May 31, 2000
# I'm, like, so po mo

Blogit has some fun links to sites that explain aspects of Post Modern philosophy in some kind of comprehenible fashion, which is in and of itself amazing. Academics tend to be a little too dense for my taste in too many cases.

posted by dru in blog
May 29, 2000
# Away

I'm off to the Evnet conference for the week, so updates may be sparse... unless I get bored.

posted by dru in blog
May 27, 2000
# Reinforcing the music monopoly

Michael Zara points out an interesting thing: Napster doesn't get used to promote unknown artists at all. That is, all the music that gets downloaded is stuff by known musicians, so the net effect is that we hear the same old music.

The Napster interface is conducive to finding music that you already know about; how can you search for music that you've never heard of?

If we really want to change the status quo in terms of music, then a conspicuously missing element needs to be reintroduced: people. That is, people need to talk to each other about music, point each other to good tunes, and talk about them.

As it stands, this process is interrupted by the fact that music is inexorably linked to physical objects that have to be paid for, so the only way you find out about new music is to listen to the radio, which are controlled by corporate music labels, or know someone in a band.

The net promises to change that, because it lets people try out music without paying for it up front, and thus lets more diversity come through, and allows it to spread by word of mouth.

Napster does not facilitate this, because it is about files, not people. That's why the web and email are the media of choice for spreading music, and more importantly, spreading the word about what is good.

However, Napster's role in de-corporatizing music is hardly nullified - it provides the wake up call that wide distribution over the net is a simple fact, not up for negootiation. What the net ultimately has the potential to bring back is the general view that music - and art - is something to be shared widely, not simply converted into capital.

For people (instead of corporations) to decide what music is popular, music needs to be available free of charge, at least initially. Otherwise, the entire advantage of the net is lost or marginalized.

People still need to make money. No one is arguing against that. There are a few ways of resolving these two seemingly disparate elements.

One such way that is in effect now is Orange Alley, where you get a kickback if you tell your friends about music you download there.

Another is voluntary micropayments, which proposes to apply the shareware model to music.

posted by dru in blog
May 26, 2000
# Dog meat

I never thought sexual innuendo would be used to sell dog food, but according to, these ads ran in New Zealand magazines. Bizarre.

Stefan just keeps crankin' out the poems:


running inside the small house

I close the door in irreverent


I jump through the ceiling

posted by dru in blog
May 25, 2000
# Cookies with DOJ kool-aid

Bijan had this to say about yesterday's Microsoft rant:

And I think it's important to emphasize that MS, without its monoply, isn't competative because it has structured itself to compete by using its monopoly power.

I.e., they've "forgotten" (if they've ever knew) how to compete on a level playing field.

The split will disproportionately impair MS's ability to compete...unless they figure out *how* to function fairly.

Niel Corrected me about the Chinese wall with this link:

In the past, Microsoft has publicly professed that there is a "Chinese Wall" between the groups that produce its operating systems and those that produce its applications. Steve Ballmer, Executive VP of Sales, has even stated, that there was "a very clean separation" -- "It's like the separation of church and state"

However, Microsoft lately has changed its stance. Executives even deny that the concept of
a Chinese Wall ever existed. They feel it is quite acceptable for them to give an unfair
advantage to their applications developers by keeping new operating system specifications
private. According to Brad Silverberg, head of the personal operating systems division, "if
Microsoft chose to keep such specifications private, to give a competitive advantage to its
many software departments, that would be the company's privilege. It does own the
operating system, after all"

Interesting. I was thinking of this message that showed up on Red Rock Eaters a few days ago.

posted by dru in blog
May 24, 2000
# Microsoft: 'we make shitty software'

One little, two little, three little Microsofts.

"Nonsense, said Microsoft's lawyer, John Warden. What the government proposes, he said, 'will go a long way to insure that Microsoft is the one company in the world that won't win, can't win, the next round of competition' in the high-stakes, ever-changing world of computers and software."

Whine whine whine. Here's a rough translation:

"our products rely on our monopoly for their success, and won't stand up on their own merit, so if you break us into pieces, we'll die."

What else would they base this claim on? I'd love to hear any plausible argument to the contrary.

