A Clue for Chris Locke

Chris Locke, one of the authors of Cluetrain Manifesto, allowed his forums to devolve into very personal and graphic sexual harassment.  His attempt to clear his name falls short.

It’s great that he actually decided to engage in the conversation.  And it is understandable that he feels like an “angry mob” is engaging in “character assasaination”.

But Chris is missing the point and changing the subject.  Sexually explicit attacks on women are not just “over the top”, “bad taste”, or “hateful”, to use Chris’s words.  The photoshopped attack images directed at Kathy were unacceptable.  They should have been removed immediately.

Perhaps it’s a generational thing.  Chris’s refusal to apologize is reminiscent of the way factory plant managers behaved in the 70’s and 80’s as more women entered the work force.  Bosses used to wink and ignore sexual harassment with a dismissive “boys will be boys”, and then act like victims when they got in trouble.  The pattern is so stereotype that it features in shows that mock the past, like “Anchorman” with Ron Burgundy.

In the 70’s, that kind of behavior may have been tolerated, but it’s about as welcome as a KKK rally today.  This world belongs to a new generation, and those kinds of misogynistic attacks are not cool with us.  Letting other people do it, and then slinking away mumbling “it wasn’t my fault” only after the stuff hits the fan, is not cool.

I am sure that Chris is feeling victimized, and that’s unfortunate.  But if he continues to argue that people shouldn’t be censored/punished for sexually explicit personal attacks on women, then he clearly doesn’t represent my generation or my industry.

Tribalism and Evangelism

Jon Udell talks about being an evangelist, and opines that tribalism may have evolutionary roots, but is more trouble than it’s worth today.

Robin Dunbar and Matt Ridley both have books that discuss theories on the evolutionary roots of tribalism.  Once you get beyond the size of a clan (the natural size of population of all living descendants of an elderly matriarch), social cooperation can no longer be managed in the wetware structures of an individual’s brain.  So to enable larger groups, we have various psychological traits which promote “groupishness”.  Groupishness is required for large-scale social cooperation, but is a catalyst for all sorts of evil that individuals alone would never perpetrate.  Milgram’s “electrocute a stranger” experiment relied on tribe-enabling conformity and authority responses.  And the literature is full of examples of stupid outcomes from “groupthink”.

But there is another reason.  George Soros would say that most “isms” are bad, because they start out as tools but eventually become slave-masters.  Communism, Capitalism, etc.  Eventually the orthodoxy of “capitalism” becomes more important to people than the actual needs that brought the ideas to light.  People form tribes around the orthodox interpretations of the idea and become increasingly divorced from reality.  People get mesmerized by the symbol and lose the signified.  That’s a human flaw that doesn’t rely on groupishness, it relies on laziness and lack of vigilance.


 The opening of Gang Starr’s “Robin Hood Theory” has a nice little passage about “isms”:

And no matter what we say our religion is
Whether it’s Islam, Christianity
Juda-ism, Buddha-ism, old school-ism or new school-ism
If we’re not schooling the youth
with wisdom…


Not Just Death Threats

I, too, was sickened to read about Kathy at C.P.U. being harassed and threatened.  I think Scoble gets it exactly right.  This isn’t just about death threats — and it’s our fault for not speaking up more when this was happening in the Anshe Chung case.

Scum like this watched the Anshe Chung case carefully.  And when the a-list acted out of their blind adoration of all things second-life, and ignored what amounted to cyber-rape, the scum saw that they could get away with it and have their reputations intact.  When Anshe was forced to drop the DMCA case, the scum saw further that they could get away with it with no legal consequences.  Is this what the clowns at EFF really wanted?  Where is John Perry?

Truth is, the death threats may turn out to be a distraction (it’s not clear if the person making the threats was colluding with the people who think it’s funny to perform the equivalent of cyber-rape).  But death threats are easier to prosecute.

Scoble is right.  This can’t be just about the death threats, nor can it be just about the legal consequences.  This kind of behavior needs to be brought to the light of day, with full transparency, and people need to own their behavior.  After the other 3 guys are dragged out, I suggest we go back and make sure the idiots who perpetrated the Anshe Chung attack be dragged out into the daylight, too.


