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25 June 1999

"I don't think there's any need to use language. Only inarticulate people use language. ... we've been married forty years, we've never had call to use language, have we, Edie?"
-- Man on train, Big Numbers #1 by Alan Moore & Bill Sienkiewicz

Scott Rosenberg does some legwork on the NYT-Amazon spat. Personally, I think the New York Times is jeopardizing its credibility:

  • Who owns the New York Times bestseller list? [Salon]
    The bookstores give the Times the information it needs to compile its list, and the Times lets the bookstores use the bestseller list as a marketing tool. Everybody's happy -- until they move online, where the Times' own double roles, as compiler-of-list and partner-to-megabookstore, seem to conflict.

    What if the New York Times approached Amazon and said, "...why don't you just link to our New York Times Book Review site every time you mention our name, and we can call it a day?" ... Rather than sending "cease and desist" letters, it could be growing its traffic.

He touches on eBay and Divx' intellectual-property missteps too. Good stuff.

A nice piece from Salon on advertising handwaving and companies who should perhaps get over themselves:

  • Keeping up with the Jonesness by Justin Holloway [Salon]
    The quest for brand essence has become big business. Pots of money are spent on brand essence research studies. Numerous brand consultancies have opened their doors, tempting in clients with promises of infallible (and of course proprietary) techniques for sniffing out this elusive quarry.

    ...the fact that all brands by definition have an essence does not mean that all are equally fascinating to the consumer. [snip] Basic rule of thumb -- if you have to conduct tons of research to discover what your brand essence is, it's probably neither interesting nor real enough to justify talking about in public.

It has some interesting takes on the Gore campaign, Lucent, and potatoes as well.

At the bottom of each Salon story they usually have a link to a 'Table Talk' [Web-Crossing-based] discussion board where you can comment on the article and discuss with others. I've never participated (because you have to register with them and it just hasn't been that important to me), but I'm explaining all this so I can single out the Table Talk 'teaser' phrase for this article, which I thought was especially cute:

What is the sound of one brand clapping?

Oh, joy. Doesn't Congress have anything better to do?

  • House approves flag-burning amendment [Salon]
    "We should accept the responsibility of protecting the one symbol that unites us," said Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla.

    On the other side, lawmakers argued that flag desecration is rare, that the amendment only would provoke more incidents, and that it was not worth limiting, for the first time, First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expression.

    [Randy Cunningham, R-CA] said he strongly would defend anyone's right to speak freely. "Nothing in this prevents anyone from expressing themselves in writing, speech or any other way except for the desecration of the flag," he said.

The language the proponents use ('anti-desecration', 'the one symbol that unites us', etc.) raises the symbol of one nation (among many!) to the status of a religious icon. That seems quite wrong to me in many ways (not the least of which is the whole bit about worshipping graven images).

Is the republic so weak, is this symbol's meaning so in danger of compromise, that it can't survive its occasional repurposing by John and Jane Doe as a means of protest? I don't think so.

At least the Senate isn't likely to pass it.

Virtual PC 3.0 is coming soon. I think I'll finally get it; I'll be able to test my pages in more browsers then. (I've been doing that on a Windows NT machine at work, but I won't be there after July 2.)

Saw Austin Powers 2. Review forthcoming.

In the meantime, try this usability experiment...turn off your browser's automatic image-loading and go here. Completely cryptic and unusable! Boo, hiss.

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