Wednesday, October 08, 1997
Wednesday, October 01, 1997
Not sure of the date.
Rat, Dogs of the Apocalypse
By Pete Butter for The Art of News TV show on PCTV
Cute. Cuddly. Deadly. They're sold in this country as pets, yet in some cultures, they are
known as nothing less than death incarnate -- and with good reason. They are ... dachshunds.
Are your children safe?
[Slow-mo shot of a trotting wiener-dog. Caption “Rat Dogs of the Apocalypse” shown across
the bottom of the screen.]
The so-called “Wiener Dog” has occupied a prominent, frightening place in western civilization.
From the dachshund-soaked tales of Beowulf to the terrifying “snake-dog” pits of Vlad Tepes,
no other creature has had so firm a place in the collective nightmares of Europe. But most
people know them through their role in Europe's greatest nightmare, the second world war.
Even today, more than fifty years since they took the field of battle, the infamous
Dachshundkrieg divisions of the SS are still spoken of with awe and terror in Russia and eastern
Europe. The “Legions of Fuzzy Death,” as the Soviets called them, were deployed too late to
affect the war's ultimate outcome, but they took a brutal toll on wherever they entered battle.
[Cut to a distinguished looking man with a German accent. Caption introduces him as
An “Professor Wulfgang Heinrich”.]
“The Wermacht never learned the secret of properly controlling these tiny, deadly weapons.
When used in combat, the Germans suffered almost as many wiener-related casualties as their
Russian enemies. Nevertheless, the Russians lived in fear of Dachshund-augmented night raids,
and devoted tremendous effort to protecting themselves from this threat. Later in the war, the
Germans leaned that they had a tremendous anti-armor weapon on their hands; most Russian
battle tanks had hatches easily large enough for a single enraged wiener dog to crawl through,
and once inside, the crew was as good as dead. There was also some research devoted to using the V-2 'buzz bomb' as a dachshund delivery vehicle, but those efforts had not born fruit by the end of the war. If the Canine Arms division of the Wermacht had been given the five extra years Hitler had promised them before the war began, the history of Europe might have been very, very different.”
[Return to news guy.]
Though more frightening, more disturbing, is the role they play in civilizations that have had no
previous contact with them. The Tibetan word for “Dachshund” literally translates as "Rat Dog
at the End Of The World,” despite the fact that the word predates the culture's first encounter
with the fearsome creatures.
And consider early, forbidden versions of the Indian holy scripture, some dating as far back as
750 BC, detailing the last days of the world. They state clearly that Shiva’s coming will be “tiny
hounds of war, canine tubes of compressed pieces of pigflesh.” Can this be anything other than
a culture unfamiliar with the concept groping for a word for “wiener”?
[Cut to a distinguished-looking Indian man]
“The most difficult thing visitors from my country must adjust to is the wiener dog. Indian
children are taught that they are monsters which only exist in legend, so to see them as pets in
this country often comes as a terrible shock. I know of a girl here as an exchange student whose host family had a wiener dog. She was not able to hide her surprise, and the creature smelled her fear. She did not survive the night.”
[Cut back to news guy.]
But the most sinister aspect of the beasts is the manner in which they feed. Some people believe they rend their prey into tiny pieces, but this is strictly aggressive/defensive behavior. When feeding, the dachshund will latch its powerful jaws onto its prey and then wrap its body around its victim, slowly constricting as the victim exhales and ultimately suffocating the poor creature. The dachshund will then swallow its meal whole. Every week brings a new tragic story of a gorged and sated wiener dog resting in what was once an infant's crib.
[Cut to an interview with a pet shop owner. Maybe we coach him, maybe we don't.]
“The dachshunds ... what special precautions do you take to ensure the safety of your staff?”
“Do you give any sort of class on handling them before you'll sell them?”
“Can we ... can we watch one feed?”
[Cut back to news guy.]
Indeed, we can only begin to wonder: what role do these fearful beasts play in your community?
[Cut to Ander's rat-dog cockfights story.]
Tuesday, August 19, 1997
Tuesday, August 05, 1997
At the time, Pierian Spring had Digital Chisel 3 -- and they were looking to give a hard road as to getting into any bundle.
That company isn't to be found by 2005. Don't know what happened there.
