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Reading Notes as of 09/19/11

American Pioneers
Approaching Zero
Before Night Falls
Bill Gates
Broca's Brain
Burning Chrome
Generation Ecstasy
Hard Drive
Harry Partch
Imagined Worlds
Infinite in All Directions
Insanely Great
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Shampoo Planet
Microsoft: First Generation
Microsoft Secrets
Mona Lisa Overdrive
Netscape Time
Pattern Recognition
Prisoner's Dilemma
Shamans Through Time
Surviving the Extremes
The Chip
The Dragons of Eden
The Dream Machine
The Virtual Community
There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere
Travels With Charley
Virtual Light
Where Wizards Stay Up Late

American Pioneers: Ives to Cage and Beyond

Edgar Varese

Hyperprism added a siren to the basic instrumental ensemble

no fewer than 17 percussion players

Paracelsus' The Hermetic Philosophy

"One star exists higher than the rest."

sound laboratory

Henry Towell "tone clusters"

Conlon Nancarrow

He composes for player piano, punching the paper piano rolls by hand and thus achieving an amazing complexity of rhythm and counterpoint.

Henry Cowell

invited composers to meet students

prepared piano

John Cage

"Then I'll spend the rest of my life knocking my head against that wall"

no feeling for harmony

"Not a day goes by without my making use of that piece in my life and work. I always think about it before I write my next piece." on 4'33"

"I began hitting, rubbing everything, listening and then creating percussion music, and playing it with friends."

"At Cowell's suggestion, Cage took to exploring junkyards, acquiring a trove of discarded brake drums, tram-car springs and metal sheets, each piece a source of splendid percussion sounds."

"...that music is meant to quiet the mind, making it susceptible to divine influences"

Magnetic tape

sell silence to Muzak

pour water

"to affirm this life, not to bring order out of chaos... but simply to wake up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one lets it... act of its own accord"



La Monte Young


large glass bowls

Approaching Zero

"He soon upgraded his system by selling off his unwanted possessions and bought a better computer, a color monitor, and various other external devices such as a printer and [modem]."

the personal computer ... "just as important to New Age people as the six-shooter was to the original pioneers."

"nicotine-stained fingers"

"Nick's hobby, his only one, was collecting unlisted commands...."

"...the fiercer the handle, the meeker the kid behind it."

"the high-tech equivalent of hanging out at the mall"

"trying to get somewhere, without knowing where"

"For many of the fourth generation, technology was merely a relief from boredom and monotony. Hacking was a pastime that varied the routine of school or university, or a dead-end job. To become proficient, they would typically devote most of their waking hours - 80 to 100 hours a week was not uncommon, more time than most people give to their jobs - to working on PCs and combing the international information networks. Hackers, for the most part, are not those with rich and rewarding careers or personal lives."

"...during the 1991 Gulf conflict, Allied forces had to contend with at least two separate virus assaults affecting over seven thousand computers."



"Version 0 lives."

"(scavenging rubbish in search of the carbons from credit card receipts)"

"an abandoned house to which the hacker has access"

"Because that's where the money is."

"invariably spaced out"

"buffered [stolen]"

red, black, and blue boxes ... beige boxes


"I think the biggest attraction of all was that he was just going all the way, like he was just trying to search out the ultimate reality of his being. He had this sort of life force, this presence, you know?"

"But she told me she considered him seriously mentally ill, and that's why she didn't want to have it."

"Obtainment in whatever way, bought, found, or even acquired by scheming or tricky means of thievery--works like a mood regulator and provides the owner with a potential sense of success or triumph, and occasionally grandeur, as is the case with the winner at the gaming table or the astute buyer in the auction room."

"People don't need root beer and they don't need to buy a painting either. We provide them with a sense that it will provide a happier experience."

"I'll give you an interesting analogy here. Have you ever read Carson McCullers' The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter? All right. Now in that book, you'll remember that this deaf mute, Mr. Singer, this person who doesn't communicate at all, is finally revealed in a subtle way to be a completely empty, heartless person. And yet because he's deaf-mute, he symbolizes things to desperate people. They come to him and tell him all their troubles. They cling to him as a source of strength, as a kind of semi-religious figure in their lives. Andy is kind of like Mr. Singer. Desperate, lost people find their way to him, looking for some sort of salvation, and Andy sort of sits back like a deaf-mute with very little to offer."

" was the Attitude, the deadpan, jaded, cryptic silence onto which so much could be projected."

"Magic. That's what it's all about. It's finding the magic. That's all I try to do is find the magic."

"He looked like a bum lying there. He'd bend over to fix his shoelace and he'd be in that position for five minutes."

"I realized the guy was copping from the best of several worlds. The spillage was part of it. Metaphorically, it was like a black altar. You can tell how rich and reverent it is by how much spillage there is. It makes you pay more attention to what I'm saying. You want to see beyond the erasures. He's like a classical African drummer, just translating nervousness into art."

"Halsband recorded their takeoff with his video camera; a messy-looking Basquiat, wearing a wrinkled linen suit, continually wipes his runny nose on his sleeves...."

"He would go to Agnes B. and buy whatever he wanted."

"I learned that you actually have more power when you shut up, because at least that way people will start to maybe doubt themselves. When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it...."

"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?"

"...but he could become so lucid so suddenly. I can remember him drying dots of fresh blood off his skin with a towel. He was silent a long time. Then he started to talk very clearly, very calmly about different things."

"The plan was to go to Outarra's village for a ritual cleansing. Outarra had arranged with the local shamans to perform a ceremony that would cure him of his addiction."

"To live once, and to the limit--that was his game plan. While he was still in his teens... he painstakingly taught himself all the twelve major scales in all the twelve minor keys of the blues, practicing for hours a day."

"If you didn't paint, what do you think you would be doing? Directing movies I guess. What kind of movies? Ones in which black people are portrayed as being people, you know, of the human race. You know, not aliens, not all negative, or thieves, drug dealers, the whole bit. Just real, real stories."

Before Night Falls, Reinaldo Arenas

"Being a fugitive living in the woods at the time, I had to write before it got dark."

"I recorded more than twenty cassettes...."

The Color of Summer

"whose only aspiration is to live and who therefore oppose all dogma and political hypocrisy"

"I think the splendor of my childhood was unique because it was absolute poverty but also absolute freedom; out in the open, surrounded by trees, animals, apparitions, and people who were indifferent toward me. My existence was not even justified, nobody cared. This gave me an incredible opportunity to escape it all without anyone worrying about where I was or when I would return. I used to climb trees, and everything seemed much more beautiful from up there. I could embrace the world in its completeness and feel a harmony that I could not experience down below, with the clamor of my aunts, the cursing of my grandfather, or the cackling of the hens....

Trees have a secret life that is only revealed to those willing to climb them. To climb a tree is to slowly discover a unique world, rhythmic, magical, and harmonious, with its worms, insects, birds, and other living things, all apparently insignificant creatures, telling us their secrets."

"...from the uppermost leaves to the ground, the rain became a concert of drums with different registers and amazing rhythms; it was a fragrant resonance."

"a sexual voracity that.... involved all of nature...."

" in the country is lived close to nature and, therefore, to sexuality."

"The noise, the desperate clamors, the dull stamping, all those sounds were familiar companions in the countryside where I grew up."

"To walk on the earth after a rainstorm is to be in touch with absolute fulfillment: the earth, satisfied, floods us with its well being, while its many aromas saturate the air and fill us with life-creating impulses."

"Where could I go without any money? On the other hand, like so many other sinister places, the town had a certain fatal attraction; it bred a certain dispiritedness and resignation that prevented people from leaving."

"...I was content; I had found a fulfillment I had never experienced before."

"a unique mystery"

"monastic approach"

"diligently converted his sexual needs into practical reality"

"To quote Virgilio: "The cursed condition of being surrounded by water on all sides" cast a spell that these men were unable to break."

"...the incessant struggle to get a decent pair of jeans or a pair of shoes...."

"public display of the life force"

"The erotic and the literary went hand in hand."

" me that typewriter was not only the one object of value in my possession but also the thing I treasured the most. To me, sitting down at the typewriter was, and still is, something extraordinary. I would be inspired (like a pianist) by the rhythm of those keys and they would carry me along. Paragraphs would follow one another like ocean waves, at times more intense, at others less so; sometimes like huge breakers that would engulf page after page, before the next paragraph. My typewriter was an old iron Underwood, but to me it was a magical instrument."

"Their single concern was to find out what the real conditions were for artists...."

"But we had little hope by then that the system would change, or that our works would be published or there would be any kind of opening. We had given up on that possibility years ago and, I believe, for good reason."

"There are times when living means to degrade yourself, to make compromises, to be bored to death."

"...hope is, after all, mostly for the desperate."

"Ever since my childhood, noise has always been inflicted upon me; all my writing has been done against the background of other people's noise. I think that Cubans are defined by noise; it seems to be inherent in their nature, and also part of their exhibitionism. They need to bother others; they can neither enjoy nor suffer in silence."

"The beauty of a sexual relationship lies in the spontaneity of the conquest and in its secrecy. In jail everything is obvious and miserable; jail itself makes a prisoner feel like an animal, and any form of sex is humiliating."

"But I had to leave my mother or become like her - that is, a poor, resigned creature full of frustrations with no urge for rebellion. Above all, I would have had to smother my own being's innermost desires."

"Once there I decided that in the future I would be more careful about what I wrote, because I seemed destined to live through whatever I had written."

"Rather than a fun outing, it became an ordeal; the joy of life had been lost; it was no longer possible to do anything without enormous sacrifice. The whole trip was like doing penance."

" taking away their laughter, the Revolution took away from them their deepest sense of the nature of things."

"I have always thought that love is one thing and sexual relations are another; real love involves a deep understanding and intimacy that are absent in mere sexual intercourse."

"I returned to Havana and, once in my room, locked myself in with a padlock; it was a technique I had developed some time ago to throw any cop or unwelcome visitor off track. Since the door had a hatch that led to the loft, I could close the door with three or four padlocks at once, and also post a note saying that I was not home; I would then climb through the hatch into the loft. No one could possibly suspect that I was in the room."

"...I ran happily in the rain."

"Lydia [Cabrera]'s wisdom made me feel close to Lezama again. She had taken upon herself the job of rebuilding the Island, word by word, from a small apartment in Miami, writing nonstop, going through all kinds of economic hardships, with a huge number of unpublished books, and having to pay herself for the few she published in Miami."

"this is the price to be paid for keeping one's integrity"

"In Miami I met wealthy people, bankers and business owners, and I proposed to create a publishing house for the best of Cuban writers, most of them living in exile already. The reply of all those men, all multimillionaires, was categorical: Literature is not lucrative."

"...held impressive gatherings you had to go to if you didn't want to be ostracized."

"the dream of a tropical island"

"In Miami the obsession with making things work and being practical, with making lots of money, sometimes out of the fear of starving, has replaced a sense of life and, above all, of pleasure, adventure, and irreverence."

"I was used to a city with sidewalks and streets, a deteriorated city but one where a person could walk and appreciate its mystery, even enjoy it at times."

"...keeps searching for the face he loves in every new face and, forever deceiving himself, thinks he has found it."

"so perfect a witch"

"...with her broom, always sweeping as if nothing mattered but the symbolic meaning of the act."

"...everything one could possibly want was available, day and night; all the fruit we had longed for in Cuba, much of it from tropical countries, could be purchased in the midst of a snowfall. It was really a dream come true and a constant celebration."

"...not at the level of some other great writers who have either died in oblivion or been ignored."

"I was wrapped in a big, ill-fitting coat purchased in New York for eighty dollars."

"...some of the most memorable moments in my life, discovering one of the most beautiful cities in the world. To discover a city is in itself a unique event, but when we have the privilege of sharing it with friends most dear to us, it becomes a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

"the pleasure of being alive"

"He always had plans and a great imagination, but he could not channel them into any permanent art form."

"It is hard to communicate, in this country or in any other, if you come from the future."

"Suffering has marked us forever, and only with people who have gone through a similar experience can we perhaps find some level of understanding."

" place for the pedestrian to rest" [NYC]

"parrots of all colors, bigger and bigger insects and birds"

Bill Gates

"The Cement Plant Road was also the site of another favorite sport of the summer of '77--"dozing." Having discovered earthmoving equipment at a road-construction site, Larson and Gates investigated further. Lo and behold, the machines had keys in them. Under cover of darkness, with the same curiosity that had led them to fool around with computers, Bill Gates and Chris Larson--known fondly in each other's company as "Ugliest" and "Pimpdog"--set about to learn how to run the machines. Slowly, methodically, over half a dozen sessions, they discovered the tricks. This is how you go forward. This is how you go backward. Oh, here's the blade. Here's how you scoop dirt."

Eventually they raced the machines, and Bill Gates almost backed over his Porsche once.

"Gates eventually instructed Miriam Lubow to keep Microsoft supplied with Coca-Cola. When a six-pack disappeared inside of five minutes, Bill explained that he was thinking more in terms of a case. ... [E]mployees with a powerful thirst could hit the fridge with no more than a minor derailment of their train of thought."

"Smith recalled customers 'talking to me because I'd have a suit on or something and I was a little older, and frankly they really thought that Bill was my tech support guy. It wasn't until finally I'd toss a question to him and say "What do you think of that, Bill?" And they'd either catch on at that point or when he'd just kind of open up and it was like drinking out of a fire hose.' That phrase--'drinking out of a firehouse'--would eventually come to be a catchword at Microsoft, symbolizing both the CEO's 'bandwidth' and the rigors of the company work ethic."

"Watanabe later said. 'I always felt that only young people could develop software for personal computers--people with no tie, working with a Coke and a hamburger--only such people could make a personal computer adequate for other young people.'"

"The leader of the Alps team announced, 'Our engineers will now leave the room for exactly one hour, and when they return they will have a solution to the problem.'"

"...was tough as cheap steak when it came down to business."

"Then Klunder took off. 'I'm totally burned out. I think technology sucks. I get rid of everything I own except what I carry around in a backpack. Go down to California and find work there as a migrant farmer.' He wound up in the lettuce field near Oxnard. 'I only actually managed to do a few days of farm labor, but since I was putting up my tent, my expenses were pretty low, and I was surviving.' After about six weeks, 'my pack got stolen, and so I was left down in California, basically with the shirt on my back and not a whole lot else. At which point, having the need to eat, I said "Gee, I bet I know where I can get money fast. I can go back to Microsoft."'"

"It was during that period that Bill Gates appeared at a Microsoft applications retreat and offered the pithy summary that 'IBM is fucked and we all know that they're fucked. What we're gonna do for the next couple of years is play rats in a maze,' going down blind alleys and backing off, trying one unsuccessful strategy and trying another."

"As Slade recalled it, Houtchens asked Bill about a rumor that he was going to split the stock. 'So Bill just sort of rolls his eyes and says, "Give me a pencil." So she does. And he breaks it in two and he gives it back to her. And he goes "There: I just split the stock." That's classic Bill Gates.'"

"'Good people know their shit and don't take shit from anybody, including Bill.'"

"'So that's where there's an internal clash in Bill: between his ability to innovate and his need to innovate. The need to innovate isn't there, because Microsoft is doing well.'"

"'It takes a lot of time being single,' Gates told a group in London, his tongue only partially in cheek. 'I think being married will be very efficient.'"

Biohazard, Ken Alibek

"...the world had passed me by."

"we sat in the shade, blissfully contemplating the world."

"In Russia, a glass of vodka is an invitation to expose your soul. Without planning to, I began to pour out my frustrations."

"women seldom working night shifts in production plants"


"I was angrier and lonelier than I had ever been in my life."

"Our factory could turn out two tons of anthrax a day in a process as reliable and efficient as producing tanks, trucks, cars, or Coca-Cola."

"lurking on the fringes of human activity for centuries"

"A virus grown in laboratory conditions is liable to become more virulent when it passes through the live incubator of a human or an animal body. Few were surprised, therefore, when samples of Marburg taken from Ustinov's organs after his autopsy differed slightly from the original strain. Further testing showed that the new variation was much more powerful and stable.
No one needed to debate the next step. Orders went out immediately to replace the old strain with the new, which was called, in a move that the wry Ustinov might have appreciated, "Variant U.""

"I'm free of all this now. Thank God."

heightened emotion

identical black portfolios

Broca's Brain, Carl Sagan

bark cloths

"vast storerooms of items inappropriate"

tattered poster

"the pious hope that mere quantification would lead to understanding"

"serenity and tolerance"

"I'd rather be a transformed ape than a degenerate son of Adam."

"...there is good evidence... that a given memory is redundantly stored in many different places in the brain."

"The universe belongs to those who, at least to some degree, have figured it out."

"Such prohibitions not only press us toward a little humility; they also make the world more knowable. Every restriction corresponds to a law of nature, a regularization of the universe."

"I wonder how many Einsteins have been permanantly discouraged through competitive examinations and the forced feeding of curricula."

"...every person should be "prepared for jail and economic ruin... for the sacrifice of his personal welfare in the interest of... his country.""

"...the lack is not in intelligence, which is in plentiful supply; rather, the scarce commodity is systematic training in critical thinking."

"I find living in cubical dwellings depressing, and for most of our history human beings did not live in such quarters."

"There seems to be a stage... in which we verbalize what we think we have seen and then forever after lock it into our memories."

"...commit... arguments to print."

"...different people see the same nonrepresentational image in different ways."

" ancient cultures the first eight or ten months of the year are named, but the last few months, because of their economic unimportance in an agricultural society, are not. Our month December, named after the Latin decem, means the tenth, not the twelth, month. (September = seventh, October = eighth, November = ninth, as well.)"

"One of the great benefits of science fiction is that it can convey bits and pieces, hints and phrases, of knowledge unknown or inaccessible to the reader."

"...part of the reason that science fiction has so wide an appeal among young people: it is they who will live in the future."

"We desperately need an exploration of alternative futures, both experimental and conceptual."

"What's the use of their having names, ... if they won't answer to them?" Lewis Carroll

"This is the moment in history when the features on the planets will be named forever."

"A new age of planetary exploration and exobiology dawned in the seventh decade of the twentieth century."


"By the greatest good fortune, nature has come to our aid by providing us with nearby planets with significantly different climates and significantly different physical variables."

"...awash in the sunlight which fills the spaces between worlds."

"...before some essential component runs down or wears out."

"multi-planet species"

"We humans have relied on legs for millions of years...."

"...if we were able to travel at... 1,040 miles per hour, we could just compensate for the Earth's rotation, and traveling westward at sunset, could maintain ourselves at sunset for the entire journey if we circumnavigated the planet."

"I think much of the necessity for high-speed transport could be avoided if the existing communications technology were better used."

"God pity a one-dream man."

"What is remarkable is... that on the basis of the very meager data available anyone was smart enough to divine the correct answer - inferentially, using intuition, physics and common sense."

flying colors


"...we have two lungs and two kidneys partly because each is protection against a failure of the other."

"The search for extraterrestrial intelligence is the search for a generally acceptable cosmic context for the human species."

"Perhaps mature civilizations do not wish to pollute the cosmos."

"But human beings often perform very similar actions as... writing books, composing music and creating art intended for posterity."

"Humans seem to have a natural abhorrence of an infinite regression of causes...."

face to face


"...human beings cultivate hemp because the hallucinogenic properties of marijuana are widely prized."

"...perhaps the loss of a universe to which we are perfectly adjusted motivates us powerfully to change the world and improve the human circumstance."

"Are we incapable of constructing a cosmology that is not some mathematical encrypting of our own personal origins?"

Burning Chrome, William Gibson

credible future


"cybernetics, biotech, and the communications web"

corrugated plastic

Fourth-class surface mail

declarations of passion

mobile greenhouses



"air conditioned darkness"


"fishing in my jeans for change"

"or even worse, it could be perfect."

"miniature alligator clips, and black tape"


"While Parker slept, power drained from the city's grids."

"the mind's gray screen"

printed circuit


hot bath

"The brown-out continues."

"a flat packet of drugs"

"walked woodenly"


"They were mating, and no one knew."

synthetic sweat

"...she'd hacked the legs off her jump suit at midthigh."

alien technologies

"looking for scraps"

threadbare coverall

brown coverall

metallic reek

"...but imagines came rushing back with an aching poignancy."

"boots of heavy quilted nylon"

"green nylon webbing"

"Dust spurted from speakers..."

"You have to want a frontier...."

"How I want you now."

"sheer human talent, non-transferable"


"soft, brown carpet"


"I could enter you in your sleep. You were always ready."

"...even though something in you knows you could never have done anything else."

"...incorporate into your own vocabulary of feelings."

"eyes wet"

demo soft



low-grade chill

biofluorescent plastic

"laminated in clear plastic"

wetware wafers

"That fed look"

Clockers, Richard Price

"the idea of all these things to be had, organized in a book that he could hold in one hand."

