Saturday, March 09, 2002

the destruction of mankind

bix, I saw that earlier tonight. Kind of put a pall over my evening too. Whoa. I just started reading Stupid White Men, and yikes. Seems like a few people have this joint known as the u.s. of a. all sewn up. I say we put all of the world's unscrupulous leaders on a team blog and let them post themselves silly. If only...
Fuck it. Let's just go to Hooter's. The human race is a wash.

Your "Bio"

Gary's post reminds me of something. I was hoping to get, from each member--or active member--of this here blog a little description of what you do for a living. You don't have to mention the company if you don't want to. But, you know, something like "Gary Turner has been making business applications work since 1935" or something, and then a little background and experience about who you've done what for, or why, etc. Reason why? I was thinking, in light of my idea that someday someone might actually want to throw us some work, we should have a Team page where we spew a bit about our respective greatnesses, give our blog and email addresses, maybe even some creative photos. Send jpegs or gifs if you have them. You can either post all that stuff here, or send it to me at Besides knowing Denise is a lawyer, I don't really know that the rest of you insane bloggers do for a living.


About time I started earning my keep here.

My dayjob, now theres a thing. We've connected boring old financial business applications to mail & SMS servers, not yet IM for all the obvious reasons. It actually makes a hell of a difference since most business apps are expertly good at witholding information. The ability to ping an automated email or SMS message to a manager or customer, supplier or pocket device when something vaguely interesting happens like low inventory, price promotions, budget overrun, liquidators called in etc. Of course, I can see it being used by lamebrains for bad shit too, like spamming. However I can also foresee that this wouldn't always be a bad thing, you could set it to email a customer about unpaid debts, the older the debt the more frequently you ping em an email or instant message until the point where you say, "pay us or we'll bring down your fucking mail server". Now you're talking.

Friday, March 08, 2002

Been reading Jeneane's Allied blog, particularly this recent piece about IM, threads ML, etc.

I think it may be relevant here, because:
- it is another communications mechanism, which means it will inevitably be used for marketing at some point (Microsoft already advertise their own products in MSN Messenger, but I mean in a more invasive manner - messages from marketing wonks complete with pop-ups, bells, whistles: yikes!!)
- it has another voice, different from blog as blog is from email, as email is from phone, as phone is from snail-mail, as snail-mail is from face 2 face, etc

IM at work has been part of my experience of subverting the enterprise, not in a destructive way, but a means of having communications with distant parts of the company that are invisible (the communications not the distant parts) to the ever-vigilant security organs of larger corporates where I tend to be employed (they have the money, that's why).

Email is usually monitored and often recorded in these companies, and phone logs typically scrutinised with occasional recording of actual content, but so far I don't know of any IM logging, wiretapping, or eavesdropping. So it enables an intracorporate conversation that is more or less real-time and more or less secure from unwanted inspection. When you work, for example, as part of a sales force remote from the manufacture or R&D units, and your only other conduit for information is the marketing department and their (sometimes) dubious notions of how technical detail ought to be rendered intelligible to corporate purchasers, then this subterranean access can be invaluable.

IM also allows contact with other parties outside of the company in similarly covert manner; again, an often invaluable conduit for truth both inwards to, and outwards from, the company.

On the commercial side, the ongoing balkanisation of IM is stupid, petty, and self-defeating. "Standards" efforts notwithstanding (the IM players could have simply left their services interworking at the outset, as they already were), these same players are consciously and deliberately trying to isolate "their" users from other services' users. It never seems to occur to them that their users might not like the implication that the service provider owns them.

Metcalfe* could have told them that such self-imposed isolation costs them more than it ever earns, for example the Mobile SMS operators have gradually learned this lesson from the EU's politically imposed interworking of SMS across western Europe, and gradually they are beginning to have SMS interworking on a global scale to match the voice interworking of the landline telephony network that we have all come to take for granted.

*Metcalfes Law can be stated as: "The value of a network is proportional to the number of conections times the value per connection. Since the value per connection is also proportional to the number of connections, the total value is proportional to the number of connections, squared."

I have often asked my consulting clients in the IT&T industry to consider a simple thought experiment: Imagine the income and custom they would lose if they isolated their telephony network from the global PSTN. Although they will universally acknowledge the validity of this experiment, they are still slow to apply it to other internet or PSTN based services where they think they have some chance to "corner the market."

