Re: Flamewar (was Re: First Post...)

I Find Karma (
Thu, 7 Aug 97 23:34:06 PDT

For the record, I love Jameson's.

Still going through the weekend's mail and found this gem from Ron.

> 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 defend his privacy rights. I'm
> not defending Joe. I'm expressing my own disgust.

I'm still grappling with this one.

If instead of including the personal email in a public message, one just
summarized what was said in that personal email and then responded to
it, would that be okay?

Is your problem more with the stealing of words not intended for the
public, or the forwarding of ideas not intended for public?

U.S. Law says that for anyone to be videotaped in a sting, only one of
the people being videotaped needs to agree to being videotaped. This is
how they caught Frank Gifford --- the lady caller agreed to being
videotaped. But you're saying for an EMAIL to go public, both parties
need to consent to this? Why should email have stronger privacy rights
than videotapes?

> 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 don't think JoeK ever really enjoyed being on FoRK.

> much as I get tempted to quit at times, the benefits of FoRK membership,
> for me, still outweigh the crap.

You sure know how to give a complement, Ron. :)

> 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.

Right, but these are guidelines. This is not martial law, we are not a
police state, and the only censorship that can or should go on here is
self-censorship. I like a society that trusts me to do the right thing.

> But on the other hand, we're bombarded by spunky junk.

I would say only about 3% of the posts here are total crap.
And 3% are pure clue.

In between, there are 94% in shades of grey.
One person's bits are another person's antibits.
One person's cluons are another person's anticluons.
Kittie heaven is mousie hell.
Et cetera.

> And by Tim postings that contain a single URL and no more.

Think of them as a challenge.
For some, the challenge is to figure out their meaning.
For others, the challenge is in how fast you can hit the delete key.

> And by pure offensiveness (repeatedly!) about Canada.

We're just jealous because Canada has all of the amenities of America
without any of the 23,000 annual murders, and none of the stupidity.
Plus, you guys have 967-11-11. Why didn't WE think of that?

Of course, your national health care system is going to bankrupt you.
Combine this with the Quebec problem, and we'll see Canada annexed by
the U.S., certainly by 2050. Probably earlier than that. That's a
provision in NAFTA, you know. Canada and Mexico both agreed not to be
completely hostile to a U.S. takeover. Heh heh.

> 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.

Actually, nerdiness has little to do with it.

I think the real reason we flip around from topic to topic is threefold:
1. We have many different interests.
2. We believe in the interconnectedness of all things.
3. We have, as a community, a serious attention deficit disorder.

In addition, many of us regularly travel, so that usually by the time we
return threads are no longer relevant. We just have to wait until the
next round.

Sometimes threads are left dangling, but there are too many threads to
manage, so if a topic is important, chances are we will return to it at
the next relevant point (that is, when there is new information to add
to the mix). We have a good institutional memory, and have no qualms
picking up where we left off three months earlier.

> Rohit posts an 'XML & Sour grapes' thing. Ron responds. End of thread.

Not forever. Rohit mulls it over for a while, considering what Ron
says, and two months later coauthors a "XML for Archiving" paper.

> 'Clueful Mountain' gets started. Makes a bit of a ruckus. End of thread.

You're using linear thinking on us.

The great thing about hypertext --- indeed, about the World Wide Web ---
is that it freed us from linear thinking.

Just because we're not overt in our quoting that thread does not mean
the ideas do not vicariously underlie future posts. (How many negatives
in THAT sentence?)

> 'ONESIMUS' is retrieved from ancient history by Adam. Where did that go?

I just posted it to provide context. It wasn't intended to start a
debate. I just wanted people to know something that had happened two
years ago.

I have other "classics" I may revive sometime if I get the gumption.
Things like oSpace, OOFS, kudos, and Cell. Things that underlie the
whole star TP and munchkins and task-oriented programming ideology.
Stuff that indicates why we are such firm believers in Web technologies
like PNG, streaming multimedia, XML, HTTP, and URLs...

> 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.

But FoRK *is* that kind of place.
The point is, FoRK isn't *only* 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.

