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Archive for June, 2003

Brewster’s Box
Friday, June 6th, 2003

One morning a few weeks back, I ran into Brewster Kahle at the SFO airport before an early morning flight. The 2nd such coincidence of SFO x Brewster, the previous event being last January. I was off to a sales call in Arkansas, and he was off to testify at a DMCA hearing in Los Angeles. We were both tight on departures, but that didn’t stop Brewster from steering me to the nearby waiting lounge.

“You’ve got to see this, it’s really cool.” He proceeded to pull an aluminum-cornered hardcase box from his back pack. From the box, he lifted out an original VisiCalc package still in shrinkwrap. “Look at this, this started it all. They want us to destroy it. They don’t want Libraries to preserve it!” (He also showed me a box of MS Basic for an Atari.)

A few days later, John Markoff wrote a New York Times article, but already the content seems stashed away behind a feewall.

Are we in the era of Digital Libaries yet?

It’s been ten years since the NSF stirred up the academic research on digital libraries by calling for proposals. The theories and innovations aside, bring on the real world messy wicked problems. And Brewster continues championing with insane energy for sanity.

Impressions of Blogs Taking Off
Wednesday, June 4th, 2003

Just over a year ago, I started to blog along with the monthly newsletter. As it’s turned out, I didn’t blog regularly, but I did leave some wannabe entries on my disk. Here’s an entry I could have published in June 2002, so I’m ex-post-factoiding it now. It’s mostly what would have been, just some copy-editing and gap filling.

Impressions of Blogs Taking Off
June 2002

The last six months, I’ve been watching the flurry of articles and Web-Buzz on the Blog phenomena. Though I’ve been partly sucked into the insider’s well, still I feel, for lots of reasons, that the Blog phenomena is real. It’s a trend, not a fashion.

A number of interesting facts make me feel it’s a bit like 1993 or 1994 of the Web:

  • Articles and Columns in New York Times, Washington Post, and other mainstream press.
  • The word, “blog,” gaining some acceptance, some concurrence in the community on its source, and OED looking at including it in their dictionary
  • Two upcoming books … how many more are to come later?
  • Active exploration of the technologies, several technology companies, and missionary zeal evolving into a strong sense that some people are looking for business models and slightly little less open then typical of blogs

How will the trend of blogs develop?

There will be as much diversity in the use of blogs as there has been in the use of Websites, … except there is something about voice over time that makes this a little different. The conceptual model of “fragments of articles” is different from “columns”

Why am I drawn to the blogging myself? It might get me to adopt a more regular pattern of writing. Something a lot of bloggers point out … for example, Scott Lofteness …

Just the possibility of audience helps you clarify your thoughts, actually burns out some of the solipsism.

And with some irony, let me add, I talk often as a way of working out ideas. If I wrote a lot more, I think I’d talk less, which some around me would appreciate. Many writers advise starting the day by doing your own work. I notice that I get awfully short emails from an acquaintenance who is an incredibly successful writer.