A few notes on the Microsoft decision and educational technology, plus
some follow-ups mostly on security and privacy issues, recommendations,
and the usual outstanding batch of URL's.

We should congratulate the government on its clear-cut victory in
the Microsoft case.  The pundits have swung into action, of course,
and they would have us believe that it's now illegal to be successful
and have popular products.  But that's silly.  The great majority of
successful companies are not facing antitrust suits, and the market is
full of products that are a lot more popular than Microsoft's.  That
such arguments are even made tells us something.

In fact, the government's victory is all the more impressive for the
obstacles it was up against.  You will recall that the viability of
the government's case was long in doubt because most of the potential
witnesses refused to testify for fear of retribution.  It's a good
thing that Microsoft's executives put their evil intentions down in
e-mail that the government could subpoena.  But the case was still
limited, and this trial should just be the beginning.  The government
should now turn the case over to the Justice Department's organized
crime unit, which should start perjury investigations against the
Microsoft executives who were caught lying under oath.  Once Microsoft
executives start going to prison, perhaps the software industry's code
of silence will finally crack.  Then we can have a proper trial on all
of the issues that this trial left out.  Microsoft's claims to support
innovation are already absurd, given that the company's whole modus
operandi is to prevent innovation.  But in a real trial perhaps we can
finally "get" the extent to which Microsoft has used its ill-gained
monopoly power to stifle progress.

Having said all this, I thought you might enjoy hearing some of the
rhetoric from Microsoft's supporters, all of it from the editorial
pages of the Wall Street Journal.  Here are some passages from a
Journal editorial of 5/2/00:

  Perhaps the least appetizing part of the Microsoft spectacle is all
  the college professors crawling out from under the ivy saying they
  "know" what to do with Microsoft now that a solitary judge's ruling
  has made it vulnerable to their hatchets and hacksaws.  We suppose
  every ecosystem has its hyenas, but the swarm of academics trying to
  get in on the kill is a reminder that education and wisdom are two
  different things.

The academics whose analyses supported the government's remedies are
likened to violent criminals and scavenging animals.  Very nice.

  ... the idea that Microsoft's shareholders have any rights at all
  has been tossed out in the enthusiasm of Washington's parasite
  class to leave its toothmarks on the company, while politicians nod
  their heads sympathetically even as they relieve Bill Gates and his
  executives of millions in "donations" to their political campaigns.

Note the pattern in the first half of this: Microsoft's shareholders
are being deprived of future profits gained through illegal activities
(not even of the past profits), and so they have no rights at all.
This is the usual confusion between "some" and "all", plus the
idea that profiting from illegal behavior is a "right".  I have to
admit that the second half is more plausible, given that Republican
legislators have been open for years about their intentions to freeze
out or take revenge against businesses that do not contribute to them,
or that contribute to their opponents, or that hire their opponents as

  As the Journal reported yesterday, Justice suddenly tilted toward a
  breakup after being alerted by somebody that Microsoft was trying to
  make its Office applications work well with the industrial-strength
  version of its operating system.  Hmm, don't users want Microsoft's
  products to work well together?

This is another myth of the Microsoft case that we have to set straight.
Even though I am not an enthusiast of the breakup, it is a non-starter
to say that only an integrated company could make the operating system
and the applications "work well together".  As anybody who has taken
computer science classes knows, the right way to make things work well
at all is to construct cleanly defined and well-documented modularity
boundaries.  In fact the judge has found it necessary to order Microsoft
to do just this.  Once you have clear modularity boundaries, it does not
matter whether the modules are produced by one company or by two.

Here is the first sentence from a 6/9/00 article on the Wall Street
Journal's editorial page by a conservative legal scholar named Richard

  To no one's surprise, an angry and distrustful Judge Thomas Penfield
  Jackson adopted almost word for word the final judgement against
  Microsoft proposed by the US Justice Department and state attorneys

In a normal world, the fact that a conservative, Reagan-appointed,
pro-business judge accepted the government's remedy whole would count
as evidence for its moderation.  But in this world, the judge is
"angry and distrustful".  Observe the fancy ambiguity in this phrase.
The judge certainly did express anger and distrust when Microsoft
employees defied his orders, introduced faked evidence, made numerous
false statements, claimed at length not to remember or understand
their own words, and so on.  But here, as very often, the phrase
"angry and distrustful" insinuates that the judge has some sort
of emotional problem, that he is an angry and distrustful person.
Richard Epstein is not a hack, and it is depressing to see him using
this sort of language, which in the old days was routinely used to
mock people who were remonstrating against an injustice.  I guess the
traditional values are coming back.

