The end of a lousy Internet year, and a munchkin or two.

I Find Karma (
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 00:15:23 -0800

The subject refers to the fact that
(a) An Internet year is a little less than 2 real-time months,
(b) The last 2 calendar months have been lousy.

Why have they been lousy? Allow me therefore a few observations on the
subject of hope and death.

Well, first and foremost, no new bits. For the last five years
of Web explosion, I have gotten spoiled by new projects, new efforts,
new slants, new battles all up and down the computer industry, from
hardware to software, from middleware to vaporware, from routers to
Web sites, from "free speech" debates to infrastructure pipes...

The last two months, however, have represented status quo. We're
talking about the time just after Rhapsody was released to developers,
through now. What has been going on? No new exciting efforts. No
exciting catfights.

Now I know you're thinking, what about MCI? Certainly their threeway
with British Telecom, WorldCom, and GTE was somewhat exciting.

I say nope. MCI buying WorldCom (don't believe the press when they say
it's the other way around!) is nothing but a distraction. Sure, this
merger matters in the short term a little, but longtermwise it's merely
a blip on the map.

Ho hum. To add to my annoyance, all the stocks I own have decided to go
south for the winter. What's up with that??? Apple down to 13.62?
3COM sitting around at 34.5? CISCO rotting at 54.2? Intel plummeting
to 69.5?? Microsoft plateued at 135.63? Sun workstations a paltry 37.8?
Oy, I'll be staying home for Christmas.

Which is apparently what everyone else in southern California seems to
be doing too, save Rohit who is safely ensconced outside of the
country. What I mean is, stores are getting so desperate for consumer
business that advertising and sales are at the most insufferably high
levels that I ever remember them being. And what was up with that South
Park Christmas episode with the singing turd? Geez, Louise.

I still have about 200 pages of miscellaneous debris I need to exorcise
from my head if I am to actually begin work on a new project -- my PhD
project -- myself. So maybe this malaise I'm feeling toward this past
Internet year in general is merely a reflection of my own introspection
of myself as a human bean. (Component enthusiasts, check your puns at
the door... :)

Meanwhile, my machine milliways has been decommissioned and my new
machine, Socrates, seems to keep rebooting itself as a Windows 95 box
every time I leave the office. And speaking of Microsoft, my department
is pressuring me to apply for a Microsoft fellowship for next year even
though next year will be my, what, ninth year of graduate school?
Oh well, I guess you're never too old to apply for a fellowship.
And just think, when I do graduate I can immediately retire and spend my
golden years in Redmond, Washington. Actually, truth be told it's
highly unlikely I'll get this Microsoft fellowship, because I don't see
how my PhD work (the Global Event Model for competitive resource
provision using middlemen) could be useful to them. But if I do get
it, there's an outside chance Microsoft will pay me to fly to see joebar
this summer... :)

I might also be acting all weird because my forthcoming travel schedule
is softer than a baby's bottom:
December 24-31 in Wilton, CT with the family
January 5-8 in Monterey, CA with Rohit and JoeK
January 17-18 at Systor in Switzerland with Rohit
February 19-25 in New Orleans, Louisiana with a cast of thousands
March 19-20something in England (where in England?) with Rumman
And if I get really unlucky,
April 13-18 in Brisbane, Australia with Rohit...

Oy. It's enough to make me want to sit on my sorry ass and do nothing
but think about ontology management, trust management, on-the-fly
negotiation, transactionality, extensibility, scalability, composition...
you know, for munchkins.

> People are doing this stuff already. What have you got in munchkins
> that's different?

The economic model, of course. The ISPs and the telcos and the
worldcoms no longer own the bandwidth. Instead, *everyone* --- from
companies to consumers like you and me --- owns some bandwidth, and
anyone can rent bandwidth from someone else when the anyone needs more.
Only one new thing in the technology side needs to be invented: a
decentralized routing algorithm (would that the problem were as trivial
to solve as to identify). All of the other technology is either in
place or will be in place in the next few years. However, the economic
model still needs to be built, the politics of decentralization need to
rise up from lunatic fringe to mainstream so people are comfortable
moving to a decentralized network ("You mean I don't pay Ma Bell each
month???"), and of course, the trust calculus needs to be fully fleshed
out because that's the only way security can be guaranteed.

I've been reading the Suck. book and the Simpsons book and this book by
Sebastian Unger called The Perfect Storm about man's attempt to keep his
boat afloat despite the ever-apathetic powerful forces of nature that
seek to destroy him. It's perfection... the music of language, the
sound and sensuality of words, the rhythms and cadences they embrace,
affecting us on several levels at once... the book itself is an orgy, in
fact --- an orgy of orthography, shifting positions, inter-species
fraternizing, naughtiness given safe conduct by stylistic panache and
grammatical gravitas... (with apologies to Karen Elizabeth Gordon)

Rohit called at 3am last night. Not with anything in particular to say,
just to check in. He says to say hi to you all. So hi to you all.
Me, I gotta return to the 200 pages I'm still getting out of my head,
already in progress. Maybe 1998 will be the year that I finally


.sig bonus spin... chomp on this, you alt.warlords...

Fifth Law of Procrastination: Procrastination avoids boredom; one never
has the feeling that there is nothing important to do.

I'm learning real skills that I can apply throughout the rest of my
life... procrastinating and rationalizing.
-- Calvin (Bill Watterson)

Moral loophole: It is not procrastination if you decide to postpone it

Nothing is worse than procrastination. When I look at ten decisions, I
regret there will be nine of them where I delayed. Better roughly and
quickly than carefully and slowly.
-- Percy Barnevik

One thing that's good about procrastination is that you always have
something planned for tomorrow.
-- Gil Stern

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
-- Don Marquis

Procrastinators have the advantage of working with the very latest data
-- Tom Talley

The computer is unbeatable for dashing quick thoughts off to strangers
as a way of procrastinating sending messages to friends.
-- Judith Martin, Miss Manners, 09/25/94