(PSTN=Public Switched Telephone Network, i.e. the global telephony network)

The SMS operators are, however, doomed. IM direct over IP to the mobile handset will wipe them out. Oh sure, the mobile operator will still be able to charge for the IP packets delivered to the handset, but they will rapidly lose the ability to differentiate high value from low value packets, and thus to charge accordingly. Shed no tears for them, but realise the inevitability of this process.

As for IM standards, they will either come through the tardy and tawdry efforts of the big commercial bozos, or people like Dave Weinberger will do what they've done with blogging and SOAP and simply do what the internet has always done: route around deliberate obstruction as if it were inadvertent failure, thus rendering it obsolete and irrelevant.

Either way, their marketing departments will not have the opportunity to drive the process into a commercial cul de sac lined with screaming monologues to buy Marek J's Fabulous Soap Products, but will simply have to watch as people use the new services in ever bigger numbers, and try hard to think of some means whereby they can *attract* these people rather than repulsing them (as I would hold they overwhelmingly now do).

The Reading Gonzo - Engaged party blog will be ready and waiting for them.

P.S. Metcalfe's Law also offers some areas of consideration for rebutting the very pertinent objections to GM that have been raised on this blog previously. While the number of connections may be small, the value per connection is also amenable to increase, and much marketing research shows that the majority of customer-supplier relationships increase in value and profitability the longer they last in time. A Gonzo Micro Market would seem to be naturally long lasting due to the personal interests of the members. This blog itself being a case in point. Look how long its been going. Look how many of us have persuaded each other to purchase things we might never otherwise have given consideration. Hell, I'm even thinking about reading Cixous!

Thursday, March 07, 2002

"Ya Think?"---Yeah!

Keep those ideas coming Jeneane!. I'm not sure that businesses would be able to stomach the specter of free-wheeling chaos that they might see in your model. But I do know this: I've had a couple of inquiries about possible projects come my way just out of the networking that's been generated since I got involved in blogging. If businesses start to see their people expanding their circles of influence through this medium, maybe they'll start to sit up and take notice. Then, maybe your ideas won;t be so frightening.
Bloggernisation - What Happens When The Irresistible Blog Meets the Immovable Blog.

(Can I use an "s" instead of a "z" Jeneane? Can I? It's your word baby, but we English speaking types just can't get with the whole zee thing, we still think it's a zed!)

Oh baby! - Let's do it! Let's do it! Let's DO IT!

I mean that in the best possible taste, you understand.

And now I see I really *will* have to dust off the credit card, bite the bullet, put nose to the grindstone, mangle some gratuitous metaphors before breakfast, and buy the darned books - sob!

Hey! - Business Expenses - YaaaHoooo!!

Let's do it!!!!

On another note (pun intended, as you will soon see if you can be bothered reading my fevered shit) I was prompted by AKMA's awesome blog to email him some lines from a song by Shriekback, called Nemesis, an old favourite of mine that I hadn't thought of for some time.

Then I got to thinking that these two lines are a really concise description of traditional marketing, from a certain bloggers point of view. I even made a blogsticker of them.

"But we know evil is an exact science, being carefully correctly wrong."

From the song Nemesis, by Shriekback, off the album Oil and Gold.

Lovely riffs, too!

support your local library

Denver, get your local library to buy them instead (or at least bring them in from the central library). Its slower, but it increases the circulation of ideas, as once the libray has it other people in your area may read it too. Also, big chunks of the books are available online - or the link from smallpieces I posted yesterday to David's original outline of its ideas.

I read a lot onscreen, but I like reading paper books too, and I don't mind paying a bit for the experience. Maybe Jeanene's floating blog consultancy angle could keep us in freshly printed tomes. BTW, I'm still looking for people to join me in the nonzero blog - its only $15 in paperback, and you could read he beginnings of each chapter on line and pitch in...

Look! I can't afford to buy all these books!



And I've got another one brewing, possibly. Sparked in part by the music industry blitz against online music (both downloaded and webcast). Although intended to encompass more than that. The basic premise is to have a domain under which gang blogs of people trying to coordinate info and action against such things can be hosted.

