Feb 252005

Everybody knows about this. Except everyone that doesn’t know about it, and everyone else who’s forgotten it:

The Jargon File

  • most nouns can be adjectived: “lame” -> “lameitude”, “cruft -> cruftitude”
  • all nouns can be verbed: “all nouns can be verbed”
  • all verbs can be nouned: “hack” -> “hackification”, “disgust” -> “disgustitude”

…and the plural of “mongoose” should be “polygoose”.

Take that, David Foster Wallace – oops, too bad your screed against evolutionary grammar is only available via pulpware.

 Posted by at 8:09 am
Feb 252005

Larry Lessig is calling on people to send the Copyright Office stories about why the “orphaned works” aspect of US copyright law is damaging to creativity.

Orphaned works are copyrighted works where the copyright owner is hard to find. These works are “abandoned” because the people who would like to use the works can’t get the required permission. It’s a shame, not only for the person that would like to use the work, but for the person who made the original work, because usually the only alternative for the work is a descent into obscurity.

“If you have a relevant story, or a perspective that might help the Copyright Office evaluate this issue, I would be grateful if you took just a few minutes to write an email telling them your story. The most valuable submissions will make clear the practical burden the existing system creates.” more

 Posted by at 7:54 am
Feb 232005

“It is true that Internet Explorer has been increasing market share from 1997 to 1999. But I predict that IE will never reach the same market dominance as that enjoyed by line-mode, Mosaic and Netscape from 1991 to 1996.”

Dr. Neilsen was basing his prediction on the assumption that browser usage would be determined by rationial choice, rather than monopolistic business practices. Too bad it didn’t work out that way.

Added March 4: Oh yeah – monopolistic business practices and the whole Netscape / AOL debacle. Can’t forget that.

 Posted by at 8:51 am
Feb 232005

It was interesting to take another cruise through Jakob Nielsen’s Designing Web Usability, the seminal book that, when it came out in 2000, defined design standards for web pages.

One interesting aspect is the evolution by which web metaphors become things that everybody knows. An example is the hyperlink: Nielsen recommends using default hyperlink colors (blue for unvisited, purple for visited). At the time of writing, the navigational components of the web weren’t so deeply ingrained that the designer could take for granted that the user could spot and understand hyperlinks.

Among current prevailing design fashions, the link metaphor is the underline, colors are optional, and page layout is sufficiently standardized (with navigational elements usually located in side and top panels) that some links don’t even have special visual characteristics that indicate that they’re a link.

On Nielsen’s site, however, unvisited links are blue and visited links are purple. Is Nielsen an anti-aesthetic curmudgeon? I doubt it. Rather, I expect that he remembers something that the savvy always and forever forget: He remembers that not everybody is savvy. Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:32 am
Feb 232005

The story (below) of the man whose spleen was removed and turned into a multi-billion dollar investment is not funny – it’s scary. But it reminds me of the time when my appendix was removed.

I asked if I could have it. (I had this idea of pickling it in a jar or freezing it or something.) They (the pre-op team) said no. I asked if they could at least hang on to it long enough so that I could see it. They said no. (I also asked “What does that machine do?”, “Is there going to be blood splatters on your scrubs? On the walls?” and “Can I stay awake for the operation? I’d like to watch.” The answer was “Okay, now start counting backwards from 100…”)

Okay, okay, maybe they didn’t take me seriously because of my state of Hospital-Heroin-Highness. But would they, under any circumstances, have given me back my organ?

I suspect not. And I wonder how it is that the ownership rights to our bodies, the most primary and tangible of all our belongings, can be revoked – without consultation, without consent, without even disclosure – by the medical profession.

 Posted by at 7:26 am
Feb 222005

“When Moore’s spleen was removed to treat a rare form of leukemia, his University of California doctor patented a cell line taken from his organ, without Moore’s knowledge or permission. The longterm market value of the patent has been estimated at roughly $3 billion, and Moore’s doctor received $3 million in stocks from Genetics Institute, the firm that marketed and developed a drug based on the patent.”

Moore sued and lost.

From Freedom of Expression ®, Overzealous Copyright Bozos
and Other Enemies of Creativity
(PDF), by Kembrew McLeod.

 Posted by at 8:06 pm