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  past petermemes

October 31, 1999
We're Big in Germany.
David Hudson wrote a lengthy piece on Epinions.com that features quotes from me and Jason Kottke. The article is in German, but David is letting me post the English language version.

October 30, 1999
Scatterings from Austin.
I had a chance to attend a few presentations at the conference.

Bryan Boyer gave a thoughtful (if a tad short) talk on "Hidden Information Spaces." (formerly "Implicit Information Spaces," I don't know why he changed the title.) Layering is such an extremely important notion in screen design, and so often ignored by Web designers. My guess is that the metaphor of the "Web page" unfortunately instills a print model of static display, a confining box we must free ourselves from.

Michael Sippey gave an excellent talk on content and commerce. This is strong, heady, and useful stuff. I wish he'd let my company hire him.

The most fun I had was moderating an ad hoc panel on "The Future of the Interface," a session cobbled together with Lane Becker, Tim Gasperak, Jeff Veen, and Bryan. Lane chimed in with populist notions of how the Web has brought an awareness of interface to society at large (Lane was also the panel rambler, thoughtwandering over to the Media Lab's stream of consciousness project, and calling up an old favorite of mine, the wily reviews of Bil Keane's work on Amazon (check out the "author's" review)), Jeff discussed his desire to see continued and better separation of Content and Interface (through technologies like XML and style sheets), Bryan was able to further plug implicitness, and Tim focused on expert tools for expert use, throwing around the word "morphology" with reckless abandon. Tim's ideas reminded me of Douglas Engelbart's original interface attempts, which weren't meant to bring Computers to the Masses, but in fact were meant to augment intellect through specialized tools for specialized use.

October 27, 1999
DoaCD. I should be punished. As part of the Marketing Force for the New Economy, I've found myself using the word "message" as a verb. As in, "We need to better message the Web of Trust." I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I promise to use "impact" and "architect" only as nouns.

DoaCD. Wanna job? This has become my standard greeting. I say it with my tongue-not-too-much-in-my-cheek, because while I don't want to be the Recruiting Tornado, well, damn, I need a creative team.

Of course it has. Last night, over beers with Lane and Bryan, the domain name "cliquehere.com" occurred to me. Checking up, it has already been taken.

October 24, 1999
Keith Dawson has broken down and started the TBTF Blog, already filled with scrumptious goodies.

If I were a girl, I'd be Amy Christine. That was the name my mom had chosen for me prior to birth. She was so eager for me to be born female that the reality of my sex was a cause of disappointment.

And meant I went unnamed for the first couple months of my life. My dad suggested "Harry," (I was born premature and still covered in fine hair) which mom vetoed without thought (thankfully.)

Mom settled on "Peter," naming me after two men she knew, loved, and respected for their warmth, intelligence, benevolence, and caring: Peter Rashkin and Peter S. Beagle. I remember meeting Rashkin any number of times throughout my life, and have been in touch with him by email for the last few years.

I met Beagle so long ago, though, I do not recall it. I know of him the way most others do, an author of fantasy stories, most notably The Last Unicorn. (Though a particular treat is his A Fine and Private Place, written when he was 19.)

Two weeks ago, I was able to reconnect with Beagle thanks to a book reading he gave at The Booksmith promoting his latest work, Tamsin. I'd phoned my dad beforehand to see if there was anything he wanted me to pass along. This prompted him to call Beagle directly, and they had a pleasant chat, during which my dad told him that I would be in attendance.

After his hour talk, where he read passages from the new book and answered questions from the audience, he made his way to the front of the store where the signings take place. Stepping up to him, I blurted out, "Peter? Hi, I'm Peter." Expecting a hello and a handshake, I was pleasantly surprised when came forward and gave me a big hug and a warm greeting.

Trundling to the front, we chatted briefly. "Apart from certain members of my family, your parents are the only ones who send me a card every birthday," he informed me. We did some other quick catching up, promising to be in touch if we found ourselves in the other's city.

I gave him a book to sign, which he did as such:

"For Peter -- my only namesake, with love and delight.-- Peter."

Lots! How much do we love Metascene for including this piece of JavaScript code?

<!-- function close_nagwin(){
var popupURL = "blank.html";popup = window.open(popupURL,
"TripodPopup",'toolbar=0, location=0,directories=0,status=0,
menubar=0,scrollbars=0, resizable=0,width=0,height=0');

The last word.

From: "Dave Winer" <dave@userland.com>
To: peterme@peterme.com
Subject: Your three issues
Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 00:14:22 -0700

Maybe you're digging your hole even deeper.

1. I honestly think my contribution to idea processing software is as important as Engelbart's or Nelson's -- because I shipped software, and they did demos and gave speeches. To say that my "thoughts have inspired only derision" is totally unsupportable. Are you omniscient? Can you read the minds of everyone who has ever read anything I've written? Get off your cloud dude, join the rest of us.

2. I did not lay claim to the name Dave, or even DaveNet. If you're friends with Dave Pell, consider the possibility that your friend did something tacky. DaveNetics and DaveNet are very confusable. I know this because people get confused when I tell them I write DaveNet. That's just a fact Peter, it's not something to have an opinion about. It happens. You wouldn't know because (I assume) you don't list DaveNet on your resume as I do.

