March 31, 2000
# visual 'blogging

Dr. Bronner's soap labels are now available in pdf format. All one!

Michael Stutz over at posted a great Ginsburg quote:

"Every American wants MORE MORE of the world and why not, you only live once. But the mistake made in America is persons accumulate more more dead matter, machinery, possessions and rugs and fact information at the expense of what really counts for more: feeling, good feeling, sex feeling, tenderness feeling, mutual feeling. You own twice as much rug if you're twice as aware of the rug."

Camille Paglia in Salon: The North American Intellectual Tradition. Nice and short; some interesting ideas about environment influencing thought. [via metascene]

Interesting use of images in a weblog format: mod7. I was telling a friend about weblogs the other day, and she said that one of the most exciting possibilities about the internet was the possibilities for visual communication. Being text oriented, it frankly hadn't occurred to me in any profound way. Lots of unexplored possibilities. [via kottke]

Home sweet home (the Olympic Mountains, Washington State.):


posted by dru in blog
March 30, 2000
# limitation and creativity

David Carter-Tod makes an important point that has been made before in different contexts: "the internet's limitations have forced us to rethink instruction. The more it resembles "real life" the less work we have to do."

The important thing about new technologies is not how well they can replace real life, but about how much perspective they give us on what we do. The same way that learning a different language or visiting a foreign country gives us perspective.

posted by dru in blog
March 29, 2000
# Structuring Meaningful Discourse

Structuring Meaningful Discourse

Here's an idea/area that more internet publishing sites should experiment with: meaningful questions.

Thus far, all of the 'interactive' features of publishing, such as ZDnet's talkback, and the NYTimes' Buzz are limited to general discussion forums, which are fine for getting a certain number of people to be eyeballs for ads. It can also be fun, but such forums are generally ineffective at generating any meaningful conclusions. Even when there are interesting conclusions, the signal to noise ratio is just too high.

Sites like Slashdot work within this 'everyone gets an equal voice' paradigm by adding moderation features, which works to a point.

Here's a slightly different model that could be effective: Make each article a dialogue, with the author at the center. How to do it: make a comment space at the end of each article, but instead of letting anyone throw out an argument, let people ask concisely stated questions which might render a meaningful response from the author.

Add some light moderation and a willingness to respond to the few best-rated questions, and you might just have a way to generate real discourse, and use the web to its potential.

addendum: Another way to make discussion of an article more meaningful is to bring the discussion structure closer to the intuitive structure of the document itself, as outlined in fip. Recent interest in fip makes me hopeful that this idea will spread in the near future.

update: David Grenier pointed to a few sites that do something like I described.

Seems like these (and many others) rely on 'the community' not misbehaving. I'm interested in making the small-community effectiveness work on high-traffic sites - so that interaction is mediated in such a way that it is effective, despite being between lots of anonymous strangers.

(I find it interesting that the two people who have so far been the most active on the discussion group here have been the proprietors of Leftwatch and Retrogression; conservative and anarchist weblogs, respectively. I don't know if Brian Carnell still visits misnomer, though..?)

deep linking is legal. I'm so relieved.

posted by dru in blog
March 28, 2000
# 3000?

This 3000+ thing is really wierd: if writing one way suits your style, do it. If it doesn't, don't. Feel free to experiment.

I'll weigh in with "conciseness rules", but all that means is that if something is more concise, I'll link to it over something that isn't. Feel free to do your own thang.

Benbrown's assertion that 'bigger is better' is somewhat questionable.

Looks like Wes doesn't like the new Be logo either. Someone should start a petition.

posted by dru in blog
March 27, 2000
# King's eBook and encryption.

The internet is pretty cool lookin'.

Stephen King's eBook cracked. I'm still amazed that everyone is convinced that people won't pay for something unless they are forced to.

The assumption is so deeply embedded that no one ever questions it - every article about online content is based on it.

There is a poll about encryption in eBooks. Some strong opinions on the results page, too.

Dan Gillmor: "Microsoft has a habit of making and breaking promises. It has a habit of using fine print and deliberately imprecise languate, pretending to mean one thing while actually meaning another. It has, to put this bluntly, a habit of dishonesty."

Sometimes, you just have to say it like it is.

BeOS 5 is out tommorrow.

I didn't know that caveat emptor means "buyer beware". Now I do.

