thomas locke hobbs | weblog
travel, latin america, photography, urban planning and stuff.
...and now my New York chronicles

April 25, 2000  
The Outrageous Pragmatism of Judge Richard Posner. Lingua Franca, May 2000 (via Arts & Letters Daily). A good summary article on the "eclectic libertarian Judge, Richard Posner. I first discovered Posner's work and views reading Sex and Reason in which he treats such topics as homosexuality and prostitution to an economic analysis.
posted by Thomas

Darwin's Truth, Jefferson's Vision: Sociobiology and the Politics of Human Nature. Melvin Konner. American Prospect, July-August 1999. Here's what my friend Cage had to say about the article (which I also liked): "An interesting approach to evolutionary theory, human nature, and political economy. Part 1 may be a bit partisan in the sociobiology wars, but part 2 is really quite interesting -- especially for someone living in a post-communist country where the neo-Reaganites are preaching the free market."
posted by Thomas

Dot-Com Bomb. Michael Wolff, New York Magazine. A good discussion of the current NASDAQ meltdown. He talks a lot about the previous chilling capital markets for internet companies that followed the publication of Wired's The Great Web Wipeout in 1996.

Hundreds of companies, including my own, did not survive this first Great Web Wipeout, which lasted for slightly more than a year -- as violent and as surreal a period as I have known.
I'd recommend the Wired article. Like all predictive pieces, it's interesting as much for what it gets right as what it gets wrong.
posted by Thomas

Anatomy of a Business Model.Stever Robbins, Venture Coach. A friend of mine. I've always liked his very straightforward writing.

A business model is quite simple: it is a brief statement of how an idea actually becomes a business that makes money. It tells who pays, how much, and how often. The same product or service may be brought to market with several business models.

posted by Thomas

April 19, 2000  
Shakeout Changes the Latin Net Game. Industry Standard. April 18, 2000.

Barely a year into the Internet craze, the Net shakeout is sweeping across Latin America, and players fear that the Nasdaq's repeated nosedives will dampen the region's mood and drastically restrict the cash available to fund new companies

posted by Thomas

April 17, 2000  
Displaying Photographs on the Web "Because we don't mount plain photographs directly to our walls, so why place plain photographs alone on our web pages?"

For an example of this done, do see my pictures of Torres del Paine.
posted by Thomas

AIDS: The Agony of Africa. Village Voice. A six part series that won a Pulitzer this year.
posted by Thomas

April 13, 2000  
Get your underwear delivered. Greg Knauss, from Sendmail.net. A piece about InYourPants.com, a company that will deliver fresh underwear to you every three months...for the rest of your life.

"I want to free myself of the mundane aspects of everyday living," he says. "My bank has this great service where they automatically pay my bills every month, and with direct deposit I hardly ever have to manage my finances anymore." Translate that convenience to other tedious real-world activities - like, say, maintenance of personal hygiene - and you've got something that shows a profound understanding of the geek mindset.
I quite like this Mr. Knauss' writings. He's got a number of pieces on Suck which had me chuckling to myself like this recent piece on the stupidity of UI Skins and this parody of Slashdot (only funny if you read slashdot).
posted by Thomas

Dan Bricklin on keyboards. I love this guy's weblog. Concise, original, and full of small pics with aid quite nicely in his process of story telling. Here are two reports he's done on using portable keyboards:

RIM Keyboard
Stowaway Keyboard
As I said, his use of pictures to explain the products is just excellent.
posted by Thomas

The Acceleration of Tranquility. Mark Helprin. Forbes ASAP, December 1996. A bit conservative for my taste (it is from Forbes, after all) but a good rumination on the choices we ought to make to avoid technology utterly dominating our lives.
posted by Thomas

April 11, 2000  
Scientific American: Feature Article: Avoiding a Data Crunch: May 2000. Scientific American. (Via Slashdot). This is to show my friend Paulo how to use blogger =).

Many corporations find that the volume of data generated by their computers doubles every year. Gargantuan databases containing more than a terabyte—that is, one trillion bytes—are becoming the norm as companies begin to keep more and more of their data on-line, stored on hard-disk drives, where the information can be accessed readily.

posted by Thomas

April 10, 2000  
Why Open Source UI Sucks (via Suck.com)

why is the best software writing organization on earth unable to produce innovative interfaces, when small commercial software companies do so with regularity (if not always with commercial success)?
The answer is relatively simple: The Open Source movement has no feedback loop to end-users, and no imperative to create one.

posted by Thomas

A lecture on lectures. (courtesy of Dan)

One of the most famous lecturers of the 20th century was the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. His lectures in his rooms at Cambridge were the stuff of legend. He sat on the floor, cross legged. For long periods he was silent. Students sat in rapted attention, hanging on his every word. ...Much of his legacy rests on books based on the lecture notes of his students, among them one who is a hero in our profession, Alan Turing.

posted by Thomas

Mike the Headless Chicken.. A touching story about a decapitated chicken that nevertheless managed to live a long and healthy life. True story! (thanks for the link Carla).

