It's about *teks-

Ted Nelson via Scripting News:

Today’s nightmarish new world is controlled by ‘webmasters’, tekkies unlikely to understand the niceties of text issues and preoccupied with the Web’s exploding alphabet soup of embedded formats.

Nelson makes some good points about the uses of text. Later though, in his discussion of linking, he makes some troubling assertions.

I want to write a more thoughtful post in response, from the stand point of someone with a lot of experience with digital and analog text, and the worlds of vellum and and silicon. I’m going to have to find some time to sit down and write a bit about hypertext, and glosses, and manuscripts, and linking and annotation. This is a good opportunity to try using the Radio Story feature, for longer posts.

But in the meantime, I want to point to the proto Indo-European root for text, and subtle and architect and technology (but probably not badger)—they all come from *-teks. Yes, that’s right, Nelson’s “tekkie,” an epithet that always irritates me, is in fact derived from the same linguistic DNA that gave us his revered text.

And while you’re waiting for my magnum opus[sic], go read Stalking the Digital Rhetoric. It’s about text.

Hypertext and Mackers

Wired has a review of multimedia artist dlsan’s HyperMacbeth. dlsan’s web-based piece of interactive performance art uses phrases from the play and places them against an annoying Flash annimation. He has also translated the Macbeth bits into Italian, and accompanied the production with music from Nine Inch Nails and others.

I hate it. Yeah, I know, it’s non-linear, it’s hypertext electronic literature, it’s art. I think it’s annoying and ugly and silly. I’d much rather look at and listen to the Mackers à la Eminem parody.

And for those of more scholarly bent, why then, you can’t do better than the Voyager Macbeth E-book CD-ROM.

The Smart Way to Create Standards

I’ve been working, off and on, in between writing about the Mabinogi, on some pieces about standards. This morning I saw one of the smartest things I’ve ever read about working with a group, on standards or, frankly, just about any collaborative project.

Dave Winer writes:

Idea #1 — Yield to others

First, everyone involved, hopefully not too many people, must agree to the following statement.

If possible I’m going to do it the way you want to do it.p/>Look at how the words I and you are juxtaposed.

This is the inverse of how most mail list workgroups work, where people fight and dig in on having it their way. Instead of adopting the me-first approach, I’ll adopt the you-first approach. This is how you reach closure quickly and get the best ideas into the spec, and cull out the weak ones.

This makes a lot of sense to me. I’m definitely going to remember it. It’s generally the way I work (compromise is one of my best things) but I think a deliberate effort from everyone is an even better idea.

Now go read the whole thing. And yeah, I know, it would be nice if people practiced what they preached, but they don’t. That doesn’t mean you and I can’t though.

Copyright—Yes Virginia, the Idiots are Still With Us

Jamie Kellner, the Chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting was recently interviewed by Inside. Among several truly idiotic and woefully uniformed statements, he uttered the following witless gem about “ad skipping,” fast forwarding through ads on television, or (horrors!) using Tivo or the like. Ad skipping, according to Kellner:

It’s theft. Your contract with the network when you get the show is you’re going to watch the spots. Otherwise you couldn’t get the show on an ad-supported basis. Any time you skip a commercial or watch the button you’re actually stealing the programming.

Contract? What contract? There is none, implicit or implied. For someone in the business of selling content, Kellner just doesn’t get it. If you want consumers to watch ads, then make them interesting or useful to consumers, or find another way to generate revenue besides selling ads. It’s pretty simple.

It’s odd the way some large scale publishers and distributors of content are trying to make copyright function like farming subsidies. If my rant his piqued your interest, take a look at Top Ten New Copyright Crimes”, a link spotted by Dave Winer.

On Ripping CDs

Yes, you can buy a CD and “rip” or copy the files quite easily. Apple’s iTunes, bundled with every Mac, and available for free downloading, is designed to make ripping and burning easy—and it does. There are similar applications for just about any personal computer operating system.Yes, people do that”rip” files all the time. Yes, some people put those files on the Internet and others download them.

The operative word there is “some.” I’ve never posted an illegal mp3 file on the ‘net. I do have an iPod though, and it contains MP3s of about 60 CDs that I purchased. Given that there are other real world models for this activity in that you can photocopy a book you own for personal use—it’s the distribution of that copy that’s a problem—it’s pretty daft to argue that users shouldn’t be able to make digital copies for personal use of cds they own—just as they can make casettes of vinyl albums (remember records?) or other personal use copies.

During Napster’s thriving period CD sales went up. It’s possible that Napster actually drove CD sales. Sales have dropped—for both concert tickets and CDs—post Napster. People downloaded a song they liked, often discovering new artists, then bought the CD. Humans are acquisitive by nature. We like bright shiny objects, and want to own them in a physical form. Moroever, by enhancing the data with an attractive cover and liner notes, not to mention the benefits of enhanced CDs, CD producers are giving the physical object added value—making us want them even more. If they had a clue, the RIAA could drive sales by making it easy to legally obtain MP3 files—and pay the artists involved.

Given how many hours I spend working in front of computers, I darn well want to be able to either listen to MP3’s on my iPod or play a cd in my CD-ROM drive—both things the RIAA doesn’t want me to do. And, at the same time Eisner and others are complaining to Senator Hollings about consumers “stealing” from them, the RIAA is not paying the artists. I think Tim O’Reilly was being too polite when he described them as being disingenuous. It’s worth reading the thoughts of Andy Grove, someone who understands profit and technology, as well as the need for innovation. If publishers want to sell more, maybe they should find out what consumers want.