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   Stating the Obvious turns five today. On August 1, 1995, I published
   my first piece under the obvious title (but not domain -- that
   wouldn't come for another few months), [1]Apple's Salvation, where I
   argued that the Internet was (pre iMac) Apple's ticket to ride. The
   site's name, and the site's slogan, "all meta, all the time" fit that
   first piece perfectly -- in an incredibly awkward and halting way, I
   was basically agreeing with things that Nicholas Negroponte and Dave
   Winer had recently said.

   It took me until late 1996 to realize that publishing other people's
   writing was not only less work than writing my own stuff, but that it
   usually produced much better results. My first victim was none other
   than Jeff Bezos -- who patiently answered some incredibly off-topic
   questions about how they were using email for customer service. Since
   then, I've had the privilege of publishing some of the best minds on
   the web, thanks to writers who have donated their pieces, and those
   intrepid souls who have been victims of the deceptively simple "just
   one question" interview format. (Note -- I have it on fairly good
   authority that The Industry Standard did borrow that from me. But then
   again I borrowed the format, if not the title, from G. Beato's
   [2]Soundbitten, so who's complaining.)

   To avoid having to write an actual piece this week, I've copied and
   pasted some of the best guest quotes from the last five years. They're
   in chronological order, so if you squint real hard, and suspend all
   notions of disbelief, you could almost imagine them as a history of

   Or not.

   -- [3]Michael Sippey

   "Our plan is to ultimately make it as easy for customers as possible
   to do as much as they would like by web form. Right now, the only
   thing you can do on our site is check the status of your orders. We'll
   add customer accessible features over time. There will always be a
   place for email because customers will want to ask that question that
   just doesn't quite fit into the things you've anticipated." -- Jeff
   Bezos, answering emailed questions about [4]using email as a customer
   service tool

     "My gut tells me that the word 'push' is going to be a minor
     footnote in future histories of the late 20th century boom in
     telecommunications. A quirky blip, ranking slightly higher than the
     blink tag, but lower than gopher." -- David Hudson, in the
     [5]Publishers on Push special

   "7. Run puzzlers, with the answer in next month's issue. Sample
   puzzle: 'If you have 300 gallons of neon green flourescent ink, but
   only 220 pages to spill it on, how many ounces of ink per page?'" --
   Unknown contributor to [6]101 Ways to Save Wired

     "I want things to work." -- Carl Steadman, answering just one
     question about [7]what he wanted for Christmas

   "It really doesn't make much sense to rearchitect GeoCities. Anyway,
   it's good to have a morass around to do one's virtual slumming in; I
   say leave it be." -- Lou Rosenfeld, answering just one question about
   [8]how he would architect GeoCities.

     "In the language of today's interface critics, whodunits are reader
     hostile. But no one doubts their capacity to entertain. Same goes
     for the more adventurous interfaces of Myst and Riven. It's my
     guess that we will see much more of this user-hostility in the
     years to come." -- Steven Johnson, answering just one question
     [9]about his then new book, Interface Culture

   "Giving away your source code opens up all sorts of possibilities for
   end-user browser-customization. But it does not relieve you from your
   primary responsibility as a "platform" vendor: listening to your
   developers, and providing a stable code base full of features that
   will enable us to deliver on your crossware vision." -- Steven
   Champeon, in [10]An Open Letter to Netscape

     "Because the web allows one to immediately disseminate one's work
     to the entire world (there are no intermediary steps of duplication
     or shipping, and program schedules are far more flexible), the urge
     is to get something out - anything out - quickly. Why work three
     years on a novel, when some dashed-off musings may prompt feedback
     today?" -- G. Beato, in a one question interview on [11]why the web
     is such a great medium for soundbites

   "Tactical inaccuracies have a long history in the negotiation of
   schedules and assignments, and by simply pre-planning and coordinating
   these efforts, a development team can easily define the course and
   future of an entire company." -- Greg Knauss, in [12]Grass Roots

     "I'm still the politics of myth---in the profound
     economic dislocation and our loss of faith in the democratic
     experiment (or in any sense of common cause, for that matter) that
     resurface, in our collective dream life, as the paranoid zeitgeist
     of "The X-Files" or the apocalyptic premonitions of David Koresh or
     the rocket-finned gnosticism of the Heaven's Gate cult." -- Mark
     Dery, in a one question interview [13]on his then new book, The
     Pyrotechnic Insanitarium