Saturday, June 14, 1997
SILICON GRAPHICS and TIME MAGAZINE to sponsor THE ROBOT ZOO
Traveling Exhibit Uses Biomechanical Robots, Computer Technology to Reveal Form and Function of Real-Life AnimalsMOUNTAIN VIEW, CA -- Silicon Graphics, Inc. (NYSE: SGI) and TIME (NYSE: TWX) announced they will jointly sponsor "The Robot Zoo," a new traveling exhibit of giant robot animals that uses biomechanics and interactive computer demonstrations to show how animals function. At the unique 5,000 square-foot exhibit, children will discover how and why a chameleon changes colors, a housefly walks on the ceiling and a grasshopper hops and flies. The Robot Zoo is scheduled to visit approximately 30 major science and natural-history museums across the country over the next five years. It debuts at Space Center Houston on May 23 and the Milwaukee Zoo on June 14, 1997.
"With a cast of dynamic, mechanical animals, The Robot Zoo is a tremendous vehicle to capture children's imaginations and ignite their interest in science and technology," said Edward R. McCracken, chairman and chief executive officer of Silicon Graphics. "We're proud to join TIME in sharing this compelling, interactive exhibit with kids of all ages across the country. We believe children who are excited about science and technology will grow to become more informed adults, and in some cases the engineers and scientists of the future."
"The Robot Zoo is a unique, new opportunity for TIME to excite children about the world of technology and relate to them on a very engaging level," said Jack Haire, Publisher of TIME Magazine. "Our partnership with Silicon Graphics is an innovative opportunity to provide kids with hands-on exhibits and the wonder and science of technology."
The exhibit, based on the popular Marshall Editions children's book of the same name, reveals nature as a master engineer by utilizing robotics and Silicon Graphics(R) O2(TM) desktop workstations. Eight larger-than-life biomechanical robot animals and more than a dozen hands-on activities demonstrate fascinating characteristics of real-life creatures. The robots include a bat, a chameleon, a grasshopper, a housefly with a 10-foot wingspread, a platypus, a rhinoceros, a giant squid with 18-foot tentacles, and a giraffe whose head and neck alone stretch nine feet tall. Machinery in the robot animals simulates the body parts and functions of their real-life counterparts; pistons represent bones and joints, funnels portray nostrils and computers act as brains.
Children will use O2 workstations to interact with and learn more about three animals: the chameleon, rhino and giant squid. Young exhibit-goers will use a paint program to construct digital color patterns that will instantly appear on television monitors covering the giant robot chameleon's body; navigate a computer-aided design (CAD) rhino model in a Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML) environment using the same technology that brings compelling 3D environments to the World Wide Web; and manipulate the nervous system of a digital giant squid to simulate the animal's propulsion abilities.
Scheduled venues for The Robot Zoo include The Franklin Institute Science Museum, Philadelphia; The Tech Museum of Innovation, San Jose, Calif. (tentative); the Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; the Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul; and the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago.
Throughout its nearly 75-year history, TIME has been a staple in American homes and classrooms. The TIME Education Program was created 30 years ago to provide high school and college students with copies of TIME Magazine to use in their social science curricula. Most recently, TIME launched TIME for Kids, an award-winning classroom news publication for kids ages 10-12. With the news-gathering resources of TIME, TIME For Kids brings the week's latest news to over 1.2 million children each week in an engaging and lively format. In conjunction with The Robot Zoo, the editors and staff of TIME for Kids have produced a 12-page complimentary, take-home exhibit guide.
TIME has also been a leader in new media, both in its coverage of technology and its pioneering online programs. In 1993, TIME became the first newsmagazine to go online and in 1994, was the first newsmagazine to launch on the Internet. In addition, TIME Digital, TIME's technology magazine with a 2.5-million worldwide circulation (the largest of any technology magazine on the planet), gives the magazine unprecedented reach.
Silicon Graphics, Inc. is a leading supplier of high-performance interactive computing systems. The company offers the broadest range of products in the industry -- from low-end desktop workstations to servers and high-end Cray(R) supercomputers. Silicon Graphics also markets MIPS(R) microprocessor designs, Alias/Wavefront(TM) entertainment and design software and other software products. The company's key markets include manufacturing, government, science and industries, telecommunications and entertainment sectors. Silicon Graphics and its subsidiaries have offices throughout the world and headquarters in Mountain View, California.
NOTE: Silicon Graphics and the Silicon Graphics logo are registered trademarks, and O2 is a trademark, of Silicon Graphics, Inc. MIPS is a registered trademark of MIPS Technologies, Inc. Cray is a registered trademark of Cray Research, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Silicon Graphics, Inc. Alias/Wavefront is a trademark of Alias/Wavefront, a division of Silicon Graphics Limited. TIME and the Red Border Design are registered trademarks of Time, Inc.