Seen on /.:

    "It is not enough that I should succeed. Others must fail."
    -- Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonald's

I wonder if he actually said that..?

Disinformation has a lot of cool links to stuff that is... less mainstream, like this cool web art

Brad's Technological Determinism Links.

All kinds of determinism: linguistic and technological; strong and weak.

From blogit:

    CNN deems four bands from SXSW (no, not that one) worthy of our attention, with brief bios and music clips for each.

    well, coverage of four is better than none, at least. i think we should start holding online media to higher standards of story coverage, though, as they do not have the same time or space constraints inherent in broadcast or traditional print media, respectively. coverage of all the bands, thereby letting the public decide who to follow? okay, so call me a visionary...

posted by dru in blog
March 26, 2000
# MP3's .. again

Jason Kottke has a few short thoughts on MP3's and IM.

If anyone is wondering, I have a thirteen pager due tommorrow morning, so that's why there aren't many updates.

posted by dru in blog
by juan carlos

necesito este programa

March 24, 2000
# bloggin' for class credit.

Apparently, there's a class at RPI, Writing for the WWW, where students create and update their own weblogs as part of coursework. " is not enough to wait for things to settle down or for the "experts" to decide what's important and what's not."

I've always thought it would be fun to teach a course like this. Looks like these people haven't quite mastered the weblog format yet.. and they still call it a "notebook". Then again, getting credit for keeping a weblog would be nice too.

There's some trippy text happening over at insane.

Somehow, the webcam pic disappeared in a wierd Manila error, so here it is again:


posted by dru in blog
March 23, 2000
# Ingenuity Software

Looks like Ingenuity Software is finally getting ready to ship iFile. They don't say much on the web site, but from what I gathered from talking to Bruce Horn, it makes the file system a lot more flexible, possibly adding intertwingle capability, and customized hierarchies, like I described in

For some unknown reason, misnomer is not showing up on, and it's starting to make me feel helpless in the face of technical adversity. Argh.

Eleven Inherent Rules of Corporate Behavior. It brings out the anarchist in me.

I'm playing with the prefs entries on this site to make it faster to register, and more relevant.

posted by dru in blog
March 19, 2000
# good conversation... yum

Howard Rhiengold's The Art of Hosting Good Conversation Online is a must-read for anyone maintaining a discussion group or online community of any kind.

Also very cool, by Rheingold: The Internet and the Future of Money. Talks about creating localized currencies, but on a more abstract level, illustrated the ability of the internet to make things like money a lot more flexible. So much for the almighty buck... I hope. is a very cool weblog that I never noticed before. Free software, indie music, and open source text. Sounds familiar.

Wouldn't it be great if people decided they didn't need lots of money to be happy?

Sure, altruism doesn't work, but if you don't care about it in the first place, it's not altruism.

Massively Multiplayer Online Star Wars Game. Someone clued in in a big way. (via /.)

I went and saw Chris Colepaugh and the Cosmic Crew last night. Absolutely brilliant blues and rock, with some awe inspiring Hendrix-style solos. Apparently, they tour on the west coast - a highly recommended show in any case. (psst. they've got MP3's on their site, too).

posted by dru in blog
March 18, 2000
# let's play MP3 what if...

More thoughts on MP3's

(unrefined ideas to follow)

The other day in class, my prof mentionned that the reason record companies are afraid of MP3's is because the market could quickly become something like in China - dominated by pirates who sell content for cheap (or in this case, give it away). Now this is fairly obvious, but it led me to question whether we really need to make money from music. While losing revenue is Bad For Artists, I think the only people it really hurts are huge record companies, and a minority of recording artists who actually make a significant profit fro their music (see the problem with music for details). So why don't we just make music a local thing, and have people who make a reasonable living playing it, as well as a lot of amateurs.

Of course, that would mean an end to the star system, and a bunch of other things. My idea is this: if MP3's help make recorded music less of a wierd, elitist, star-worship thing, and places more emphasis on live, local music, then I can't see the loss of billions in record sales revenue as a bad thing - record company execs will hardly starve.

Another bottom line: if no one can make a decent living as a musician, there won't be any commercial music. (Is that a bad thing?) Therefor, even if MP3's make all music inevitably freely available, other ways of paying musicians will emerge, or there will be significantly less music. That's my understanding of the market, anyway.

