Flap Flap Wiggle
Ponderings and wonderings from an interested party

Saturday, July 31, 2004  

I've been in Time many times, but I've only been in the Times one time.

posted by Dandinsky | 2:08 AM

Tuesday, July 27, 2004  

Hello, and welcome to all who have read my New York Times Circuits piece on hoax blogs.

If you're here, I presume it's by virtue of your having Googled my name and found my blog. No matter how you got here, however, you'll see that I've not been at all good about updating this blog, and I do regret that. When I long ago started Flap Flap Wiggle, I intended it to be an everyday thing. It was at the urging of my friend Chris, the author of Daily Blah. But my commitment to FFW has been, as you see, less than distinguished.

Ah, well. This of course, is a common affliction among those who begin blogs, no?

Actually, though, my writing does appear quite regularly. If my Times piece is the first time you've seen my byline, I invite you to check out my extensive work at Wired News.

That's especially true because I suspect many of you from the blogosphere will be arriving here irate that my story, on first reference, used the term "Web log" rather than "Weblog."

I'd like to let you know - in advance of my piece running - that I'm well aware that the proper usage is "Weblog." But New York Times style is to use "Web log." There's nothing I could do about it. It was my first piece in the Times, and I had no standing to challenge the style they've settled on.

But I hope you'll see from my work at Wired News that I do understand what blogs are, I am tapped into the blogosphere and I did not write "Web log" as a demonstration of further mainstream media misunderstanding of what blogs are.

That said, I hope you liked my story on hoax blogs. And I invite you to stay tuned to my work in the future, both in Wired News, the Times and in any other venues - including this one - in which my writing appears in print.

Thanks a lot,
Daniel Terdiman

posted by Dandinsky | 10:30 AM

Friday, June 11, 2004  

- The limit is in your mind. You can do anything. At Zombo.com.

Via the fun folks at MetaFilter, where it's Flash Friday

- Also on MetaFilter this morning, I came across an interesting post concerning the blogs of suburban husbands who are frustrated with their emotionally distant wives. They mention two blogs - which I admit I haven't read yet. But I think, especially if there are more than two that deal with real issues, rather than just tales of illicit sexual conquest, that this could be fodder for a very interesting story for Wired News. We shall see.

Via MetaFilter. Yes, it's true. That's all I've read this morning. Just got up. Geez, give me a break. I stayed up too late reading Angels & Demons.

posted by Dandinsky | 9:14 AM

Thursday, June 10, 2004  

- So, here I am...It's Thursday. My lunch was canceled, so that means drinking yummy chai and talking about the Internet with K. The Internet is a crazy, weird, wacky and bizarre place. And that's just this site.

If you visit "My Cat Hates You" don't be offended. Cats have bad days. Think about it. We eat steak and tomatoes and burritos, and they have to eat kibble every damn day. No coffee, either. Or, they have to go and catch their food. Imagine how you'd feel if you had to do that every day. On no coffee.

Anyway, if you go into the page with lots of cats, be sure to notice the roll-over comments. Those cats really do hate you.

- My story on VisitorVille ran on Wired News yesterday. It was a fun story about a software package that allows site owners to view their site traffic in an urban, cityscape-type metaphor. It looks like SimCity. But it's a business tool. Imagine!

Anyway, the story got Slashdotted, and in the comments section, there were some fabulous musings on how the Slashdot effect would work in the VisitorVille environment, in which visitors who arrive from search engines are seen to be delivered by a logoed bus:

"Thousands and thousands of buses with "/." on top pour into the town. They all dump 50-60 passengers each and the streets suddenly become full. It's so packed that there's rioting in the streets and fighting. Everyone pours out of the buildings to join in the looting, and every building in town goes dark as people make for the exits. The streets are so packed that the /. buses are just plowing through the people in town, leaving bloody corpses strewn in their wake. As the looting continues, people start making off with the foundations of the buildings and, one by one, they start simply collapsing and filling the area with rubble and dust.

After you yank the network cable, the dust slowly clears and all you find is countless corpses, destroyed buildings, and smashed busloads of people from where the buildings fell on them."

Or this one:

"'That's the 15th 'Slashdot' bus I've seen this morning! Is there a Fat Virgin Convention in town? I have to get my ass to work!'

"'I know, not only have they plugged all the streets, but they're filling every coffee shop. I tried to get a biscotti this morning and I couldn't even get to the counter! They were just pushing and shoving to get to the counter, and then they'd just read the menu and leave. Bastards who did order just got a cup of coffee, then dumped it on the floor. Bastards.'"


posted by Dandinsky | 12:59 PM

Sunday, June 06, 2004  

- So, should magicians' secrets ever be revealed? A host of them say no, and are protesting a new exhibit that, among other things, offers an explanation of one of Houdini's signature tricks. Don't visit the site if you don't want to know how he did it.

I can see their point. After all, the magic of magic is that the audience suspends its disbelief, and so if any magician's secrets are exposed, it cheapens the veracity of all the others'. Still, sometimes the truth just wants to be known.

