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

July 31, 2000  
Robert X. Cringely on the early history of AOL. (via camworld). Proof that there are never any new ideas:

Digital Music was a company that delivered commercial-free digital music over cable TV systems in the pre-CD era. Using a Digital Music service called the Home Music Store, you could even download whole albums and store them on your tape recorder. All this was with the permission of the record companies, which even provided digital masters of the content. Funding for Digital Music came from -- you guessed it -- the Osmond Family. Digital Music was rolling, it was hot, right up to the point where the president of Waxie, a big music retailer, wrote a letter to the editor of Billboard magazine calling Digital Music the death of retailing and asking all the record stores to fight it.
and this was the mid 1980s!
posted by Thomas

July 27, 2000  
Inventing the West. Larry McMurtry. New York Review of Books, August 10, 2000. For those of you who think globazliation is a recent phenomena...

Will Rogers saw Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Chicago in 1893 and was fascinated by the trick roping of Vicente Oropeza. Back home, young Will began to practice with the rope, but his first best chance to perform came in South Africa where, just after the Boer War, he had gone to deliver a load of Argentine livestock. The impresario who hired him was Texas Jack Jr., the namesake of Buffalo Bill's old scouting crony, Texas Jack Omohundro. Young Rogers, soon to be so famous, performed some of his first rope tricks for an audience that—according to his biographer Ben Yagoda—at one point included Mohandas Gandhi, then a lawyer in Johannesburg.

posted by Thomas

Scenes from the American Dream. New York Review of Books, August 10, 2000. Criticizing the recent canonization of Norman Rockwell.

There is a basic problem with commercial art: What is being sold and to whom? While FDR was addressing the world as well as the voters at home with his ideal of the Four Freedoms, Rockwell was selling America to middle-class Americans. Like most advertisements, the Four Freedoms posters painted an attractive and fundamentally dishonest image of the product.

This was evident with the best of the Freedom paintings, one with which Rockwell was himself more satisfied: Freedom of Speech....The picture is a New England town meeting, where a dignified, relatively mature, but still-young man, whose dress and rough hands suggest a farmer, and who resembles ideal portraits of young Abe Lincoln, is speaking while everyone else listens respectfully....We can feel sure that no radical views were expressed at the meeting, that nothing was said to make us question the basic decency of American society;

posted by Thomas

July 25, 2000  
Feedback to Jakob Niesen's anti-WAP alertbox

News, weather, share prices etc etc are not really what the consumer market is looking for on their mobile. The big growth market is pre-pay mobile phones and they are for the most part being purchased by the 13-26 year ... They want to be entertained and they want to access specific information that is useful where they happen to be at that moment. The usage patterns are fundamentally different to the way that people use PC's

posted by Thomas

July 24, 2000  
User Interface Engineering -- "Branding and Usability"

The key to understanding branding on web sites is that web sites are interactive, not passive. There is always a direct experience. Because this direct experience is so powerful, the effects of indirect messaging can disappear.

posted by Thomas

Cultural translations

So over the weekend I saw a movie and actually paid attention to the Spanish sub-titles (here in Buenos Aires almost all the films, even some animated ones, are sub-titled). A couple of interesting translations; "Jesse Helms" became "Adolf Hitler" and "Archie Bunker" became "Stalin" (as in, 'so-and-so thinks Archie Bunker is a liberal').
posted by Thomas

Thinking about a wireless world. consider what happens when:

  • All your customers have wireless access to the Web
  • One billion people all have the capability to instantly communicate
  • You can automatically send and receive information from your customers based on their current location and the time
  • Funds can be transferred instantly to or from a wireless device
  • The amount of data that can be pushed over the wireless pipe is greater than what is available on today’s office networks

posted by Thomas

July 20, 2000  
The Gospel of Greed. Industry Standard, June 12, 2000. About rich, high-powered executive's love of Ayn Rand.

Just as Scientology is fashionable with Hollywood's elite, objectivism seems to be the reigning philosophy among the Net set.

