Back to previous post: Those Clintons

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Sympathy for the Clintons

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

February 12, 2008

Geolocating PNH
Posted by Patrick at 08:34 AM * 128 comments

In case any Making Light readers happen to be here, I should mention that I’m at the O’Reilly Tools for Change for Publishing conference in New York all day today, as I was most of yesterday as well. Notwithstanding the fact that yesterday the office was so demanding that I felt like I was only half here (there are definite downsides to being constantly tethered to your email), it’s been pretty interesting. Here’s today’s schedule and here’s the conference blog.

From my erratic notes, some favorite moments so far:

Stephen Abram: “What does it mean to deal with a world with too much information? By 2020 your iPod will have enough storage for all the information ever created in all media. Formats die; human social needs trump everything.”

Ben Vershbow: “Curating the conversation will be a whole new kind of editorial job.”

Abram again: “Context, not ‘content,’ is king. If you don’t know the context in which your users are inhaling your information and making use of it, what their goals are, you’re not there.”

Dan Gillmor: “My readers are smarter than I am.”

Douglas Rushkoff: [pulls out easel, draws geometric-increase line chart] “THIS CHART IS ALWAYS HAPPENING.” [draws another] “INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF THESE CHARTS OVER TIME.”

Rushkoff again: “‘Content is king! Content is king!’ No. Nor is ‘context.’ Contact is king. What makes the Internet different from previous mass media is that it provides people with enhanced opportunities to socialize. Prior mass media were created to reduce contact between individuals and increase contact between individuals and a brand. I buy oats less from Joe and more from a Quaker who doesn’t exist.”

Rushkoff again: “The reason everyone goes online isn’t to find a new data stream. It’s in order to be able to say ‘I found a new data stream.’”

Rushkoff again: “The Internet isn’t ‘interactive’ media. CD-ROMs were ‘interactive media,’ and they were so wildly successful because that’s what people really want to do, interact with their computers.” [Pause] “Yes, that was sarcasm. The Internet is interpersonal media.”

Derek Powazek: “The three lies we all tell ourselves are: (1) Everyone on the net is an idiot; (2) You can’t find the good stuff, and (3) You can’t make money with this stuff.”

More to come, I’m sure. If any of you are around, do say hi.

Comments on Geolocating PNH:
#1 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 09:50 AM:

But... but ... I -like- interacting with my computer... and it loves me too!!!

#2 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 09:56 AM:

That's not what it says to the other computers when you're out of the room.

#3 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:15 AM:

This morning I forwarded the TCP blog link to a few people with the suggestion that they just click on everything linked from it and settle down to read. I found a lot to think about, and better yet, a lot I hadn't realized I wanted to think about, in about five minutes of tab-shuffling.

So I'd actually love to have had an excuse to go there.

Keep posting the notes, please!

(I love the term "Curating the conversation." It has implications that bear thinking about further.)

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:24 AM:

abi @ 3... "Curating the conversation."

Is this the kind of conversation that one enjoys vicariously?

#5 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:37 AM:

Serge @4: I love how you parson all the phrases. Man, you're prefect.

#6 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:40 AM:

Ginger... I'm relieved you can abbey-de my puns.

#7 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Serge@ 6 -- Prior to finding my way here, I thought nun were better at puns than my family. Propst to you for making my day!

#8 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:52 AM:

Ginger... Thanks. Still, we'd better stop this drifting of the thread, or else we'll be jumping from the pun into the friar.

#9 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 10:59 AM:

Serge: As you wish. ;-)

#10 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 11:45 AM:

Of course, it's Serge's canonical duty to make all these puns. I keep thinking there's one I'm on the verger of making, but it keeps deaconnecting from my brain. Oh, well, it can go bishop a rope!

But I thought Vershbow said "curetting the conversation." That would be different. (Pun Catalysis: the New Threat.)

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:16 PM:

Xopher @ 10... Do not tempt me any further, you vile nave.

#12 ::: Sean Sakamoto ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:26 PM:

I so envy folks who can talk about these ideas, for a living! Thanks for posting about it. I got lost in links from that schedule.

#13 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:36 PM:

Xopher @ 10 -- Oh, boy. You just had to inject more puns into this dying thread. ICU can't resist Serge either.

Serge @ 11 -- Canon you ignore him?

#14 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Ginger @ 13... Canon you ignore him?

That depends on our host.

#15 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 12:48 PM:

Serge @ 14 -- Ah. In other words, it would be a miracle.

#16 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:03 PM:

If you're fishing for suggestions on what to attend, I'd go to the "Reaching the MySpace Generation" talk at 3:40pm in Broadway South.

#17 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:16 PM:

Serge 11: You cut me, surgeon my oath you do! I know you want my whole head, but my scalpel have to do, forcept that I need my head.

#18 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:26 PM:

Xopher #17: You're not making much flense, I have to say. Of course, I could go the other route of this conversation and demand a transept of everything that's been said.

#19 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:36 PM:

I like puns as well as the next guy, but I just want to assure Patrick that I am very interested in hearing more about the conference.

#20 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 01:47 PM:

Yes, this Rushkoff guy is fairly fascinating...and the future of books (and publishing) is an issue dear to my heart, though not yet to my pocketbook...I'm sorry if I gave the impression that I only came here for the puns.

#21 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 02:45 PM:

Why do I get the nagging feeling that Making Light has semiconsciously modelled itself after Callahan's Bar, complete with the brave deeds of world-saving, or at least honorable attempts at same? Or maybe all fen blogs are like that, and ML merely the glorious apotheosis of said tendency.

#22 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 02:49 PM:

Please, please, I beg of you; let the puns l-apse!

#23 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 02:50 PM:

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I first saw this post's subject-line I had this great mental image of stumbling around in the woods with a GPS and suddenly coming across PNH standing in a ravine waiting to hand me a log book and a small plastic monkey. Stranger things have happened, after all.

Geoeditorcaching. Hey, wait, what a great idea -- just think on how you'd cut down on slush piles if prospective authors had to hike up a mountain in order to hand over a manuscript!

-Suzanne

#24 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 02:56 PM:

No, contempt is king. 75% of all non-spam Internet content consisits of people complaining about or mocking things.

Wait, contours are king. Porn drives all new media, mostly guys looking for shapely women.

Control is king. In the new publishing world, customers want the kind of content they want, when they want it. Customized font size, ability pause-and-rewind, mashup rights. Contortion!

Contagion is king. Viral marketing!