Here we have some passages from the Journal's editorial of 6/9/00:

  The media reports reflexively fastened on Judge Jackson's use of
  the word "untrustworthy", though what provoked this sermonette seems
  to have been Microsoft's successful appeal of one of the judge's
  earlier injunctions.

Notice, obviously, the word "seems".  Could the copious documentation
of Microsoft's mendacity have anything to do with the judge's use
of the word "untrustworthy"?  The rhetorical device works by simply
not mentioning the reasons that the judge gives, and instead claiming
to read his mind.  Then notice the phrase "reflexively fastened".
The word "reflexively" is easy to say, and because it again claims
to read minds it cannot easily be refuted.  And the word "fastened"
also demonstrates how easy it is to make insinuations about motive,
the suggestion (against all evidence) being that the media are
dying to find something bad to say about Microsoft.  The alternative
hypothesis, that it's newsworthy when a judge makes such a strong
statement about a prominent company, again need not be considered.
Finally, notice the religious metaphor.

  The company's graver sin appeared a few sentences later -- being
  "convinced of its own innocence" and unwilling to let its rights and
  property be stripped away without a fight.  Just possibly when Bill
  Gates says he sees a principle at stake, he actually mentions it.
  Oh dear.  Why couldn't he just mouth a few insincere Hail Marys and
  settle when he had the chance?

Here we have another version of the same tactic.  The singular form --
"[t]he company's graver sin" -- simply passes by the vast selection of
sins on the court record.  The same sentence also puts a tendentious
paraphrase into the judge's mouth.  But what's really striking is
the double standard.  When courts find common people guilty of illegal
behavior, they are normally expected to express contrition, and they
receive heavier sentences when they do not.  But none of this applies
to the Journal's constituency.  Then another religious metaphor.
What is with this constant disparagement of religion from the right?

Next (and we're almost done), this passage from Paul Gigot's column of

  Joel Klein and his antitrust division, so irrelevant for so long,
  saw a chance to get back into the limelight.

The court record is full of evidence about Microsoft's motivations,
not least their contempt of the consent decree that they themselves
signed.  Microsoft's behavior supplies a perfectly parsimonious
explanation of Joel Klein's motivations, not to mention those of the
"hyenas" of academia.  If the Journal has any evidence to support
another theory, it should bring that evidence forward.  Meanwhile it
should calm down.

The point of Gigot's column is that Microsoft hadn't been "playing by
Beltway rules".

  The Microsoft chairman didn't bow enough to bureaucrats, or canoodle
  enough with politicians.  He gave away too little money too late,
  when it only looked cynical.  His e-mails were too tart, or too
  honest, or something.

Our nerve endings are sufficiently numb that it's probably hard to
appreciate the magnitude of this.  The central conceit of the article
(and of much other commentary) is that it's all a game, and that
the government's goal was to compel the company to play the game,
and that the company was now being punished for not playing the game.
The government wants companies to hide evidence of their crimes!
This is so backward that it makes one's head spin.  Here on earth,
Microsoft was sued because it broke the law.  It's true that many
companies that break the law are not prosecuted because they expend
money and strategy subverting the legal system.  Microsoft did this
too, of course, for example trying to get the Congress to cut its
prosecutor's budget, but that's evidently a small thing.

The rhetorical strategy here is of a piece with the associationism of
public relations in general.  Wrongdoers play games and manipulate the
system, and so an association has arisen in the popular mind between
these wrongdoers and their manipulations.  The obvious PR response is
to break that association, and to create another association between
the manipulations and the party being manipulated.  It's the Beltway's
game, not the wrongdoers!  The wrongdoers are just dragged into it.
This is not to say that the Beltway plays no games.  When a political
party threatens an interest for hiring the opposition's guy as its
lobbyist then you do have extortion, no doubt about it.  But the way
PR works, things aren't analyzed case by case.  Associations are blobs
of thought formed by shearing the logic and moral reason away from
particular cases, so producing stereotypes.  We are well shorn by now.