"possessions drew attention, made you a target."

"required too much contact with the world outside the street."

"...had no real love of things for themselves, but he loved the idea of things, the concept of possession."

"so all he had to show for his hard work was cash, more cash than he could count."

"They don't have no future because they don't believe in no future."

"trust no one, don't get greedy, and never do product. rule number four, which was kind of a balancing act with rule number one: you got to have someone watch your back."

"the only place a man can be truly handicapped is in his mind"

"teaching him things in a way that made him feel as if he knew it all along"


"linty sweat suits and cheap sneakers, baseball hats"

"Nike Airs and gold"


"It always caught Strike up short, taking a Yoo-Hoo out of the refrigerator and then having to pay for it."


"A movie was ninety minutes of sitting there."

"loud gold ID bracelet"

"just two zeros" [on pager, 00]

"red acid-washed dungarees, L.A. Gear sneakers with the price tag still attached and a Chicago Bulls cap jerked sideways."

"given their street names by the kids"

"adjusted the color on the TV"

entrance [v.]

buttery-soft leather



dark wood

"a shard of wood sticking out the side of his hair"

"close-cropped gray hair and beard"

"a brown jar of lactose"

"heavily varnished driftwood coffee table"

"for some reason even that was in a clear plastic bag"

"He couldn't say why but it got him good."

"he filled a gap without causing her pain."

Isuzu Trooper, Nissan Pathfinder

glazed tile

"snow-white high-top British Knights"

"sculpted fade with an orange tint"

"gray acid-washed jeans"

"imitation grape candy"

"The New York skyline had begun to bruise purple with the dawn."

"flushed with pleasure"

"BKs, high-top white with light gray trim"

"mud-splattered three-year-old black Corvette"

"neon pink socks and laceless tennis shoes"

"I'm mostly day-to-day in my lifestyle right now."

"nighttime sunglasses"

"cigarettes, beer, pork rinds and sweets."

"making repeat purchases of a single item"

"That's his bar."

"I buy a motherfuckin' six-pack, sit out there, how many goddamn beers you think I'm gonna have, and how many beers you think I'm gonna get mooched on, stupid."

"He was more addicted to the gesture, to the ritual, than to anything involving true contact."

"neat cheap clothes"

"clean, cheap, respectful"

"glistening black covers"

"a few small gifts of connection. He had to have something to take home with him, something to bring into work, just get a little wheel of gifts going."

"transcendent flush of well-being"

"to hell with any life that wasn't truly connected to his own."

"the open-endedness of her life, at her blissful assumption that she could play an infinite number of roles through the coming years."

"the watermarks of this man's life, this man that he had revered, had all been humiliations."

"If you were poor, posters followed you everywhere..."

"...felt himself drifting deeper and deeper into the land of Too Late."

cocaine residue

"courtesy brings down the temperature, courtesy breeds teamwork"

"people respond to respect, getting respect"

"...Strike felt comforted by the predictability of some people."

"a mirror catching the sun"



"tall and emaciated"

"two pairs of filthy sweat pants"

Connections, James Burke

"the more the tools, the faster the rate of change"

"the availability of transport has made us physically less fit than our ancestors"

"Roads are built to take peak hour traffic and remain half-empty outside those hours."

"...once we lived isolated and secure... we are not vulnerable."

"less involved ... less comprehending... less confident"

"only a tiny fraction of the world's population has ever flown, let alone visited a foreign country or learned a foreign language."

"Television destroys our comfortable preconceptions by showing us just enough to prove them wrong, but not enough to replace them with the certainty of first-hand experience. We are afforded glimpses of people and places and customs as and when they become newsworthy - after which they disappear, leaving us with an uncomfortable awareness that we know too little about them."

"...we take the only available course: we ignore the vulnerability of our position.... We seek security in the routines imposed by the technological systems which structure our lives into periods of work and rest."

"the plough, the basic tool"

"most fundamental invention in the history of man"


gold blobs

"In the history of the process of change there are certain crucial moments when the number of paths down which subsequent events can lead suddenly multiplies."

"Energy is the ultimate currency"

"unchanging surname"

"dropped the patronymic"

"With the family crest, the social separation of the rich from the not-so-rich was now publicly and visibly complete."

"armed themselves by killing a man who was already equipped"

"the synthesis of the work of many other people"

"drawers of precious metal wire used in cloth-of-gold and -silver"

"through printing, the past became something tangible"


"his character as assessed by other members of the community"

"canonical hours"

"machinery that needed minding, rather than skillful operating"

[systemized manufacturing] "a need no other country had: to absorb thousands of non-English-speaking immigrants who in most cases came from pre-industrial societies."

workers "as interchangeable as the machines [they] operated"

"the number of his possessions"

"The making of breakfast at the same time by millions of people across the country is as much a part of the production line as is work at the conveyor belt an hour later."

"only the rich can afford possessions that are truly unique"

"Leather was in evidence everywhere"

"Clothes were predominantly made of a rather coarse wool, ranging in quality from a fine flannel-like material to something approaching the texture of Harris tweed."

"rough wool tunic and trousers"

"The chimney also introduced the concept of privacy"

"The new heated bedrooms, where people slept away from the general community, and often naked, altered as well the attitude to love."

"the act of sleeping together at a common fire each night"

disposable income

"[William] Murdock had apparently got the job because at the interview he had worn a wooden hat which he had turned on a lathe."

"One of the mixtures he tried was of acetylene with hydrogen chloride and mercury. When this mixture was allowed to stand in sunlight, a milky sludge formed and then solidified. Klatte made a note of the ingredients, and in thorough German fashion filed a patent on it. It was, however, 'not useful' at the time, and further work on it was dropped." [vinyl chloride]

polyvinyl chloride, PVC

"Plastic enables us to possess objects which we could not afford if they were made from natural raw materials"

"Because we are not yet at ease with the new material we live in a world which although totally reliant on man-made substitute material is made to look as if that material did not exist, so effectively is it camouflaged."

"The consumer no longer buys simply the object that he wishes to possess, but the shape of that object which most pleases him."

"The Art of Preserving Animal and Vegetable Substances"


lager [to store (in cold cellars)]

"In a modern jet aircraft, any inertial guidance system not preprogrammed with a destination will fly the place to O O" latitude and longitude."

French astronomer Jean Picard

"overlapping nature of the passage of events"

unrelated developments

"the intelligent layman realizes that he is surrounded by man-made objects - the products of innovation - that constantly serve as reminders of his ignorance."

"more durable goods and less planned obsolescence"

Cosmos, Carl Sagan

"In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, / it is my joy to share / a planet and an epoch with Annie."

"The time will come when diligent research over long periods will bring to light things which now lie hidden."

"There will come a time when our descendants will be amazed that we did not know things that are so plain to them."

"Our universe is a sorry little affair unless it has in it something for every age to investigate..."


"The most basic human events and the most trivial trace back to the universe and its origins."

"The present epoch is a major crossroads for our civilization and perhaps for our species."

"the worldwide devotion to military activities becomes intrusive."

skepticism and imagination

Local Group

museum [muse]

"Cosmos is a Greek word for the order of the universe."

"It conveys awe for the intricate and subtle way in which the universe is put together."

"The scrolls were borrowed, copied...."

artificial selection

[Popol Vuh] "the various forms of life are described as unsuccessful attempts by gods with a predilection to make people."

"We humans also have a palpable devotion to exchanging segments of DNA today."

"Human beings grew up in forests; we have a natural affinity for them."

"An oak tree and I are made up of the same stuff."

"The greatest part of human existence was spent in such a time. Over the dying embers of the campfire, on a moonless night, we watched the stars."

[sun, moon] "these phenomena spoke to our ancestors of the possibility of surviving death."

"...40,000 generations of thinking men and women who preceded us, about whom we know almost nothing, upon whom our civilization is based."

"Almost half of our national flags exhibit astronomical symbols."

"Let me not seem to have lived in vain..."

[Kepler] "the die is cast"

"It can wait a century for a reader, as God Himself has waited 6,000 years for a witness."

from wars ending after resources exhausted to organized pillage

Miracle Year

"The Earth is a lovely and more or less placid place."

"And so we became complacent, relaxed, unconcerned."

ultraviolet detected by bumblebees

infrared by rattlesnakes

"each picture element radioed individually back to Earth."

human being in chemicals - ~$10

to buy human being molecules from chemical supply houses - ten million dollars

"If there is life on Mars, I believe we should do nothing with Mars."

"There is a category of such machines. We call them plants."

"What is necessary is a program of artificial selection and genetic engineering of dark plants--perhaps lichens--that could survive the much more severe Martian environment. If such plants could be bred, we might imagine them being seeded on the vast expanse of the Martian polar ice caps, taking root, spreading, blackening the ice caps, absorbing sunlight, heating the ice, and releasing the ancient Martian atmosphere from its long captivity."

"...planetary affiliation is Mars. The Martians will be us."

"They are beautifully constructed, semi-intelligent robots exploring unknown worlds."

"The ship is made of millions of separate parts assembled redundantly, so that if some component fails, others will take over its responsibilities."

"Voyager relies on a small nuclear power plant"

interstellar spacecraft

few days
15th, 16th: Spain to the Azores
now: Earth to the Moon
fertilized egg from fallopian tubes to uterus

few months
15th, 16th: cross Atlantic Ocean
now: to Mars or Venus
fertilized egg to full-term infant

year or two
17th, 18th: Holland to China
now: Earth to Jupiter

normal human lifetime longer than to orbit of Pluto

less than 1 percent of GNP

"We have traveled this way before."

"But the net result has been to bind the Earth together...."

"Because of its tolerance for unorthodox opinions, it was a haven for intellectuals who were refugees from censorship and thought control elsewhere..."

"The world is my country"

"great dark sloshing ocean of metallic hydrogen" [Jupiter]

"This accidental discovery is, incidentally, entirely typical of the history of science."

"brownish tarry organic sludge"

"It is merely possible."

"stars were suns"

"Sun was a star"

"a kind of recapitulation that occurs in our individual intellectual developments as well."

"We eats berries and roots. Nuts and leaves. And dead animals. ...."

"The Greek religion explained that diffuse band of light in the night sky as the milk of Hera, squirted from her breast across the heavens, a legend that is the origin of the phrase Westerners still use--the Milky Way."

"This revolution made Cosmos out of Chaos."

"The Ionians had several advantages. Ionia is an island realm. Isolation, even if incomplete, breeds diversity. With many different islands, there was a variety of political systems. No single concentration of power could enforce social and intellectual conformity in all the islands."

"Unlike many other cultures, the Ionians were at the crossroads of civilizations, not at one of the centers."

"What do you do when you are faced with several different gods each claiming the same territory?"

"I think, virtually every culture on the Earth, left to its own devices, would have discovered science."

"[Thales] was reproached for his poverty, which was supposed to show that philosophy is of no use." [only what is necessary]

"For ages men had used sticks to club and spear one another. Anaximander used one to measure time. He was the first person in Greece to make a sundial, a map of the known world and a celestial globe."

self-reliant newborns

"whose remains stand to this day" [Ionian wall]

[Theodorus] "Why are there no monuments to this man? Those who dreamed and speculated about the laws of Nature talked with the technologists and the engineers. They were often the same people. The theoretical and the practical were one."

"But if they called everything divine which they do not understand, why, there would be no end of divine things."

"He taught that there was once a much greater variety of living things on the Earth."

"Empedocles argued that it could only be air."


"understanding and enjoyment were the same thing."

"[he] saw, as we may say, through the eye of reason, full as far into infinity as the most able astronomers in more advantageous times have done since."

"Beyond the Milk of Hera, past the backbone of Night, the mind of Democritus soared."

"...the origin and nature of enthusiasm. He journeyed to Athens to visit Socrates and then found himself too shy to introduce himself."

"...poverty in a democracy was preferable to wealth in a tyranny."

"There must, he concluded, be changes deducible by experiment that are too subtle to be perceived directly by the senses."

"He thought humans were more intelligent than other animals because of our hands

"zest for the impure"


"they practiced a rigidity that prevented them from correcting their errors."

"the authority of those who profess to teach is often a positive hindrance to those who desire to learn"

Kepler "delayed for more than a decade" by Pythagorean doctrine

"A disdain for practical swept the ancient world. Plato urged astronomers to think about the heavens, but not to waste their time observing them. Aristotle believed that: "The lower sort are by nature slaves, and it is better for them as for all inferiors that they should be under the rule of a master.... The slave shares in his master's life; the artisan is less closely connected with him, and only attains excellence in proportion as he becomes a slave."

"Without experiment, there is no way to choose among contending hypotheses"

"scientific experimentation is manual labor"

"...the availability of slaves undermined the economic motive for the development of technology. Thus the mercantile tradition contributed to the great Ionian awakening around 600 B.C., and, through slavery, may have been the cause of its decline some two centuries later. There are great ironies here."

"...the educated were less inclined to be curious about techniques and less willing to value science...."

"A major problem in the contemporary (political) Third World is that the educated classes tend to be the children of the wealthy, with a vested interest in the status quo, and are unaccustomed either to working with their hands or to challenging conventional wisdom."

"But in the suppression of disquieting facts, the sense that science should be kept for a small elite, the distaste for experiment, the embrace of mysticism and the easy acceptance of slave societies, they set back the human enterprise."

"Earth is a planet, ... we are citizens of the Universe."

"...we still talk about the Sun "rising" and the Sun "setting." It is 2,200 years since Aristarchus, and our language still pretends that the Earth does not turn."

"The beach reminds us of space"

"The beach also reminds us of time."

"...our computers can be taught the three-dimensional positions of all the nearby stars...." [for a virtual trip]

"you are not seeing her as she is "now"; but rather as she "was" a hundred millionth of a second ago."

"privileged frames of reference"

"the speed of impulses through the neurons in our brains is about the same as the speed of a donkey cart."

"The electrical impulses in modern computers do, however, travel nearly at the speed of light."

"But the universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition."

fast interstellar spaceflight

"in deep space there is only about one atom in every ten cubic centimeters"

"Relativistic spaceflight makes the universe accessible to advanced civilizations, but only to those who go on the journey"

"We travel slowly into the future all the time, at the rate of one day every day."

"If even a little thing had gone differently 2,500 years ago, none of us would be here today. There would be billions of others living in our place.

If the Ionian spirit had won, I think we--a different "we," of course--might by now be venturing to the stars. Our first survey ships to Alpha Centauri and Barnard's Star, Sirius and Tau Ceti would have returned long ago."

"Some moons will be so close that their planet will loom high in the heavens, covering half the sky."

"...human beings are stolid, boring, almost entirely immovable, offering hardly a hint that they ever do anything."

"colors" and "flavors"

water, air, earth, fire

" is a molecule, two are mixtures of molecules, and the last is a plasma."

"...three units put together in various patterns make, essentially, everything."

"...the hidden interior of the Sun, where sunlight is being generated, is at 40 million degrees."

"...the photon's epic journey takes a million years until, as visible light, it reaches the surface and is radiated to space."

"...converting some four hundred million tons (4 x 10^14 grams) of hydrogen into helium every second. When we look up at night and view the stars, everything we see is shining because of distant nuclear fusion."

"The curious part is that if at night I look down at the ground, toward the place where the Sun would be (if the Earth were not in the way), almost exactly the same number of solar neutrinos pass through my eyeball, pouring through an interposed Earth which is as transparent to neutrinos as a pane of clear glass is to visible light."

"Billions of years from now, there will be a last perfect day on Earth."

"The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff."

"Farming is simply the methodical harvesting of sunlight."

"We are, almost all of us, solar-powered."

"The evolution of life on Earth is driven in part by the spectacular deaths of distant, massive suns."

"Unhappily, no supernova explosions have been observed in our Galaxy since the invention of the telescope, and astronomers have been chafing at the bit for some centuries."

"nine interplanetary spacecraft of the burst sensor network"

"They charitably consider many alternatives, including the surprising possibility that the sources lies within the solar system. Perhaps it is the exhaust of an alien starship...."

"Uhuru, the Swahili word for "freedom.""

"In the early universe, space was brilliantly illuminated. As time passed, the fabric of space continued to expand, the radiation cooled and, in ordinary visible light, for the first time space became dark, as it is today."

"The Milky way rotates once every quarter billion years. If we were to speed the rotation, we would see that the Galaxy is a dynamic, almost organic entity, in some ways resembling a multi-cellular organism."

"It has been suggested that the major ice ages on our planet, which recur every hundred million years or so, may be due to the interposition of interstellar matter between the Sun and the Earth."

"He slept not, for there was no sleep; he hungered not, for as yet there was no hunger. So he remained for a great while, until a thought came to his mind. He said to himself, "I will make a thing.""

"A millennium before Europeans were willing to divest themselves of the... idea that the world was a few thousand years old, the Mayans were thinking of millions, and the Indians of billions."

"...with no information trickling through the cusps of the oscillation. Nothing of the galaxies, stars, planets, life forms or civilizations evolved in the previous incarnation of the universe oozes into the cusp, flutters past the Big Bang, to be known in our present universe."

"There is, we are told, an infinite hierarchy of universes, so that an elementary particle, such as an electron, in our universe would, if penetrated, reveal itself to be an entire closed universe. Within it, organized into the local equivalent of galaxies and smaller structures, are an immense number of other, much tinier elementary particles, which are themselves universes at the next level and so on forever--an infinite downward regression, universes within universes, endlessly. And upward as well."

"What else shall we create?" "...what else shall we do?"

"though all other animals are prone, and fix their gaze upon the earth, he gave to Man an uplifted face and bade him stand erect and turn his eyes to heaven."

"intelligence is not information alone but also judgment"

"Still, the amount of information to which we have access is one index of our intelligence."

unit of information - bit

"not just more information but significantly different information"

"Many, especially the baleen whales, are placid browsers, straining through vast volumes of ocean for the small animals on which they graze; others eat fish and krill."

"whale sounds are called songs"

"They hunt, swim, fish, browse, frolic, mate, play, run from predators. There may be a great deal to talk about."

"For 99.99 percent of the history of the whales, there were no humans in or on the deep oceans."

"...using the deep ocean sound channel, two whales could communicate with each other at twenty Hertz essentially anywhere in the world. One might be off the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica and communicate with another in the Aleutians. For most of their history, the whales may have established a global communications network. Perhaps when separated by 15,000 kilometers, their vocalizations are love songs, cast hopefully into the vastness of the deep."

"Today, the corresponding number is perhaps a few hundred kilometers."

"Creatures that communicated for tens of millions of years have now effectively been silenced."

"We humans, as a species, are interested in communication with extraterrestrial intelligence. Would not a good beginning be improved communication with terrestrial intelligence, with other human beings of different cultures and languages, with the great apes, with the dolphins, but particularly with those intelligent masters of the deep, the great whales?"

"We are jamming the interstellar channel. Uncontrolled growth of terrestrial radio technology may prevent us from ready communication with intelligent beings on distant worlds."

"The genetic information includes how to convert plankton into blubber; or how to hold your breath on a dive one kilometer below the surface."

"The whale, like all the other animals on the Earth, has a gene library and a brain library."

"to convert a molecule of sugar obtained from the plankton in the whale's diet into a little energy--perhaps a contribution to a single low-frequency not in the music of the whale."

"Every one of your hundred trillion cells contains a complete library of instructions on how to make every part of you."

"The ancient information is written in exhaustive, careful, redundant detail--how to laugh, how to sneeze, how to walk, how to recognize patterns, how to reproduce, how to digest an apple."

"But suppose what you had to do was so complicated that even several billion bits was insufficient."

"That is why we have brains."

[limbic system, mammalian brain] "major source of our moods and emotions, of our concern and care for the young."

[cerebral cortex] "intuition and critical analysis"

brain 10^14 bits - 20 million books

"a very big place in a very small space"

"we change ourselves"

communal memory - library

"The trick is to know which books to read."

four generations per century

library - greatest minds, best teachers, entire planet, all history, always available, inspires new contributions

"the possible range and brilliance of other intelligences"

"long-lived information is not the characteristically human information"

"a sun entirely of gold"

"a moon entirely of silver"

"On any planet, no matter what its biology or social system, an exponential increase in population will swallow every resource. Conversely, any civilization that engages in serious interstellar exploration and colonization must have exercised zero population growth or something very close to it for many generations."

"before a nearby civilization arrives, it has altered its exploratory motivations or evolved into forms undetectable to us."

"Perhaps our fears about extraterrestrial contact are merely a projection of our own backwardness."

"To what purpose should I trouble myself in searching out the secrets of the stars, having death or slavery continually before my eyes?"

"ninth decade of the twentieth century"

"the hopeless sense of a civilization destroyed for nothing"

"Mammals characteristically nuzzle, fondle, hug, caress, pet, groom and love their young, behavior essentially unknown among the reptiles."

