Saturday, March 16, 2002

Oh! - Spaces . . . . .

Jeneane, not so long ago Marek J and some others and I were blog-dancing around the notion of space as applied to music, and it seems we fundamentally agreed that the variable spaces between them are at least as important as the notes themselves.

I made the point there that the same is true of the whole universe; the variable spaces between particles, between groups of particles, and between galaxies, are what makes the universe both interesting, and capable of containing people who evince interest in the spaces.

Nice to see how conversation follows the same principles.

I Like It!

In fact I love the idea Kevin. I have zany ideas of my own that come to me in those strange moments between waking and sleeping when all things make sense.

Be more than happy to volunteer them.

Friday, March 15, 2002

1911 Britannica online

This is one of those random ideas I had ages ago and never thought to tell anyone - digitize the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica (safely in the public domain) and put it online. Fortunately, through the wonders of simultaneous discovery, someone has actually done it. Score one for procrastination. This seems to undermines Doc's point about ideas in secrecy being useless, but not really, as who knows what other random ideas of mine won't be implemented by someone else before I get round to it?
I almost feel another weblog coming on... Random Ideas for the taking...

Anyway, what would really improve this fine resource would be for Google to spider it and index it, which it won't do unless we link to it a lot. So, entries du jour Luddites and Phrenology

Of course, what they really need now is an army of volunteers to go through and correct the OCR glitches, particularly in the Greek and Latin. If only they'd used Google's catalogue engine...

Thursday, March 14, 2002


Thanks to all who contributed their thoughts on the distinctions between team blogs and online discussion groups. They were all helpful. Next time I'm asked about it, I'll be well prepared!

Reading Between the Space

If what we are having here, among and within our blogs, is a conversation, then space and gaps must be considered. Conversation is an art, and some are masters. Those who master the craft listen more than they speak, hear more than they say. For bloggers, I have noticed an inherent difference in *how* we post (how often, how much time elapses between posts, how much space we leave, how we handle our "between post" selves). With conversation as an analogy, some of us are eager talkers, some of us are patient listeners. And with blogging, the silence (or lack of silence) between posts is begining to take on more meaning for me.

Some bloggers post mind-bending ideas, and then let them sit there just long enough, just the right amount of time before they post again. Their posts sit shining in the sun at the top of their blog tree like bright, plump oranges, waiting for others to pick at and enjoy. Tom Matrullo and Mike Golbycome to mind.

Some are masterful in their daily devotion--you gulp them in, a few posts at a time, and you know you can go back tomorrow for another gulp. That's Doc and that's David Weinberger and that's AKMA. The space between their posts is predictable and reassuring. The regularity of their gaps, the space between posts, means all is right with the world, the online world anyway.

Some are masters at dropping a bomb. These bloggers tend toward long, meaningful spaces between posts. You can read as much into their absence as their words. Their silence is purposeful. Reading between the lines is not discouraged. In fact, we are encouraged to take that space and weave our own tales around it. Marek and RageBoy are the masters of blog white space.

Others rush. Me. I have been rushing. I post something that's important to me, but I don't wait, stop, listen, relax, give. I have been too much about saying and not enough about listening, space, time, lapses, moments. I have been so eager. Eager for a reason. I have been covering up my own voice--the one I live with inside--by rushing forward so vehemently with my net voice. It has been essential, this exercise.

For a while I'm going to stop and listen. I have this movie I'm watching. I don't want to pay attention to it, but I have to. I'll be back in a bit. Take care of the blog.

You DID blog it

Denise, I missed Jenkins the first time around. Glimpsed your pointer to him, but didn't read it the same way this time. Why? I'm wondering that. I was all wrapped up in Kent's figure blogging thang. But when I searched Jenkins up last night on daypop, I read about the cockroach thing and also saw that your blog uses his line in your tagline (your blog comes up on daypop when you search on henry's name). Now that your blog has been skinned, I noticed for the tagline for the first time as well. Why? I'm wondering that too. Too much information too fast. And, honestly, I got my mind on other things. I'm thinking I should stay with my mind for a while and see where it takes me. I'm not sure I have much of a choice.

Have to take babyblogger to ballet now. Later bloggers.


I guess what I meant to say was that the ratio of authenticty to inauthenticity in a team blog is weighted in favour of authenticity compared with that of an open discussion list.
It's true, there is a website for everything.
I was searching for a copy of the children's story Shadow the Sheepdog by Enid Blyton for my wife tonight and found a site with the tagline Your Source for Hard to Find Books on Sheepdogs, Herding, Border Collies, and More.



I don't know what your politics are, but this man needs HELP!

I've emailed him a recommendation already. No charge.