Controversy, that's what's king. Or maybe contango. Contracts for contraband. Contusions?

#25 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Suzanne @ 23: But, if you cut down on the submissions, where would the mountain come from?

#26 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:05 PM:

(waving hand in air)

Can I say something?

This Rushkoff guy is a blathering idiot!

I mean, look at this article from 2001, claiming that the net is (well, was) going to be the death blow to fundamentalism. It hasn't happened! In fact, I'd argue that the internet has made the problem worse, and maybe even that cheap publishing and communication made fundamentalism (as movement) possible.

Here it is, six years after his article, and we have the Archbishop of Canterbury giving an address and an interview over the relationship between sharia and British law, and he makes some fairly minor suggestions about accommodation (and some only a little veiled pokes and British secularism). And the next thing anyone knows, the powers of mass media and especially of the internet have escalated this into the Flap Of The Day. The fact that you can look up the text of these things and read them for yourself doesn't seem to count for a lot; the hysteria and misinformation travel around the world just as fast as the truth, if not faster. The only things that seem to be damping the affair are that (a) the American media have largely decided that it isn't interesting, and (b) the C of E hierarchy largely agrees with Canterbury (or at least doesn't see fit to attack him). But the blogosphere continues to clang, mostly with neo-con haranguers.

Rushkoff misses two crucial things, besides the fact that he's tone-deaf to religion. First, like a lot of futurists he doesn't take into account how technological improvements can also be used to facilitate what people are already doing. Second, he is oblivious to the fact that fundamentalism itself is as much a community activity as it is a doctrinal stance. The people who assign it to self-righteousness are not entirely off the mark, but self-righteousness is crucially enabled by a community which rewards it. Blogs and related on-line interaction create that community far more effectively than it can even be created in person, since they remove many of the nuances of interaction that help damp out these excesses in real communities.

He's a flying car salesman, as far as I can tell.

#27 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Contrails are king.

#28 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Avram @ 24: The question that raises for me is, if control is king, why am I reading this conversation in Opera rather than Thunderbird or tin? Or, more particularly, why is the explosion of web forums occurring in low-control web format rather than high-control netnews?

(It's not just the whole "there is only one Usenet, and it gets transferred everywhere" thing; I remember participating in at least one private-server public-access newsgroup that was akin to running a web forum on one's own server.)

In partial answer to that, I think that the content creators want some control (thus, ability to write in HTML, and to know that things are always viewed on the same page in fixed order), and the forum providers want some control as well -- in particular, to control that the things on the forum are viewed on the same page as the ads they sell to pay for hosting and administration costs. Or however they benefit from the forum; it may be directing traffic to their own business site rather than ads per se.

#29 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:06 PM:

re #24: I think it's constipation. All channels become clogged with, um, stuff.

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:09 PM:

ethan, you beat me to it. Stop reading my mind, damn you!

#31 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:10 PM:

C. Wingate @ 26: One thing that the internet rewards is blathering idiots who are well-spoken and entertaining. Especially when they mock things and are funny. I was going to say "when they mock things we don't like", but (citing Ugol) just about anything mockable has people who don't like it. And getting a tenth of the internet to applaud you is still an impressive thundering roar.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:27 PM:

Incontinence is queen.

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:30 PM:

C. 26: Clearly, contrarians are king.

So that's what that C stands for!

#34 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 03:45 PM:

Xopher #30: Contingency is king. You should have had a backup!

(This joke, unfortunately, is my lame backup, because I racked my mind for about five minutes trying to think of a word for psychic powers that started with con-, and came up empty.)

#35 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:08 PM:

"C" stands for "Cking".

#36 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:08 PM:

At futurist conferences, entrails are king; how else can you predict the future?

#37 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:22 PM:

Brooks Moses #28 -- Seeing as how Making Light has an RSS feed for each comment thread, you could read this conversation in just about any app that'll take an RSS feed, or that'll take anything that an RSS feed can be converted into.

Contributing back to the conversation might be more complicated, but I think it ought to be possible to write your own front-end for ML's comment form. Or switch over to Firefox, which supports all sorts of page-hacking. (Opera? I remember that being a pretty good browser, in 1999.)

#38 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 04:38 PM:

One of the words that I've borrowed from Daniel Keys Moran is "datastarve" -- more than anything else, I suspect that's the key to understanding the latest set of generational differences.

It's moving from having access to a wealth of information, at times, to expecting and desiring immersion in information -- any information.

I suppose you could argue that it's moving from the Church to the bizarre.

#39 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:21 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 36: So, where contrails are king is in futurist inferences?

No wonder the air traffic in most science-fictional cityscape artwork is horrendous!

#40 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:32 PM:

Now that we've geolocated PNH, should we geocache him?

#41 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:34 PM:

There I was, wracked with guilt at my puns being such a bad habit, and how do people altar the course of their conversations?

#42 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:38 PM:

While I'm denouncing: Abrams' first comment is also nonsense. He's eliding over such problems as:

* The media get bigger, but the format of the message gets bigger too. And in 2020, you won't have an iPod, because it'll be made obsolete.

* Did he ever read McLuhan? Not that I agree with everything McLuhan says, but it's obvious that media direct human social "needs"-- not just through content, but through form.

* There's going to come a time when machine bandwidth is going to exceed human bandwidth to such a degree as to transform the way accessible-- internet-- media work.

* Format conversion is a huge problem, and one which has only been really solved for purely mechanical A-V media. Books are going to be a huge problem for a very long time. Yeah, in 2020 you'll be able to hold the contents of all the world's libraries on your iPod, but you won't be able to read them because all you'll really have is pictures of pages which may or may not be legible and which in any case won't be indexed or otherwise be usefully searchable. The problem of information loss due to format advance is likely to remain a hard problem forever; it certainly won't be solved by 2020.

* Permanence is going to be a bigger and bigger problem. It's already a huge problem on the internet, where you have to steal material in order to make sure you'll have it when you want it. URLs are the equivalent of chaining books to their cases.

Need any more rants?

#43 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:43 PM:

Please, rant on. I find all this interesting, even if somewhat confusing.
I'm in a weird situation myself- I have walls of books, but online all I need is to remember how to find the information, and then cut and paste.
As the saying goes, google does not have a wisdom button. Whereas with books, I have to digest the material before regurgitating it to someone online.

(Now all I need to do is find some arguments online which I can win because I have real original paper sources that are not online)

#44 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 05:50 PM:

Serge @ 41 -- me too! Here I was repenting, reading the TOC blog, and what do I see?

