Kiss & Make up

Ron Resnick (
Sat, 09 Aug 1997 13:34:51 +0300

At 08:39 AM 8/8/97 -0700, Cobraboy! wrote:
>I'm going to make this as brief as possible.
>Ron, Joe, and Jim are assholes.

This post isn't what you're expecting. It's not a continuation of the
I *liked* this post. A lot. Not on the first reading, it's true, when I was
millimeters from my delete key. But a bit more on second reading, and
a heck of a lot more in the hours since last night when I first got it.
In fact, I'd go so far as to nominate it for a spot of honour in the 'best of'
ForKpost list. Maybe not #1 which is all that's left open now. Maybe do
an 'insert' so it fits into the middle of the pack, maybe under a special
'post of honour' FAQ question all of its own. In the entire threads that
we've had on this, I've liked my own best (of course :-), and this one by Tim
second best. Let me explain why.

First, I note that there has been a lot of miscommunication going on. As
carefully as we may try to use language to convey thought, it's inevitable
that we get misinterpretation. I begin with Ernie's koans.
Ernie wrote some koans. I then wrote:

>Go Koan yourself on the head, Ernie. There's no enlightenment in this crap
>and you know it. Tim can call people fuckin stupid, but no koans are
>Someone else tells it like it is, and we gotta call the local cop/chaplain
out to
>keep the peace. Go stick a fork in it, furshur.

Ernie then wrote:
>Okay, for those who tread not the difficult waters of self-enlightment,
let me
> spell it out.

And Adam wrote:
>So yes, I liked the Koanhead post, which is why Ron's followup is
>> Go Koan yourself on the head, Ernie. There's no enlightenment in this
>> crap and you know it.
>There *is* enlightenment in it. There's enlightenment in anything, it
>just depends on how hard you look.

We've had some confusion here, folks. And the fault is mine, in my use
of the words "this crap". Apparently both Adam & Ernie thought I was
referring to the koans themselves as crap, and that I was unable to "get"
them. Reading the above, I can understand the ambiguity. In truth, it
was the high traffic rate on FoRK of what I believe to be fluff that I was
calling "this crap". Reading Adam's post, I now see that he believes that
even flapping butterfly wings might not be irrelevant, so I'll retract the
"and you know it" above and replace it with "I believe" so as not to force
my views on others.

I got the koans (I think). All of them. In fact, I got #3 so well, I was a
surprised at Adam's apparent missing of it in these words:

>> 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?

I've seen the ongoing thread since with Seth, Adam, duck contributions.
Yes, this subject of bit-ownership is complex, and fascinating. And I think
we all sense that it's pivotal to what it means to lead informational lives.
The answer isn't pat, and there are many variations, including ones involving
JoeK emailing Manny & friends some of Adam's FoRK words along with
some lowercase commentary, which Adam then forwards to Rohit, and
has a dilemma about the propriety of FoRKing.

Let's look at Ernie's koan for a moment. The Master and the disciple are
naked at the beach. As we stand, with our thoughts and bits exposed for
all to see in the public sphere. With every email, with every post, we
hand our disciples and friends a camera - we give them the _opportunity_ -
not the _right, mind you - to capture our nakedness, to allow yet others
further afield to see our private parts. The disciple, being but a disciple,
confuses _opportunity_ with _right_. He uses the camera as an instrument,
but the policy - the choice to snap the shutter is his. What is the master's
reaction? To hit him over the head with it. Why? To instruct the disciple
in the lesson of _opportunity_ vs. _right_. Access to the Net makes each
of us extremely powerful. Any dumb yodel can get his bits seen by masses.
We all get a soapbox. But there's a difference between having a soapbox,
and using it. Instruments and policies.

So, how do you know _when_ you're allowed to stand on your soapbox?
And how do you know what you _ought_ to publish? (ie - perhaps the
disciple can photograph the master above the waist, even when the master
stands naked.) These are tough calls. There's no right answer every time.
There are a million possibilities. It's up to the disciples (all of us) to
from example after example and to form patterns. There are no rules
on FoRK - no laws. But FoRK is a virtual community. And all communities
need some kind of 'code of ethics', some notion of social glue, as Adam
calls it. Otherwise it's not a community. There are patterns of behaviour
to be figured out. Just because it's virtual and different than what we're
to doesn't mean it has to be barbaric with no notions of civility and
I think that's why Adam puts 'glue' ahead of 'bits', and I agree. Glue is
very important.

