Gonzo Marketing:Winning Through Worst Practices The Bombast Transcripts: Rants and Screeds of RageBoy
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Saturday, November 17, 2001
True-Life Spam - First in a Series
Only slighty modified from how it arrived in my mailbox. Click on image for perpetrator.

11:19 PM | link |

The Holy Modal Rounders
Ah, those were the days, no? I only heard the Rounders on records, floatin' around on a belladonna cloud, etc. But I did go see the Fugs once on the Lower East Side. Tuli Kupferburg looked like he'd just crawled out from under a bush in Upper Volta or someplace. He had this stick about five feet long, all covered with bottlecaps and shit, which he would bang on the stage every once in a while to some rhythm he was getting from I think Alpha Centauri. He appeared to have taken quite a bit of acid before the performance.
"One of the reasons I felt so weird about him before I met him was because he wrote this piece of filthy doggerel for a mimeographed zine called 'Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts,' which Sanders was doing. It was a very daring name back in 1962. He has these notes on the contributors in the back and he described Weber as having written this poem after an all-night sexual romp in the Central Park Zoo. I believed it! Sanders would make up things like that and people like me would say 'Wow, what a free spirit.' To fuck a gazelle all night long in the zoo. I'm sure he would have if the gazelle had been friendly."
This was before I worked at MCI and IBM, of course.

11:13 PM | link |

The Bombast Transcripts: Rants & Screeds of RageBoy®
"In more ways than one," says the Amazon blurb, "Chris Locke has raised a godawful racket on the Net. Under his alter-egotistical nom de plume, RageBoy, and through his webzine, Entropy Gradient Reversals, he has entertained and enlightened thousands of readers from some of the world's largest companies, governments, and institutions -- including those from which he's managed to escape."

Take a wild guess who wrote that. I dunno, though. Maybe I should hire a decent PR outfit to flog this puppy. Right now it's in the shitter. Amazon Sales Rank: 873,201. Of course, it won't be out till January, so maybe that's not so bad. Who knows? Here's a clip from one of the bits called "Signs and Portents."

Awash in panic. Alone in my cabin in the high Rockies, I had clearly eaten too many of the innocuous looking little mushrooms, and now I was veering out of control, alarms triggering down every internal subsystem, neural klaxons going off like explosions, each calling for more adrenaline. Suddenly removed from the sky, white clouds, impossible summer sunshine, mountain air: all were mocking, distant, alien. Lost between heaven and earth, I was falling headlong into the wreckage I'd created of my life. Unable to hide, to beg forgiveness, to continue living.

I stumbled out from the cabin to my truck, testing just how self-conscious is was possible to be. Deeply embarrassed by the trees, so obviously belonging there unlike my stupid interloping self. What was I thinking to have come here, done this? And how would I survive the next eight hours? A meaningless temporal division in a life so abruptly terminated. More to distract from my patent doom than anything else, I slotted a tape into the deck and hit the play button, closed my eyes.

It took forever for anything to happen after that. Hell is for eternity, just as they say. Curious that Pat Metheny was in hell along with me, plus someone on vibes, a drummer heavy into cymbals, a piano. Maybe it was "As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls"; that was the right year, 1981. The music began as random sound, unbearable, without purpose or direction. I thought to turn it off, but my hand was so far away it was not responding. More panic! I was paralyzed, gripped by iron bonds of aimless yet inevitable consequence. Nothing was worth doing. Yes, I could move my hand if I really wanted to, but why bother? What would it prove, cut off from the human race forever, sitting alone in some automotive contraption on the side of some random mountain in East Jesus Colorado, that I could turn a cassette tape player off? Nothing. I slipped deeper into whatever lethargy had stoned my heart and sapped my will and tried not to fear the fear any more than it seemed to be demanding as its due. I blanked and disappeared. Then back then gone again.

The noise of the music was all there was, and maddening interminable time. Because there was nothing else to do I found myself watching the notes unfurl. I remember noticing the stereo was much better than usual. As I blindly drifted closer, each bit of sound took on a shape, an iridescent color, almost a personality. They were moving against each other as if confused, searching for some better arrangement. Then, wait -- even though all was lost, though nothing mattered -- this was very nearly interesting. They were forming into patterns, then falling back apart. Hard to describe the constellation this created. It held yet shifted, twisted, flowed, like the edge of a Mandelbrot set, fractal recursion collapsing in on itself only to repeat, the same yet different on every iteration. Like rattlesnakes suddenly in fallen leaves. Because of this movement my vision was drawn to something larger that the local piece was just a part of, and in that moment the music shifted focus, dropped into gear and somehow opened to reveal a huge ring of synchronized diamond fire hanging in black space, beginning to turn, to glow, to become one whole and living, breathing mandala. Sharp edged, terrible, immediate, real. Beauty beyond all pain and sorrow. Not of myself or other either: original face.

