All posts made the week commencing Sunday 22 Dec., 2002:

Samuel Pepys' weblog will be playing in realtime, over the next ten years. Phil Gyford's taken Pepys' diary (which is copyright free and made electronic by Project Gutenberg) and is running posts beginning 1 January 1659/60, starting on 1 January 2003. It's brilliantly footnoted, with characters and places hyperlinked (places are even linked to current-day streetmaps), and references to further information. Excellent work, like the www should be. More like this please.

"When we mount the face, we don't just celebrate our Saviour. We celebrate togetherness and the family, and every good thing he or others have done for us".

Don't forget what Christmas is really about. Read the Sermon on the Mount the Face.

Today is Quartidi, the 4th of Nivôse, Year 211. The French Republican Calendar was "a radical effort - it carried the ideals of the new republic directly into the daily life of every citizen. It was an artistic expression, an effort to make calendar names relate to the world of Nature, an attack on Catholicism (and religion in general), an effort to uplift and support a growing agricultural class, an attempt at decimal time and a basic functional calendar". New month names, new day names. What confidence! This was 1793.

In 1752 the British switched to the Gregorian calendar, remarkably just less than 200 years after the rest of Europe. Eleven days in September were skipped, and year numbering changed from being in March to January. Two consequences (that I heard on In Our Time a few days back): the financial year didn't change length, so the date of it had to change, hence it's now the beginning of April (the old year beginning, plus eleven days); whereas some festivals remained fixed relative to the seasons (Michaelmas is when apples ripen for example), other have fixed dates -- like Christmas, which is now earlier, and is why we associate Christmas with snow even though it doesn't get that cold until January.

Most impressively, the original Papal Bull switching to the Gregorian calendar (1582) and the original legislation introducing the French Calendrier Républicain (1793) are both online. The www is brilliant.

So, email is distributed with the operating system as a service now (Hotmail, .Mac). As is off-site storage; instant-messaging.

How about the marketplace? How about an application to help you run your marketstall: put items up for sale, find other people's items for sale, organise escrow, print out shipping labels, track the parcel as it goes. Broker a deal between buyer and seller and make a cut! Napster for classified advertising.

(This isn't quite the marketplace of Google and the Semantic Web. Close, but I'm talking more front-end, and more Q1 2003 -- if they wanted.)

Sidetrack. Here's the problem with online authentication. Real Life authentication cascades from trusted sources. Birth certificate begets passport begets driving license begets credit cards begets: tube pass, letters sent to your house. And everything based on authentication upstream, ultimately to the great philosopher who makes the mother/child dichotomy (um, cuts the umbilical cord) and signs a slip of paper. You can't fake that. Then further back, that's based on the authority of the doctor; your passport is issued by an authoritative source; and so on and so forth back through history. All of these systems interdependent.

But online authentication isn't like that. There's no history. So we need to bootstrap off RL authentication, when real life things are involved. And, since it's required, what better than iMarketStall, or MSN My MarketStall, or whatever they call it? If a thousand people say that your username accepts payments made to a Visa card in such-and-such a name, that's a pretty good start.

The memewave must be cresting. Like the distributed self-validation fad of 2000 only, uh, different, the latest craze is fully described by the names of two similar sites: Send Me Your Wound; and Show Me Your Wound. Thirty years of networking, affordable digital photography and people swap pictures of cuts? Now mark this. Inevitable next step: rate my wound .com.

A great thing about Greg Egan, apart from his science fiction (which is fantastic, and hardcore), is that his homepage is a mine of information, from biographies and links to $1 ebooks of his short stories, to Java applets illustrating weird maths, and lengthy essays and notes on the physics used in his work. Another great thing is that the technical bits are never foregrounded in the stories, but you come away with a crystal clear understanding of a system you never could've understood in any other way. Or at least, that's what Luminous did for me.