html
[4] http://www.filmwise.com/invisibles/index.shtml
[5] http://www.trevorvanmeter.com/flyguy/
[6] http://www.goodexperience.com/gel


Jonathan Peterson (http://way.nu/) recommends what
he calls "haiku games" at orsinal.


Michael Pusateri, whom I met at SXSW and who helped
connect me to an SMTP server (thanks, Mike), points
us to a vidblog at unrelatednews.com. The vidblogger

  All in all it was fun to try it out. With the
  shooting/capture/edits/compression taking just
  over 15 minutes per clip to get done, it was not
  bad. If you are just doing one or two it'll be
  fine. But it still took too long for it to be a
  realistic thing to do everyday...

(I couldn't get the audio to work. Damn Intermenet!)


JD Lasica talks about blogging as "random acts of
journalism." Good phrase, good thoughts.


Halley [1] continues her descent into the heart of
the alpha male. The series started out as
scandalously entertaining. It continues to deepen.

AKMA [2] reflects beautifully on the essay and
points us to Trevor's [3] commentaries on the
impossibility of individuality outside of community.
It's a deep thread well worth following.
(Disclosure: Trevor says good things about my book.)

[2] http://www.seabury.edu/MT/akma/001092.html#001092
[3] http://www.seabury.edu/MT/limature/

James Grimmelmann at LawMeme shows the rest of us
how to blog a conference. His report on the Boalt
Digital Rights Management Conference is brilliant:
hugely informative and entertaining.(Thanks to
Arnold Kling for the link.)


Ken Camp, the author of the excellent IP Telephony
Demystified [1], has started a new blog [2] and
posts an email he sent to me about trustworthy
computing. Here's a snippet:

  If we extrapolate trustworthy computing to it's
  obvious extensions, don't we move toward an
  Orwellian society of complete control and
  observation? Consider "trustworthy transportation"
  - your automobile, sensing rage at the pressure of
  your foot on the pedal, shuts off, thereby not
  allowing you to pass a car and avoid problems.
  "Trustworthy refrigeration" - Sensing overly high
  fat content in the inventory within, your net-
  connected refrigerator notifies your insurance
  carrier, who then raises your rates based on an
  unhealthy lifestyle. "Trustworthy photography"
  could ensure that the bathtub picture of a toddler
  immediately be reported to those in pursuit of
  child pornography rings.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0071406700/
[2] http://digitalcommonsense.blogspot.com/


Mitch Wade recommends an "about how software and
being online will effect how prices are set."


The Theseus Institute in the south of France (swim
out of the Mediterranean, towel off in Nice, and go
north a few miles) is hosting its annual conference
[1], which this year is on "Digital Personae and
Privacy: the business, technological and social

Nope, I'm not going. But I can dream, can't I?

By the way, the Theseus Institute is a remarkable
business/management school, and not just because
it's on the Riviera, although that sure don't hurt
any. It's quite progressive. Here is part of its
mission statement:

  The "information revolution" is bringing about a
  fundamental change in where and how value is
  created along the "value web" and, even more
  critically, who will be able extract and lay claim
  to the value being so created. This is not a
  marginal change along the edges of our
  understanding of management; it requires a
  fundamental rethink and re-conceptualization...

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that there are no
more football scholarships available for the
upcoming year.

[1] http://www.timiaconference.org/
[2] http://www.timiaconference.org/

If you want your heart to break, view the photos (as
a QuickTime slideshow) that Kristen Ashburn took in



Ian Campbell writes in response to last issue's
article (
that struggled to understand why some very smart
people think that the universe is a

  Thought I'd comment on the UAC [Universe as
  Computer] concept. The problem is there are 3
  states, not 2. A bit can be either on or off (2
  states), but we need a third state telling us
  we're about to change states. Sure, it can be a
  clock signal, but it's got to be there or we have
  no way to count the stream. We may not notice the
  saw-tooth pattern in a CD, but even at a rapid
  rate I think we'd notice the starting and stopping
  of the universe as we signal a state change.

I purposefully left out this clock problem because I
figured the UAC boys must have an easy answer to
this. I'm glad to hear that someone who actually
knows something has a similar problem.