Well, sort of. I gotta admit, over there I sometimes fear posting
for worry of saying something that will be inappropriate.

With FoRK, I have a blanket that says I can post anything that I think
is interesting. On dist-obj, I have an obligation to post only what I
think others will think is interesting. See the distinction?

Sometimes, I have trouble determining the latter. Example:
event-oriented programming. *I* think it is interesting, but I didn't
know if dist-obj would. So I posted it here and not there.

Someone was nice enough to cross-post it for me (Bob or Dave, I forget
which), but it demonstrates me point. I'm much better at gauging what I
find interesting than I am at gauging what I think an ever-growing list
of people will find interesting.

> 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.

Rohit would not boot you out unless you spammed the list with mailbombs.
That is not the nature of this list, and it is not Rohit's style.
Rohit believes in live and let live, post and let post.

Remember, the natural numbers are the work of God, and the rest is
the work of man. It's a good principle to live by.

> 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?

My vote is for openness. If Nathan Myrvhold wants to join FoRK and
flood our halls with stuff about dinosaurs, I say we let him. If
someone we've never heard of before sends an email to and wants to be added, we should take that as
praise for the discussions we've been having, and greet that person with
open arms.

If there is too much mail here for someone, or the mail is uninteresting
to them, we should allow that person to leave, no ill will at all.
And I'm all for keeping the archives available on the Web for all who
want to read them. I weekly receive email from someone not on this list
asking me (or telling me) about something I posted on this list, thanks
to the openness of the Web pages. I think that's wonderful.

I'm a big fan of open borders. People should be allowed to flow freely,
just as information wants to be free. Especially in a global world.

> there is always a 'bigger picture' encompassing the biggest picture you
> can possibly think of at any time.

This is true. The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.

> 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.)

I don't think the bits or the sources need be controversial. Sometimes
the most innocuous bits and sources are the ones that spark the best
insights in me.

> True enlightenment comes from being willing to see the world through
> constantly changing perspectives and viewpoints. 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.

Well spoken.

> 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.

And that we often think about the Platonic ideal of html/http and not
the problem-ridden Web we live with today. The ideas underlying html
and http and url are what we consider so important.

We believe there is a lot to learn from what already exists.
Both what already exists in nature, and what exists in the manmade realm.
Both as good examples of what to follow, and as bad examples of what to

> 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 may wind up a karmakid yet, too. I'm starting to *believe* in
those ideas in more than just an abstract sense...

> But, there's also some commonsense. I believe in interconnectedness, but
> perhaps I don't really believe in the interconnectedness of _all_ things.

I guess that's where we diverge. My approach is holistic. Everything
has a sign if you're willing to look for it. Every event has the
potential to fire off another event. Butterfly wings flapping in one
area of the world can bring El Nino back to roost.

> 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 ultimately expand into a frozen waste, or collapse back
> to a singularity.

Won't you feel silly when an answer was in the one place you never
bothered to look?

> There remain things that are clearly interconnected only in the most
> superficial 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 doubt it.

But perhaps Tim represents a high-end developer, one who would be one of
the first people willing to adopt a new technology choice when it comes
around. And perhaps Tim's posting demonstrates to us what platforms
these high-end developers are tending to choose. This might give us
insight in what they intend to use such technology for, and anticipate
what technology innovations they will need. After all, no new
technology succeeds without a killerapp. Perhaps Tim's needs themselves
suggest a killerapp, which we can then reverse engineer to retrofit the
world's Next Great Technology Thang (TM).

Perhaps that killerapp also suggests what things we will need to put
into place before we can even begin developing the technology. Things
like naming conventions and transaction schemes and economic models and
trust calculi and security policies and routing algorithms and
communication infrastructures.

Read between the lines. Why is Tim buying the machine he's buying?
Does it fulfill a need? What needs doesn't it fulfill, and why?
Are pure active distributed communicating objects a solution, and if so,
how can that solution best be adapted to suit his needs.

Remember that the good is the enemy of the great. If you want people to
migrate to a new platform, paradigm, or style, you have to give them a
compelling reason to do so. You have to make it so that they cannot
afford NOT to migrate to that new platform.

