Aug 01 31 2001


It's been a terrible year for our fantasy-league baseball team, the Malden Mallards. Good players injured: McGwire, Smoltz, Pedro, Varitek. Endless mishaps and boundless misjudgments. The odd thing is that this isn't obviously a bad team, at least not to my eyes; either I've lost my baseball sense, or next year isn't hopeless despite finishing 10+ games out.
Aug 01 30 2001


Apropos of the Marvell quote (My vegetable love should grow/vaster than empires, and more slow), do I detect an echo in Patience?

An attachment a la Plato for a bashful young potato
or a not too French french bean.
And everyone will say, as you walk your flowery way,
If he's content with a vegetable love that would certainly not suit me,
Why what a most particularly pure young man this pure young man must be!

I really, really want to write a quick-and-dirty game. It's about government, an idea I had a couple of years ago that, for some reason, cropped up again this week. But the fallout from Card Shark and Thespis has included a bunch of invitations for talks, chapters, and papers, none of which brings in any money. Ceres needs all my attention and more. Plus eNarrative, p0es1s, tech support, sales, accounting, and Time's winged chariot. expletive deleted.
Aug 01 29 2001


Wireless Internet around the house is great. In the last year, we've upgraded the house from 56K to wireless broadband. The office DSL is almost as good. It's great to grab the laptop and head downstairs for an early-morning cup of coffee.

The important thing isn't speed. It's ubiquity, the sense that the Net is wherever you want it to be. Not dialing a modem makes a big psychological difference; instead of the Net being a separate activity, it's just there.

Aug 01 26 2001

More Ceres

I've spent a little bit of time working with the Ceres design of this site. You won't see any changes: the changes are all inside the Ceres file. But things are easier to do now. For example, the list of upcoming talks on this page is automatically sorted by date, and Ceres lets me drag-and-drop old talks into the Old Talks page (also automatically sorted, but formatted differently)
Aug 01 23 2001

Hypertext '01

Just back from Hypertext '01 in Århus. This year's conference was exceptionally strong, with a host of intriguing papers and a variety of interesting new systems. (An online version of my talk on Card Shark and Thespis: two exotic hypertext systems will be available here shortly.)
Aug 01 1 2001


I just learned that my Hypertext '01 paper, "Card Shark and Thespis: exotic tools for hypertext narratative", has been nominated for the Engelbart award. It's a great (and unexpected) honor.
Jul 01 28 2001


Linda and I are watching highlights from Senior year, and the end of this season just spooled across the reruns. It's easy to forget how well written this show is, or how tightly the acting is wound. We few, we happy few, we band of buggers. Does anyone know what happens next? She saved the world a lot
Better. Not much better; I'm slow, the net is slow, everything takes too long. I need a faster machine. I need more time. Denmark is two weeks away. But good things are happening again, the system is fun to use, and the last Ceres Summit made real progress.
I marinated a couple of tuna steaks for a few minutes in olive oil, salt, cayenne pepper, and fresh-chopped basil. Grilled 2 minutes a side over very hot wood. Top with a relish of diced limes, nectarines, a little honey, a little balsamic, and some dried chile pepper. A bottle of Pinot Grigio. A nice little weekend treat.
Jul 01 22 2001


July 22: the end of the least satisfying work week since the never-to-be-forgotten Storyspace for Windows death march.
Jul 01 7 2001


This month's quotation is probably best known as the dying speech of an android in Blade Runner. Magdalena Donea, in the tagline of her pioneering Web memoir, moments, attributes to the actor Rutger Hauer . It's the conclusion of a haunting, homoerotic poem by David Wojnarowic. (It is not completely clear which came first, or whether either Wojnarowic or Hauer intended the allusion)
Jul 01 1 2001

Singapore Buffy

Great (but too brief!) visit with Ruth and George Landow to discuss myriad new projects, ideas, and to exchange the Last Batch of Buffy Tapes for the year. It's interesting to see how popular Buffy is with the hypertext theory crowd; fine writing is the key.

She saved the world a lot

Jun 01 29 2001


iCabI've (finally) begun testing iCab, an alternative Web browser that emphasizes speed and standards. It's surprisingly good -- very snappy, and much better at rendering complex pages and working with plug-ins than I'd expected. Only snag so far is getting amazon to give me the right cookie. On the good side, it's much faster than MSIE or Netscape, it's got a small footprint, it's free, and it's new. Internet time has slowed to a crawl ; we need new software!
May 01 12 2001

Red Sox

It's an amazing season. The Cubs and Phillies are both in first. The Red Sox are still close, despite a hsot of disasters. The Mallards have finally gotten out of the cellar. What next?
She Saved The World A Lot : fine, fine writing. (More here)
Two big Ceres meetings came off well this week. The first big positioning summit generated a wall full of ideas. The Presentation To The Board went well, too; when your Board asks you when they can start using your new product, you're doing something right.
Made With Ceres This site is now made with Ceres, Eastgate's forthcoming tool for making, analyzing, and sharing notes. Ceres makes it easy to add new notes, reviews, and other kinds of news, and it helps keep everything organized. That's important, even in a small site like this. And because Ceres runs on your own computer, your data is yours, and everything is faster and reliable.

I'm currently using the d7 release of Ceres. If you'd like to know more, or watch the construction as it happens, visit the Eastgate Development Peekhole. If you notice that Ceres made a mistake somewhere in this site, please email me.

Information appliances in your hand, and unexpected depth in Flash 5.

More Notes....

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."
Apr 01 21 2001


Ceres, a new tool for making, analyzing, and sharing notes, made this page,
Apr 01 20 2001


eNarrative: My latest essay, The Narrative Web: beyond usability and design, leads off this week's issue of A List Apart.
Apr 01 7 2001


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.
Apr 01 2 2001


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.
Mar 01 21 2001


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)
Mar 01 7 2001


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.

Feb 01 28 2001


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.

Feb 01 19 2001


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?
Feb 01 13 2001


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.
Jan 01 24 2001

Ship it

Ship!: Storyspace 2.0 for Macintosh is ready to ship. Roll the presses! Break out the champagne! Catch up on sleep.
Jan 01 17 2001


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.

Jan 01 14 2001


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?

Jan 01 10 2001


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.

Jan 01 6 2001


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."

"That's strange."

Somehow we cross-circuited to B. Stay tuned.

Jan 01 1 2001

New Year

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.

Dec 00 15 2000

Release Mode

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.

Dec 00 2 2000


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.
Nov 00 23 2000


Thanksgiving: Free-range turkey, cooked (as always) on the grill. Too chilly for many neighbors to notice this annual eccentricity. Rootmos. Fresh cranberries, chopped with clementines. Zaca Mesa Chardonnay. Meryl's blueberry crumble.

Nov 00 17 2000


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.
Nov 00 15 2000


eNarrative 1 was everything I'd expected, and more. Filled with energy, excitement, intelligence, and fun. Some early comments are posted on at and on the conference discussion board.
Nov 00 8 2000

I told you...

Don't 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.
Nov 00 7 2000


Welcome: Haskell Rosen, my new nephew, born November 7, 2000, in New York. 7lb 13oz
Nov 00 1 2000


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.
Oct 00 24 2000


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.
Oct 00 21 2000


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.

Oct 00 13 2000


In 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 evening.