Entries for May 2002 (June 2002 »    July 2002 »    August 2002 »    Archives)


A visit to the French Laundry

posted by Jason Kottke May 31, 2002

It all began innocently enough with a book. As Meg read The Soul of a Chef, she kept interrupting me on the plane, "Thomas Keller is a perfectionist freak. We have to go eat at The French Laundry. It sounds soooo amazing." I smiled and nodded, going back to my reading each time, not really knowing if she was serious or not. For Christmas, I got her The French Laundry Cookbook. Soon after, the French Laundry Fund was started, saved pennies, quarters and dollar bills with an eye on going to Yountville to dine on Thomas Keller's perfections.

Dollars and coins piled up in the Fund jar. A reservation was made two months in advance, the soonest they take reservations at the restaurant. Friends were enlisted to go along. It was to be an event. We were going to eat art.

It was the best meal I have ever had. Twelve courses in all, each one a little bit of perfection leading you smoothly into the next course. I ate things I generally don't care for — carrots, lobster, sea bass, and bone marrow — and I couldn't get enough. The service was great as well; course, pause, course, pause, bread, pause, course...it was well-timed without seeming mechanical. Our server had worked in the kitchen as a chef for a couple years so he entertained us with little tidbits about the food, Keller, and the inner workings of the restaurant during our 3 1/2 hour meal.

As we were reluctantly leaving at the end of the meal, our server followed us out to the foyer. "Would you like to go back and meet Thomas?" We huddled by the door of the bustling but oddly quiet kitchen, watching Keller plate two or three courses for the dining room. When he had a free moment, Meg went over and chatted with him for a couple of minutes, showing him her Fund jar and telling him how much we had enjoyed the meal. As good as our dinner was, seeing the childlike sparkle in Meg's eyes while she talked with Keller was the high point of the evening. It's not often you get to meet your heroes.

Kottke.org kills humans dead too

posted by Jason Kottke May 30, 2002

Some late-breaking news reveals that kottke.org is not only so boring that it puts cats to sleep, it's boring enough to put humans to sleep, possibly even to the point of death:

dead or bored?

Thanks for the pic, Tom.

Hot relativity action!

posted by Jason Kottke May 30, 2002

I just got spam from Albert Einstein. The wonders of modern technology.

Wireless in SF from 3 miles away

posted by Jason Kottke May 30, 2002

The future is here and it consists of cheap low-tech hardware, beef ravioli cans, Rustoleum, and probably some bailing wire. Using a bunch of off-the-shelf items, Jim Meehan has constructed a wireless access point capable of reaching any San Francisco resident with line-of-sight to his house in a 3-4 mile radius. He describes his beach (Web) surfing experience:

"I placed one of the WAP11's on the roof of my place near 26th Ave. and Quintara St. in the Sunset District and aimed the ravioli can antenna down at Ocean Beach, about 1.2 miles away. I connected the other antenna to the Lucent PCMCIA card in my laptop and took it down to the beach. I had little confidence that this setup was going to work, but amazingly, as soon as I aimed the antenna back up at my house from the beach, I got a signal almost instantly and was chatting and surfing from the beach! It was surprisingly easy to keep the link up — it seemed that the antenna aim didn't even need to be all that precise." (via /.)

Romenesko auctioning off "blogging" New Yorker

posted by Jason Kottke May 30, 2002

Jim Romenesko is auctioning off a copy of the November 13, 2000 issue of the New Yorker which includes Rebecca Mead's You've Got Blog.

Kottke.org kills cats dead

posted by Jason Kottke May 29, 2002

The word is in. Kottke.org is so boring that it puts cats to sleep.


Thanks to Jonathan for sending in the picture. At least he seems to be awake.

Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs

posted by Jason Kottke May 29, 2002

A few days back, I credited J.C. Herz with the four types of gamer analysis she outlined in her talk. Peter writes in and says that she actually attributed it to Richard Bartle, author of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit MUDs: "So, labelling the four player types abstracted, we get: achievers, explorers, socialisers and killers. An easy way to remember these is to consider suits in a conventional pack of cards: achievers are Diamonds (they're always seeking treasure); explorers are Spades (they dig around for information); socialisers are Hearts (they empathise with other players); killers are Clubs (they hit people with them)." Fascinating article.