Nothing left, I rode the music right on through forever and was almost thrown again when it began to slow and faded, finally ending. "Fifty- five..." someone called out matter-of-factly on the tape. And in the far background, "...let's do it again," then laughter. They know, I thought, amazed I hadn't seen it sooner. Skillful brothers and sisters always bring you through.

I opened the truck door and got out. The clouds had massed the sky and the wind come up. My eyes were liquid with ancient knowledge, and the world they took in was no longer outside. I opened my hands to the earth. I breathed and stretched, a certain animal once more. So good to be back.


4:04 PM | link |

E V H E A D - plug & pay
"Got my copy of Gonzo Marketing yesterday and tore into it a bit. It's great so far. Go buy it. (And I'm not just saying that to thank Chris for the free copy... I also want the referal fee. ;)" You can rest assured, Ev, the check is in the mail. Our little secret.

2:00 PM | link |

Trouble in Italy
So I'm reading Dr. Weimeraner's latest issue and I come across this reference to Massimo Moruzzi and his dot-coma weblog. I click on the link, naturally; I can't help myself anymore. And what do I find there? A personal note to myself: "Hey, Chris: these losers keep on clickin' -- but..."

Man, this shit is making me paranoid! I'm going back to bed. But you say you want "a cool, flashy banner ad"? OK. I don't know how "cool" it is. But then, context is everything, no? La dolce vita, baby...

11:42 AM | link |

The Bloody Flux of Lombardy
Did you ever get the Sneaking Suspicion that People were making Fun of you behind your Back? Perhaps we need to rethink this whole Blogging Concept. Without naming any Names, let me say that Certain Individuals apparently have little Regard for the Truth, thinking Nothing of compounding the most Outrageous Lies & Falsehoods. This ruins it for Everybody! Forthwith, a Prime Example...

Gargantua's Discourse on Bum Wiping

I have, said Gargantua, by a long and curious experience, found out a means to wipe my ass, the most lordly, the most excellent, and the most convenient that ever was seen.

What is that, said Grandgousier, his father, how is it?

I will tell you by and by, said Gargantua. Once I did wipe me with a gentlewoman's velvet mask, and found it to be good; for the softness of the silk was very voluptuous and pleasant to my fundament. Another time with one of their hoods, and in like manner that was comfortable. At another time with a lady's neckerchief, and after that I wiped myself with some earpieces of hers made of crimson satin, but there was such a number of golden spangles in them (turdy round things, a pox take them) that they fetched away all the skin of my tail with a vengeance. Now I wish St. Anthony's fire burn the bum-gut of the goldsmith that made them! This hurt I cured by wiping myself with a page's cap, garnished with a feather, after the Switzers' fashion.

Afterwards, in dunging behind a bush, I found a March-cat, and with it I wiped my breech, but her claws were so sharp that they scratched and exulcerated all my perinee. Of this I recovered the next morning thereafter by wiping myself with my mother's gloves, of a most excellent perfume and scent of Arabian Benin. After that I wiped myself with sage, with fennel, with anet, with marjoram, with roses, with gourd leaves, with beets, with colewort, with leaves of the vine tree, with mallows, wool-blade, which is a tail-scarlet, with lettuce and with spinach leaves. All this did very great good to my leg. Then with mercury, with parsley, with nettles, with comfrey, but that gave me the bloody flux of Lombardy, which I healed by wiping me with my braguette. Then I wiped my tail in the sheets, in the coverlet, in the curtains, with a cushion, with arras hangings, with a green carpet, with a table cloth, with a napkin, with a handkerchief, with a combing cloth; in all which I found more pleasure than do the mangy dogs when you rub them.

Yea, but, said Grandgousier, which torchecul did you find to be the best?

I was coming to that, said Gargantua, and by and by you shall hear the tu autem, and know the whole mystery and know of the matter. I wiped myself with hay, with straw, with thatch-rushes, with flax, with wool, with paper, but...

Who his foul tail with paper wipes,
Shall at his ballocks leave some chips.

What, said Grandgousier, my little rogue, hast thou been at the pot, that thou dost rhyme already?

Yes, yes, my lord the king, answered Gargantua, I can rhyme gallantly, and rhyme till I become hoarse with rheum.

...now I prithee, said Grandgousier, go on in this torcheculatif, or bum-wipatory discourse.