"we might expect affectionate parental indulgence to encourage our mammalian natures, and the absence of physical affection to prod reptilian behavior."

"cultures with a predisposition for violence are composed of individuals who have been deprived--during at least one of two critical stages in life, infancy and adolescence--of the pleasures of the body."

" an age of nuclear weapons and effective contraceptives, child abuse and severe sexual repression are crimes against humanity."

"To be a citizen of the Cosmos..."

"The scientists never grasped the potential of machines to free people."

"Our achievements rest of the accomplishments of 40,000 generations of our human predecessors, all but a tiny fraction of whom are nameless and forgotten."

"If we can accomplish the integration of the Earth without obliterating cultural differences or destroying ourselves, we will have accomplished a great thing."

"hydrogen raindrops more massive than suns"

"These are some of the things that hydrogen atoms do, given fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution."

"different ways of being human"

"We have come far in 3.6 million years, and in 4.6 billion and in 15 billion."

"starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms."

Crypto, Steven Levy

"Words, even in plaintext, can't express...."

"All nature is merely a cipher and a secret writing."

"It was as if solving this conundrum would provide a more general meaning to the world at large."

"...most of what I do is characterized by the fact that I'm stubborn."

ultracasual attire

""the AI uniform" - black chinos, white socks, white shirt, and tennis shoes"

"...we just wanted to go further down the path we had each gone down, without finding someone at the end of the path telling us what everybody else was telling us: that we were wasting our time."

"caught in the bag as dirt"

"When he felt he'd finally found a trustworthy person, the question became, "How do you deal with a trustworthy person in the midst of a world full of untrustworthy people?""

"you'd do what you wanted, as long as you did something"

Demon, Demonstration


"We can't deal with amateurs in the field."

"...what a panic he had when, scant moments after hatching one of the most important breakthroughs in cryptographic history, Whit Diffie almost forgot the whole thing. He went downstairs to get a Coke and for one horrible moment the idea simply fell out of his head. He stepped back around the kitchen counter, and, just like that, he got it back. This time, it stuck."

"You're stretching your mind, and sometimes you get bizarre, baroque things."

"...before the sun went dead"

"lie flat on the sofa with his eyes closed"


"He took care to compartmentalize the information he discussed with people...."


Network effect: "value comes only with ubiquity"

"I've never been able to work on anything but what I was interested in at the moment."

cybernetic paw

working group

"The appeal was creating one's own world in the machine. You could interact with something that wasn't a living thing but seemed to be like one."

"It used to be that you could get privacy by going to the physical frontier, where no one would bother you. With the right application of cryptography, you can again move out to the frontier - permanently."

"...we create "virtual regions," he would say. And the conduits and pipes of the future, the very mortar and walls of those virtual spaces, could be held up by nothing but crypto."

"people who saw cryptography totally outside the context of their own careers"

"patient with incremental progress"

"airing out their software"

"your face marks the transaction in the cashier's mind"

"one of the several locations in cyberspace we monitor"

"technology happens"

"MIT Press published a book... that contained nothing but hundreds of pages of C source code - the entire PGP program, formatted so that computer scanners and character recognition software could easily transform the printed hard copy into a real-life industrial-strength crypto product."

""binaries" (digital photographs)"

Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson

mind-set, tech set

"spamming their environments with rough copies of themselves"

"laser-printed fresh"

" is that his entire life has culminated in this moment."

"...they are wood behind the point of a spear."

"...the kind of nightmarish, snowballing technological fuck-up that keeps hackers awake at night even when they can't hear the results."

"Randy used to be fascinated with software, but not he isn't. It's hard enough to find human beings who are interesting."

"Strangle a muskrat and you get 136 Energy Points. Lose the muskrat and your core temp drops another degree."

"People speak of it as though it were a book, but it's not. It is basically a compilation of all the papers and notes that have drifted up...."

[Schoen breaking Indigo and going insane] " example of a noncomputable process."


"In the tropics, you want to have as much skin as possible exposed to the air, with sweat sheeting down it."

"...(you could actually buy videotapes of bootleg shaving-cream and razor ads in the same places that sold the out-and-out pornography)."

"The beard is an outward symbol of that boundary, a distancing technique."

"But he stuck to his walking doggedly...."

food-gathering software

"He spent the first thirty years of his life pursuing whatever idea appealed to him at the moment, discarding it when a better one came along."

"concrete poured in place in wooden forms, over grids of hand-tied rebar"

nylon traveler's wallet

"a virgin credit card"

"Ignoti et quasi occulti"

"Hidden and unknown"

"The effect is, first of all, intense deja vu as if the last ten years of his life were but a dream, and he now has them to live over again."

plant material

"They sieve plastic out of the river and burn it for fuel."

"...the trees sort of comb the plastic shopping bags out of the air."

"...a hundred thousand tropical thundershowers have streamed down their bodies and polished them smooth."

"[business] card-presenting"

"...born of repression born of profound underlying mental disorder."

"But, in an age starved for information, that single bit meant everything to the people of Manila."

"I am aware that men are in the habit of looking at whatever women happen to be nearby, in the hopes of deriving enjoyment from their physical beauty, ...."

"who understand what it's like not to understood."

waterproof nylon wallet

"It can't be too bad of a nightmare if it comes with morphine, can it?"

"You ever had anyone running at you waving a fucking sword?"

"It is a somewhat harebrained and reckless tactic, but they don't call this Operation Shoestring for nothing; it is all wacky improvisation from the get-go."

"his feet in clean white cotton socks"

"which is that you never talk about the specifics of what happened over there."

"All of these kids seem like idiots and lightweights to him now."

"People get turned on when their innermost secrets are revealed--"

"He can just imagine the crisp luscious sound of this woman's soft white skin forcing itself into the confining black rubber."

"The [spider web] strands are an extension of its nervous system."

"hand-picked wrecking crew"

"...they have not been talking so much as mentioning certain ideas and then leaving the other to work through the implications. This is a highly efficient way to communicate...."

"Simulate night. This thing simulates daylight."


written in primary colors

"dotted quads--Internet addresses"

tote bags

"...the big round wet ball where billions of people live."

"one of about a million out-of-print World War II memoirs that must have been penned by G.I.s during the late forties and fifties."

"the [dead] people we're going to visit won't mind waiting."

"souvenir t-shirt from the fifth Hacker's Conference, surfer's jams"

"nylon-and-velcro wallet"

"They exchange cards in the traditional Asian two-handed style...."

"photocopy of document"

"annotated in pencil"

glacial meltwater


"mail drop and cache for files"

5th edition, 4th draft


"including whatever enables your brain to keep track of time and experience the world"

blown to bits

Manual Override

"The steam coming from her mouth floats around her face like a silken veil"

"...her bare feet on the stone floor."

"His tongue seems to be made out of erectile tissue."

"shirtless in the January heat"


[finding an arrowhead]

"It is a sudden, sparking connection between minds."

"...I jammed it."

"Van Eck phreaking"


"On the one hand, this is a pain in the ass. On the other, it gives him a chance to go through the ciphertext by hand, at the very lowest level, which might be useful later. The ineffable talent for finding patterns in chaos cannot do its thing unless he immerses himself in the chaos first."

warm rose water


disposable pen

"Most of the brain's work is done while the brain's owner is ostensibly thinking about something else, so sometimes you have to deliberately find something else to think and talk about."

"I require Cantrell."

self-serving rationalization

"Men who believe that they are accomplishing something by speaking speak in a different way from men who believe that speaking is a waste of time."

"Sometimes you can even see the desperation spread over such a man's face as he listens to himself speak."

"Men of the other type--the ones who use speech as a tool of their work, who are confident and fluent--aren't necessarily more intelligent, or even more educated."

"coarse brown fibrous material--raw material"


"an inclination to seek morphine"

"I prefer both of them to 'addict', because they are adjectives modifying Bobby Shaftoe instead of a noun that obliterates Bobby Shaftoe."

"He speaks, not as a way of telling you a bunch of stuff he's already figured out, but as a way of making up a bunch of new shit as he goes along."

"I am afraid that all irony has become tedious and depressing to me."

"mugging hilariously"


"They go to a nearby 24 Jam and purchase bluish plastic bottles of water the size of cinderblocks."

"lined with hardware"

"They are above the clouds, and clouds cover the world."


gallon plastic milk jug

fiberglass equipment case

"Randy gave up pretending that he was not completely fascinated with Amy Shaftoe."

"people too busy living their lives to worry about extending their life expectancy"

molded segments of foam

"peace dividend"

"metallic snicking noise"

"To fix it in your memory. To mark it."

"The chaos of the waves, gravid with encrypted data, mocks him."

"the popping of the wood in the stove"

"coffee-scented flesh"

"stacked bricks of foil-packed java"

"Chopping wood, fucking Julieta, grinding coffee, fucking Julieta, pissing on the beach, fucking Julieta, loading and unloading Otto's ketch. This has been pretty much it for Bobby Shaftoe during the last half year. In Sweden he has found the calm, grey-green eye of the blood hurricane that is the world."


wool pants

"This is what a boy of his age ought to be doing: working, hard and honest, at a simple job. Kissing girls. Walking into town to buy some smokes and maybe have a beer."

sap-scented rain

"reprocessed Carpenters tune"

"He senses in his gut that he did the right thing by showing up."

"But his body refuses to move for an hour, and then most of another hour, and to the extent his brain is working at all it can only chase its tail."

"until you grasp this central fact of the effectively vast size of this part of the world, you will be completely unable to believe the dumbfounding facts that I am slowly getting around to revealing."

"meshback caps & American basketball t-shirts"

"climatically inappropriate jackets & generally projecting the image of concealed-weapon-equipped badass motherfuckers not to be trifled with."

instantaneous violence

ammo clip

page 679

horniness index

"His life, which used to be a straightforward set of basically linear equations, has become a differential equation."

"cultivated and inhabited jungle: pineapples close to the ground, coffee and cocoa bushes in the middle, bananas and coconuts overhead."

"But if we're online, the whole world is local."

"bumpkin's reverie"

"grotesque personal embarrassment"

"...people whose personal computers he had debugged in exchange for six-packs of good beer, whom he had seen important movies with - that at least three-quarters of these people have really no interest whatsoever in seeing Randy's face again as long as they live, and were made to feel intensely awkward by his totally unexpected reappearance...."

grease pencil

"He was right, he suspects: it was a pivotal moment in the relationship. All he can do now is totally screw it up."

"references to carpeting or carpet signifiers"

"subtle and even forgotten influences"

warm rain

"digitized voices prophesying war"

"ultraviolet maw of a vast game arcade spews digitized and sound-lab-sweetened detonations"

clear plastic sleeve

"But your older nerd has more self-confidence, and besides, understands that frequently people need to think out loud."

"Humidity and clouds of insects make light a nearly solid and palpable thing here."

"cyber-era annotations"

"The fact that the scientific investigator works 50 percent of his time by nonrational means is, it seems, quite insufficiently recognized."

" least then you are conscious of the distortions. Whereas, when you see someone with your eyes, you forget about the distortions and imagine you are experiencing them purely and immediately."

" I recognized you?"

"some pattern of neurological activity"

reinforced concrete

folk code

"...conversations during and after their meals.... ...rather involved inner lives that require lots of maintenance and so the rest of the day they ignore each other."

"...Puritans tore everything to rubble and then slowly built it back up from scratch."

"...the old gods are thrown down, chaos returns, but out of the chaos, the same patterns reemerge."

"Science flourishes where art and free speech flourish."

"pure balls-to-the-wall nerdism"


"the bootless sleep of the depressed for ten hours."

"calm down and filter the material carefully."

"...alternating between brutally cold pale Nipponese beer and hot tea...."

pasocon otaku - personal computer nerds

ripe tropical fruits

"the very latest chart-topping white noise"

"fresh greens and plastic twine"

"he tries to fight back the thought that it's a good day to die"

"although he might go on from this point to make a lot of money, become famous, or whatever, nothing's ever going to top this."

"...she sits down on him, hard, producing a nearly electrical shock."

[insects in the jungle]

"...they are all following the same score."

"...the insects here see you as a big slab of animated but not very well defended food. The ability to move, far from being deterrent, serves as an unforgettable guarantee of freshness."

"sap and juice and pulp"

"...anything that is colored so brightly must be some kind of serious evolutionary badass."

"...tuning streams in gardens by moving rocks from place to place."

"Sometimes, if you want to live and breathe tomorrow, you have to dive into the black depths today, and that is a leap of faith...."

Generation Ecstasy

"Simon Frith points out that one of defining qualities of digital music is the sense that this music "is never finished and ... never really integrated" as a composition."

"As instrumental music, techno is closer to the plastic arts or architecture than literature, in that it involves the creation of an imaginary environment or kinesthetic terrain."

"Gracyk points out that our memory of chromatics (timbre/texture in music, color in painting) fades faster than our memory of pitch and line. Similarly, timbre and space cannot be notated on a score. Yet it's these ineffable, untranscribable elements in music that are the most intensely pleasurable."

future-now, next now

"People couldn't understand the concept of playing all kinds of music together."


"Legend has it that one station blocked a stairwell with concrete to prevent access to the upper stories of an abandoned East London apartment block; the DJs had to rappel up the side of the building to reach the studio."

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, Steven Levy

"those computer programmers and designers who regard computing as the important thing in the world"

"one could go infinitely far"

Louis Merton "...whose tendency to go catatonic brought the hacker community together."

"...the same kind of eerily transcendent recognition that an artist experiences when he discovers the medium that is absolutely right for him. This is where I belong."

"They were studying what they were studying and we were studying what we were studying. And the fact that much of it was not on the officially approved curriculum was by and large immaterial."

""basic maintenance" - things like eating and going to the bathroom."

"You would sustain that concentration by "wrapping around" to the next day."

"...preludes to that moment when they fulfilled themselves behind the console of the TX-0."

"...washing down take-out Chinese food with massive quantities of Coca-Cola shipped over from the TMRC clubroom."

"Of course it will reflect your own stupidity, and often what you tell it to do will result in something distasteful."

off-hours, "on" hours

"...the natural state of man was to be on-line to a computer all the time."

Computational Man

Machine Aided Cognition

" was natural to fall into hacker mode. (Computers had various states called "modes," and hackers often used that phrase to describe conditions in real life.)"

"...and then you discover something which puts classes into their proper perspective: they are totally irrelevant to the matter at hand."

"...hacking was a pursuit so satisfying that you could make a life out of it."

"...hacking gave you not only an understanding of the system but an addictive control as well, along with the illusion that total control was just a few features away."

"out of phase"

"...even a brief meeting with Gosper was enough to convince you that here was someone whose brilliance put things like physical appearance into their properly trivial perspective."

"never-empty Coke machine"

"It wasn't so much a battle of egos as it was an attempt to figure out what The Right Thing was."

"The perfect algorithm."

"The Right Thing... very specifically meant the unique, correct, elegant solution... the thing that satisfied all the constraints at the same time, which everyone seemed to believe existed for most problems."

"built-in error checks to prevent the whole thing from bombing as a result of a single mistake."

Cloud Gulp

"If he randomly sat around and tried to articulate what he was thinking and doing all the time, he wouldn't have gotten anything done."

"If you try a few times and give up, you'll never get there. But if you keep at it... There's a lot of problems in the world which can really be solved by applying two or three times the persistence that other people will."

"Controlling a robot was a step beyond computer programming in controlling the system that was the real world."

"...shorthand for relatively nonverbal people to communicate exactly what was on their minds."

"It was a school no one else knew about, and for the first time in his life he was happy."

"I wasn't approaching it from either a theoretical point of view or an engineering point of view, but from sort of a fun-ness point of view."

"They wouldn't know what The Right Thing was if it fell on them."

"...Officially Sanctioned Programs... tossed out (as opposed to hacker programs, which were used and improved upon)."

"infinitely flexible artistic medium"

" could express yourself by creating your own little universe."

"...a sense of what The Right Thing was. The biggest losers of all, in the eyes of the hackers, were those who so lacked that ability that they were incapable of realizing what the true best machine was, or the true best computer language, or the true best way to use a computer."

"...using computers to go beyond computing, to create useful concepts and tools to benefit humanity."

" system or program is ever completed. You can always make it better."

"The debugged life in all its glory."

"These [hackers] are the most sensitive, honorable people that have ever lived."

"...the hackers had sacrificed what outsiders would consider basic emotional behavior--for the love of hacking."

"It was sort of necessary for these people to be extremely brilliant and, in some sense, handicapped socially so that they would just kind of concentrate of this one thing."

"For instance, it did not take long for SAIL hackers to notice that the crawl space between the low-hanging artificial ceiling and the roof could be a comfortable sleeping hutch, and several of them actually lived there for years."

"It was John McCarthy's dream to have a robot leave the funky AI lab and travel the three miles to campus under its own physical and mental power."

"a venture in paranoia, as he feared that he might not be able to get the part to make it work."

"an unwashed figure in work clothes"

"It was as if my way of asserting my potency was to be able to build things that worked, and other people liked."

"It was the air of a purist who could never meet his own exacting standards."

"...he found programming "the ultimate disembodied activity--I would forget to speak English.""

"maniacally amateurish drawings"

"He preferred low overhead, portability, utility in a place."

"reclusive cheapskates"

"well-worn wooden floor"

"Man In The Street"

"variegated type font identified with computer readouts"

"You are a weird-type person."

"Ph.D. in Getting the Thing to Do Something"

"Moore seemed to get the money by default, by persistence..."

" they could do things without money, just by banding together and using their natural resources."

Homebrew Computer Club


Users Group

"They were looking for a way to finance their avocation of playing with electronics..."

"Digital designs, like computer programs, "are the best pictures of minds you can get.... There are things I can tell about people from hardware designs I see.""

"...trying not only to finish his projects, but to do them right."


greenish epoxy material

"It was a touchy situation, the kind of complex human dilemma that hackers don't generally like to confront."

"digital disciple"

"...derived so much satisfaction from the personal joys of hacking that they kept their profiles low."

"doer, not a watcher."

"I'm not very sensitive to other people's thought patterns."

"the creepy feature creature"

"The computer is more interesting than most people."

"The six other days, I'll work like a dog."

"a society of non-joiners"

"Homebrew was a place where people came together mysteriously, twice a month. It never was an organization."

"...he had the kind of beard grown more to obviate the time-consuming act of shaving than to enhance appearance..."

"...ordinary design isn't good enough."

"informal tutorials"

"Every problem has a better solution when you start thinking it differently than the normal way."

"They were a powerful new interfacing feature, these face-to-face meetings, which provided much fresher information than you got in publications."

West Coast Computer Faire: "wall-to-wall techno freak"


subsistence wages

"...still catching up, undergoing experiences you typically undergo in your early twenties."

"The things I do on a daily basis blow my mind."

"Even the process of buying ready-to-run software had a funky, hacker feel to it."

"...there was an aura of the illegitimate about the product...."

"...perpetually addled, slightly pissed-off look about him...."

"IF you own a computer THEN you're probably a little crazy."

Broderbund (Scandinavian for Brotherhood)

"He had that ability to bite all the big pieces of life and chew it up and savor every bit."

"...actually seeing a mind expanding."

"You saw your power tremendously increased."

"She believed it was no less than the joy in one's own humanity."

"If it's not fun, if it's not creative or new, it's not worth it."

"...groundbreaking creation of a unique and artful scenario."

"You program like I do! I didn't think there was anyone in the world that does this!"

"working in a field that felt good"

"the simple and slow mini-assembler that was built into the Apple."

"...he felt the void deeply."

"Where is the industry going?" "I have no idea."

"And when you get into it young like I did, you feel a oneness with the computer, almost as if it's an extension of yourself. When I print comments in my code, I say things like 'We do this, we do that...' It's like Us."

"The computer is like another sense or part of your being."

Lord British - Ultima 2

"Be Seduced in a Bar", "Dine at Your Favorite Restaurant", "Meet Prominent People Within the Computer Industry", "Visit the Castle of Lord British"

"hard-shell computer carrying cases"

"mired in obscure and unprofitable activities"

"hot-blooded software groupies"

"cocaine in snowdrift quantities"

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

"mixture of awe and repulsion" [at John Draper]

"For Woz, though, the highlight of the evening was meeting Lord British. Months afterward, he was still talking about how exciting he was still talking about how excited he'd been to talk to such a genius."

"It was somewhere in the rubble, damaged beyond repair, never to be found."

[Ken Williams' Apple I motherboard]

"...the phone rang. "Earth," John answered, as usual."

"I have to get rid of the crybabies."

"...prima donna artistes hung up on getting things perfect and impressing their friends."

"[John Harris' Frogger Atari port] was so artistically accomplished that it hit the market with the force of an original work."