You can't say that MS was just doing what it needed to in a market economy. They repeatedly claimed that there was a "Chinese Wall" seperating software and OS divisions, when in fact there wasn't.

Of course, when the legal precedent comes into play, things get a little more complex. Do we want the DOJ regulating the software industry? Probably not.

On the other hand, Microsoft could have easily prevented such regulation long ago, had it decided to cooperate.

Their monopoly power was like a cookie jar on the shelf. Always there. Always sooo tempting.


Bill, you ate the whole Key Lime pie! Now mom is pissed!

posted by dru in blog
May 23, 2000
# The Mcluhan Kool-Aid

Captain Cursor: "Why do web loggers all tend to make shorter posts that point out other sites? The software they are using tells them to. We could get into a detailed analyses about why that is, or the difference in writing style based on the software that people are using, and perhaps we should." Bingo.

Dammit, I wanna see Koyaanisqatsi.

The Various and Sundry weblog looks promising.

I'm listening to Phish's version of Dark Side of the Moon, live recording. It doesn't suck at all.

posted by dru in blog
May 22, 2000
# The long decline of copyright

Having fun with Bookmarklets today. I made a one that searches for the currently selected word. I'm trying to make one that searches for weblogs that link to the current URL, but I can't seem to get it to work (on Netscape 4.08/Mac, anyway).

Anyone want to help me debug this:

Ola points out that if you use this link, it'll work fine. However, it still doesn't work as a bookmark. Arg. The whole point is that when you're on any page, you can select the bookmarklet, and see if any weblogs point to that page.

Monkeyfist: Global Warming Petitions, a short article by yours truly.

Salon: 30,000 Napster users tell Metallica to 'prove it'.

Thanks to Rebecca, David, and Donovan for linking to Blue Green.

posted by dru in blog
May 21, 2000
# Bluegreen (again)

I posted some interesting information about how to make lightbulbs last for decades over at Blue Green, the collaborative environmental news site that I've been working on way too much lately.

More poems by Stefan Hamilton:

Serfs in olive tunics
cultivate the land
of snorting kings
posted by dru in blog
May 20, 2000
# More Free Beer - deliberated!

Most rocket boosters that propel satellites and space shuttles into orbit are constrained in size by the fact that they need to fit on railcars. The width of railroads comes from the carts used in mines in early industrial England, which were based on the axels available, which were for manufactured mainly for wagons at that time. The wagons' wheels were spaced exactly so that they could fit in the ruts that were characteristic of pre-pavement roads. The width of the ruts, in turn, was a leftover from the Roman days, as they were originally worn by chariots. Where did the width of the chariots come from? Obviously enough, the span of the wheel corresponded to the width of two horses at their widest point.

Rocket boosters based on two horses' asses. Now *thats* technological determinism!

A second draft of my Dialogues and Documents article is up.

I keep forgetting the Civilution's name and URL. No longer. --They are a company in Seattle who seem to be doing interesting stuff with discussion software.

A whole new page, just for ME!

Just in time for yesterday's comment about good software at no cost, Slashdot has a piece questioning whether free beer software is a good thing in the long run.

posted by dru in blog
May 19, 2000
# Free Beer!

Strata is giving away Strata 3d for the mac (!), and Palm is handing out Palm Desktop (formerly Claris Organizer). 'Tis a good day for good software on a low budget.

posted by dru in blog
May 18, 2000
# The Freedom to Repress


(from subtext)

posted by dru in blog
May 16, 2000
# Summer

The first really beautiful summer night of the year in my corner of Canada. Lots of smells and visuals that I forgot existed.

Pomes by Stefan Hamilton.

Machu Picchu Madness

Machu Picchu madness

the emperor's dead-

the state's in disarray

I've been trying to figure out how to integrate the process of the articles I'm writing with this weblog. Somehow I want it to reflect the work that I'm doing in a comprehensible manner. Maybe I just need to finish the three articles that I'm working on/revising. Egads.

Brent linked to Blue Green with a few complimentary words. So did Craig. Thanks.

posted by dru in blog
May 15, 2000
# Blue Green

My latest project: Blue Green: Environmental News and Opinions.

It's a pseudo-slashdot style environmental news site, where anyone can post stories or news items for the front page. If you're interested in environmental issues, or have something to say, go check it out.