Afterwards, I wiped my ass, said Gargantua, with a kerchief, with a pillow, with a pantoufle, with a pouch, with a pannier, but that was a wicked and unpleasant torchcul; then with a hat. Of hats, note, that some are shorn, and others shaggy, some velveted, others covered with taffities, and others with satin. The best of all these is the shaggy hat, for it makes a very neat abstertion of the fecal matter. Afterwards, I wiped my tail with a hen, a cock, with a pullet, with a calf's skin, with a hare, with a pigeon, with a cormorant, with an attorney's bag, with a montero, with a coif, with a falconer's lure. But to conclude, I say and maintain, that of all torcheculs, arsewisps, bumfodders, tail napkins, bung-hole cleansers, and wipe breeches, there is none in the world comparable to the neck of a goose that is well downed, if you hold her neck betwixt you legs. And believe me therein upon mine honour, for you will thereby feel in your nockhole a most wonderful pleasure, both in regard to the softness of the said down, and the temperate heat of the goose, which is easily communicated to the bum-gut, and the rest of the inwards, in so far as to come even to the regions of the heart and brains. And think not that the felicity of the heroes and demigods in the Elysian fields consisteth either in their Asphodel, Ambrosia or Nectar, as our old women here used to say; but in this, according to my judgement, that they wipe their tails with the neck of a goose, holding her head betwixt their legs, and such is the opinion of Master John of Scotland, alias Scotus.

This is simply unacceptable. It will not stand! Unfortunately, it seems to have been going on for some time now, as the above example was written nearly 500 years ago. Well, I say half a millennium is quite enough! What the Internet needs right now is a healthy dose of good old fashioned censorship to rid the world of such terrible filth and keep our beloved media empires safe from textual terrorism.

3:05 AM | link |

Friday, November 16, 2001
More Efficient Drug Testing
Dave's post of this morning, What are weblogs?, was fine as far as it went. But what seemed to be missing in those level-headed definitions -- to my twisted head anyway -- was any sense of humor, fun, absurdity, surrealism, lunacy, derangement, folly, preposterousness, irrationality, nonsense, balderdash, blatherskite, bunkum, bullshit, and divine madness. In short, those qualities that continue to make life worth living. In shorter still: gonzo. This gaping lacuna in our collective notions of fogbloggery makes me like all the more what Shelley writes here...
I find that I read Chris Locke (aka Rageboy) on a fairly regular basis, and have recommended his weblog to other people. I don't always understand exactly what he's saying, or why he's saying it, but it's usually interesting and he has a lovely way with words. Not surprising considering that he's a published author with two successful books and a third on the way. Not Harry Potter successful, but most likely keeping him in his preferred vices.

As I was reading his weblog a couple of days ago, I decided that his writing is a test of some form. It's either a test of openess, and disassociated thinking, possible intelligence and humor. Or it's a new and more efficient drug test that doesn't require a cup -- if you understand what Chris says all the time you've got to be stoned.

Regardless, I need to have a little more fun with my weblog, be less serious, indulge in a little more disassociated thinking. Weblogs should be a place where we try something new.

For the record, Chris often doesn't understand what he writes himself. And he doesn't get stoned. Anymore.

5:45 PM | link |

Amazon 2001 Editors' Choice: Business
"Hundreds of business and investing books have crossed my desk this year," writes Amazon Business & Investing editor, Harry C. Edwards. "Below is a list of my favorites." Gonzo Marketing comes in at #4 after Good to Great by Jim Collins (#1), Jack Welch's Straight from the Gut (#2), and The Essential Drucker (#3). In the Amazon review, Timothy Murphy writes:
Truth be told, Locke seems more like a social critic or humanist at heart than a marketing consultant, and his essential disdain for corporations (which are anti-human, he declares, despite all their philanthropic tootle) leaves the reader wondering whether he really wants e-commerce to effectively pervade the Web's truly democratic, populist microcommunities for its own purposes. As his wonderfully cranky cult Web zine, Entropy Gradient Reversals, and his alter ego therein, RageBoy, have proven, the man's a smart, witty, broadly read cyberpundit. In Gonzo Marketing, he tweaks everyone from Disney, Time Warner AOL, and IBM to fellow biz-book writers like Seth Godin (Permission Marketing), and if you read it first for its own eclectic, acerbic delights and second for a postboom e-marketing primer, you'll be rightly pleased.

Gonzo Marketing was also ranked #5 on Computers & Internet editor Brooke Gilbert's Amazon Editors' Choice 2001: Digital Business and Culture hit parade, sandwiched between some very fine books by Steven Johnson, Steven Levy, Linus Torvalds, Larry Lessig, and Michael Lewis. Collect the whole set!

There are a couple full-text chapters of Gonzo on the book site, if you want to check it out. Or click on the Gonzo Engaged grafik to go to a multi-way "partyblog" discussion, already in progress...

12:28 PM | link |

JOHO the Blog
Dr. WeimeranerDavid Weinberger, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and perpetrator of JOHO (The Journal of the Hyperlinked Organization), has finally, like myself (after the prerequisite "waiting period" [read: much kicking and screaming]), decided to traverse the shining path illuminated by another Cluetrain co-author: the Wizard of Blogs himself, Doc Searls.

