Thought of the day: The most killer business model for Amazon.com (or BrandX online retailer) would be to open up the ability to sell their stuff to anyone who wants to start a website. In this scenario, Joe Web Entrepreneur would provide a nice site - customer service, community features, product information, etc. - with an inventory catering to a specific audience. Except the 'inventory' is really just an interface to Amazon's infrastructure. Result: Joe Web makes X% of the profits in his area of expertise, while someone else does all the logistical stuff, but also makes money. The customer gets personalized service, and doesn't have the anonymous, homogenous online shopping experience that is so familiar. Just a thought.
I thought of a new word today: incrementality. It's the state of mind that I (and surely many others) get into when they do things in increments - e.g. weblogging. Since it only takes a few minutes to add a link, I don't feel like I'm wasting time completing one increment, yet I almost always end up spending an hour or two with subsequent increments. By contrast, if I have even a small project to do (1-2 hours), I'll tend to put it off.
I'm not sure if I need to incrementalize my mini-projects, or just get some motivation to sit down and do it. Weblogging definitely has incrementality going for it, though.
Updates will be sparse for the next week - I've decided to take a small break from computers... Time to read, watch mindless TV, and recharge. Also, this laptop is somehow non-conducive to lengthy commentary and writing on the web... we'll see.
While I was trying to sleep on the train, Brian Carnell posted some interesting thoughts to the discussion groups. BTW, the best way to see whats being discussed is by looking at the topics page. I'll add a permanent link soon.
I was just discussing how so much software has too many unneeded features, and a lack of simplicity or intuitiveness, so this post struck a chord. It seems that 'back in the day' - when programmers had limited resources - the features of an application actually fit together.
More when I get some sleep.
Well, I'm off to Toronto, and then home to Washington (state). Updates will most likely be pretty sparse (anywhere from every other day to once a week), but then again if I get access to a computer for an hour or so, things might get out of hand :D Stay close to the Weblog Monitor
Oh yeah, and go read about another idea of mine: Notespace
There's more where that came from...
An old favourite: Push Media
This bit of patent law seems to conflict with all the 'stupid patent' threads on Slashdot. "Only the writings and discoveries of authors and inventors may be protected, and then only to the end of promoting science and
the useful arts." Are corporations considered "authors and inventors"?
And what's this: "an invention must display ''more ingenuity . . . than the work of a
mechanic skilled in the art;'" Seems there are some problems with the status quo. I guess US citizens are already getting used to having their constitutional rights violated often enough that this shouldn't come as a suprise. sigh
Whoever runs Serious Instructional Technology seems pretty frusterated with all the hype.
I got a great email from Lisa W. that outlines all kinds of information regarding WTO issues - lots of links. People like this are why I love the net. Thanks!
Anyone else who has useful information can reply to the discussion group message.
I'm looking for a concise, clear, unbiased outline of the issues being addressed by the WTO and their protestor counterparts. Is that way above the possibilities of modern news media? Even the independent press seems to be focussing on the scandal rather than what's at stake. We don't even need to mention Time magazine. Have any good links? Send em to firstname.lastname@example.org
abuddahs memes has quite a hefty intellectual load for a weblog. "Alta Vista, which also asked me to 'Comparison shop for grand unified theory'..."
In response to Katz's latest in the Hellmouth series, a geek named Raskolnik says: "We have the right to say whatever we want. However, we do not have the right to have people hear it." Since when do geeks name themselves after Dostoevsky characters?
It's not april first, so what's the deal with this? (via Geeknews)
I'm going to start pointing marketers who send me email as a member of the "college press" demographic to Cluetrain. "Conversations among human beings sound human. They are conducted in a human voice." (Context: I'm the webmaster and online editor for the Argosy)
My opinion: Pseudo.com has pretty good web design, but from what I've seen, their content is crap. Am I just watching the wrong shows? Every time I watch one, I get a lot of self-indulgent, 'let's hang out in front of the camera', useless, content. It seem to me that TV on the web should cut to the chase, providing compact, relavent, informative (or at least entertaining) video in a short time span. From my experience, it's just not being done.
