October 31, 2004
Jon Stewart, C-SPAN, and the end of television as we know it?Now I know why there are so many Daily Show reruns. Because Jon Stewart and company are spending so much of their time on C-SPAN. And you thought C-SPAN was for nerds. I tell you, it is the best television on television. You just have to give it a chance.
In case you missed it, Stewart, Corddry, Helms, and two show producer/writers appeared in a wild, uneven, sometimes funny, sometimes pitifully unfunny program in New York on October 20th which was aired tonight (and is being aired again on C-SPAN on November 1st at 4:00pm Eastern, 1:00pm Pacific. Somebody TiVo it!!!). Here's C-SPAN's description page of the event.
The panelists took turns reading from their book, America: The Book. It's amazing how much coverage this book gets on C-SPAN. But these guys are not normal book authors, and they're not there to push the book. They're there to destroy TV as we know it.
I believe that Stewart and company are trying to revolutionize television by tearing down its conventional standards and practices. First, dress inappropriately, like a slacker. Stewart's starting to dress like Bill Murray in the early scenes of Stripes. Second, resort to language that's simply not said on television, certainly not C-SPAN. Speak as many four-letter words as possible, so the television audience members marvel in the fact that there are no bleeps like there are on The Daily Show, only occasional and entirely useless on-screen warnings that this program contains bad language. Duh!
Prediction: Stewart and company are going to get C-SPAN in big trouble, and somebody's going to try to fine or indict C-SPAN for breaking FCC rules. You watch: some congressman is going to take this one for a ride, and sick the FCC on them but good.
At one point, while reading a section of his book America: The Book, Stewart paused and admitted he was bored. It was about then that the whole program began to collapse, the final blow occurring during the Q&A when a woman from the audience went on and on with a rambling rant about the Green Party, refusing to hand over the microphone until it was forcibly taken from her (and then, still ranting more while Stewart cringed at the podium).
I can't say this was excellent television. It's fascinating to watch not because it was good, but because it was on at all. Are we witnessing the television revolution being televised, or are we witnessing Jon Stewart and company jumping the shark? We'll see soon enough. Stay tuned.
UPDATE -- So, numerous readers have written to me to inform me of the foolishness of my ways: a) that the comments function was still broken (D'oh!), b) that Jon Stewart has been dressing like Bill Murray in Stripes for years, and c) that C-SPAN, since it's on cable, doesn't fall under the same FCC rules as broadcast television. As Jon Stewart might say, Damn you, cable television!
October 30, 2004
Kerry for PresidentThe brianstorms blog officially endorses John Kerry for President.
The incumbent candidate has not faithfully executed the office of President of the United States. Nor has he to the best of his ability preserved, protected, and defended the Constitution of the United States.
It's that simple. The country will be better off with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, and the rest of 'em out of office.
Be sure to vote on Tuesday.
October 28, 2004
Comments disabled temporarily due to spamtoo much comment spam, disabled comments until i can find the time to fix it. sorry! check back in a day or two if you want to comment
UPDATE: Comments are available again after much reconstructive surgery. (Note to Jay Allen, author of MT-Blacklist: the plug-in breaks with some weird international character sets.)
UPDATE II: oops, mt-commentz.cgi is not spelled mt-commentz.cti, now is it. Comments fixed. Please don't spam me, he said, knowing full well he would be inundated with a new wave of comment spam....
WikiNews? How about WikiHealth?The community that brought us Wikipedia is considering a new, all-volunteer news service called Wikinews. The idea is that articles in Wikipedia tend to be highly compressed summaries of information, whereas articles in Wikinews would be able to go in-depth.
While I'm intrigued with the whole project and welcome something, anything that raises the collapsed bar of objective news reporting, Wikinews makes me wonder . . . what other pressing needs might be addressed by the Wikimedia movement?