Via MetaFilter

- A young lady friend of mine once told me that she wouldn't date any guy who couldn't identify the tattoo on her upper arm. It turned out to be a schematic of a transformer.

In short, she was hot for geeks. Having spent the last four-plus years of my life in the Burning Man world, I will tell you that I've now seen that in spades: hot women dating geeks. The rest of the world tells you it's not possible. Yet, here it is, front and center. And why? Well, this site gives a primer on why. A little superficial, but a good beginning of an explanation. On the other hand, maybe this was written by a geek trying to perpetuate the myth.

Via reBlog

- More proof that the Bushies stole Florida, and thus the presidential election, in 2000. This Flash video offer convincing, though unsourced, evidence of illegal scrubbing of the Florida voter rolls of nearly 9,000 voters. Rather stunning...And the kicker is the end.

Via reBlog

posted by Dandinsky | 11:30 PM

- It seems there's a new trend in video games: restaurant games. It's hard to fathom how this came about, but apparently, the Japanese are all a-twitter about the opportunity to dive in and pretend you're behind the counter at a popular noodle joint. You gotta feed the patrons, handle the flow, make sure everyone's happy, keep the food coming, and not fall behind.

I wouldn't believe it, but I happened to come across this. Via Octopus Dropkick

- K also recommends Republican Survivor. It's pretty strange. I thought it would be funnier, but it's pretty much stereotypical versions of the usual suspects. Be afraid. Very afraid. However, you, the voters at home, get the chance to get rid of the likes of Ashcroft, DeLay or Ann Coulter. What's not fun about that?

posted by Dandinsky | 12:41 PM

Saturday, June 05, 2004  

Another quick note: It's hard to coin a term these days.

Yesterday, in a story I wrote about Amazon's new "plog" service that eventually got killed, I thought I had come up with a great new term.

It was: "jumping on the blogwagon."

I was tres proud of myself. Until just now when I did a Google search on it, and found there were 954 results for it. Man!

Just goes to show...uh...something. Not sure what.

Hey? Have you forgotten Norway yet?

posted by Dandinsky | 3:06 PM

Saturday afternoon. Reagan just died. It's been a haiku fest on one of my email lists. There doesn't seem to be a lot of love lost for ol' Ronnie RayGun, and no wonder.

The man governed by fear. Dubya is his fault, if you think about it. We have him to thank for making Daddy VP, and without that, we'd never have to stomach the moron who lives in the White House these days.

Oh, well...I always wondered whose death would be bigger news: Reagan's or Sinatra's.

Of course, Sinatra's been gone for awhile now, and in the end, it wasn't a fair battle. That's because Sinatra chose the wrong day to croak: the same day as the Seinfeld finale. We found out then what really mattered. And RR passed on a Saturday, so he's not going to make huge news either. Funny how that turned out.

Anyway, on to some new links.

- My piece on Wi-Fi problems with XP keeps on getting the hits, and has made is to no. 7 (strike that, no. 6) on Blogdex today. That's pretty cool. As far as I know, my previous high was no. 9 with my story on Gmail Swap. I can't help being tempted to forward all the feedback emails I've gotten to the Microsoft PR guy who claimed that, essentially, we were making this stuff up. Pure Redmond denial nonsense. Give me a break.

- Over at the junction of blogosphere and Google, we find Anil Dash and many others vying for a mini iPod and a flat screen TV. All they have to do is find a way to be the top-rated google result for a previously zero-results term: "Nigritude Ultramarine."

I'm hoping to do a story on this contest, in which they'll give the iPod to the person whose site is number one on Monday, and then the TV to the person whose site is number one at the end of the month. I want to find out what the tricks are to making this happen. I'll post here later if I do a story on it.

- As many of you many know, I've been writing about virtual economies (such as those in There, Second Life, EverQuest and the like) for many months now. But now Reuters has weighed in with a story that's getting lots of play about the real estate boom in Second Life. It's been picked up all over the place, and while I'm happy that SL is getting the attention, I'm a little peeved, since I pitched that story a month or so ago, and my editor said he really wasn't interested. Ah, well...Can't win them all.

posted by Dandinsky | 2:41 PM

Since my Amazon plog story got killed, I thought maybe it should see the light of day anyway. And, guess what? I have an outlet for such a thing. Here!

So...for all you two readers out there, enjoy:

Amazon Jumps on Blog Bandwagon
By Daniel Terdiman

Blogs have been around for years, and are now starting to make their way into the mainstream. Both presidential candidates have them and Midwestern TV stations are running segments explaining to the masses about the "new" phenomenon.

So it should come as no surprise that Amazon.com has now decided to jump on the blogwagon; In this case, the online superbookseller has begun trying out a somewhat bloglike service it calls personalized blogs, or plogs.

"Amazon.com is beta testing a new feature to enhance the shopping experience by offering each customer their own personalized 'plog' on our gateway," said Craig Berman, Amazon's director of platform and technology communications.