Did I say they had good design? I meant aesthetically pleasing, really slooooow design.
Actually, iFilm does have some interesting stuff. Too bad RealVideo has such bad quality.
Sabren: the socratic method at work
Here's an old editorial from the Denver Post that asks something that I've asked many times: how has microsoft innovated?
Another DG posting. This time a question about Allan Watts (who I talked about a week or so ago)
If you know who they might be giants are, you might want to read this. If you don't, then you don't. :D
Steve Wozniak on the integrity of the NY Times: "The New York Times didn't print my op-ed right away. After months, as I recall, they decided to run it. They sent me a rewritten version that followed the theme of Microsoft being the great innovator. It was a 180 degree reversal, with my name attached." (via GirlHacker)
I'm writing a paper today (last one), so updates will be sporadic, unless I start procrastinating again.. which is likely.
Hmmmm. Editthispage.com seems to be up and down. I wasn't going to update today, but that seems to have changed. :D
On another note, I encourage anyone who has anything to say to pipe up in the DG - I like to know who is reading (apparently about 80 of you per day), and why. I wish manila had something like MetaJohn's karma points, but that'll have to wait.
Arrrgh. Edithispage.com is slowing to a crawl, and I'm getting 'socket not connected' errors left and right. It's enough to make you start your own server!
Cool. There is a post in the discussion group from Brian Carnell. What my philosophy prof would call an appeal to character
David Grenier pointed me to his site, Retrogression.
"We wish to return to a time when diverse opinions were offered in various forms of communication."
Last night, I discovered one of my classmates is a techno artist on MP3.com. We ended up getting into an extended discussion on the old IRC culture, and the virtues of techno music.
Something that occured to me during that conversation is the web's similarity in some ways to punk music - in the 'I'm sick of having this crap forced on me, so I'll do it myself, dammit' sense. Weblogs in particular. I was watching a film about the early punk days once, and they shot a clip of this poster that said: "Here's [how to play three chords], now start a band!" I think the web is a lot like that in some ways: there's mainstream crap (some of it good), and there's the DIY crowd, which isn't always the best quality either, but it's definitely more organic, and the good stuff rises to the surface. :D Also, there's not as much clear cut reactionism on the web, with prehaps the exception of Matt Drudge
I did a search for "punk ethos", but I just got a bunch of pretentious rock writers.
I found this in a Wired review of a book by Galen Marcus: "The idea is that you should be creating your own art instead of consuming other people's art. With punk music, there wasn't supposed to be a person in the audience who wasn't taking part in the performance. If people are spectators instead of participants, it's easier to sell them commodities. A few years ago, people wanted the Internet to be revolutionary and change the world. Making people participants in the product creation is the first step."
The Straight-Edgers (sXe) seem to be getting pretty popular. "a reaction to the hedonism and self-destruction that characterised punk"
The sXe FAQ on "spammerz": "They are parasitic, thieving, bottom-feeding, asocial would-be entreprenuers with Ayn-Randish hero complexes..."
Hotwired.lycos.com has an interesting collection of book reviews hidden away in the archives.
I wonder if ZDNet's stock goes up when they post Flamebait. Ahh, the decline of it all!
Seriously though! How can this kind of crap be considered a 'guest editorial'? Astounding.
My local rant, Browsers, from another POV is finally up.
Suck has a pretty good parody of Slashdot up today. You know you've made it when... "If they change their address to suck.lycos.sellout.com, I will never look at their site again." LOL
hmm.. I have a logic exam at 2, so maybe I should study, and avoid Manila for a while. The Framework for Intercreative Publishing should keep you occupied until then :D
I've been noticing slow response times from the editthispage server, and wanted to make this page load incrementally, but Manila insists on putting a table around everything for the calendar. Hrm...