David writes:

I'm probably overdue to update this weblog since the last update was, let's see, November 20, 1999!

Yeah, I tried this weblogging thing two years ago. But it's not how I like to write. I like to let things sit before I show them to people. Yes, I recently finished writing a book in public, posting each day's draft at a public web site (www.smallpieces.com). But I was very uncomfortable doing it. The feedback made it worthwhile, but showing people what I'd written but not revised made me feel as good as getting a rectal exam in a Macy's store window.

And who wouldn't pay to see something like that? At any rate, check him out. Weinberger provides thoughtful takes on important issues, and can even be funny when he's not foaming at the mouth. The main difference between David and myself is that I'm funniest when I am foaming at the mouth. That is, in my humble opinion. Which, of course, not everyone shares. As Dr. Weimeraner writes in his tagline: "Let's just see how it goes."

9:51 AM | link |

Thursday, November 15, 2001
Defending Your Freedom
Petition to the President and Senators of the United States: "We need to consider proposals calmly and deliberately with a determination not to erode the liberties and freedoms that are at the core of the American way of life.... We need to ensure that actions by our government uphold the principles of a democratic society, accountable government and international law, and that all decisions are taken in a manner consistent with the Constitution."

4:19 PM | link |

Keep the Faith
Martin Jensen wonders what we all have wondered, one time or another: "I write what I don't even know if anyone will read, so it's fundamentally an act of faith." I know the feeling. But you never know who might resonate with the next idea and the particular way you cast it. Bread upon the waters.

1:36 PM | link |

The First Writing-Machines
Here's Mark Twain discovering the latest writing tech of his day. Reminds me a bit of our recent speculations about blogging: "Nasby and I saw the machine through a window, and went in to look at it. The salesman explained it to us, showed us samples of its work, and said it could do fifty- seven words a minute -- a statement which we frankly confessed that we did not believe.... The price of the machine was $125. I bought one, and we went away very much excited."

12:11 PM | link |

Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa
"These were, as officials knew, widespread stories, which showed great similarities and considerable differences over a wide geographic and cultural area." Word travels. Sound familiar?

1:58 AM | link |

The Junior Woodchuck Guide to The Lost Art of Bloggery

further details

12:37 AM | link |

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

4:13 PM | link |

Words of Wisdom from Crazy-assed Cross-eyed Baldheaded Polish Bastard
"Godot is not coming," Marek writes. "We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are giving birth to new possibilities in the shared spaces of conversations. Maybe, the phenomenon is the Golden Age of Digital Renaissance and we are declaring it ourselves by unfolding the spaces in the Clouds made of small pieces loosely joined." (btw, that last is an allusion to David Weinberger's forthcoming book -- more about which soon enough.)

When he entered through Customs, Marek reportedly said he had "something to declare," though a strip search revealed nothing. Baffled, the officials told him he was free to go -- whereupon, he headed dutifully (and duty-free) for the men's room. In related news, Marek's blog was recently acquired by Joe's Brake and Lube Centers. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

3:19 PM | link |

blogdex - "not immediately apparent"
Meg sends mail today asking if I'm aware of blogdex -- if DAYPOP was news to me, then it's reasonable to assume blogdex would be too. She writes: "Blogdex is done by a guy named Cameron Marlow over at MIT who's very interested in memic propogation. That's basically why he's started Blogdex."

I haven't been to the site for awhile, but just checked the page linked above and... viola! Very cool. More evidence of the "propagation and amplification" effects unique to blogspace. On the same theme, here's how Gonzo Marketing ends:

While the reasons the gonzo model is necessary and inevitable may be complex, the method is simple. Hook up, connect, co-create, procreate. Redeploy. Foment joy. Brothers in arms, sisters of Avalon, champions of the world get to work.

10:18 AM | link |

Fishing the River for Poetry
"I am almost to the New Mexico border where the sign says 'Leaving Colorado,' and then in about twenty feet there's another sign saying 'Welcome to New Mexico, The Land of Enchantment.' I always wonder about that place in between the signs. 17 is a rural mountain road circling above the River Chama. Just after climbing the Cumbres Pass I come to a bend in the road and my Toyota 4-Runner skids on loose gravel, going out of control. I remember facing the wrong direction on the edge of the cliff. At that moment, time stopped. It was as if there was no further movement. I don't remember hitting rock or flipping off the edge of the cliff...."

2:50 AM | link |

A Richer Brew
The Twilight Zone"As I was putting this together," Tom Matrullo writes, "Locke blogged some thoughts which seem germane to the vein being explored here." The thoughts he refers to constitute my BLOGSPACE bit below. In mail alerting me to his richer brew and it's "synchronous thoughts," Tom adds that there's "something uncanny about this." Yeah. Something is coalescing here, emerging and converging toward some as-yet-unnamed phenomenon we're all trying to describe. Perhaps the uncanny part is that -- whatever it is -- it's using our voices to announce its arrival.

