All posts made in May. 2001:

Miniml, tiny pixel fonts [via iamcal].

Fresh Upsideclown for Thursday: "Or perhaps the small boat will be carried by the tide and washed and slopped by the current round the coast a little way, past a head and into a cove that has had no human near since the dawn of time, no explorer within five hundred miles, a cove that the Creator never expected anyone to see, and consequently never finished. The rocks, the sand, the blue cold water, the air blend into a bland grey nothingness, unhewn matter, a distinct presence of a hole, a lack of reality, the edge of the universe, right here, on the coast in Alaska."

Exploring the edge of reality in today's Upsideclown: Code dependency. It's one of mine, if that makes any difference to you.

The grass here has a hole near the top of each stalk. When the wind blows, the fields around you whistle in harmonies.

Yesterday's Upsideclown was brought to you by George: "Getting my knees done was one step too far. One step beyond. Except that once the ring was in place, there weren't going to be any more steps anywhere - not for another six weeks until the skin had healed and I could bend my legs again. This was something that I hadn't banked on in the shop. None of my other perforations had caused the loss of movement. Clearly, things had gotten out of control."

Body art going a bit too far in the latest Upsideclown: Pierced as Fuck.

Human progress appears to come in waves. The first wave is bursty, lucky, easily stuck. The second wave comes more slowly, builds brick on brick, and eventually catches up the first wave. It's almost as though we're mapping out a landscape of inventions, and in the first rush from a good idea we miss valley passes into great new plains. The second exploration is more careful. This appears to be what's happening with the operating system: Windows is the first wave. Brilliant ideas, storming ahead, but its lack of foundation can be seen in the security holes, the bugs, the inconsistencies. Then Unix and derivatives slowly catch up, making each layer solid and immovable before setting down the next. It is the course of the second wave that determines future invention. Ditto electricity. Ditto many of the applications of science.

But what if the second wave refuses to learn from the first? We have to have a shared map, we have to have feedback, we have to have a way to share information. And I've a feeling that the ability to share information in a particular sphere is one of the most important factors of progress. So how to facilitate it in this new world, and in the social world, where we appear to be continuously going round in circles?

Unbelievably obscene Barbie Porn. Well, they're only dolls, but hey, at least it's free.

Hobbes' Internet Timeline: events, inventions and growth charts.

>From James comes Thursday's Upsideclown. Absolutely fucking brilliant.

After his brief spell of international acclaim as the 'new James Dean', actor Mickey Rourke has hit hard times. He went back to ply his hand at his original trade, prize fighting, but suffered a series of injuries that meant he could no longer enter the ring. He now leads a very modest life in New York, anonymous to the crowds, his best friend being Hank 'Monkey' Jackson, 47, a car mechanic.

It's All True - The Paper Says So. Exclusive to Upsideclown, today. Don't miss it.

Public Life in Electropolis: individual thoughts on life online and virtual communities. I like the word 'electropolis'. It carries the feeling of crowded business, yet loneliness and anonymity that is common to both cities and the internet. Far better than 'cyberspace'.

See Rheingold's Brainstorms for Virtual Worlds Resources (especially the Critiques section). Howard Rheingold has a lot more to say about this subject; check out his book, the The Virtual Community.

I've been thinking a lot about virtual community -- are they even possible? I'm finding that I'm a lot more comfortable talking online with people once I've met them in person. Surely this isn't the way it was supposed to work? People have been tackling these issues for years, but there's no sense of history on the internet; there's no debris, no cruft and accumulation, no way to tell that groups have made these journeys before. How to build "community"? And what is it?

Fascinating future history by the CIA: Global Trends 2015, including long term perceived threats, predictions and warning, and alternative scenarios [cheers flat James].

Interesting conversation about weblogs and zines at inkwell.vue.

Erik let me know about two other 'sites which reference back to content on "this day X years ago". is a personal page going for at least five years by someone younger than me. Bah. (I wonder what would have happened if I'd discovered personal content originally, instead of trying to build magazines and do great design (I failed in both)). And... has painfully excellent design sense and utterly brilliant content. I like especially the journal from 1989 (1989!) with current day comments.