Reading The "Valued Readers"

The Jenkins article is excellent, but old news here at Gonzo Engaged, where we blogged it when it first came out last month. ;^)

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Gee, Kevin, hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Kevin, I have been impressed by your contributions here and on the Cluetrain list. I got sucked into your Father's article too and couldn't see my way clear to post about it. Complex. You have good genes. Does that constitute a post on it? :-) Thanks for offering to take up this hot-button issue of "are posts a flash in the pan or will we be able to extract them" by doing some down and dirty work on it. If I had my vote, sorry, I'd vote for the harder version, because then if we wanted to pull in quotes from the articles or other bloggers we're linking to we could. Sometimes all my post says is "See" but the word "see" is a link to a plethora of information that I wouldn't want to lose. Of course, I'm a begger, so I can't really be a chooser, can I?

Have you all seen that the MIA RageBoy points us to an article by Henry Jenkins this evening that's worth reading? YES, he actually understands our world. And if he isn't blogging yet, he should be. Use his name and link to the article. We all made enough noise for dorkvak and pushed him into the Daypop top 10. I think the least we can do is push this pro-blogging article and more probing author a little higher.

Those are my two cents, which are from Altanta, so I don't know what they're worth. Everyone uses credit cards here.

Nice one Jord.

I think bloggers, like real people everywhere, are most rude to the people they most respect. It's kind of a back-handed compliment thing that goes with getting to know and like someone. It is as far from flaming as it is from the Dvorakian accusation of sycophantic stroking.

Well, that's how I see it anyway.

If any of you are feeling a bit miffed that I haven't insulted you at all, just let me know:

"I can fix that!"
- closing line from a "smart credit card" TV ad here.

Authentic team blogging

I am not sure I agree with Gary's thoughts on authenticity. Are we better humans here than on lists? I don't know... (Gary, you may be right, I am just pondering outloud) I think some of has to do with the fact that you know something about me through my blog and my posts here reflect on me and my blog. I have also come to know many of you through your blogs as well and there is some form of community and respect that is built online. My blog shares and carries my personality along with it... so does most of yours. That leads to a certain degree of respect. John Dvorak complains that blogs don't criticize each other enough but as a general rule, I don't publically flame those I know personally. The fact that we have gotten to know each other, even if only through our blogs suggests a change in the tone of "voice" that get used.

That kind of exchange can happen online in a discussion group but it is unusual and seems to only come when there are offline relationships between the people.

There are my 2 cents (which are worth less since they are Canadian pennies)
I'll try and get back to it sometime. I've spent time writing words instead of code at home recently. Question: Do you want to download the archive pages exactly as they are (easy) as plain text with no markup (fairly easy) or as the contents of the post with its internal links but without the template structure - as in the edit box (harder).

The first two could be done with any website; the last one would be more work, though I could do it in a blogger or blogger pro specific way.

Kevin Marks--everyone's looking for an answer...

see? Kevin, you could make a name for yourself or some dough here--throw it up and accept sponsorship or advertisement... see who comes.

Team blogs & discussion groups

Authenticity. There's a kind of informal approval / application process we undergo to be able to say something here that doesn't exist on the cluetrain list over at topica for example. Of course we could dupe Jeneane into thinking we were someone else if we wanted to, but any drugged up hoser with fistful of personality disorders can pitch up on a mailing list and spout forth 30 seconds later then disappear without trace. I also guess that means, in the case of this blog anyway, that we are on the positive side of the spectrum when it comes to our views on the subject matter. I doubt anyone would want to subscribe to this blog simply to flame gonzo. Constructive criticism and dissection maybe, but no flame-fests. Which is another interesting difference in itself. However, the kind of discussion and debate that takes place here could be perceived by an outsider as more solid, almost professional, compared with the unfettered anarchy of a mailing list. Rambling here. sorry.

We're Having A Group Discussion: "Is This A Discussion Group?"

I think Tom that this maybe begs the question. The enquiry as to "the" difference between the two suggest that perhaps there is some essential distinction.

Whereas maybe there are differences but they may not necessarily be in the essence, but in the periphery, as it were.

It seems to me that this is a discussion group, but that since it retains its own history, it is more amenable to pondering the subtleties and nuances of individual words over a longer time, and of referring back to previous exclamations with somewhat more authority than a "normal" conversation usually supplies.

It is an aid to this pondering that the words used and their context are more or less freely available, all the time, to anyone.

Further, I would say another difference is in the fact that in a typical discussion group (in which people physically meet) any reference material used is typically found in external sources and media. Whereas here, both the discussion and a great proportion of reference material used by participants are found in the same medium, and so the conversation has a more seamless quality about it that does offer some perhaps unique differences.

For one thing, the use of material out of context to make spurious points is much harder to get away with here.

For another, this is a public conversation, and not only can anyone join in, but there is a corresponding lack of any assumption of the participants being "representative" in any way, a perfidious notion that seems to me to infest much of the rationale behind the use of discussion groups and focus groups in marketing. They are not assumed to speak with authority on anything other than themselves.

