Flamewar (was Re: First Post...)

Ron Resnick (resnick@interlog.com)
Sat, 02 Aug 1997 14:41:18 +0300

Cc'd to JoeK, who I'm assuming is already off FoRK by now. Sorry Joe, one
last FoRK post you're getting, just to keep you on this thread.

This thread really peeved me.
JoeK sent his 'I quit' message to a select number of
people of his own choosing. He knows perfectly well how to send mail to
FoRK@pest.w3.org but he chose not to do so. We went through this whole
thing not long ago between Adam/me. Tim had no right posting Joe's thing
to the list. I know Joe can take care of himself - he doesn't need me to
his privacy rights. I'm not defending Joe. I'm expressing my own disgust.

I'm also peeved at Rohit's reaction:
>I'm with Tim. Fine by me, Joe. Just remember that everyone on FoRK is
>perfectly capable of making up their own minds, so I don't think you
>need to be looking after everyone else's welfare as well as your own.

Joe isn't looking after _everyone_ else's welfare. He sent his message to
a total of 6 people. All he asked us was 'any other takers?'. Joe could
give 2 shits whether anyone else stays on FoRK. It just so happens that
a number of us were so pissed off about FoRK a few weeks ago that we
were considering the idea of just giving up - I presume that's why Joe
informed us (privately) of his decision to quit - not because he's "looking
after our welfare".

I think it's too bad Joe decided to go. I hope he reconsiders. Personally,
much as I get tempted to quit at times, the benefits of FoRK membership,
for me,
still outweigh the crap. But if enough good people like Joe do leave, the
will get to the point where that's no longer true.

FoRK has always had a certain schizoidness - that's part of its essence.
On the one hand we're told that it's a bit-list, a place for 3%ers, a forum
to continue the kinds of discussions that began in the physics alcove at
Caltech 2+ years ago. We're told (by Rohit!) that any post that could
be VoXed shouldn't be FoRKed. We're told (by Adam's FAQ) that there
are 'rules of FoRKposting' that deal with allowable content.

But on the other hand, we're bombarded by spunky junk. And by Tim postings
that contain a single URL and no more. And by pure offensiveness (repeatedly!)
about Canada. And tired rehash of the usual anti-MS, and whither-Apple stuff
that can be had on any 2-bit advocacy alt. group. And contrary to Rohit's
suggestion, we're starting to get crossposts to FoRK and Voxers.

To an extent, these two faces of FoRK can coexist. The alternative - the 'pure
bit' approach, isn't sufficient either. When I first joined FoRK last fall,
I initially
expected it to be closer to a 'pure bit' sort of place; the kind of place
meaningful threads could go on about what a networked world of bits is about.
I learned in a hurry that this was not the case. That FoRK could briefly
touch on the cool stuff but didn't really want to dwell on it lest it get
too nerdy. Rohit posts an 'XML & Sour grapes' thing. Ron responds. End of
thread. 'Clueful Mountain' gets started. Makes a bit of a ruckus. End of
'ONESIMUS' is retrieved from ancient history by Adam. Where did that go?
Offline for a few of us on a private thread. But not on the list.
Fair enough. Clearly FoRK just isn't that kind of place.
Thus was born dist-obj. Over there, we are very
careful to preserve the signal ratio. And it works very well for us. Having
dist-obj around means I don't expect FoRK to fill that gap for me, and can
enjoy FoRK purely for what it is.
They're not competitive lists- I view them as complementary. That's why
I'm a member of both. Unless Rohit decides I'm FoRK-antisocial after
this and boots me out.

I believe that FoRK is at a certain crossroads. It's going to have
to choose
between Rohit's need to satiate his ego by adding just about anyone, and
permitting just about any thread - versus its claim to continuing the
discussions in that physics alcove. What's it going to be?