I'll be spending the afternoon plugging the site to various environmentalist people and mailing lists. Fun!

posted by dru in blog
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May 14, 2000
# MSIE for Mac

As the Apple turns has a good summary of the rumored disbanding of the Macintosh Internet Explorer team. has a library of cyberpunk fiction, including short stories by William Gibson, Douglas Rushkoff, and Bruce Sterling.

posted by dru in blog
May 13, 2000
# Metallica

An Open Letter from Metallica: "There are thousands of little local bands that would give up a few organs to have 350,000 people downloading their music. It stands to reason that at least a few of them completely kick our ass, musically speaking. But they don't have that one crucial thing we have: We have millions of dollars going to convince you that we don't suck."

metajohn has good coverage of the Metallica fiasco.

posted by dru in blog
by Joe Holder

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May 12, 2000
# History

David Grenier has some thoughts on yesterday's bit about Denmark: "
I know in Providence they take great care to preserve the 'historic' houses on the East Side, all of these beautiful old 1800s era homes, but they have no problem knocking down factories and warehouses from that same era so they can build a better road to the new mall."

Bijan Parsia, the net's resident eyeball monger, pointed me to a PARC piece on the fluidity of documents, with a few comments on my Dialogs and Documents article. I responded.

Sartre's Cookbook is fsking hilarious. "I have realized that the traditional omelet form (eggs and cheese) is bourgeois. Today I tried making one out of a cigarette,
some coffee, and four tiny stones. I fed it to Malraux, who puked. I am encouraged, but my journey is still long."

posted by dru in blog
May 11, 2000
# Denmark

In addition to doing too many things at once, I'm now a contributor to the Monkeyfist Collective.

Credit for absolutely everything, unconditionally, goes to Bijan.

For a reason I canít remember, I recently recalled an experience I had on a visit to Denmark a few years ago. I was coming back from Copenhagen with two friends and the Danish family we were staying with, we stopped at a modestly identified monument, situated by a long stretch of road, framed by unremarkable fields.

The monument itself was a hollowed-out hill, where a number of locals had apparently hidden from the Nazis for a number of days when they came barging through. The entrance to the cavern was still open, and we climbed through a narrow tunnel into a space about the size of an SUV, sat on the damp rock benches, and lit some of the candles that were left there by others. In the same place that people had waited in fear for days.

Once I got past a cynical wonder that in the US, they would have closed the tunnel for fear of litigation when someone got stuck, a few thoughts came out of this. Sitting in that cave was completely different from anything I ever imagined from reading a textbook, or seeing Schindlerís list. The obvious detached nature of understanding something through media became more evident that I ever would have thought; being immersed in a context, or a place that doesnít just reflect reality, but in a sense is reality, is mind-blowing.

It also occurred to me that all of the really memorable experiences I had in Europe had very little to do with the Eiffel Tower or the Piccadilly Circus. More, they were small tastes of history and reality which are too often glazed over where they might otherwise exist in America. That, and I'm less likely to see them because I live here.

posted by dru in blog
May 10, 2000
# Affordances

Don Norman: Affordances and Design

Blue Green: Environmental News and Opinions. This is my attempt at a source of environmental information by the people, for the people. Anyone can contribute, but the editors filter what comes through. The environmental community doesn't use the web a whole lot. I'd like to change that somewhat.

Captain Cursor: " links are stupid. Yeah I know that this is the information architecture equivalent of saying 'I hate hippies' but it's been bugging me for a while and I needed a log entry to link my broad statement of value to." Part of a larger rant about Ted Nelson's ideals and information architecture. is live! Well, kinda.. most of the content isn't there yet, but I'm working on it. Comments are welcome.

posted by dru in blog
May 09, 2000
# Hosting good conversations

Here's a piece that doesn't get linked to (or read) nearly enough: Howard Rheingold's the Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online.

My Dialogues and Documents piece got a bit of coverage in the recent issue of Bernie DeKoven's Coworking.

posted by dru in blog
May 08, 2000
# More


posted by dru in blog
May 07, 2000
# Self Censorship

New bookmark: EFF "Net Culture & Cyber-Anthropology" Archive. Lots and lots of material there, including these two:

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is back!