I'm writing an editorial on web browsers, which I will hopefully finish after my logic exam tomorrow. I'm hoping the subject won't be passe by then. :|
Mnemonic keeps on goin'.
Another thought on weblogs: Updates are incremental. You can update your site in about 5 minutes, as long as you have something to say. Contrast to writing an article, which requires a time commitment of at least a few hours. This makes it easy to jam a whole lotta weblogging into a busy day, and update frequently.
I'll have to think about this one: "The standard-brand religions, whether Jewish, Christian, Mohammedan, Hindu, or Buddhist, are - as now preacticed - like exhausted mines: very hard to dig." --Allan Watts, 'The Book'
Dave has interesting things to say about dialogue on the web having to do with a sense of place. I'll buy that, but I also think that to really benefit from the web, people have to be sincere and ask honest questions. There seems to be a disease that makes people need to look as though they already know everything at any given time. If we somehow get past this epidemic, we'll probably make a lot more progress in a lot less time.
Addendum: calling someone a 'whiner' probably isn't the way to start a dialogue.
Globe and Mail: The Height of Commitment. "Two years ago today, she scaled a 1,000-year-old giant redwood tree slated to become lumber. Believe it or not, she's still up there". egads! look at the size of that URL!
Canada's The Anarchist Organization (TAO) offers "technical and social support". Interesting combo.
If you read misnomer over time, you might notice that I repeat stuff now and then. I think it's important to 'restate assumptions', on all levels, now and then.
If you still want more, the Independent Media Center has more non-mainstream coverage of the WTO fiasco/prostest.
Here's an interesting rant. For some reason this reminds me of when Steven Levy told Apple to embrace the internet, back in '94. They didn't listen, either.
There is a beautiful collection of internet related maps at the Atlas of Cyberspaces. Geography continues to be relavent, though perhaps in a different way.
This is intense.
Meta on McLuhan: When the web first started to be the 'next big medium', everyone was buzzing about the ideas of a guy named Marchall McLuhan. Now no one talks about him (or his ideas). Two ways of explaining this: a) no one understands him; b) people think that since he's been talked about, he's no longer relavent. It's not specifically McLuhan that brings this to mind; a lot of the ideas present back in '94 seem to be all but gone - are they still implicit? Or have we 'moved on'?
From the McLuhan interview: "I do see the prospect of a rich and creative retribalized society--free of the fragmentation and alienation of the mechanical age--emerging from this traumatic period of culture clash; but I have nothing but distaste for the process of change."
Meta on the WTO: People complain about how you can't have a dialogue with [violent] protestors. Question: what would be the best way to have a dialogue with the WTO? Seems to me it's a fundamentally undemocratic organization.
The Globe and Mail: Takin' it to the Net. "At last week's WTO summit, the alternative media bypassed mainstream sources to get their message out on the Internet."
"I started listening to the CBC and CNN and they just didn't get it. The CBC phoned up a professor at the London School of Economics and he was talking about how you can't negotiate with people who slash tires."
I'm experimenting with layout to make this page load and render more quickly.. Also to make it look less like scripting news :)
I'm not sure what to think about the fact that almost 400,000 people have sent crack to others over the net.
Spark-Online looks like it has some interesting content, but I don't have time to read it, thanks to my logic exam.
Looks like Bruce Horn's company, Ingenuity Software, is still pluggin' away on iFile, formerly known as context.
Details are scarce, but Bruce has told me that iFile will have a lot of the things I described in my Liquid File System essay.
LFS was my first experience with web publishing - a link got posted to Slashdot, and by the end of the month, I had received over 200 lenghty emails from people all over the world. It was quite an eye-opener.
Mcluhan's interview in Playboy (1994). "People don't actually read newspapers--they get into them every morning like a hot bath."
Wired articles on Marshall McLuhan.
Simson Garfinkel in Wired 1.0.1: Is Stallman Stalled? "One of the greatest programmers in the world saw a future where software was free. Then reality set in."