IIt might have to wait until I finish moving, but at some point in the near future, look for the Cultural Warfare Information Center at (my first .info address -- didn't think I'd ever think of a reason to choose one, heh).

so I have this theory....

ya think?

Wednesday, March 06, 2002

meme or Bandwagon?

I like this book discussion blog idea, so I've started one about Non-Zero, the book I posted about here the other day. Come on over and join in.

down the tubes

As noted by Weinberger, more about Hollings here. Then there's this in a letter to the New York Times:

Senator Ernest F. Hollings's arrogant response to the question of whether he had received contributions from Enron -- ''I got 3,500 over 10 years, but our friend, Kay Bailey Hutchison, she got 99,000. Heck, I'm the chairman of the committee. That wasn't a contribution. That was an insult''

Interestingly, I find nothing in the Times about Holling's assault on freedom.

Also, see Doc on a ruling that could shut down Net radio. He says, among other good things:

We face a plain conceptual choice here. Either the Net is a medium — a plumbing system of pipes for pumping content from producers to consumers, controlled from top to bottom by suppliers — or it's a place where people and companies meet to make culture, do business and share the stuff that makes life interesting.

Weinberger's book is becoming more relevant by the day...

Hollings outlawing computers

Over on my blog I've got lots of links and commentary. I can drag a few over here if you like too.

Key phrasing from the bill:

Title I -- Security System Standards

Sec. 101: Prohibition of Certain Devices
(a) In General -- It is unlawful to manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide or otherwise traffic in any interactive digital device that does not include and utilize certified security technologies that adhere to the security system standards adopted under section 104.

Sec. 109. Definitions

(3) Interactive digital device -- The term "interactive digital device" means "any machine, device, product, software, or technology, whether or not included with or as part of some other machine, device, product, software, or technology, that is designed, marketed or used for the primary purpose of, and that is capable of, storing, retrieving, processing, performing, transmitting, receiving, or copying information in digital form."

I'm not exaggerating. This is Holling's draft.

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

Jack, Mike & bollocks

What was it that Kevin was saying about outlawing general purpose computers? Kevin, if you have a link or more detail, please post. There are two things that simply can't go away: the open protocols of the Net, and general computers, i.e., ones that can be shaped to our purposes, rather than to those of technocrats, Michael Eisner, or Mr. Valenti. If I want my specially hamstrung, "all you can subscribe to" version of a PC, I will order one with Mr. Valenti's face and mouse ears on it.

In a parallel and doubless related development, the Justice Dept. will defend its Microsoft settlement, evidently, as "good for the economy and consumers." Somehow, the question of whether it's actually just simply doesn't enter into it. And people wonder why one is cranky?

cluetrain blogstickers

Gary's set up some nice Cluetrain blogstickers (IMHO) for anyone looking for anti-dvorak blogwear; he's also got some dvorak specific stickers a bit further down in his blog. He's such a peach!

stick em if ya got em.

And b!x, you are a star--I want to join. my copy is also on the way. let's do some reciprocal linking, that is if it's still legal in both our states.

I'm certainly a small piece.

And if you'd read any of my work you'd know my dots are only very loosely joined.

You ~insufferable bastard!~

Are You A Loose Piece?

It was done for RB here. Now it's done for David over here.

Kindergarten Meets Harvard

Guess I'd better go read the Orlowski article - tho it sounds like I'm going to want to find an industrial household use for it pretty quick. In the meantime - it's polite to share, so for those inclined to put their childhood lessons where there mouth is why not post a counter-copyright notice? Of course, just not suing makes a strong (if more subtle) statement as well. (Thanks to Larry Staton for the link).
Back in the BlogHouse: Now I'm *really* pissed!
(Follows is my email to Andrew Orlowski after reading his piece. You may complain that my publishing of it is everything I accuse him of, I will not demur. All I will say is that the cathartic nature of the exercise was necessary to preventing a catastrophic hypertensive event occuring within my person.)


I think that you have missed the point, somewhat, of the recent spat between Chris Locke (as the self appointed representative of all that blogs) and John C Dvorak (as the self appointed representative of all that journalises.)