Apple Store service propers

posted by Jason Kottke May 28, 2002

Meg and I had a completely wonderful browsing/window-shopping experience at the Apple Store in Palo Alto today. The salesperson who helped us knew as much as we did about the iBook and filled in the gaps where our online research and network of iBook owners had failed us. He even recommended an online store where we could buy good 3rd party RAM for significantly less than at the store. I love it when companies do that. Apple might miss out on a couple hundred dollars on the RAM purchase, but they've gained my respect, which will mean a whole lot more to them in the long run (in the form of future purchases and recommendations to family, friends, business associates, & Web site readers).

Ran by Kurosawa

posted by Jason Kottke May 27, 2002

Despite the horrible DVD transfer (or so I'm told), Ran is a true cinematic masterpiece. The outdoor distance shots are amazing and used to great effect, creating an expansive stage upon which Kurosawa's version of King Lear plays out. No one in film today is doing anything like that with a camera. Someone please rescue us from 30 cuts/second film making. (BTW, those wishing for a better DVD transfer of Ran might want to hold out for this Kurosawa box set)

Upgrading to Movable Type

posted by Jason Kottke May 27, 2002

Whoa, it worked...for all 2095 entries. "All data imported successfully! Make sure that you remove the files that you imported from the 'import' folder, so that if/when you run the import process again, those files will not be re-imported."

The nature of science

posted by Jason Kottke May 27, 2002

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them." —Robert Oppenheimer

NY Times: Fighting to Live as the Towers Died

posted by Jason Kottke May 26, 2002

Some powerful journalism in the NY Times today: Fighting to Live as the Towers Died. It's an account of the people who didn't survive the attack on the WTC, pieced together from frantic phone calls and emails to friends and family. The Web version includes some well-done interactive pieces (a chronology and detailed annotated maps of the interior of the buildings) as well as full transcripts of the interviews and email texts used in writing the story (North Tower transcripts, South Tower transcripts).

Six Days in Roswell

posted by Jason Kottke May 25, 2002

Coming from Trekkies director Roger Nygard and Let's Bowl's Rich Kronfeld, I wanted to like Six Days in Roswell (reviews) more than I did. It was half documentary & half mockumentary and ended up failing on both. With a subject like UFO enthusiasts, don't bother making up any funny situations, just put them in front of the camera and let 'em go.

Meta television

posted by Jason Kottke May 25, 2002

From the archives of the New Yorker comes an article by E.B. White on an early demonstration of television: "...and finally a telecast moving picture of television. This was where we began to crack up nervously. Try and appreciate our situation: we were in a dark room looking into a television set at a television set which was showing a picture of a moving picture."

I'm trying to appreciate the mind-bending experienced by that audience, but in the postmodern rip-mix-burn world I live in, the above sounds perfectly normal.

Daniel Pearl execution video

posted by Jason Kottke May 24, 2002

I just watched the Daniel Pearl execution video. To say the least, it was disturbing. I'm not sure if I'm glad I watched it or not (if it helped my understanding of anything, etc.), but I am glad that I was able to make the decision without worrying about if my government or some network news department concerned with ratings wants me to or not.

Learning from the social ecology of online games

posted by Jason Kottke May 24, 2002

Peter notes, among other things, J.C. Herz's 4 types of gamers that she outlined in her Etech presentation last week. I wrote the same four points down in my notes in a slightly different way:

1. beat the system
2. model the system
3. run the system
4. kill the system

J.C.'s point was that you can look at software, online communities, and Web sites in the same way. Players in those systems break down into similar groups. MeFi is a great example...you see folks exhibiting all four of those behaviors. In most situations, as much as I get caught up in beating a system (which I shouldn't do because I'm not very good at it most of the time), I'm a system modeller. I'm much more interested in finding out how the system works than beating it.