Outside of the business world, Rand is much less revered. Few universities include Rand in their curriculum, but that doesn't hinder her popularity. "Students just love her, but we can excuse 18-year-olds. They get smarter here at Berkeley and outgrow her," says Steve Tollefson, a lecturer in UC Berkeley's College Writing Program. "I'm horrified, but not surprised, that it holds an attraction for Internet executives. It's a convenient philosophy for them." Tollefson

posted by Thomas

July 18, 2000  
Book Reviews and Essays by Elsa Dorfman. With links to lots of her photos too, but since this is a blog for reading stuff....
posted by Thomas

July 17, 2000  
49% of Argentina's Mate Exports go to Syria. Clarin, July 17, 2000. In Spanish.
posted by Thomas

July 14, 2000  
The WAP Doom-Train contines:

How People Really use Wireless
posted by Thomas

A Promotional Strategy That Won’t Break the Bank. Clickz. June 23, 2000. A good article on promoting a website with about $2000.
posted by Thomas

Bruce Sterling on High-tech Chairs. Wired, July 2000.

The New Economy is fundamentally about sitting on your ass.

posted by Thomas

July 12, 2000  
After Mexico’s election AT ABOUT 1.20am on July 3rd, the mass of jubilant revellers blanketing the avenues around the Angel of Independence monument in the heart of Mexico city began spontaneously to chant, drowning out Vicente Fox’s victory speech. “Don’t fail us!” they shouted at their next president, stabbing the air with the V-sign (for Vicente as well as victory) that he had adopted for his campaign. “Don’t fail us! Don’t fail us!” The Economist. July 8, 2000.
posted by Thomas

July 11, 2000  
Imelda Marcos would go Crazy: "We can offer better selection in categories of merchandise that we already carry in the stores. Take for example shoes -- Nordstromshoes.com has 20 million pairs." Red Herring, June 2000. All about their online strategy. Somewhat more interesting that the usual business drivel in Red Herring;

In the physical world the winner is Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) because they have the supply chain and they won the battle when it comes to low-margin retail. I think you are basically going to see the same thing online.

We're just starting to see the entrance of people who have spent decades doing retail for products that aren't commodities. It's a much more intricate, complicated business. The bottom line is we have 50 percent gross margins and the average order is $150. There's lots of potential there for a great online business.

posted by Thomas

Prize-Winning Books On-Line

In this exhibit, you can read on-line the complete text of books that have won major literary prizes, like the Newbery Award, the Nobel Prize, and the Pulitzer Prize. The books listed below are either out of copyright (at least in the US), or are on-line with the permission of the copyright holder.

posted by Thomas

July 10, 2000  
Class warfare in San Francisco's Mission. Industry Standard, July 3, 2000.

For months, a poster attributed to the Mission Yuppie Eradication Project had been pasted on the sides of garbage cans, mailboxes, bus stops and buildings. It read: "VANDALIZE YUPPIE CARS: BMWs – Porsches – Jaguars – SPORT UTILITY VEHICLES"

posted by Thomas

Poor in Latin America Embrace Net's Promise. Washington Post (via Slashdot).

Internet-ready computers were shipped to at least one rural school in Argentina last year that still lacked electricity.
Oops! Read the discussion on slashdot. Here's a sample of one of the better posts which should have been moderated higher;
One of the largest problems in poverty-stricken areas is education. Basic sanitation, care of diseases, how to keep crops productive, etc. Education does not proceed by trying to teach everyone. Instead you proceed by trying to identify key people and teach them, then rely on traditional networks to spread that knowledge.

Computers in every home is a silly goal. Computers in the third world are far more likely to be like television. A village may only have one with someone who can use it. But that one is a resource for the whole village.

posted by Thomas

July 06, 2000  
Jeffrey Zeldman on Design and Communication
posted by Thomas

July 03, 2000  
English words in common usage So last week I went to a presentation at the local offices of Microsoft here in Buenos Aires. Obviously, in a very technical crowd, there will be a lot of English terms tossed around. Here's a list I kept. I probably shouldn't try so hard to find translations for stuff. People are often more familiar with the English term.

request (as in network)
power (as in power user)

posted by Thomas

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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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