1:15 AM | link |

Tuesday, November 13, 2001
Toward a tentative theory of BLOGSPACE

On Saltire, Steve MacLaughlin links and recaps many of the threads that have contributed to the reconsideration of what has certainly become a perennial question: "What the hell is a blog, anyway?" As further evidence of this, Jim (of the eponymous jimslog) writes:
The recent flurry of meta weblog discussion continues. Why this is happening now is unclear to me. Is it just the linguistic gas supplied by Chris Locke?

While I'm gassed that Jim would think so, I find it more interesting that many definitions tend to be reductive. Look for words and phrases like "simply" and "really just" and "nothing but," which usually signal such reductions. A blog is simply a diary. A blog is really just a journal. A blog is nothing but a web page. For instance, Steve writes in part:

Blogging is simply history repeating itself, except this time the technology is just more sophisticated. People have really been blogging since the beginning of time in one form or another. Call them meme's, call them diaries, call them journals -- call them whatever you want. Whatever the term, the one common denominator is that blogs offer an individual's perspective and observations of the world around them.
Was Chaucer, therefore a proto-blogger? Was Rabelais and Boccaccio? I think there is merit in this view. It provides, as Steve suggests, a critical element of cultural continuity. In Gonzo Marketing I wrote:
Nearly 20 years ago, standing at a Tokyo news kiosk, I read an interview with Keith Richards in which he said he saw Mick Jagger and himself as being in direct line of descent from antique bards and medieval troubadours. In place of "Let It Bleed" and "Sympathy For the Devil," I suddenly flashed on the lyric poet-musicians of the 12th century, on Beowulf, Homer, and even further back to bones and rattles and skin drums around some Neolithic campfire.
But... (stick with me here, this is going somewhere. I think.)

Although Steve's post cites (i.e., hyperlinks) contributions to this "thread" -- very loosely construed as such -- from Dave Winer, Doc Searls, Tom Matrullo, and myself, he misses important entries in the conversation from Mike Sanders, J.D. Lasica and others quickly becoming too numerous to mention.

The point is not to fault Steve's citations, but rather to surface the significance of the too-numerous-to-mention dynamic, which seems to be an inherent quality of blogspace. And which, I think, begins to provide some kind of delta from other forms -- both online and off -- that blogs do not so easily reduce to.

Perhaps a recent exchange -- or more accurately, a non-exchange -- with my friend and co-author David Weinberger will make this more concrete. It did for me. Last week, I sent the following mail to Doc Searls, Dave Winer. Robert Scoble, Tom Matrullo, Eric Norlin, Marek, Martin Jensen, Elizabeth Locke (my sister), and David Weinberger.

Sent: Saturday, November 10, 2001 8:50 AM
Subject: language: it's a virus

Fully realizing that your mileage may vary, I nonetheless ask you, pretty please, to propagate and amplify:

Sex, Lies and... Marketing
Call it whatever you will. The "meme" debate is a red herring. A McGuffin. For them what may need it:
But whatever you call it, I guess it proves what William Burroughs propagated and Laurie Anderson amplified -- language: it's a virus.

perhaps one of you could fwd this to Mike Sanders -- don't have his address, though much of that screed is addressed to him. ;-)

with best regards all round,


After several folks (Dave, Doc, Tom, Eric, Martin, Marek) had replied to the full send list, David Weinberger wrote: "Please remove me from future sends on this topic, whatever the fuck this topic is."

Please understand that David's not a dumb guy. Far from it. (Not as dumb as he looks anyway.) Although he had not been a part of the discussion up to that point, I included him thinking these were issues he had some interest in (in fact, I know they are).

I wrote back to David: "Well, I was looking for a little SUPPORT, actually" (as Winer was kicking my ass bigtime, and I was looking for ammo to kick his ass back; etc., so it goes.)

And David replied: "Support for WHAT? I have no idea what the two of you are on about or why I'm on this mailing list. Or why anyone else is. Or why that particular set of people is."

However -- the plot thickening, as plots will -- at the same time that Weinberger was basically going "HUH??? WTF???," the cluetrain list -- of which David is a regular denizen -- was awash in these very same issues. Note two things here:

  1. The cluetrain list was discussing these questions largely BECAUSE they'd first been surfaced in BLOGSPACE. In fact, several members of the list who span both "worlds" (Tom Matrullo, Doc Searls, Marek J., Eric Norlin, etc) seem to have propagated (and amplified) these questions from blogspace to listspace -- plus weblogger Robert Scoble seems to have joined the cluetrain list during this same period.