The power of 12

posted by Jason Kottke May 22, 2002

Internet navigators think small. One of the most interesting talks at the Etech conference was Clay Shirky's presentation on the User Patterns on LiveJournal. In it, he noted that on LiveJournal, people tend to tightly cluster into small groups which are themselves more loosely clustered into larger groups (and so on). When he studied this data, he found that groups of ~12 people are different than smaller or larger groups. There's a satisfying user experience that happens at that size: the group is big enough to have a variety of viewpoints and opinions but small enough so that everyone knows each other fairly well.

Brewster Kahle on the Internet Archive

posted by Jason Kottke May 22, 2002

Paraphrase from Brewster Kahle's presentation of his Internet Archive project: "leaving everything up to the publishing industry is not the best way to run a culture." The Internet Archive's policy with regard to archiving materials is to take first and ask questions later because the information on the Internet is too culturally valuable to lose. Damn the copyright laws, full speed ahead!

Brewster also said "stealing from the library is dorky", but I can't remember the context.

Top Ten New Copyright Crimes

posted by Jason Kottke May 21, 2002

Top Ten New Copyright Crimes. Even more funny (if it weren't so scary) is Jamie Kellner's remark that "your contract with the network when you get the show is you're going to watch the spots". I don't recall signing any contract or making a verbal agreement with NBC to agree to watch Toyota commercials during The West Wing. My only contract with regard to the TV is my cable bill, which entitles me to watch as much or as little of 50-some channels as I want. How the networks make money is their business...if advertising isn't working anymore, you need to try something else. Don't come crying to me about some bogus contract that exists only in your mind.

The downside of this is what happens if ad-supported television can't function profitably due to PVRs and such? Will TV go away? Will it become for-pay across the board with $300-500 monthly cable bills? Are consumers going to get screwed or will a better form of TV broadcasting emerge from the rubble (imagine all your favorite shows on one network)? The future is so fun that way...impossible to predict.

Silkscreen help

posted by Jason Kottke May 21, 2002

Anyone out there have Fontographer 4.x (or something comparable) for the Mac and want to help me with something? I need to make Mac TT versions of Silkscreen 1.1 and I don't have access to a Mac. Email me if you'd like to help. Four or five people emailed me with offers of assistance. Thanks guys...I'll be in touch soon.

Help Lessig free the mouse

posted by Jason Kottke May 20, 2002

Eldred v. Ashcroft: "Just as Walt Disney used the works of the Brothers Grimm to produce some of the best of the Disney stories, so too should the next Walt Disney be able to build upon the stories told by Disney."

Free the Mouse. When Copyright Attacks. Create Like It's 1790.

Stephen Jay Gould, RIP

posted by Jason Kottke May 20, 2002

Stephen Jay Gould died. Dammit. :(

Intro to quantum computing

posted by Jason Kottke May 20, 2002

An introduction to Quantum Computing. Ray Kurzweil thinks that quantum computing is a good candidate for extending Moore's Law past the limits of silicon chips.

PR folks targetting weblogs

posted by Jason Kottke May 20, 2002

The PR flacks are coming! The PR flacks are coming! Hide your children! PR folks are starting to wake up to the weblog world. Merlin got an email from a PR agency about a Spider-Man game because they noticed a post about the movie on his site (I got the same email). A few weeks ago, Nick and I (and many others) got an email promoting an article about weblogs in Business 2.0.

Lame technology jokes

posted by Jason Kottke May 18, 2002

I can't decide if Kenny Rogers' Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) is a song about metadata or a song about WHILE loops. Ok, one more dorky joke: SOAP vs. REST? Do Web developers value cleanliness over sleep? (commence groaning...)

Just enough is more

posted by Jason Kottke May 18, 2002

This is what Milton Glaser has learned about design:

Less is not necessarily more. Being a child of modernism I have heard this mantra all my life. Less is more. One morning upon awakening I realised that it was total nonsense, it is an absurd proposition and also fairly meaningless. But it sounds great because it contains within it a paradox that is resistant to understanding. But it simply does not obtain when you think about the visual of the history of the world. If you look at a Persian rug, you cannot say that less is more because you realise that every part of that rug, every change of colour, every shift in form is absolutely essential for its aesthetic success. You cannot prove to me that a solid blue rug is in any way superior. That also goes for the work of Gaudi, Persian miniatures, art nouveau and everything else. However, I have an alternative to the proposition that I believe is more appropriate. "Just enough is more."