I'm not entirely sure that these distinctions "matter" at all.

They matter to me because this is something I have both personal and professional interest in. Ilike the anarchic egalitarian qualities of blogging. I've worked in the telecommunicatiosn industry for over 16 years so I have a professional interest in all net phenomena. I have both personal and professional interest in marketing theory and practice.

To your traditional marketing person perhaps these would be negatives, and might matter only since they seem to threaten the security of many of the assumptions that underly their work?

There is also the aspect that Chris talks about in GM-WWWP, that the people here were drawn here by common interests and passions, not pseudo-randomly selected. This seems most to me like an essential difference.

Enough reflexivity already

(I feel a popping sound coming on).

To change the subject, heres an article brimming with 'voice' by Mark Steyn. It's called The slyer virus: The West's anti-westernism

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Why a Team Blog Is Not a Discussion List or Forum

Same questions have been swarming around in my nearly vacant brain lately too about this animal we call a Team Blog. Every time I've joined a discussion group, I've felt more limited than I do in this blog. Perhaps it's that here on our team blog, we are publishing in addition to discussing? It's not just simple text we are sharing. We include pictures and meme-graphics, and blogstickers, photos of ourselves, bios and background (I'm getting there...) and links.

That we are hyperlinking here among our blogs, spawning new conversations on topics unrelated but just as important to us as our original topics, is significant and goes beyond the limitations of discussion groups or email digests. You get slammed for being "off topic" if you do that, say, on slashdot, where in blogland, it's encouraged. It's the unwiritten rule. We're supposed to vibe off of one another's posts and see how far we can take the discussion, see who else on what other blogs will join in (i.e. link to us), and daypop rewards us for that.

At least, that's what I'm doing.

Here, the goal is not to beat a single topic to death, but to use a given topic as a springboard into self and other exploration, sharing, learining, and caring. That is why (so far) I think blogging attracts and captivates a more interesting (to me) ilk of people than discussion groups do. When I post on a discussion list, my posts are usually simplistic, posing short questions or answers, and are more or less to the point. When I post on my blog--team or individual--I'm free to explore with anyone who wants to watch me, walk with me, talk with me. We all feel ownership of our team blog. I don't think any of us feel that way when we participate in a forum, chat, discussion group, or the like.

There's more, but I'm sleepy. Let's not let this one die. Someone tell David Weinberger what we're talking about over here. Seems like it would interest him. I think I fixed the link-dealybob, so it should work now when someone links to an individual post. Woo ho.



I'm glad Tom solicited comments on this because I've been pondering it too (as I told him earlier, my husband keeps inquiring what the lure is all of a sudden with what he keeps calling "internet chat rooms"). Kevin's/Dave's comment is right on. The fluid quality of online communication sets it apart to begin with, and a team blog is one of the best examples. There also are important differences that have to do with the look, feel and space of a blog - posts are distinctly "yours" in the same way an email is, but the fact that they have a permanent home makes the whole thing more tangible. The slow(er) pace of the discussion on a blog also enhances the overall experience, in my view. I don't mean to say that people are or should be self-censoring. But a little editing and consideration go a long way, however the writing is intended. Blogs lend themselves to this in ways that other online tools do not.
Dave Weinberger summed it up:
If it's Wednesday and you just found an exciting shell, you'll have to wait a week to tell the real world Shell Club about it. But, if you were on a mailing list, you'd send out an email on Wednesday afternoon. People would read it whenever they wanted. People would respond when they wanted. The conversation isn't confined just to Tuesday afternoon. It's always there, going on with you or without you. You can jump in when you want.

Monday, March 11, 2002


Apropos of Jeneane's musings of late about the potential uses of team blogs, somebody asked me the other day about the difference between a team blog and a discussion group. I wasn't very satisfied with my answer.

Would any members of this esteemed group care to give me a hand here? What's the distinction and why does it matter?

A living person...

"A living person, like a tree, fills a space with the body and, more especially, with a unique spirit. When death empties the space of the former occupant, the continuation of the space without the person seems contradictory, even irreverent. The more beautiful the spirit of the human being, the more hallowed the space remains. The place in which we are ... blessed over and over by those who have lived well before us in this landscape."
Francis D. Hole, 1913 - 2002
From the album Remain In Light.
Sorry, the song is, of course, Letting the Days Go By.
Tom Matrullo is Jeneanes Morbid Ally

And Jeneane is Mine

I've been thinking too, Jeneane. I've been thinking about the notion that one day, one of the sterling people I've "met" on this blog, and all the other blogs that it, and you, have introduced me to, will die.

I think of Marek J's grief over the death of David Pearl and I think:

What will I say?

How will I feel?

Who will it be?

Will it be me?

I think, will I hate you in that moment? even though I know I'll love you too, for the same reasons I already do.