On the serious side, I found the reports focused on the business aspect of publishing, which isn't helpful to me, the consumer. I'd also like to know why every publisher seems to think he/she's invented the Free! book access -- wasn't Baen the first to offer real-io trul-io free nonencrypted books in multiple formats? Or is that just some nonsense I've allowed into my memory banks?

As a consumer of books (nom nom nom), I'd like to have books offered for free and for a reasonable price, without DRM or other forms of encryption, and without time limits, restrictions on downloads, and so forth. I can tell you anecdotally (which is not data) that I have downloaded free books and then purchased the hard copies of the same books. What the free downloads turn into is essentially an on-line library, and nobody screams about encrypting library books, do they?

Back to my original light-hearted approach: What a crocket!

#45 ::: guthrie ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 06:06 PM:

If we're on wishes, I want the internet to turn into a kind of final encyclopaedia, with everythign from science journals to newspapers to essays available to everyeone.
But sorting through it all will be tricky.

#46 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 07:50 PM:

My illustrious spouse has also been attending and bringing home quotes. On the one hand, it would be fun to go. On the other hand, it would probably turn my hair gray and my face purple, judging by the evidence of ignorance and misstatements of digital history David's been quoting me from lines uttered on the podium and/or by featured speakers.

Does history matter? Does it really really matter if people speaking in 2007 have a reasonable command of what happened in 1993 or 1995? Or is this about faith?

#47 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 09:39 PM:

guthrie @ 45

We're already well down that path. In the States, NIH has mandated that all papers supported by their grants will be available for free access within one year of publication. I think this is how things are going to go in the next few years: journals and such are going to have to be satisfied with making money off articles up front, with archive access available free to anyone.

Kathryn Cramer @ 46
There's a lot of preaching whenever futurists gather. Sturgeon's Law applies: 90% don't know squat; but the other 10% base their prognostications on what's happened before. Doesn't necessarily make them right, but it gives some chance greater than snowball in hell, which is what the others get.

#48 ::: PHB ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 09:44 PM:

Actually the fundamentalism is not having such a great time on the net. Fundamentalism is a reaction against modernity, it is the people who are trying to turn the clock back. The noise they make is the result of desperation, not a sign of success.

Take the Christian Coalition. There is no real risk that they will return to the days when they could tell the networks to dump SOAP or face a boycott. Today the networks are far more afraid of Aravoisis than they are of the Christian fundies.

And the desperation of Rowan Williams is merely another sign of the same trend. The guy is so desperate he is looking to make common cause with other 'people of faith' despite the obvious fact that the principal tenet of their particular faith is to grind his faith into the dust.

#49 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 12, 2008, 11:24 PM:

re 48: Not to be particularly polite about it, but your analysis of the RW/sharia flap is completely out of touch with reality. If nothing else, your implicit identification of Williams as a fundamentalist is ludicrous: the whole reason there is a flap in the first place is because he wasn't "fundamentalist" enough about the church's and England's stance towards Islam.

Fundamentalism may be a reaction against modernity, but it is also a reaction of modernity. Modern communications enable the kind of dispersed insularity that makes the standoff between the fundamentalists and their enemies possible. The internet cranks that up a lot, because you can have huge, multiple, insular communities. Heck, just within Anglicanism you can see a whole bunch of worldwide microcommunities who hardly know one another. The group of people around Terry Martin on one side and Matt Kennedy on the other hardly interact with each other except to cast insults at each other from their respective interactive ghettoes. There are a few crazy hard cases such as myself who try to live in both worlds, but I personally don't have the stamina to keep doing it over the long haul, and it's very hard for a person to be treated as a human being in both groups.

Internet communication is not a boon to human interpersonal understanding, because the ease of communication is swamped by the ease of selecting one's comrades.

#50 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 12:29 AM:

C. Wingate is right, everything said at TOC was nonsense. Good excuse for me to say nothing more.

Actually summing up why various things were interesting would be a lot of work. Thank goodness C. Wingate was around to explain why it's all stupid.

C. Wingate should post more; with a little extra effort, he or she could shut down my desire to post on Making Light altogether. It'll be a win-win!

#51 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 12:38 AM:

C. Wingate, you have fucking blown it. I'm not sure what all's happening -- Patrick's too upset for that -- but this is bad.

#52 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 12:44 AM:

C. Wingate, you've had plenty to say up to this point; where are you now?

Patrick came back from the conference happily talking about how interesting he'd found it. He was texting me while it was happening.

Are you really sure you know what was going on from a collection of quotes caught in passing?

#53 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 01:10 AM:

Patrick Nielsen Hayden writes: "Thank goodness C. Wingate was around to explain why it's all stupid."

Dammit. I was actually looking forward to seeing Patrick's response to the conference. Instead, here I am, staying up past my bedtime, preparing anvilgrams for the mass driver, and trying to narrow the delivery coordinates enough to keep the collateral damage to an acceptable limit...

#54 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 03:50 AM:

For my part, I rather like the phrase "cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" at moments like this. I think it's my new favorite phrase.

I think there are some interesting points to be made against specific sound bites, but perhaps we could wait to dis the entire conference until we've heard about it?

Patrick, please post thoughts, impressions, notes, ideas, anything from that. I really want to hear how it went. I wish I could have hacked an excuse to be there.

I particularly want to hear more about curating conversations.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 04:08 AM:

Patrick... What Abi and j h woodyatt said.

#56 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 04:15 AM:

j h woodyatt @ 53... Anvilgrams? I didn't know that Acme Products had a branch in the Bay Area.

#57 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 05:39 AM:

Acme has branches everywhere.

#58 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 07:14 AM:

C Wingate @ 42 (which is apparently not always the answer).
While I'm denouncing: Abrams' first comment is also nonsense. He's eliding over such problems as:

* The media get bigger, but the format of the message gets bigger too. And in 2020, you won't have an iPod, because it'll be made obsolete.

Crap.

The first Powerbook (as Powerbook) was made in 1991 (and Apple's first note... err, luggable... was made a couple of years earlier). Although they aren't called "Powerbooks" anymore, Apple still produces notebooks, in largely the same format, sixteen years later. Given that - and the astonishing namebrand recognition - I would not at all be surprised to see things named "iPods" (2001) and "iPhones" (2007) around in 2020 (which is only 12 years away.*

As for "format of the message" - yes, and no. Video files are getting larger - but also smaller, depending on exact formatting and compression ratios. Much of the "zomg hueg" factor is HD video - which will get smaller again as people figure out effective compression algorithms for them (compare downloaded video from ten years ago, in terms of resolution vs. size per minute, with today's downloads). Music has actually stayed pretty standard (about a megabyte a minute), but the quality has gotten better for that megabyte.

