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Thursday, January 15, 2004
Dialogue and discussion

Chris Corrigan Alex Kjerulf pins down the difference in a post about Richard Feynman:

Dialogue is filled with questions (many of which may go unanswered), where as discussions are filled with answers (many of them to questions that were never asked). You might say that questions open, where answers close.

By the way, Parking Lot now has an RSS feed. Hallelujah.

What do you think? []  links to this post    1:28:30 PM  

Terry Frazier writes on how diagrams can be really useful to help convey the ideas in blog posts. I think I should try and follow in Spike, Dave, and Ton's footsteps and try my hand at making some diagrams of my own. Now it would help immensely if a kind reader could point me to a good boxes-n-arrows graphing tool of the simple-yet-effective variety. Antialiased output images would be great to have. I'm on Windows, and MSPaint and PowerPoint just don't cut it.

What do you think? []  links to this post    11:54:46 AM  
Linking up

Clay points to Ben Hyde's reflections on ways to change the slope of the power law curve or to shuffle the blogs that live under it.

One way to fight the old-boys-club effect is to avoid linking up - Clay cites as an example the common behavior of blogrolling "popular weblogs as a shout-out". As a thought experiment, imagine everyone suddenly decided to only blogroll people who have fewer links than they have. Things would surely bounce around violently at first, and we'd end up oscillating around a flat distribution. I wonder what that would do to the blogsurfing experience... would it feel much more noisy? (Note that systems like LiveJournal and YASNSes that implement centrally managed networking are in a position to actually make the experiment by enforcing the rule)

When I look at the Technorati profile for an interesting-looking new blog that I've just discovered, I'll sometimes glance at its list of outbound links (here's mine). When most of those are to highly linked blogs, it's an indication that I probably won't learn a lot from that blog, because the reading I'm already doing usually makes me aware of what the "A-list" is up to (even though I don't directly read most A-listers).

So I guess I've revealed one way you can get my continued attention (and links): dig up good stuff that I can't find elsewhere. Common sense, really.

What do you think? []  links to this post    11:14:46 AM  
Ming: has New Age gotten old?

Flemming Funch:

I have meditated. I've done Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Kung Fu, DahnHak, Pranic Healing, Tensegrity and Access. I've been healed, acupuncturized, massaged, rebirthed, exorcised and hypnotized. [...] I've gone to hundreds of rituals and danced, chanted, drummed and prayed. I've gone to sacred sites, feng shuied my house. I've gotten my horoscope analyzed many times, my numerology has been done, my palms read. The tarot has given me valuable insights, and I know what shape my chakras are in. And there's probably a lot more I'm forgetting.

my new agey friends, or friends from specific metaphysical traditions, might well be puzzled that I wrap things up more than they would expect me to under other circumstances. I.e. I write a lot more conservatively and tentatively than I might otherwise. Referring sort of distantly to news items and books with interesting but theoretical subjects. Where I could just as well provide the straight dope. It is just that I don't necessarily think the dope is quite so straight as it might have seemed. And I no longer claim to know exactly what it is.

To me, Flemming (in his current incarnation, perhaps :-) sets an example for combining open-mindedness and critical thinking. His mind has gone far but his feet are on the ground - that's pretty rare. But most of all I appreciate how he manages to write with simplicity while pondering the deep and complex.

What do you think? []  links to this post    10:13:27 AM  
Precise pointing to particular paragraphs

Spike Hall describes PurpleSlurple, which enables paragraph addressing on almost any page on the web by inserting purple numbers in it. I've used it a few times already to point to specific places inside long articles and like it very much. My only worry is that my PurpleSlurple URLs will break if the service becomes unavailable (or worse, shut down).

The home page provides a handy bookmarklet (see also Matt's anchor revealer):

Want one-click Purple numbers? Right-click on this link, PurpleSlurple Bookmarklet, and bookmark it, or drag and drop this bookmark onto your browser's personal toolbar. Now when you are viewing a page on which you would like Purple numbers just click the bookmarklet. (Javascript must be enabled).

Note that stand-alone "show anchors" bookmarklets are sometimes all you need.

What do you think? []  links to this post    9:49:15 AM  
Harnessing the network form to make money

Ton and others are trying to figure out a business model for klognets. This followup cracked me up. And Gary's comment is thought-provoking.

The scenario you describe is viable and works, I can attest to this first hand, although I found it only worked in one specific scenario: The Client must have nothing to hide.

As soon as they fall for the pompous absurdity of the NDA(Non Disclosure Agreement), they cut their own throats and seal their own fates. Sorry for the blunt analogy, but it's been invariant in every NDA-attended contract I had over 23 years, and after that much reliability over that much time, you begin to suspect there may be a pattern.


With Free Software, there is no threat to the so-called "Intellectual Property" because no one will get the edge. Open Source is what the cold war once called detante, it is assurance of a balance in commercial power among peers. Because the code is open and free, you can discuss your client's project on the mailing lists, in Usenet, at LUG meetings, even with other clients, and invariably someone would have at least partial solutions that could be strung together to get the work done.

Maybe it's an America-at-war thing, but sadly, increasingly, on this side of the pond and in the past two years especially, all my clients have turned their back on this collaborative advantage. All have become obsessed with owning the means far above achieving any ends, almost as if the success of the project doesn't even really matter anymore. Even where closed ownership is completely irrational (why does a national broadcaster need competitive advantage in news-story data-entry software?) in their paranoid delusions of greed, they have erected inpenetrable IP Curtains, dug deep lawyer-infested moats around their business plans, veiled everything in a cloak of secrecy, and invariably every last one has lost their shirt or simply failed to deliver any product --- they all learn the hard and painful way how creating good software is astonishingly expensive, but creating bad software is even more so.

What do you think? []  links to this post    9:18:51 AM  

Lisa Williams: "strange, but it's easier for me to find out what's going on in Indonesia than what's going on next door. Blogs are a perfect remedy for this problem (see"

Throw in an ounce of GeoURL and localfeeds and we can perhaps start making sense of our neighborhoods again.

Update: local information is not just neat, it's necessary, and it's disappearing from old media - I just found this tidbit from Harper's thanks to Chris Corrigan:

When a train car overturned in Minot, North Dakota last year, a large quantity of ammonia spilled out, sending up a cloud of poison gas. Local officials quickly tried to contact the town's seven radio stations to send out the alarm -- only to find that there was no one actually working in six of them. They were simply relaying a satellite feed from Clear Channel headquarters in Texas -- there was plenty of country music and golden oldies and Top 40 and right-wing chat, but no one to warn about the toxic cloud drifting overhead. It's true that you can hear anything from anywhere at any time but oddly, it's gotten a lot harder to hear much about your immediate vicinity.

What do you think? []  links to this post    8:30:35 AM  

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