I *love* that. Just enough is more. (via bbj)

The Etech crowd

posted by Jason Kottke May 17, 2002

For the most part, the Etech conference was made up of two groups: the graybeards and the baldies (alternatively the t-shirt brigade). Although there was an unfortunate disconnect between the two (a generational thing?), both are trying to change the world while having as much fun as they can doing it. An important goal for the next conference: combine the optimism of the baldies with the experience of the graybeards. This will create both sparks and new ideas.

EtherPEG and Panopticon

posted by Jason Kottke May 17, 2002

Two quick-hack stars of the conference: EtherPEG eavesdropping and Panopticon (explanation). EtherPEG sniffs packets on a wireless network and displays the images being sent. Great fun to watch in a roomful of people surfing the Web in tune to a presentation. As for Panopticon: "Firstly, do not look at the Javascript code. Or sit down before you do. I wrote it in a night. I don't know Javascript. I don't even *enable javascript on my browser*. I just grabbed code from here and there and uncomprehendingly stuck it together." Brilliant. I love the Web.

Some new music

posted by Jason Kottke May 17, 2002

What I'm listening to right now, courtesy of DJ BBJ: Lazy (X-Press 2 Feat. David Byrne), Halcyon (Orbital w/ Bon Jovi & Belinda Carlisle), and Just Dropped In (Kenny Rogers).

Web coverage of the Etech conference

posted by Jason Kottke May 17, 2002

Select Web coverage of the Emerging Tech Conference: ETech coverage page, Overstimulated, Lessig's ETCON Commons speech notes, my head may explode, An infinitely hot and dense dialog, cloud as a given, The former audience, the most complex machine, Brewster Kahle on the Internet Archive, Emerging Conciousness, thinking about cybernetics, breaking old regulations and old habits, fairly far off into the future, Distributed power-strip distribution, Omniscient Conferencing, recycling PR junk. Real-time blogging is next-to-useless stenography, but there's some good value in near real-time reflections on current happenings (can you tell that I think Cory did an excellent job of covering the conference in a quick but useful manner?). It's the difference between recording something for later and making connections for people.

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones, opening night

posted by Jason Kottke May 17, 2002

Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. Opening night. The Imperial March on an accordian. Bad acting. Good special effects. Fun movie. Sleep at 4:30am. So. Tired.

O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference

posted by Jason Kottke May 17, 2002

The first day of college classes each semester was always a little overwhelming. Three new syllabi, $500 worth of dead trees from the bookstore, 8 or 10 handouts, 6 pages of notes (before you realized you didn't really need to take notes), and the realization that for the next 14 weeks, this was your world. The O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference was like four semester beginnings all rolled into three days. Lots of stuff to think about, digest, explore, etc. Most of all, I feel like this is my world, and not just for the next 14 weeks. I've been given a syllabus to follow; the future is uncertain but the path is clear. Best fucking conference ever.

MetaFilter, Megnut down

posted by Jason Kottke May 17, 2002

Note: MetaFilter, Megnut, A Whole Lotta Nothing and all the other sites hosted on that server are offline for the next 2 days or so because of some Microsoft upgrade snafu. Upside: Matt can get some sleep. (Also, I have no idea why I linked to the sites above. They're down! Duh!)

Brain melt

posted by Jason Kottke May 15, 2002

I'm not quite lucid here, not having had much sleep and the conference whizzing by a light speed with a lot of mass, but this is, without doubt, the best conference I've ever been to. Lots of ideas. Lots of notebook writing going on. People are writing thoughts online about different talks and conversations, but I need some time to digest before I can start making sense of it all.

Checking in from the Etech conference

posted by Jason Kottke May 15, 2002

I'm at the O'Reilly Emerging Tech Conference and having a blast. More later. Sleep must. Batteries draining. Daisy, daisy...

My dinner without Andre

posted by Jason Kottke May 15, 2002

Long term project: have dinner with every living Time Person of the Year. One down, many to go.