However, while PDFs are larger than plain text file, they are only necessary if you're looking to maintain formatting (for things like manuals, picture books, and the like). Scanned comics wrapped into CBR format - at higher resolutions than a handheld device is likely to need - end up being about the same size as a well laid out game manual PDF - 10 - 20mb, depending on size. An unformatted/barely formatted ebook ends up being about half a meg at most - and many are quite smaller.

Meanwhile, and iPod Touch has up to 32gb of static "flash" memory - and will likely have 64gb available before the end of the year, for the same price. By 2020? When I was writing for Cyberpunk, we deliberately avoided any kind of extrapolation as to exactly how much space was in an MU (the standard currency of data exchange) except that it was LARGE.

* Did he ever read McLuhan? Not that I agree with everything McLuhan says, but it's obvious that media direct human social "needs"-- not just through content, but through form.

McLuhan is not the be-all, end-all of media investigation - especially since he lived pretty much entirely in the pre-Digital era (ARPAnet was running during his later life, but was pretty much exclusively military and some universities at the time - even the heights of the BBS culture came into play only very shortly before his death and afterwards).

* There's going to come a time when machine bandwidth is going to exceed human bandwidth to such a degree as to transform the way accessible-- internet-- media work.

And then the Singularity will come, and we will all have magic ponies to ride.

Increased machine bandwidth simply allows multitasking for the device - downloading multiple things in the background, streaming of higher resolution files without the Youtube stutter, etc. The machine does not, in the end, control the user - it may restrict us (because of a lack of capability), and it may enable us (because of a surplus of capacity), but it does not rule us (except for those of us who are pasty-faced and need to get out and exercise more).

* Format conversion is a huge problem, and one which has only been really solved for purely mechanical A-V media. Books are going to be a huge problem for a very long time. Yeah, in 2020 you'll be able to hold the contents of all the world's libraries on your iPod, but you won't be able to read them because all you'll really have is pictures of pages which may or may not be legible and which in any case won't be indexed or otherwise be usefully searchable. The problem of information loss due to format advance is likely to remain a hard problem forever; it certainly won't be solved by 2020.

I have files created in 1991 that I can still read on my current system - some with more difficulty than others. I have books (from the Gutenberg library) that have been scanned in, OCRed, then spell- and reality-checked by humans. Twenty years from now, there might not be a human involved in the process - OCR gets better every year.

And high-resolution scans work admirably well for some purposes, including basic reading - as anyone who has read a scanned .cbr file will attest to.

* Permanence is going to be a bigger and bigger problem. It's already a huge problem on the internet, where you have to steal material in order to make sure you'll have it when you want it. URLs are the equivalent of chaining books to their cases.

This is no different than stealing, photocopying, or buying copies of books, magazines, articles, or newspaper clippings that you want to make sure you'll have access to later, really, and has been a problem since, well, forever. It is also more of an argument for copyright law reform, making the LoC publicly accessible online, and revamping how internet archiving works than throwing one's hands up and saying "zomg too difficult".

Need any more rants?

Please, no, thanks. I think I've had enough. Pancake?

*"Cyberpunk 2020: Every day, in every way, closer and closer."

#59 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 07:16 AM:

And oh, yeah, Patrick, what Abi said.

Please?

#60 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 07:51 AM:

Teresa, At 12:44 I was in bed, having wondered how bad the ice was going to be in the morning. (answer: two hour delay for the schools)

And Patrick, I don't know that it was "all" stupid. I wasn't there, of course. But having been in on the use of the internet etc. almost from the time it was switched on, and having a degree in this computer science stuff, and having been something of a futurological fan since I was a kid in the 1960s-- they've all converted me into a skeptic over the years. Just the last few days, even last night, I'd been reading some material about how the internet is being used now. Increasingly it is dominated by A-V streams, which the service providers are not at all happy about. As for the static content, a trip out from discussion of "word salad" led to a scholarly paper estimating that something like 12% of the static content of the web is crap designed to deceive search engines. E-mail is worse, of course; it wouldn't surprise me to find out that the junk-to-substance ratio for residential e-mail is as bad as what comes in from the postal service.

I don't think these guys are all wrong. But to me the bits you've quoted sound like sales pitches. And one of the good things about the internet now is that it makes checking up on people much easier. I went to Rushkoff's site, and I looked around a bit, and I read a paper which was off-the-wall in an area where my expertise is pretty high. I'll grant him this: perhaps he keeps that page up so that people can laugh at the silly things he said several years ago. I'm betting not. And what he said about fundamentalism was already wrong then, and it has only gotten worse.

I've spent three days watching a controversy based on exactly the kind of misinformation that the internet is supposed to prevent, having just gotten through an argument with another person with revolved around exactly the same problem. For someone like me, it is great to be able to see a claim about what someone said and then go straight to the source to verify it. The problem is that a lot, maybe most people aren't interested in performing that verification, and for a lot of those who do, the discrepancy doesn't register on them even when they do see the original document.

I don't think Rushkoff is a complete idiot, because I think he is right: electronic interpersonal interaction is important. I just don't think what he says about how it is important is grounded in reality.

And I'm willing to discuss the matter. I've been known to change my mind on things. But consider your reaction, Patrick. You hit me with a burst of emotion, not a rebuttal. You were annoyed at my killjoy responses; which means what I did wrong was a social gaffe, not a factual mistake. Could this interaction have happened if we were discussing this in person, without benefit of computers? Probably not. I would not have been able to find Rushkoff's paper, for one thing. But also I would have been far less likely to have made the mistake of thinking that I was in a venue for discussion.

Of course, you or Teresa can go ahead and deface my responses because they are distasteful. That is Vershbow's point, the follow-through of which wasn't posted. The website you give for him isn't so transparent as to his views (I don't think it's all just him, for one thing); but consider this quotation from Lewis Lapham concerning one of the projects there:

Lapham’s Quarterly in association with The Institute for the Future of the Book means to do better. Approaching individuals outside the circle of self-serving military and industrial opinion, we’ve invited them to annotate the ISG report as well as the President’s January speech to the nation.
Well, the obvious question is whether any of these other individuals can escape from the trap of their own self-service. I read Harper's, and while it isn't without merit, it is also tainted by a certain self-congratulation over the rightness of its views. And when he says that they will go outside one circle, anyone who has watched blog action over controversial subjects has to suspect that they are simply going to move from one dogmatism to another. In this case, it seems that they may have succeeded-- I'm really not interested enough to wade through the whole thing, so I can't say much more than that, except that they seem to have set up a social climate far removed from that of a blog.