Either that, or musicians will find motives other than money to play music, which I think some of them already have.

If you haven't seen the cool web apps at yet, they're definitely worth a look.

My roommate, Stefan, has the fastest loading manila site out there: Promises to have some interesting content, too - Stef does good poetry and a lot of non-sequiters.

Finite and Infinite Games. Another cool concept that applies to more than just what it describes (games). (via synthetic zero)

I think I like using bold for emphasis when I write longer bits.

It seems like 20 new blogs show up every day, many of which are suprisingly uninteresting. Heh. Welcome to the dark side. Anyway, thank god for filters.

posted by dru in blog
March 17, 2000
# Art and Incrementality revisited.

fish1: A close-up of some of a piece I did in photoshop.

idea. One of the strengths of weblogs is that they are updated incrementally. Consider this in relation to a site like yahoo, which has (arguably) similar content to many specialized weblogs, the chief difference being that the presentation is incremental, yet non-linear, so any visitor can jump into the flow and have a reasonable chance of learning something by spending a few minutes a day at a site, starting at any point in time. Contrast this to a huge annotated link list, which amounts to a huge one-time flood of information, which it's hard to go through in one sitting, and even harder to remember (or want to) go back later. The 'newness' of newly updated weblogs only adds to this.

The point: the temporal, incremental process of reading a weblog is an explicit part of the interface, so the user doesn't have to have the discipline to sit down and sift, just the curiosity to go back to a site and get a few tidbits now and then. This relates to my idea of incrementalism, which I now realize applies to both the updating and reading of weblogs.

Good stuff about comics and eBooks on peterme, and I just noticed his interface design reading list. Fantabulous.

Weblogs that are new to me: blogit has some good links today, including this one which quotes Steve Ballmer as saying the internet is "backward". Swallowing Tacks has an entry about a cool musical concept. Infolets looks interesting.

Free BeOS is coming on the 28th. Apparently, over 100,000 people signed up to be notified. It'll be interesting to see how fast the BeOS spreads after it's freely available. Go Be! ... er, Gobe!

Monkeyfist digs Zydeco. I wonder if any Zydeco bands ever make it up to eastern Canada? I would seem likely, given the Acadian connection and all.

Another one from the archives: Bewitched. Ack. It works.

Oh yeah: Web Collage

I was looking for the earliest archived posts in some weblogs today, and the first two I looked through eatonweb and inessential both mention squirrels in the very first post. Cosmic!

Happy Saint Paddy's day! As usual, Google is dressed appropriately.

Pink Floyd: Green is the Colour

posted by dru in blog
March 16, 2000
# Dialogue and SXSW

It's really interesting to put faces with names of people I read daily, but never see, thanks to all the photos from SXSW.

Cool! O'Reilly is using the dialogue format to document his conversation with RMS. This has been done before, like 2,500 years ago. Any similarity?

I talked about this a little while ago, and keep meaning to write a more in-depth article about it. The basic idea is that the dialogue is a totally natural way of presenting an argument, because the exchange of arguments takes place in the same medium as the presentation of a document, so with a little editing, they can be one and the same.

I got a fun list of keywords in an email forward. The message claims this has something to do with the NSA's Echelon project (scroll down), and their new "super cray". I just think it's a fun list.

posted by dru in blog
March 15, 2000

There's a guy who his lots of money and wants to start a free net based university. This is cool, though it can never be "Ivy League quality", because the value of those schools doesn't come from their pedagogy (their lectures), but from the result of having lots of intelligent people who will do interesting things in the future all in the same space, learning intensively. Still, it sounds like a good/great idea.

Other weblogs that link to this story.

Manila should have a macro that generates this link automatically, e.g. when I type {otherblogs}, it looks for the first link before it, and generates the weblogs search feature. Better yet, I want that feature integrated into my browser - with one click at any point in time, I can look and see which weblogs are pointing the page I'm currently on.

We'll have to wait for Mozilla

If you can read this, I'm done being frusterated because I can't post this message.

posted by dru in blog
March 13, 2000
# Drama, Greed.

I just finished the first rehearsal for a play I'm acting in (12th Night). I'm not much of a drama person, but it's really interesting to look explicitly at all the nuances of meatspace/meetspace interaction, especially considering how much time I spend thinking about the digital medium and its qualities/nuances. Enlightening indeed. I keep finding new uses for a liberal education.