These references back to content past tie in interestingly with an off-hand comment I'll make in two days time about the lack of interaction with history on the internet.

Monday means fresh Upsideclown: "It seeps into the bloodstream like a sigh, that same slow exhalation. Clusters gather, gradually growing, the city's pulse slows like the traffic on the freeway: dipping to cruising speed for a few snatched instants of voyeurism".

Neil brings us today's Upsideclown: Lethal Injection. Wonderful.

So, Kaycee wasn't real. I hope somebody archives those weblogs before they're removed. How can community arise on the www when this kind of uncertainty exists about every single interaction? And: Does it even matter? Surely, within the terms of online existence, there is no 'fiction', no 'unreal', everything exists at the same level of truth. A lie or a fake life becomes another facet of a personality as much as a propensity to tell bad jokes. It's something that we have to absorb and get used to in this new electropolis.

Shades of A.I. in the online journal community. People are beginning to suspect that a year long journal of a 19 year old leukemia sufferer (she died, last week, but not before moving and touching many many people) was fictional. Is it possible that Kaycee did not exist?

I found this journal a few months ago when somebody posted on a completely unrelated message board that he'd found a weblog by someone and it'd changed his life, etc, etc. I tracked it down for him (Kaycee's journal), and mailed him the url. Then, oddly, instead of replying to my mail, he went to my company's website (well, the company for which I work, strictly) and put his thanks in the feedback form, and I had to explain to everyone what had happened.

Mystery of inglorious monkey-man deepens: "People say the strange creature, with striking resemblance to a monkey, has extra-ordinary capacities and attacks people sleeping on rooftops or terraces. Now it is being variously described as an invisible creature, a robot, a flying shadow and a 'computerised man'".

And, from the Times of India, Monkey-man or maniac-at-large?: The monkey is here! Bandar aaya hai!

testing, baby. testing.

(Meaning: My email to xmlrpc to Blogger flow has been resumed. Now with only a little use of Mail To The Future...)

Weird, cool and dangerous Photoshop plugins are to be found at Flaming Pear Software.

Thursday's Upsideclown is brought to us by Jamie. Or rather, by Jamie's Form Teacher, Mr Morris: "As we come to the end of another term, I find myself presented with a number of differentiating reports from your son's various subject teachers. You will find them all enclosed - some make more enjoyable reading than others! - but there are some points to which I would like to draw your attention."

It's the end of term at Upsideclown: Reportage.

More mysterious monkey man drama in Dehli [via MeFi]: "Deepali Kumari, from Noida, said: 'It has three buttons on its chest. One makes it turn into a monkey, the second gives it extra strength, the third makes it invisible. He touches a lock and it breaks. But he is afraid of the light.'"

Exegesis 2: sample Perl6 code. Perl6 is as yet uncomplete. Fucking mental code though. Properties? Phew.

Heh. You are What You Link -- linking between homepages on the 'social web', a paper presented at WWW10 this year. (Cheers Ed M for this.)

See also other presentations at WWW10.

The Labour Party manifesto is now available for download (as pdf).

The Conservative manifesto is available online too.

Superpowered man-monkey terrorising Delhi. The new master race is among us.

Carl Steadman's Two Solitudes is a work a fiction by email. Good, and worth enjoying, but it makes me wonder why people haven't attempted to stretch this medium further (I've heard of publicity stunts which did similar things, or involuntary involvement in email "fiction", but nothing that just uses email as the story transport mechanism).

See also: 253, "a novel for the Internet about London Underground in seven cars and a crash".

You must read this well-written article about Anoto (in Wired 9.04). Bridging the gap between paper and the network -- this is the most important new technology for a decade.

Dave Winer on Scripting News today mentions a new feature on his weblog: "Every day we link to "this day" in previous years. This has become kind of a craze on other weblogs. I've been playing with it for a couple of days and it is interesting to see what was going on 1, 2, 3, and 4 years ago."

Craze? Other weblogs? Yes it is interesting, but afaik I'm the only other person doing it (on the Forest skin for those viewing by email). Anyone else you know of? Let me know (and I'll sue for violation of IP).

