17
Mar 05

minirant

AOL didn’t invent the instant message. the guy that wrote the unix talk command did. they didn’t invent chat rooms, either. credit for that goes to either the BBS’ (those that had multiple lines), IRC, or the first MUDs. i’m probably at the best place to ask folks and find out, or else do a little research, but i’m not in the mood. i’ll dig a little before i post a longer rant on this topic later.

neither did bloggers, or wordPress, or blogger.com invent blogging. they didn’t reinvent the internet, either. like AOL, they only democratized it, or to take a different tack, totally fucked it all up.

and for that matter, why didn’t the old timers (like crotchetty old me) speak up and prevent the coopting and appropriation of the venerable ping by the blogging “community”?


15
Mar 05

minirant

my latest creation: a moonwalking leprechaun for st. patrick’s day.

share and enjoy.


14
Mar 05

blogging and the law of conservation of truth

[from south by southwest]

it will happen some time today, or in the next few days, during an interactive session at this year’s south by southwest festival in austin. someone will blog about blogging about blogging, and the blogosphere will become self-aware.

it’s inevitable.

i know i’m going over the top here, and this will get a little out of hand, but bear with me. i think i’m pretty safe; i know there’s only four people that read this site, and three of them are here with me. it’s self-indulgent, i know, but nobody else will indulge me.

yes, here i am in austin, surrounded on all sides, like buzzing insects desperate with the smell of blood in the air, by bloggers. everywhere, the tapping of keyboard, the clicking and clicking and on and on, incessant sussuration, clicking of fingers on keys, trying to keep up with the words in the air, ideas flowing past. like wounded antelope, limping behind the herd, laptops and wireless connections sing as the samizdat content flickers into being, racing with irrelevance.

[note: the malcolm gladwell keynote, and a couple of other sessions of particular interest, was thankfully quiet. people were paying attention instead of blogging, or taking notes. laptops were idle, or in bags instead of laps. it was nice.]

each of these numb and nodding regurgitators seek to become illuminated, elevated, insightful by shining their feeble lights upon the blinding insights of others, and basking in the collected, reflected glow. as if by simply repeating the words of the masters, they will gain wisdom. monks, scratching with quill on vellum, not creating, but duplicating the words of the prophets.

feeding the beast.

certainly there are many bloggers who are creating insight. collecting new and fresh ideas. and there are more who are cross pollenating, creating new memes from the old, nurturing the next generation, the mutations, instead of just masturbating. the remixers and hackers. the wonkettes and zeldmans and gillmors. they are here, certainly, but keeping on the fringes. or they are the ones clicking through keynote presentations, sharing that insight with us, becoming the center around which more and more every day begin to orbit. the vast orbiting hordes regurgitating the ideas of these better minds, propagating the memes but not adding anything new to the pool.

and it is these masses upon whom the beast will fall when it awakens. blogging about blogging about blogging about blogging, on and on, in infinite recursion. the blogosphere will soon become self aware, self-motivated and deadly. time and keystrokes and mouseclicks will never sustain it for long, it must seek blood to survive. we talk about the new journalism, the new free and independent press, emerging from babel, the fallen tower, the collapsed bubble. we are here, or so we tell ourselves and anyone who will listen, not to make money from this thing we have created, this new medium of communication, but to enlighten the world. we share truth where we find it, not bound by tradition, convention, politics or borders.

but there is only so much truth to be found, to be shared. the appetites of the beast we’ve built will soon demand that we create truth, that we no longer enumerate and calculate and catalog trends, but make them. so far, all we’ve created is value, and mostly false value at that. the connections and affinities between people and information don’t ccreate anything new, but only revalue what already exists. real change, real insights, real innovations will come, are already emerging, from this network we’ve created, but not from the current model. the random firing of neurons is shaping into thoughts, dreams, self-awareness. from inside, though, it’s hard to see.

up to this point, the blogosphere has sustained itself on the youth and keystrokes of its enslaved component cells, craving content like oxygen. it’s like recycled air, though, and one can only last so long by feeding where it shits. every day, though, more and more of the insects around me, buzzing and fluttering, make their way to the maw of the beast, there to be consumed by it, to feed it forever.

and the beast’s mouth is already full, choking on its own tail. soon it will find a taste for something all together new.

and here i sit, in what has become, if only temporarily, the geographic center of the blogosphere, pounding away in my own feeble way, feeding the beast. but i have so far refrained from posting, or indeed typing at all, during a panel discussion or keynote presenter. it’s rude, for one. i also find it painfully difficult to listen and type at the same time. i think i’m the only one in the room with pen and paper instead of a powerbook, humming and clicking. taking notes with scribble and scrawl, and paying attention instead of racing to keep up with the presenter’s slides, flailing to key in the cliff’s notes version of his manifesto, trying to distill genius into soundbites, to spew onto the internet with a hundred other, nearly identical accounts.

