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.
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.
April 25, 2005
No time to get into a full discussion, but check out the product placement on Dave Winer's blog. Now all he needs is a Budweiser ad.
Geof Huth seems to be a few letters short of an alphabet, or maybe it is a few too many. I can't quite figure out which.
However it reminds me that syndication may possibly be robbing the world of some amount of beauty. As Nietzsche said "“It is neither the best nor the worst things in a book that defy translation.” and translation into xml is indeed translation.
April 23, 2005
The Man who Ivnented Sex
Ok, Richard Sexton's site really isn't a blog, but it could have been. You might not know who Richard Sexton is, but if you were around at in the days when Usenet exploded then you were probably a degree or two of separation away from him. Either that or he was flaming the pants off of you.
It is interesting to see how things have changed since then. At that time the limitations of bandwidth were a very real thing and there were constant arguments about sending binaries, now most take the ability to view images as so common that it is not even worth mentioning. And in this ascii-art world, usenet was king. One has to say that usenet still exists and perhaps even thrives, but most new computer users have no idea what NNTP is or how to access it. Someday the same will be said of RSS. You might be saying that of RSS even now. But to get back to the story, Richard always seems to be around for the beginning of things. Godwin's law is an example and the creation of alt.sex newsgroups is another. But somehow Richard never seems to capitalize on these early positions.
I point out his website as an example of this. It is not visible from the surface, but it is really created using some code which Richard put together himself (most likely using C rather than some toy language like PERL) and which enables on-line editing and publishing. But, of course, no one - or at least few - are using it. Rather they are using things like MovableType and WordPress or skipping the installation altogether and simply opening an account at Typepad or one of the countless other options.
The reason why can be traced back to the early days. Back then you just needed a place to store stuff. An FTP server and later a web page. If you wanted conversation or commentary you would go to usenet or set up a mailserve. So when Richard put this thing together he was thinking more about an online library rather than something which would allow conversations, note-taking, linking and the like - and all of that on the fly. A library is fine if you put the books away on the shelves, but for those of us who love to read and have books on the floor, on the nightstand, under the bed and tucked into pockets, the library concept is just too high maintenance. It will never be complete and will look like hell in the process. This is the state of Richard's site. Richard Sexton, the man who invented the blog.
April 22, 2005
I've been going through personal influences so far so Robert Scoble is next on the list. His blog "Scobleizer" was not one of my influences. In fact I hardly read any of his blogs, but I couldn't help but see his newsgroup postings encouraging and cajoling people into blogging. He is tireless. Amazingly tireless. At first I thought it was sort of self promotional when he got a job at Radio Userland and was always making proclamations like "I wish I could convince every MVP to start a weblog". It was kind of hard to ignore him.
But after a while I found out he was actually genuine about this stuff and his comments like "That's OK. But, I gotta tell you, the mainstream press has the weblogging thing all wrong. It's all a fad. Like most things that the press reports, they blow it out of porportion (and they miss the real story). What is the real story? Web sites are finally easy and low-cost enough that everyone can do one, not just the folks who like writing stupid HTML tags." started working on me. Finally a few years later I understand. He was right.
But what is he doing now? Well, he is talking this and evangelizing that. But it is OK. It isn't all just shilling for Microsoft. Last time I met him he walked up to a table where I was talking to some other people and asked us what we were doing and then launched into giving us the details of that Channel 9 thing he is doing. And we all thought "huh?" but were hardly offended. He just can't help himself. He can't keep from talking about things he thinks are great. 5 stars for being inspirational.
April 21, 2005
Dead Can Blog
Sam P spends a lot of time writing about food, politics and going to bed. But all this is made more remarkable by the fact that he has been dead for several hundred years. Read it before your next trip to London.
Score: 4 stars
Projectifed - http://projectified.com is Brian Kennemer's Project Server blog. It gets to be the second blog I review because it showed me what else a blog could be. If you read it you get a glimpse into Brian's thoughts and what he thinks is interesting. Now, of course, endlessly obsessing about Project Server may not be what you are interested in, but Brian doesn't pretend that it is and points out that you probably shouldn't be as obsessed as he is.
But actually, despite the blog description it is really a collection of Brian's thoughts and opinions and pointers to things he finds useful or interesting. What more could you ask of a blog? Oh, well, he could post more often...
Overall 4 stars. If you manage projects it is worth checking out.
The Joy of Ito
The Blog: Joi Ito's Web
I'm starting here because Joi's blog is the pinnacle of blogs about blogging. I read it and I just start growling about how self-congratulatory and self-referential it is. It almost appears to me that his blog IS his existence rather than the other way around.
I'm not sure of the characters which make up Joi's last name, but one meaning of Ito in Japanese is thread. Even if it doesn't match the actual character of his family name it seems quite appropriate for his activities on the web. It also appears that sometimes he has a backbone made of thread as shown in this post where he discusses being two sided and compromising in his remarks.
I am mixed in rating it. I'd give it 1 star for the recursive nature of the content, but 5 stars for artistic achievement as Joi has managed to write a life for himself. Technically, there is no doubt that he will try any sort of blogging innovation and creates buzz about them so that also rates a 5. I'll settle on an overall score of 4.
On a related note, his sister Mizuko writes some interesting (and less self-absorbed pieces here.
There are some bad and stupid blogs out there and some good ones. This blog is all about them. Mainly so that I don't end up making the same mistakes I see. Feel like suggesting a blog for review? Make a comment and I'll check it out.
April 13, 2005
Hall of Mirrors
My first thoughts about blogging were that it is an exercise in narcissism and that only the mania for constant self-reflection and self-aggrandizement would be enough to keep a person publishing one. My reasons for thinking this were many. Take a look at some of the blogs which are out there. It is hard to count how many bloggers out there blog about blogging and by simple association blog about themselves in the process. The fact that such bloggers invent terms such as blogosphere and hold conferences and create incestuous links between themselves is reason enough to believe that this is a large component of the fascination with blogs.
But after thinking more and looking around I see some people are just as concerned with using a blog to post things which are interesting to them. Some post things which may be useful to others. In short, they just use a blog as a container for some information.
It strikes me that to them, the blog is like a book. The form of publication is not what is important to them, but the fact that there are readers (even if it is only the person publishing it in the first place) is important. This sets them apart from the blog bloggers I described earlier who upgrade the journalist's vice of writing about journalism and send that writing at the speed of light into the teeth of their fan clubs.
So how does this get resolved in the case of this blog? If I write about blog bloggers do I become one myself? Or is it possible to take the role of the critic? Does a critic become a bad poet just because they criticize bad poetry? I'm hoping not. Still it may happen. But until then I'll be content throwing rocks in the hall of mirrors.