I'm sorry, Patrick, that I pushed your button. I wish you hadn't taken it so personally.

#61 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:15 AM:

Shorter C. Wingate: "I thought this was a venue for reasonable discussion, but your negative response to my several paragraphs of heavy-handed rhetorical belligerence demonstrates the fatal limitations of online conversation."

#62 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:34 AM:

To return to direct mode: One of things I most hate in conversation is when I venture that I'm finding something interesting, and somebody else charges in and craps all over it before I've gotten my act together to explain any further. Extra points when they manage to impute that I'm a weak-minded, uncritical naif in contrast to their hard-headedly skeptical self. Resorting to flaunting their academic credentials -- well, that's a triple word score.

Yes, it's a great big old world of free speech, and if I post half-assed thoughts and quotations on the net I can't complain if people argue with them. Nor am I suggesting that my every word is golden and that my shit smells like flowers. But as I get older I find myself less tolerant of people who appear to believe that the way to join a conversation is to barge in trilling an aria on the theme of Here I Am To Set You Idiots Straight. Indeed, I find this positively annoying even, or especially, when I agree with a lot of the points being made, as I do in C. Wingate's case.

In a better mood I might have turned a soft answer, instead of losing my temper and saying, in effect, well, there's another potentially interesting conversation shot to hell. Here's a possible rule of thumb. If your habitual conversational approaches require that other people be in a notably good mood in order to work out, you might want to try other conversational approaches.

Or, alternately, you can believe that the internet is categorically "not a boon to human interpersonal understanding." I fully believe that this is what your experience has taught you.

#63 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:57 AM:

C Wingate @ 60 -

TL:DR
(okay, actually, I did. But geeze - I thought I was a long-winded so-and-so... the wall of textual blarghh is just as useless as the wall of sonic BS is, in terms of actually having a meaningful conversation) - some bits, however -

...they've all converted me into a skeptic over the years.

You ain't so old that you're teh Master of teh Internets - I suspect the number of Great Old Ones who cut their teeth on bang paths and remember the days when USENET ran at speeds we wouldn't want our modems running at - let alone real broadband connections.

As for me - I'm in the "glass half full" club, I suppose - which is likely to give some of my friends gales of laughter. Skepticism is useful - but only to a point.

The Internet is not without problems (anyone who thinks otherwise just needs to think back to the Year of the Endless September) - but it is also not without its strengths. Acknowledging only one of these things is not a sign of wisdom.

Increasingly it is dominated by A-V streams, which the service providers are not at all happy about.

Too bad for them. They'll live with it, or they will find themselves shut out of the market - even with localized monopolies, etc. if nobody is servicing the market in the way the market desires, someone else will come in (just as FiOs is kicking Comcast's butt among high-bandwidth desiring users, in the markets where they compete).

As for the static content, a trip out from discussion of "word salad" led to a scholarly paper estimating that something like 12% of the static content of the web is crap designed to deceive search engines.

How is this any different from the percentage of television that is ads, newspapers that is... ads, magazines that is... ads, radio play time that is... advertisements. etc. ad nauseum?

I've spent three days watching a controversy based on exactly the kind of misinformation that the internet is supposed to prevent, having just gotten through an argument with another person with revolved around exactly the same problem.

Oh, fer crying out loud. Here's your problem.

The Internet isn't supposed to do anything. It isn't sentient, sapient, or self-aware. It has no purpose on its own.

It makes certain things easier. Just like the difference between a library, and a library with a good librarian and a well-kept card catalog - either one let's you find Wuthering Heights - the second one is easier, but eventually you'll find it either way.

Right now? The Internet is mostly like that first library, compared to what it could be. But it's still head-and-shoulders above many other resources out there.

But consider your reaction, Patrick. You hit me with a burst of emotion, not a rebuttal. You were annoyed at my killjoy responses;

Gee, I wonder why? Patrick found some neat stuff that he (and the rest of us) was excited about talking about, and you came in with hob-nailed boots and all the subtlety and tact of a squad of hobgoblins on a five-day bender and stomped up and down on everything before anyone had really said anything other than "oh, neat? Do tell!" (take a look at your initial posts - did you say one - even one - positive thing about anything Patrick had posted about? One thing?)

#64 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Too bad that C. Wingate happens to have pushed buttons, because those posts shouldn't be dismissed as if they were mere trollery. I thought the term (and concept) "dispersed insularity" in #49 was particularly interesting, worth further discussion *somewhere*, if not in this thread.

#65 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 11:16 AM:

Patrick,

Did you go to the CK-12 demo? I'm desperately curious to hear what you think of it.

#66 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 11:28 AM:

I, too, would like to hear Patrick's impressions of the conference. I fear, however, that the joyful mood that would make telling us about it fun as opposed to work has been killed (for Patrick, I mean). Maybe if he starts and we start discussing the consequences of the issues and suggestions raised at TOC (and I keep thinking "Table Of Contents" when I see that), the good mood might come back?

And Faren, I'd be willing to listen to C.'s points—much later, in a less belligerent form, and after s/he apologizes for hir social gaffe. (And no, "I'm sorry, Patrick, that I pushed your button. I wish you hadn't taken it so personally" doesn't qualify. That's a non-apology. "I'm sorry for being a jerk, first when I posted the original killjoy comments, and again when I defended them" would work for me, but it's Patrick who's owed the apology here.)

A very wise person once said "No one is obliged to listen to you when you're being a jerk." I happen to think that applies even if what you're saying is true, and that, in turn, means that a real apology when you have made "a social gaffe, not a factual mistake" is still called for. I'm not taking the position that C.'s comments WERE true or correct, mind you; I caught the tone and skimmed thereafter. I suspect I'm not the only one.

And that, C. Wingate, is an important lesson in communication. If a website presents its information in flashing red 8-point sanserif on a blue background, it doesn't matter one whit what the content actually is; virtually no one will read it. And being right (or thinking you are) does not excuse you from normal rules of courtesy; any argument that can't be presented within them needs to be rethought.