How about public health? Imagine WikiHealth or WikiMed, an open, collaborative health database written by everyone in the world? If millions of people could contribute articles on health and well-being, diseases, treatments, symptoms, remedies, and personal experience with what worked and what didn't with prescriptions, would the world be better off? Are you currently happy with the state of medical knowledge on the web? If you or someone you know is suffering from some condition, and you type the name of the condition into Google, are you satisfied you're getting good results? In an age where, at least in the U.S., doctors are less and less likely to give you the time of day let alone spend time with you going into detail about everything there is to know about a condition, wouldn't it be useful if there were an online resource with a strict NPOV (neutral point of view) containing in-depth encyclopedia information about health-related subjects?
WikiHealth. WikiMed. (Don't bother, the domains are taken -- maybe they're hope!) But you get the idea: a worldwide open collaborative compendium of practical health and medical knowledge. Isn't it time such a service existed?
October 27, 2004
QuintessenceI've tried for the most part to stay out of politics with this blog, but when I read about and then saw this video today I had to say something. Does not this video succinctly summarize the very essence of the character of the incumbent candidate better than any speech or spin could ever do?
October 25, 2004
Jon Stewart on CSPANIf you liked Stewart on Crossfire recently, check this out -- a much longer (1-hr) interview with Ken Auletta in front of an audience of media executives. It was recorded 10/14/2004, putting it within 24 hours of his Crossfire appearance. The program aired on 10/23/2004 on CSPAN.
You can find the RealPlayer video at C-SPAN's American Perspectives web page.
Stewart is profane, scathing, brilliant, and he hits the nail on the head with regard to the media and the election. Worth watching.
October 24, 2004
Quick TidbitsI'm a big fan of Charlene Li's new blog. She's with Forrester and has lots of interesting things to say. Her blog is now one of my daily reads.
I'd type more but I'm still very busy with the new startup and I just discovered I've been slammed with 100's of new comment spams all over the blog, and it's gonna take a while to remove them all.... hope to be back in the next couple days with more new posts.
October 20, 2004
We're All ToxicBlood tests of 47 people all over Europe, including 39 members of the European Parliamemt, showed "every person is contaminated with a cocktail of persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic chemicals . . . a total of 76 different chemicals from the 101 looked for were found in the blood of those tested."
Imagine if all the members of Congress and the current White House administration were tested. Imagine if Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger were tested. Imagine if your town's mayor were tested. Imagine if you were tested.
What would they find?
October 16, 2004
The Past Is Also Here. And It's Also Not Evenly Distributed Yet.
For two and a half years this quote has been attributed to famed sci-fi writer William Gibson. I've never seen an explicit citation to an actual printed page where Gibson wrote those words. I suspect they may have been uttered in an interview, speech, or possibly in the fantastic and worth-seeing No Maps for These Territories documentary DVD about Gibson and the future. (I seem to recall that's where he said it. Anyone know?)
But did Gibson really originate the quote? Is this notion of a not-yet-widely distributed future his? I never had reason to wonder that until last night.
1. What Triggered the Meme:
That ol' meme-spreader Tim O'Reilly gave the quote a huge boost by writing about it on 9 April 2004 in his blog, and then later that year including it in PowerPoint presentations, such as the 2002 Emerging Technology Conference.
If you look at the USENET record, the first references to the quote appear on 12 April 2002, three days after O'Reilly blogged it.
There are print references to the quote, with attribution to William Gibson, that appear in 2001 and 2002, including one book, Reinventing Strategy, published also on 12 April 2002.
Philip Kotler's 2003 book Marketing Insights from A to Z mentions the quote without any attribution: "The truth is that the future is already here; it has already happened. The task is to find and study whatthe small percentage of future-defining customers want. The future is already here but is evenly distributed in different companies, industries, and countries." (This same author goes on in the very next paragraph to attribute Alan Kay's famous quote "The best way to predict the future is to invent it" to someone named Dennis Gabor.)
By the way, there are two evenly-distributed variations of the quote, if one checks Google:
It's a great quote. I've found myself using it frequently in conversation, in particular when I'm talking about my new startup company to investors. (One of the things I hope my company does is more evenly distribute the future!)