Wednesday, April 02, 1997
Progress with Plans - update for April 1997
From: Mark Rauterkus, @sportsurf.netHere is a splash of news to catch everyone up to speed on recent activities. Sorry for the lengthy period of silence, but it was necessary to get a few internal things back in order before moving forward. Some quiet strides on many fronts have occurred in the past number of months.
In the near future, you and the other insiders are going to be able to take a gander at the re-launched public WWW site and the private plans. These notes do not cover the core parts of the actual business, but rather provide you some insight into our planning progress and recent activities.
At this time, nobody needs to make any promises. Hopefully you and the others are going to say, "Sure - keep me under consideration."
As always, thanks for the time and consideration. If you'd like to be removed from future correspondence and updates, or if you would like to widen or increase this communication to you and others close to your operation, please let me know.
Update News with New Partner - MDI.NETA deal is about to be constructed with a local firm, MDI.NET. This established Pittsburgh firm is an ISP with a T1 line and a SUN reseller status. MDI is going to help with the SportSurf.Net efforts by providing in-kind services on a long-term basis. This new "partner" is considered a final cog that is going to allow these projects to advance to the next level.
Timeline ConstructionPhases, goals and milestones with specific time-lines of implementation are now being charted for the future.
Next steps include:
- a re-write of my business plans.
- The plans will appear on a newly constructed private WWW site.
- The plans are going to set the stage for a new corporation with investor financing.
- Angel investors are needed to secure trademarks and retainers, but we quickly seek
- Venture capital funding (>$2 million) - to come in stages of access.
- a reconstruction of the public WWW site (http://www.sportsurf.net).
- The site is going to include offers for sales/services in both a freeware and cash-producing manner. Many chat rooms, forums, mailing lists, and book-content things and such are going to be free. Our product line-up for the near-term is going to be catered to the sports business marketplace and start with small, specialized items -- not comprehensive bundles.
Some of the short-term goals include:
- The Proving Ground is going to be the mechanism for creating alliances with developers/resellers/consultants.
- The Proving Ground activities include satellite services and value-added tech-support. This more formalized line-up of service offerings should provide for the short-term common ground between the smaller, cutting-edge software developers and this organization. Plus the Proving Ground activities are going to expand into future resale operations with the pending bundles.
Bundles of TomorrowThe future bundles are going to be called:
- Sandlot Servers and
- Stadium Servers.
These will be turn-key server bundles (to include software, hardware, customization, integration with the headquarters, leasing options, extra support meetings, value-added content offerings) are to be marketed to the 6,000 sports magazine publishers in North America.
Sandlot and Stadium Server packages provide server platform options for the customers. The servers are going to be built for the following operating systems:
- Linux and
Without Investor StrategyAt this time, there isn't any "investor strategy." However, I am starting to craft a draft INPUT strategy. Without the legally formed business organization, and paperwork for the new one is expected to be filed in the late spring of summer of 1997, talk of "investors" is premature. Instead, these ideas only relate to Input Contributors.
The A-B-Cs of Input...The finance input strategy is soon to turn to the discover and solicitation of much needed "Angels." The input from Angles can fund the next phases. Early finance requirements project a need of approximately $50,000.
Begin with "Angels"
The Angel-level-finance amount, given the scope of these plans, is modest. A great distance has already been traveled through our collective careers and with these associated plans and prototypes. Great cost reductions are in place from lots of sources including family. Present day overhead is low, and nearly all of the tools we've been utilizing are getting crafted to fabulous levels of power and sophistication.
Furthermore, the pending sale of the SSS book business could yield additional income and turn back the tide on some debt issues. The prospective income from the transfer of the SSS book business is a tenuous situation however and not to be counted as a liquid asset.
The goal of the Angel finances is to allow for the growth of the on-line activities to a self-sustaining level while allowing for the completion of the business plans. Angels are needed before any serious audience with the Venture Capital crowd can occur with confidence. For instance, angel income would allow for fees associated with obtaining trade-marks for program-specific names, business plans re-writes, law-team retainers, and expert accounting consulting.
After AngelsAfter the Angels come the Venture Capital investors. This progression from one to the other can occur quickly.
The pending pitch to Venture Capital people includes two main points:
The full extent of the service offerings can be taken into the marketplace in a matter of weeks -- almost everything has proven to work!
Today's venture capital crowd is NOT interested in funding long-term internet research and development efforts. Funding for Sport Surf Net is a sure thing as all the computer systems are proven to work as advertised. The venture funding is needed to enter into the marketplace and handle the resulting demands.
If there are incomplete elements of the project lurking, they can be completed in one quarter and can be tested just before sales get underway.