#67 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 11:41 AM:

The oft-wise Bruce Baugh said recently, in a slightly different context, "There are times when it get a little tiresome, in fact, to defend having had a good time." It's a sentiment that illuminates much about December's War Prawn thrash, and why I don't read comments on YouTube or AICN; I think it applies to some extent here as well.

#68 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 11:48 AM:

As far as what the Intertubes might be good for - last night I found a great-great-granfather in the 1850 census. (We've only been looking for that piece of information for thirty or so years.) I was able to download an image of that page in less than five minutes. Without the 'Net, we'd still be looking next century, because he was living in a location that we hadn't even suspected.

It's about conversations with people you may never physically meet, and information that might be in a library on the other side of an ocean, and books by someone of whom you've never heard but are food-and-sleep-can-wait interesting.

Teresa, want some hot pepper seeds?

#69 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 11:48 AM:

In an effort to keep myself brief (watches as everyone wipes their brow in relief) -

What Xopher and Dan said, basically. (and some of what Faren said too - there *are* interesting points of discussion in C Wingate's verbiage).

#70 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 12:32 PM:

For your information, Scott Taylor, the oldest usenet posting of mine I can find through Google is dated in 1986. I remember when rn was released (in 1984), and used it as soon as it became available.

#71 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 12:49 PM:

Ooh, mine is 1988. Who else has pre-Web net cred?

#72 ::: C. Wingate ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 01:11 PM:

You know, I've tried to write this about four times now. And I can't. The more I think about it, the more furious I become.

I should never have made those first two posts. After that, there is nothing else I dare say.

#73 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 01:18 PM:

For my part, the reason I'm interested in seeing Patrick's take on the conference is that my experience with O'Reilly venues (I attended a Foo Camp) is that they attract a lot of extremely smart people as well as a lot of very interesting bulllshit artists. This makes for an environment rich in high-quality bullshit, and also rich in valuable technical insights (if you can just get all the bullshit off them).

Now, Patrick— by virtue of the career path he's on— is one of the very, very few people on Earth who is actually what we like to call structurally short on bullshit, which means he's a lot better than most of us at finding the valuable stuff to be had from sifting through it. That's why I want to know his take on the TOC.

Pointing out that there are bullshit artists at an O'Reilly conference may be a useful warning to some of us, but many of us here are already well past the point of needing it. Thanks, but I'd like to hear what Patrick found that was interesting. I'm a lot less interested in having the bullshit rehashed.

#74 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 01:23 PM:

PJ Evans #68:

You are so right. I recently found pictures, not only of my grandmother as a teenager, but of her grandmother and various relations, all posted by a double third cousin whom I have never actually met. It was fascinating, attempting to guess the age of the photo from the hairstyle, and seeing where the (fairly strong) family resemblances lay.

I've had some sort of net.account since 1983 or 1984, and this was one of those fairly rare times that info seemed to come from outside my solar system.

#75 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:05 PM:

On a more trivial note than P.J. Evans @ #68, ever since the first Violent Femmes album came out in 1983, I had been wracking my brains to figure out just which blues or rock song Gano was singing a little reference to in the middle of 'Gone Daddy Gone'. I knew it was something I knew but just could not place it, and neither could anyone else I asked - over the years I got a lot of "What the hell are you talking about?" and a few interesting wrong guesses even from people who thought they knew music.

This fall, it suddenly occurred to me that I didn't need to wonder. I typed '"know by the way that you treat your man" lyrics' into my Firefox search box, and within about 30 seconds I knew that it was from Willie Dixon's 'I Just Want To Make Love To You', covered by many blues and rock singers, including by The Rolling Stones on their first album.

I note also that in writing this today, I couldn't remember exactly what year Violent Femmes came out; again, about 30 seconds later I had checked AllMusic and knew it was in '83. Being able to do this changes the way I think - not what I think, but how I think.

Sherrold @71, I had ARPANet access in '76 when I was working at Argonne National Labs as a teenager, but sadly that's only good for bragging rights; I didn't have any 'net access for a long time after that, apart from some Internet-gatewayed email. My first Usenet postings were from VeriFone sometime in '90. Google/Deja seems to have lost them, but they're in the comp.compilers archive at iecc.com.

#76 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:16 PM:

What j h woodyatt said. I've been looking for ponies in high-tech bullshit since the mid-'70s; the aroma is no longer interesting. On the other hand, a lot of people thought Ted Nelson was bullshitting about hypertext. Anyone out there care to display agreement with that in HyperText Markup Language?

My first post to usenet was in 1980 or 1981. It was actually posted to the newsgroup that served as a mirror for the arpanet SPACE digest. It's disappeared from the intertubes long since.

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:20 PM:

The intertubes... Did that joke come from the time that Jon Stewart ran that old tube-making screensaver on his show?

#78 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:38 PM:

Clifton #75: Holy crap! I love that Violent Femmes song, and I know and also love multiple versions of the Willie Dixon song, and I never made the connection before. Wow. Thanks!

#79 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 08:53 PM:

Serge @ 77: the "tubes" come from Senator Ted Stevens' misunderstanding of the way the internet is connected. He described the internet as a series of tubes that fill up with all the stuff we send.

#80 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 10:14 PM:

I had an ARPAnet account, but my first internet account was 1988. My first ISP was The Source in 1980. I used it with a very heavy terminal that used heat-sensitive paper and came with an analog modem.

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: February 13, 2008, 10:18 PM:

Am I the only one who remembers that Hypertext existed in print too? Actual books? (The "links" were manual, of course.)

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 12:49 AM:

Ginger @ 77... Ouch.

#83 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 12:59 AM:

Xopher, @ 81:

I've seen it argued that bibliographies and intratext references are/were an early form of hypertext, especially in the case of academia.

#84 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 01:29 AM:

Curating the conversation
Eggcellent in parts?

Lindra #83:
But like comparing snail & e-mail, it's the difference in speed, the immediacy of clicking on a hyperlink vs. getting a cited reference via inter-library loan. Makes for a completely different experience.

#85 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 01:52 AM:

Soon Lee @ 84

True, and we're still mostly not where Ted wanted us to be back then (which is why he's still working on it). His idea was that it would be as easy to create links from any piece of text to any other as it was to read and follow them. Not really there yet, partly because the client/server model of computing we have doesn't suit that paradigm well.

I spent several years working with hypertext systems that were designed for technical documentation and publication of complex multimedia documents, and got into some heated arguments with some of the gurus of the field, because they didn't see any reason why links should be protected from vandalism and forgery, or not allowed in some source text or restricted to some people. Their model of hypertext publication was the scholarly journal and the textbook, where all participants are collegial. Mine was the notice board and the personal ads, where occasionally some yahoo will spray the whole area with a paint can for the sheer joy of it.