Kerry Nitz writes on the same topic:

  I think the big argument against the idea of the
  universe as a computer (the Neo-Newtonian
  universe?) is that the universe encompasses
  entities and relations with emergent properties...

  Roy Bhaskar's critical realist ontology discards
  the Newtonian view of the world as a set of causal
  relationships in favour of this more complex view,
  and seems to be gaining a bit of favour in some of
  the social sciences.

  Anne Galloway recently blogged a quote on


  If you want to pursue it further try the
  critical realist archives


  My own blog has excerpted a few quotes
  here and here.

88933160 and


Bruce Burn writes:

   UAC?  Its from Bits?  Both would seem to imply a
   Great Programmer In The Sky? Sounds like an old
   concept; where's the New Paradigm?  More
   importantly, the concept does not seem to stand
   up to the Great Question: "...well, okay, but
   does it get the dishes washed?"

Well, it is a new paradigm: binary bits instead of
ambiguous, indeterminate quanta. And rather than a
Programmer in the Sky, there are a handful of simple
rules (yet to be discovered) that explain how you go
from simples to incredible complexes that are able
to wash dishes and call bombs "smart."

Mind you, I don't believe it. I'd probably have to
understand it first...

Hanan Cohen writes:

  Incidently (or not), today I received the latest
  issue of Netfuture with the main article titled
  "Does the Future Compute?". Good reading.


Tim McKenna writes:

  ...the map is not the territory. The universe is
  not a computer but the analogy is so daring, so
  clever, so very "Wow, why didn't I think of
  that?", so, so, so, that all us dumb clucks should
  overlook that little cranial-rectal inversion.
  Besides, Douglas Adams, bless his soul, dealt with
  that years ago.

  I thought after quantum mechanics, the Zeitgeist
  gave up the notion of an inexorable, algorithmic,
  clockwork universe. Once again the comfy allure of
  fate (I didn't do it) overcomes the annoyance of
  free will (who, me?).

  John von Neumann used his understanding of the
  brain as a model for the digital computer he was
  inventing. His book, The Computer and the Brain,
  was published in 1958. It is the rambling of a
  genius who didn't know an axon from a dendrite but
  he managed to invent the modern computer
  nonetheless. The book is almost unreadable, the
  brain and von Neumann's computer are mercifully
  different and not really analogous but the title
  sure stuck in modern parlance for years as a
  simple way to explain complex things most of us
  know nothing about.

Frank Schmidt writes:

  ... uac is our latest metaphorical attempt at
  defining "what really is", and by because it's a
  metaphor, it is not "what really is"

  my gut feeling is that "what really is" seems to
  be more analog than digital?

  and if digital, why binary, anyway?

  aren't quantum choices infinite before the
  probability wave is popped?

  and if discrete, why not a zillion discrete
  possibilities?....what's the deal with only two?

  but, as wave and particle are interchangeable, and
  energy and matter are interchangeable, then
  perhaps "what really is" is interchangeably
  continuous and discrete....depending on how you
  view things

  i tend to equate digital with artifact and analog
  with nature

So do most of us. I don't know what the evidence is
that the universe resolves into a very large number
of digital states. The fact that that's how
computers work does not constitute evidence. Or even
common sense.

Kevin Marks in his blog [1] writes about the Kevin
Kelly article in Wired that first set me off on the
UAC topic:

  I think what Kelly is getting at is quantum
  mechanics -- Hydrogen bonds with Oxygen by finding
  the minimum energy state, thus solving a complex
  wave function equation with a single quantum
  resolution (join or not join). In effect all the
  probabilities are evaluated at once in the quantum
  superposition. Not sure what that has to do with
  Wolfram's thesis though.

I still don't see what sense it makes to say that
oxygen solves an equation, even if Hydrogen helps
and she got like 790 on her math SATs. Does a ball
arcing through the air solve a parabolic

  Universe as Computer does explain determinism
  differently. Wolfram shows that complexity can
  emerge from very simple rules, in Cellular
  automata and many other interacting systems.
  However, although deterministic, they are not
  predictable. The only way to find out what comes
  next is to run the program.

