An intriguing, challenging
conference, filled with ideas and rough edges. Biggest buzz: Ted
Nelson's description of modern software as "like asking to
paint, not with brushes, but with a cat. A live cat. With claws."
Ceres, a new tool for making, analyzing, and sharing notes, made this page,
Denmark: The Hypertext 2001 Program Committee had its annual meeting this week in Aarhus. It's always a remarkable gathering of talented, diverse, and often brilliant scholars. On first impression, this year's program strikes me as one of the strongest in years.
Broadband: If you've been wondering if high-speed access is worth the money and hassle, don't. It's great.
Time begins:Opening day for US baseball has arrived. The Red Sox have mixed prospects this year, and things look still bleaker for the Cubbies and for our fantasy Malden Mallards. But it's Spring, and we're tied for first with just 162 games left to play.
Another incredibly fun essay I'll never read again: David Foster Wallace unpacks the usage wars, castigates Academic English, exposes PC English as the conservative faud it is, and praises A Dictionary of Modern American Usage at considerable, extravagant, and densely footnoted length. In Harpers, April '01. (This is precisely why subscribing to Harpers and The Atlantic is a good idea)
New birds: a delightful morning of birding near College Station yields three North American lifers in about two hours, leaving me in great shape to present Where Are The Hypertexts, Again? to a gratifyingly large (if silent) crowd.
Three new birds in one morning, thanks entirely to a wonderful guide.
Smiles: Web professionals all over the world are smiling today, because KC is not just in remission -- she's even off her IV! The drama of her weblog has been captivating for many months. A phenomenon.
Flash titles: The headline on this page was formerly an image. Today, it's a Flash object.
Flash is usually used for animation, but it renders type cleanly and scales it well. Flash is more efficient for headlines than GIF images.
Using Flash to replace HTML is probably a bad idea; HTML is more efficient and more useful. But using Flash to replace an image is bound to be a win. Comments and dissents are welcome.
Its a big world: I recently saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in a Cambridge theater, and much of the audience got the jokes before the subtitles appeared on screen. Had everybody seen the movie before? Or does everyone study Mandarin in college nowadays?
Definition: Tsimmes: like tsores, but with more running around and shrieking.
The Web Standards folks, led by Jeff Zeldman, have started a crusade to encourage people to upgrade their browsers. Zeldman's been getting lots of hateful email; everyone who has any modicum of Web visibility seems to get bundles of overwrought emotionalism. Who are these trolls? Do they have jobs? Are they really nice people the rest of the time, people who just got carried away or were having a bad day when they wrote you? I never get this stuff outside of email.
Ship!: Storyspace 2.0 for Macintosh is ready to ship. Roll the presses! Break out the champagne! Catch up on sleep.
House of the Rising Sun: At the heart of Traffic is the old drug lie: a cute virginal white girl goes to a party where her friends drink and do a little social cocaine. A few weeks later, she's turning tricks in a fleabag hotel. She's rescued overnight by Christ and 12 steps.
The movie knows it's a lie, it subverts the falsehood with cinematographic shorthand. Perhaps its a ruse to fool the ratings board. Maybe its politics.
The movie seems designed to provide one experience for the Left and another, completely different experience for the Right. This is hard to do: that's probably a good thing.
Life with Palm: At Eastgate, we're all walking around with PalmOS PDAs, learning how small computers really fit into business life. We know about calendars and address books; we're trying to learn what lies beyond (and how we can help get there)
It's interesting how little action I've found on the Web about integrating these little computers into your worklife. I've found plenty of sites that advertise shareware, but editorially the landscape seems bleak. Contrast the Mac world: where is the Palm news site like MacCentral, or the daily news feed like MacNN? Where are the rumors sites? The deal sites?
For example, the Palm lets you assign categories to all sorts of things. For some people, the categories are obvious. For some, they're mandated by corporate MIS. How should the rest of us use them?
Another example: how urgent is a priority 1 todo? Once a day? Once a month?
