February 28, 2003

Crimson Tidings

It might not seem like much, but when you're involved in historical research and you discover a new way to find stuff that may be relevant, it is a big deal. So I was delighted to find (thanks to a mention by Dave Winer) that Harvard University has put all of its Harvard Crimson archives online, full text, for free, going back to 1873, that's right, not 1973, but 1873! It's already proved to be a great resource; I've found two dozen articles relevant to my PLATO book project.

While it's not quite as big a deal as Google's unleashing all of USENET (a genuine goldmine I am still digging through), it has resulted in neat findings. Lots of people went to Harvard. Some of them even wrote for the Crimson. For example, Esther Dyson... I bet she never thought that 30+ years later, people would be re-reading her movie reviews from the late 60s and early 70s!

Update: Esther tells me the search results are incomplete... that she wrote other articles, including a "pool crawl" article about swimming pools around the world, and an "I-was-there" account of being an extra in Love Story. Of course, now everyone has to rush out and rent Love Story to find Esther... Also, this search yields more Esther results than the one above...

Posted by brian at 03:47 AM | Comments (0)

Some Hopeful News For A Change

Can it be? Hopeful news? From CNN? Not about, well, you know... The Main Thing The Media Focuses On... But instead about people making choices to do something productive with their break time, something that doesn't necessarily involve consumption of mass quantities of carbohydrates?
Posted by brian at 03:46 AM | Comments (0)

February 27, 2003

John Doe

Ever wonder about the origin of the name "John Doe"?
Posted by brian at 03:46 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2003

Monty Python Book

Monty Biographon
As seen in Publisher's Lunch today:
John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin's THE PYTHONS: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY, with writer Bob McCabe (the only missing Python from the team is the deceased Graham Chapman), "the definitive, the official, the most lavish, the completely-different-to-anything- done-before-book on The Pythons by The Pythons," illustrated with over 1,000 photographs, to Thomas Dunne for his imprint at St. Martin's, in a major six-figure deal, as part of international publication on September 25, 2003, by Trevor Dolby at Orion.
Posted by brian at 03:44 AM | Comments (0)

"The Battle of the Fans" Works!

Paul McCartney was in town over the weekend, because someone paid him $1 million to play at a private birthday party in Rancho Santa Fe. Here's the story from the San Diego Union-Tribune.

This is another instance of if you pay them, they will come. There is a business opportunity, a la eBay Meets MP3.com, for a BAND-ON-DEMAND service, where communities or individuals compete and outbid each other for private (or public) performances by their favorite artists. Not just music, either. Perhaps there's a city where the readers of some novelist or journalist are sufficiently organized (smart mobs?) to cough up the dough to invite their author to come to town for a reading and signing.

I used to talk about this idea years ago while at MP3. We envisioned cities duking it out with each other: Peoria's bid $78,000 for a reunion concert of Jethro Tull at a high school... oh wait.... now Fairbanks, Alaska's bid $95,000 for Steely Dan... San Diego's bid $210,000 for... and so on. Now, play-for-hire has been going on forever, even Mozart got by as a commissioned artist, but where's the service that leverages the Internet and the Network Effect and gets this going on a large scale?

Imagine: you go to WeWant.com (don't bother; someone's already grabbed it) and type in the name of the performer, writer, artist, lecturer, politician, statesman, whatever, that you are interested in. You then see a list of the places this person or band has been to recently, and how much those places paid to have that name appear there. There'd be an option to see a list of all the people that people in your own geographical area have expressed interest in "commissioning" to appear locally. This is eBay meets MeetUp meets GeoURL meets...

Think about it: you're a washed-up Woodstock musician whose days of touring are long gone, and you get an email from WeWant.com indicating there are 7,801 people in West Fon-du-Loc, Wisconsin who will pay you $4,307.19 to fly to their town and perform at the local five-and-dime. Hell yeah you're gonna go! Or you're a reclusive novelist who hasn't written a new book in 20 years and never ever does book tours, but then you get an invitation to speak at some community college that has coughed up $10,000 for you to speak. Hell yeah you're gonna go!

By the way, McCartney donated the $1 million to charity.

