Monthly Archives: May 2003

Yipes. It’s been two weeks

Yipes. It's been two weeks since I last blogged, and a lot of water has gone over the dam since then.

In Marquette, MI there was a big flood. The Silver Lake Dam gave out after a big storm and washed two Yooperdomes full of dirt and mud and the odd bridge abutment into Lake Superior. The City of Marquette web site has some good photos; for ongoing news coverage there's The Marquette Mining Journal and WLUC TV-6.

Socialtext, my new company, got written up in the in a story by Amy Cortese in the New Economy column. She writes:

The wiki, a quirky software technology that has been kicking around the Web since the mid-90s, is starting to gain respectability. But will the business world embrace a tool that until recently has been used mainly by techies and Internet free spirits?

Well, I certainly hope so.

I'm still writing in my paper notebooks, recently newly reinspired by Verso: the flip side of master drawings, a catalog of a show done at Harvard in 1998-1999. The collection showcases the other side of the page, the facing page in an artist's sketchbook where preliminiary drawings or alternative renderings are put together. In my case I've started up a small collection of colored pencils (Derwent "Artists" are readily available here in Ann Arbor, and at $1 each I can collect colors for a long time) to illustrate the other side of the page in my notebook. Colors so far: mineral green, buttercup yellow, may green. I have 117 left to go.

Most of my writing outside of e-mail is going into wikis these days, a private wiki I keep for myself in the style of a commonplace book to snip out bits and pieces that I don't want to forget but that I don't want to publish, and another private wiki that we use as a corporate intranet. If I do do a public wiki it will likely be around some non-techie hobby – was thinking the other day that it would be really cool to devote a wiki to the study of color (dyes, pigments, paints, etc) and collect color names and terms and sources there. That goes into the "if I had the patience" category. The color swatch is "Indian yellow", a pigment derived from the urine of cows fed exclusively on mango leaves, I kid you not.

Books in the queue: currently reading William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition", Sellen and Harper's "Myth of the Paperless Office", Michel Pasternou's "Blue: the history of a color". Recent ones include Richard Hugo's "Triggering Town" and the Wrox reference "Professional Apache 2.0".

Words recently learned: botryoidal (shaped like a bunch of grapes; said of ores like hematite or malachite); peltate (shield-shaped; said of leaves like the nasturtium).

I'm listening via Internet radio to WCBN 88.3 (Ann Arbor), KVRX 91.7 (Austin), and WXYC 89.3 (Chapel Hill). A few more college radio stations like this on the presets of my car and I would drive a lot more and discover a lot more music. I'm only about a year behind what the kids are listening to – just heard LCD Soundsystem's "I'm Losing My Edge" for the first time.

If this were a wiki page, there would be a lot more links. Some day I hope to push this weblog into wiki-land, because I've started to get incredibly lazy and hate typing in a href=blah links and remembering where things are – it really breaks up the train of writing to have to type anything more than [some topic name] and then move on.


LinkedIn: reinventing UUCP for business networks

The key bit of novelty to LinkedIn is that it reinvents personal networks as modelled on the UUCP version of the network, not the Internet version of the network.

In the olden days, you didn't have a single big flat network with direct access to everyone on it by unique addresses; rather, there was a partial mesh of point to point connections and a routing and addressing scheme that relied on relayed transit through hubs to get your message through.

So with LinkedIn, if you want to get a message to someone who you don't know directly but have a friend of a friend of a friend relationship with, you can start the message routing through the system and it will relay for you. At every step along the way the designated relay can read the message and drop or delay it. (Or, more importantly, they can send it forward with positive comments, and thus make it more likely that the end recipient will see it as something to act on rather than an email from out of the blue from a stranger.)

The tremendous advantage here is to the hubs, who get to see and comment on conversations that flow through them. Joi Ito has connections to almost 1/4 of the people in the system, so right now as a first approximation it's a way to get him to make introductions for you if you need them. (As it evolves that will be less the case.) Those who span boundaries in the systems and make introductions become the "tertius gaudens", the "third who benefits" (viz. Ron Burt).

It should be interesting to see as it progresses.

Discuss on Joi's site.