The first stage of expenditures comes as these plans and finished prototypes head to focus group research stages.
A respected local focus group company that works with advertising agencies is ready to help. The fee is about $100,000. Focus group research is a wise investment.
If these products and services should pass through the rigors of independent demographic-type studies, the the organization is going to need additional funds for marketing (advertising, seminars). The advertising/marketing campaign for dealers and consumers for the new product roll-outs could cost $500,000 or more.
Both of those investments (focus groups & advertising) are "short-term investments" and can offer a quick returns.
Modest Infrastructure CostsSome venture capital money is going to be needed for infrastructure support. The organization will need back-ups, engineer staff, demo units, telephone operators, mailings to magazine publishers, meeting reservations. As far as the net transactions are concerned, today's access capacity is already strong.
The full product launch is going to require available cash for overhead, plus there is the matter of acquiring or retaining our key partners -- with and without stock equity.
Jack, I'm counting on you to be the one who is going to be able to provide the Linux server packages.
Furthermore, this is a pipe dream at this stage now, I'd like to be able to have a section in the pending business plan that is going to deal directly with the acquisition of your services -- either in a retain basis or more -- so that you can be fully-funded and a part of our total mission. I don't think these venture capital people are going to be in the mind set to invest money into this project unless we have a good amount of control/ownership and assurances that things are going to get done/happen at a top priority. Obviously, for this type of control to happen, $ needs to come into play first. Plus, my present business and capabilities are not nearly big enough to engage the type of market-cap potential that is going to lure the interest of venture capital types. We need to have proven assets that are worth the investment dollars or else those guys just are not interested. I feel that my team of cutting-edge developer buddies -- all small guys when you look at the likes of Fortune 500 companies -- could band together in some manner and be able to command a sizable equity investment.
To make this work, we're going to need to go on some type of "acquisitions" spree and be able to circle our wagons and say -- hey -- for $10-million you get A, B, C, D and so forth all the way to L,M,N,O, P -- or Z. But, as you might guess, the hand-holding is going to get to be a chore - and we are going to need to have everything pulled together in tight, neat packages for this to succeed.
So, you can see how it is of prime importance that you work these days with this in-mind for the future. All the players will have to have an eye toward this "summary day" and would be able to present some valuable plug-and-play business facts and figures for inserting into the master plan. I'll create the overall master plan but include parts of your data. I'd even say a 1-page executive summary would be too long for the Venture Capital Crowd to digest.
Then comes the matter of $ amounts. Part of this could be with "funny money" in the form of equity, stock options, etc. But, it will also need to boil down to knowing the following:
1. How much is your present business worth in real money at that point in time?
2. How much value does your contributions bring to the overall value of the whole business?
3. How much (on the low, medium, and high side) would you be willing transfer in your venture's ownership -- given that you are still going to play a most valuable role in the continuation of your efforts.
4. How much investment is really needed to take your products and services to the next level of profitability for the short-term and long-term.
5. How much of your day-to-day challenges, work-load and management can be better optimized with OUTSOURCING to the Headquarters staff - resulting in increased productivity for all? ---- As to the EASY-Server side of things: Here is what I'm thinking.
It is going to be great to be able to go to any magazine publisher and say, you need to buy into either our Stadium Server ($50,000) or Sandlot Server $15,000. You'll get everything you need, plus full integration into our headquarters' site databases, traffic, resources. And, our server line-up comes with many different flavors: Macintosh, NT, Linux, SUN -- with many options. On the low end, a publisher can just rent rooms on our site. So, the Linux solution is more of a middle-line-up product. The Easy-Serve gives great bang for the buck. Plus, it allows for local dial-up support for the magazine staff out of the office. Heck it uses the #1 server in the world wide web - Apache. This is important to our efforts.
Tuesday, April 01, 1997
Welcome Members of the E-Mail Marketing Digest
Subscribers' Dashboard Examples to Empty LocationsThe following buttons show the various supported servers. The server matters as some discussion groups are hosted on Majordomo servers, while others are hosted on ListServ. There are plenty of others too. The commands for each server host are not the same. You'll need to know what type of list-server software is being utilized.
These buttons are empty, so the end-user needs to type in not only his or her email address, but also the list address and the list name. The slightest typing error shows the unforgiving nature of the internet and the commands fail.
A better set-up puts hidden content inside the code so that the Subscribers Dashboard can open with various elements already in place.
- Select the right server from the buttons below.
- When in doubt, view source on this HTML page (and others) to see how everything is accomplished.
- For long-term security reasons, this page is not going to be kept up on the net. Get this info now.