2. The Prior Art?
I was doing some research late last night when I came across a quote in a business text called Free, Perfect, and Now: Connecting to the Three Insatiable Customer Demands: A CEO's True Story by Robert Rodin with Curtis Hartman, first published in hardcover in February 1999. The book recounts the lessons learned by Rodin as CEO of Marshall Industries, and how he transformed his company into a electronics distribution powerhouse.
Amazon's page for this book offers customers the ability to browse its pages (the "Search Inside the Book" feature is activated). Well, I had reason to go browsing through the book, as I expect to be speaking with Mr. Rodin soon on a business matter, so I started browsing, and I came across this quote:
That's from Chapter 2 (called "You Don't Know What You Don't Know"), pages 21-22. So, did William Gibson ever read this book? Did he come up with the same notion independently? Did Rodin and Hartman hear it from someone else (including Gibson)?
Sure would love to know.
UPDATE -- 1140am.
So maybe Gibson did originate this quote after all?
After spending some more time searching the full text of books using Amazon's "Search Inside the Book", I found this book ("Enterprise.com: Market Leadership in the Information Age" which mentions the quote exactly and attributes it to Gibson. Enterprise.com was originally published in hardcover in November 1998. Alas, it too fails to mention exactly where Gibson said or wrote this.
Someone please ask William Gibson. I'd do it but I don't know how to reach him. His contact information is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet.
UPDATE II: 15:53
UPDATE III: 17 Oct 2004
There are even more variants of the quote. Here's another one: ""The Future is already here. (It is just not uniformly distributed.)." This is what one sees on a blog called Whuffie.
And this is closer to what TIME magazine cited, when it quoted Gibson in a Bill Buxton essay on October 3rd, 2004: "Or, to steal a line from the science-fiction writer William Gibson, 'The future is already here. It is just not uniformly distributed.'"
Then there's another variant from early 1996: ""The future has already arrived; it's just not evenly distributed yet.", cited in an old USENET posting.
UPDATE IV: 17 Oct 2004
The fact that the original citation seems to have been a radio program explains a lot about why there are so many variations in the quote and no direct textual citations -- there never was one! It was radio!
UPDATE V --- 31 Oct 2004:
The actual citation:
Three Dollars Per GallonWow. They finally did it. Three bucks a gallon for high performance self-serve, at the most expensive gas station in La Jolla.
How long before we see $4/gal?
October 14, 2004
Long Tail, But Short MemoryThis WIRED article's getting a lot of coverage and rightly so. "Long Tail" was the Top Meme at Web2.0.
But there's one troubling section that makes an historical reference (history is WIRED's perennial weak point):
Deep in the article (scroll down to the section "Rule 3") Chris writes about the story of Michael Robertson and MP3.com, and then Anderson makes a pretty outrageous claim, one I have never, ever heard of before:
Many people illegally uploaded and shared commercial tracks? Who says? Got a cite for that, Chris? I sure would love to hear some facts on that assertion. I worked at MP3 in 1999 and 2000 and this is the first I've heard of this. Gee, I thought that's what the large staff of musicologists were there for: meticulously filter and review every song that was put on the site. Chris, did you ever use MP3.com during that era?
Paging Rod Underhill, white courtesy phone...
Downloading UpriverThe brouhaha over Sinclair's plans to air a feature-length anti-Kerry commercial seem to be distracting folks (isn't that a consistent pattern? always distraction) from awareness of another Kerry feature documentary, called Going Upriver. I actually managed to find this at a local cinema recently and was really impressed by it. Actually thought it was a very well-made film, better than, say, Fahrenheit 9/11 on a number of dimensions. I learned a lot from this film. Not all of it was good about Kerry, but it painted what I felt was a fair picture of the man circa 1968-74 (would that we had a documentary of GWB from the same time period...)