"American society is already a dog-eat-dog jungle, and its rules maintain it that way. We [hackers] wish to replace those rules with a concern for constructive cooperation."

Empty String Password

"It's almost all business these days, and we don't have that much time for the technical stuff we'd like to do."

[Richard Stallman, rms]

"In a fairly real sense, he's been out-hacking the whole bunch of them."

"He's working alone! It's incredible anyone could do this alone!"

"He had come to accept that the domain around the AI lab had been permanantly polluted."

"I'm the last survivor of a dead culture. And I don't really belong in the world anymore."

Bill Gosper

"I sat down next to this kid of fifteen or sixteen. I asked him what he did, and he said, 'Oh, I'm basically a hacker.' I almost fell over. I didn't say anything. I was completely unprepared for that. It sounded like the most arrogant thing I ever heard."

"We have to find a relationship between man and machine which is much more symbiotic."

"The technology has to be considered as larger than just the inanimate pieces of hardware. The technology represents inanimate ways of thinking, objectified ways of thinking."

" be able to defy a culture which states that 'Thou shalt not touch this,' and to defy that with one's own creative powers is... the essence."

Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire, James Wallace & Jim Erickson

"...those who regard these machines as the most important thing in their lives."

"For those curious about such things, this book was written on a Leading Edge compatible PC with an 8088 chip and XyWrite word processing program."

"The joke around the industry was that Gates never went anywhere without his dandruff."

rich environment

wasted time

"it tended to look very, very carefully at individual students, especially ones who stuck out in any direction, and it would give those students lots and lots of privilege and rope and space to do whatever they could do, even if it was far out of the usual constraints of the school."

"rummage sale to buy computer time"

Autobiographical Notes

[compass on four or five year old Einstein] "...this experience made a deep and lasting impression on me."

"It was easy to like the boy with the blond Fu Manchu mustache and aviator sunglasses who habitually carried a briefcase. There was no pretentiousness in Allen, none of the I'm-smarter-than-you-attitude."

Lakeside Programmers Group


"After four or five hours working in front of a computer, the boys would send out for pizza and Coke."

" natural inclination was to answer questions at considerable length."

"Bright young men of disheveled appearance, often with sunken glowing eyes, can be seen sitting at computer consoles, their arms tensed and waiting to fire their fingers, already poised to strike, at the buttons and keys on which their attention seems riveted as a gambler's on the rolling dice. When not so transfixed, they often sit at tables strewn with computer printouts over which they pore like possessed students of a cabalistic text. They work until they nearly drop, twenty, thirty hours at a time. Their food, if they arrange it, is brought to them: coffee, Cokes, sandwiches. If possible, they sleep on cots near the printouts. Their rumpled clothes, their unwashed and unshaven faces, and their uncombed hair all testify that they are oblivious to their bodies and to the world in which they move. These are computer bums, compulsive programmers...."

"But Weizenbaum considered it dehumanizing. Young men addicted to The Machine had no sense of limits, he said. They had tunnel vision, unable to see the real world."

"There was an infinite amount to read. There was at least nine months there when I did nothing with computers."

""I tried to be normal," he said, "the best I could.""

"usually left out of conversations"

"drinking from two-liter bottles of Coke"

"There were nerd types that no one ever noticed, and there were nerd types that everyone knew. Bill fit that latter category."

"endless memos commenting on a programmer's code"

"they could either lead the revolution or be swept along by it."

"We saw that hardware was a black art."

"Our forte was software."

"I had to really think about it: Hey, I'm going to sit in a room, staring at a wall for five years, and even if I come up with something, who knows."

"There were many mornings when I would find him dead asleep on the tables."

"He seemed like a hacker, a nerd. I knew he was bright, but with those glasses, his dandruff, sleeping on tables, you sort of formed an impression. I obviously didn't see the future as clearly as he did."

"an insatiable appetite for food and information"

"an unknown company in a relatively unknown city, in a technologically unknown state"

"became familiar with every late-night pizza place and coffee shop in the neighborhood."

"the "official" version of Chairman Bill's feat of programming prowess, as recounted in the preface to the company's bible, the MS-DOS Encyclopedia."

"he is still considered by the university to be on a leave of absence."

"eating cold pizza and swigging down Coke"

"We Set the Standard"

"Gates simply liked pushing things to the edge. "That's where you most often find high performance," he once said. "I don't like to waste time.""

"Because the timesharing computer system was so slow, they wrote code on yellow legal pads and made sure it was reasonably well-organized before typing it into a terminal."

"It made those who worked for him think things through."

"We were doing it because we had stuff to do and we had to get it done."

"Gates liked to drive fast, testing the limits of himself and his machine."

"Steve Allen drove a Monza, a much slower car, he got very good at figuring out back-alley shortcuts around town."

"...they were going about 120 miles an hour [forward] and then they were going 120 sideways."

"a personal computer adequate for other young people"

"bootstrapped from the beginning"

"We feel real bad about what's late and what hasn't been done, and here's what we can do for you."

Gatesian vision

"He could be impressed. He just couldn't be fazed."



"He was much more into working. If you wanted to be around him, you worked with him."

"I do remember one time Bill stumbling and falling down a staircase, and when somebody made a remark about that, he said something to the effect that he liked stair-divng, and he went up to the top of the stairs and did it again."

" was a great research and development group, nothing more."

desk top computer

Blue Magic

"Don't build your own hardware and software."

Independent Business Unit

"...Gates was pacing nervously in his office late at night, waiting impatiently for the last pages of a lengthy computer printout."

"None of them seemed to take IBM's PC seriously, because there was nothing innovative about it. The computer used existing technology and software."

" 1980, we talked about IBM being in a special position to establish standards, but we decided we didn't want to introduce standards"

"Our judgment was that no single software supplier or single hardware add-on manufacturer could provide the totality of function that customers would want. We didn't think we were introducing standards."


"ability to do anything"

"Some of the offices were covered with computer paper on the inside, so you couldn't look in them, and you knew there was a private project in there. Then you would read in the newspaper that a new computer had been announced, and you would walk down the corridor and all the paper had come down on one of the offices, and there was the new machine."

"Bill had a real fondness for older women then...."

"This is the future, everything is going little."

easy to copy

off-the-shelf parts

"He was able to maximize a series of good fortune and lucky breaks. He was able to make a lot of mistakes and recover."

"..."sort of random" - a favorite "techie" expression used at Microsoft, meaning confused or haphazard behavior, and usually used to describe someone you didn't like."

"Unlike a lot of corporate executives, Gates was able to put his ego aside, look at himself honestly, and to learn from his mistakes."

"identifying the mistake, figuring out the problem and fixing it"

"make you feel good about a bad decision and redirect your efforts"

[Windows for "windowing" system] "Well, we wanted to have our name basically define the generic."

"You start speaking in a abbreviated way...."

"We'd have them describe a typical work week, or their typical day. We wanted to know how many hours they were awake, what they did in those hours. We'd ask how they felt about projects that didn't get done. The kind of person we wanted was the one who responded, 'God, I just hate that!' .... We were looking for what people did with their time, and the amount of energy in their voice would tell us what we wanted to know. We wanted to know if they were driven enough, so we could drop them into our atmosphere and have them thrive."

"There are some guys you meet only once in a lifetime. So why screw around?"

"From the day you started you got your own office. That was really nice, really a motivating thing."

"If you want to surround yourself with world class engineers, give them the respect that they need."

"Friedman was particularly impressed that Gates not only knew the name and face of every programmer but also their telephone extension number. Gates also knew the license number of the programmer's car. A former Microsoft manager recalled walking through the parking lot of the Northup building with Gates one morning in 1983. Gates would glance at each license plate and name the employee - he had memorized every tag. The manager didn't think that Gates had tried to memorize them - "he just noticed them and remembered."

"When they collapsed you covered them with a blanket and turned off the computer. Sometimes we would try to lock them out of their offices, temporarily."

"hurling favorite insults such as "stupid" and "random."

"open the kimono at Xerox PARC"

"The article described Gates as "a remarkable piece of software in his own right.""

"He laughed pretty hard and nicknamed me '32-bit.'"

"It was a big macho thing to send E-Mail late at night."

"...he couldn't stand to see so many people standing around with so little to do with their time."

"They would say, 'Well, let's hire two women because we can pay them half as much as we will have to pay a man, and we can give them all this other 'crap' work to do because they are women.' That's directly out of Bill's mouth...."

"Momentum is an ephemeral quality in any business...."

"There was concern about trying to use a mouse while driving a tank."

"It's set up for failure."

"My philosophy is, you want to build a team for the long term."

"you can't sprint all the time"

"Part of it was [developers] just got disgusted with Microsoft."

"I wasn't having fun. I think it's very important, if you have the luxury of choosing jobs, to choose one that's fun."

"While Alex. Brown & Sons was used to dealing with software companies and the unusual personalities of people who spent their lives in front of a computer screen, Goldman Sachs was not.

"I won't grant any of these goofy requests."

"Bill loves to dance. When he's on the floor, he's in his own world."

"He's never failed at anything. He has picked things he will win at. In every situation Bill gets into, private and public, he sets himself up not to fail. It's what drives him so much.... I'm not sure he's equipped to deal with failure."

"Because Gates has never known failure, ... he lacks a certain humaneness, and until he fails miserably at something that means a lot to him, he will never be a great man, despite all his accomplishments."

"In the middle of the four buildings was a small artificial lake that became known as Lake Bill."

"True to form, Gates soon got a speeding ticket in his new boat."

"True to form, Gates color-coordinated his wardrobe."

"Every time he does something, he tries to cover his bet. He tries to have more than one thing going at once. He didn't want to commit everything to OS/2, just on the off chance it didn't work. And in hindsight, he was right."

"one tester for every programmer"

"If Microsoft could choose between improved earnings and growth and bringing the graphical user interface to the world, they'd pick the graphical user interface."


"We all love the little guys and hate the big guys, but we all want to be the big guys."

"Besides, I have an infinite amount of money. I would still order the same hamburger."

"I half-jokingly say there is only one person with fewer friends that Saddam Hussein. And that's Bill Gates."

"...Gates said his products managers ought to wake up thinking about their main competitor. He even suggested they go so far as to get to know the names of their competitor's children and birth dates."

"He never allows Microsoft to goof off. He always deals with the problem. Every other company allows something else to get in the way. But Gates is tenacious. That's what's scary."

"The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second."

"everyone is too damn comfortable at a time when the business is in crisis"

"We want to be a major player in the computer industry, not a niche player. The only way to do that is to work with another major player."

[1988 Porsche 959] "Gates proposed a crash test by simulation"

Harry Partch

"The person I was at twenty is the person I really wrote my book for."

"Perhaps no element of modern life is so stifling--so destroys a human being--as this idol of digital and laryngeal proficiency. I know; I experienced it, and had to die and find still another womb to emerge from."

"Everyone told me: 'You won't do a thing in Hawaii.' Well, I never wrote so many fugues in my life."

"He struck the director of the AUU as "not of the common run of students. He seems highly talented, but as is often the case with those of an artistic bent, his fancy may sometimes lead him to eccentricity, to hypersensitiveness, to put the worst interpretation on things, and even to a regrettable tendency to be a bit exorbitant when he quotes either himself or others."

"Vagrancy now seemed to have the ghost of government approval, a necessary evil while the Depression lasted."

"both weak and strong, like unedited human expressions always are"

"...a text in which Wolfe extols the joys of loneliness and isolation, declaring that loneliness is a more common shared experience for modern man than the experience of love as advocated by Christ."

"For all its fleeting moments of fulfillment, this period of Partch's life is characterized by a growing sense of painful isolation, by frustration, struggle, by lack of achievement."

"...there's something in his work which deliberately defies being made into anything seminal."

"recalls him occasionally lacing a root beer with scotch largely, she feels, for humorous effect."

"Partch remarked near the end of his life that he should have been writing his book then and composing in the 1940s."

"To some extent, the book can be seen as intellectual autobiography, an account of the "wayward trail" Partch had traveled for two decades and would continue to follow."

"...after reading a draft of the text he wrote to thank Partch for the profit he had gained in "jotting down notes and ideas suggested by your essay""

"what distinguishes dissonances from consonances is not a greater or lesser degree of beauty, but a greater or lesser degree of comprehensibility"

"the noncompetitive spirit of an Aztec village in which virtually everyone is an artist, begins to show what the human race is capable of"

"A few years later he wrote to a friend that after going through the illness and the weeks of hospitalization "in rather fundamental ways I am a different person, and the change was anguishing both to me and others.""

"what he liked to call "the ancient rhythmic magic""

"By the early 1950s he had come to feel the act of cleaving an instrument from a piece of wood as a tie to an ancient form of musical magic."

"...issuing his own recordings led him on a wholly unfamiliar excursion into the business world."

"No acknowledgement, no review, no mention. It was as though [it] had been dropped into the deeps of Long Island Sound."

"Second was the idea of the "lost musicians", who are here banded together to become the agents of diametric change. And third was what Partch called "an old interest in the ancient idea of the benevolent, all-knowing witch".

"Nancarrow had been living in Mexico since 1940, in virtual isolation from the musical life of the United States, an around 1947 had begun work on his series of Studies for Player Piano, compositions that explored a breathtaking range of new possibilities in the domains of polyrhythm, polymeter, and even polytempi."

"This goes far beyond artistic integrity; indeed the word integrity is an ironic one to use at all in this context. He orchestrated and all but guaranteed the oblivion his work so obviously courts."

"She was struck by the scenes in Music Studio of Partch packing and mailing his records..."

"...played with picks, fingers, mallets, and felted sticks."

"The spectacle of me and two tons of musical effects wandering around the country is becoming almost comical."

"...after I pay the $900 they say I owe them you'll be able to drive a truck through the hole in my bank account."

"Although these were purely social visits, the question of his professional future was never far from his mind."

"I've been trying to write 23 duets, exploiting instruments, for several months..."

"A small town... tends to be introspective. It retains a kind of indigenous individuality--this despite TV waves from the nearest urban center. Little irritations become fantastically exaggerated, and it seems easier and more natural to observe small things, such as a fly getting dejuiced in a spider web in the corner."

"I think we actually have a take with the sounds of a collapsing wall."

"...the shortcomings of academic musical education, with the subsidiary theme of the corruption of youth by fashions, musical and political, of the moment."

"the Gate 5 record of Castor & Pollux was not perfect, but over the years I got used to its imperfections. Now, I've got to get used to a whole new set of imperfections."

"Harry was at his best between his first and third drink..."

"...he'd looked upon his work as a letter to the world; and the last thing he'd like to do was an enclosure."

Imagined Worlds, Freeman Dyson

"We are much more limber, versatile, better articulated; there is much more to us; we all feel it."

genetic engineering of existing structures rather than starting from scratch

"Each time-scale makes different demands, and the demands of various time-scales are often in conflict with one another. This is the main reason for the complexity of human nature. We are the only species that in conscious of the passage of time and of our own mortality, the only species with an awareness of the future."

4th dimension/time

"Beyond a million years, the slow rhythms of biological and geological evolution become visible."

slow rhythms

"On a time-scale of a hundred years, each of us as an individual is dead."

family, nation, science or art, industry, religion

local solutions

Earth as unspoiled wilderness, humans living frugally

space travel cheap when huge volumes using it

dispersed widely, genetic drift

contact with reality of death not lost

"The only cure for an insane society is harsh contact with reality."

Carroll, Einstein (telegraph, radios), Newton universe (ships, wheels)

space absolute, time relative
space relative, time relative
space relative, time absolute

inventions - language, grandparents, awareness of death, laughter, to enable us to enjoy the absurdity of our situation, love of sunshine and rivers and trees and earth, reverence and loyalty, religion

principle of maximum diversity

critical, subcritical

pragmatism against ideology

tech driven by pragmatism work well
tech driven by ideology work badly

pure and applied science friendly to poor people and poor countries

"When life is spread all over the galaxy, we will be living in a Carroll universe because distances are too large to be traveled on a human time-scale."

"In the past, before the invention of ships and wheels, we lived in a Carroll universe because each little tribe of humans could move only a short distance within a human lifetime. Each tribe was like a point in a Carroll universe, separated from other points by absolute space. Then, when ships and wheels were invented, we learned to travel around the world. Our space was no longer absolute and we moved into a Newton universe. A little later we invented the telegraph and the radio and moved into an Einstein universe. We will stay in an Einstein universe for a few thousand years, until we spread out over interstellar distances or contact aliens who are already spread out over the galaxy. And then, after we are spread out, we shall be back in the Carroll universe."

lack of ways to meaningfully and quickly search our current world (especially for art and style) and my lack of ways to successfully communicate

And if not a Carroll universe, still stuck in a Newton universe.

Insanely Great, Steven Levy

"random bugs in the original"

"the small screen turned milky white"

"...each time I turn it on, I am reminded of the first light I saw in Cupertino, 1983."

"I have essentially accessed another world, the place where my information lives."

"...they become as cozy as the living room you grew up in. It's home. And in this place, you find familiar thing."

"Even the simulated F-16 fighter jet you were piloting into a hostile zone...."

"The work you perform there is real."

"sleeping with them" [laptops]

"We're going to make it so easy to be creative that people will have no excuse not to confront their own artistic ability."

"I knew I wanted it in my life."

"incredible potential"

"Don't mess with my dream, and I'll like you."

"Then, with great animation, he said, "You know, we don't grow most of the food we eat. We wear clothes other people make. We speak a language that other people developed. We use a mathematics that other people evolved... I mean, we're constantly taking things. It's a wonderful, ecstatic feeling to create something that pits it back in the pool of human experience and knowledge."

"one rides... a concept... catches a new concept"

"'s spirit should be elevated if he can better review his shady past and analyze more completely and objectively his present problems."

"Suddenly, it all seemed much too flat to accept."

"Unjustified obscurity"

"Thus it appears that instead of inventing cyberspace, Gibson identified it."

"...used to reach into and manipulate a world constructed only of information."

"...jammed their hand into the Phantom Zone. It had to feel like the mouse-handlers were actually working on real paper."

"Experimental Results of Tying a Brick to a Pencil to De-Augment the Individual."

" allows you to shift your posture easily...."

"...doesn't require a special and hard-to-move work surface.... A practiced, intently involved worker can be observed using his mouse effectively when its movement area is littered with an amazing assortment of paper, pens, and coffee cups, somehow running right over some of it and working around the rest."

"an abstracted version"

"how versatile ones and zeros could become"

" far as the computer was concerned, it was in a mode - but the user felt the freedom of modelessness."

"...the concept that computer time was so precious that not a moment should be wasted."

"you would actually see the file"

"Demos to outsiders"


"people were comfortable putting dark marks on white paper"

"Eventually wave after wave of Atkinson's brainpower eroded the problem."

"Fortunately, Atkinson's head, at the time the sole repository of the secret for representing cyberspace on a computer screen [QuickDraw], remained in place, though for a brief period, rather dysfunctional."

" five years of use, the modest increments of mouse travel on a desktop or pad could total up to a journey between twenty-five and thirty miles."


loose-leaf binder

"Watching a Hertzfeld demo was sort of a litmus test for bozohood: losers and suits wouldn't get it."

"...allowing folders to reside within folders, ad infinitum"

"painless exploration"

"cheap surroundings and expensive equipment"

"scrawled their names in a design mold"

"around a thousand dots that would be blacked or left blank"

"the phosphorescent garbage heap of DOS"

"...the world one entered into when flicking on a Macintosh was a clean, well-lit room, populated by wry objects, yet none so jarring that it threatened one's comforting sense of place. It welcomed your work."

"Real artists ship."

"...garbed in the latest of the seemingly limitless variations of the Macintosh T-shirt"


"One's virility was associated with the gunmetal boxes and dense, nonintuitive interfaces of those dense beasts."

"they needed to know, emotionally... that they were getting the horsepower they paid for"

"...Randy Wigginton, who had worked furiously during 1984 on a revision of MacWrite, then burned out, spending much of the next year sleeping and watching television. "When people didn't buy it, we were majorly depressed.""


"Everything on the virtual pasteboard had the malleability of thought itself...."

"The cost of trying new things bordered on zero."

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

"a second Renaissance"

"...time and time again, the crucial advances were made by individuals or pairs of wizards who passionately followed their instincts, often pursuing their goals even after their managers had canceled the projects."

"...the important thing was what one could do."

"A literature is a system of interconnected writings...."

"...I now envision the English language as a lexical Oklahoma Territory, each word waiting for a homesteader to stake a claim on it."

"HyperCard, in effect, taught you about your own brain, the leaps of logic and inference it took. No wonder that when the product was finally released one of its several mottoes was "Freedom to Associate.""

ink on bound paper

"...the life span of a new personal computer is akin to that of a dog...."

"...very few computers are privileged to die natural deaths; the vast majority succumb to inborn disease or predators."

