Small Pieces:
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A K M Adam
Antonio Tombolini
David Weinberger
Gary Turner
Hernani Dimantas
Jeneane Sessum
Kevin Marks
Michael O'Connor Clarke
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Tom Matrullo

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• Small Pieces From 2002-05-18 •

Jeanene did it, Dave did it, Akma did it. Encouraging a second generation of bloggers is the coming trend, and they catch on very quickly.

My son Andrew (7) is the latest to sign up. He wants you to tell your friends to link to him to increase his Google PageRank....

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks08:01 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-05-16 •

[I'm cross-posting from my blog, thus violating all rules of netiquette]

Denise Howell gives Small Pieces an excellent write-up in her law-centered blog, Bag and Baggage. Thanks, Denise!

It's going to take a bit longer to thank Alex Golub for his review since it's not a review so much as a critical piece. In the best sense. In fact, it is a superb response to the ideas in the book. He kicks at the spots in my "argument" that most need kicking and, most important, he laughs at my jokes.

Alex is an anthropology grad student at the Univ. of Chicago who maintains an excellent site about Hans Georg Gadamer. And although he engages with my book as if it were a moderately serious intellectual effort, he writes passionately, personally and with a ragged edge I enjoy:

The book starts small and you don't get the theory 'til the end: He spends most of the book shaking the big can of whup-ass he holds in his hand and giving you an I-dare-you, 'don't make me open this big can of whup-ass' look. And when he finally does open it in the last two chapters, you realize Why You've Been Fearing The Whup-Ass All Along.

He takes me to task most systematically on the question of knowledge. Alex thinks I approach this too much from the philosopher's viewpoint according to which knowledge is the defining human experience: "I think he places too much emphasis on 'truth' and not enough on 'body'. We do not just laugh - we cum." (I told my publisher I didn't have enough "fuck"s in the book!) Furthermore, he says I get stuck on "knowing" rather than seeing that underneath the change in knowledge is a more important change in the nature of convincing, i.e., rhetoric. To this I reply with an emphatic and enflamed: Yeah, that's right! So, take that! That chapter was trying to do something fairly specific: kick the pins out from the traditional view of knowledge that leads us to absurd, anti-human, anti-body ideas about what it means to be a human. On the other side of the Dam of Knowledge there's all of life, including jokes, porn, mysticism, mindless entertainment and RageBoy. I didn't mean to imply that on the other side of the Dam is only a different type of knowledge. At least, I don't remember meaning to imply that. In truth, I believe Alex has smoked out a genuine prejudice and consequent blinkering in the chapter.

Alex uses this to help make his larger case: "I guess what I'm saying is that philosophy can only advocate for lived experience for so long before it's out of its league." What else does Alex the anthropology graduate student think is needed? Hmm. Wait for it ... Anthropology!

David has taken us 90% of the way, but to get over the finish line he needs [not] only anthropologists to help him along, he needs artists and artisans - the people who weld, sing, dance, fuck - as well.

To which I reply, vehemently, that little vein in my forehead throbbing: Absolutely correct! I didn't intend this to be the last book written about the Web. We need poetry, science, religion, and every other way we humans have devised to understand ourselves and our world.

So, let me be clear: I love Alex's review. What a gift.

(Here's an amusing picture of Alex.)

Loosely joined by David16:30 UTC


1. Antonio, in my comment to you I was actually thinking of the "post-Kehre" Heidegger's anti-technology writings, especially on "The Framework" or however we translate it these days. There may be nothing wrong with being anti-technological, but his deep-seated distrust of modern technology, it seems to me, would have led him *not* to exempt the Web from his critique. There may also be nothing wrong with being an elitist but it does work against one's ability to jump into the Web.

FWIW, I agree with what you say about Heidegger's understanding of technology. The focus of his later writings on recovering the play of the fourfold, however, leads me to think that Heidegger didn't think the rescue could come from anything indoors. But, we'll never know.

2. Rick Levine has a title something like "Corporate Visionary" at a small-ish software company in Boulder. Tom Petzinger, as of a few months ago, was still working on his company supplying funds to biotech companies. Jeez, I hate to see Tom not writing.

3. SPLJ just got an outstanding review by Alex Golub. He attacks my "arguments" at the places they need to be pushed and he laughs at my jokes. It's more of a critical engagement than a review. Great stuff.

Loosely joined by David02:35 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-05-14 •

Three quick things:

1. As long as we're talking "Where are they now," has anyone a clue what has become of Tom Petzinger, who wrote the intro to Cluetrain, and gave the book a major boost in his WSJ column?

2. Today's "Will Blogging displace Journalism" story is on MSNBC. A snip:

What makes blogs attractive—their immediacy, their personality and, these days, their hipness—just about ensures that Old Media, instead of being toppled by them, will successfully co-opt them.

Wouldn't it have been cost effective to simply buy and run a copy of one of the previous 39 versions of this story?

3. For a somewhat rhetorical argument that U.S. journalism and government are now siamese twins. see this piece by Richard Mynick. I don't know Mr. Mynick, but he certainly throws down the gauntlet. If he is correct, we can bet the farm that not a single media entity will pick it up. Therefore I suggest you do.