A few old-timers have written to temper my glowing memories of the
security of such ancient operating systems as that of the Univac 1100
series machines.  You will recall that, in my last great adventure in
systems programming before going to graduate school, I built a virtual
memory system for a Univac 1100/43 in 1978.  Well, my correspondents
have pointed out that the Univac was prone to resource-exhaustion
attacks: you could crash the machine by forking too many processes.
Of course, the same thing is still true on Unix, and I could crash the
Unix machine where I read my e-mail in thirty seconds if I wanted to.

My point was not really about denial-of-service attacks, but rather
about the old operating system concept of keeping different users
from harming one another using a thought-out system of permissions.
Personal computers should have such a thing.  I know that the problem
of protecting a user when executing code that's been downloaded from
the Internet is somewhat different from the problem of protecting
users from harming one another when running applications on a non-
networked machine.  Still, I find it completely amazing that the world
is proceeding to build serious infrastructures on top of operating
systems that do not provide this most fundamental level of protection.

One Linux person was upset that, in sending out the message about the
Standard and Poor's security nightmare, I chose a Linux-based system
to make my point about the kinds of security issues one encounters
out there.  It's true, we all tend to focus on the operating system
or the programming language and neglect the hundred "soft" factors
that make anything really work.  When we say that Microsoft products
are insecure and that Linux is somewhat better, it does not follow
that every Linux-based service is more secure than every Microsoft-
based service.  In the case at hand, we had a service that was based
on an archaic release of Linux and that violated every rule in the
security book.  In any event, I meant no aspersion against Linux.

Speaking of Microsoft security, here is the best of several jokes that
I received after the most recent Microsoft virus:


  This virus works on the honor system:

  If you're running a variant of Unix or Linux, please forward this
  message to everyone you know and delete a bunch of your files at

Pass it on.

Let's get rid of the phrase "Internet privacy".  Why?  Five reasons:

  (1) As the Internet increasingly suffuses everything, most privacy
  issues involve the Internet in some way.  So just call it "privacy".

  (2) "Internet privacy" is often used to mean something narrower:
  "privacy of consumer information on electronic commerce Web sites".
  I've even seen Web sites that invite consumers to download networked
  software to their computer, whose privacy policy covers the Web site
  but not the software!  There's more to the Internet than the Web.

  (3) Privacy issues involving the Internet are diverse enough that
  "Internet privacy" is not a natural category.  Medical Internet
  privacy is different from financial Internet privacy.  What's most
  significant is not the technology but the industry sector.  Privacy
  policy should have a common conceptual foundation -- such as the
  default rule of "opt in" -- that is then adapted to the particulars
  of each sector.  Specific technologies hardly enter into it.

  (4) Internet privacy issues are not importantly different from a
  hundred kinds of privacy issues that have been debated and analyzed
  for a long time.  Every couple of years the traffickers in personal
  information have to come up with a new gimmick to postpone common-
  sense regulation.  The trick is always to make the issue of privacy
  seem brand new, so that yet another round of redundant studies and
  empty promises can be "given time to work".  This has been going on
  for decades, and "Internet privacy" is simply the latest iteration.

  (5) Saying "Internet privacy" makes privacy problems sound like the
  Internet's fault, so that the people who are running insecure sites
  and misdirecting personal information can present themselves as
  victims of the technology.

In the end, the notion of "Internet privacy" is nothing but a leftover
from the old idea that the Internet is separate from the real world.
It's just not true.

We should also get rid of phrases such as "regulating the Internet".
People keep asking "should we regulate the Internet?", as if the
question meant something.  It doesn't, for three reasons:

First of all, in most cases the issue is not one of regulating the
Internet, but of regulating activities or entities that happen to be
using the Internet.  It's not the Internet's fault if someone uses
it to commit fraud, and regulations narrowly tailored to preventing
fraud on the Internet have no effect on the Internet itself.