"...the experience jarred me into contemplation about my own relationship with... technology itself."

Productivity Paradox

"...the hours we spend focusing on our tools instead of using them...."

"...the crucial bridge from metaphor to reality."


"gray screen"


"(Just as an aside, Infinite Loop is today the name of the street where the current Apple headquarters is located.)"

"The only thing I wanted was a girlfriend, that's for sure, but the rest of the stuff I already had. I had a sense of humor, and I had this attitude about life that let me choose to be happy. I knew that whether to be happy was always going to be my choice, and only my choice."

"To this day, I'm one of those people whose head just floats. I really did feel happy most of the time. I still do."

"At any rate, this first introduction we never forgot, and later on Steve and I were really linked. Linked forever."

"I froze and grabbed Steve and nearly screamed in excitement that I'd found it. We both stared at the list, rushing with adrenaline. We kept saying things like, "Oh, shit!" and "Wow, this thing is for real!"

"Well, I wanted to make mine even more special, so in addition to showing the score on-screen, I programmed these little chips (called PROMs, for programmable read-only memory) to spell out four-letter words every time you missed the ball. You know. Like HECK or DARN. Not exactly those words, but this is a family book.

"In my head, the guy who'd rather laugh than control things is going to be the one who has the happier life. That's just my opinion. I figure happiness is the most important thing in life, just how much you laugh. The guy whose head kind of floats, he's so happy. That's who I am, who I want to be and have always wanted to be."

"I had no idea what the others were going to do with their 6502s, but I knew what I was going to do with mine."

"I used sockets for all my chips because I was nuts about sockets."

"I didn't realize it at the time, but that day, Sunday, June 29, 1975, was pivotal. It was the first time in history anyone had typed a character on a keyboard and seen it show up on the screen right in front of them."

"He was the one who did the etching of Newton under the Apple tree that was on the computer manual. Underneath it was a line from a William Wordsworth poem describing Newton. It said: "A mind forever voyaging through strange seas of thought...alone.""

"Back then, we didn't have the volume to do plastic. So Paul would put them into wooden cases--often a Polynesian wood called koa--which was a style thing for us."

"Now, instead of a click-click-click sound like the burst of a machine gun, as the head moved around it made a nice-sounding whoosh. We had the fastest floppy disk access times in the industry because of this."

"From 1,000 units a month, suddenly we went to 10,000 a month. Good god, it happened so fast."

"You could buy an Apple II on eBay today, and it'll work. There is no modern product that is as reliable."

"The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner"

"I thought she was just super pretty."

"Most inventors and engineers I've met are like me--they're shy and they live in their heads. They're almost like artists. In fact, the very best of them are artists. And artists work best alone--best outside of corporate environments, best where they can control an invention's design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee."

"If you're that rare engineer who's an inventor and also an artist, I'm going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is: Work alone."

"But man, it'll be worth it in the end."

"And if you don't enjoy working on stuff for yourself--with your own money and your own resources, after work if you have to--then you definitely shouldn't be doing it!"

"I hope you're as lucky as I am. The world needs inventors--great ones. You can be one. If you love what you do and are willing to do what it really takes, it's within your reach. And it'll be worth every minute you spend alone at night, thinking and thinking about what it is you want to design or build. It'll be worth it, I promise."

jPod, Douglas Coupland

"It's strange how everything in the world changes the moment your focus becomes extremely specific."

"I was wondering what her kiss would taste like, when she picked up a Clive Cussler novel that everyone in the pod had read, and hucked it at the wall by the air intake."

"All. I. Want. To. Do. Tonight. Is. Design. A. Realistic. Looking. Waterfall. Ripple. Texture. Is. That. Too. Fucking. Much. To. Ask?"

"In a corner I saw some boxes that held my flight simulator software...."

"Ooh, look at me, I'm an information worker. My job is clean and environmentally friendly and futuristic--"

"You googled her?"
"Of course I did. Didn't you?"
I'd somehow forgotten to perform this essential task.

"Look at us. We're just clones working for the man."
"Oof. Take that, Dilbert."

"I didn't have time for underwear, and I left my favorite Doritos baseball cap behind."

"Bree, it's almost six in the morning--why are you calling?"
"Don't play the time card stunt with me. You know we're not like other people."

"Skipping meetings makes you look cool."

"It's awfully darned sexy to see someone get piss drunk at lunchtime."

"It can be really fun to go down with the ship."

"It was weird because he had this sort-of "gee-whiz" aura that always surrounded him, like a holy man, and people started assuming all these crazy mystical things about him."

"It says here that autistics are calmed down by the sensation of pressure on their skin from non-living sources, such as heavy blankets and, apparently, these hugging machines."

"Drinking Zima is something Douglas Coupland would make a character do.... It'd be a device that would allow him to locate the characters in time and a specific sort of culture."

"Zima was developed in the early 1990s, during our culture's love affair with clear products. Remember Crystal Pepsi?"

"This is the Wretched Decade."

"I've come to the conclusion that documents are thirty-four percent more boring when presented in the Courier font."

"Let's make our own Coke...."

"Remember how, back in 1990, if you used a cellphone in public you looked like a total asshole? We're all assholes now."

"Go to a fucking Gap and stock up."

"Walking onto the plane, I felt like I was entering the world of Lego in a way I hadn't since I was eleven."

"Then, across the room, I noticed something that made me think I was hallucinating--a computer monitor displaying a working Internet connection."

"Perhaps the broadest way of understanding the world of the high-functioning autistic is to treat all stimuli that impact on the human body not as sensory input but as information bombardment."

"What is important here is at least to become comfortable with the increasingly more apparent scientific fact that what we describe as "character" and "personality" are not so much spiritual or cosmic states of being, but rather, an overall effect created by clusters of overlapping brain dysfunctions."

"I found that I no longer cared about much of anything--and that I could say whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. It was great."

"Computer generated hair"

"Abandoning the party"

"The drive up the coast was glorious: ferns, massive cedars, a sparkling sea flecked with eagles and seagulls."

"I think computers ought to have a key called I'M DRUNK, and when you push it, it prevents you from sending email for twelve hours."

"Suddenly we were doing a hundred miles an hour to pass a Pepsi delivery truck."

"I'm going to make a box out of concrete and pack in as many plants as I can."

"I'm so fucking sick of Google."

" of ice churned by spews of cola."

"You shall remain forever parched with a bottomless Styrofoam drinking cup."

"People move from one office to another office on another floor in another building."

"I have a few things I might as well put down there while there's a hole happening."

"Bsh / Sound made when CD ejects from burner
Execle / Discontinued Popsicle flavor"

Lawrence Ferlinghetti

"I saw a girl with dirndl hoop and her communion dress all white when we ran round the corner with our baseball hats to play the Parkway Road Pirates and all of them still alive someplace now but still all pushed into the crypts of time to sleep so soundly with the dead that one same shadow blankets both confusing both...."



"Suzuki Roshi... who did not believe in the canonization of his teachings and resisted attempts at popularizing them. He emphasized each individual's opportunity to learn from one's own experience...."

"[Rexroth] was involved in a nonstop commentary on American culture which always emphasized the unity of the arts and the importance of total involvement...."

"...Dog and Underwear...."

"Interested in developing chants with American English words as opposed to singing Sanskrit or other unknown tongues, I at one time or another sang or spoke or chanted these verses in varying versions, sometimes with much spontaneous repetitions not herein noted, often with autoharp accompaniment."

Shampoo Planet

"Meeting Anna-Louise was like finding a stranger's shopping list on the mall floor and realizing there are other, more interesting diets than your own. It was the first time I ever felt incomplete."
"I imagine I bury a pocket calculator with liquid crystals spelling her name, then watch the earth shoot forth lightning bolts."

"She'd been swimming near closing time at the community college pool and had been solo in the pool when the power blacked out and she was treading water in the center.
"I twinked," she said. "First I was scared, but then I relaxed and I swam underwater with my eyes open. With no light there were no gravity cues. It was outer space with chlorine."

"...a stack of smooth aluminum "drug lord" luggage left over from the 1980s."

"Being one-dimensional is the most satisfying method of coping with out-of-control people--with any situation that's out of control. Keep your face like a screen saver program."

"And my friends are better prepared mentally than anybody else for the future that is actually going to arrive. Nature always prepares her babies for what they'll need."

"With each catch Anna-Louise moves deeper into the trees and I follow, silent, feeling seduced by a genetic secret, like a teenager learning to masturbate, not knowing what I'm doing, but continuing regardless, deeper into the forest, the ball miraculously managing to avoid the staid, butlerlike hemlocks and firs between us, the brush and undergrowth muffling all sound save for the beating of blood in my ears and the slap of the ball in our gloves. This slapping sound moves closer with each successive volley, closer and closer as Anna-Louise and I move in on each other over the quiet, oh-so-quiet cool dry moss. Closer and closer. Until we meet."

"What I want is to be back home and on the coast in a big glass house on the edge of the planet, on the Olympic Peninsula, say, and just look out over the water and nothing else."

"...textile computer..."

"Hairhenge", "SpellCaster"

"The Land of Software"

" clicking the sky with a mouse."

"Deep Dish Pizza"

"...feeling the sweet hot rush of mall air in my face, like a sack of warm Halloween candy..."

"I flash him back a V."

"Inventing a new dance is like inventing a new way to have sex."

"In periods of rapid personal change, we pass through life as though we are spellcast. We speak in sentences that end before finishing. We sleep heavily because we need to ask so many questions as we dream alone."

"As though there is a city on the other side."

"I remember reading of an F-16 fighter jet with a computer-software glitch that made it flip upside down when crossing the Equator."

"This is a good place to enter the world."

"The Comfortmobile's stereo booms scortching technotunes by Scottish teenagers filled with bad teeth and the need to sing."

"The PC is a beauty: a Macintosh with Microsoft Word, extended keypad, and ergonomically correct mouse."

HistoryWorld and TimeSift

"I then convert my withdrawal into a wad of low-denomination bills."

"...feeling a twinge of pride in belonging to a society that can maintain a beacon of light and technology like this Circle-K out in the middle of nowhere."

"white sugar"

"Next stop: a pilgrimage to Apple headquarters in Cupertino, then into Silicon Valley..."

"You're not supposed to notice futuretowns--they're technically invisible: low flat buildings that look like they've just popped out of a laser printer; fetishistic landscaping.... Futuretowns are like their own country superimposed onto other countries.... - the hard drives of our culture, where the human tribe is making flesh its deepest needs and fears.... designing new animals to replace the animals we've erased..."

"Futuretowns aren't places--they're documents. They are the foundries of our deepest desires as a species. To doubt them is to doubt all."

"...the peat of the Siberian carbon sink--the planet's largest biomass--is browning with much dignity and is preparing to sleep for its one billionth winter."

"...a fax of a fax of a fax of a fax of a photograph."

"A wave of grand lucidity washed over me, and the world seemed the way it does just moments before the onset of a fever...."

"I think most people dream in the house they grew up in."

"Tell me the first thing you ever noticed about me."

"Yes, I am on the floor."

Microserfs, Douglas Coupland

"Just as I thought. People who do repetitive work on keyboards tend to have highly erogenous forearms and shoulder cuffs."

"Susan noted tonight that the computers in Billy's office [Melrose Place] aren't connected to, or plugged into, anything. But this just made the show even better."

"Todd chugged Snapples. He calls them 'Workahol.'"

"Q: What animal would you be if you could be an animal?
A: You already are an animal"

"How do we know that all of these people with "no lives" aren't really on the new frontier of human sentience and perceptions?"

"Feeling like you're somewhere must be bad for ideas."

"Just as I thought. People who do repetitive work on keyboards tend to hand highly erogenous forearms and shoulder cuffs."

"I remember being young, in school, and being told that our bodies would yield enough carbon for 2,000 pencils and enough calcium for 30 sticks of chalk, as well as enough iron for one nail."

"The day they introduced Crystal Pepsi, I harassed the local Safeway manager almost daily until it arrived. I thought this new Pepsi was going to be like regular Pepsi, except minus the plutonium stuff that turns it brown. Then I tasted it--it was like 7-Up and Dr. Pepper and Pepsi and tap water all sort of randomly mixed and decolorized. Downer!"

"The past is a finite resource."

"Cape Cod houses digitized through the Hard Copy TV lens that pixelates the victim's face into little squares of color."

"Our bodies are essentially diskettes."

"There's just so much I want to forget, Dan. I thought I was going to be a READ ONLY file. I never thought I'd be ... interactive."

"Susan noted tonight that the computers in Billy's office [Melrose Place] aren't connected to, or plugged into, anything. But this just made the show even better."

"Todd chugged Snapples. He calls them 'Workahol.'"

"I stared at an entire screen full of these words and they dissolved and lost their meaning, the way words do when you repeat them over and over--the way anything loses meaning when context is removed--the way we can quickly enter the world of the immaterial using the simplest of devices, like multiplication."

"Actually when you think about it, *everything* can be a metaphor for *anything*.
To quote YOU, Daniel: "I mean, If you really think about it.""

"unraveled brown
cassette tape
on the freeway"

"Autism's a good way of focusing out the world to exclude everything but the work at hand."

"Q: What animal would you be if you could be an animal?
A: You already are an animal"

"Do you think humanoids--people--will ever design a machine that can pray? Do we pray to machines or through them? How do we use machines to achieve our deepest needs?""

"How do we know that all of these people with "no lives" aren't really on the new frontier of human sentience and perceptions?"

"the average human body contains 1 x 10^13 cells, yet hosts 1 x 10^14 bacterial cells."

"Feeling like you're somewhere must be bad for ideas."

"Newton Guy 2: ... And you'll never believe this--I was late for a flight the other day, and when the woman at the United counter pulled up my record, I looked at the monitor and my name was surrounded by DOLLAR SIGNS. How subtextual."

"If you know a lot about the world, that knowledge makes itself plain on your face."

""Screensavers are the macrame of the '90s," Susan boldly exclaimed."

"Handmade presents are scary because they reveal that you have too much free time."

"Copy of Quicken, the oddly religious personal/financial software program that has no option for roommates or other non-Cold War era sex/space-sharing alliances."

"diet Cokes, Hostess products, blank video tapes, and batteries!" [stocking gifts]

"Susan caught a cold, "From having my panties systematically saturated with fruit pulp at the Tonga Room.""

"It's such a relief when your friends date cool people."

"I fell and cut myself on some of Mom's rosebushes, and I know it's corny, but I got to thinking, it's no surprise roses are the Official Flower of Love."

"eats bricks like crazy"

"Ethan seems to have forgotten his partially completed freeway. We've nicknamed it the "Information Superhighway.""

"Bug was so mad that he wanted to write a Marburg virus and stick it in Michael's machine."

"It must be bizarre being fabulously good looking. I mean, at least you can disguise brains."

"Just think--we're rapidly approaching a world composed entirely of jail and shopping."

"It turns out that if you tape TV shows that are closed-captioned, you CAN have English language subtitles. Our entertainment universe has multiplied itself!"

"and drove into the flower-scented, gasoline-powered California night."

"Dream date!"

"It started out simply enough, with all of us discussing the way that food products in recent years have been cloning themselves out into eighteen versions of themselves. For example, old Coke, new Coke, diet Coke, old Coke without caffeine, new Coke without caffeine, Coke with pulpy bits, Coke with cheese.... Then things went out of control."

"And whenever you see no windows, there's something scary of beguiling going on inside. No humans.... Needless to say, there were FUCK OFF AND DIE warning signs from the Department of Energy bolding onto the wire fencing around the accelerator's perimeter."

"Michael mixed Robitussin with his Calistoga water. We asked him if the drink had a name and he said, "I hereby christen this drink 'the Justine Bateman' after the lovely and talented sister character, Mallory, of TV's beloved mid-eighties sitcom, Family Ties.""

"Ethan said randomness is a useful shorthand for describing a pattern that's bigger than anything we can hold in our minds. "Letting go of randomness is one of the hardest decisions a person can make.""

"Dan, you're gonna think I'm an asshole, but I had a dream, and I knew that's what he looked like. I put a diskette under my pillow for weeks waiting for a sign, and it came to me, and here he is."

"It was strange to realize that, in one sense, all we are is our voice."

""And ... what then--when the entire memory of the species is as cheap and easily available as pebbles at the beach?"
She said that this is not a frightening question. "It is a question full of awe and wonder and respect. And people being people, they will probably, I imagine, use these new memory pebbles to build new paths."
Like I said ... it was romantic."


Microsoft: First Generation

"How ya doin'? Do you know anything about the Intel 8080 processor?"

"I was just looking for fun while I did my day-to-day work."

"just us and the bits"

"I wanted every person I hired to be as smart or smarter than I was."

"Sometimes possessions own you as much as you own them."

"Some of them would just put you to sleep. It was just a job. I wasn't looking for people who wanted a job or a paycheck. I wanted to know how hard they worked, how big their batteries were and how often they needed recharging, how smart they were, how articulate they were, how much bandwidth they had between their ears."

"Being confrontational..."

"the right place at the right time"

"hash tables"

""undo" became a feature that became a "must have"."

"Getting Past OK"

"There was an employee no longer with the company who used the men's rest room as his personal shower facility. Mind you, there weren't any shower stalls in the rest room. He simply hooked up a sprayer hose to a faucet and showered."

"...a style guide is simply default. If you have an ambiguous situation and things can be done in two ways, then it is done in house style. But you don't use it to force a manuscript into a vanilla shape."

"...programmers worked long hours, but this was their hobby."


"downsized his lifestyle"

"Don't be a whiner," he cautions. "Do whatever you need to do to get where you want to go."

"The Network was so good we called it a utility."

"We used to have a guy we called our Network Rambo. He would go into South American countries, Eastern Europe, and Korea and smuggle in modems and tools to get the Network up and running."

"You have people you don't know, and you start to lose faith in their abilities."

"We always worried about Bill being kidnapped also."

"Underachievers are washed out by peer pressure within eighteen months."

"People work best with people they can be comfortable with."

"raw environment"

"pioneers and oddballs"


"Bill's eyes just locked in on that pile. He wanted that pile to be real." [mocked up multimedia titles]

expand skill set

Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

Microsoft Secrets

interviews (all tape-recorded and transcribed into several thousand pages)

(documentation for users)

"execution is the thing that distinguishes"

"millions of lines of code"

"These little offices, hidden away with the doors closed. And unless you have this constant voice of authority going across the e-mail the whole time, it doesn't work."

"...what you have to do is make that structure as unseen as possible and build up this image for all these prima donnas to think that they can do what they like."

"It's like he's this huge computing machine that knows how to make money."

"The status reports are brief and have a standard format."

"sanity checkpoint"

"a comprehensive argument that views the world differently"

End User Group

"infinite defects"

"...we don't understand how the pieces will work together."

"...developers, without structure, are reasonably irrational: Left to their own devices, they will do things which may not make sense for marketing reasons or supportability or anything else."

"'Well, what about this?' To ask an insightful question. To absorb it in real time. A capability to remember. To relate to domains that may not seem connected at first. A certain creativity that allows people to be effective."

"I've seen stupid companies where they just hire bodies and attempt to make up for their hiring of lots of bodies by putting in lots of rules. I guess it may partly fix the problem, but the root cause of the problem was not lack of rules. It was hiring people that needed lots of rules to do their job."


"private releases"

"end users' needs"

"someone detached from the spec"

"track bugs"

"They have followed the lead of the other specialties and formalized many of their procedures, and even characterize their processes in terms borrowed from software development." [manuals & documentation]

"Any company that has HR people do the hiring is doomed."

"maximize the number of individual offices with windows"

"The Microsoft way: Wake up, go to work, do some work. 'Oh, I'm hungry.' Go down and eat some breakfast. Do some work. 'Oh, I'm hungry.' Eat some lunch. Work until you drop. Drive home. Sleep."

"embarrassment drives the world"

"So we look for people who are eternal skeptics. They don't take anything for granted."

"Inexperienced but smart people"

"the first moment that they're here on campus has to be an exciting moment that wil carry forward for their whole career."

""Word Internals," "Excel Internals," and "Newcomer.doc.""

"We're very conscious of the dual career concept, where a guy who doesn't want to be a manager can progress in his career and get promoted just as well as a guy who does want to be a lead or a manager."

"Testing simple features for low-volume consumer products is probably at the lowest end of the skill requirements...."

"make old products obsolete"

"platform standards"

"character-based and graphical computing"

""golden master" ... the copy of the product from which Microsoft will make all others."

"describing clearly "what the product is not" as opposed to "what the product is.""

"For example, the initial specification for Excel 5.0 was 1,500 pages before the start of coding, and the complete specification when the product shipped was 1,850 pages."

"Word 6.0's initial specification was approximately 350 pages, and its complete specification was about 400 pages. A very early version of the latest Office specification was about 1,200 pages; Microsoft has not printed it recently, but it is now too large to bind as a single document."

