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Thursday, June 29, 2000

Perhaps my favorite short story: The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World.
Douglas Rushkoff of technorealism.org (amongst other things) has a provocative new piece in The Guardian: Second sight.
The myth of the internet - and one I believed for a long time - is that most people really want to share the stories of their own lives.

The fact that "content is king" proves that they don't. They need images, stories, ideas, and sounds through which they can relate to one another.
Aaron sent me a link to this Rushkoff interview back in March, also very interesting.
...the best suggestion I can come up with is for people to take a one-day Sabbath each week. One day where they don't consume or produce, or go online. It's kind of a safe day, where we learn that we don't have to do anything at all to justify our existence. It makes reentering the consumption and data spheres very different.
I am seriously considering taking that advice. Maybe then I would find time to read things like Rushkoff's latest book, Coercion.
Peter Merholz of Epinions.com started a very interesting discussion on the CHI-WEB list with this post: User Testing General Audience Web Sites - Advice?. Read the followups here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Quickly becoming the Microsoft of the internet, Yahoo is all set to buy eGroups. When will they make an offer on Pyra?
Robust Hyperlinks seem like a pretty good idea, but really, whose going to take the time to compute a "lexical signature" for every link they code?
Zeldman points to a thoughtful article by Leo Robert Klein: Web Design and Sin.
The truth is we are all amateurs. There is nothing on the web today that we can point to with any amount of assurance and say, this is the final word. We simply don't know. Instead, we toss about like 19th-century tourists looking for a Baedeker to show us the way. Only the Baedeker has yet to come out, and maybe it never will.
I am going to rip off a couple of links from a mailing list of mine. I cannot recommend these articles enough:

Thinking in Pictures: Autism and Visual Thought -- wherein an autistic man reveals how he thinks almost entirely in pictures; and how he has overcome his autism to the point where he can write an incredibly insightful essay explaining his non-verbal thought processes. Complete with an odd epiphany at the end involving rabbis, the ritual slaughter of cattle, and hydraulics.

Playing footsie on the top of the table: A conversation with Joseph Grigely -- wherein a deaf artist explains the value of written language to him as he has struggled to communicate in a world dominated by the spoken word. It is not really a story of his survival though; it's about exploring and conquering language:
Often too, when someone writes something on a piece of paper and passes it to me, I like to catch the glimpse in their eye as the paper is passed on to me. It's a very special moment, for some reason, because of how it privileges the difference in our approach to communicating--plays with it--and tries to find a certain pleasure in it. In this respect, I think my deafness is not so much a disabling condition as much as it is an enabling condition.
Here's another related article that you might find interesting: The forest for the trees: Language and art.

Thanks Conrad.

Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Here is disturbing piece on the state of copyright law: Mouse Trapped.
Copyright law has moved from the quid pro quo model to the control model -- along the way, the public has been left behind
Via El Capitan.
An interesting survey of current design trends on the internet can be found here: eye candy from the underground. Read more about it at dreamless.org.

Monday, June 26, 2000

Assembler has some new DHTML stuff up.
Perhaps you've seen this? Transitioning from Proprietary DOMs and Markup to W3C Standards: Enhancing Pages That Use LAYER, document.layers[], and document.all to Support Standards. Useful stuff.
An excellent article from The Standard: The Web Content Conundrum.
Drawing readers is a major hurdle in the print world, too. At a startup magazine, the cost of going after subscribers — with direct mail, marketing and advertising — can account for as much as 35 percent of expenses. But that quickly drops off — within a couple of years by most print models — as subscribers get hooked. From there, readers turn passive, as the product comes to them. But in the Web world, readers need to act every time they want to read — forcing publications into a constant promotional mode.
I find that incredibly depressing. Isn't it sadly ironic that the web, a medium born out of the need for the exchange of scientific data and embraced early on by anti-establishment types has quickly become the most over-promoted, hype-filled, advertising-riddled place on earth?

Oh, and a couple of comments on the ending of the article:
The first rule of Internet publishing, notes Abe Peck, chairman of the magazine program at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, is the same now as in the early 1990s: "Every man can be a Web publisher." But the second rule may be just emerging. "The other side of that opportunity," Peck says, "is anyone can do it badly."
1) What is a chairman in Northwestern's journalism school doing using language like "every man..."? I hate Political Correctness as much as anyone, but shouldn't Mr. Peck be aware there are a few other ways to talk about "everybody" without using language that leaves out 51% of the population?

2) His little quote is almost correct. I've been saying all along that the best thing about the internet is that anyone can publish. But the worst thing about the internet is that anyone can publish.
What is it with these companies trying to bring TV-like programming to the web? First there is the sordid tale of DEN's demise. Then there is the scam otherwise know as Pixelon.
Clinton sets new directives for use of Web 'cookies'
"Under this new federal policy, 'cookies' should not be used at federal Web sites, or by contractors when operating Web sites on behalf of agencies," Lew said, noting there would be strict requirements for using the software.
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