Yes, we believe in the interconnectedness of all things. Yes, the only
way to truly grok the meaning of a world of bits is to consider all sorts of
bits from all sorts of angles. KUCI bits. Spunky bits. Timbits.
Adam bits. Algonquin bits. Humour
bits. Java, CORBA, karma bits. Anyone who gets into too narrow a rut and
insists that only *those* kinds of bits qualify is committing the same sin
we accuse OMG or Javasoft or even W3C of commiting - that they can only
see the world through their own narrowed eyes. That they can't bring
themselves to seeing
that their view, while perhaps partially right, can never be totally right.
there is always a 'bigger picture' encompassing the biggest picture you
can possibly think of at any time. And that the only way to see bigger and
bigger pictures is by infosponging more and more controversial bits from
controversial sources. That, to me, is probably the basic philosophy of
FoRK (and dist-obj, for that matter.) The day we become tired Java-lists
or Web-lists is the day we sell out.

True enlightenment comes from being
willing to see the world through constantly changing perspectives and
And it's a never ending process. Nobody ever knows it all. Learning isn't
just a path to a goal. It *is* the goal.

There are no hard and fast rules on which
bits belong to the potentially useful 'interconnected' set. I used to scoff
at html/http as an obviously insufficient way to get to the endgame. But
keeping an open mind to Adam & Rohit in the last few months has taught
me a lot. I can see where they're coming from. I'm starting to understand
the value of XML. I'm incorporating it into my world-view. I may wind up
a karmakid yet.
I hope I've had a similar effect on them. There aren't any
absolutes. Everyone has (potentially) something to contribute. I learn
from Ernie, from JoeB, from Wayne, from Robert H, and of course tons
from Dan K. These are among the people I've come to respect on FoRK.
Their views, even when different from my own (and especially then!), round
out my knowledge and world view. The existence of such people and
regular contact with them keeps
me humble and from thinking that I may actually know it all (which has
a tendency to happen to all us egojerks). That same broad, openminded
policy means I'm willing to give a hearing to just about any new bits from
any new source. Perhaps they, too, will be interconnected to what I think!
A new FoRK member? Great! Perhaps new quality bits from a new perspective!

But, there's also some commonsense. I believe in interconnectedness, but
perhaps I don't really believe in the interconnectedness of _all_ things.
I don't really believe that my choice of corn flakes vs. rice crispies for
breakfast this morning has anything to do with whether the universe will
expand into a frozen waste, or collapse back to a singularity.

There remain things that are clearly interconnected only in the most
and uninteresting ways. Learning about Tim's new machine is bits. They're
bits which are interconnected to XML and Mt. Clue by virtue of the fact that
they're all FoRKposts. Is that a useful or interesting interconnection? I
it. Those bits are chaff. They're bits that don't extend my worldview, and I
doubt they extend anyone's worldview. How do you know the good bits from the
chaff? It's not always easy. Is a KUCI post chaff? Might be, might not.
The best policy, the FoRK policy, is to censor no bits, permit everything,
and hope that individual self-restraint keeps the good bits/chaff ratio
So, we learn that Rohit likes to fly and collect airmiles, we learn that Wayne
loves anagrams, that duck is pretty funny, and that JoeB is probably the
best assett Microsoft has. Do these things advance our state of useful
knowledge? Who knows. But they're in moderation. And we apply the
benefit of the doubt. Better to know things than be ignorant of them.
The trouble is we go through spasms where the s/n ratio gets way out of hand.
The day Spunky joined a few weeks ago was such a spasm. It was probably
the low point of FoRK in all its history to date. I suspect Joe's decision to
quit was really made then, not now. It wasn't Tim's latest post that did it
- that
was merely a straw that broke the camel's back. The real weight on the back
happened the day Spunky joined, I suspect. That got so bad that even
Adam complained to us on the road about it.

At 09:26 PM 8/1/97 -0700, CobraBoy! wrote:
>Joseph R. Kiniry around 8:24 PM -0700 on 8/1/97, brainstormed and came up
>with this:
>> this is yet another reason why i'd like to get off
>> fork...seriously...take me off. i'm so tired of hearing about shit i
>> don't care about. no offense tim, but most of the time, you just
>> waste mine. adam will filter the good bits to me anyway - that's what
>> he is for, right rohit?
>funny you should mention adam. I actually liked spending my time reading
>about his first car, a used Nissan sentra and how owning a car was a worth
>while concept.