as such, it seems we’ve inadvertently created (or maybe deliberately, but nobody asked me) a bittorrent of ideas – the more popular, the more accessible. in the previous model web, one site might contain the kernel of a new idea, a new paradigm, but never be found by, or exposed to the masses. the author’s peers, cronies on IRC, or personal mailing list might share and disseminate and shape the idea, it would never get very far. the truly innovative, paradigm shifters would find their way out, but for the most part, even just a few years ago, ideas moved slowly, relative to today. now that everyone and their mother has a blog, and reads a hundred others’ every day, a good idea spreads like an infection, from one peer group and clique to another, gaining momentum if little else. a good idea, one whose time has come, or a the best handcrafted speculation and outright lie, is put in front of the hungry eyes of millions while it’s still timely. the process still hasn’t created its own truth, or been the genesis of world-shattering ideas, but it has fostered them, spread them, shaped them. moses still has to come down from the mountain, but now the israelites have IM and movable type.

but there’s a downside to all this. unpopular ideas, or ones whose audience isn’t plugged in and turned on, languish, unseen as before, but worse: drowned out by the reverberations and regurgitation of the seething blogger masses, the appealing but irrelevant lies, damned lies and statistics. the wild-eyed madmen, the tinkerers and hackers, are still plodding along quietly in their garages, blowing the minds of their dozen peers and cronies, the ones that understand the semantics and context, but don’t care about publicity.

there is a law of conservation of information (or truth) in place. it can be shared, moved around, understood, but not created or destroyed. there’s more information in the world today than yesterday, certainly; objective truth gets created at a constant rate. it seems there’s a lot more out there than can be accounted for by the slow excretion of creation, but the fact is that the smallest quanta of information are being vomited up on the internet as insightful, informative, or +5 funny. the current process is creating subjective value from objective reality, arbitrarily promoting and evolving the ideas that already have legs of their own.

i look forward to what’s to come. bloggers are killing the internet as we know it (and by we, i mean the oldsters like myself – more on that later) but something new and truly exciting will soon emerge from the corpse.


14
Mar 05

minirant

feh.

technorati‘s profile thingy is uglying up my sidebar. i’m not in the mood for CSS tweaking while i’m at sxsw, but when i get back to the world of the living, i’ll give it all a good thwack.

i’m learning a lot, of course, and a good bit of this week is learning what to give a damn about. i’m taking notes, and i’ll decide what’s damnworthy when i get back and can churn through my notes.


13
Mar 05

minirant

at south by southwest. in austin. getting charlesed at every meal.

sessions are hit or miss, movies have been excellent so far.

about to enter the malcolm gladwell keynote – guaranteed to be packed, even moreso than jef zeldman’s

i’m still working on my sendup of the sxsw bloggers, so look for a new rant later on today. i insist on not actually writing during a presentation (i prefer paying attention), and the wireless connection doesn’t stretch all the way to my room, so my posting time is limited.


16
Feb 05

minirant

from by far the oddest piece of spam i’ve gotten in a while:

Touche!
The struggle alone pleases us, not the victory.
True politeness consists in being easy one’s self, and in making every one about one as easy as one can.

The art of government is not to let me grow stale.

And now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three, but the greatest of these is charity. [Corinthians]
Death may be the King of terrors… but Jesus is the King of kings!

Cities, like cats, will reveal themselves at night.

The three great elements of modern civilization, Gun powder, Printing, and the Protestant religion.

If evil be spoken of you and it be true, correct yourself, if it be a lie, laugh at it.
Though you are disappointed is hope never let hope fail you! Though one door is shut, there are thousands still open to you. Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.
Law cannot persuade when it cannot punish.

No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated and disciplined.
The best part of beauty is that which no picture can express.

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
You must have the devil in you to succeed in the arts. If it were done when ’tis done, then t’were well. It were done quickly.Success is always temporary. When all is said and one, the only thing you’ll have left is your character.
Books that you carry to the fire, and hold readily in your hand, are most useful after all.

A consultant is someone who saves his client almost enough to pay his fee.
Ambition is a poor excuse for not having sense enough to be lazy. Better a snotty child than his nose wiped off.
The first step is the hardest. Take time to gather up the past so that you will be able to draw from your experience and invest them in the future.

Bores bore each other too but it never seems to teach them anything.

Life has taught me that it is not for our faults that we are disliked and even hated, but for our qualities.

[and then the 1x1 pixel tracker image]


08
Feb 05

minirant

why is it so hard to understand, guys?

you don’t pee in the conference room. don’t conduct business in the men’s room.


28
Jan 05

minirant

< not safe for work >

midgets and strippers.

oh, and midget strippers.

< /not safe for work >


18
Jan 05

minirant

damn you science! can’t you leave well enough alone?

apparently there’s a strong link between drinking milk and heart disease. and diabetes. and acne, among zillions of other things.

i’ve recently started on my own regimen of reduced caloric intake, specifically to lower fat and cholesterol, as i think i’d like to live to see 30, and i thought my one remaining vanity would be the occasional glass of milk with dinner. i drink low fat milk, not whole. it’s not even chocolate milk, after all. i could even have lived with (ugh) skim milk to cut back further on fat. but no, the fat’s not what’ll kill you, it’s the proteins. and the specific types of carbohydrates and androgens and hormones and all the other things in cow’s milk that i used to think were actually good for me – all those will kill you in the end.

it’s not news. i started poking around online after deciding to have a bowl of cereal for dinner, and, wow, look at all these articles from the ’90s. and studies from the ’60s.

sigh.

how am i supposed to eat all these and lower my cholesterol? soy milk? ugh.


11
Jan 05

minirant

okay. so now you can reply to rants again.

i’ve fixed the ever decaying lasso codebase for the umpteenth time, so you should be able to properly respond to my long-form rants now.