I just don't know. Doubtless people possessed of greater insight and poetry than I have written far more worthy essays on the mortal perils of a heart that is open to love. Far be it from me to attempt it here and now.

Even so, thanks for inviting me into this brave new world. This is a new world. A new opportunity for a new beginning. A new frontier as real and as beguiling and unexplored as ever the far American shores were. Moreso. The chance to create something new. A continuing experiment in micro markets as conversations between real people.

And real people die.


And you may find yourself - living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself - behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself - with a beautiful house, and a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself - well, how did I get here?
- Burning Down The House, from the album Speaking In Tongues, by Talking Heads.

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Cut To The Chase - Be Kinder To The Environment

I think unless things get themselves sorted out we'll be applying for information licences in years to come, there will be just too bloody much of the stuff and it'll need regulated like any other pollutant. Just think, marketing your company as being information efficient as opposed to being a spam-frenzied corporate marcom machine, the modern day information equivalents of oil and big industry of 50 years ago. I've seen the future and its a flotation tank in every home with half an hour of sensory deprivation every morning. (I used Microsoft Word's AutoSummarize on this post to get it down from its original 1,000 word draft).

Two Kinds of Order

I've posted an essay by my father, written in 1985, entitled Two Kinds of Order which sums up Hayek's view of society very well. I think this explains a lot of the cluetrain 'market emergence' ideas without getting into economics too much. A brief excerpt:

Hayek distinguishes two kinds of rationalism; what he has called constructive rationalism and evolutionary rationalism. And he associates these with two kinds of order: designed or made orders and spontaneous orders. Constructive rationalism derives from Descartes with his twin emphases on logical or mathematical deduction from explicit premises, and on machines as appropriate models for explaining natural phenomena, however complex. According to constructive rationalism, rational actions are those which are determined entirely by known and demonstrable truths, and rational social institutions are those which are deliberately designed to achieve specific, defined purposes.
Constructive rationalism gives rise to designed or made orders, like cars, or silicon chips, buildings or factories, armies or planned economies. All of these have been designed for one or several definite purposes. It is the very success of constructive rationalism in some of these examples - particularly in the less complex situations - that leads to the assumption that all social institutions and all other human productions are, and ought to be, the product of deliberate design.
But such design is neither actual nor feasible. It is not possible for any individual or small group to know all the relevant facts needed to design complex social institutions. To think that this is possible is to suffer from what Hayek calls the synoptic delusion. And many of the social institutions which are indispensable in a modern industrial society have not been consciously designed.
Hence we need to recognise the importance of evolutionary rationalism and of self-generating or spontaneous orders to which the ideas of purpose and design do not apply. Organisms, languages, market economies, societies are orders which were not designed: they evolved. Evolutionary rationalists insist on the distinction between designed and spontaneous orders, especially in understanding man and society.

And a bit of Hayek himself, quoted in the piece:
An age of superstitions is a time when people imagine that they know more than they do. In this sense the twentieth century was certainly an outstanding age of superstition, and the cause of this is an over-estimation of what science has achieved - not in the field of the comparatively simple phenomena, where it has of course been extraordinarily successful, but in the field of complex phenomena, where the application of the techniques which proved so helpful with essentially simple phenomena has proved to be very misleading.
Ironically, these superstitions are largely an effect of our inheritance from the Age of Reason, that great enemy of all that it regarded as superstitions. If the enlightenment has discovered that the role assigned to human reason in intelligent construction had been too small in the past, we are discovering that the task which our age is assigning to the rational construction of new institutions is far too big. What the age of rationalism - and modern positivism - has taught us to regard as senseless and meaningless formations due to accident or human caprice, turn out in many instances to be the foundations on which our capacity for rational thought rests. Man is not and never will be the master of his fate: his very reason always progresses by leading him into the unknown and unforeseen where he learns new things.

geeky and cheeky

I just posted an essay that was voted best at Mac Hack 1998. It's called 'How to tell your Personality from your Code'.

Caution: contains C code and jokes (jokes don't necessarily require understanding C Code).

Spamming non-payers

Interesting, but I do it the other way round. When the phone company or bank make one of their regular cock-ups, rather than spend 2 hours of my time playing phone tag with customer service reps who fail the Turing test, I track down the customer service email address, and send them emails with increasing frequency until they fix it. For egregiously unwired companies, I use faxes (the fax relay service is useful, particularly in the UK).

As for day jobs, I have been writing and selling computer code since 1979, generally with a media bent. After doing Physics at Cambridge, I joined the BBC as a video engineer. I spent most of the 90s producing and coding interactive entertainment for museums and CD-ROMs, selling well over 2 million copies, and winning lots of awards. I joined the QuickTime team at Apple in 1998, and work on various parts of QT, including live broadcast streaming and professional video.