I've been thinking about books vs. computers, and it occured to me that when enough people get used to (read: dependent) find functions and other useful reading features that have yet to appear, we'll see a lot more traditionally paper stuff moving to computer-based media. Of course, there has to be actual innovation in the on-screen reading space. For that, I'm sure we can rely on Bill "We just want to innovate" Gates, or whoever's running that place now.

Something I'd like to see - in-page placeholders. Does this exist? Probably not in a useable way.

David Grenier, discussioner in residence, has posted a reply to my idea about environmentally friendly shop bots.

Brent beat me to this one: "Want your own domain name like or These are available:,,,,"

I got bored in class today: GreenScene, CuteFlute, FunGun, SwearChair, BoreScore, BloatCoat, LordBoard, BleakSqueak, Ease Trees, DotSlot, MeanScreen, RipeSnipe, OralMoral, BlackTack, BleakGleek, FullBull, SlightLight, DarkLark, AloofPoof. Oh yeah, and these are all registered trademarks, patent pending, and copyright 2000 Misnomer Holdings International, Ltd.

Good comics: Bob the Angry Flower, home of Bob's Quick Guide to the Apostrophe, You Idiots.

Is it just me, or is everything about internet business in all or nothing mode? It doesn't seem to be possible to do modest (or one thing well, for that matter) business on the internet without being considered a failure because you didn't have a trillion dollar IPO.

I wonder if that's a goal to aspire to: make an modest living working on the internet.

posted by dru in blog
March 11, 2000
# Misnomer: Lifestyles... ummm

Microsoft PressPass: it's not just a bunch of propaganda, it's a lifestyle. This must be proof that Microsoft 'gets' the web.

It seems there's a lot of vibes coming from the anti-patent camp. While it's important to point out companies that are abusing patents, it's even more important to show what's positive about companies that aren't filing patents.

posted by dru in blog
March 10, 2000
# Misnomer: Deadly Bananas

I recieved an email warning of a deadly skin disease that could be transmitted on bananas imported to the US. I don't know if it's legit, but it seems like laying off the bananas for a while might be worth it.

Two fun ska tunes : 'Russians Don't Skank', by Mr. Goon, and 'Anarchy Waltz', from the Distorted Penguins. (free downloads)

idea. I was reading the recent Wired article on shop bots, which are little proggies that search the net and tell you which product is cheaper from who, etc., and I was suprised that they didn't mention the possibilities for availability of other information about the product.

It seems to me a killer app for environmentally and socially conscious shoppers - while sorting available sources by price, users could also figure in other variables, such as how much packaging will be used, how much junk mail will arrive in the package, and whether the product was manufactured by people earning slave wages.

Presently, I'm working on a proposal to get a student run web server here at Mount A, running on Manila, of course. I'm also redesigning the Sociology department's page, putting up music on CHMA's site, writing three articles for the Argosy, working on sculpture, doing an entry for the 5k competition, and working on the zine. Somewhere in there I'll do some schoolwork.

I've finally got a Background colour I like...

posted by dru in blog
March 09, 2000
# Misnomer: hampster madness

People have been asking where they can find the Hampsterdance single. Unfortunately, unless you work at a radio station, has as much information as I do. And then, there are always the shadier corners of the net.

posted by dru in blog
March 08, 2000
# Misnomer: good weblogs.

Lots of good stuff at Monkeyfist in the past week.

Also, jjg's latest project, Weblog Nation looks promising.

I've been working on my entry for the 5k contest his evening.. I find that little stuff like this is good for getting out of a rut - being just a little creative makes you think about the web in a different way.

posted by dru in blog
March 07, 2000
# Misnomer:

Today at CHMA, the radio station where I work, we got the Hamsterdance single CD in the mail. It starts off with the hamsterdance music (dee-ba-dee-teh-do-do), but then, when you're just about to groan, a dance beat kicks in - thumpa thumpa thumpa, and the whole thing is a techno dance track. Craziness!

Apparently, it's not available in North America yet, but just went on sale in Germany.

posted by dru in blog
March 06, 2000
# Misnomer: Digital Copyright

<indulgence type="self"> Hey, I just noticed that Brent Simmons gave me a plug last week. Thanks Brent! </indulgence>

Oops! More self indulgence. This one is fun!