3. I was simply responding to Rogers' outrageous statements about Third Voice. The fact that you found the idea offensive proves my point. At least I didn't write it on his home page!


October 23, 1999
The days go by so quickly.

Ooh! Ooh! Aaah! Today I was called a "cluttermonkey" by a guy who is helping me straighten out my apartment. A cluttermonkey is one who covers every available flat, level surface with, well, clutter. Stuff.

Perhaps an explanation is in order. I received an interesting variety of responses from my October 20th post, some supportive, some scathing, others wondering on what side of the bed I had woken up.

If I hadn't copped Todd's "shut-the-fuck-up" bullets, probably no one would have noticed. But Todd's meme is just so damn funny, it wants to be spread. And it's power has been demonstrated in this little situation.

My issues were threefold.
1) Putting himself side-by-side with visionaries such as Douglas Engelbart or Ted Nelson. I mean, c'mon. How classless is that? Those two are widely acknowledged cybernetic pioneers whose thoughts and works have truly inspired generations of workers. Dave Winer is a guy who wrote some pretty good and useful applications, and a man whose thoughts have inspired only derision.
2) Laying claim to the name "Dave." Particularly as I'm friends with Dave Pell, the publisher of Davenetics, and I know he had no intention of riding Winer's coattails. He probably just thought it was a funny-ish pun on Dianetics. Winer's repeated public sideswipes at Davenetics are further testament to his lack of class.
3) The last reason is on a more personal level. In a discussion on Userland, Rogers Cadenhead, a friend, took reasonable issue with Dave Winer's campaign against ThirdVoice. Winer, seemingly unable to maintain a civil discussion when somebody has the gall to disagree with him, replied with an utterly bizarre post that included "If any Third Voice users are tuned in, check out Rogers' home page. See the little boy? Want to have sex with him?" (The boy in question is Rogers as a child.) I still reel when contemplating the level of tastelessness, crassness, and classlessness of that statement, whether or not it was made in jest.

The obvious comeback to this response of mine is, "Didn't your post lack class?" Perhaps. It was shot off quickly, in the heat of high annoyance. I'm willing to own up to my off-the-cuff remarks, unlike some (scroll to October 21st for an explanation.)

October 20, 1999
That screenshot looks familiar. Sehr interresant!

Where are those "shut-the-fuck-up" bullets when you need them? If you're as sick of Dave Winer's self-congratulatory nearly-breaking-his-arm-patting-himself-on-back posts, may I suggest this blast from the past, courtesy of Webster. (And tremble when realizing just how long he's been blathering like this.) And then make sure to subscribe to Davenetics, which, unlike DaveNet, is a truly useful source of information (and funny, too!), and realize why Winer should be thankful people are confusing the two.

Frag your processes. Care of Greg comes "Doom as a tool for system administration." It's creator posits some good reasons for this method of visualization.

October 19, 1999
What I tell you three times is true.
Industry analyst Amy Wohl recently wrote an thoughtful piece on peer-managed knowledge management. Epinions is mentioned in a worthwhile discussion of how the Web brings meritocracy to content.

Mathematics for poets. From Nature's Numbers, an engaging primer on mathematics, comes more testament to the power of storytelling:

"Textbooks of mathematical logic say that a proof is a sequence of statements, each of which either follows from previous statements in the sequence or from agreed axioms--unproved but explicitly stated assumptions that in effect define the area of mathematics being studied. This is about as informative as describing a novel as a sequence of sentences, each of which either sets up an agreed context of follows credibly rom previous sentences. Both definitions miss the essential point: that both a proof and a novel must tell an interesting story. They do capture a secondary point, that the story must be convincing, and they also describe the oiverall format to be used, but a good story line is the most important feature of all." (emphasis mine)

October 18, 1999
Time? What's that?
So, I can see that my new job will be getting in the way of my blog, at least at the outset.

And my blog will become quite focused on Epinions.com. Maybe it will turn into Diary of a Creative Director.

I'm surprised people aren't messing with the form of Epinions more. The two best examples I know of are Gregory's poignant review of Richmond, Virginia, and my dad's difficulties with collaborative filtering, the latter being an engaging thoughtwander spurred by a recent New Yorker magazine article. If you know of others, please point me to them.

What's in a job title? So, I'm a "Creative Director." This is a well-established job title from ad and design agencies, so naturally I assume there are problems with it. Not one to be satisfied, I tinker with labels such as the the nouveau mouthful, "Director of User Experience," which lead to the shorter "Experience Director." Has a nice ring to it, perhaps a bit enigmatic, though maybe mystery is good in a job title. After all that, though, I'm thinking of sticking with Creative Director, and exploit the opportunity it offers me to redefine the job title for the New Millennium. (If it were any other year, I would have simply said, "for the future," or "from here on," but, well, you know, Y2K fever and all that.)

October 16, 1999
<-- Couple new epinions are up.