Interesting first, to consider these words, for a blog *is* a journal, albeit a public one and not usually for any fee.

As I recently commented on the Gonzo Marketing - Engaged blog (, a blog specifically dedicated by its instigator to the discussion of Chris' later work "Gonzo Marketing", the net is the threat.

It is difficult for an observer/participant to not conclude that some element of the hostility of Dvorak for blogging as a phenomena in its own right (as opposed to the content of many blogs, which is admittedly puerile, self referential and ultimately irrelevant) has its source in whatever competitive threat such things might be perceived to represent by those who make their living from the more usual (historically) sort.

As much as blogs, a similarly high proportion of professional journalism is self referential, self serving, puerile, and simply wrong, wrong-headed, and contemptible.

Blogs do indeed, lower the average cost of journalising. and therefore, to the extent that they fulfill some innate (and apparently universal) desire to read the contents of other peoples journals, they represent a competitive threat to professional journalists.

Secondarily, I was struck by the plethora of assumptions underlying your assertions regarding the valuable qualities of journalism as you (attempt to) practice it; to wit, that "new stuff" or "news" is the primary valuable quality. As a well-read Christian who acknowledges the truth in the statement "there is nothing new under the sun" I won't shock you by contrarily asserting that there is great merit in a great many things that are neither new nor news, and that ideas are at least every bit as powerful as current events and news of them will ever be.

The age of these ideas is simply irrelevant to their world-shaping power, and I cannot help but think that in another context a man who makes his living in an occupation exemplified by the idea that "the pen is mightier than the sword" might be inclined to be more agreeable to this particular idea as I have stated it!

I say, parenthetically, that you "attempt to" practice your self styled journalism as the presentation of new stuff simply because, contrariwise, those of us who blog knew about the ongoing contretemps between Locke and Dvorak long before you or both of your readers ever did.

Which brings me to another point: the self styled representation of which Locke is assumed in your missive to be the arch-duke of blogdom is precisely mirrored by Dvoraks self referential journalism and self appointed representation thereof. To say nothing of your own pretensions to championing "real" journalism by defending Dvoraks conflicted attack on blogging, which is similarly compromised.

Which "authority" was it (I note your reliance on this concept, an idea as old as sin and just as pernicious, in self-contradiction of your own stated ideals, and to go with your self referential lies* and your self appointed status) that made *you* the definer of what is real journalism, and again the defender of this faith against the heretic barbarian blogging hordes?

It was your self, wasn't it?

*Yes, I followed the link but found only the original article. If the blog you promised exists it is concealed beyond the art of this mere mortal. There is certainly no Editors Blog link on the Home Page nor on the article itself, nor any obvious (or even subtle) clues as to where it might lie.

With all these "self's" one could almost believe that every act of journalism, whether amateur or professional, is innately a selfish act, an act of self-aggrandisement, now practiced with the assistance of the net, on a global scale.

The difference, it seems to me, is that bloggers explicitly recognise this, accept it, in some cases celebrate it, and often enough, hope that it doesn't get in the way of some either useful, or entertaining, or merely diverting, or sometimes all three, dialogue.

We understand that real professionals prefer unidirectional broadcasting to quiet civil conversation, oh yes indeedy do we do, just as we recognise the implicit threat in the recipients of this manifestly ill-mannered shouting having a working conduit - like, oh, say, blogging - with which to communicate to your employers exactly what we think of your efforts and precisely what value we'd place on them were they subjected to contest in the open market of for ideas, news, observation, commentary, etc; in short, the sum of what may be called journalism.

Hey! it's not working guys, we'd better all SHOUT LOUDER!!!

Good Luck with your career, Andrew.

In deepest and most sincere and utter contempt,

Denver Fletcher
New Zealand.

Cluetrain as Economics for lefties?

Dave says Andrew Orlowski's comments make him nervous. Here's the reply I sent to Andrew (I'll post his very resonable reply to me if he says its ok).

Your article made some good points, but I'd disagree with the main thrust.

Cluetrain is showy and flash, but it contains a very important point (admittedly one that Adam Smith and Hayek have made before) that markets are emergent self-organising information systems, and as such far more efficient than anything designed top down. It made this point in a way that would appeal to Marketing types, and make them rethink their ex cathedra approach.