Seven Secrets to Good Brainstorming [via xblog]. How to have good ideas and lots of them.

10 things I hate about EU, at spiked (a magazine worth going back to), is a good article anti the European Union. One of the only ones I've read, in fact. (I'm pro European integration, in the main.)

Monday brings us fresh Upsideclown:

"This is the sign of Earth." He is lying on a hill, sloping gently back to the factory town where he grew up. She straddles him, and reaches past his right ear. He catches a flash of dark blue nail polish as she scoops up a handful of the loamy soil. "Open wide."

Dan is reminiscing in his typically good article, Small Town Boy.

Also don't forget last week's Upsideclown, Victor's Board to Death: meetings, minutes, and the Domain of Hell.

w3future has got to be the most insanely programmed weblog ever. The weblog archive constructs a calender using javascript xmlrpc calls, then writes the page text after a second call, all on the clientside on a single page. Reading the page source is intense.

And The Stuffed Dog is right: w3future does indeed have the best web spellcheck interface out there (xmlrpc, javascript and dynamic clientside pages, naturally).

Need to give this a good read: Units, Events and Dynamics in Memetic Evolution [via As Above]. Yum, "Mnemons". Looks a little influenced by particle physics and object orientation -- I'd go for waves in a box myself, but you have to start somewhere.

Hey, so I was chatting with Tom B at work earlier about how to make it easier for people to drop text into the 'site without having to mark it up (to html), and how much better it would be if we could just define "\n\n" (two line breaks) to be understood as "</p><p>", and one line break to be "<br />". That way people could type plain text and we still wouldn't need any processing function.

Then Mike C wanders up and we start joking about xml, saying Well actually it'd be better if people didn't use html but wrapped their paragraphs in "<paragraph>" tags (the joke being that although it's not html, it's doing the same job and but it way more cumbersome (I'm allowed to explain the joke at this point because I haven't reached the punchline yet)).

Then we decided that actually we didn't want container tags, but that paragraphs should have the empty tag "<paragraph_start />" at the beginning, and "<paragraph_end />" at the end. Or even, and this is the funny, unparsable, unmaintainable bit, just empty tags wherever you need them saying stuff like: "<do what="start_paragraph" />". The joke being... the joke being... oh forget it. I'm sorry I even started.

Oh man! There's a Mac OS X gui for WordNet! Excellent. (What is WordNet?)

Crazy yet pretty impressive www UI: the Windows 2000 Server Documentation (I guess this'll only work in the latest version of Windows Internet Explorer). Select with the mouse a couple of works, and a dictionary definition is automagically (read: dynamically, from the server, onto an already loaded page) loaded into a floating window. Select a sentence and just as magically it doesn't break -- it just doesn't load any definition. Beautiful. Now, to extend this functionality to the non Microsoft population... how? lots of reading material [via Sylloge]. You are what you where. Or something.

BBC News have launched two good new sites:

Inside Europe has info about the history, countries and institutions of the European Union.

Vote 2001 is the BBC General Election 'site. News and stats in abundance. See also: the awesome Guardian Politics database. Simply incredible amounts of crosslinked information.

But nothing beats Votémon [cheers Tom B], the Children's BBC introduction to the main players in the election. Terrifying: the half-man, half-logo William Hague turns into when you click 'tell me about the Conservative Party'.

Photoshop tutorials [via Zeldman]: For all those things that you knew were done with Photoshop, but didn't know that easy but obscure trick to do.

Exceptionally cool design and a good line in Flash poetry: the winter habitat rocket powered mice dot com. The design at e-vikings is similar but far from as good.

Hey, this is cool: Almost everything in the universe plotted on a graph of mass versus radius.

Fresh Upsideclown! Written by me, what's more.

Your arse is the answer to so many of our questions. Where's my jacket? It's up your arse. Where shall I put this cup of tea? Up your arse. What can you do with that pathetic salary increase? Stick it up your arse.

Of arses, of things stuck up them, of how to count, and of finding truth. Presenting this Monday's Upsideclown: Up The Arse, Or Not At All. Enjoy.