The skeptical scientists were eager to answer all the questions regarding Mike's amazing ability to survive with no head. It was determined that axe blade had missed the jugular vein and a clot had prevented Mike from bleeding to death. Although most of his head was in a jar, most of his brain stem and one ear was left on his body. Since most of a chicken's reflex actions are controlled by the brain stem Mike was able to remain quite healthy.

posted by Thomas

April 06, 2000  
Hispanics Are Narrowing the Digital Divide. New York Times. April 6, 2000.

Surprisingly, however, Mr. Korzenny said, most Hispanic Internet users prefer the Spanish-language versions of Yahoo and America Online to the Hispanic-specific sites. One possible explanation, Mr. Korzenny said, is that the Hispanic sites do not do enough to distinguish themselves from the AOL's of the world.
This definately resonates with what I've seen with my Argentine friends here. In the last six months they've all gotten email accounts (even if they don't have a computer at home) and they're all with Yahoo or Hotmail.
posted by Thomas

99.999% reliability. Who'd ever think that web hosting would be such a big deal, but you've really gotta do a lot to get those last few orders of magnitude of reliability.

Things are going well with the Blogger upgrades. Now, here's the big one: We'll be down most of Thursday afternoon -- from noon to about 5pm (Pacific) -- while we move the (new and improved) servers to Exodus, where they'll be sitting on seismically braced racks and hooked to a backbone of redundant OC-3 and OC-12 lines in rooms with HVAC temperature control systems, multiple backup generators, state-of-the-art smoke detection and fire suppression systems, motion sensors, and 24x7 secured access, as well as video camera surveillance and security breach alarms.

posted by Thomas

April 05, 2000  
Users, Viewers, and Readers. A List Apart, 1999. Basically who you design a website for is the first and most important question of any internet project. The article has some interesting discussion of different types of users:

VIEWERS are people who seek entertainment. They want to be surprised, seduced, led along a path. Their goal is the journey, not the end result. Sites developed for viewers rely on images, words, and behaviors to intrigue and tantalize. Famewhore.com is such a site. People visit Yahoo when they wish to accomplish a task quickly; they visit a viewer-oriented site like Famewhore or Quokka.com when they wish to forget about work for a while.
I have a friend who's very much into the serendipity of the web and is always sending me links to interesting sites of dubious utility. That's OK, tho. Obviously she's more of a Viewer and I'm just plain user, efficiently looking for information so I can get back to the sleazy chat rooms where I prefer to spend my time on the net. Still, she has converted me to something of a viewer by sending me links to some really cool flash sites like Constructor
posted by Thomas

April 04, 2000  
Interview with IBMs Web Evangelist LA Times. April 3, 1999 (via WebWord).

I am excited about language translations. [Today, instant online translation] is not good enough for contracts but it is good enough for conversation. It is good enough for customer service and support. So, for example, a Spanish-speaking person can ask a question of customer service and a Chinese person can answer it in Chinese and the Spanish person hears it in Spanish.
Imagine the customer support angle on this. I had a friend tell me that 70% of AOLs employees work in the call center. Now companies will be doing chat-based customer support with sweatshops full of Indians typing Hindi.
posted by Thomas

Mexican congress debates Daylight Savings Time. Salon, April 4, 2000. Argentina doesn't have daylight savings time. Could the mañanero be the reason why?

"[Daylight Savings Time] affects good marital relations," said Sen. Felix Salgado ...By springing forward, they say, wives are getting out of bed earlier in order to walk the kids to school and losing the opportunity to take advantage of their husbands' ubiquitous morning presence.

posted by Thomas

Why you can't email Donald Knuth

I have been a happy man ever since January 1, 1990, when I no longer had an email address. I'd used email since about 1975, and it seems to me that 15 years of email is plenty for one lifetime.
Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things...

posted by Thomas

April 03, 2000  
An Open Letter to Jakob Nielsen. Clay Shirky, June 1999. An antidote to usability facism.
posted by Thomas

Expat Resources
Peter's (I live here) guide to Colombia. This dutch guy who works as a web developer in Medellin. Odd. The url says it all, poorbuthappy.com. That said, I loved Colombia, wonderful people, beautiful scenery. Shame what's happening there these days.
BAxpat.com. A similar resource on stuff here in Buenos Aires.
posted by Thomas

Will the real Jeff Stryker please rise?Salon. March 1999. On the amusing things that happen when you share a first and last name with a famous gay porn star.
posted by Thomas

Go to the archive

Send me email: hobbs@post.harvard.edu
Let me know what I've misspelled.

About me

My name's Thomas Locke Hobbs. I used to live in Argentina, now I am in New York City. I grew up in California. I'm a bit suspicious as the value of keeping a weblog, but I do it anyway. Go to my home page for more about me.

Weblogs I read:

Xblog, Virginia Postrel, Signal vs. Noise, Peterme, Obscure Store, Metafilter, Media News, Lonely Planet Daily Scoop, Lightningfield, Kottke, Joel on Software, Dan Bricklin, Camworld, Arts and Letters Daily,

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