Create an HTML form like the following:
Make the following substitutions in the above code:
- One of the following:
- This button's description
- Suggested Name: Subscribers Dashboard for the expanded name of the service.
- Avoid jargon and short names to lessen confusion.
- The address to which bounced messages should be sent.
- Use your full email address please.
- The address of the list server.
- For example: Majordomo@SportSurf.Net
- The exact name of the mailing list.
Make Your Own Subscribers Dashboard for your favorite discussion groupsYou can make your own subscribers dashboard without the need for your own web server. Use the SportSurf.Net server instead. Simply visit the SportSurf.Net site -- or -- build your own HTML form to kick-start the communications with the SportSurf.Net server. The HTML form can be a button place on a public or private HTML page. These instructions contain the specifics for that form. Once the dashboard is built, you don't have to remember and re-type remote server email addresses and user commands.
- Use a text editor to cut-and-paste the code between the snips.
- Save the text into a new file. Create the file in an obvious place within your hard-disk drive's file directory.
- Name the file something like, "subskey.html."
- Make the necessary changes to the code. The section on this page tells you how to create the form. The form needs some advance knowledge so that it can remember the location and commands.
- Connect to the intenet and have your web browser open. You have to be able to visit other sites on the web.
- Within your web browser, use the pull-down menu and "open file" -- and select from your hard disk drive, "subskey.html."
Local Operations - because you have to master these various groups yourself.
Please feel free to contact the List-Clerk, Mark Rauterkus, for additional help if needed.
Tuesday, March 18, 1997
From Mark R (helper guy)
To Peter Small - Author of the Web Avatar Project
All along one of my biggest pushes for you have been to "write some example, real-world avatars." In a selfish way, I've got some needs for them now. But I was thinking that the avatars would be good end of book example cases. I said you should start working on the end of book now, getting an income, and getting those all-important examples working, filtering, generating results. The examples are going to take time.
You seemed to want to delay avatar creation.
Well, after seeing these reviews -- I think my original ideas were on the money. I should speak it even louder. You need to give Avatar Examples (specific case studies with big results) right away before anything else. Do the book in reverse order. All the philosophy, A-Life examples and wonderful things you've already expressed need to be headed to the back of the book.
This is a how to book. Even better, learn how the sport surf network put avatars to work on its web site and became the #1 web-site in the world.
NEW BOOK OUTLINE:
- This is me and my "client". (who)
- Here is what we did:
- Here is what could be done in general for your business.
- Here is how we did it:
- Here is why we did it:
- Back of book timeline (when)
- Here is why you too will be faced with avatars today and tomorrow. (your book goes here)
- Prepare yourself so you can sell these ideas to your organization.
I now appeal to you for you help in getting this book across. Where am I >going wrong? Where do I go from here?
Examples: Working Models. Prove it from the get go. You gotta put the cart before the horse. The good get delivered - and it is easy to see that the goods are good. Put some avatars right into their faces from the get-go. Then, you can put chapter 1 as chapter 10 (nine examples later). Proof of what I'm thinking is found in the reviewers notes:
>without a strong endorsement from people more expert in the field than I am, I cannot pursue this book.
Have them endorse the avatar or the agent. Not the concept of the avatar book.
> I need books that are cutting edge, yes, but also books with a clear purpose, tight focus, and solid grounding in available technology.
Clear purpose! - this pathway for this avatar is x --> y --> Z. Very clear. Very focused. Very tight. The grounding is solid in a commercial endeavor.
>I could find no interesting technical insights
The technical insights are right in the example avatars. Put the avatars and agents in there first and then you have interesting technical insights.
> I think the majority will be broadly interested in the techniques and applications,
Let's do a book on the interesting techniques and applications that you applied to Sport Surf.
>In my experience people buy technology books to understand technology on a high level (business managers), or to solve technical problems on a detailed level.
Give the readers the - solved problems on technical level first - I did X, Y, Z with sport surf - . Then give them the high level business manager for the later part as to the wave of the future.
>This book doesn't state what it will help you achieve.
The Sport Surf site is going to jump from nothingness to greatness with avatars. Your site can do the same. Let's make a fairy tale come true and then people will know it is not a fairy-tale any longer.
Nuff said on that.
Now what. I think I need to give you a better tour as to what I have in mind with my mega site and my plans.
There are areas in my plan where I can see you playing a key role. I visualize this whole operation. How to share all of these ideas (mine and yours) is another matter that would best be solved with a face to face visit of a few days.
How are your frequent flyer miles? Can you come to Pittsburgh, PA, USA?