For later reading: The cosmos at The bits I've skimmed read very well.

Britannica would be a fantastic resource if its interface weren't so bloody shit. All they need to do is Xrefer the entire thing and slap Google on top of it. The technology's there, why not use it? Thought: If Google were extended to understand different link types, and Britannica could label "this is a navigation link", "this is an index link", "this link appears on every page", and so on, the system would work wonderfully, if only because the section navigation already tightly connects pages with siblings and parents in the category tree. It's a tiny amount of coding work and some solid thinking in the interface area. Two good people could do it, no problem.

Apocalypse Two is out, the second in a series of articles by Larry Wall setting the course the Perl 6, which is currently starting development.

Interesting points this time: Many many syntax changes, "everything is an object", and something curious called Properties, being hashes associated with objects or subroutines. Very odd.

Net::AIM, Perl module to interface with AOL Instant Messanger.

I always loved Leviathan [via Blue Ruin].

The Final Hours of Black & White: good, lengthy, article about the making of the game.

Um. Reverse Speech: "Reverse Speech is another form of human communication that is automatically generated by the human brain. It occurs every time we speak and is imbedded backwards into the sounds of our speech. This previously undiscovered function of the mind is the mind's own independant voice speaking from the deepest regions of consciousness. This form of communication can be heard if human speech is recorded and played backwards. Once every five or ten seconds very clear and precise phrases occur". Find out more about Reverse Speech.

Is your child or loved one being subliminally influenced? Listen to sounds containing backwards hidden subliminal messages at the Backwards Masking Homepage.

Thursday finds us contemplating fresh Upsideclown.

After we found the box in the attic, Janet and I took it down to Mum to see what she made of it. She didn't see it at first when she came into the kitchen, sitting there crumbling on the table with the dust motes oozing off it. But when she turned round in the middle of making a cup of tea she saw it, screamed, and fainted. I rigged up a pseudo-stretcher from the old Reclaim the Night banner in the hall, then we carried Mum into the sitting room and mopped eucalyptus tea over her brow.

George goes back to basics with the common family issues. It's a good one today, enjoy it. At Upsideclown: My Lovely Horse.

Don't analyse so much she'd always say (when I always did), and finally now when I'm 23 I've come round to my mother's way of thinking.

But it's useful/ instructive/ because I can, I'd say, because I want to know, and there I'd be, tugging at the strands of motivations during an argument over the kitchen table, or dissecting the psyches of people I knew, or myself, or the person I was talking to, or planning (in great detail) what I was going to do next and why or what was going to happen and why, because when you're 9 to 16, 17, 18 or so everything is so incredibly important and emotionally engaging (whereas now of course it just makes me laugh). And now I don't do this, for a variety of reasons, chief among them this weird concept I have that it's bad to be reliant, and making decisions by analysis is dependent on memory and technique and observation and so on, so you only really know something if you do it automatically by heart instinctively and the only way to do that is to practice. And I suppose the other main reason is that I enjoy living more by instinct, it's more truly me, and that I know that I can, should I want, dissect any given situation, and I can do it and learn from it at my leisure (except I don't do that much any more either). It's taken a few years but now I think that this turnaround is complete: that I enjoy finding out how things work, but people and myself I tend to leave alone, on a human level anyway, abstraction is fine, and here I am, doing what my mother said, and who knows whether for the same reasons? Except of course, what is this text? I mean, what else if not analysis, I mean maybe not maybe it's just explanation and maybe that's the point that I know I'm so good at taking these things to bits that now I think it's not analysis but a narration of some internal idea I would have had anyway had I thought to vocalise it, and I mean that's completely true because I regard as belonging to the set of My Ideas all the ideas my brain could conceivably have regardless of whether it's had them or not, all that's needed is for me to input the right question and Bang out comes the answer, and I mean is that really analysing things (I'd contend not, in which case this text isn't in which case this is just narration or commentary on myself, comments that pre-existed as shadow engrams), I mean I don't know what I mean but there you go, here I am, here I am.

God bless the Infesticons. Fuck the Majesticons!