In my experience, the people at college who went into marketing were exactly those pomo left-leaning college politicians (the right winger tends more towards investment banking) so you can look on the revolutionary rhetoric as playing to the audience.

You are too kind to Dvorak, who just posted a load of Blimpish 'what are these young people doing now' stuff, trolling for pageviews, and projecting his bizarre group sex fantasies onto the cluetrain readers. He does this from time to time - I remember him implying that only a poofter would buy a 'girly' coloured iBook a couple of years back. All Locke did was parody this back to him, in slightly stronger terms. He engaged in the debate exactly on Dvorak's level.

A critique of cluetrain via parody that actually manages to land some punches is at, and has been for a couple of years.

The thing I find sad is that this puerile man has distracted the blogging community from what is going on this week in Congress, where Movie moguls are lobbying tame legislator to pass a bill outlawing all general purpose computers.

Underlying theory of Gonzo and Cluetrain

I bought Nonzero by Robert Wright last night, and am enjoying it a lot. By applying the game theory concept of 'non-zero-sumness' to human and biological interaction, he shows how communication and trust are necessary to establish non-zero-sum exchanges, such as markets, information sharing (conversations) and reciprocal exchanges of hospitality. Here he is discussing the Shoshone Indians, traditionally regarded as 'the Irreducible minimum of human society':
A successful Shoshone rabbit hunt would culminate in a "fandango". Sounds like a spontaneous and carefree celebration - and indeed fandangos featured, as one anthropologist put it, "gambling, dancing...philandering". Still, as scholars have noted, the fandango was eminently utilitarian. First, it distributed fresh meat among the rabbit hunt's various kinds of workers. Second, it was an occasion for trading such valuables as volcanic glass. Third, it was a chance to build up a network of friends. (Even the ritual exchange of knickknacks, though economically trivial, can be a way to bond, forming conduits for future favor-swapping of greater moment). Fourth, the fandango was an opportunity to trade information about, say, the location of food.
All of these are non-zero functions, and the last is especially so. Giving people data, unlike giving them food or tools, has no inherent cost. If you know of a place where the supply of pine nuts far exceeds your own family's needs, it costs nothing to share the information with a friend. So too if you know the location of a den of poisonous snakes. Sometimes, of course, surrendering information is costly (as when the supply of nuts doesn't exceed your family's needs). Still, data are often of little or no cost and great benefit; swapping them is one of the oldest forms of non-zero-sum interaction. People by their nature come together to constitute a social information processing system and thus reap positive sums. The fandango, the academic conference, and the Internet are superficially different expressions of the same deep force.

Some extracts here, but buy this and read it, you won't regret it.

Monday, March 04, 2002

OK Chris, you asked for it - you got it.

No, the man is not a fucknozzle.

Down Here in lil ole Noo Zeeelin we use the word fuck-knuckle.

More internally alliterative, see?
My worst job was with a government owned business, what we call an S.O.E. (State Owned Enterprise) - one of those lovely euphemistic oxymorons that bureaucrats get paid to dream up.

Anyway, here in NZ the law says that the number of employees of SOE's in each pay bracket (in 10K increments) has to be made public.

But, if an SOE owns a minority holding in a private company, any directors fees that, just as a hypothetical example you understand, the CEO of the SOE gets paid by the private company remains a commercially senistive piece of privileged information.

Needless to say, the directors of SOE's are thus incented to purchase minority positions in private companies, and thus to gain undeclared income as a result of their original employment.

It helps if you buy a share in a service company that can provide services to your SOE, and then you get the double pleasure of shitting all over your staff when they point out what a bunch of malingering fuckwits you've saddled them with, all the while the investment you've made with the taxpayers money gains you increasingly personally valuable returns.

I have to say that this situation is not the sort of situation that an honest and diligent employee will ever enjoy.

What, for example, can you possibly say to a CEO who, when presented with a commercial decision which saves his company over a million dollars a year while providing a significant uplift in the benefits thus purchased, responds:

"Why isn't it <insert name of private company here>?"

What can you say that isn't likely to get you instantly fired, I mean?

I should have said it, I quit the next day anyway.
And isn't is nice of them to let me know that you guys aren't "real human beings"?