Second, "regulating the Internet" is an impossibly broad and vague
category, so that it makes no sense either to agree with it or to
disagree with it.  Thus, people who claim to dislike "regulation" are
usually happy when "regulation" prevents other people from stealing
their stuff.  Regulation comes in many shapes and sizes, and the
arguments that bear on the various categories of regulation are quite
diverse.  Some regulations are unconstitutional, or inefficient,
or unenforceable, or counterproductive.  Others are not.  You can't

Third, most problems cannot be solved by regulation alone, and many
problems cannot be solved without some degree of regulation.  It's a
matter of interactions.  The question is which combination of methods
-- criminal laws, civil causes of action, technologies, consumer
education, competition, custom, and so on -- best addresses a given
problem.  But we can hardly start to answer this question so long as
"regulation" remains a big conceptual blob.

Good old Bruce Schneier made fun of me for sending out the issue of
his newsletter in which he included my close readings of Microsoft's
virus doubletalk.  "Quoting me quoting you, huh?"  Yeah, okay.  It
seemed a little weird, but cutting out my article seemed even weirder.
In any event, Bruce's online newsletter, whose circulation is 43,000,
is a must for everyone with an interest in computer security issues.

In response to my fancy theory about the reason why the media have
increasingly confused the words "Internet" and "Web", one smart guy
pointed out (duh) that the English words "net" and "web" have similar
meanings.  That one got right by me.  I hope the Wall Street Journal
(the example I cited) would be a little faster, but maybe not.

In one of my truth-tellings about the returning conservative culture
of deference I spoke of "the strange and archaic custom of addressing
people by title", but a few people pointed out that the problem is not
with titles as such, just with hierarchical titles.  There is a long
history -- though not in the United States -- of egalitarian formality.
It has a bad name through examples such as "Citizen" and "Comrade",
but there's nothing intrinsically wrong with it.  In fact, African-
American culture puts great weight on titles because of the depraved
custom, thankfully now rare, of addressing white people by title and
black people by their first names.  And some languages mark family
relationships in a hierarchical way in their grammar; this isn't as
bad as the feudal-type hierarchy of conservatism, and I didn't mean
to disparage it either.

For an entertaining study in how complicated these things can be,
see Paul Friedrich, Social context and semantic feature: The Russian
pronominal usage, in John J. Gumperz and Dell Hymes, eds, Directions
in Sociolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication, Blackwell,
1986 (originally published in 1972).  It's an accessible paper about
the Russian formal and informal pronouns (vy and ty, by analogy to
vous and tu in French) and the infinite variety of social distinctions
that this grammatical contrast used been used to mark at various times
and places in Russian literature.

Recommended: Melissa A. Schilling, Toward a general modular systems
theory and its application to interfirm product modularity, Academy
of Management Review 25(2), 2000, pages 312-334.  This is an ambitious
general theory of product modularity that presents a long series of
testable generalizations about the conditions under which products are
and are not made of compatible parts that can be bought from different
suppliers.  I don't know if it's right, and it doesn't have the depth
of grounding in either case studies or math of other, simpler models.
Nonetheless it ought to raise the level of debate.