Turns out the whole movie is available as a gigantic 600+ MB Quicktime movie at a site called TheKerryMovie.com. If you've got the bandwidth, it's worth starting a download at night and it ought to be done by morning. Of course, if your city is showing this in a local cinema, by all means, pay to go see it and then make up your own mind.
October 13, 2004
Words of Wisdom from SteveExcellent interview with Steve Jobs in BusinessWeek. He nails it and gets it and I'm printing this interview out and putting it on the wall of my office.
Read it, live it.
Web2.0 presentation filesIn case anyone else is interested, I just learned that there are presentation files available for some of the Web2.0 conference sessions here at this link.
You'd Think They'd Know Better...Amazing to learn that there are web-savvy folks out there still using Network Solutions for domain registration. Look what just happened to Gawker...
Meanwhile, I still get telephone calls, fancy expensive mailings, and emails from Register.com for a domain that I transferred away from them a year ago. You'd think they'd figure it out by now. First time the phone rang, they asked me if I knew my domain was about to expire. I told 'em, no it wasn't, I transferred it away. I was asked if I wanted to hear about some great deals going on at Register.com. I asked if they were better than $8.95 at GoDaddy. Uh, no, I was told.
Second time I was called, I got the same dire warning about an expiring domain. Told em, uh, I transferred it ages ago. Click. They hung up.
Built to Last? Not.
Flu 2.0I sure would love to know how many people who attended Web2.0 got the flu or a serious cold and fever within a day or two of returning home from the conference. I sure did. Am mostly over it now, but this past weekend was an ordeal.
I suppose the combination of hanging out with 650 people in close confines over 3 days, shaking scores of hands, sharing meals and h'ors d'oevres all day and night, and sitting next to folks hours on end in stuffy conference halls, is all bound to raise the flu odds a bit...
October 12, 2004
Print Classifieds Losing GroundInteresting report in Editor and Publisher about how eBay and Craigslist continue to nibble (or should I say chomp) away at print classified ads. "Craigslist seems less menacing," says the article. Really? Did they ask the Chronicle? Somehow I think the damage to print publications is a lot more widespread than publishers are letting on.
I love how print people, as we approach 2005, continue to be in denial about the online world. Newspapers need to decide: bug, or windshield?
And by the way, what's with the continuing shrinkage of newsprint? I know pulp's expensive, but geez. I picked up a Union-Tribune recently and couldn't believe how small the form factor's become.
The Gas SituationWhy San Diego has the most expensive gas in the country continues to puzzle me. Because we're at the very edge of the continent? Because we're the guinea pigs for the rest of the country (San Diego's often selected by Corporate America as a test market for new product rollouts . . . or pricing strategies)? Or is it so that other markets in the country can be cheaper?
Here's what I saw today at a gas station in La Jolla -- one I stopped going to years ago because they're so overpriced:
Here's a story from today's San Diego Union-Tribune on the gas situation.
October 07, 2004
The Sofa From Hell, or, Envisioning a Post-eBay FutureAt Web2.0 this week, I heard search guru Louis Monier, who's been at eBay for several years, speak in a panel session about the future of search. At one point John Battelle asked him a question along the lines of, does eBay foresee a threat from the local search services Yahoo and Google are building? At some point you could find goods locally through those search services, and not touch eBay at all. Is eBay worried?
Louis surprised me with his answer. No problem, he basically indicated, after all, we're eBay. It was a we're-the-8000-pound-gorilla, we're-a-global-monopoly, who-could-possibly-be-a-threat-to-us kind of answer.
I think it's time for eBay to consider that the long-awaited two-guys-in-a-garage "next eBay" may be here sooner than they care to think.
But first, the sofa from hell.
Back in 2003 my wife and I decided to finally sell this very expensive ultra-contemporary Roche-Bobois sofa we once bought back in the mid-90s for the house we lived in then. As The Dude might say, "it really tied the room together, man!" Thing is, we no longer live in that house, and that room is long gone. So the ultra-contemporary sofa wound up in some decidedly non-contemporary living rooms in the subsequent years. Sometimes it barely fit in the room --- tied the room up, not together. By 2003 we decided, enough's enough. Somebody will buy it. Won't they?