#86 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 07:11 AM:

Serge @ 82: Now you know why Jon Stewart was having so much fun with it. ;-)

#87 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 07:23 AM:

Xopher #81: Are you thinking of something like Dennis Guerrier and Joan Richards' 'programmed novel' State of Emergency? This was intended to provide an entertaining approach to the problems facing developing countries in the 1960s and the alternatives available to them in the form of a 'novel' made up of short scenes with the reader choosing alternative options at the end of each scene (those options being the policy choices of a variety of characters in the recently independent, multi-ethnic African country of Lakoto).

#88 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 07:24 AM:

Xopher @81: There's a box somewhere in a family attic with my copies of "The Warlock of Firetop Mountain" and "Sorcery!"...

#89 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 07:44 AM:

Ginger @ 86... Sometimes Reality makes it too easy for a comedian to do his job.

#90 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 09:27 AM:

sherrold @ #71

Earliest documented Usenet post of mine that I can find is from February 1993. I am sure I read Usenet before that, but I honestly do not know to what extent I posted at that time (aha, some further digging found one post from October 1992).

#91 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 09:42 AM:

Ginger (79) and others: Y'know, people snark on Stevens for his "tubes" comment, but it's really not a bad analogy. (Unless of course he thought that there were literal, physical tubes, in which case he deserves the snark.)

#92 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 09:48 AM:

Mary Aileen @ 91: True. Someone pointed out that packets are delivered through the internet like mail through the old pneumatic tubes..it's not a terrible analogy. From what I remember, though, I don't think he really understood it, as he referred to his email as "an Internet", and complained of its delay because of heavy traffic.

#93 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 10:12 AM:

Serge @ 89

People! Satire is made of people!

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 10:24 AM:

Bruce Cohen... But doesn't satire require a minimum of exageration of the original material? That wasn't even necessary in this case.

#95 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 10:40 AM:

Serge @ 94 -- good point, but the other forms of humor don't scan as well: "Burlesque! Burlesque is made of people!" See?

Yes, my vitamin supplements contain plenty of irony.

#96 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 12:11 PM:

Ginger #95: Burlesk (as opposed to burlesque) is made of silicone...

#97 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 12:55 PM:

Fragano @ 96: What about Burl Ives?

#98 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 01:54 PM:

A special case. Burl Ives is made from burl oak.

#99 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:23 PM:

Ginger and Mary Aileen @ 91,92: Oh, pneumatic tubes. That isn't an unreasonable analogy.

The impression I had was that his staff tried to brief him on the distinction between packet- vs. circuit-switched networking, and "The Internet...is a series of tubes" was all that stuck. Wasn't the contrast with a filling up a dump trunk? Vehicles on roads (or tracks) of course being another canonical analogy for packet switching. The "tubes" thing always conjured plumbing full of squishy stuff for me.

#100 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:34 PM:

Ginger @ 95

I thought of going with parody, but the alliteration of "parody is people" seemed a bit too much. As for burlesque, well, what would you think of me if I started talking about titty tassels?

#101 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Ralph @ 99: I think his staff did try the pneumatic tubes analogy, although what came out of Sen. Stevens wasn't exactly coherent. My impression is he was thinking more along the lines of plumbing. From the Seattle Times: "The Internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck. It's a series of tubes," Stevens said during a June 28 committee session.

"And if you don't understand, those tubes can be filled. And if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material."

As you can see, he didn't quite get the analogy.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 100... How about Lily von Shtupp, the Teutonic Titwillow?

#103 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:48 PM:

As an analogy, pneumatic tubes are not bad. However, the level of understanding he got from it was conveyed by his explaining to other Senators that all those people sending movies around were "filling up the tubes" and that was why it took him 5 days to get his internet from his staff. See a partial transcript here.

#104 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:49 PM:

Bruce @ 100: Tassels, while decorative in the appropriate location, might not have helped in this case.

I can't remember any of the other forms of humor -- satire, burlesque, parody, irony -- weren't there a few more? It's been too many years.

#105 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:52 PM:

Serge @ 102: In this group?

#106 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:55 PM:

Ginger @ 105... Well, Lily would fit in with a burlesque group. As for other kinds of humor, how about vaudeville?

#107 ::: Ralph Giles ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Ginger @ 104: Wit, Punny? Or is that different from Humor?

#108 ::: Ralph GIles ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 03:44 PM:

Clifton @ 103: Muddying the meme with facts?

From the transcript he was just having trouble repeating anti-neutrality rhetoric because he didn't sufficiently understand even the misdirection. So the poster child for not understanding thing didn't have much to do with what was going on. Which is normal, I guess.

Sic transit gloria eruditionis?

#109 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 04:10 PM:

I think vaudeville fits under the classification of burlesque (as humor, not as show type); wit rings a bell. Wait, that's just the ringing in my ears...

Perhaps I should dig around a little more -- maybe I'm trying to think of forms of comedy? My memory insists that it is forms of humor, so..er..humor me.

#110 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 09:21 PM:

Ginger @104: I can't remember any of the other forms of humor -- satire, burlesque, parody, irony -- weren't there a few more? It's been too many years.

Assuming sarcasm is one of the modes (cynicism with punchlines?):

Vercotti: Doug (takes a drink) Well, I was terrified. Everyone was terrified of Doug. I've seen grown men pull their own heads off rather than see Doug. Even Dinsdale was frightened of Doug.

2nd Interviewer: What did he do?

Vercotti: He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious.

Presenter: By a combination of violence and sarcasm, the Piranha brothers by February 1966 controlled London and the Southeast of England. It was in February, though, that Dinsdale made a big mistake.

Gloria: Latterly Dinsdale had become increasingly worried about Spiny Norman. He had come to the conclusion that Norman slept in an aeroplane hangar at Luton Airport.

Presenter: And so on Feb 22nd 1966, Dinsdale blew up Luton. (shot of a H-Bomb exploding) Even the police began to sit up and take notice.

The entire dialog here.

Litotes is apparently a figure of speech consisting of an understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by negating its opposite.

#111 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 09:37 PM:

#110

What's the name we should attach to 'not hardly' (aas an answer to a question) and 'yeah, right' (as a negative)?