Nick Sweeney on MetaFilter and Plastic

posted by Jason Kottke May 14, 2002

Today's mini-interview is with Nick Sweeney. You might say Nick has been around the block once or twice when it comes to online culture and community. He's got what the kids call "perspective".

Q: You've spent a significant amount of time participating on Plastic and MetaFilter, both prominent online community sites. Anything you can tell us about the differences between the two?

A: Actually, I wouldn't call myself a 'participant' in Plastic, which is probably an advantage: as one of the editors (although I'm speaking strictly for myself here), I'm meant to be both 'outside looking in' and 'inside looking out'. It's an interesting contrast to my time at MetaFilter, to say the least.

The editorial element is the biggest difference, of course. It's an attempt to introduce a kind of horticulture to the community's growth: to weed out the duplicates and the flames and the links to the Usual Suspects, and introduce a kind of distance to the slavish news/meme cycle which so often cripples MeFi these days. I think it's a smart way to manage communities that have reached the size and stage of evolution that Plastic's at right now. And the discussions from users within the submission queue are a great way to assess how a submission comes across.

I still check MeFi on occasion for the same reasons I read Wired magazine: the occasional piece inspires nostalgia; and I'd read many of its contributors, regardless of the forum. In its heyday, the erudition and diversity of knowledge on MeFi always went well beyond anything I've seen on Plastic. It's not quite as 'group-smart' now, simply because seminar-size discussions don't scale to lecture theatres.

Matt's always been very trusting towards his membership, and in general, receives the respect that's deserved by such trust. I can't help thinking that it doesn't accommodate 13,000-odd members: partly because the times don't lend themselves to seminar-style discussion; partly because you're dealing with the friction between oldbies and newbies, and their different conceptions of what the place is, was, and should be. 'Member memory' is a vital aspect of community sites, even ones which profess to deal with the transient meme-feed, and I think it's much stronger at MeFi than Plastic: so that when you have members who take perhaps two years' worth of discussion into the day's discussion up against new arrivals, it's bound to create the same kind of frustrations as a USENET September.

[ For comparison's sake, you can see something of that frustration with Slashdot, which, though working from a somewhat similar codebase to Plastic, has ceased to be a community for anyone with a long memory of the place, given that most discussions are essentially 'read-only' within hours of stories going live. That said, MeFi still retains an implicit quality threshold, with its emphasis on providing supporting links and challenging easy polarisations. (Whether that rule's honoured more now in the breach than the observance is another thing entirely.) ]

Plastic doesn't quite yet seem suited towards that kind of discussion: there's still an instinctive tendency towards raw opinioneering and snarkiness, though that's definitely changing. And you can't impose intellectual discipline on a community: it has to come from within. (Although as a plain old poster to Plastic, I do try to set a half-decent example.) What's bizarre is that Plastic is the one with the moderation system. But perhaps that's because moderation tends to favour both the well-considered posts and the cheap shots.

What I do like about Plastic is the way in which the mechanical aspects of the site — that is, the combination of submission, peer review and moderation — tend to promote a climate that's suited to media literacy. And because the more trollish or flamebaiting submissions don't make it past the queue, you'll get topics that create space for people to address in more nuanced ways than the 'partisan tennis' of an unmoderated system. (For instance, there was a recent well-regarded submission on school funding, property taxation and racism which turned into a fine discussion.) It's that kind of thing that I hope (and expect) Plastic can continue to support. ::end


posted by Jason Kottke May 14, 2002

Had a bit of an earthquake last night. The apartment shook for about 2 seconds or so, a little creaking and rattling of things. My very first earthquake since moving here a year and a half ago.

The politics of search engines

posted by Jason Kottke May 13, 2002

More from Steven Johnson's Salon article on weblogs: "There are significant political consequences to the Blogger Effect: Because the blogging community contains a disproportionate number of libertarians, it's possible that Google searches on certain hot-button issues will start skewing toward libertarian-friendly pages."

I wonder if that's true. Is Google a Libertarian? What political affiliation is OSX? Windows XP? Linux? How about IBM's software? Even the Internet must have a political affiliation with its peer-to-peer information-yearns-to-be-free do-whatever-you-want structure. If so, will the Internet change the way people view the rest of the world politically or will its politics change as society gradually modifies it from what it started out as to better reflect the world's political views?