Loosely joined by tom16:25 UTC

Akma - Rick Levine is the silent partner... anyone heard from him since?

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks07:50 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-05-13 •

Dave, let me insist about my (old) #2 (Heidegger and the question of the technology).
You say:
> Antonio, I agree with #1, but #2 seems to me to give the old Nazi too much credit.

My #2 is mainly about the 2nd Heidegger, the after WW2 Heidegger, the no more called neither to teach in a college Heidegger... And the old Nazi was the "Sein und Zeit" (1927) Heidegger, the one you state as "right" and you "use". He was more a "young" Nazi than an old one.

> I somehow think that the "rescue" he had in mind wasn't itself technological. As you know, he lived in a ski chalet in a medieval town in the Black Forest and seems to have considered technology as alienating.

And what's wrong with it? Technology has been alienating, and is still alienating, web excepted. And the web is the kind of technology you could easily accept to live in a ski chalet in a medievale town in the Black Forest, isn't it? You know very well how many writings he was able to create this way... and I wonder he would have been a great gangblogger from there...

> He was also not enamored of the "wisdom of the common man" and thought that the great turnings in how the world shows itself to us occur on the pivot point of poetry, not the rantings of the rabble.

mmmhh... feel like Chris Locke wouldn't be happy with that...;-) Poetry, yes, why not. The poetry re-emerging in our lives thanks to the "extreme technology" of the web too. In Heidegger technology's not a rescue in itself. Technology is the way in which truth is re-vealing itself in our age. As such a thing, technology could be at the same time the extreme danger (alienation) or a way for a salvation of us the human beings as human beings, of our essence. The web is (maybe) the "salvation face" of technology.

To make a short story long... What I have in mind is the necessity to go more deep into the critical application of Heidegger's analysis (not just the ones from Sein und Zeit) to the Web phenomenum. And I'm convinced of that on the base of the wonderful fruits you already got in SPLJ by considering only Sein und Zeit.

Loosely joined by Antonio23:16 UTC

"Writer David Weinberger was part of the triumvirate of Web-heads who came up with The Cluetrain Manifesto a few years back, which broadly outlined how businesses either 'got it' or got left behind."

Okay, which of you guys really doesn't exist?

Loosely joined by AKMA21:53 UTC

Oy veh. Sorry, Kevin. This was just dumb on my part. I've corrected the online version. Sorry!

(BTW, the LA Times gave SPLJ an excellent review yesterday. Woohoo! Note: It takes a free registration to see it.)

(Also, Richard Pacheter of the Miami Herald just weighed in with a very positive review.)

Loosely joined by David12:22 UTC

Scott Rosenberg gets it.
Typically, the debate about blogs today is framed as a duel to the death between old and new journalism. Many bloggers see themselves as a Web-borne vanguard, striking blows for truth-telling authenticity against the media-monopoly empire. Many newsroom journalists see bloggers as wannabe amateurs badly in need of some skills and some editors.

This debate is stupidly reductive -- an inevitable byproduct of (I'll don my blogger-sympathizer hat here) the traditional media's insistent habit of framing all change in terms of a "who wins and who loses?" calculus. The rise of blogs does not equal the death of professional journalism. The media world is not a zero-sum game. Increasingly, in fact, the Internet is turning it into a symbiotic ecosystem -- in which the different parts feed off one another and the whole thing grows.
The editorial process of the blogs takes place between and among bloggers, in public, in real time, with fully annotated cross-links. This carries pluses and minuses: At worst, it creates a lot of excess verbiage that only the most fanatically interested reader would want to wade through. At best, it creates a dramatic and dynamic exchange of information and ideas.

Is there any doubt that, on balance, we come out ahead? After all, the Internet has an infinite capacity to tuck excess verbiage away where no one need be bothered by it. But we all benefit from a more efficient means for seeing the world through someone else's eyes.

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks09:35 UTC

Dave's latest JOHO is out.
In the email section he somehow repeats the original version of a little back and forth we had on my sadly-neglected Nonzero blog, implying I retracted it, when in fact we both forgot which blog it was on. Dave kindly corrected this in his blog at the time

Anyway, the point I was failing to make well by exaggerating and parodying was that Dave's orginal 'Web as Utopia' piece makes sense for those of us who are familiar with the web and have fond our place in it, but confuses those for whom it is an alien experience.

I know Dave doesn't really think that the web is 'a transcendent Platonic ideal of Socratic discourse'; I was exaggerating to make the point that we find online what we go looking for, and the web we see is a reflection of ourselves individually as well as collectively.

With 2 billion pages and counting, we can never see it all, and when we venture outside the well trodden paths of the personal web we know, we are more likely to make mistakes in our maps, and come back with 'here be dragons' written across entire continents and tales of men with no heads.

I think this effect, rather than malice or wilful misrepresentation is what is behind such things as journalists' clueless articles on weblogs or congressman fulminating against the net consisting mostly of porn and piracy.

This is part of what I got from reading SPLJ, and I'm glad I provoked Dave into such a clearly expressed retort about connection.

And talking of connecting, try out the Amazon connection browser that (appropriately enough) defaults to starting with SPLJ.

Just to make sure I don't lose this version, I'm 'syndicating' it to my own blog and nonzero too.

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks09:09 UTC