Recommended: Thomas Ertman, Birth of the Leviathan: Building States
and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1997.  You only have to read Chapter 1 of this great
book to really learn something about the historical paths that lead
different countries to different kinds of institutions.  Just to take
one striking example, Ertman argues that England arrived at its system
of common law and parliamentary democracy through a very contigent
series of historical experiences: first domination by Rome, which
imposed a uniform set of institutions on the whole country; then the
dark ages, in which centralized power collapsed, leaving the uniform
local governments and legal systems to strengthen and grow; then the
return of centralized government, which could administer the country
because of the uniformity of its local institutions, but which also
had to contend with the strength of those same institutions; leading
to a balance of power and an evolution, albeit a turbulent one, toward
constitutional monarchy.  I find this story so interesting because
of what it says about the inadequate categories of "centralized" and
"decentralized".  Much current political theory would have you believe
that any random jumble of human beings will form themselves into a
functioning society, just so long as government doesn't stick its big
feet in.  But the evidence suggests something more complicated: that
decentralized systems work when their elements have a deep commonality
that renders them innately compatible with one another.  The Hobbesian
image of government as the ongoing provider of order has no place in
this story: the deep commonality cannot be imposed by force, and once
established, it can be reproduced in large part through socialization
and mutual feedback.  But the commonality has to come from somewhere.
And not just any commonality will do, but (at a minimum) one based on
the expectation of equality and the assertion of rights.  A perfectly
uniform chauvinistic nationalism, for example, won't do it, much less
an ethnic or racial identity.  Because institutions are ultimately
made of ideas, and of the embodiment of those ideas in practices and
artifacts and relationships, an awful lot depends on the cultural
"software" that results from a never-ending dialectic of collective
memory and contemporary propaganda.  And in this era of deep-rooted
institutional change, our cultural software is especially up for grabs.
The traditional conservative position was that the more fundamental
strata of cultural software had to remain unquestioned, because only
that way could the more fundamental institutions of society remain
stable.  This view depends on a view of institutional legitimacy for
which stability is the highest value.  But if a functioning society
depends on ideas of equality and rights, then a society's institutions
will not achieve legitimacy until they live up to those ideals.  That
is the underlying shape of the fight over institutions in the English
tradition, and the fight is sharpened in times like these.

Not recommended: This American Life's 5/19/00 show entitled "Character
Assassination", on RealAudio at .
This American Life is a great show, but they're out of their depth
with this one.  It's about "negative campaigning", and it never
emerges from the media's own echo-chamber discourse on the subject.
Even David Foster Wallace's excerpts from his celebrated Rolling Stone
article on John McCain's campaign were disappointing -- conventional
media talk with subgonzo stylings.  If you want a fresh angle on this
stuff that get out of the media box, see the outstanding Daily Howler

The Chronicle of Higher Education's daily summary included a blurb
that read as follows:

  Computer technology can improve instruction by giving students new
  opportunities to learn through activities, rather than through simply
  listening to lectures, says Richard H. Hall, a professor at the
  University of Missouri at Rolla.

The URL for the article was


What bothers me about this is the strange yet widespread idea that
college classes as they exist now consist of no other activities than
simply listening to lectures.  Even at the most demoralized colleges,
in the United States at least, most classes include activities such
as reading and writing, discussion, exams, and so on.  Many include
much more.  The educational theorists who drive this anti-lecture
discourse believe that students should be "learning from one another",
or interacting with multimedia material -- anything but listen to a
teacher explain the ideas.  The theorists often claim that students
are demanding this more enlightened approach.  But when I've tried
to get rid of lectures, I've encountered rebellions from students who
felt strongly that I was no longer teaching them.  The matter needs
closer study.

Here's another enthusiasts' myth about technology in higher education
that we need to confront:

  As distributed virtual environments become more common, there may
  come a time when the classroom experience itself becomes a true
  commodity product, provided to anyone, anywhere, anytime -- for a
  price.  If students could actually obtain the classroom experience
  provided by some of the most renowned teachers in the world, why
  would they want to take classes from the local professor (or, in
  many cases, the local teaching assistant)?  In such a commodity
  market, the role of the faculty member would change substantially.
  Rather than developing content and transmitting it in a classroom
  environment, a faculty member might instead have to manage a
  learning process in which students use an educational commodity --
  for example, the Microsoft Virtual "Life of Earth" Course, starring
  Stephen J. Gould.  This would require a shift from the skills
  of intellectual analysis and classroom presentation to those of
  motivation, consultation, and inspiration.  Welcome back, Mr. Chips!

  James J. Duderstadt, Can colleges and universities survive in the
  information age?, in Richard N. Katz, ed, Dancing With the Devil:
  Information Technology and the New Competition in Higher Education,
  Jossey-Bass, 1999.  (The passage that I quoted is on page 15.)