In the specific example we had - JoeK, a FoRK member,
chooses to send a message to people _offlist_. To me, as a disciple
on the matters of private/public, I interpret that act as meaning that
he chose, for reasons of his own choosing, not to want those words
on FoRK. I don't know why. I don't care. That was his choice. He chose
to stand naked on a beach with 6 people, not on a different beach with 40-odd
people. I have a camera. So did Tim, Rohit and a few others. I could have
photographed Joe (ie, crosspost him to FoRK). I didn't. Tim did. I whacked
Tim over the head with his camera. I didn't kill Tim, or wound him. I 'ouched'
him enough to (hopefully) make him think about the public/private issue and
thereby enlighten him. Looking at the resultant thread, it appears all of us
have chosen to think more deeply about the subject. We've all been
enlightened. Mission accomplished, no?

I think I got the koan quite well, actually.

Another point of misunderstanding I'd like to clear up:

I wrote:
>Tim can call people fuckin stupid, but no koans are
>necessary. Someone else tells it like it is, and we gotta call the local
>cop/chaplain out to keep the peace.

Ernie then wrote:
>It seems like people want a "censure" of Tim Byar's tendency to give bits
with >minimal context.

I believe that this is a misunderstanding of what I wrote above. Again,
understandable - I was ambiguous. I can see how Ernie's interpretation
is possible. I'm not asking for anyone to censure anyone. I 'get' the notion
of total democracy - no censure of any speech. But I ask for this notion
to be applied fairly. When Tim enters bits into FoRK that others find
offensive, we bite our tongues and say nothing for months at a stretch -
that is the FoRK way. But on occasion when others (including me) have
entered bits into the FoRK stream that seem to be objectionable to
part of the community, there appears to have been a need for the "chaplain"
to say a few words of harmony & communion.
I don't want censure of Tim on FoRK.
But equally, I don't want censure of anyone else. If you want real democracy,
you have to apply it fairly. A flamewar is bits just like any other.

One other issue. Procmail and kill files. I got a number of suggestions
(including from Tim himself offline, and from Adam's FoRK post), that one way
to deal with this is procmail. I know what procmail is. I don't need
I've never chosen to use it.
To me, using procmail is "Eternal Damnation". It's giving up on this
particular soul
as hopeless. It's a sentence to the wilderness of Gehena.
It's an overt act that says I *don't* believe that this persons
bits are, or will _ever_be_ interconnected to me. I have never yet found
occasion to be so final in my condemnation. Like our Christian brothers,
I prefer to believe that reform is possible and desirable. That everyone
"another chance", and yet another, and another. I'd rather get good & comfy
with my delete key, and ocassionaly vent some public steam.
The delete key lets me dismiss individual statements without making me
dismiss the individual. Procmail is much too coarse a filter. Now, maybe
when all our bits have much better structured markup,
I can get much more precise
filters that let me remove only those posts by Tim that contain a single URL
on subjects like sportswear. Then I'd consider using such tools.

I oppose the death penalty. I oppose Final Solutions in all their nefarious
I think I did wisely in this case. Tim's not in my kill file. None of you are.
I have no plans to change this policy.

All right. Let's get on to Tim's post.

>(We'll call them the 3-a's from now on.) If the 3-a's have set about to
>shut down FoRK by attacking me they've done a pretty good job of it. But
>then again assholes tend to have a backwards way of doing things.

This is not true. I don't think any of the 3-a's have an interest in shutting
down FoRK. Joe just left - but he doesn't care that the party goes on. Jim & I
are still here. I made a conscious effort after my "Flamewar" post to go
right on FoRKposting - business as usual. I dug up some Metcalfe bits
that I posted, I dug up a LaMacchia ref, I did the "Resnick - anticipatory
egosurfing" thing. Are those actions consistent with someone trying
to torpedo FoRK? I don't think so. The fact that I'm taking the time to
write this very post I believe is evidence of my desire to see FoRK continue
to provide value to all of us. Jim, also, posted KUCI in a very timely manner
right into the stream - again I assume as an affirmation of faith in the

I have no interest in seeing anyone 'shut down or shut up' on FoRK. I
completely agree that Tim has as much right (in some ways more - he
was here as a 'FoRK original', of course) as anyone. Read what the
FAQ says about me - I accept FoRK with Cobraboy, for better or for worse.
I'm not picking up my marbles and leaving. But I am trying to improve things.
At least, "improved" from my subjective point of view of what "better" and
"worse" might mean. I understand that not everyone thinks my suggestions
are improvements. That is your right, just as it is mine to differ.
I propose a (hopefully constructive) suggestion:
What about having Cobraboy posts, but encouraging Tim to invest a bit
more of himself in them, as he does here?

