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June 15, 2001

#include "standard_lateness_apology.h"

As usual, I’ve accumulated a backlog of articles and stuff while sitting on some references for an essay I may never write. It’s an eclectic bunch, so rather than try to find some sort of theme to tie them together, I’ll just jump right in. #

Look, Ma! Official Recognition! Mark Engelbert directs us to an article describing new words in the OED, including everyone’s favorite annoyed grunt, “D’oh!” (that’s the spelling Matt Groening prefers, although the article spells it “Doh!” and others prefer “Dowh!”).

Other new entries include the phrase “planet Zog”, which is apparently from Bridget Jones’s Diary. I must say this puzzles me: It takes twelve years for “D’oh!” to get in, but “planet Zog” makes it after a single book-and-movie? #

Humans: Less intelligent than one might think

Two examples of how people can easily be led to assert false information. The first is an experiment testing brand loyalty performed by a group of ninth graders. They performed some simple tests like having people wear Nike or Reebox sneakers blindfolded while informing them that they are wearing the opposite brand, and then asking which the subject preferred. A surprising number chose the shoe they thought matched the brand they preferred, rather than the actual shoe from the brand they preferred.

Elsewhere, a group tested how easy it is to create false vacation memories. After asking people about a trip to Disneyland while in the presence of a cardboard cutout of Bugs Bunny, an ad describing a visit with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland, or both, they found that about a third of the participants claimed to remember meeting Bugs Bunny at the amusement park—despite the fact that Disney and Warner Brothers are blood enemies. (via WebWord and Swaine) #

The Internet > The Web > The Dot-Coms

Now that the mind-bogglingly over-hyped dot-com gold rush has ended in the inevitable crash, some are saying that the internet has failed to deliver on its promises.

Uh, no. What the internet failed to do was allow companies with no apparent business model avoid going out of business after running out of money (cf. Doc Searls’s comparison to The Producers), and no one ever claimed it would do that anyway. Zeldman says it well in an article dealing with the setbacks for web designers caused by the sudden imposition of reality:

Lost in all the hand-wringing over this temporary (there, we said it) market readjustment is the medium's unchanged essence. The Web is people—always was, always will be. The Web gives everyone from the isolated single mother to the small company to the self-publisher the means to connect and communicate. That hasn't changed.

(Unfortunately, the only address for this article is one that points to the current article in the column; I can’t find one for the specific article. Looks like someone hasn’t quite grasped the permanent reference concept yet.) #

More consumer appliance idiocy

I mentioned ReplayTV replacing “pause” with “display ad” and the questions this raises about appliances that change their capabilities after you buy them, so it’s only fair to look at Tivo’s recent upgrade, which some allege makes using the hardware inconvenient without subscribing to Tivo. Apparently, there were some features that could be used without a subscription, but now all sorts of irritations pop up unless the box’s owner subscribes.

I can understand how people would be annoyed by this, but I can’t really get upset at Tivo. The box is designed to be used by subscribers; everyone else is in a sort of gray zone. So far as I can tell, things haven’t gotten worse for paying customers. And besides, you can pay a little more for the lifetime subscription and end up paying… about as much as you would for a ReplayTV, which also has no subscription fee. Hmm…. (via a Slashdot thread via Swaine) #