"I hold it that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms are in the physical. Unsuccessful rebellions, indeed, generally establish the encroachments on the rights of the people, which have produced them." -Thomas Jefferson
I miss net soup Remember when email forwards were actually entertaining?
Subtext was inspired by Wired's late Idees Fortes in no small way.
I added a link in the left column for subtext, print-based 'zine I put out a few times a year filled ideas of various kinds. As much as I like the web, making something tangible is still appealing - though you can read the .pdf file, too.
There was a thread in the Userland discussion group last year about what to look for in a third browser. I find this is more relavent today than ever.
It seems there are a lot of sites that keep really bad archives, which I find kind of arrogant, and too modern, like what is happening now is the only thing that is important. History is fundamental to understanding 'the now', but that's obvious, right? I noticed that DaveNet keeps good archives.
Why I like activity theory in a nutshell: "To understand and facilitate development, we need to study and change entire collective activity systems, their objects and motives, not just isolated actions and skills." --A.N. Leontyev
I updated the WTO protestors accounts with this link to the original material, which is more complete, including a run-in with the FBI and a description of the protests before the police went nuts with the teargas. Some of the reports have pictures. Did anyone know there was a tank?
I just found a synopsis of a Be developer's conference that I wrote quite a while ago. When they had the better logo
"The kicker was that all this was being done on a $2,500 Dual-Pentium box with an IDE drive." I wonder what the BeOS can do for $2500 now.
I've been reading Jon Katz's new book, Geeks (at the expense of the exams I had yesterday and today), and so far, I'm very impressed. I think I'll write a review over Christmas break. Until then, here's an interesting quote, attributed to a conversation with Louis Rosetto: "Jobs says 'insanely great', and Gates says 'really neat'".
..made me think of the quality which makes them very similar, and the nature of that quality which makes them very different. Two kinds of geeks
I really like the fact that people can change things they don't like simply by sending feedback. (even if they are small things)
Of course, the jury is still out on that big thing that people don't like, the WTO (and associated police action), but it's always better to start small. :D
Wired News is accepting submissions for Vaporware '99. Userland won't make that list, I think.
I just realized - using italics after a link can be a little obnoxious if you don't do it right. I think I'm going to cut down until I get a better sense of it.
Be seems to be pluggin' along these days, though I really despise their post-IPO logo and slogan - the geek-oriented Be had character, now the corporate image is just contrived crap. The software is still good, though
A google search for 'misnomer' turned up Common Errors in English.
Emperors-clothes.com: Someone Did Die: "What happened here in Seattle was not only a civil rights abuse it was a mass demonstration of martial law and human abuse. No one should think it was a matter of controlling the protests..."
The internet movie database is a really cool mainstream website. fun
Nielsen's latest: Web users are getting more impatient. The flip side: web users spend more time where they really want to be. 20 million people (apparently) downloaded Quicktime 4 to watch the Star Wars trailer, because they wanted it. What's getting harder is convincing people to spend (time or money) frivolously on things they may not really need. I don't have to mention banner ads, do I?
In retrospect, there may be some faults with that argument, but sometimes I'm tempted to leave it and see if any critical readers send me email.
For all the other Radio junkies out there, BBC has a bit on Writing for the Radio
Jakob Nielsen's How People Read on the Web is another useful article for people starting weblogs.
Yeah, what Barlow said:: "With the exception of the rare classic, most information is like farm produce. Its quality degrades rapidly both over time and in distance from the source of production." Stevenson's essays == the source?
I just made a new topic on discuss.userland.com asking the web writers out there to share their experiences or ideas about writing for an electronic medium. This means you!
I got an advance copy of Jon Katz's new book, Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet out of Idaho. Looks interesting so far, though in my experience, Katz's consistency varies. More later.
The Chronicle of Higher Education says that Technology Transforms Writing and the Teaching of Writing: "The very nature of technology generates a vast amount of prose and discourages the next step, which would be to prune, winnow, consolidate it. Give it texture and depth. That can't be done by the machine." Blame it all on technological determinism.