"less emotional attachment" [to software]

"They just want it to work, and they don't want to learn it."

granular document

"It's a little like reading the ingredient list for an automobile and trying to figure it out, is this thing a sports car or what?"

"important of frequent user activities"

"spec the exe"


"sim ship"

"the virtues of creating and using your own tools"

"usage scenarios"

"technical exchange"

"what runs great in 16 megs might thrash like crazy in 4 meg"


chrome and matte black

overlapping of worlds

"...pervasive, utterly intimate. Not outside us, but next to us. Under our skin; often, inside our minds."

"Eighties tech sticks to the skin, responds to the touch." (laptop, Walkman, cellphone, soft contact lens)


"the street finds its own uses for things."

street graffiti, spray can, home printer, photocopier, scratch music

global point of view

crammed prose... wall of sound

favorite examples

"He fished a beer out of a battered foam cooler beside his deck chair."

"The body could drive, I told myself, while the mind maintained."

"Desert nights in that country are enormous."

"gray sheets of rain cascade across the pavement"

Lightning walked across the purpled sky

"brown clots of fossilized gum on the green plastic flooring, scuff marks on the walls"

worn gray obi



"a paradox marked the limits of a position, even of a mode of being"

the starved look out of an out-of-work model

"She kissed him with her tongue in his mouth."

"two beers and life was a carnival."

"The two of them spent much of the time standing in a corner, rubbing up against one another."

"As he nuzzled her neck, tried to lick the drop the blood of her left breast..."

"Stumbling drunk and humping in public..."

"Lizzie's face on the screeen stuck its tongue out at him."


limbic system

"...instead of smell, he felt the presence of certain molecules; instead of words, he heard structured collections of phonemes."

"patches of brown and green"

"the white noise of rainfall"

"he awoke to the filtered but mechanical smell of the space station..."

"brown traces of dried blood"

"adapt or die"

"flared nostrils, parted lips"

"I blow my candle out."

natural light

"Essential. It was a mirror in which each age could observe the quality of its imagination...."

plain vanilla

"never learned to argue and he had a hair-trigger temper"

"It was a mirror in which any theoretician could see his ideas reflected."

"What did it matter how expensive it was, if it turned out to be the ultimate erotic experience?"

feasibility study

"the brain would be awash in the pleasure of discovery"

to be ordinary

"men in skins had built a structure that could capture a star"

"Doorway raised upon doorway."

cider from a disposable juice bulb

mirrored fingernails


"the good time was a function of having given up."

"Then he'd realized he was missing the bass bottom of carbon monoxides. There were no combustion cars...."

"Heightened perception makes it seem to take longer."


"scratched-to-his-touch plastic flask at his hip and swigs some stale water."

bare calloused feet

a dry, safe place to sleep


threadbare coverall

untroubled by doubt

denim and bleached hair

carefully laundered Levi's and dilapidated Adidas running shoes

metallic echoes

The black dress boots of heavy quilted nylon

"two steady, alien eyes - fearless, yet driven"

blue Kansai jumpsuit of Japanese silk

grating undertone

beige silk panties

a scrap of black-lace underwear

Mona Lisa Overdrive, William Gibson


"Strangers could feel the Shape burning behind Gentry's eyes."

"She knew how to tune the content out, but the tone still got to her..."

"They were like windows into something so strange; he never tried to explain any of it, probably didn't understand it himself, maybe nobody did...."

"...the other's memories washing in, filling her, then draining away to levels she couldn't reach, leaving these afterimages...."

Netscape Time

"success never brings rest"

"when I most recently woke up"

"Internet time"

"entirely forgettable clothes"

"don't know they're missing out on life because they don't yet have lives"


"We each did the job that most appealed to us, so each of us thinks the other did the hard stuff."

"We figured if we did cool stuff, we'd get better jobs after school."

"It's amazing what you can gain merely by recognizing talent, and how much you can lose by taking it for granted."

"If I could push a button and blow up the Internet, I would do it, because I don't know how to control it."

"eat lunch or be lunch"

"Andy [Grove] giveth, and Bill [Gates] taketh away."

"simply thought about getting something done so they could start to improve it."

"there's a certain grace period when the thrill of the new compensates for the pain of imperfection."

"...the kind of impersonality and any-old-time convenience that had quickly made automated bank-teller machines an essential part of our lives."

"I hadn't been on the fast track to anywhere. For quite a while I was on no track at all."

"The basic materials are laughably cheap."

"At Illinois, we were just guys without a life. People thought that was weird. In Silicon Valley, if you have no life, you're respected. People figure you're onto something."

"...they'd put enough "fuck you" money aside to turn around and walk away if anybody with less experience gave them any crap."

partially eaten slices

"...they want to do cool stuff and be recognized for it by the others doing cool stuff. The ones who manage to do the coolest stuff are an elite, and they know it."

"For everyone writing code that summer, June, July, and August passed in an endless freight train of late nights."

"...the Internet is a creature that never sleeps."

"...downtime was only when you simply couldn't stay vertical for another second. Aleks Totic remembers bleakly that often when he woke up on a futon and saw the sun low in the sky through the window, he couldn't remember if it was the beginning of a workday or the end. In fact, the idea of beginning and end no longer had much meaning."

"No one watching these games would ever again be able to indulge in the stereotypical notion of the nerd as a busy brain stuck onto a vestigial body."

"...put on a clean T-shirt and shorts...."

" was built overnight after overnight after overnight."

"Cubicles have no doors to slam. I've been alternately chugging Coca Cola and Pepto Bismol."

"Somebody had rigged each platform with a signature sound: a cannon shot for UNIX machines, a frog croaking for Windows, and glass breaking for Macs."

"...the Web had the potential to become a kind of virtual operating system...."

"...many are true nerds who spent their college years in a state of defiant sloth and have worked too hard since then to bother with the trappings of sartorial civilization."

"By design, I had made myself redundant."

"Paul Erdos once said that "a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems." The software equivalent might be that a programmer is a machine for turning Coke into code."

"...legendary rivalries define the rivals."

"Someone once said you can judge a person by the quality of their enemies...."

"Success in the software business is, up to a point, self-perpetuating."

"...because the sales and marketing power of IBM had made the PC the dominant machine, especially in business situations, DOS was on the majority of desktops by default."

"It's easy to work out the pop psychology of somebody like me, a man who grew up poor and not at all likely to succeed. Let the Jim Clarks of the world get any kind of advantage, you just about have to use a tire iron to make us let go."

"Smart young entrepreneurs won't want to do things the elegant, interesting way, but merely the Microsoft way."

"...more and more of the total cost of a computer is the operating system, which has no replication cost."

"...people use it, some of them admire it, but nobody really loves it. Too cloying in its cute little critters, too clunky in its operation, too fragile by far."

"...all I once hoped for was to be able to support myself."

"It was the best of times. It was the fastest of times."

Neuromancer, William Gibson

"for Deb / who made it possible / with love"

"bedslab, temperfoam"


"Gray eyes rimmed with smudged black paintstick."



"overheated darkness of a coffin"

simstim decks


"Dark hair, mirrored glasses, dark clothing..."

fresh raw seafood

wrapped in gray plastic

Mitsubishi Bank chip

filtration masks

"Get just wasted enough...."

"data made flesh"

soggy chipboard

"standard Hitachi pocket computer and a small white styrofoam cooler chest"

"brown temperfoam slab"

beer pitcher


"Hot tears blurred his vision."

"He shifted on the concrete, feeling it rough and cool through the thin black denim."


"It was the style that mattered"

"Molly left cartons of rice and foam trays of sushi on the corner of the long table."

"He'd go straight to the deck, not bothering to dress, and jack in."

"Blue lips parted wetly..."

"spraying foam barricades now"


crimson neon

"madly swirling shades of polycarbon"


"Two hours later, Case fell beside Molly on the slab and let the temperfoam mold itself against him."

"...had to ask the computer to read them for him."

patchwork wooden tenements

"...infinity, mirror into mirror..."

worn carbon ribbon


"He was a product of the rubble rings that frine the radioactive core of old Bonn."

"It was a chip voice."


"that very simplicity suggesting extreme complexity."

damp chipboard

"Someone had once told him that the amount of blood in the average human body was roughly equivalent to a case of beer."

"...machine-made of produced from synthetics"

artificial bruises

"Drops of chlorinated water fell on the leg of his pants."

"Dreamblood soaking the rotten lace."

"food, warmth, a place to sleep"

"to be conscious and unable to think"


ROM personality construct

"His limbs were wood, old, warped and heavy with rain."

"I don't have this good a memory...." "Everybody does, ... but not many of you can access it. Artists can, mostly, if they're any good."

"Bad luck, it'll do that sometimes, get you down to basics."

"...through a warm bath."

"One was singing softly to himself in a language Case had never heard, the tones and melody alien and haunting."

"...gradual and willing accommodation of the machine, the system, the parent organism. It was the root of street cool...."

"Called it a template."

"drink to keep it all so fluid"

"...split at the toes like tabi socks."

Pattern Recognition, William Gibson

CPUs "...seem to have come into this world without human intervention."

"She can only tolerate things that could have been worn, to a general lack of comment...."

trainers, skate shoes, "street-level emergence", ""urban survival" footwear"

"commodification will soon follow identification"

"rolls of new carpeting stacked like plastic-wrapped logs"

"purely functional and iconic"

"...created by Japanese obsessives driven by passions having nothing at all to do with anything remotely like fashion."

"rain-faded monochrome"

"e-mail is text-free. There is only the attachment."

"There is a lack of evidence, an absence of stylistic cues, that Cayce understands to be utterly masterful."

"To curl fetal there, and briefly marvel, as a final wave crashes over her, at the the perfect and now perfectly revealed extent of her present loneliness." "hot water, lots of it"

"cinnamon blur"

"addressing one's palate with the various tap waters of the city"

"rubber-stamped e-mail address"

"Off Topic"

"careful lack of period markers might suggest some attitude, on the maker's part, to time and history"

"It's about transferring information, but at the same time about a certain lack of specificity."

"seeker after truth (or at least functionally)"

"Do you imagine that no one else is looking? Far more creativity, today, goes into the marketing of products than into the products themselves, athletic shoes or feature films."

"The heart is a muscle," Bigend corrects. "You know' in your limbic brain. The seat of instinct. The mammalian brain. Deeper, wider, beyond logic. That is where advertising works, not in the upstart cortex. What we think of as mind' is only a sort of jumped-up gland, piggybacking on the reptilian brainstem and the older, mammalian mind, but our culture tricks us into recognizing it as all of consciousness. The mammalian spreads continent-wide beneath it, mute and muscular, attending its ancient agenda. And makes us buy things." [?]



"surgical shower, jeans and a T-shirt"

"everything executed in red ballpoint"

"fluorescents in nonstandard colors"

"What is that, to be over thirty and not know where you'll be in a month or two?"

"rocks in a river of youth"

"She feels the things she herself owns as a sort of pressure."

"deliberate but extremely lateral"

"Her requests don't have to make any sense...."

"Happy Face"

"plastic-wrapped blankets"


"the laptop's screen up but dark"

"Kudzu at home."

"plastic mag-strip card"

"black tissue"

"how blankness can yield image"

"orphaned skateboard gear"

"Stew's been simmering for the better part of two months. Just keep tossing things in."

"What's that domain?" "My former company. All that's left of it."


"He has the air of a man whose lost cause has most unexpected panned out."


"The Fanta has a nasty, synthetic edge."

"Rust-colored fountain pen. Neat italics."

"...more deeply textured perhaps for its lack of color."

"Merge with it, deep enough that it, not you, begins to talk to us."

"...I don't think we're getting lateral enough, here."

"...yet another nationally specific flavor of petro-carbons"

"She sits up naked under thick white sheets..."

"a square of clear acrylic: laser-etched in its core are the Coca-Cola logo"

"extensively laundered flannel print"


"we are the most often the merest of cogs in larger plans."


"brown tile floor"

Prisoner's Dilemma: John von Neumann, Game Theory, and the Puzzle of the Bomb, William Poundstone

"something "nontrivial" about that"

"Chess is not a game. Chess is a well-defined form of computation."

"a right procedure in any position"

"Real life consists of bluffing, of little tactics of deception, of asking yourself what is the other man going to think I mean to do."

"Most great advances in science come when a person of insight recognizes common elements in seemingly unrelated contexts."

"...a dilemma tale is a story that presents a difficult decision and asks the listener what he would do."

"bombs get bigger and people stay the same"

[surfer's dilemma]

"making... comments"

"Johann Neumann von Margitta"

"the philosophical underpinnings of artistic works"

"...written for several voices with the instruments unspecified. Johnny was so impressed with this that Nicholas credits it as a source for the idea of the stored-program computer."

"fluid line of thought"

"..."shock of recognition" phase in which they find that the most ordinary-looking of people are famous (to professionals) figures."

"...popular articles on von Neumann, struggling to explain just who he was...."

"clever friends"

"exuberant love letters"

"their large mixed-breed dog, "Inverse.""


"Why don't you get some chalk dust on your clothes so you'll look like the rest of us?" colleagues asked. It was claimed that he carried little in his pockets except security clearances and Chinese puzzles."

"It was a common occurrence for him to begin scribbling with pencil and paper in the midst of a nightclub floor show or a lively party, 'the noisier,' his wife says, 'the better.'"

"He has been observed unaffectedly scrapping with a five-year-old over who was to have priority in using a new set of interlocking building blocks."

"brandy with a hamburger chaser"

"getting them to do research"

"you don't have to be responsible for the world that you're in."

"reduces the apparent arbitrariness to a few simple guiding motivations"

"...the best mathematics is usually inspired by practical problems."

"a disorganized mass of details and complexities"


"...a genius is a man who has two great ideas."

"I now understand how to do such and such."

[game theory] "...a mirror in which [they] see reflected their own preconceptions."

"You must see that in a sense all science, all human thought, is a form of play."

"Human beings being mortal, no recreational game is intended to go on forever."

"prune it to reveal the rational way"

"A true strategy for chess would be so huge that it could never be written down. There is not enough paper and ink on earth to list all the possibilities; there is not enough computer memory to loop through them all."

"The real table would span the galaxies...."

"Once you had this table, you wouldn't have to bother with the chessboard anymore."

"To detail every possible contingency beforehand would be the antithesis of the word "play.""

"You know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst."

"...the necessity of producing the unusual or facing extinction."

"...crushing a beer can without splattering any beer."

"concerned with axiomization of mathematics"

"...until his last conscious hours, he remained interested in and intrigued by the still unexplored aspects and possibilities of the fast-growing use of automata."

lunchtime talk

[RAND duties] "frown, hint, or suggestion"

"Flood also accumulated data on how departing RAND colleagues sold or gave away their belongings (many stayed just for the academic summer break)."

"There are seventy-eight distinct two-person, two-strategy games. Every one must occur somewhere in real life."

rainwater samples

"As spies must be, Fuchs was pleasant and did not stand out in a crowd."

rose corsage

"...the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept."

"'Patriotism' and 'nationalism' appear to be related to a lack of trust in others and an incapacity to strive for mutual benefit even under conditions where cooperation leads to greater personal gain"

""Probably in its execution we shall have to perform more elementary arithmetical steps than the total in all the computations performed by the human race heretofore." The conjecture prodded the two mathematicians to try to verify it. They concluded it was wrong: the combined number-crunching of all the world's schoolchildren through history did in fact exceed the number of computations needed for the hydrogen bomb."

"It is characteristic, that we willingly pay at the rate of 30,000-40,000 additional fatalities per year - about 2% of our total death rate! - for the advantages of individual transportation by automobile...."

"Von Neumann's body, which he had never given much thought to, went on serving him much longer than did his mind."

"Von Neumann's orderlies were Air Force personnel, cleared for top-secret material in case he blurted military secrets."

mamihlapinatapai: "looking at each other hoping that either will offer to do something that both parties desire but are unwilling to do."

Melvin J. Guyer and Anatl Rapoport "catalogued all the simple games"

"People are much the same the world over. No conflicts are so common or so bitter as those between people wanting the same thing."

"If there is any recurring theme in these arguments, it is easier to evade social dilemmas than to resolve the paradox."

"Whether to litter - leave a tip - shoplift - stop and help someone - lie - conserve electricity - etc., etc. - all are dilemmas of individual gain and the common good. Some commentators have speculated that irrational cooperation is the cornerstone of society, and without it life would be, as Hobbes put it, "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.""

"There appears to be a very good reason why people and organizations cooperate. Most of the dilemmas of real life are iterated dilemmas."

"You may well decide honestly is the best policy - purely out of self-interest."

"Most other species are not conspicuously smart, strong, prolific, vicious, or anything."

"the observed phenomena of nature tend to be stable phenomena"

genetically encoded behaviors

"Evolutionary stable strategies are not necessarily "rational" or "fair" or "morally right." They are simple stable."

"There can be more than one evolutionary stable strategy."

"Strategies of great subtlety are possible."

"...strategies have different "personalities.""

"...Swiss Army knives that have so many different tools you never need that they are too heavy to carry."

"...neighbors, fellow beings that they would have dealings with again and again. A person who cheated his neighbor could not expect cooperation in the future. A person who cheated all his neighbors would be an outcast."

"Many of the trappings of civilization promote cooperation. Inventions such as names, language, credit cards, license plates, and ID cards help connect a person with his past behavior."

"...limiting a minority's interaction with outsiders distrustful of them."

"In the real world, it is not always obvious whether someone has acted cooperatively or defected."

"Tit-for-tat strategies require that both sides believe essentially the same history...."

"...most of the makers of the bomb... thought that it would lead to world government and an end to war."

"technologically backward army"

"Why accept any risk when you don't have to?"

"To apply game theory to a real dollar auction such as an arms race, you would have to know exactly how much nations are willing and able to spend on defense."

"The uncertainly will be total."

"Or you reason that people's time is worth something."

"...better ways to promote cooperation than any now in existence."

Half Slave, Half Free: This Divided World

Dilemma Tales

Metaphors and Scenarios

Shamans Through Time: 500 Years on the Path to Knowledge, Jeremy Narby

"wild and pitch dark night; rain fell heavily; thunder pealed incessantly; and every now and then lightening, flashing behind the far-off Pacaraima range, for a moment vividly showed the rugged edge of the dark mountains against the sky. Bare-headed, bare-footed, and coatless, I spent the short time before the dawn out in the storm...."

"They are distinguished by a certain energy and mobility of the muscles of the face...."

fasting and solitude


offering of sacrifice




"remove all disturbing and impure elements"

"...the power, acquired by tact and knowledge, to influence the people round him." His reserved attitude has undoubtedly a great influence on the people among whom he lives. He must know how and when to have his fit of inspiration, which sometimes rises to frenzy, and also how to preserve his high "tabooed" attitude in his daily life...."

"an inspired person"

"...shamans and possession cults almost always [operate with music]"

"shamanism and possession cults usually [involve the conception of a cosmos]"

Music and Trance: A Theory of the Relations between Music and Possession

"conducted most of his work independently of institutions"

"Rasmussen took pains to write down people's stories word for word."

"True wisdom is only to be found far away from people, out in the great solitude, and it is not found in play only through suffering. Solitude and suffering open the human mind, and therefore a shaman must seek his wisdom there."

"...all evil will shun a place where people are happy."

"being able to see into the riddles of life"

wooden cup

"There is a special selection of persons who are not susceptible to ecstasy, but who understand the essentials of the performance."

"...the patient's willingness to remain ill or even to die. This later must be counteracted and the will to be healthy and to live be restored...."

"Beneath the unkempt hair, above a naked body or one clothed in the white man's cast-offs, and in an immobile face shine shrewd, penetrating eyes - eyes that look you all the way through - the lenses of a mind that is photographing your very character and intentions. I have seen those eyes and felt that mind at work when I have sought knowledge that only the man of high degree could impart. I have known white people who almost feared the eyes of a karadji, so all-seeing, deep, and quiet did they seem. This clever man was definitely an outstanding person, a clear thinker, a man of decision, one who believed, and acted on the belief, that he possessed psychic power, the power to will others to have faith in themselves."

"...the real medicine man is a professional individual of special training whose personality, from the point of view of the community, reaches a high degree of normality."

"...making explicit a situation originally existing on the emotional level and in rendering acceptable to the mind pains which the body refuses to tolerate."

magic darts, invisible substances


"this is a profession where mistakes may lead to tragic consequences."

"...pride in her profession, but also by her love for the tribal community she serves...."

"..."clever man," as Australian Aborigines call shamans."

"an inner life of contemplation that, to the aborigines, is a mark of manhood."


"to feel protected by goodness"

"In this close configuration - together - they face the gods."

extended fasts in nature

"...I was viewing a world of which I was not a part...."