- Things to still talk about:
- Peter building a list of lists
- Peter building the list avatars for Sport Surf.
Mark Rauterkus firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Reviews of avatar book Received: 3/18/97 10:10 AM From: Peter Small, email@example.com Avatar book reviewers, Being an author is not the fun life everyone would believe. Below are some of the comments from a rejection slip I have just received from one of the publishers I've been talking to. The comments are not untypical as I have received many similar comments in the feedback I have received from many of you. Fortunately, I've also had a whole batch of complimentary posts which have stopped me dragging everything I've written over to the trash can and starting again. However, it does indicate that the way I am explaining this avatar stuff just isn't getting through to a lot of people, so, I need your help in trying to find a way to do it more successfully . What I am writing about is the implications of a technology which is only just starting to come on stream - the protocol engines which allow documents to communicate over the Internet. Allegiant have started this all off with Marionet. Director 6 is coming out in June with a whole lot of Web tools which will achieve a similar effect. SuperCard and HyperCard are soon to be brought out as cross platform multimedia authoring packages which will have similar Internet communication tools built into their players. The burning question now is how to use them. They is going to make a large difference to the way the Web will be used and the point is that this is not some "airy fairy" idea for the future, but, is going to happen within a few months. The second important issue is that the ability of applications and documents to communicate with each other opens up a completely new way to think about and apply communication techniques and information processing. This is no bull-shit theoretical stuff - it is a real need for an eminently practical way to think about and design new applications and services for the Internet. The only problem is that it involves a novel and, to most people, unfamiliar mind set - namely object oriented thinking. Understanding this stuff is about conceptualizations and mental modeling and *cannot* be taught using conventional step by step instructions. This presents a huge problem as to how to explain it. Do not be confused by the CC+ use of object oriented programming. Although similar, this conception of OOPS is mostly applied in top down situations and is quite different from the bottom up approach needed for the design of Internet stuff. One way to describe OO thinking, would be to explain the construction of a complex interactive working model as a proof of concept. The only problem with this approach is that it would involve masses of technical code and it would bore most readers to death before they ever got around to getting the gist of it. The alternative is to use metaphors. However, the ephemeral nature of the concepts needed to explain OO requires the use of metaphors which appear completely unrelated to any practical application. The use of biological metaphors is, to my mind, apt for this new Internet technology. Biologists are now getting around to thinking of cells and biological mechanisms (even life itself) in terms of information transfer. Those of you who have read "Lingo Sorcery" will be aware of the way in which complex applications can be constructed from interacting software objects. Those who have read "How God Makes God" will be aware of the way in which complex mechanisms of life can evolve from very simple interacting "objects" which evolve from the mixing of elements in a gene pool. The point is, this book I am working on is not about some fanciful theories which I have dreamed up by myself. It is about applying a practical conceptual framework to the Internet which calls upon recent developments in a whole number of related areas of science. Evolutionary biology, medical research into drugs and theories about the nature of life have changed dramatically over the past five years. These new ideas and methods are only just beginning to filter through. It is the application of these new idea to the Internet which I am trying to explain in this book. Unfortunately, many older unsuccessful ideas get in the way. In particular I refer to the concepts of "life" and "intelligence". Up until fairly recently, MIT have been seen as the leaders in these fields with their huge research into Artificial Intelligence (AI). This has not produced the expected breakthroughs or practical applications. It has now been superseded by the concept of artificial life - or "A-Life" as it is commonly known as - where the creative center is at the Santa Fe Institute. A few years ago, all of this A-Life stuff was pooh-poohed as irrelevant nonsense by the AI world. Now it is providing the answers and breakthroughs which AI so dismally failed to do (BTW An excellent primer and background to all this A-Life research is Steven Levy's book "Artificial Life" Penguin Science ISBN 0-14-023105-6). I now appeal to you for you help in getting this book across. Where am I going wrong? Where do I go from here? I am now working on a third chapter where I am going to try to bring out the biological metaphor more strongly, give a more accessible explanation of the object oriented concept and define the principle of "intelligence" as it applies to avatars and software objects. I shall also be arranging with a number of universities and private Web site owners to set up ftp sites for biotelemorphic cells and will be arranging a list serve to allow the exchange of programming documents as described in chapter 2 (if any person or group would like to come in on this please let me know). In case any one asks, I shall not be getting onto the direct Internet communication of cells using protocol engines until later in the book. There is a lot of interesting stuff to cover before this which would be overly complicated by bringing in Internet communication too early. Please, I need your help and feedback on this. Take a look below at the excerpts from my recent publisher's reject slip and see what attitudes I have to contend with. Regards Peter ----------- The Avatar book can now be read on the Web at: USA http://188.8.131.52/avatars/Index.htm UK http://www.obsolete.com/dug ----------------------------------------------- Below are snippets of the rejection slip I have just received from a publisher. You may well agree with the comments. Peter, The reviews are in, and I'm afraid I will not be able to offer you a contract on "Web Avatars". Of the three reviewers and myself, I believe that my enthusiasm for the project is the highest, but without a strong endorsement from people more expert in the field than I am, I cannot pursue this book. I tried, as I do on every proposal, to get a team of reviewers at least as qualified as the author. The three reviewers on your proposal have impecable credentials: one is an expert on virtual communities, one was part of the original CERN-NCSA-industry coalition that created the Web, and one is a Web master for a major online search engine. I have included their reviews below; you will see that they range from disgusted to luke warm.