My argument: you can't say that because students use technology, their writing is bad. This just seems to take "the medium is the message" in the wrong direction. What's more accurate is 'the context is the creator' - and technology is only part of a context which includes past education, knowledge, contemplation, and a host of other things. Bottom line: bad writing is only made more evident by computer use, not caused by it.
Look at the writing of the alot of the webloggers out there: their prose (often) is tight and concise: partially a reflection of their computer use, but more of their audience, and the fact that they care about what they're doing. I know very few students who really care about what they're doing.
Another quote: "That slow, manual process touches the soul, she says. 'Students who write essays on screen say they would never write a poem on screen.'"
As I understand it, RSS was created to provide a window into the various servers on the web, but I think 'they' might have unwittingly created a new medium: the one-paragraph editorial/sound byte/tip. I haven't seen a lot of this yet on my.userland.com, but what better way to get an idea out in the open than to write a paragraph, add a link or two, and eureka - that's already pretty solid. Thoughts anyone?
Suck.com keeps good archives, though the external links in their stories are almost 100% dead.
Jon Katz on the WTO "riots" in Slashdot: "The political potential of the Net has always been pushed aside by obsessive preoccupations with pornography and business.
Heard on the streets: "the protestors didn't riot, the Seattle police department did". Friends of mine who flew to Seattle to join in the protest said that the 'anarchists' who were causing damage were in the minority. 90% of the protestors were peaceful, chanting things like "be nice" and "we love the Seattle police department".
I just realized that I haven't seen any accounts from actual protestors on weblogs yet, so I posted an excerpt from the emails I recieved from Seattle during the protests: "Sometimes they even lifted the protester's gas masks off their faces to spray them more directly."
Because of these 'jobs', and a general fascination with the web, I'm going to use my 60 days on editthispage.com to experiment with this medium to see if I can offer anything new or innovative to it in the way of form or function.
John Perry Barlow is my hero! Well, maybe not quite, but I admire his writing quite a bit.
I find myself in an interesting situation, as I write for two different audiences: people on the web, who tend to be attracted to focussed, specialized information; and people at my university (pop. 2500), who have a broad range of interests. For the second group, the writing has to be much more generalized. I find explaining things to people who aren't so specialized helps me understand what goes on in specialized settings.
For example, this article on XML tries to describe it in terms that people understand. :: HTML is for people, XML is for computers. HTML is form, XML is content. This is a bit of a simplification, but I think it gets at what XML is about.
I'm currently studying Activity Theory, as well as philosophy, sociology, history, art, and english at Mount Allison University. I find Activity theory interesting because it has a lot of potential application to understanding the web. More on that later.
Writing for the web takes a bit of getting used to. I find myself cleaning up alot of things I say to make them more concise, less wordy. Electronic text seems to be conducive to that in some way. Can I say it? the medium is the message Sorry, that just slipped out.
Electronic text is also conducive to firing off meaningless or insulting crap. But at the same time, it is a good medium for reflecting and refining. a paradox?
Does discussion of electronic text as a medium seem redundant? Alot of this stuff was hashed out in the early days of the web on sites like Hotwired. OTOH, a lot of people weren't here in the early days. I think the fundamentals should float back up to the top of the pile now and then. A revolution every 20 [web] years
a weblog of sorts...
This Manila thing is addictive...
Thanks to Dave Winer for setting up the ability to make this page. This is fun.
I had never heard of Davenet or any of this until I saw him sing "Give Peace A Chance" with John Perry Barlow and Chuck Shotton at Macworld '95 in San Francisco. That was a while ago.
As has been said: "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now".
Slashdot is pointing to dumblaws.com.. Reading the laws for Washington state made me think of what Thomas Jefferson said about revolutions: that we should have one every 20 years. Not to be taken in the 'first against the wall' sense, but rather in the 'let's re-examine what's going on' sense.
Another good Jefferson quote: "Error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it"