  2. David Weinberger had no idea where this sudden upsurge of blog discussion had come from -- the very discussion I was pointing him into the heart of -- because David is not tuned in to blogspace.
Now, before Weinberger (properly: Dr. Weimeraner) starts sputtering on account of me picking on him here, let me hasten to say that, until last week, I wasn't tuned in to blogspace either. Yes, I had a blogger (the same one this is showing up on), but it was merely/simply/just/nothing more than a static bulletin board for random thoughts. Then I started thinking about Doc's notions about blogrolling, Eric Norlin turned me on to DAYPOP (I tend to be a very late adopter), and a light bulb went off in my head. I wrote to my EGR zine list about a little experiment I was hatching. You can read the whole plan here. A clip:
Actually, what interests me most about weblogs is (you should forgive the expression), memic propagation and amplification. And if there's one thing that EGR (and by extension, or implosion, or somesuch, RB) gets off on, it's... that's right, you guessed it: memic propagation and amplification.

"This is evil genius stuff," Doc wrote later, "and nobody is better at it than RageBoy."

Are you confused yet? If not, you're probably a weblogger. If so, you're probably not. Trying to explain to David Weinberger a) WHAT had happened that I thought he might find significant, b) WHY he might find it significant, and c) precisely HOW it had happened, would be like trying to tell a stranger about rock & roll. Or a blind man about the color of an orange. What I was trying to point David to was like a "location joke" -- you had to be there.

The complexity of blogspace -- and the immersive engagement this complexity calls for -- are closely related to something I wrote about in Gonzo Marketing:

...this exercise smacks of what anthropologist Clifford Geertz calls "thick description." Using a complicated tale about sheep and thieves and justice and the lack of it in colonial North Africa in 1912, he demonstrates that any time we attempt to describe "a particular event, ritual, custom, idea, or whatever," we end up spinning stories about other people�s stories about yet other people�s stories, and sorting it all out becomes next to impossible. It�s a rich tapestry, and thick description, while it may seem confusing, often comes closer to what�s actually going on than would "thin description" -- the kind of succinct clear-cut abstraction that appears perfectly plausible, but totally distorts reality. Not that I'm claiming any methodological rigor in these musings, but the thickness I'm attempting to suggest is what music and painting and literature -- what we roughly call The Arts -- typically point to. And what the specialized languages of logic and science and business typically do not. It�s a Zen sort of thing you could say. I could say; who�s to stop me? Finger indicating moon-illuminated finger. The thickness of life as life is lived between the inexorable poles of birth and death. "Man is an animal suspended," says Geertz, "in webs of significance he himself has spun."

Webs, yes. And although the Big Daddy Web did not exist when that was written, that�s why the choice of quote. That�s where we're headed. It�s where we already are. But wait. Though we have these words for our current situation -- words like Internet and World Wide Web -- it seems to me they obscure at least as much as they explain. Because networks are inherently social realities, any attempt to definitively say what they are becomes immediately suspect. It depends on where you're standing when you look at them, and what sort of baggage you've brought along to the observation deck.

Weblogs are radically nonlinear. In the case of any ordinary webpage, I can give a URL and ask: so whaddya think? The same is pretty much true of a posting or a thread of postings to an email list. But if I say whaddya think about how that [insert x-random-meme here] propagated and amplified through blogspace, it's not so simple. You would've had to have been there to almost sorta feel the reverb.

It'd be a lot like asking: so whaddya think about Islam?

It's not any one post that makes a meme; not any one event that makes a culture. Actually, Winer has it right: it's the cloud of cross-polinating, trans-resonating ideas that has developed in blogspace that makes blogspace different from the web that came before -- and that will create the web that comes after whatever it is we're doing here.

This is some deep shit, bro. Word up.

8:54 PM | link |

Norlin on Life During Wartime
Eric Norlin: PUNK The bio says: "Eric Norlin is a recognized authority on the trends, passions, and impact of the Internet." What it neglects to say is "Eric Norlin is a PUNK!" Just flash on that picture at the top of his column and tell me if you don't agree. The guy looks as if he just escaped from a drug rehab program, and here he is giving investment advice! Who is the real Eric Norlin? He's changed his hairstyle so many times now, I don't know what he looks like...

9:47 AM | link |

Monday, November 12, 2001
In Which I Duke It Out With IBM on Borders.com

"We'll meet on Borders soon, said I,
proud 'neath heated brow..."

OK, OK, I know, yet another bad Dylan quote. Couldn't resist though. (Oh crap, I guess the lyrics say "edges" not "borders." Oh well, fuck it. Close enough for government work.)