We have reasonably thick skins. I've been called an asshole before. I've
been called worse. It's a word. It won't kill me :-).
On occasion, probably even including this time, I deserve
it. I can entirely understand that Tim feels stung by me and is lashing out.
In his position, I'm sure I'd be the same. We all would. In fact, I predicted:

>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.

I was right - about the getting flamed back part. That part was only natural.
But I was *wrong* - and every so pleasantly so - about the "bunch of
words that continues to display your cluelessness" part. Just have a look
at what my baiting Tim managed to do, folks. He sat down, he took the time
to express his own views in fairly eloquent language. We actually got real
mindshare here from Tim. I obviously challenged him enough that he felt
he needed to demonstrate that he, too, could contribute ideas and views.
Tim - let's make a deal: You can call me an asshole in every post you
send, if you then go on to really put some of yourself on the line, as you
do here, too. Ok? Seriously! Start every post with:

"Ron is an asshole. The biggest ever. But here is what I think about
trust and privacy and whatever may be on my mind today..."

I think Adam, Ernie and Tim all misjudged what was going on with:

>A word of advice about trying to teach a pig to play Hamlet: don't.
>You won't get anywhere; in fact, the only thing you'll be able to do is
>annoy the pig.

On the contrary, I think we *did* get somewhere. Tim got annoyed,
sure, but he also rose to the occasion. He showed us all that he can do
what I was daring him to do! I can read through the insults, and see that
very clearly. That's why I like this post. Mind you, I still stand by pretty
much everything I wrote in the earlier one, and I still reserve my judgement
of what I think of Tim, (much as I'm sure he will still continue to think
I'm an asshole ;-). Our pig *has* played Hamlet. And we've all learned
from him. That's why I'm taking the time to respond to this.

I feel a certain sense of closure with this, hence my "Kiss & Make up"
subject line. This is a time of healing. Ernie, Adam, and others' posts could
not bring this saga to completion, because this was between Tim & me. I
asked him to step outside, and threw the first punch. That was the first shoe.
For the other shoe to drop, no lengthy posts from Adam or others can suffice.
We were all waiting for Tim's reaction as the second shoe. Now we have it.
He's swung back at me, and connected quite well I think. I'm ready to
go back into the bar now, step into the john so we can both wipe some
blood from our noses, and have another round. Who's buying? Adam? Rohit? :-)

>One of the reasons I prefer FoRK over things like VAL is that FoRK always
>meant that you could excel, or trip, yet do so in a community of support by
>others that *you* respected. I guess it's the fact that I went to art
>school and not a technical school.

There I've learned something. I've often wondered what Tim's educational
background was. I think there is an awful lot to be learned from the artistic
community. I enjoy the literary refs. we occassionally get from duck, JoeB,
Wayne, and others. There can be no substance without form. Artistry is
about providing good, esthetic form. It's essential.

>I don't find flak productive. Everybody
>misfires. Everybody. Everybody has the ability to create. Creation exists
>by trying things with the confidence that you can achieve something.

I entirely agree with these words. I do this routinely. Here and on dist-obj
and in other forums. Then again, "flak" can be productive - look what it's
done here!

>In the
>3-a's world you shouldn't try, or exist out side of a very well formed

Hmm. Yes, there is something to this. I tried very carefully to express
my views on this in the original 'Flamewar' post. That the envelope needs
to be very, very wide to allow KUCI bits, Spunky bits, humour bits, etc.
But I guess that unlike Adam, I don't believe in butterfly wings. If you're
going to inspect all the bits that surround us all the time, you'll never
make progress, imho. We all abstract, we all filter. Adam & Ernie both
noted that the one offense that is unpardonable on FoRK would be providing
the subscription list to a mailbomber. Why? I mean, if butterfly wings are
significant, maybe the mailbombers have something to tell us too?

What we have here is a difference in degree, not in kind. We all want to
put a threshold to keep from being info-overloaded. It's just that we want
our thresholds in different places. I want my threshold set a bit higher
than Adam & Ernie do. I recognize that I can't make it so. But I can
try to influence my bitsources, to tune and tweak them in my direction.
That, I think is acceptable. It's equally acceptable that others do the same.

>FoRK post's to me are always an adventure. FoRK posts are not supposed to
>be the electronic equivalent of the office memo. In the 3-a's world
>anything other than the office memo in outline form is unacceptable.

No, I think that's clearly not true. I wouldn't call a KUCI post led off by
"Pardon My French" as he equivalent of an office memo.

>course I could post boring descriptive titles, and outline and note every
>post relating to object based development, but for me that is anti the
>purpose of the URL based Internet.

I'll take up the "object" thing somewhere else.