Adam can get away with posting that, because Adam also posts a lot
of useful stuff. I can cut him a lot of slack to explore the fuzzy divider
signal and noise since he's often enough got some signal that the occasional
noise can be tolerated. You, on the other hand, consistently show up in the
category with precious little signal. That's my opinion- I don't speak for all
of FoRK obviously. But I wouldn't encourage you to poll them - I suspect
it might hurt your ego a bit to know what people really think about your
'brilliant opinions.'

>> tbyars@earthlink.net writes:
>> > from my new 8600/300/128/2 gig/24x/zip
>> >
>> >
>> > You might notice the change form 4 gig to 2 gig. That is because Apple
>> > shipped this with a pirce of shit Quantum Fireball. I replaced that
>>with my
>> > trusty 2 gig Seagate Hawk and all is well.
>just so I know in the future, was the offending command the fact that I
>mentioned that Apple is installing a drive that is hardly fit for high
>sustained transfer work (as in digital video) in a machine built for
>digital video work?

No Tim the offending comment was in the fact that you should believe that
anyone here actually cares whether or not you upgrade your hardware. Or
that you
believe that your views on technology are things the rest of us are interested
in. Yes- I'm insulting and flaming you now. (Rohit, you gonna kick me off
for this? Go ahead!) But it's probably high time
someone did so. You've provoked others (e.g. your Canada comments)
so you've got this coming to you, imho.

Let's start with the Canada thing. Surely you know that there are Canadians
on this list. Clearly your sense of etiquette is that you're Tim. You're god.
You know everything. It doesn't matter whom you offend. You go ahead
and say what you like anyway. If you came into a my home, you'd be
perfectly willing to insult me there too. Or pee on my rug.
The fact that there are real people
at the other end of this mailing list from you doesn't register - we don't
count since we're not right there in Orange County with you, is that it?

Tim, has it dawned on you that defining traits on the basis of arbitrary
political boundaries like nation/states is exactly the sign of cluelessness
we disparage in the 97%?
(Tim, did you understand that last sentence?). Knocking
the notion of a country as a generalization for its residents on a
mailing list that deals
with the globalisation of information, people, society and the economy is
a decidedly blunt statement that you really don't 'get' any of it, do you?
Have you
read Gordon Irlam's views on nations and countries? Do you realize that
if things like Rohit/Adam's Web of Trust are about anything, they're about
the fact that an information society is based on shared senses of community
and interests between individuals regardless of their arbitrary
geographic location/origins.
That we're ultimately netizens in a global economy and global community,
not national citizens. I personally don't believe that things like
countries with
names like 'Canada' are going to exist at all as we presently conceive of
'Canada' is an antiquated industrial age notion of territorial based social
organization, governance and economic & taxation policy. For that matter,
so is 'U.S.' or any other national chunk of geography.

Back to netizens: the way
netizens speak to each other through networks is with the same tolerance
and respect they show each other when physically placed in the same room.
Since you've violated those codes of shared trust, I feel no compunction
to respect them with you any longer. So I flame you. And expect to probably
get flamed back. With a bunch of words that continues to display your
cluelessness of anything I've said here.

Now, let's talk about technology. Do you know that very last bit in Adam's
the part where it asks:

59.All this sounds so cool. Can I join FoRK?
You can join FoRK if you can answer one simple question: what is the
difference between the following two statements?
"In other words: there's an Orb-like thingie in just about everything,
supporting a queryable BO that can do meaningful things?" (saying from
Sandor Spruit)
"In other words, there's a HTTP server in every device with a
processor and a port which can use PEP and HTML to offer a meaningful,
interface to any other HTTP client?" (saying from Rohit Khare)

Hint: There might be an answer floating around somewhere on the Internet.