What the fuck are you?

That's what I'd like to know . . . . . . .

Sunday, March 03, 2002

Same Shit Different Era

That one type of communications (well, ok, two) which happen to be relatively common but still technologically mediated (post and telephone) are somehow more worthy than email and chat, which are equally so mediated, however "new" and therefore "dangerous" they might be.

Read The Victorian Internet. They said the same crap about the telegraph.
That's kind of bizzarre, isn't it?

That one type of communications (well, ok, two) which happen to be relatively common but still technologically mediated (post and telephone) are somehow more worthy than email and chat, which are equally so mediated, however "new" and therefore "dangerous" they might be.

How much more conspicuously and wierdly orthodox could any university professor be?

Is he the Deutch-Telekom Emeritus Professor of Technocratic Whoredom or something?

Which brings me to another point: I've given up on universities as the residence and refuge of liberal education for its own sake.

Has anyone else noticed this? Does anyone other than me care?

Is there somewhere else (other than the net) that one can go and find alternative explanations and expositions of reality?

A-ha! . . . . it all becomes clear now . . . . . . . the net is the threat.

I sense another blogsticker coming on.

Thanks for the link b!X, it made me think of the Stanford University report that said that the web damaged connectivenes because it found that people who were online sent less snail-mail letters and talked on the phone less. My favorite quote from the report is this,

"A key finding of the study is that "the more hours people use the Internet, the less time they spend in contact with real human beings," said Stanford Professor Norman Nie, Director of SIQSS and principal investigator along with his co-investigator Professor Lutz Erbring of the Free University of Berlin. "This is an early trend that, as a society, we really need to monitor carefully.""


Pew Report

A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project says:

The Pew Internet & American Life Project, in a series of reports starting in May 2000, has found that email and the Internet foster social connectedness. Our first report, "Tracking Life Online," found that Internet users perceive email as a valuable way to stay in touch with family and friends, with many people-especially women-reporting that email helps them feel more connected to their families and friends. Other Pew Internet Project reports underscore how the Internet has been integrated into people's social lives in positive ways. Online communities are very popular and many participants report that cyber communities result in meaningful social contacts. Senior citizens embrace email as a way to keep up with children and grandchildren, and teenagers are among the most ardent Internet surfers. Teens "hang out" online in ways their parents did on the telephone or at the burger shop.

As I just said elsewhere, this sort of mainstreaming of the Internet is a good thing, despite the naysaying that still exists from some quarters (both offline anti-Internet forces, and online good-old-days-nostalgia curmudgeons).

Shitholes, Continued

Glad to have you back, Jeneane. I was afraid we might lose you to the sisterhood. But you've done a bang-up job with it. Hats off! What's your energy secret? I don't know how you do it all.

Anyway, what a thread question! Shittiest job? Where do I start? When you've been on the treadmill for as many years as I have, it takes some thought. The Army would win hands down, but you said "company," so I can't use that. Besides, I probably shouldn't be dissing the Army, given the whipped-up, militarist sentiment prevailing in the land these days. (If Ashcroft and Gang want to cart me off, I'd be honored).

The first one that pops into my head is a restaurant equipment and design firm where I handled marketing and communications. I was pretty green in those days. The place was run with an iron fist by a full-of-himself Little Caesar whose only apparent purpose in life was to impress people with his importance. There were factory reps and other middlemen coming through the office on a constant basis and he wanted to impress them with what a professional office he was running. He had it wired up in his tinny little head that the way to do that was NO coffee, soda pop, or radios on anyone's desk--ever. Plus a strict dress code. It was a poor man's IBM--dark suits, white shirts, black shoes, and plain colored ties, no patterns. What a joke!

I only stayed there because my wife was disabled for six months and couldn't work. Our sons were just pre-schoolers, in need of lots of attention., and the office was very close to home. Plus, it was a steady paycheck. As soon as Jill went back to work, I hauled my ass out of there.

Naturally, employees were stealing the place blind. They delighted in ripping off the boss-man for whatever they could get away with. The idiot was so engrossed with superficial, surface controls that he had no handle on controls of substance. A few years after I left, the place expired, in no small measure because of all the thievery. Little Caesar was brought down by the very people he thought he controlled.