   "I'd been planning a collection of web-based fictional stories for a
   very long time. I wanted to produce the type of content that took
   chances and risked jostling the reader's sensibilities by its very
   nature, whether that was erotic, or violent, or simply unusual. I've
   always been attracted to pulp, to stories that are out of the norm,
   difficult to categorize and sometimes difficult to read, and those
   have always been the types of stories I've told myself, or written
   down, or imagined." -- Magdalena Donea, answering just one question
   about [14]her then new site, COLORS

     "What did this, uh, platform? Political movement? Journalistic
     ethics crusade? Non-threatening positional variance... whatever...
     propose to do to make the world a better place to live? Did they
     really want to stop wiring schools? Answer: Yes, and no. Did they
     think we should do away with copyright? Answer: No, of course not.
     We need to get paid! Okay, what did they propose, then, to resolve
     the problem of copyright enforcement on the Web? Code watermarks?
     Some pot o' creds that everyone pays into who accesses anything
     that is then divvied up among the card-carrying? Answer: We'll get
     back to you on that, we're not here to give solutions, only to
     foster communications." -- Lance Arthur, on the Technorealists, in

   "Contrary to 'unique needs and wants,' much of what we desire is
   hugely influenced by what others have, and whether or not we want to
   have it -- or can get it -- too. Choosing "the daily me" will also
   include inventing "who do I want to be today?'" -- Vivan Selbo,
   responding to a piece of mine on the one to one future, in
   [16]Michael, are you Serious?

     "We are constantly looking at the real world, not just for
     analogies, but to understand what people are trying to do, how they
     are living." -- Marc Rettig, answering just one question [17]about
     the now-defunct sceneServer.

   "The Internet is a social network, and it's that aspect that makes it
   so different from previous media. And yet, because there aren't any
   fundamentally new aspects to the 'cybereconomy,' business is still
   business, and remains focused on the bottom line. What counts in
   culture and the arts are illusion and imagination -- but these fluid,
   untamed elements are precisely what is endangered now. We clearly
   cannot revert to visionary sales talks or neo-luddite
   anti-technological persuasion. The time has come for radical forms of
   media pragmatism -- living paradoxes rooted in a messy praxis,
   unswervingly friendly to the virtual open spaces that are being closed
   everywhere else." -- Geert Lovnik, in [18]Radical Media Pragmatism

     "Think about it. What products, in the real world, use the
     possessive 'My' in their names? Products for small children, like
     'My First Sony.' How foolish would it sound, say, to buy something
     called 'My Telephone' or 'My VCR'. Obviously, they're yours--you
     own it! Using 'My' on a Web site encourages this childish sense of
     propriety, a propriety which is unfounded." -- Peter Merholz, in
     [19]Whose 'My' is it Anyway?

   "TCP/IP is inherently seditious. It undermines unthinking respect for
   centralized authority, whether that 'authority' is the neatly
   homogenized voice of broadcast advertising or the smarmy rhetoric of
   the corporate annual report." -- Christopher Locke, answering just one
   question about [20]how TCP/IP has made the inside of companies look so
   much like the outside of companies.

     "It's easy to be cynical, of course, but how can anyone not giggle
     into their sleeve when lists of links to the iBrator are described
     in terms that usually accompany the overthrow of a government? ...
     This is not to say that weblogs aren't useful or fun. I read
     several every day, and have profited from the experience. I just
     love that Mahir guy." -- Greg Knauss, in [21]My Ass is a Weblog

   "Andover.Net betrayed Slashdot's founders by selling to a Linux
   company and removing its greatest asset -- editorial distance. Anyone
   who believes that Slashdot is still an independent voice about the
   stuff that matters should get back to me when Microsoft buys VA
   Linux." -- Rogers Cadenhead, in [22]The Cash-Out Effect

     "I no longer channel surf, looking for something to watch. I don't
     care if I get home in time to watch all my favorite shows. I no
     longer watch or listen to crap just because it's on. But most
     importantly, I'm presented with new choices on a regular basis
     based on recommendations that reach much farther than my group of
     personal acquaintances. And these new choices are a click away. And
     clicking is a lot easier than buying stuff." -- Jeff Veen,
     answering just one question about [23]collaborative technologies


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