Do you understand what that's about? You're a FoRK member. Can you answer
that 'one simple question'? I doubt it. (Of course, many other FoRKers
probably can't either, but they don't post as much 'technology' stuff as you

Do you 'get' why Adam might have
chosen to pick those statements as the essence of what FoRK is about?
Do you realize that when many of us discuss technology on FoRK, it's with
those phrases in mind? That it's not about operating systems, computers,
vendors, or the industry. That it's not about Java or CORBA or the Web or
Microsoft or Apple, ultimately. That those are all players that have to be
understood as part of the prereqs for 'getting' the big picture stuff. But
the 'big picture' ultimately has something to do with little blobs of
uncountable numbers of them - spread throughout the reaches of where
humans dwell and work and travel. That it's about networks and information
and communication far more than it is about technology. That technology
is but a stepping stone to human policy, and not the other way around.
We don't know ultimately what form these networked bit-blobs will take. We
have a variety of different opinions (eg, as expressed in the two statements
by Sandor & Rohit above). But we do know that the battles of yesteryear
on whether Apple this or MS that are ultimately not relevant. And the more
you post arrogant technology views that reflect that old-style way of thinking
about computing, the more you embarrass yourself. As Adam goes on
to say in the conclusion of the FAQ:

You're learning, grasshopper. The key to knowing anything is admitting that
you know nothing.

Can _you_ admit that, Tim? We egomongers (I'll put myself, Adam, and
Rohit in this category anyway) understand the fragile precipice between
thinking we know everything one moment, and realizing the vast gap that
lies between our understanding and the true, awesome enormity of all the
stuff we still feel we need to learn. The stack of books and papers and
web sites I mean to read and get through is growing at an astounding rate.
I can't keep up with the 'essential' pile of stuff I feel I have to know to
put myself on the cutting edge. I desperately rely on the advice of people
like Mark, Sandor, Adam, and Rohit for where to find really good bits
that can fill the gaps in my knowledge. How big is your essential reading
list, Tim? How many of Rohit's technical posts, or the the joint papers
written by Adam/Rohit (Trust, XML) have you read, or do you plan to read?
Have you checked out any of the 'Required Reading' material at the top
of Adam's FAQ? The dist-obj archive? TBTF? RRE?

You claim to be a NeXt weenie, and founded NuLA. Do you 'get' what NeXT
is about? Do you get objects? Do you understand what Brad Cox was
trying to do with ObjectiveC and NextStep? Have you read Superdistribution?
Do you understand the significance
of OpenDoc and JavaBeans and OLE and component technology? Do you know a
late-binding interface from a compiled method invocation? Do you get markup
and metadata? Multicast? Groups? Extensible architectures and protocol

When you show a clue about _that_ kind of technology, I'll pay more attention
to your posts. Till that time, most of what you write is in the 'noise'
for me.

>> > Macbench showed this to be 266% faster than my 8500/180 of 6 months ago.
>or that the benchmark for performance has gone up 266% in 6 months?
>> any other takers?
>Ok, fine by me, quit.

Not fine by me Joe. Come back!

>p.s. for anyone that would like to see benchmarks there here:

Thank heavens. I'll check this right away. The authoratative Tim-statement
on technology. A definite must read! Not.

>Do you pine for the nice days of Minix-1.1,
>when men were men and wrote their own device drivers? ...Linus Torvalds

Now Linus be a cool dude. Did you ever write a device driver Tim? Do
you code Tim? Didn't think so. Not that I think someone has to be able
to code to have a valid opinion. But I would expect someone who sounds
off so much about technology to have a reasonable first hand view on
how software actually comes to be. Certainly if you're going to quote
Linus Torvalds like that, it would go with the image to know what a device
driver is ;-).

> <> tbyars@earthlink.net <>

Many FoRK subscribers probably won't read this,
won't care about it, or will think I'm a jerk. You'll resent my hostility
to Tim and
my nerve for flaming him so strongly in public. I don't give a shit. Given
the inanity
that gets posted to FoRK, if you don't like what I think, now you know
how I feel after all the tiresome repetitive crap coming into my reader.
If Tim can write his garbage, I can write mine. Go sue me.