Readings and Novelties

Welcome to the Metaverse

by Lee Gesmer on October 31, 2008

Wade Roush (technology journalist and chief correspondent at Xconomy) wrote an extraordinary article in the MIT Technology Review in 2007 which I’ve had in my “must re-read” pile for a while. Recently I picked it up and noticed that the article is accessible in full on the Technology Review web site (free registration required).

Here is a brief excerpt from the article, modestly entitled Second Earth:

[w]ithin 10 to 20 years–roughly the same time it took for the Web to become what it is now–something much bigger than either of these alternatives [Second Earth or Google Earth] may emerge: a true Metaverse. In Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash, a classic of the dystopian “cyberpunk” genre, the Metaverse was a planet-size virtual city that could hold up to 120 million avatars, each representing someone in search of entertainment, trade, or social contact. The Metaverse that’s really on the way, some experts believe, will resemble Stephenson’s vision, but with many alterations.

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I’ve heard this quote attributed to Alan Abelson of Barron’s, but who knows, it may be from Kansas. Maybe Abelson used to listen to Kansas.

In any event, it came to mind when I heard that the Maestro, a Master of the Universe if there ever was one, spoke thus before Congress last week:

REP. WAXMAN: You found a flaw in the reality —

MR. GREENSPAN: Flaw in the model that I perceived as the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

REP. WAXMAN: In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology was not right. It was not working.

MR. GREENSPAN: Precisely. That’s precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.

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From the SF Chronicle’s obit of Hal Kant, aka “the Czar”, long-time attorney for the Grateful Dead:

When Ben & Jerry’s ice cream produced a new flavor, Cherry Garcia, in the early ’90s, McNally wrote in his book, the company did so without even discussing the idea with Garcia. Although Garcia was unconcerned when it was first brought to his attention – “At least they’re not naming a motor oil after me, man,” he said – Mr. Kant convinced him that the issue should be addressed.

As recounted by McNally, Mr. Kant told Garcia: “They will name a motor oilafter you if you don’t confront this, Jerry. You’ll have no control over your name at all.”

Garcia finally told Mr. Kant, “If it bothers you, go ahead.”

“In the next few years,” McNally wrote, “Jerry would have no problems in spending the large sum of money he’d earn thanks to the letter Mr.

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The Google Chrome Comic Book

by Lee Gesmer on September 15, 2008

The release of the Google Chrome web browser on September 2nd attracted a huge amount of publicity. The release of the browser was accompanied by a 38 page comic book, featuring cartoon figures of real-life Google employees, and explaining some of the features and technology associated with the browser. The comic book was illustrated by “cartoon theorist” Scott McLoud.

This is pretty cool stuff – hiring a top cartoonist to help you explain a new software product. Much better than a traditional technical manual!

A link to the comic book on scribd.com is below. (And here is a link to the comic on McLoud’s own web site, which might be easier to read online).

Read this document on Scribd: Google Chrome Comic BookRead the full article