Here, I'm quoting myself from a three-round email debate with IBM's John Patrick:

You say the Net is transferring power from institutions to people, and I strongly agree. But that means that it's high time for companies to stop asking how business can use, leverage, exploit, and otherwise take advantage of the Internet -- and to start asking what "the people" are actually using it for. In most cases, the promise we see as "outsiders" is precisely not to become more efficient, friction-free consumers, but instead to become more fully human. As I wrote in my gonzo musings, "We are more than is dreamed in your marketing plan, Horatio."

So, yeah, I freely admit it: I'm far less interested in the bells and whistles of the Next Generation Internet than I am in the quality of mind and heart that will bring about the Next Generation Civilization. Net or not, that's the attitude I care about promoting. Inside or out, that's our ticket to ride.

Click here to read all 3,000 words of this Historic Exchange! (not)

5:48 PM | link |

Rollergirl, Don't Worry
Yesterday, driving, so much to say... then rounding a corner and seeing waterbirds sailing over a pond I'd never noticed on that backroad shortcut to wherever I was headed, hellbent on getting there in time, oblivious. And look! There are mountains here too, and clouds, and sky forever. Always here. Always so much that I forget. But suddenly surprised by the world I wonder how much would I give for one more day if I were dead?

I punch up the radio. Scorpio rising, full moon stereo guitar, and the drummer kicks it.

...she gets rock n roll on a rock n roll station
in a rock n roll dream
she's making movies on location
she don't know what it means
but the music make her wanna be the story
and the story was whatever was the song what it was
rollergirl don't worry...
Alright then. Pay attention. Not dead yet.

4:46 PM | link |

Old Dog, New Tricks
Thanks for all the lovely cards and letters. You guys are too cool!

Special thanks to Sandro Benvegnu for this one.

12:00 PM | link |

Scripting News
Dave writes: "Happy birthday to Chris Locke!" Why, thank you Dave. See, y'all? We've really been pals all along. Just trying to spice things up a bit here in WeblogWorld. <g>

9:01 AM | link |

Long Strange Trip
Must have taken a wrong turn in the bardo, I guess, but how the hell did I end up here?On this date in 1947, I was born. I've been a little confused ever since. The same year, Tennessee Williams wrote A Streetcar Named Desire, W. H. Auden published The Age of Anxiety, American chemist Willard F. Libby introduced Carbon-14 dating, and Christian Dior announced The New Look. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved.

7:05 AM | link |

Sunday, November 11, 2001
The Assassin's Cloak
Re Doc's Dear Everybody musings of today... I bought this book last week at my local Barnes & Noble store despite the $35 it cost me there. I struggled over the decision, because the only reason I bought it was the analogy I'd been thinking about between blogging and diary writing -- the subtitle is "An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists." The book takes its name from this entry by one William Soutar (whoever the fuck he is): "A diary is an assassin's cloak which we wear when we stab a comrade in the back with a pen." Sounds like the dude was listening to too much O'Jays.
What they do!
They smile in your face
All the time they want to take your place
The back stabbers (back stabbers)
But nevermind all that. Fortunately, the book's entries aren't limited to poison pen letters. More to the point, aside from a certain archaic -- or, in many cases, <ew!>literary</ew!> -- style, I could imagine these bits and pieces having been culled from olden blogs -- <ew!>if they but had blogs in those bygone days. Ah then, more's the pity they did not.</ew!>

None of which is to say I'm coming down definitively on one side or another of the latest how-many-angels-can-dance-on-the-head-of-a-pin debate concerning whether blogs are more like journals, more like diaries, or more like diarrhea. The last option is not my view; just reporting opinions I've heard expressed elsewhere. If I thought that, I would have spent the 35 bucks on Imodium A-D.

6:08 PM | link |

Dueling Ontologies

Did you ever have to finally decide?
Say yes to one and let the other one ride?
There's so many changes and tears you must hide.
Did you ever have to finally decide?

The Lovin' Spoonful
Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?

Yesterday, Dave Winer pointed me -- then all of Scripting News -- to a piece he wrote in May 1997. There, he says in part:

Programmers have a very precise understanding of truth. You can't lie to a compiler. Try it sometime. Garbage in, garbage out. Booleans, the ones and zeros, trues and falses, make up the world programmers live in. That's all there is!
Cleaning out old email files this afternoon, I stumbled across this issue of EGR I wrote almost exactly a year ago -- on the day of the 2000 US elections. Who knew then what was coming? I recycle it here as it seems apropos to the recent round of love/hate push/pull between Dave and I. And to a whole lot more.

...carnival images closely resemble certain artistic
forms, namely the spectacle. In turn, medieval spectacles
often tended toward carnival folk culture, the culture of
the marketplace... But the basic carnival nucleus of this
culture is by no means a purely artistic form nor a
spectacle and does not, generally speaking, belong to the
sphere of art. It belongs to the borderline between art
and life. In reality, it is life itself, but shaped
according to a certain pattern of play.