4 enemies of knowledge:
"dispels fear, but also blinds" "[he] will be patient when he should rush"
"he must defy his clarity and use it only to see"
"he must think, above all, that his clarity is almost a mistake. And a moment will come when he will understand that his clarity was only a point before his eyes."
old age
"The myths signify - nothing. They mean themselves."

"The Way of the Shaman"

"I suddenly felt my distinctive humanness."

copper mirror

"...a person has wound himself so deeply in concentration that he has even drawn the onlookers into this vortex of self-oblivion."

"into his state of mind"

"Another god is entering the oracle, as indicated by a change in the drumming, a different chant, and renewed whistling. Whistling always indicates the departure or arrival of a lha, another being."

healing by sucking

"He was old, and perhaps because of long practice, he had less need of drastic triggering techniques than younger shamans. He seemed to have developed his own style and to be completely tuned in to it."

"In this atmosphere, we find ourselves in another world, which purifies us of our everyday mental pettiness."


"Critical and fault-finding attitudes, lack of understanding and narrow-mindedness had blocked the free impulse to let go of ego."

"I finally gave up my running commentary on events, stopped classifying."

"...the fragmentation of the ego structure and the external world."

"...just as a child spins in a circle in order to experience that feeling of giddiness that stands outside our normal ego-defined experience."

"...the happy feeling of ego loss. All of humanity seeks it in its clinging to love, in singing, dancing, dreaming, or spinning in the intoxication of alcohol or drugs. All of these, though diluted, are trance-fostering states or states tending toward trance."

"The whole of our emotional life strives toward one point, to attain a pinnacle, the experience of flowing, in which compulsive and rational moments, which always dam the flow, are disabled. Our overall human quest for good humor, for feeling good, present here only as a hint, reaches the point of intense feeling in trance."

"...discoveries came slowly: "One little thing may come every eight or ten years...."

heavy wicker basket of gear

fire light and sun light

"obtain a series of objects of wood, stone, or other substances that contain the essence of certain power concepts"

"The conditional as if is explicit in spells and incantations in which nature is perceived as imbued with human motivations and possibilities of action."

"...shamanism is intimately bound up with animals, ... the basic means of subsistence."

"...if one eats just any kind of food, one learns nothing."

"healers were mirrors"

"mental imagery and the technique of controlling it"

"the development of enhanced skills in mental imagery"

"able to convey crucial information beyond the normal constraints of space and time"

"imaginal world"

"...shamanism, not prostitution, is the world's oldest profession"

mental constructions


"tolerate ambiguity"

"don't know mind"

"usefully humbling"

"ensemble of techniques for knowing"

"yoshi - spirit or animate essence"

"...a yoshi is simply all the empirical characteristics of the thing with which it is associated, hypostatized and raised to the status of some independent being - an essence."

"Origin myths are seen as providing "paths" into this spirit world and true accounts of the nature of yoshi."

"...there is no possible unitary description of a yoshi. They are always "like ... and not like," "the same ... but different." This profound duality marks not only all accounts of them but is reflected in all shamanic and ritual dealings with them."

" "mental" events with animate essences which can drift free from bodies and mingle with the world, participating in it much more intimately than any conventional notion of "mind" would allow...."

"...creating the space for the animal transformations of the human and the attribution of mental and human characteristics to all aspects of nature."

"A song is a path - you make it straight and clean then you walk along it."

"The tropical forest, with its thousand themes and the infinitude of form, shape, and texture, appears at times to mock the terminology of the Western scientist."

"To stay alive, these men and women invented a way of life and, lacking the technology to transform the forest, they chose instead to understand it."

"It is local, in that cosmic space merges experientially into the space of everyday living through the features, such as graves and sacred sites, of a specific landscape.
At the same time, it is holistic, in that (even allowing for the existence of other tribes, white men, etc.) the cosmos and the local landscape between them give a total rendering of the universe.
This holism does not imply a steady state: shamanism is also eristic, in that the shamanic world-view openly acknowledges the role of battle and risk. The shaman is a hero who makes a bold and necessary intervention into cosmic processes. The power to act is precarious and this human action is fraught with danger.
Finally, shamans are often politically dissident or anti-centrist. In Soraland, Siberia and elsewhere, they are contrasted to non-ecstatic priests or elders who perform more sober, routine cults...."

"Even as astronomy sees ever further into space, the arena of human consciousness has shrunk from the cosmos to a mere globe. So, ironically, the more global things become, the less holistic they are since they pertain only to this globe."

Showstopper! The Breakneck Race to Create Windows NT and the Next Generation at Microsoft

frequent builds

building a house from scratch while living in it

"Never before did I accomplish so much or was my life so simple."

"I had only one concern - to ship this product."

"programmers confronted a jungle of computer languages, and the course of their careers was often decided by the one they chose to learn best"

"He not only ignores anyone and anything that might interfere, he denigrates them."

"Cutler made plain his desire for compact code by keeping a rubber stamp on his desk that bore the motto: Size Is The Goal."

"a local brew that he treated as a divine fluid"

"He seemed not to care about the loss of his things even when Mary began taking away the clothes she found on the floor. Gates appeared stubbornly serene as the prospect of his impending nudity."

"The PC was like an automobile; it would go anywhere its driver wanted."

"running scared"

"a succession of lively memos on software trends"


"If you bring the press in to see me, I'll do something that will make you never bring them in again."

"almost no documentation and unimpressive design"

"a furtive look that made it seem as if he didn't like the daylight"

"an irreverent view of the irreverent people about him"

"A good spec was a beacon."

"a string of successes only to come up short"

"simulated the chip"

"exploring blind alleys"

skunk works


"I'm one of these people, I'll buy into anything that's just. I'll work hard day and night. But don't pile anything on me after I've committed to do something that's hard to do."

"There's never been one mind behind the whole thing, and it shows."

"there was a two-inch pipe with piss going back and forth between the two teams"

"We mostly hire people who have to be constrained, not motivated."

"The first can invariably led to others, since she found it hard to write code without "chain-drinking Tabs," as she put it."

"When we started pissing off other groups - that's when I started feeling comfortable."

"still evolving in useful ways"

bug rate

"living on the bleeding edge"

"penciling in scores of additional features"

moving target


Build Lab


"she abandoned her reserve while retaining a sense of order"

"How does a project get to be a year late? ... One day at a time."

"Working in a state of exhaustion isn't very productive."

"sidetracked by interesting but irrelevant conundrums"

"In a world of ambiguity and conflicting opinions, in which definitive answers were in short supply, the computer's power to separate between good (it works) and bad (it doesn't) software had a hypnotic appeal for code writers. It was hardly surprising, then, that the creation of programs - a message from a person to a machine - would appear to some as a sanctuary. Social psychologist Sherry Turkle has written: "Before the computer, the animals, mortal though not sentient, seemed our nearest neighbors in the known universe. Computers, with their interactivity, their psychology, with whatever fragments of intelligence they have, now bid for this place.""

packaged software

"A strong manual made a program more useful"

"specialists in a program devoured any and all documentation"

"How to ask for help."

"Every few hours I'd look up and say, 'Shit, I miss her.'"

"an independence that comes from mastering a field on one's own"

"Under pressure or working with unfamiliar things, you tend to be satisfied with approximations; you don't actually understand everything that's going on."

"The standoff between Stowell and Butzi highlighted the significance of personal conflicts in technical culture. Conflict over ideals and style loomed large - they were the lifeblood of innovation. Because code writers relied on logic and mathematics in their designs, they downplayed the role of personality in their technical decisions. But the sense of inevitability, ascribed to all seminal inventions, is an illusion. There are invariably many ways to achieve roughly the same technical ends. Technical choices are often highly personal. While shaped by commercial considerations, technical decisions also reflect human values and psychology."

"Conflict introduces life in the laboratory. When there's no conflict, a lab is no good."

"Get this off the ntdev or I'll come over and walk through your wall."

"Work is the best prescription for pain."

"a program that could run any application on any machine"

"list of features they wanted in the next version"

"People rarely achieved greatness because they were too blinded by daily routine even to try anything extraordinary."

"A programmer visiting the lab finally yanked the disc from the player and tossed it against the wall."

Zero Bug Club

bug number 569


"He lived his spare ethic."

"no ritual expressions of obedience"

"Teams retain and spread technical wisdom in much the same way that preliterate people preserve the folklore of a tribe."

"the wisdom is kept in people's heads"

"there are many similarities in the way members of technical teams and preliterate tribes communicate"

"Most technical discussions unfolded casually"

work forms

"the body of practical knowledge is changing too fast for it to be codified"

"the impossibility of capturing practical knowledge gives the carriers of this knowledge immense power and freedom"

"armed truce"

Surviving the Extremes, Kenneth Kamler, M.D.

"...the Sherpas had developed a method for matching the pitch of their chanting with the natural frequency created by the vibration of their brain waves?"

"I have learned not to dismiss this kind of possibility."

"reliable piece of equipment.... the human body"

"The few million humans who live in borderline environments don't thrive, but they do survive at the edge of their own physiology."

"No animal in its right mind ever intentionally puts itself in danger by going somewhere it doesn't belong."

"safely inaccessible"

"With gradual exposure over enough generations, humans demonstrate enormous adaptability."

"Sunrise comes suddenly at the equator."

"natives who wore clothes that looked like leftovers from a Kmart closeout sale"

"bare feet, thickly callused from a lifetime of walking in the jungle"

"human brains... hamper physical adaptation"

"even the air was green"

"Hiking in the jungle always gives me the feeling that I am inside some giant organism."

"As I turned to look, a raindrop washed some bug lotion into my eye."

add thatch

"The harsher the environment, the more stern and unyielding its rules; the group must do what is best for the survival of the species, even at the cost of the individual. The principle of preserving genes, which motivates altruism, also works in reverse to motivate baser instincts. To maintain the gene pool at large, it is sometimes necessary to detach a small portion when it drains a disproportionate amount of resources."

"Antonio showed me several other plants that he uses in his recipe for dart poison. ...a third appeased the spirit of the dead animal."

"a sunrise, a birdcall, or a waterfall - are multiplied , distorted, and intensified into hallucinations."

"Ritual participants deliberately exceed the capacity of the brain centers to handle the input from their environment."

"The left side can't determine any body limit, so it perceives itself as endless and intimately continuous with the rest of the world; the right side loses all outside reference points, creating a sense of eternal time and infinite space."

"...suddenly find the motivation to survive."

"An easy-to-climb tree was always planted close to a chonta palm so that there would be convenient access to the valuable leaves."

"His society, with its tribal norms and mores, provided practical rules as well as spiritual support. His body, with its generations of genetic adaptations, had evolved to increase his immunity and perhaps also reinforce the brain circuits that facilitate pain endurance and encourage purposeful behavior under stress. His environment, with its relentless supply of abrasive agents, had toughened his body with calluses and muscles, and toughened his will."

"The ocean is home to 90 percent of life on earth...."

"The still, the fishing gear, the raft, and the skills to use them were a legacy that creative minds had passed on to him."

"He was protected from a vast, powerful, natural ecosystem by a tiny, fragile, artificial environment, and he would survive only as long as he could preserve it."

"The capacities to feel guilt and appreciate beauty would seem to be odd evolutionary developments. Like other higher feelings, such as sympathy, mercy, duty, loyalty, honor, and self-sacrifice, they seem hindrances to survival. But natural selection has fostered the development of noble feelings. They appear in higher animals along with more obviously valuable brain functions such as reasoning and memory, and it is unlikely they developed accidentally. It may be that they aid survival by endowing the will with something to stimulate it, intensify it, and make it work both for the individual and the species."

"Knowing that their fates were in their own hands transformed them. Dougal felt "strength flooding through me... and the aggression of the predator filling my mind. We had brains and some tools. We would live from the sea. From that instant on, I became a savage."

"There is no recognition of their achievements beyond survival."

"cortical inhibitors overpowered by stress"

"The greatest battles against the sea are likely to be the ones that ended in defeat, and thus their stories will never be told."

"...if body temperature varies by more than 4F from 98.6F, systems begin to malfunction...."

"We spend our entire lives less than 10F away from fatal overheating...."

"Another system, no matter how inelegant, is needed for thermal regulation. That system is sweating."

"Two-thirds of the human body is composed of water. The average person contains about 50 liters of fluid and loses a minimum of 2 liters in daily body maintenance."

" rest on a hot day, it can easily use up 5 liters. When the body is down even 1 liter, its function becomes impaired. Once it is down 5 liters, fatigue and dizziness set it. A loss of 10 liters disturbs vision and hearing and sets off convulsions. A deficit of 15 to 20 liters, roughly a third of the body's total amount of water, is fatal.

To make matters worse, exercise and anxiety greatly accelerate sweating. Walking can use up an additional liter an hour, and sweating is also the automatic response to being nervous."

"Given the prevalence in our diets of salty foods and dehydrating drinks such as coffee and tea, most of us are chronically underhydrated - at a level that triggers no alarms but nonetheless subtly affects our performance."

face-cooled blood

"...human visitors to a hot climate eat less and often feel an instinctive aversion to meat and fats."

layers of protection

originate in the mind

"They can recognize subtle landmarks they have never seen before that will guide them to places they have never been."

"Nomads never run at all."

"However, now that humans have invented clothing, skin pigmentation will become irrelevant to evolution."

"Less than 1 percent of the world's ocean bottom has even been seen."

"adding carbon dioxide to beverages"

"thin nylon shelter"

"All we could do was hope that our portable minienvironment would keep our bodies from realizing where they really were."

polypropylene underwear


nylon shell

"Heat loss is greatest at the body's "ends" - head, hands, and feet - where surface area is large in comparison with the volume of tissue inside."

oxygen mask



"Strong coffee helps the hangover because caffeine stretches blood vessels."

"Each of us had his or her own tent - on a long, stressful team expedition, a place for solitude becomes essential. There was a cook tent in which the Sherpas prepared our meals and a mess tent in which we ate them. No one could take a meal in his or her tent; we all had to come out and eat together - developing a feeling of camaraderie was as essential as the solitude."

"Each item had to be worth its weight."

ten typewritten pages


clothing, shelter

[risks for abstract concepts having] "nothing to do with survival"

"Dirt accumulating on skin helps the body retain heat."

"mimicking animals"

"sleep in people piles to stay warm"

"temporary isolation"

"The contrast between the powerful story and the casual way in which he told it made his testimony all the more stunning."

"Combating gravity in the horizontal position is familiar to all of us; we apply it regularly when we go to sleep."

"Each time the spacecraft goes into darkness, you fall instantly and soundly asleep."

"'s a gentle pull as Earth slowly releases you from its final hug."

"...the air is cleaner than on Earth. The temperature remains a constant and pleasant 70F; your clothes are appropriately casual. A refrigerator keeps drinks cool."

"There are thirty beverages to choose from. Hot and cold tap water is available...."

"There's a watertight shower stall for periodic, and mandatory use, though sponge baths are more practical. Every two days you put on fresh socks and underwear...."

Your family wanted you and needed you at home...."

"different perspectives create a stronger team"

"Boredom may be the most deadly disease you will face."

"...loss of energy and motivation. Soon you're fatigued and irritable, and gradually you lose your tolerance for others. You may withdraw and sink into depression or become aggressive and, at the extreme, hostile."

"The key to treating boredom is to keep stimulation dynamic and personal."

"You feel more and more irrelevant and isolated."

"Without downward pressure, you don't feel the reassuring contact you were accustomed to on Earth."

"Your immune system... weakens.... caused by any prolonged isolation in close quarters."

"The once-benign bacteria and viruses may by now have been transformed into virulent carriers of unrecognizable diseases."

knowledge - "the wisdom of those who went before", conditioning, luck, "the will to survive"

"She slept sitting up, hunched forward over her folded knees, afraid that animals would be attracted to her body heat and the scent of blood from her insect bites."

"In society where life has gotten comfortable, the will to survive remains latent. It is perfectly possible now to cruise through life without ever taking a survival test."

"Instructors say the successful candidates tend to be the quieter ones who possess the inner strength to keep their bodies and minds functioning beyond exhaustion."

"Any slight disability, any inherited or acquired disease, would quickly eliminate you from the competition."

"It took some big thinking to calm myself down."

"the majority of the time I was focused on pursuing one of the options."

"All of us, whether living at an extreme or protected by an advanced society, are surrounded by emotional and mental, if not physical, barriers, even as we long to surmount them. We take the easy way out, arguing, often with much validity, that to do so is safer or more practical. If, however, we gather the will to cross over the obstacle, to confront the emotion or solve the problem, we gain strength from it. Telling the truth, making the sacrifice, doing the job though there won't be any recognition for it - these are mental exercises that strengthen will as much as physical exercise strengthens muscle. Such efforts actually form nerve connections in the brain that make it easier to overcome an obstacle the next time. Moreover, if we persist in the face of adversity, we often get a "second wind," much as an endurance runner does when he refuses to quit. The unexpected energy can carry us much farther than we ever thought possible and allow us to triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds."

"thinking can make you tired"


"they didn't feel any need to react."

"take pride in each other's accomplishments."

The chip: how two Americans invented the microchip and launched a revolution

The Dragons of Eden, Carl Sagan

"interesting and accessible"

"teaching tool"

"Only through the deaths of an immense number of slightly maladapted organisms are we, brains and all, here today."

"...the accidents and errors and lucky happenstances of the past powerfully prefigure the present."

"...those closest to the intricacies of the subject have a more highly developed (and ultimately erroneous) sense of its intractability than those at some remove. On the other hand, those at too great a distance may, I am well aware, mistake ignorance for perspective."

"Myths are things which never happened but always are."

"myth... a metaphor of some subtlety on a subject difficult to describe in any other way"

"Significant events in our personal lives are measured in years or less; our lifetimes in decades; our family genealogies in centuries; and all of recorded history in millennia."

"Big Bang... may be a discontinuity in which information about the earlier history of the universe was destroyed"

second cosmic year

"...the complexity of an organism can be obtained merely by considering its behavior-that is, the number of different functions it is called upon to perform in its lifetime."

bits - binary digits

"...some sorts of human behavior are not very apparent from the outside, or even from the inside. There are human perceptions and activities that may occur only rarely, such as creativity. The association of ideas involved in acts-even small ones-of creative genius seems to imply substantial investments of brain resources. These creative acts indeed characterize our entire civilization and mankind as a species. Yet in many people they occur only rarely...."

redundant function

"some human behavior is subtle"

"Patients reported a snatch of memory, a smell from the past, a sound or color trace-all elicited by a small electrical current at a particular site in the brain."

"A patient might report a feeling tone, or a sense of familiarity, or a full retrieval of an experience of many years previous playing back in his mind, simultaneously but in no conflict with his awareness of being in an operating room conversing with a physician."


"Our learning and our culture would never have developed without speech; our technology and our monuments would never have evolved without hands."

"I wonder if the unaccountable general appeal of babies and other small mammals-with relatively large heads compared to adults of the same species-derives from our unconscious awareness of the importance of brain to body mass ratios."

"...the modern science of electricity and the electrical and electronic industries all trace their origins to eighteenth-century experiments on the electrical stimulation of twitches in frogs."

"It is because of this immense number of functionally different configurations of the human brain that no two humans, even identical twins raised together, can ever be really very much alike."

"...all possible brain states are by no means occupied; there must be an enormous number of mental configurations that have never been entered or even glimpsed by any human being in the history of mankind."

page 45 footnote: "the little square picture I can see at any given moment contains about 2,500 picture elements." "To characterize all possible shades of gray and colors of such dots requires about 20 bits per picture element. Thus a description of my little picture requires 2,500 x 20 or about 50,000 bits. But the act of scanning the picture takes about 10 seconds, and thus my sensory data processing rate is probably not much larger than 50,000/10 = 5,000 bits per second."

"The neurons of the brain generate about 25 watts of power, barely enough to turn on a small incandescent light."

Viking lander cameras: 500 bits per second, 50 watts

"But I am not recollecting visual images all my waking hours, nor am I continuously subjecting people and objects to intense and careful scrutiny. I am doing that perhaps a small percent of the time. My other information channels-auditory, tactile, olfactory and gustatory-are involved with much lower transfer rates."

200 billion total bits: 60 years of total recall

variegated, lively, enriched environment

"The brain must be extraordinarily cleverly packaged and "wired," with such a small total information content and so low a processing rate, to be able to do so many significant tasks so much better than the best computer."

"Somewhere in the steaming jungles of the Carboniferous Period there emerged an organism that for the first time in the history of the world had more information in its brains than in its genes."

"ritual derived from sexual behavior"

human ceremonial mountings: [I] fuck you

""We are obliged to look at ourselves and the world through the eyes of three quite different mentalities," two of which lack the power of speech."