Every once in a while, I have to rave about Wannabe. Wannabe is a really small, infinitely fast (even on my old IIvx) text-based web browser for the mac. It doesn't have many features, but it supports Sherlock plug-ins and internetConfig, and plus it's small, and really cool.

I've been talking to David Pierson (the author of Wannabe) about making it into something like notespace, which would be really nice.

I started using the Subhonker Filter today. Very cool as well.

The Standard on UCITA. There are so many dumb laws being passed (and a serious dearth of smart ones) that I'm starting to think anarchy is the way to go. It works on the web, anyway. "One of the key provisions in UCITA is the transformation of what is now a sale such as buying a copy of the Windows 2000 operating-system software, or the e-book version of Stephen King's latest novel into a lease."

If it passes, this one belongs at

Quake as a performance medium. [via usr/bin/girl]

PeterMe has some interesting observations about the layout of coffeehouses that relate well, though somewhat abstractly, to what I talked about a few days ago.

Great article by Stewart Alsop on digital property. He points out that while Microsoft arrogantly defies the government in the monopoly case, it is copyright laws that give them that monopoly in the first place.

He also mentions that there are quite a few business plans floating around that deal with unprotected music. I wonder if any of them look like this?

I think the most interesting part was when he said this: "Of course, as a spur to these discussions, I would love to grant you blanket permission to copy this article freely, but I don't own the copyright." That would be the most interesting thing about the web - if the source of information is efficient, then there's really no point in duplication; you can just point to it.

Barlow wrote about this a long time ago: "most information is like farm produce. Its quality degrades rapidly both over time and in distance from the source of production." And in reference to the Grateful Dead" "our intellectual property protection derives from our being the only real-time source of it."

(this sums up Microsoft's situation rather humourously)

Sylvia is getting one of these today:

imac: yum.

400MHz G3 Processor, 128MB Memory, 13GB, dual 400 Mbps FireWire ports, video editing software, slot loading DVD drive, stereo speakers... I'm jealous.

posted by dru in blog
March 05, 2000
# Misnomer: 'leet haXorz

whoa. (A crazy story from Forbes about two really malicious 'hackers')

posted by dru in blog
by jay

hahahahahahahahaha so they wanna do a show bout hax0rz (text written that way 4 ppl who do not know how 2 read hacker txt.)

by tr0ut iz mi her0

hahahahahahahahaha so they wanna do a show bout hax0rz (text written that way 4 ppl who do not know how 2 read hacker txt.)

by u4ea sha|| |>revai|

Dysons life is at risk, dyson will lose.

March 04, 2000
# Misnomer: The ubiquity of it all.

A friend of mine from CHMA, who does a radio show under the pseudonym 'Chaponsky' has started an editthispage site:

Seen today on Slashdot:

    My sister opened a computer store in Hawaii. She sells C shells down by the seashore.

    If Ronald Reagan's speeches proved one thing to us, it's this: a well-chosen anecdote can drown out innumerable (and true) statistics. I was wondering whether you might have any good terrifying anecdotes that might scare people who are about to make an unusable Web site into doing the right thing. (question in the Nielsen interview)

posted by dru in blog
March 03, 2000
# Misnomer: Meatspace vs. Meetspace

ZDNet on"The battle over, Robertson argues, will settle whether consumers have a legal right to play music they have purchased on whatever device they choose." The RIAA does not concur, and is suing for royalty damages on all the CD's posted on, which apparently easily exceeds their market value. Ouch.


David Grenier posted some interesting thoughts and good questions about community to the discussion group.

I responded.

idea: A collection of inter-connected autonomous sites creates a sort of ecological filter, not unlike open source, where sites that are of interest to others rise to the top of the pile by recieving links, and those who don't, stay on the periphery. I'm not saying this is ideal, but it is better than having the collective space be brought down by bozos with big mouths and no accountability.

Mnemonic, a little known GPL browser initiative, keeps plugging along. See their recent screenshots.

Here's a good business model. pssst. read this, it's funny.

"Bill can conquer the world but he can't move anybody's heart"

I added iRights and Retrogression to the links above.

Wired on 5k design contest: "The more constraints there are, the more creative people become." Amen.

If being spoofed is a sign of success, then Dave Winer must be doing all right.