I should emphasize that the author of this passage is not a fringe
futurist but the president emeritus of the University of Michigan,
and by all accounts a serious person.  The passage, which reflects
themes found throughout this literature, repays close reading.  It
is usefully divided into two parts.  Here, again, is the first part:

  As distributed virtual environments become more common, there may
  come a time when the classroom experience itself becomes a true
  commodity product, provided to anyone, anywhere, anytime -- for a
  price.  If students could actually obtain the classroom experience
  provided by some of the most renowned teachers in the world, why
  would they want to take classes from the local professor (or, in
  many cases, the local teaching assistant)?

The fallacy here is straightforward.  If millions of students all
join the class run by the most renowned teacher, then they obviously
won't get a "classroom experience" in any familiar sense of the word.
And if a "classroom experience" implies any synchronous interaction
with the teacher then that experience won't be available "anytime"
either.  Now, one could redefine "classroom experience" so that it
includes radio call-in shows or their future multimedia equivalents.
But that's a major redefinition.  Surely one defining element of the
"classroom experience" is that you can get your questions answered.
But with millions of students that won't happen.  This is not to say
that the call-in format is without value.  But it's not the "classroom
experience", and it is only by calling it the "classroom experience"
that the comparison in the final rhetorical question makes any sense.

Then the second half:

  In such a commodity market, the role of the faculty member
  would change substantially.  Rather than developing content and
  transmitting it in a classroom environment, a faculty member might
  instead have to manage a learning process in which students use an
  educational commodity -- for example, the Microsoft Virtual "Life
  of Earth" Course, starring Stephen J. Gould.  This would require
  a shift from the skills of intellectual analysis and classroom
  presentation to those of motivation, consultation, and inspiration.
  Welcome back, Mr. Chips!

Once again, Professor Duderstadt is using words in fancy ways to make
different things seem substitutable, for example glossing a lecture
in a classroom as "transmitting content".  But notice the major
shift that has taken place here from the first half of the paragraph.
Before we had the "classroom experience", but now we have something
quite different: students learning on their own by interacting with
"content".  Teachers no longer teach; they "manage a learning process"
in which "intellectual analysis" is no longer a necessary skill!
And the claim that teaching in the present day involves no skills of
motivation and inspiration was surely made in the heat of the moment.
I know that it does not reflect Professor Duderstadt's own teaching.

The real shift in Professor Duderstadt's picture, then, is from
"classroom presentation" to "consultation".  And the most important
problem again relates to economies of scale.  Synchronous lecturing
is bad when done badly, but you discover its virtues as soon as you
move to an asynchronous model: students who are following your lesson
synchronously are on the same page; they are likely to have similar
and related questions; and they are all equally primed to understand
the questions and the answers.  Question-answering achieves economies
of scale in the synchronous model, and not in the asynchronous model
of individual students interacting with "commodities" on their own.
It is easy enough to relabel that activity as "consultation", but
if we're imagining thousands or millions of students all being taught
by the most renowned teachers then we're going to need some mighty
economies of scale indeed in this "consultation".  What has really
happened is that the role of the "renowned teacher" in the first
part of the paragraph has split: Stephen Jay Gould, renowned teacher,
is captured on an "educational commodity" while some other teacher,
not remotely as renowned I should think, "manages" the "learning
process" by engaging in "consultation".  Quite a different picture.

The point here, it is always necessary to reiterate, is not about
technology.  I do not "resist technology", "fear change", or any
of that.  I am a computer scientist.  The point is that technology
is highly malleable, and the design space of potential educational
technologies is enormous.  The technology itself has few opinions
about how it will be used, and so we need some informed opinions
of our own.  What concerns me is that so many of the most widely
received opinions on the subject -- even the opinions of informed and
thoughtful commentators -- make little sense, and fall apart at the
slightest touch.  Part of the problem is that rhetoric is substituting
for analysis.  We can talk easily about a "shift from teaching to
learning" (a common trope in this literature), but that's all it is --
easy talk.  It's meaningless.  At best it encodes a kind of hostility,
a presupposition of warfare between the enlightened and the resistant.
That's most unfortunate, and the promise and danger of the current
moment are calling us to do better.