We tried listing it on eBay. Took tons of nice digital color photos. Wrote a nice long description. Not a single bid.
Re-listed it. No bids.
So we posted it, along with all the nice photos, on craigslist. It sold in a couple days, to a nice retired couple.
Fast forward to today.
One of eBay's main selling points for years has been: trust and safety. You're gonna be fine if you buy or sell on eBay, even if the other person in the transaction is a total stranger halfway across the world. And that is true. Most of the time, things are fine. Fraud happens occasionally, but the vast majority of the time, even big transactions like computer and car sales go smoothy.
But now think 2005. Why might we need eBay less and less?
Consider craigslist with RSS, or, better yet, a notification service tied to RSS or email. "Notify me when a sofa with the following attributes and in the following price range and in the following general geographical area goes on sale."
And maybe hours or days or weeks or months later, you get that notification, and your dream sofa is for sale, by someone you don't know, but who lives nearby.
Why do I think it might be nearby? Consider for a moment how much PC/Internet household penetration there is now. And how much high-bandwidth penetration there is now. There's a much better chance in 2005 that a whole lot of people who live in your own neighborhood or general vicinity will have stuff you want, and you certainly will have stuff they want, and both of you will have ways to find out about each others' haves and wants. Does eBay's trust and safety cushion still offer as much value in such a world? If it turns out a neighbor around the corner wants to buy your sofa, would eBay need to be involved in the transaction? If the market shifts locally because there are now enough people nearby to buy stuff you want to sell, or sell you stuff you've been thinking of buying, who needs eBay? Why not just use a "smart craigslist" system instead?
And maybe the question should also be, do we even need craigslist in such a world? What happens if you can just post lists on your blog of things you want to sell and things you want to buy, and hang them out there in RSS feeds waiting to be scooped up by Technorati-style bots, who in turn notify people who live within driving (maybe even walking) distance of you? If they can come over, inspect the thing you wanna sell, and then fork over real hard cash, carry the thing out to their car, load it up, and drive away, who needs $50 billion intermediaries anymore?
October 05, 2004
Web2.0 Workshop 1.0: RSSSyndicated Feeds: Strategies, Opportunities and Issues
Dick Costolo, Feedburner
David Hornik, AugustCapital
Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine
workshop 2004-10-05 08:45
Personal publishers want
Drawing a line between points A and B, where is G such that G is Good?
Jarvis: I feel like a kindergartener in college, to use Dan Gillmor's words
Dan Gould, on his company: he's "from something that is too new to have a real name"
David Hornik: 2 worlds of RSS: feeds to populate websites as opposed to RSS readers
Steve Gillmor: Bloglines is like a roach motel. All the data comes in and nothing comes out.
Bob, the PUbSub.com guy: "It's the entries stupid, not the feeds"
Slide: Commercialization happens. Discuss. The Horseless Carriage and Free Bandwidth.
Jeff Jarvis: Your nostaligia from 1995 is frightening.
Steve Gillmor: Yahoo and Bloglines --- shutting off the next business models.
Tom Abate of the Chronicle: hearing now that some people think that
Chris Tolles of TOPIX.NET: The user, advertiser, publisher all have to win.
Jeff Jarvis: on board of MoreOver and NewsPoint rss reader.
Steve Gillmor: totally in favor of advertising in RSS. All constituencies need to be maintained and compensated but the main constituency is the author, who risks being shut aside. Technorati/FeedSter/Feedemon, sync standard for thrwing out dupes of messages and items: attention.xml
Jeff Jarvis: 0934: WHat Big Media should be scared of the death of the centralized marketplace.
David Hornik: Hey Marc, thanks for screaming. ... Open source is not going to solve the tagging problem.
Marc Canter: I like humans.