Addendum to yesterday's piece: While reflecting on the idea of the tragedy of the commons, more and more instances of flamers and trolls bringing a community to its knees come to mind. Hotwired's Threads, post-critical mass Slashdot, the Bitch Page, Usenet, various mailing lists... it seems like everywhere on the net where there are not set standards or authority, it's seen as an open invitation to wise asses who think they are doing the world a favour by provoking everyone with a strong opinion. Bummer, but also something of a unavoidable thing given the net's present condition and population.

So what to do? Change the structure of interaction. Much like architecture, computers give us the power to restructure how we interact, relate, and think, and do it much more easily than in meatspace.

Thought: maybe a corollary to meatspace should be meetspace. Meetspace being where interaction takes place, whether online or off - the distinction matters less and less.

posted by dru in blog
March 02, 2000
# Communities and Commons

Communities and Commons

Jeremy Bowers (of iRights fame) has a 'Katzian' piece on weblog communities. Good stuff. (Katzian and good are definitely not mutually exclusive, IMHO)

I liken the creation of a community of discussion-enabled sites to fencing off the digital commons, except there is infinite land available. Instead of an anonymous melee of shouted opinions, we now have individual residences in which people can share, build and discuss. The nature of individually staked out property is that it is available to others only by invitation; people are apt to act much differently in someone else's house, as are they more likely to respect the wishes of a particular site than those of others in an open discussion group.

"Freedom in the commons brings ruin to all."

Restated: when you visit someone else's site, it's like visiting them in their home - you play by their rules, and if you don't like them, you don't hang out there anymore. This is more conducive to a stable community, because there doesn't have to be any concensus as to how to operate collectively - collective operation emerges gradually from the individual parts, control over which doesn't need to be shared.

Howard Rhiengold wrote about what is probably the best-known manifestation of the tragedy of the commons online.

Free Speech as a Tragedy of the Commons "If it is not policed by a list moderator, every user is free to add one more comment--one more
insulting or intemperate posting--polluting the virtual commons as surely as the sheep pollute the real one."
It seems like the internet is growing farther and farther away from the
shared code of conduct that was there when it was growing slowly - this is why individual sites will be more effective than commons for establishing communities: opt-in vs. concensus.

The tragedy of the commons in Artificial Intelligence. Interesting.

I've always asked seriously whether Microsoft has actually ever really contributed any innovations in computer software. By showcasing these examples, they've more or less confirmed my doubt.

The local web people here in Sackville have a whole lot of really nice Quicktime VR panoramas of the surrounding area and the university I attend.

posted by dru in blog
March 01, 2000
# Misnomer: The Search for Norb

Here's a somewhat prescient article from 1994 about the effect of hypertext on how we view knowledge. "the idea and the ideal of the book will change: print will no longer define the organization and presentation of knowledge, as it has for the past five centuries."

One of the things I think is most interesting about hypertext is that context explicit, e.g. on the next line, I refer to Antisthenes - In a offline setting, I would have to assume you know who that is, but online, I can just link, and what I'm saying will make sense, because the context is as close as you want it to be.

According to Antisthenes, knowledge should be in the soul, not on paper.

Context is king.

DeapLeap has a really cool 404 page. DeapLeap, LoudCloud - is this a new trend, like the swoosh?

Intellectual property doesn't know what to do with itself. Film at 11. Gotta keep those IP lawyers employed.

Parsec looks really cool. Kinda reminds me of Net Trek on the mac, which we used to play on Mac Classics over Appletalk back in the day.

David Grenier has some interesting things to say regarding Emma Goldman and the radical tradition in America. "The idea of 60s radicalism as an aberration is a conservative myth, the fact
of the matter is it was a continuation of a long tradition."

Does anyone else remember Norb, a really cool comic strip that appeared in the Seattle Times (and elsewhere) for a while? I did a few searches, but just found a whole bunch of guys names Norb.

Ola says it's Daniel Pinkwater who did Norb, but I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing.

Ok, this explains things. Maybe we can appeal to the authors to put Norb online.

Via Rebecca's pocket, a Merc article about online filmmaking. "Tamir Halaban said the situation for filmmakers on the Web was like the early days of professional baseball, where ballplayers had to wait tables in the off-season to make ends meet."

posted by dru in blog