More on the politics of search engines in a paper by Lucas D. Introna and Helen Nissenbaum, Shaping the Web: Why the politics of search engines matters: "Our study of search engines suggests that they systematically exclude (in some cases by design and in some accidentally) certain sites, and certain types of sites, in favor of others, systematically give prominence to some at the expense of others. We argue that such biases, which would lead to a narrowing of the Web's functioning in society, run counter to the basic architecture of the Web as well as the values and ideals that have fueled widespread support for its growth and development."

Also related: Preferred placement, Knowledge politics on the web (review), Are Search Engines Biased?, Google Refuses Business from Gun and Knife Advertisers (letters), AOL's "youth filters" protect kids from Democrats, Google Link is Bush League.

The 3rd Annual 5k Contest

posted by Jason Kottke May 13, 2002

This year's 5k contest is open for entries. Nanoprogrammers, start your text editors.

New Silkscreen coming...

posted by Jason Kottke May 13, 2002

Coming very soon: a new version of Silkscreen. No, really!

Weblog book glut

posted by Jason Kottke May 13, 2002

I know of about, oh, 6 or 8 different books on weblogs that are being written. In the race to market, most of the authors of these books have kept the writing of these books a secret. I don't know the reason for all the secrecy, but I find it interesting considering the relative openness of the weblog community, where ideas and opinions operate on an open source basis.

They want that body

posted by Jason Kottke May 12, 2002

Unusual items that people have purchased from Amazon.com using my associates code: Tamilee Webb's I Want That Body and a George Foreman Grill.

Nice photos

posted by Jason Kottke May 12, 2002

A nice collection of photos at elasticspace.

Unique weblog layout

posted by Jason Kottke May 12, 2002

Phiffer.com has a unique layout and interaction for a weblog using DHTML. I'm not sure how useful it is, but that's beside the point.

Pair of weblog articles on Salon

posted by Jason Kottke May 10, 2002

A pair of articles on Salon today about weblogs: Much ado about blogging by Scott Rosenberg and Use the blog, Luke by Steven Johnson (oy, those titles!). As Scott notes in his piece, many recent articles on weblogs have largely missed the point (or at least the point that's most interesting to me), focusing on big names and politics instead of the bigger picture of weblogs' impact (both good and bad) on people, online culture, and behavior, so it's nice to see something good for a change.

In his article, Johnson uses kottke.org as an example of a typical weblog and how it's not as useful as it could be. I couldn't agree more. I love all the content that weblogs produce, but finding it when you need it is a different matter (I talked about this at the NetMedia conference last year). I'm frustrated with kottke.org because it's not as effective as an information resource as it could be. It's hard to find something here that's not today's information. I don't have categories, keywords, or other metadata for posts and the search mechanism is not optimized for weblog use (it searches by page, weblogs need search results returned on a post-basis). My site isn't smart...it doesn't make connections between current posts and older posts (either on my site or elsewhere) like it should (and like Google and Amazon do with their content). I can't even display single posts on their own page. It's pretty pathetic.

None of the tools out there offer exactly what I want. Movable Type does categories, but specifying multiple categories per post is a bit of a pain...and there's no search or room for other types of metadata. Vanilla (which is quite impressive) is an interesting cross between a weblog and a Wiki, but it has the same problems that all Wiki software does: it's not software for writers, it's software for people who like to Wiki (e.g. "dynasnips can be included in your snips by simply inserting {!dynasnip-name} in the content while editing"...people who just want to write don't want to deal with that crap).

Johnson's solution to navigating the info glut (for all weblogs, not just individual ones) is to use a few standardized tags on weblogs (BlogML? XML DTD for weblogs? DiaryXML?) so that third-party tools can come along, grab the content, shove it into some categories based on the standardized tags, and do the searching/sorting/comparing for us. He's talking about a semantic Web.