Sometimes the bits are not always in the most obvious places.
Read between the lines and see a universe you've never seen before.

> JoeB is probably the best assett Microsoft has.

I don't mean this as a slant on JoeB because I really like the guy, but
you severly underestimate Microsoft.

> The day Spunky joined a few weeks ago was such a spasm.

True, but we are a dynamic system. We learned to adapt, and we are now
a better collective than we were before, thanks to tomwhore.

> It was probably the low point of FoRK in all its history to date.

Naw, we've done worse. (But don't treat that as a challenge... :)

> 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.

Actually, that was just part of the feedback cycle Ernie talked about.
Just giving the group some feedback that less is sometimes more.

> >> adam will filter the good bits to me anyway - that's what
> >> he is for, right rohit?

JoeK made a good Joke.

But my filtering to him will probably be a very easy job.
I pass on nothing, because that's about what he's found useful here.
FoRK is too high strung a list for him, but that's okay.
We can't all be chiefs; some of us have to be indians.

> >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.

So from time to time I can get away with wasting the time of others. :)

> I can cut him a lot of slack to explore the fuzzy divider between
> 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 noise category with precious little signal.

That's Ron's opinion. My opinion is that there's a lot of signal in
what Tim has to say.

I agree he sometimes goes overboard, but so do we all. A 22K post?
That's roughly 4 times the memory the Vic20 used to make available on a
good day...

> 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.

Actually, I do. I might be in the market for hardware sometime soon,
and Tim's opinions on the stuff is top-notch. He's the world's greatest
beta tester.

> Or that you believe that your views on technology are things the rest
> of us are interested in.

I do believe in them. Tim consistently picks the best developer
platforms, hands down. He's tried everything. His opinions are

> Yes- I'm insulting and flaming you now. (Rohit, you gonna kick me off
> for this? Go ahead!)

Rohit wouldn't. Not his style.

> 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.

Maybe he's right --- what HAS Canada contributed to the world? Michael
J Fox and Bryan Adams?

Maybe he's wrong --- Canada does buy more of our goods and services than
any other country in the world. Canada is partially to thank for our
economic boom of late.

Maybe his posts are inappropriate --- that he says things just to get a
rise out of people.

Or maybe there is no such thing as an inappropriate post --- so, if
someone wants to take a flamebait, anti-Canada stance, why should we
stop them? Flames are duly ignored anyway, so why should we allow them
to upset us so?

> 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?

Actually, that *is* the official Republican platform, and they *do*
control both of our houses in Congress...

> That we're ultimately netizens in a global economy and global community,
> not national citizens.

As long as taxes exist, then citizenship will mean something.

> 'Canada' is an antiquated industrial age notion of territorial based
> social organization, governance and economic & taxation policy.

You said it, brother.

> 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.

Sometimes people in the same room put up their dukes and fight each other.

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

BTW, the FAQ is not so much something to be taken literally as it is
philosophies, allegories, and principles.

> 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,
> composable
> interface to any other HTTP client?" (saying from Rohit Khare)
> Hint: There might be an answer floating around somewhere on the
> Internet.

Actually, I just put that there to scare off the has-beens and the

> 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).

There are many facets to the technology question. Just because someone
does not choose to answer the big vision questions, does not mean that
person is less of a person.

> 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.

Well, and that none of them stand still, either, so we always need to
adjust our opinion of where we think they're all going.

> But that the 'big picture' ultimately has something to do with little
> blobs of intelligence-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.

Actually, I'm not sure which one is the chicken and which is the egg.

> 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.

But certainly for now, they are the ONLY thing that is relevant.
Nothing forms out of nothing; everything evolves from something.
The now is really the only key we have to open the door of the future.

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

And yet, this is paradoxical, because nothing forms out of nothing...
Therefore we'll need to know *something* to create something.........


How could this be happening to me;
I'm lying when I say, "Trust me."
I can't believe this is true.
Trust hurts.
Why does trust equal suffering?
-- Megadeth, "Trust" (track 1 off their new album, _Cryptic Writings_)