>The URL hypertext system excels for me for two reasons. Stop the needless
>duplicity of information, and allow pure information unaltered by others
>personal editorial licence to distort information. So to me, following that
>yellow brick link leads you somewhere, untouched by others.

Yes, you're quite right. Info-by-reference is very powerful. I'm a big
in a seamless convergence between by-reference & by-value. That's why
I like Java. You get the best of agent mobility and "objects by value"
combined with the best of remote invocations and "objects by reference".

But, I think that in both cases, you need metadata. Gobs of it. The more
the better. Metadata is advertisement. It's glossy wrapping. It's mascara
and lipstick. It's thong bikinis. It's nun's habits. It's calling yourself
It's owing a Cobra car. It's owing a mean chunk of hardware on your desk.
It's any bits that say something about the thing underneath. Giving
a raw http://... url has very little metadata. Giving a hyperlink with
text as in <a href="http://..."> Description of why this site is so cool </a>
is already much better. Better yet is a para. or two saying what we're likely
to find at the ref. It adds value. It puts you in the value chain. It lets you
earn kudos, and hence participate in the economy and earn your livelihood.

>The 3-a's by attacking me, which as Adam points out is like trying to teach
>a pig to play Hamlet, is useless. If you ever went to my web page you would
>see that I find a great metaphor for life in a pig. Call it generation
>swine if you must.

I've already answered this. I think you gave a great soliloquay (sp?) here

>Critique proves valuable. Assholes prove nothing. To
>paraphrase Erik Sate "does the fox analyse the rabbit before eating him? Or
>does the fox understand the rabbit is his sustenance and eats only to eat
>As a wrap up I'll address a few items of personal attack so the 3-a's don't
>think I'm cowering from your incredibly insightful and well thought out
>attack on me.

I knew you had it in you! I haven't seen this quantity of real bits from Tim's
mind since the "Night in Vegas" post. You have a perspective Tim. Share
it with us on ocassion, instead of just feeding us the perspectives of others.
You have a soapbox. Use it!

>1) hardware. FoRK has always been a form to discuss the "mine's faster than
>yours." Of course the clear winner is Rob with his Alpha, but at this point
>I'm only 200 mhz and 128 megs of RAM behind. Also, there are people on here
>that might be interested in real bench marks. A PPC 200 604e SpecBench 95
>at 9, so based on my bench marks you can extrapolate the PPC 300 G3 or
>whatever this chip is called.

Yes you're right. Evidently a lot of FoRKers are into hw. "Boys with toys"
I've recently heard it described. I do this too on occasion - after all, I am
a boy :-). I don't tend to find these bits very useful to me. I tend to be
more interested in the underlying patterns of behaviour that lie beneath
the toys themselves. But that's me. I know that toys are fun and
it's hard to resist playing with them and comparing them to those that
the other kids have. We do that starting at about age 18 months based
on the evidence I've seen - it's a very human thing. Get's right back to that
"possession" business. You should see the screaming matches toddlers
will get into over Lego and Tinkertoys. I'm trying to focus my energies
to think about non-possessive things, but I agree that this is not the only
approach. We live not just in a bit world, but an atom world too. In fact,
my central contention is that Cox& Negroponte and others put too much
emphasis on the bits, and not enough on the bit+atom integration.

>2) I haven't written a Linux driver. No Ron I haven't. But my work is seen
>every day by over 200 million people. And probably closed to a billion if
>you count all the rip offs of that work.

If you say so. I suppose that if you believe in butterfly wings affecting
el Nino, the same is true of the butterfly. If Warhol is right and everyone
gets their 15 minutes of fame, then I suppose we all get center stage
to millions of people at some point or other. I'm not sure if that's really
such a big deal.

>How many people have seen the
>direct result of your work?

Since you ask, I'll answer. I wouldn't otherwise ever thought of FoRKing these
particular bits. Have you ever placed a long distance call in the US using
either Sprint or MCI? Did you get dial tone and complete the call? Then
you've experienced the direct result of my work. Both Sprint & MCI use
a Nortel product called DCR (Dynamically Controlled Routing) that keeps their
DMS switches accurately updated (in 10 second intervals) about the
status of their neighbours, and the recommended routing paths.
(DMS is the 'brand name' of Nortel's voice switch - comparable to AT&T #5ESS,
for example). If nodes
get overloaded or fail, their neighbours can reroute based on DCR
recommendations. DCR itself runs on a cluster of HP-UX servers in a
CO. They're clustered to provide fault tolerance/high availability and load
balancing. The target was to ensure that in the failure of a DCR processor,
the network would miss no more than 1 10-second update cycle before
a peer could take over. In fact, we ensured missing no more than 3 cycles,
so the network is 'running blind' no more than 40 seconds (3 blind windows,
4th to get a recommendation, using it by the 5th). I architected this HA
structure, including data & application consistency. I also implemented
major chunks of it, including the central failure controller.