Posted by brian at 03:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2003

A Scary Thought...

Now here's a scary thought. What if Microsoft or AOL announced it was acquiring Google? (If that link doesn't work, try this and then scroll down a bit and select the search result that says "Google's Price Tag" and points to a www.webmasterworld.com URL.)
Posted by brian at 03:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2003

Mixed Metaphor Train Wreck

Warning: train-wreck of mixed metaphors ahead... from a recent interview with Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix:

Q: How were you able to rise out of the ashes of the internet burst:

A: I had run a successful public company before, so I wasn't as susceptible, perhaps, of fueling the fire with fumes. So we stuck to our knitting, and I would say that we never went into the ashes. We steadily progressed as the bubble went on and then when the bubble crashed we just kept steadily progressing.

Posted by brian at 03:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2003

Various Items

Remember the movie SAFE? Remember when you last boought a car and for a while thereafter, there was that "new car smell"? Ever wonder exactly what caused that smell?

Here's an article that argues eBay's willingness to cooperate with law enforcement ought to be more widely scrutinized.

Posted by brian at 03:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2003

Call the Guards; MySimon of Books

Doesn't anyone find it a little weird that Michael Robertson's Desktop Linux Summit, scheduled for Feb 20 and 21, is scheduled to take place at MP3.com? The DLS website calls it the Vivendi Universal Building, but San Diego knows it as the MP3.com building. (Vivendi, one of the companies that sued Robertson's MP3.com back in 2000, bought the company cheap in 2001, and showed Robertson the door.)

The MySimon of Books
if you haven't seen ISBN.nu, check it out. It lets you compare prices on books from a number of popular online book stores. Here's an example page for Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon.

Denounce Update
Time to take on Match.com over at Denounce Newswire.

Housing Prices -- Through the Roof
According to this CNN Money report, it's been a record year for double-digit growth of housing prices. San Diego is turning into Palo Alto.

Posted by brian at 03:40 AM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2003

Various Things

Engineered like no other car in the world.

In other news...
brianstorms now has a photo blog over at fotoblog.net.

Google as Big Brother
GoogleWatch's nine arguments why Google is or is becoming Big Brother.

Posted by brian at 03:39 AM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2003

SoFake's cool, and DJ Format r00Lz

SoFake.com has an unusual way of using Flash to literally zoom in to their website. Be sure to have the speakers or headphones on so you can see what they do with the music. When you zoom all the way out, it's like the opening of the movie Contact...

DJ Format's new video (27mb QuickTime video), directed by Ruben. Great music, great grooves, and hilarious breakdancing. (Heard about this from boingboing.net.)

Posted by brian at 03:38 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2003

Gruber Unmasked

An interesting week in The WELL's writers conference this week, as long-time WELL user Michael Gruber finally admits publicly that yes, he is the ghostwriter for nearly all of Robert K. Tanenbaum's bestselling thriller/suspense novels going back some 15 years. Gruber has finally made a name for himself, with the first novel Tropic of Night coming out under his own name this spring. <
Posted by brian at 03:35 AM | Comments (2)

February 11, 2003

Stone Reader

The Stone Reader is a new documentary film that sounds really fascinating. I haven't seen it yet, but can't wait to see it! It chronicles filmmaker Mark Moscowitz's quest to track down the author, Dow Mossman, of the much-acclaimed 1972 novel The Stones of Summer. This was to be the author's only novel, and the book is now so rare, Amazon, Alibris, and Abebooks don't even have it in their databases. Interestingly, eBay just recently completed an auction for a first-edition copy of the book, and the successful bidder (who appears to be an attorney), paid $1,326.00 for the book. The movie has a website at www.stonereader.net and the trailer can be viewed here. Here's a link to the New York Times review.

Whoa! Check it out! What is Andy Hertzfeld doing in the trailer!? Check it out. He's the one who's unwrapping a package (which one assumes holds the book inside) and saying, "The Stones of Summer". I checked with Andy and it turns out Moscowitz is an old high school friend. Small world!

Here's a link to Salon.com's review. <

Posted by brian at 03:31 AM | Comments (0)
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