What You Can Live With: At work, I keep four computers on my desktop. Hope is the Web development and mail center, Patience is the home of Storyspace development, Faith is a shiny new Windows box, and recently I've been trying to spend time with a PDA. We've got a new system in planning that ought to be perfect for PDAs, so everyone around here has been told to use the things.
Hope is a big server that's showing some age, and replacing it's old 800x600 15" monitor has been on the wishlist for years. Other things came first (like adequate monitors for everyone else at Eastgate!)
Recently, though, Hope has been looking like an old Mac Classic shortly before the power supply would blow: shimmery video, constantly shifting, feathery screen edges, the works. Every day was a little worse.
Rather than wait for it to give out entirely, I broke down and ordered a generic 17" monitor. The difference is astonishing. How could I have put up with the old display? I can't imagine.
Total cost: $225. Oy.
Phone Fun: Last night, my home phone began to insist that I handn't chosen a long distance carrier. I brought this to the attention of my long distance carrier; the pointed out I wasn't calling from home.
"I'm standing in my kitchen!"
"But this isn't your line, sir."
"I'm pretty certain it's my kitchen. I've lived here for years."
Somehow we cross-circuited to B. Stay tuned.
Happy New Year: This year's midnight double-feature was Sleepers, followed by 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In grad school, we used to talk about submarine chemistry -- experimental work that you might try on the off-chance it might work. We'd say, "If it doesn't work, it'll never surface." Submarine chemistry avoids having to justify experiments you don't really expect to work. You never know...
I've got a submarine hypertext system running on my laptop.
Dissonance: I hate release mode. We're almost ready to ship; the remaining issues are boring, difficult, or unrewarding. Often all three.
I'm reviewing a set of papers for a conference; many of them seem to be wretched, sterile, and deadly dull.
The good news this week a a remarkable little book, Stephen Lekson's The Chaco Meridian. Studiously informal, written with wit and polish, exquisite.
Buffleheads!: a crew of Bufflehead ducks have stopped over on our local pond this week. Very unusual: the pond is really to shallow for divers, and we rarely see anything but Mallards.
Thanksgiving: Free-range turkey, cooked (as always) on the grill. Too chilly for many neighbors to notice this annual eccentircity. Rootmos. Fresh cranberries, chopped with clementines. Zaca Mesa Chardonnay. Meryl's blueberry crumble.
Side Effect: On election night, traffic to Eastgate's site skyrocketed. That makes sense: lots of people were up late, scouring the net for news and visiting their bookmarks while waiting for new vote counts. Election night traffic levels have not abated; we're still seeing about 30% excess traffic.
forget I told you so: The Bush election, if it holds up, may usher
in a two-year Republican reign that we'll all regret. The GOP will
lose the Senate (and probably the House) in 2002, but by then the
damage may already be irreversible.
Haskell Rosen, my new nephew, born November 7, 2000, in New York.
Oy Vey: I recently learned from a Tony Kushner essay that this phrase (which I've used since infancy) means "Oh, Woe!" This is my precise feeling when I hear people say what a nice guy they think George W. Bush is. Stop this madness; Bush is dangerous.
Malden Mallards: 2000 Central
Division Champions, Eddie Plank league. Our fantasy baseball
team almost went all the way this year, despite McGwire's injury
and a host of pitching woes. Mike Hampton stopped them in the playoffs.
Wait until next year.
A flock of Tufted Titmice at Great meadows. You see individual TT's all the time, playing with the chickadees, but I haven't run across an entire flock before.
Also Canada Goose, Mallard, Black Duck, ?Common Grackle, Green-winged
Teal, American Crow, Black-capped chickadee.
Boston: Nocturne (American
Repertory Theater). This world premiere of a play by Adam Rapp
offers fine writing, vivid acting, and an amazing set in the third
act. Oddly, Nocturne isn't really a play: it's a tableau vivant with
narration. A strange choice for Brustein's company, but a memorable