The problem is that implementing a weblog universe-wide system of tags and categories is like herding lots and lots of cats. No one will agree on which tags and categories to use. If a de facto standard set of tags does emerge, getting people to implement it will be hard. Tools could be programmed to include BlogML so the people don't have a choice, but chances are that each tool's implementation of it will be slightly different and therefore close to useless. It took the Web 6 or 7 years to come up with a format that pretty much agrees based upon one piece of metadata: it's possible, more or less, to organize the content from all weblogs by date. I dunno...I've thought about this a lot in the past and I just don't see a top-down system of categories working in this situation. A Semantic Web would be very useful for everyone using the Web, but unless some major paradigm shift occurs in how people approach the Web, it's not going to happen anytime soon.

(And thus ends a quickly written, incoherent ramble. Any comments?)

Business weblogs on the grow

posted by Jason Kottke May 09, 2002

More business weblogs are starting to show up on the Web. Macromedia is having employees keep weblogs related to their new product line, a friend is backing an upcoming tech weblog, Kausfiles is being bankrolled by Slate (following Romenesko's lead of more than two years ago), and I've been on the hunt for a job writing a weblog for a few weeks now (I've got lots of ideas, you should email me if your company is interested). I think it's great...weblogs are a good way of publishing information and connecting with customers at the same time (among other things).

In particular, Macromedia's effort is impressive, letting individual employees provide information and customer support rather than completely relying on a personality-free support forum and Web site. It's not really surprising...Macromedia has been very smart about using the Web, newsgroups, email, and mailing lists to do guerilla support and marketing. As Meg notes, they have a few issues to take care of, but they'll soon get the bugs worked out.

Art or prank

posted by Jason Kottke May 09, 2002

In Artist's Freeway Prank, Form Followed Function. L.A. artist Richard Ankrom made his own highway sign and attached it to an existing sign to help aid motorists at a confusing freeway exit. State officials didn't notice for nine months until an item showed up in a local paper. Excepts from Ankrom's video show how he made and hung the sign. Brilliant. (thx nicole)

Luke Helder and Crime and Punishment

posted by Jason Kottke May 08, 2002

I just finished reading Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. As it happens, the subject matter of the book mirrors this business with pipe-bomber Luke Helder. Reading through the text of letters Helder left with bombs in mailboxes and the manifesto (mirror) he sent The Badger Herald, I was reminded of the writings, mutterings, utterances, and internal dialogue of C&P's Raskolnikov.

In the book, Raskolnikov writes an article for a newspaper in which he states that "extraordinary [people] have the right [that is, not an official right, but his own right] to commit all sorts of crimes and in various ways to transgress the law, because in point of fact they are extraordinary." He goes on to say that great people can do great deeds, whether right or wrong, because they bring about great change in the world. In his madness (or is it?), he tests this theory and himself. Is he an extraordinary man? Can he kill and steal because he is extraordinary? What changes might he be helping bring about? Can he get away with it? Can he drop hints about his crime and still not be caught?

There are glimpses in Helder's writings that hint that he might be of Raskolnikov's mind and considers himself an extraordinary man out to change the world, preaching his gospel. "I'm here to help you realize/understand that you will live no matter what!" "You have been missing how things are, for very long." "I'm happy because I know. I often wonder why anyonewould be so content with believing when they could know." "I'm here to help you, to expose you, to inform you, to provide for you the answers for where to look, so the 'spiritually sleepy mass' can transform themselves from believing to knowing, to have an awareness to life, and to begin understanding."

(Or maybe not. Maybe Helder is just a dumb kid that smoked too much pot and watched The Matrix one too many times. Either way, the whole situation is horrible and fascinating, as was Dostoevsky's account of Raskolnikov.)

Best Web page title of

posted by Jason Kottke May 07, 2002

Best Web page title of the day: Bible study, anger management, Quebec, bank loans, Estate planning.

I voted for crap

posted by Jason Kottke May 07, 2002

crapo.senate.gov? I wonder if his opponent took advantage of that during the election. Seems to be used to it though.

Ask Yahoo!

posted by Jason Kottke May 07, 2002

Like Google, Yahoo! has a question/answer service and a free one at that. Today's most popular question is "What gender is Winnie-the-Pooh?" (He's a he.)