Playing Halo Makes You Like a Girl

This new study shows that people who play first-person shooters develop a better ability to discriminate small objects in cluttered spaces.  Women are naturally good at this, which explains why they don’t need to play Halo 2.  On the other hand, ability to remember where caches are (like caches of nuts or weapons) is a male evolutionary advantage.  Most FPSs rely on this skill as well.

I also expect that games like Halo 2 (perhaps with slight tweaks) will be found to improve mood for classes of clinical depression.  Anecdotally, I can feel my own hippocampus straining to burst out of my skull ever since I started playing these games.  I’m pretty sure it’s not a tumor.  Crackdown is the perfect game for this.  The map is complicated enough that it should result in months of good hippocampus development even for an experienced gamer.


Windows Server 2003 SP2 deleting browscap.ini?

There have been reports of Windows Server 2003 SP2 overwriting browscap.ini on machines with new versions of the file.  If you have an updated browscap.ini, you should back up the file before installing SP2, and then copy it back after installing SP2.  If you are arriving at this page because your browscap.ini was already deleted, I suggest downloading a fresh one from Gary Keith.


Update: dev team confirms that this is the behavior, and have raised a bug.  In the meantime, you should also be able to find your old copy at %SystemDrive%WINNT$NtServicePackUninstall$browscap.ini after installing.

SGI Indigo

Whoa, Mark brings back some old memories.


The Indigo was a beautiful machine.  My daughter would approve of the colors, and my subconscious still associates the machine with pure speed and power.  It was so beautiful that I could ignore the proprietary compiler and window manager annoyances.  A machine that expensive seems ridiculous today, but it was sooo fine!

If you have an old Indigo lying around, donate it to Mark’s museum.  The Vintage Mac Museum on the Scoble Show was cool, but a “Vintage Unix Workstation” museum is better.

MSR TechFest Spring 2007

Update: see a virtual race car drive over Rory’s face — completely dynamically generated.  It is utterly un-freekin-believable!

Check out this video from MSR TechFest, going on right now.  Rory takes a look at two cool demos. 

One is called “DynaVis”, and is basically a tool that makes all of your charts and other visualizations change dynamically (animated) when you change the underlying data.  The idea is that a smooth animation from one visualization to the other helps the user maintain context.

The other is called FASTDash; a sort of dashboard for development teams, built on Visual Studio Team System.  It shows off some social networking and ambient information design techniques.  It is also covered here.


Rory even asks the tough question — “How did you get a job where you get to think, play and make cool demos all day?”  The answer is, “What, you are trying to compete for my job?  Here’s what you need to do…”  OK, that’s not what the answer was, but the point is that MSR is a cool job to have.

Bridging the final step from cool demo to integration with shipping product is the hardest part.  I’ve worked on a couple of projects where we tried to integrate MSR technology, and the conservatism of established products can be stifling, to put it mildly.

Two things I think will help the situation, though.  First is that MSR is becoming more open to spinning off technology to startups.  This is a great way for researchers ideas to see the light of day.  The other is that we’re moving many things to a web-based model where new ideas can be integrated and deployed without risking stability of millions of desktops.



Indulge Yourself in Good Deeds

I know that I have done some bad things in the past.  But it’s OK.  I’m making a difference!

If you see this clever little icon next to someone’s name in MSN Messenger, that person is a good person too!  And you can join in the altruism-fest!  Simply browse to this site, choose from one of 9 different causes, and make your vote within MSN Messenger.  Now, a portion of all ad revenues that Microsoft makes will go directly to the organization you selected.

There is one big problem though.  You don’t have much control over who your friends vote for.  For example, you might not like that fact that your buddy is funneling Microsoft ad dollars to some group like 9 million instead of Sierra Club.  You can check this — just hover over their name in Messenger, and look for a code in to tooltip (something like *9mill).  Now you know who your buddy is voting for.  When you find out, you have some choices:

  1. Message him and explain why he is selecting the wrong cause
  2. If he persists, remove him from your buddy list, to stifle the amount of conversation (and thus revenue) he can generate over the period of the promotion.  Use ICQ if you must talk to him
  3. Tell all your friends to vote for YOUR cause, to get relatively more revenue for yourself
  4. Blog about it

That way, you will multiply the impact of your good-deed doing.

The list of organizations is not too bad, though.  The only two that I would add are “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” and “The Foundation for Transparency in Foundations”.