I am at liberty to take risks, much more than editors at larger publishing houses. But in terms of image, I cannot afford risks. Our first few books in this area will determine how customers and future authors perceive us. I need books that are cutting edge, yes, but also books with a clear purpose, tight focus, and solid grounding in available technology. Your book may evolve to meet those standards, but it does not meet them yet. Review One: --------------------------------- >Well, I think it's bullshit. I could find no interesting technical >insights in the "Web Avatars" material. Apparently the guy has >written an interesting book on Lingo tips, and now has "second-system >syndrome": he feels his next book should be some great vessel of wit >and wisdom. > Review Two: --------------------------------- >The audience these days is pretty large. I think the majority will be >broadly interested in the techniques and applications, but not to the >depth of a book. > >After reading of the proposal, it's on-line comments, and chapter 1, >I believe that only digital media people, with an interest in the Web, >and, at a push, online comunity people are going to be sufficiently >intrigued and excited. >I feel the main use of the metaphors is to attach questionable validity >to the author's models and claims. Some of them are contrived, some >distract from the topic and make it appear complicated. >There is no clear purpose. In my experience people buy technology books >to understand technology on a high level (business managers), or to solve >technical problems on a detailed level. This book doesn't state what it >will help you achieve. Worse, it talks about its techniques as the new >True Way, to be embraced by everyone. The Internet doesn't work that way. >I don't have time to invest my attention into a fairytale. > >>The author makes use of philosophical parallels. Is this helpful. > >They [philosophical parallels] suffer from similar problems as the >metaphors -- they distract, they >complicate, and worse, the have an attitude: "I have enreached enlightenment, >if you can understand this subject and agree with me you are also a cool dude, >otherwise your brain must simply be missing something". Give me a break. > >I find language like "it does not take long to realise", >"triggered some form of enlightenment", and >"perhaps you have already clicked on" >condencening. > >Also, there are always limits to anything. Describing the limits to >your approach is helpful, and shows a deeper understanding. The material >I have reviewed is positioned as limitless, with a holy ring to it. >But there is no philosophy involved. You need not be a guru to think this up >or understand it. It is not "life". It is not a standard. It is limited. >It is not cross-platform. It is not language independent. Security/privacy >issues are not addresses. Efficiency and performance is not addressed. >This does not instill me with great confidence. > > >Finally I'm not that impressed with the author's writing. Of course it has >not gone through editorial control, but some of the language just doesn't >flow very well. My own spelling skills are not the best (as a non-native >speaker), but I am pretty attentive when it comes to parsing sentence >constructions on paper (maybe because I'm a non-native speaker). > >In summary, thumbs down, some salvageable material, eccentric/dubious author. > Review Three: --------------------------------- >However, the general population >of Web professionals is highly unlikely, in the beginning of >something this new and technically difficult, to purchase >this text. >This reviewer would not initially purchase a text of this >type. With limited resources, proven, existing tools are >preferred. Eventually, if "Web Avatars" prove fruitful, a >purchase of this text would be likely. >
Reactions from Mark Rauterkus and reply to Peter. The letter is titled, the cart goes before the horse.
Monday, February 17, 1997
I had been a beta tester for Adobe Acrobat 3.0 and was good at 'distilling' the documents with hyperlinks and making them so they could be served on the web, a page at a time and with quicker downloading.
bundles (resale agreements and next phases of products)
digital duplication rights and policies for CD-ROM delivery
joint marketing of products. Do you want to extend your product line and better interact with others in the bundle?
co-location of documents. Edits of documents. Un-official sites for power-users (SIGs).
outsourced services based on utilities of software bundle. Ping sites for a fee with PageSentry, for example.