Mikhail Bakhtin, Rabelais and His World

The dog trots freely in the street...
and the things he sees
are his reality

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Valued Readers:

I sing mere anarchy loosed. Of wildness and wilderness. Of a deeper ignorance too long ignored.

We own however much of the world we can embrace, maybe even understand -- not in an analytic way, but by feeling deeper into some magic that is beyond understanding. We create maps and visions, work them out in our heads -- constructs to show each other. Here, do you see? This is a picture of how it works. We begin with bare diagrams, flowcharts, abstract models. See? we say, do you see how this part mates to that? How the pieces fit together?

But not until we are able to populate the streets of these models, see exhausted workers, dreaming lovers, posturing punks and preening fashion plates walking their byways and back alleys, cops on the beat and shifty characters dodging into doorways, proud hookers and disapproving matrons sizing each other up, retired bankers reading the day's news over coffee, girlfriends giggling over you can only wonder what, shopkeepers hawking fruit and fish, children running, calling to each other, dogs sniffing at curbs and hydrants -- not until then does evening fall and the wheel of night begin to slowly turn, the eyes of the statues opening once again. Only then does the bare abstraction open into carnival.

Culture is a palimpsest. We write over it, over and over. It must not be too dear, too untouchable. The smoke from the Alexandrian library is our wealth, our burnt and blinded legacy. More where that came from. Nostalgia for the past is the beginning of the end of heroism. Museums preserve what once was. For those cut off, for those who no longer touch the earth or dirty their hands with the fallingdown world. When everything has a price, nothing is precious.

Homage hidden between the lines, sampled and reworked into something we can recognize, as if for the first time. The civilizations of the Australian dreamtime, of Egypt and Africa, of China, India, Greece, the Aztecs, Incas, Maya, Navaho, Hopi, Sioux. Pyramids, temples, holy roads and rivers, sacred forest spaces, gateways through which the spirit of the people opened into the infinite. All these were created with a fraction of the power we command today -- godlike knowledge, inconceivable wealth, technologies indistinguishable from magic. And what have we created with this power? What monuments have we erected to the imagination of our race? McDonald's, Yahoo, Disney World. Absurd simulacra bought with the ransom of 10,000 kings.

But it is not over. Not some cheap trip down memory lane. We do what we do and will continue. We do what the world asks of us when it gets no answer elsewhere.

Take heart.

3:26 PM | link |

reading & writing
Joseph Duemer blogs the following. Disclaimer: this is the first I've heard of the guy (i.e., I didn't put him up to it; no payola). But I'll certainly be going back to check what he's been saying. Me, I frame no hypothesis. Or maybe all hypotheses equally.
Most of the cultural analysis one reads in the weblogging community is uninformed by any broad cultural understanding. This is especially true within that narrow range of blogs that deal with the Internet & computing. You get the impression that the writers have spent their entire lives in front of one kind of CRT or another & that books are a foreign country. The "theory of language" behind most of this writing is positivist/instrumentalist. (As Chris Locke points out regarding Dave Winer's use of language.) The words we have "in our minds" are not arranged at all the way they are, say, in a wordprocessor's dictionary--they are knit together in a web of personal & societal connections unique to each individual. What makes Chris Locke a "good" reader & Dave Winer a "bad" one is Locke's deeper understanding of the social & political nature of discourse.

10:41 AM | link |

Dave Now Quoting Humpty?
Doc recaps recent speculation about non-digital analogues and precursors to weblogs. But Dave Winer retorts that "there is no such thing" -- a curious POV for a man who runs weblogs.com and has been responsible for so much of the development of the form. He does put a smiley on the statement, so maybe Dave has more of a sense of humor than I've given him credit for lately. Is it possible I've misjudged the guy completely? Hmmmm.... this is a disturbing thought.

Just yesterday, I quoted Humpty Dumpty's infamous dictum: "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less." I thought this a rather devastating counteragument for Dave's revisionist etymology of "meme" -- but now I'm not so sure. Now I'm beginning to think he's really a surrealist in techno-drag, because listen to how he defines "weblog" today:

When I sat down and tried to piece it together, this is what I came up with. It's just the Web, nothing more nothing less. [italics mine]
Now I'm beginning to see. Winer is just a LOT smarter than I thought, and he's beating me at my own game. The guy is a black-belt Meme Master and he's simply been messing with my head!

10:20 AM | link |

"RageBoy: Giving being fucking nuts a good name since 1985."
~D. Weinberger
28 October 2004

Chris Locke's photos More of Chris Locke's photos

Until a minute ago, I had no photos. I still have no photos to speak of. I don't even have a camera. But all these people were linking to "my photos." It was embarassing. It's still embarassing. But I'm used to that.

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