Via Retrogression, a good breakdown of a survey on self censorship among journalists. Quite an interesting issue; IMHO it is one of the reasons we need more diversity in the institutions we rely on for information.

Something I've always wondered:

If knowledge is power, and power corrupts, then is ignorance bliss?
posted by dru in blog
May 06, 2000
# WTO/Seattle

Just a gentle reminder of what went on in Seattle almost six months ago...

wto pix:

These pics are courtesy of the Mount Allison Blue Green Society, who I just started a news site for today... looks like an interesting site for media criticism and alternative sources of news and information.

posted by dru in blog
May 05, 2000
# Visual vs. Textual literacy

Though I initially passed over technography because it seemed so business-oriented, I think it has a lot to do with what I think and write about - mediating collaboration through technology, etc. "the goal of the meeting to be to create a document. Regardless, it is a visible, tangible product of the meeting. It becomes the central focus of the participants, which subtly alters the relationship dynamic in a manner that makes the facilitator's task easier."

Web Content Wonít Always Be Free: "the Internet is free because it is in its infancy, but it wonít stay that way forever". The reason the internet is free (AFAICS), is because there are so many people who are willing to generate quality stuff for free, and it's really quite cheap to distribute. (This article seems to have become a bit of a whipping post, but what can I say, it's fun).

Slashdot is interviewing Metallica, presumably because they just decided to sue some 300,000 napster users. This could be interesting. This seems to be one of the better uses of the web so far - interfacing real people with public figures, but without the self-censorship.

There has been an interesting weblog and email-mediated debate going on over at Cap'n Cursor. It seems that trying to argue that images can communicate as effectively as text is something of a null argument, since images can never be as good at what text does as text itself.

This is reminiscent of the great debate over whether digital books are better or worse than the dead-tree variety. There isn't a medium out there that can be a better book than a book, because the book itself is the standard to which everything else is compared.

In the same sense, images will never be as effective at doing what text does as text is, but that doesn't mean we can't develop a visual gestalt such that it becomes an effective medium for communication on it's own terms. Such a gestalt, or set of symbols was certainly done to a certain extent by painters in the last few hundred years. Now, if we take a cue from the past, we can similarly cultivate web design, flash animations, and good ole gifs and jpegs to communicate in new and exciting ways, but on their own terms.

posted by dru in blog
May 04, 2000
# policy

People at Georgia Tech have done a lot of interesting experiments with interface design for specific applications, mostly classroom-related, but with obvious ideas for the Rest Of The World..

Here's a job I can aspire to: Director of Dialogues at Weblab. (thanks, Bijan)

Winerlog contradicts Dave Winer's policy of 'no personal statements' by having 'fun with the search engine' (scroll down). Hmmm. Dave?

posted by dru in blog
May 03, 2000
# M$? Innovate??

Microsoft's Real Problem: No Innovation. It's kind of sad that we need Dvorak to explain this to us this late in the game. I guess people really do think that Microsoft 'innovates'. Sigh.

posted by dru in blog
May 02, 2000
# rendering speed

Too many web designers forget to remember rendering speed when writing their pages. Web pages that don't have a whole to download often make up for it and then some by having complex tables, div's, and lots of small images. These pages load pretty fast on any G3, even if it's on a modem, but things tend to slow down when you hit Pentiums and 604's that are (gasp) under 200 mHz. Yep, people still use em - I'm one, and there are others. <rant/>

ladybugs sketch wild,

opaque fantasies of anxious


waiting in port and wanting

a beer

or departure

posted by dru in blog
May 01, 2000
# Pyra

I'm working on a piece about interfaces on the web, so this article about Pyra caught my interest in a few different ways.

The idea: interface design thus far has been focussed almost exclusively on ease of use (which is good), but contextually-specific, high-level elements of interface design offer a way to structure information and flow in ways not yet fully explored. Informed design.

Infolets, David Rubin's exploration of internet innovations, is a darned good resource.

Conglomerate (GPL) looks like an interesting, if overly complex, collaborative document authoring application. I think the web can do this in a much more elegant and effective fashion.

I found an interesting explanation of the "alternative music" category that happened in the early nineties.

terms make calculated glances

toward coy, smiling concepts

a small child grinning

through a lick

on a big ice cream cone

posted by dru in blog