A UK book author is doing project on agents and avitars and we'd like to get a chapter in there about your software.
Non-exclusive speakers booking service.
Cross platform development issues.
Subject: Apple Demos DVD Mac Sent: 2/16/97 12:16 PM Received: 2/17/97 4:17 PM From: MacDev-1 Moderator, MacDev-1-Moderator@listmail.xplain.com To: MacDev-1, MacDevfirstname.lastname@example.org This message comes to you from MacDev-1(tm). See below for more info on this list (including sub/unsub details).
Apple Computer Demonstrates First DVD-Enabled Macintosh at Milia 97
Company makes commitment to DVD, among the first computer makers to standardize on DVD-ROM; announces intent to establish DVD Web site Milia 97, Cannes France - February 12, 1997 - Apple Computer, Inc. (Cupertino, CA) today publicly demonstrated the first DVD-ROM Macintosh(R) prototype and announced support for the DVD-ROM format throughout most of the Apple Macintosh product line. DVD is a new industry standard for consumer electronics and computers that delivers vastly superior audio and video compared with current CD-ROM technology. As part of a MILIA presentation, Apple also noted that the first DVD-enabled Macintosh system could appear as soon as late 1997, with several new PowerBook(R) and desktop models expected to be shipping with DVD-ROM by early 1998. "Just as Apple was the first computer vendor to standardize on CD-ROM ten years ago, we now expect to take a leadership position with Macintosh and DVD-ROM," said Carlos Montalvo, vice president of Apple's Interactive Media Group. "Integrating DVD-ROM with our leading multimedia and upcoming processor technologies is a top priority for Apple Computer. These include QTML (QuickTime(R) Media Layer) for integrated A/V, 3D and VR technologies, 500 MhZ + PowerPC chips from Exponential for blazing speed, plus cutting-edge multimedia processing power from the Philips TriMedia(TM) chip." The Apple DVD-ROM prototype, a modified Performa(R) 5400, culminates several years of Apple research and development on DVD technology, in collaboration with leading Japanese and European consumer electronics companies. DVD-ROMs - which look identical to CD-ROM discs - can hold up to 18 GB of multimedia data, including any mixture of CD-quality sound, AC-3 surround sound information, MPEG-2 video and computer binary data. The current CD format holds only 680 MB of content, with no built-in provisions for surround-sound or MPEG-2. At Milia, several leading DVD developers and pre-mastering software vendors, including Sonic Solutions (Novato, CA), Sumeria (San Francisco, CA), Short Cinema Journal (Venice, CA), Wired, Inc. (Mountain View, CA) and Daikin (Novato, CA) pledged their support for Macintosh as the ideal pre-mastering and content delivery platform for rich multimedia DVD titles. Lastly, Apple announced its plan to create a DVD Web site in the near future. The Apple DVD Web site will serve as a clearing-house for interested consumers and developers on the latest DVD information, as well as providing links to third-parties with DVD solutions for the Macintosh. "As the leading multimedia computer platform, Apple plans to take an aggressive role in promoting the latest technologies to keep our customers on the leading-edge of content development," said John Cook, DVD program office director with Apple Computer, Inc. "DVD-ROM is the next step in bridging the gap between big-screen entertainment and the desktop -- Apple fully intends to have the best possible solution for this technology. We are collaborating with the leading vendors in both software and hardware to integrate best-of-breed multimedia technology on the Macintosh and DVD-ROM is clearly the future for content delivery on our platform." Apple Computer, Inc., a recognized pioneer and innovator in the information industry, creates powerful solutions based on easy-to-use personal computers, servers, peripherals, software and personal digital assistants. Headquartered in Cupertino, California, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) develops, manufactures, licenses and markets products, technologies and services for the business, education, consumer, scientific and engineering, and government markets in over 140 countries. Press Contacts:
Saturday, February 01, 1997
I also got to explore the National Business Incubation Assocation, http://www.nbia.org, and talk with the Asst. Director of On-line Services Clearninghouse for Strategic Alliances, Gregory Kaple.
Internet Site Founders Give Back to Their University* Yahoo! internet service founders, David Filo and Jerry Yang, have funded a new chair at Stanford University and are the youngest persons ever to have done so.
- they quit their PhD studies at Stanford to turn their Yahoo! Internet search site into one of the Web's most successful companies.
- donated $2 million to Stanford.
Sports Sites Go for Big Bucks* Walt Disney Co. is reportedly in talks to buy a major stake in Starwave, the Web site company owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
- Starwave operates sports and entertainment websites and operates, with Disney, the ESPNet-SportsZone site.