Jeff Jarvis: AdSense took the cooties off of citizen's media.
It's a heated debate, with a lot of audience participation. Problems: everyone in the audience is a vendor or a publisher one way or another. The issues raised from the audience are full of plugs for the respective businesses or initiatives that that audience member is espousing. The three panelists are being diligent about staying vendor-neutral. Wish the audience would do the same.
October 04, 2004
Disturbing the Peace at Web2.0Just bumped into Jeff Jarvis on the elevator. I asked him what he thought of The Noise. He knew what I was talking about. He made an exasperated expression and said, "I moved to another room!"
I prolly should have too.
I'm in the corner looking right down on the protestors. (Gee, what did I do to the Nikko people to deserve such a nice location?)
As Jeff comments on his blog, "San Francisco is nucking futs." The noise from down on the street is insane: it's torture. Striking hotel workers at the SF Hilton across the street from the Nikko (where Web 2.0 starts in 14 hours) are making a massive racket with homemade drums, sirens, chants, shouts, singing, and marching. Literally right in front of the entrance to the lobby of the hotel. I can only imagine what it's like to stay at the Hilton right about now. Isn't there a law in SF about disturbing the peace? Shouldn't such a law trump striking worker protests?
Oh wait. The parRUM-pum-pum-PUM! (think nightmare of striking workers playing a neverending Little Drummer Boy song) has just switched into a poor-man's version of the drum solo from In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida. At least a little variety!
Web 2.0 starts tomorrow morning. I went down to the third floor where the Nikko ballroom is. Geez. Awful small for 550+ people. "It's going to be cozy!" a conference technician said to me, in a worried tone of voice.
It'll pay to get there early if one wants a good seat. Sssh. You didn't hear me say that. Well, with all the racket going on outside, I'm sure you didn't hear me say that.
UPDATE at 21:25. At 21:05, I started hearing a strange humming sound, like an electrical ground connection gone bad. Then some other noise, buzzing, and then . . . I realized what was going on. One of the protesters down on the street had an amplifier and an electric guitar. For the past 20 minutes he's been playing really crappy electric guitar, sounding like a loser guitar player wannabe the likes of which you hear at GuitarCenter, playing his heart out while other protesters continue the PUM-pum-PUM-PUM-PUM drumming sound, and some knucklehead with a bullhorn goes on and on with a rant I can't understand because he's shouting too loud. And then there are the cars passing by who slow down and honk their horns to the beat of the drums. Drums, electrified guitar screeches, whistles, deranged bullhorn shouting, and honking horns.
Seems to me this wouldn't last 5 minutes in most cities around the world. Why is this permitted in San Francisco?
21:45... it's still happening. You know what this is? They're basically conducting psy-ops on the general public. Drums, screeching reverbed nonsense electric guitar, marching chants and slogans, honking horns, people blowing into whistles, someone playing what sounds like a flute through a bullhorn. Only, they're conducting these psy-ops on innocent people, not on their employers at the hotel who are no doubt all at home. Apparently this racket is gonna go on indefinitely? And apparently it starts up again at 5:30am!?
If I were a judge I'd issue some kind of restraining order on these bozos. Make your case, but make it without infringing on the rights of everyone else, including infringing on the peace.
October 01, 2004
First Day Of The Month: Least Secure?I've come to dread the first day of any month. Why? Because it's the day my email inbox is full of emails that begin like this:
The XYZ is the name of the mailing list. The part that freaks me out is that the way these emails always end:
As Homer Simpson would say, D'oh!
Whywhywhywhy do so many mailing list programs email you your password like this!? Every month, faithfully executed by the mailing list server program. Why, if I wanted to get a lot of passwords, I'd simply sniff packets for email on the first day of each month. Prolly wind up with millions of 'em.
This has got to be the most bone-headed "feature" of mailing lists. Every month I am surprised that tech-savvy companies, like for instance Technorati, use mailing list software that spews out passwords. Bad bad bad.
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