He defined a plog as "a list of posts presented in reverse chronological order with information personally relevant to each user, including order updates, reminders and new product releases."

Some feel it's a natural for companies like Amazon and Nike to begin mining blogs for new ways to reach out to customers. After all, to most people outside the blogosphere, the medium is still a fresh way to communicate, and a way that conveys immediacy, relevance and a personal touch. The question, as always when corporate America gloms onto a cool trend, is whether it's good for blogging?

To its credit, Amazon isn't trying to pretend it invented blogs. On its "What is a plog?" page, it provides a brief explanation and a list of popular sites, including Boing Boing, Megnut, InstaPundit and others, that customers can visit to see what all the blogging hoopla is about.

"Certainly some of the sites they link to will see a jump in readers," says Nikolaus Ehm, a blogger who recently discovered his plog after years using Amazon. "I think it will make people feel more familiar with the look of blogs [and] one would hope that this will lead people to become interested in not just the big blogs, but possibly becoming bloggers themselves."

Of course, Amazon probably couldn't care less about that. To the bookseller, promoting plogs is solely about utilizing a format it thinks will make its service more useful to its customers.

"The goal of the plog service is to provide users with an easy way to keep current on events that are relevant to them," said Berman. "The service is designed to further enhance the customer experience by providing personalized information, including product recommendations, order updates and other Amazon.com content in one convenient location."

But not everyone is impressed with Amazon's bloglike interface.

"I was disappointed," said Matt Haughey, the founder of MetaFilter, a popular community blog. "They had a lot of bloggers on their staff, and I figured if they ever did anything with [blogging] they would do something impressive. It just seemed like a silly co-opting of the format."

On the other hand, Ehm thinks that, for him at least, his plog is a lot more useful than the recommendations he used to get from Amazon.

"I like the look of their plog," he said. "It [is] a much cleaner way to present the information than their standard 'home' page on the site. I'm looking at the regular page…and it's just a mess."

Amazon has built a reputation for its ability to recommend products that its customers might buy based on past purchases. And leveraging that information and presenting it in a personalized way is what the company is trying to do with plogs.

But the blogosphere rewards ingenuity and cleverness, and for plogs to take off, Amazon might need the blessing of the very people it is attempting to imitate. And that might be hard if it doesn't find a way to make plogs a little less wooden.

"It barely resembles a weblog," saus Haughey. "It looks like a fake, bot-generated page that's formatted as if it was a weblog."

Berman pointed out that the plog service is in its earliest public phase and that the company plans to build it out over time.

But while Haughey lauded the way Amazon has for some time been using RSS feeds – a highly popular syndication tool in the blogosphere these days – as a way of pushing out product information, he wishes the company had made plogs more imaginative.

"If you compare it to something commercial like Nick Denton's new Nike Blog, that's a real blog," Haughey said, pointing to the Gawker Media founder's just announced project that incorporates Nike content with blogging posts about independent filmmaking. "It's not just some bot shitting out press releases."

Still, there's something to be said for companies like Amazon trying out new interfaces and new ways of presenting information. And if it doesn't work, the company can always drop the project.

But Ehm thinks Amazon is on to something.

"Hopefully, they do decide to [stay] with the plog system," he said. I think it's a much more aesthetically pleasing look for the home page….Some people will say that Amazon is just jumping aboard the blog bandwagon, but the traditional blog layout seems to work well for relaying a lot of information."

posted by Dandinsky | 1:50 PM

Friday, June 04, 2004  


It's once again time to get Flap Flap Wiggle started again.

I think it's going to take a different form than in the past. I think I'm going to use it as a place to post my favorite links I find on other blogs, along with my own Wired News stories, and possibly some other silliness I might find elsewhere.

I'd love to post long, thoughtful missives. And I may occasionally. But I just find that the pressure to be clever, articulate and worldly on a regular basis - on top of my other writing - keeps me from posting at all.

So...stay tuned. Let's hope that FFW can indeed be a regular forum for the best the blogosphere has to offer.

- To begin: My piece on Wi-Fi problems associated with Windows XP. I'll just say that this piece got the most feedback of any article I've ever written. By far.

- VisitorVille. A gorgeous software package that offers a visual representation of website traffic in a SimCity-esque manner. New visitors arrive on buses with the logos of their referers (Google, Yahoo, etc.). Websites are buildings. Visitors can be clicked on, and their passport pops up and displays up to 20 pieces of information about them. Wonderful. My next Wired News story. Via Waxy.org/Links

- Iron Blog. Like Iron Chef, but for bloggers. Well-known, or at least somewhat well-known, bloggers come together to debate political issues. The blogosphere comments. The judges decide. Via Kathleen

- Pedals Around the Rose. A game. A mind-bender. The title of the game is important. Be nice to yourself and take your time. Don't give away the secret. Via MetaFilter.


posted by Dandinsky | 8:31 PM
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