Addicting games

posted by Jason Kottke May 07, 2002

I am addicted to Collapse. I thought Snood, mini-golf, and Bejeweled were bad...

Pulp Fictionesque Simpsons sketches

posted by Jason Kottke May 07, 2002

Mmmm....Big Kahuna Burger

I was going though some old entries last night and ran across this one about some rough Simpsons/Pulp Fiction sketches. The originals appear to be long gone, but the Wayback Machine is here to save the day.

Penises in doll's clothing

posted by Jason Kottke May 07, 2002

Don't click here if you don't want to see penises dressed up in doll's clothing. You think I'm kidding... (via bb)

Don't Mention It

posted by Jason Kottke May 04, 2002

Don't Mention It: The hidden life and times of a Greenwich Village restaurant (via glfstrm):

"One evening, when the place was nearly full, I saw a party of four come in the door; a couple of them may have been wearing neckties, which wouldn't have been a plus in a restaurant whose waitress used to wear a T-shirt that said "Die Yuppie Scum." Kenny took a quick glance from the kitchen and said, "No, we're closed." After a brief try at appealing the decision, the party left, and the waitress pulled the security gate partway down to discourage other latecomers."

"'It's only eight o'clock,' I said to Kenny."

"'They were nothing but strangers,' he said."

"'I think those are usually called customers,' I said. 'They come here, you give them food, they give you money. It's known as the restaurant business.'"

"Kenny shrugged. 'Fuck 'em,' he said."

Cool or not uncool?

posted by Jason Kottke May 04, 2002

I own 1 of Rolling Stone's 50 Coolest Records (Dig Your Own Hole, Chemical Bros.) and none of their 50 Uncoolest Records. (via bmp.) I am simultaneously not cool and not uncool. How cool/uncool are you, according to RS's lists?

So very tired of Verisign.

posted by Jason Kottke May 03, 2002

So very tired of Verisign.

That favorite 70s show

posted by Jason Kottke May 03, 2002

Vote for your favorite 70s TV show (Flash 6 plug-in required).

Frontier House: damn those Clunes!

posted by Jason Kottke May 03, 2002

I enjoyed 1900 House, but not nearly as much as I'm enjoying Frontier House after seeing the first episode. I know this makes me a bad person, but I laughed my ass off at the karmic payback that the cream-puff, richy-rich Clunes were getting in the second half of the show. They are horrible, horrible people, and I hope they get the consumption and die out on the frontier. (I don't really mean that. I hope they get scarlet fever and die out on the frontier.)

Today's secret word is "Spider-Man"

posted by Jason Kottke May 03, 2002

Today's secret word is "Spider-Man". Everytime you hear the secret word, scream real loud. I hope I'm not screaming for my money back sometime this afternoon.

Star Wars tickets?

posted by Jason Kottke May 02, 2002

Four billion sites on the Web about Star Wars and none of them can tell me when tickets go on sale for Attack of the Clowns. Or are they not telling us this time around so that Moviefone's system doesn't go haywire like it did last time? What I know so far: rumor has is that some theatres (like AMC) will start selling tickets tomorrow. When tomorrow? No one knows. I've heard maybe 12:01am tomorrow or 11:30am tomorrow. I've also heard that individual theatre chains (and individual theatres) will be setting their own policies on when tickets will go on sale, so you have to call them directly. Does anyone know anything more concrete?

Still perky after thirty years

posted by Jason Kottke May 02, 2002

I like Tom's new permalink nipples.

History of Tetris

posted by Jason Kottke May 02, 2002

A short story of Tetris including a download of the original version of the game. (via ovrstd)

Hoopla down but not out

posted by Jason Kottke May 02, 2002

Leslie is back online, filling screens with sweet, sweet text. Hoopla and Smug, two domains that were hijacked from her with the assistance of Network Solutions/Verisign (die! die! die!) are still not back in her possession. In the past few weeks, I've heard of other domains being hijacked as well (Succaland for one). My advice to you is to move your domains to a secure registrar (I have heard good things about Dotster and Joker...avoid Network Solutions/Verisign *at all costs*).

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