#112 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 14, 2008, 11:13 PM:

P J Evans @110: Sounds like good examples of the concept*. Better than the ones at the site I linked to. There was a story of a language expert lecturing that while you could have a double negative which reversed the sense of the words, there was no such thing as a double positive that would do the same — someone in the audience responded in a bored voice "yeah, yeah..."


* Why the word 'litotes' is the best expression of it is not obvious to me; this site suggests it's from the greek for 'simple' and first coined in the late 1500s.

#113 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 07:04 AM:

Ginger #97: Regarding Burl Ives, on legal advice I have been told to avoid him on the grounds that he did not care that Jimmy cracked corn.

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 07:16 AM:

Ginger @ 109... I thought that vaudeville was one step above burlesque. Am=nyway, when I think of burlesque, I am reminded of the short-lived courtroom drama 100 Center Street, more specifically the episode has Eli Wallach arrested for some minor offense and having to explain to the very stern female judge what burlesque was. The show also had Alan Arkin as a judge who clarified for us all the difference between a shmuck and a putz.

#115 ::: EClaire ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 07:41 AM:

Don't leave us hanging, Serge... what's the difference?

#116 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 07:55 AM:

EClaire @ 115... If I remember correctly what Arkin said, a schmuck is an idiot. So is a putz, but he's the one driving.

#117 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 08:11 AM:

Serge @ 116: Well, a schmuck is a jerk, but a putz is literally a penis. The old joke goes, "the schlemiel spills the soup on the schlimazel, and the schmuck laughs." I suppose you could add in "the putz trips the schlemiel" and complete the circle.

As for burlesque and vaudeville, perhaps the overall category is slapstick? It's broad humor, based on exaggeration; compare satire, which uses sarcasm and understatement (litotes! my old friend..where's synechdoche?), or irony, which overlaps satire in the use of understatement but includes a more sympathetic base, and wit. I may be misremembering some of this, but it's beginning to come back to me. (Shaaaaaane, come back!)

#118 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 08:24 AM:

Ginger... a putz is literally a penis

So is a dork, according to cartoonist Gary Larson. Words evolve, and I figured that Arkin, being Jewish, would know what he was talking about. (An aside... Did you know that he is the co-author of Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat Song"?)

Shaaaaaane, come back!

Argh. I can't watch that movie without thinking of the woman who was quoted, in the early days of the Iraq War, for comparing Ladd's character to Dubya. Or was it the other way around?

#119 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 08:47 AM:

Serge @ 118: Yes.

#120 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 11:53 AM:

My dear spouse, who has been in the networking biz far too long, has been known to use some rather vivid plumbing analogies when pleading for more external bandwidth. And his favorite metaphor for buffers at the limit of their capacity is "a diaper-full".

#121 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 02:24 PM:

Ralph Giles @ #99:

"Plumbing filled with squishy goop" sounds pretty on target for the INternet as far as I recall. I have had the misfortune of checking web caches at (some) ISPs and by God is the Internet full of porn.

#122 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 04:02 PM:

serge,

Words evolve, and I figured that Arkin, being Jewish, would know what he was talking about.

i am no yiddishist, but my impression is they are both euphemisms for penis (schmuck comes from the german for "jewel," which proves that early european jewish men thought very highly of themselves or were being tersely sarcastic).

the joke, as i've heard, refers to the fact that while they're both insults, putz is much worse.

#123 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 04:13 PM:

miriam beetle @ 122... putz is much worse

Hmm... Then Arkin's crack does make sense because having an idiot behind the steering wheel would make him even more dangerous.

Jewels, eh?

#124 ::: Trip the Space Parasite ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 09:08 PM:

Wow, I am a dinosaur*. (First Usenet access shortly after arriving at college in the fall of '88, although I don't think I posted anything for a while. I was definitely exchanging bytes with geographically-distant people by winter '89, though.)

*But not a trilobite or an Hallucigenia or anything that cool.

I guess instead of a bath chair and an ear trumpet, I get a Segway and an iPhone?

#125 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: February 15, 2008, 09:14 PM:

miriam @ 122: That's interesting; I've heard that it comes from Polish smok, or serpent. Plenty of room for debate, as per usual, eh? ;-)

#126 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2008, 01:08 AM:

I'd certainly love to hear more of Patrick's impressions of the conference; I had the great good fortune of meeting Teresa at an O'Reilly event recently, and learnt a great deal that I am still thinking on.
Conversation is King, and Teresa its Chatelaine (still wanting a better word then Tummler).
While we're being all three yorkshiremen, I was on MUD and GROGGS in 1985; Usenet? Luxury!
Mind you, I did introduce Terry Gilliam to it, and helped him post on alt.fan.monty.python from my company's store-cupboard some time in the early 90s.

#127 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: February 16, 2008, 09:45 PM:

FWIW, my earliest post on Usenet according to the Google archives is 1986, but I know I'd been at least lurking on groups since fall of 1982, and aside from a few very brief windows have not been without some form of email or net access since then.

As to the "intertubes" and people's variable understanding thereof (and here follows the obligatory here-I-am-stuck-at-home-instead-of-being-at-Boskone-like-I-should-be-so-I'm-bored-and-feeling-exceptionally-chatty anecdote): I'm in IT, and many years ago I worked for a dot-com where they hired this completely useless guy to be our manager (after forcing out our previous manager, who had been a very good boss but couldn't explain what he/we did via powerpoint and so could not communicate with the idiot upper management.) We all immediately nicknamed the new guy "Gilligan". based largely on his breathtaking competence and intelligence. One evening we were moving around some switches and Gilligan came in to ask if he could help. We explained what we were doing and he came over and unplugged a network cable, and the moment he'd unplugged it one of my coworkers said, with a great deal of urgency and sincerity, "Quick, put your finger over the end so no packets fall out!" and he DID it.

And then looked at us.

And looked at his finger over the end of the cable.

And looked at us.

And then he said something distinctly unprofessional, threw the cable to the floor, stomped out of the room, and never offered to help again. Which was for the best, really.

#128 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: February 17, 2008, 01:20 AM:

Serge @114, it's actually 100 Centre Street, and it's one of my ongoing frustrations that not only is the only version available only in VHS, but that of the two seasons and 33 episodes that tape only has the 'special movie-length' opening episode.

In fact, I respect it so much that it's one of the very few things I would consider using extra-legal methods to make sure that I had a full version of, and be willing to make copies of that available to other interested parties, just so that it would not be lost from knowledge and circulation — like republishing informally a great book or poem that has been 'deaccessioned' from most libraries.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.