July 08, 2005

Positive Feedback Loop

Ed Bott traces the effects of a signal introduced into a system with positive feedback with his dissection of the Microsoft/Claria story. I'm not sure there is a possible solution to this which doesn't involve re-education, but it is certainly interesting to watch.

Fortunately I don't have the problem of a massive readership amplifying and distorting everything I say.

Posted: 12:20 PM |Categories: Criticism | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 31, 2005

"Disassemble - that means to lie"

I heard President Bush making this statement in a press conference this morning. I wonder why he even bothers to use words like "dissemble". Clearly he isn't familiar with the word or he would not have got it wrong. Clearly he thinks his audience is not familiar with the word or he would not have bothered to provide a definition. I just can't figure it out.

Posted: 07:19 AM |Categories: Random | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 23, 2005

Followup to Food

"The belly is the reason man does not so easily take himself for a god"
F. Nietzsche

Posted: 11:13 PM |Categories: Food | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


There is an entire world of blogs out there which are dedicated to food. I find it somewhat amazing that people are out there taking beautiful pictures of food - and then presumably - devouring it. So far the food blogs I've run into all have similar elements:

Pictures of food, descriptions of how food compensates or affects moods, links to other food bloggers, recipes, oh and did I mention pictures of food?

Another thing which is not universal but seems very widespread is that the majority of food blogs I've bumped into appear to be written by women.

Here are a random few which are examples of the art:

Of course with dining there is always the matter of etiqutte - this does not go neglected even in a virtual world:

Posted: 10:47 PM |Categories: Food | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 17, 2005


Reading about design is usually no substitute for doing it or experiencing the products of good design, but if you are far away from either, then reading may give your thoughts and imagination some room to exercise. DesignObserver is one of the better sources I've found so far. It is more of a group blog than anything else - something which contributes to the presence of fewer, longer articles than short one-liners or links like you might find on a personal blog. It also promises a wider range of opinion and the opinion found here is generally thoughtful.

On the other hand, no respectable design site can resist the lure of rusty steel. But we must forgive and forget the occasional indiscretion. Afterall who has NOT posted a link to an abandoned building or two?

Link: http://www.designobserver.com/

Posted: 05:59 PM |Categories: Design | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2005

10 Million Blogs

Joi Ito (hmm... I should update that article I wrote about him..) is noting that technorati is now tracking ten million blogs. I wonder how many they are not tracking... And then I wonder how many are one-hit wonders. Like any activity, it takes a while to build a strong enough habit to keep going. I'm certain many quit in the meantime. Still, ten million. Wow.

Posted: 09:58 PM |Categories: Blogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 10, 2005

It's a free country...

But I can't help thinking that the gawker bloggers are just a bunch of exploited wage slaves. And who, I wonder is Graydon Carter?

We might, for instance, choose to torment Graydon Carter for the month.

I guess it is all about publicity.

Posted: 05:53 PM |Categories: Slime | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 09, 2005

I was right

Seth Godin admits he is a "massive egomaniac".

Of course this should be obvious since his name gets top-billing on his graphic. You will note that he has conveniently removed his hair so you can more easily see that big brain of his.

But what can I say? I think he is right in the specific and in the general. But with a condition...

When I was studying architecture one of the recurring rituals was having critiques of your assignment. The general process is to prepare your design including drawings, models or whatever else is necessary to demonstrate your conception. Then on the appointed day a panel is assembled (usually made of instructors and invited guests). Each person then presents their design and the guests critique it, sometimes praising what is not there, sometimes damning it, other times giving constructive criticism. It really just depends on the mood or temperament of the juror.

Another aspect of this process that bears explanation is that it usually occurs after a period of extreme activity, activity which does not include sleep and may involve consumption of a great deal of caffinated beverages. The end result of which is a fragile grip on reality by those being critiqued. Emotions were quite often close to the surface.

So what does this have to do with ego? Well, in the case that your project is loved it should be obvious that the flames of ego are flamed white hot. What is not obvious at first is that when the project is not loved, or even despised a remarkably a similar thing happens. As a protection tactic people dissociate their self from their work. It doesn't happen immediately, but it is clear that advanced students are crying far less often than those in their first year. People also learn that the criticism may in fact be bogus and that their own ideas are just as valid as anyone's.

The end result is a group of people who are secure in their own opinions. They may not fall into the classical definition of the egomanic who thinks they are great, but they may fit into a definition where an egomaniac is one who thinks everyone else is inferior or more charitably (and perhaps more accurately) where an egomanic is one who makes no connection between the quality of one's work and the quality of one's self.

So here is where it gets tied back together. Blogging is similar to standing up for one of those reviews. There are no doubt those who do it to show themselves (and I think in the case of Seth's blog - to brand themselves) but there are others who could care less. People who are secure enough that they do not use the blog to feed their ego, but instead keep things entirely separate. It is these people I think that Seth misses in his characterization.

Posted: 12:22 PM |Categories: 4 Stars , Blogstar | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 28, 2005

Ranting and Raving

A google search on "Rant" returns more than six million hits. What is it about the internet that inspires ranting? Or is it that it enables ranting? Are people ranting now just because they can? Raving is even more popular.
One only wonders if we have enough soapboxes.

Posted: 12:54 PM |Categories: Criticism | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 26, 2005

Zealotry and Positive Feedback

I continue to come across islands of zealotry. Usually they are distinguished by names like "manifesto" or the title of some author's book. Like H. L. Mencken I am of a skeptical character:

I believe that nothing in unconditionally true, and hence I am opposed to every statement of positive truth and to every man who states it. Such men seem to me to be either idiots or scoundrels.

And with such skepticism I can not but mistrust those authors, indeed I don't trust zealots of any viewpoint but my own. But there is no mechanism in this world for indicating mistrust. Blogs often leave little room for dissent, and often the act of dissenting drives more traffic to that blog and in the insanity that says a blog linked to often is a source of authenticity even a negative protest is converted into a positive. Right now, the entire territory is wide open and neighbors are friendly because the nearest neighbor is 234 trillion electrons away, but will the same sort of belief that positive feedback alone is sufficient hold? Is it sufficient to limit or to expose the idiots and scoundrels? Or should we just be content that they have existed always and protect them as if they were just so many spotted owls?

Where this entry is going I'm not quite sure. I'm quite capable of ignoring idiots and I have no motive to try and stuff a sock in their mouths as after all, I'm not so fond of the taste of socks. But it does strike me as something curious. Frontiers somehow always seem to be the province of idiots and scoundrels. Perhaps there is nothing to worry about and they will all take up podcasting.

Posted: 07:37 AM |Categories: Criticism | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)