The system is in use in Stentor's network in Canada (that's roughly the
equivalent of the AT&T network - Stentor is the alliance of all the 'Bells' -
Bell Canada in Ontario&Quebec, and each of the other provincial 'Bells'.
It's also in use in the DMS portions of Sprint & MCI voice networks-
which I believe is about half their network. The argument was that even
in a non-purely DMS network, there is still benefit in dynamically controlling
the DMS switches even when the others (Alcatel primarily, I believe) run
on fixed table-based routing - and that you get benefit as soon as you
have about 15-20% DMS switches in your network.

So, yes, my work is out there in the field, presumably adding value to many
people's lives. But I don't look on that as a particularly important
at least not compared to some others. My best achievements came, I believe,
on Sept 1st 1992 at about 1 AM, and on March 21st 1996 at about 8 PM.
Those are the two times I experienced the thrill of seeing my own children
the world. When you pick up your newborn son for the first time - look
at the eyelashes, the ears, the fingernails - the total perfection of form -
you realize that you will never again create anything comparable. Have
some kids - highly recommended to all FoRKers ;-). And, as they grow
and learn, you are struck with yet more wonder. Kissing them when
they are asleep in bed, hugging them when they cry, tickling them,
simply enjoying when they look at you with admiration and call you 'Daddy' -
it's *you* that child is calling 'Daddy' not anyone else! You're actually a
That's a fulfillment no piece of technology can compare to.

>I am responsible for products that have
>significantly changed two industries.

Cool. Which ones?

>How many industries have you even
>steered in a slightly different direction?

Well, I'm trying to steer the Java industry away from RMI and blocked
point-to-points, and towards multicast and groups. I'm trying to unify
component models with reliable comms. I'm trying to look for the
synergies and unions and 'best ofs' of CORBA, Java, the Web,
virtual synchrony models, XML, and a bunch of other things.
And apparently there's a number
of people around who believe I have something of value to say on the subject.
I dunno. Is this a contest or something?

Again, I'll interpret your words as an (entirely understandable) reaction
to my provocation - lashing out from hurt. Fair enough- my nose is bloody :-).

>3) I live in OC. I live in Huntingtion Beach. Orange County is Irvine,
>Newport, Mission Vieho. (Sp) HB is located in OC but is not OC.

I missed the point here I think. You do live in OC, right?

>4) My penis car. Funny I didn't know there were such homophobes existing
>on the list.

I don't see anything homophobic in this statement. All men have penises
(well, almost all). Gay and straight. I didn't see anything referring to gays
here, or insulting them, or suggesting anything at all about the gay/straight
divide. I'm not gay. But I personally know one person that is. As far as I can
tell, it's never entered into my relationship with this person. I really don't
think that 'homophobic' is a word that well describes me.

>As far as that goes, my handle was a nick name given to me by
>a girl named Shane (yes that one) that I was seeing at the time.

She may have given you the handle, but you are the one who chooses
to use it. By proudly adorning your postings with it, it is metadata that
you have chosen to use to describe yourself. Clearly, you feel that it
is a good description of some aspect of yourself. Why should it matter
to you that your Net aquaintances know what kind of car you drive? What
significance does this information have to us? Do you know what kind
of car I drive? Do I make an issue of it? On the other hand, I vainly promote
other aspects of myself here. Everyone does - remember the "everyone
is a narcissist or a lurker -there are no in betweens" statement I once

> Tim Byars
>is who the phone company sends a bill to. CobraBoy is me, here. I don't
>have a small dick, and don't need a car to get laid.

I'm glad for you. Even if you did, I wouldn't think that bad. Sex is a game
played out by both species trying to attract each other. If it isn't cars,
it's something else. Peacocks do it. Songbirds do it. Deer bashing antlers
against each other do it. Sperm do it by swimming upstream as fast
as they can. Everyone preens,
everyone seeks attention, everyone wants to attract. Again - it's just
more metadata.

Look inside yourself Tim. Why is it do you think that you
like the moniker CobraBoy? Try to gain some insight about yourself. What
value system does it reflect that you want to promote to us? Get in touch
with your feelings (I can see R. Harley's reaction to this - he's barfing
already :-).


So, what do you say Tim - kiss & make up?
(In classic Tim style, I expect the answer to be "go to hell!" :-)