Best theory of the month: I was discussing the problem of spam from
Argentina with a noted spam expert, and he offered the following
speculation about it.  The Internet is organized for most purposes as
a hub-and-spokes, with the United States as the hub.  This is changing
in Europe, but it is still very much the case in Latin America and
Asia.  Thus a packet between two Latin American countries, or between
two Asian countries, is very likely to pass through the United States.
Furthermore, most countries receive many more Internet packets from
the United States -- mostly Web pages and downloads -- than they send
back.  Yet international telecommunications tariffs typically compel
a place like Argentina to buy a two-way link to the United States.
A great deal of return capacity goes unused, and so ISP's have little
or no incentive to police their outgoing spam.  Their tolerance for
this no-cost spam may even serve as retribution for the dysfunctional
tariff structure.

Here are five verbs that are found routinely in the newspaper and
rarely found anywhere else: bolster, garner, glean, revamp, and tout.
They don't mean anything.  Let's get rid of them.

One attentive reader pointed out that I was inadvertently unfair in my
brief summary of Mary Anne Moser and Douglas MacLeod's edited volume,
"Immersed in Technology: Art and Virtual Environments".  I had said,
"this is the standard text about environments that are immersive in
the sense that I am sort of deprecating", but I didn't mean to imply
that the authors in that volume are uncritical about the potential
meanings of the word "immersive".  To the contrary, some of the authors
in that volume, such as Margaret Morse and Michael Naimark, are serious
people who do serious work.

You may recall that I maintain a Web page of all the books that I have
found interesting enough to write down citations for over the last ten
years.  The URL is:


I posted this page as a public service and nothing more.  But I have
encountered an unexpected side-effect: authors who type their own
names into search engines come up with my list (or with one of the
periodic e-mailed lists that I have merged into this big list).  They
then send me messages, and we have nice online chats.  Because my list
of books covers so many fields, I meet people this way that I would
never have met otherwise.

In accumulating URL's for the list, my practice is to send out batches
of three dozen.  That seems like a good number.  Or if I have a batch
of "notes and recommendations" written up then I'll send out whatever
URL's I have as part of that.  I'll confess that I get an embarrassing
amount of pleasure out of watching the URL's pile up.  I get a few
each day, and I can usually tell you within two or three how many of
them I have.  It's easier, of course, now that I'm including newspaper
articles.  Nonetheless, the amount of useful stuff on the Web really
seems to have increased this year.  Or maybe it's that the "culture"
of the list -- my own practices together with the expectations of the
people who subscribe to it -- has evolved.  In any case, I keep wanting
to make a hokey challenge out of it by posting the number of days it
took to accumulate the most recent batch of three dozen URL's.  The
batch that I sent out on June 4th, for example, took 15 days, whereas
the batch that I sent out on May 20th only took a week.  The enclosed
batch took eight days.  I bet we could keep it at a week if we wanted.

Some URL's.

Microsoft wars

Microsoft Spending Millions on Ads and Lobbying Efforts

Falsus in Omnibus

judgement against Microsoft

Microsoft's final reply to the government's proposed remedies

Ubiquitousness of Microsoft Opens Window to Trouble

privacy wars

misuses of data protection in Sweden

Your Privacy Ends Here

Radio-Frequency Tags Could Pierce Some of the Fog of War

How to Fight Privacy Looters

spam wars

story about hacking into spammers' computers

Spam Laws

DMA to Internet: Shut Up and Eat Your Spam

briefs in Intel vs Hamidi email-as-trespass case

intellectual property wars

CNET Patents Banner Advertising Networks

Web "Pirates" Unearth Treasure: Hit Films

another Napster clone, this one supposedly legit


Fathering XML

interesting collaborative Web site development tool

When Viruses Fail

The End of Moore's Law

Excite to Operate Its High-Speed Network as "Fast-Lane Toll Road"

New Versions of Ethernet Promise Swift Improvements in Communications

other stuff

"news from 1500 online sources"


Bush's Death Penalty Dodge

Cheating Report Renews Debate Over Use of Tests to Evaluate Schools

The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change

The New Wealth of Nations

online newspaper in Zimbabwe

Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing

Civilian Deaths in the NATO Air Campaign

Invisible Man

Digital Economy 2000

Webzine 2000

The Man from Nowhere

article on a failed Web site for connecting scripts to producers