  He proposes a theory of computational equivalence,
  based on the Church-Turing thesis that any
  sufficiently advanced computer can simulate any

  Thus although the world is deterministic,
  following known physical laws, you can't find an
  analytic solution that gives the answer - there
  are no short cuts.

  You just have to live it and see what happens

Even if we do have to live through all cycles (and I
thought that was only for some physical phenomena),
that doesn't change the effect it will have on our
culture's notion of determinism: it will *feel* more
determined than before because with Newton (yeah,
I'm skipping quantum because it's too hard) there
are "causes" that have effects that may be as
deterministic as a computer running software, but at
least stuff is happening in the world, whereas with
UAC all we have are rules and on-off states.

I still don't get this Universe as Computer stuff.

[1] http://epeus.blogspot.com/2003_02_01_epeus_archive.html#90382179


Dethe Elza of Living Code (
http://livingcode.manilasites.com/) writes:

  Just wanted to give you my take on reading the
  headline "The 'You First' digital ID pledge." My
  first impression was that you were going to say
  something like, "You want me to commit to a
  digital ID? OK, but you go first. I'll be right
  behind you, honest." Which pretty much sums up my
  feelings towards digital IDs. Norlin and Doc can
  go ahead and ID themselves and their friends and
  their dogs if they want. I haven't needed a
  digital ID up to now, I've got too many damn IDs
  already, and I'm not planning on needing any more
  in the future.

My sentiments, too. But reality is going to conspire
against us, I'm afraid. We will be faced with the
choice of not doing business with Amazon, eBay and
the NY Times because they will insist that we get a
digID. Of course we can refuse and build our shack
in the digital equivalent of Montana. But I'm a pop
cultural guy. So, I'll eventually get my stinking
digID. And we'll have the public net where we're
ID'ed and the private net where we're anonymous, and
all of us except the Koczinskis will live in both.

It sucks.

Just in case war and politics aren't enough to keep
us busy, Stu Rubinow responds to my saying that
Jewish law makes applying the death penalty just
about impossible:

  Well maybe that's right; you could engrave
  everything I know about Jewish law on the head of
  a pin with room left over for the entire Book of
  Psalms. But it also seems to be fairly easy to
  carry out the death penalty: Check Deuteronomy
  21:18-21. Teenager getting stoned? *Have* him
  stoned.I'm sure the rabbis have figured out a way
  that this doesn't mean what it says, but it sure
  says what it says.FWIW, verse 22 implies that the
  death penalty wasn't all that uncommon. You can
  also be killed, in this same chapter, for
  committing adultery, or for claiming  falsely to
  be a virgin at marriage. And the death penalty
  also for murder (Numbers 35:16-21) and in
  Leviticus 20:27 for telling fortunes and
  predicting the future, and in Leviticus 24:20 for
  blasphemy, and probably in other places for many
  other etcs  that I don't know about.

The text doesn't just speak; it has to be
interpreted, and there is a mechanism for
interpreting it. That mechanism is embodied, in
part, in the Jewish court system that traditionally
set the hurdles for imposing the death sentence so
high that if it happened twice in 70 years, the
court was considered blood-thirsty. Further, for a
death penalty to be imposed, there had to be "two
simultaneous witnesses to the crime who not only
viewed the perpetrator but also saw each other and
had time to properly warn the perpetrator of the
nature of his crime and his punishment prior to him
committing the act." For a balanced commentary from
an orthodox point of view, see

I'm guessing the Illinois court system fell just a
wee bit short of those standards.


When you create a wireless network, you have to
give it a name. If you're Starbucks, perhaps you
might call it "Starbucks Net." Your job is to come
up with oxymoronic network names. Or at least names
that don't fit well with the company offering the
net. For example:

| Barbershop                | Hair net       |
| Hair replacement center   | Hair Unplugged |
| MTV Jackass set           | Gross Net      |
| Volleyball camp           | Untethered Net |
| Speech Improvement Center | Why, Er, Net   |

Yeah, it's lame. So make a fool of me by coming up
with something good.

And, now let us huddle with a loved one and find a
child to weep for.


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