""...three interconnected biological computers", each with "its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space, its own memory, motor, and other functions."

spinal cord, hindbrain and midbrain: neural chassis, machinery for reproduction and self-preservation

"...a reptile or higher animal deprived of its forebrain is "as motionless and aimless as an idling vehicle without a driver.""


"...fundamental change can be accomplished by the addition of new systems on top of old ones."


"...either the old function is required as well as the new one, or there is no way of bypassing the old system that is consistent with survival."

"The deep and ancient parts are functioning still."

"The connection of sex with smell is very ancient, and is highly developed in insects" [to the point where they can smell mates extremely well but nothing else]

"A society that is, as a result of such foresight, materially secure generates the leisure time necessary for social and technological innovation."

"able to name objects but not colors"

"It is an exaggerated gestural language, imitative of the motions bees in fact perform when finding food-as if we were to make a few steps towards the refrigerator, point and rub our bellies, with our tongues lolling out all the while."

"A common experience is that we know something is in our long-term memory - a word, a name, a face, an experience - but find ourselves unable to call it up."

"But if we think sideways at it, recalling some slightly related or peripheral item, it often follows unbidden."

"I wonder if that sort of memory arose before we had very many thoughts - when it was important to remember the hiss of an attacking reptile or the shadow of a plummeting hawk, but not our own occasional philosophical reflections."

"Every leap was an opportunity for evolution."

"I sometimes wonder whether our myths about gnomes, trolls, giants and dwarfs could possibly be a genetic or cultural memory of those times."

"So far as I know, childbirth is generally painful in only one of the millions of species on Earth: human beings."

"Childbirth is painful because the evolution of the human skull has been spectacularly fast and recent."

"...sports may owe their appeal... to these prewired hunting skills... but which find diminished practical applications today."

"he named the animals of Eden."

[innate language before birth]

"mammals who form dominance hierarchies may indicate submission by averting the eyes or baring the neck."

"The human greetings of bow, nod and curtsy may have a similar origin. Many animals seem to signal friendship by biting, but not hard enough to hurt, as if to say, "I am able to bite you but choose not to do so." The raising of the right hand as a symbol of greeting among humans has precisely the same significance: "I could attack you with a weapon but choose not to wield one."

"Our difficulties in understanding or effectuating communication with other animals may arise from our reluctance to grasp unfamiliar ways of dealing with the world. For example, dolphins and whales, who sense their surrounding with a quite elaborate sonar echo location technique, also communicate with each other by a rich and elaborate set of clicks, whose interpretation has so far eluded human attempts to understand it. One very clever recent suggestion, which is now being investigated, is that dolphin/dolphin communication involves a re-creation of the sonar reflection characteristics of the objects being described."

"It would also be possible, then, for dolphins to create extraordinary audio images out of their imaginations rather than their experience."

"Could it be that, rather than increasing an animal's vulnerability, the function of sleep is to decrease it?"

"It is conceivable that animals who are too stupid to be quiet on their own initiative are, during periods of high risk, immobilized by the implacable arm of sleep."

"...the demise of the dinosaurs was accelerated by nocturnal predation on reptilian eggs by the early mammals."

"Since for primitive mammals sleepless nights would have been more dangerous for the survival of the taxon than sexless nights, sleep should be a more powerful drive than sex - which, at least in most of us, it seems to be."

"...the contemporary correlation of mammalian predators with extensive dreaming and mammalian prey with a more watchful dreamless sleep."

"The dream is a world of magic and ritual, passion and anger, but very rarely of skepticism and reason."

"Experiments suggest that as the night wears on our dreams engage increasingly earlier material from our past reaching back to childhood and infancy. At the same time the primary process and emotional content of the dream also increase. We are much more likely to dream of the passions of the cradle just before awakening than just after falling asleep. This looks very much as if the integration of the day's experience into our memory, the forging of new neural links, is either an easier or more urgent task. As the night wears on and this function is completed, the more affecting dreams, the more bizarre material, the fears and lusts and other powerful emotions of the dream material emerge. Late at night, when it is very still and the obligatory daily dreams have been dreamt, the gazelles and the dragons begin to stir."

"Earlier in its intrauterine existence, the fetus may be dreaming all the time."

"There is a striking correlation of penile or clitoral erection with REM sleep...."

"ancient hostility between reptiles and mammals"

" inhibition center developed below what in humans is the temporal lobe, to turn of much of the functioning of the reptilian brain; and an activation center evolved in the pons to turn on the R-complex, but harmlessly, during sleep."

"...expressions of the id made most clearly manifest in slips of the tongue, free associations, dreams...."

"The absence of dreams in reptiles would be because there is no repression of the dream state in reptiles; they are... "dreaming" in their waking state."

"We are descended from reptiles and mammals both. In the daytime repression of the R-complex and in the nighttime stirring of the dream dragons, we may each of us be replaying the hundred-million-year-old warfare between the reptiles and the mammals. Only the times of day of the vampiric hunt have been reversed."

" track by smell. They are presented with a "trace" - a scrap of clothing belonging to the target...."

"Just as smell is the principal means by which dogs and many other animals perceive their surroundings, sight is the primary information channel in humans."

faces, Identikit

" a dense non-ordered list our own name leaps out as us."

"There are many people who are, in their conscious lives, almost entirely rational, and many who are almost entirely intuitive."

in script

"A well-known "ploy" in tennis, for example, is to ask your opponent exactly where on the racket he places his thumb. It often happens that left-hemisphere attention to this question will, at least for a brief period, destroy his game."

"In computer terminology, the pianist had random access as opposed to serial access to the composition."

"He suggests that our awareness of right hemisphere function is a little like our ability to see stars in the daytime. The sun is so bright that the stars are invisible, despite the fact that they are just as present in our sky in the daytime as at night. When the sun sets, we are able to perceive the stars."

"...the verbal abilities of the left hemisphere, obscures our awareness of the functions of the intuitive right hemisphere, which in our ancestors must have been the principal means of perceiving the world."

"The left hemisphere processes information sequentially; the right hemisphere simultaneously, accessing several inputs at once."

"...the separation of function in the two hemispheres is the consequence of a "basic incompatibility.""

"I wonder if, rather than enhancing anything, the cannabinols (the active ingredients in marijuana) simply suppress the left hemisphere and permit the stars to come out. This may also be the objective of the meditative states of many Oriental religions."

"...when the left hemisphere has "set" - that is, in dreams."

"plot surprise"

"The entire plot development of the dream must have been in my mind at the time the dream began. (Incidentally, the time take for dream events has been shown by Dement to be approximately equal to the time the same events would have taken in real life.) While the content of many dreams seems haphazard, others are remarkably well structured; these dreams have a remarkable resemblance to drama."

"...busily engaged in data dumping from the short-term memory buffer, determining what should survive into long-term storage."

"There are occasional but reliably reported instances of difficult intellectual problems solved during sleep."


"It is the "watcher" who appreciates the dramatic unity of a finely structured dream plot."

"In psychedelic drug experiences - for example, with marijuana or LSD - the presence of such a "watcher" is commonly reported. ...the difference between sanity and insanity... rests entirely on the continued presence of the "watcher", a small, silent portion of the waking consciousness."

"who are you?" "Who wants to know?"

"They are better able to understand verbal material with the right ear and nonverbal material with the left, a regularity also found in adults."

"The original redundancy, by the way, represents prudent computer design. For example, with no knowledge of the neuroanatomy of the cerebral cortex, the engineers who designed the on-board memory of the Viking lander inserted two identical computers, which are identically programmed. But because of their complexity, differences between the computers soon emerged. Before landing on Mars the computers were given an intelligence test (by a smarter computer back on Earth). The dumber brain was then turned off. Perhaps human evolution was proceeded by a similar manner and our highly prized rational and analytical abilities are localized in the "other" brain - the one that was not fully competent to do intuitive thinking. Evolution often uses this strategy. Indeed, the standard evolutionary practice of increasing the amount of genetic information as organisms increase in complexity is accomplished by doubling part of the genetic material and then allowing the slow specialization of function of the redundant set."

"Even "ambidextrous" means, ultimately, two right hands."

"I wonder if there is any significance to the fact that Latin, Germanic and Slavic languages, for example, are written left to right, and Semitic languages, right to left. The ancient Greeks wrote in boustrophedon ("as the ox plows"); left to right on one line, right to left on the next."

"Despite English phrases of the sort "as different as black and white," the two words appear to have the same origin. Black comes the Anglo-Saxon "blaece," and white from the Anglo-Saxon "blac," which is still active in its cognates "blanch," "blank," "bleak," and the French "blanc." Both black and white have as their distinguishing properties the absence of color, and employing the same word for both strikes me as very perceptive of King Arthur's lexicographer."

[Without exception,] "[f]or most of human history, and in many parts of the world today, the empty hand is used for personal hygiene after defecation, a fact of life in pretechnological cultures."

"The simplest precaution is to greet and eat with the other hand."

"Occasional lapses from this convention are quite properly viewed with horror."

"...many older people in the West can still remember a time when there were firm strictures against even reaching for objects with the left hand."

"...while other animals often show strong paw preferences, the favored paw is almost as likely to be left as right."

"...a remarkable tendency for the right hemisphere to view the world as more unpleasant, hostile, and even disgusting than the left hemisphere."

"The negativism of the right hemisphere is apparently strongly tempered in everyday life by the more easygoing left hemisphere. But a dark and suspicious emotion tone seems to lurk in the right hemisphere...."

""In America today, if you're not a little paranoid you're out of your mind." The remark, however, has global applicability."

"...color red signifies danger" [blood]

"In my view, the human condition would be greatly improved if such confrontations and willingness to reject hypotheses were a regular part of our social, political, economic, religious and cultural lives."

"These creative acts, even if engaged in rarely or only by a few, have changed us and the world."

"It is the business of the future to be dangerous.... The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur." Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures in Ideas

"The mind of man is capable of anything - because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future." Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

"In general, human societies are not innovative. exchange of one set of rituals for another...."

"...for such activities as the patient stalking and hunting of mammals and fish they prepare themselves through marijuana intoxication, which helps to make the long waits, boring to anyone further evolved than a Komodo dragon, at least moderately tolerable. Ganja is, he says, their only cultivated crop. It would be wryly interesting if in human history the cultivation of marijuana led generally to the invention of agriculture, and thereby to civilization."

"Russell commented that the development of such gifted individuals required a childhood period in which there was little to no pressure for conformity, a time in which the child could develop and pursue his or her own interests no matter how unusual or bizarre."

"...any consistent moral posture on abortion should, I would think, include firm strictures against at least the gratuitous slaughter of these animals [dolphins, whales and apes]."

"Severely dream deprived subjects often begin hallucinating in daytime."

"Obsessive-compulsives... are very rarely found to make intuitive leaps."

"...the burden of guilt commonly experienced by sufferers from a mental disease, a burden rarely felt in victims of, say measles."

"...improve those components of the brain we consider worth improving and to inhibit further those components that may be responsible for some of the perils and contradictions facing mankind."

ethyl alcohol

"...home-laboratory synthesis and self-experimentation with such drugs - an activity that represents a small further step in our knowledge of the brain, its disorders and untapped potentials."

"...atropine - one of the chief active ingredients in hemlock, foxglove, deadly nightshade, and jimson weed - induces the illusion of flying; and indeed such plants seem to have been the principal constituents of unguents self-administered to the genital mucosa by witches in the Middle Ages - who, rather than actually flying as they boasted, were in fact atropine-tripping."

"Such automatism is a typical symptom of temporal-lobe epilepsy; it also characterizes my first half-hour after awakening."

"eyeglasses for the mind"

"The number of bits of information contained in... works of art...."

"...extremely patient, widely available and, at least for certain problems, adequately competent computer therapists."

"...the therapist is perceived as unbiased and extremely generous with his or her or its time."

"To me it is not in the least demeaning that consciousness and intelligence are the result of "mere" matter sufficiently complexly arranged; on the contrary, it is an exalting tribute to the subtlety of matter and the laws of Nature."

"...the present limit on the size of hand-held computers is the requirement that the buttons be large enough for our somewhat gross and clumsy human fingers to press."

"...the computer, which is a supreme construction of the left hemisphere, teaches us pattern recognition, which is a characteristic function of the right hemisphere."

" permits us to gain, without any particular future application in mind, a holistic understanding of the world, which is both a complement of and a preparation for later analytical activities. But computers permit play in environments otherwise totally inaccessible to the average student."

"...gain an experiential and intuitive understanding of the laws of physics." [through computer graphics]

"...laws are nothing more than abstractions from experience."

"external written characters" "reminiscence"

"...having the show of wisdom without its reality."

"In our modern world, illiterates have a different sense of direction, a different sense of self-reliance, and a different sense of reality."

"to collect, integrate and utilize the accumulated wisdom of all times and peoples" [writing]

"Socrates, say, or Newton have had audiences vastly larger than the total number of people either met in his whole lifetime."

"Books are readily stored. We can read them at our own pace without disturbing others. We can go back to the hard parts, or delight once again in the particularly enjoyable parts."

"...the voice of the author begins to speak inside your head. (Hello!)"

"Whence our race came, what sorts of limits are set to our power over Nature and to Nature's power over us, to what goal we are striving, are the problems which present themselves afresh, with undiminished interest, to every human being born on earth." T.H. Huxley, 1863

"...all those organisms who perceived their universe as very complex are dead."

"Natural selection has served as a kind of intellectual sieve producing brains and intelligences increasingly competent to deal with the laws of nature. This resonance, extracted by natural selection, between our brains and the universe may help explain a quandary set by Einstein: The most incomprensible property of the universe, he said, is that it is so comprehensible."

"The brains of extraterrestrials will probably have several or many components slowly accreted by evolution, as ours have. There may still be a tension among their components as among ours...."

"...the demonstration that it is possible for societies to live and prosper with advanced technology. Finding a solution to a problem is helped enormously by the certain knowledge that a solution exists."

"But without funding basic research, without supporting the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake, our options become dangerously limited. Only one physicist in a thousand need stumble upon something like the displacement current to make the support of all thousand a superb investment for society."

The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal

Intergalactic Network

"he'd come back with an armload of Cokes for everybody."

"he'd offer to sharpen that person's pencils, too."

Alan Turing's obsession with self-sufficiency

"We have goals, expectations, desires, purpose. Our "causes" are not in the past but in the future."

"it had that capacity for a very deep reason: feedback."

"viewed from an engineering perspective, the nervous system was a perfectly comprehensible array of feedback loops in active communication with its environment."

"Through feedback... a mechanism could embody purpose."

"purpose in the thermostat is a property of the system as a whole and how its components are organized. It is a mental state that is invisible and ineffable, yet a natural phenomenon that is perfectly comprehensible."


information theory

digital signal transmitted perfectly through redundancy/error-correcting codes

how able to get imagery of distant planets across billion miles of interplanetary space

insights without taking over the project

bounded rationality - using rules of thumb to whittle choices down to manageable

computers good at algorithmic tasks, humans good at heuristic tasks, put together for powerful combo - open up time for real creativity

"About 85 per cent of my 'thinking' time was spent getting into a position to think, to make a decision, to learn something I need to know.... [These getting-into-position activities] were essentially clerical or mechanical: searching, calculating, plotting, transforming, determining the logical or dynamic consequences of a set of assumptions or hypotheses, preparing the way for a decision or an insight. Moreover my choices of what to attempt and what not to attempt were determined to an embarrassingly great extent by considerations of clerical feasibility, not intellectual capability."

"Eighty-five percent!? .... our minds were slaves to mundane detail, and computers would be our salvation."


"He was legendary for answering questions hours or even days after they had been asked, walking up to his questioner in the hallway and launching into a brilliantly reasoned response as if no time had passed."

"I tended to hold back on ideas, hoping to develop them further."

"But finally it became clear that I wasn't going to solve the artificial intelligence problem in a mathematically rigorous way in reasonable time, so I simply decided to start publishing what I had."

"...unwilling to speak up without having anything worthwhile to say...."

"you needed... a programming language and a computer system that would let you explore, try things out, see what happened, and learn."

"what you needed was interactivity day or night, at work or at home, anytime you had an idea, anytime you wanted."

"...intelligence was a kludge." - Minsky

"whatever worked, worked."


collected ideas, people... road map

human-computer symbiosis

unfettered thought

"It can allow a decision maker to get into a position to do almost nothing but decision making, instead of processing data to get into position to make the decision."

Software - the ultimate expressive medium - create and preserve the most complex and subtle patterns and operate on other patterns as programs

[on graphics display]

"you wouldn't just be thinking about the model, you would be feeling it, viscerally. The interactivity would open up a high-bandwidth channel to our perceptions, to our instincts--to our deepest understanding."

"Assault the technological frontiers everywhere you can."

"Look for people with ideas that push the envelope. Give them development money."

"Who cared about a fold-out couch when they had a view like that?"

"If you could do this, then maybe one could do that, and then maybe this other thing would be important."

"Lick was totally unfashionable--and didn't give a damn. What he wanted was to intrigue people and get them involved."

"Do you want one of these things, and what would you do with it if you had it?"


1. concept manipulation - raw, unverbalized
2. symbol manipulation - mental symbols/words and numbers
3. manual external symbol manipulation - graphics, overcome working memory, enhance visualization
4. automated external symbol manipulation - computer

"...sit at a computer without thinking out what you were going to do beforehand."

information utility - power flows both ways/resource and user give back to the system

"When this goes wrong...."

"practical experience debugging"

"I think that I found a lot of bright people and got them working in this area," he said. "I got it moving. [And it was] a fantastic community. I guess that's the word. It was more than just a collection of bright people. It was a thing that organized itself into a community, so that there was some competition and some cooperation, and it resulted in the emergence of a field."

"We said that the first effect of networks, which were designed to make it possible to collaborate at a distance without all this travel, was to increase travel enormously!"

"Dreamy, otherworldly, and whimsical, Crowther was a classic hacker, the kind of programmer who wore sneakers to meetings at the Pentagon and was just as interested in rock climbing as he was in coding."

"Writing something like this proposal seemed to me to be the epitome of practical experience."

"On the frontier, man must chart his course by stars he has never seen. Rarely does one recognize or discover a complex problem, formulate it, and lay out a procedure that will solve it--all in one great flash of insight."

"When the systems are truly complex, in short, programming had to be a process of exploration and discovery."

"the freedom to make mistakes"

"authority with taste, tact, restraint"

"They wanted progress, not progress reports."

"...there are good ideas everywhere...."

polio vaccine "discovered only after years of failure, frustration, blind alleys, none of which could have been justified by cost/benefit analysis. Instead we would have gotten the best iron lungs you ever saw."

"hire the smartest people you can find and give them their head--but let them know who's paying the bills."

"It wasn't enough just to hire a bunch of supersmart individuals. You had to build a community, a culture, an environment of innovation. You had to give your people the kind of challenge that would light a fire in their eyes, that would generate an atmosphere of nonstop intellectual excitement, that would let them feel in their gut that this is where the action is.

lavish resources, explore and make mistakes

" ten years you might just change the world."


class-one disagreement - simply yelling
class-two disagreement - each side explain other side's position

"...amazingly effective at clarifying unspoken assumptions and ferreting out facts that one person knew and another didn't."

Papert, Mindstorms

"The computer is the Proteus of machines. Its essence is its universality, its power to simulate. Because it can take on a thousand forms and can serve a thousand functions, it can appeal to a thousand tastes."

"the only way the machine could hope to keep up with its user was by devoting the bulk of its computational power to running the display. Thus one computer per person."

"it was personal-computer time, just like it was railroad time in the eighteen-fifties."

map of the screen, memory, bit-map

"a single screen full of graphics required something like 64 kilobytes"

Chuck Thacker - bit-mapped display

"The realization that this semiconductor memory was inexpensive enough to devote a bit to every pixel and not go bankrupt."


"Good names for prototypes are very important, and very difficult to choose. They should be familiar, easy to pronounce, easy to spell, have a broad theme, and conjure up pleasant feelings."

"...he'd never found a better source for prototype names than the Sunset Western Garden Book."

Alto: 606 pixel horizontally x 808 pixels vertically - 8.5" x 11"

"To enhance the similarity to paper even further, the display would produce black characters on a bright background."

personal computer - anyone can compute during daylight hours

"Alto lives."

"the first investigators to invest in the next level of instrumentation are usually the first to make the next level of discoveries."

Kahn "Internetworking"

"If you wanted to be part of the Internet, you could be."

interface standard

"rivals instead of colleagues"

"...when there is scarcity, you don't have community; all you have is survival."

"What I remember most about that period was interacting with Lick on the network late at night."

"nobody knew for sure what would fly...."

"In that environment, all anyone could do was try things out, see what worked and what didn't, and continue to explore the unknown."

"Lick somehow made his people feel that by playing around and having fun with computers, they were actually building something much larger than themselves."

Sherry Turkle, "The Second Self"

"In talking to personal computer owners, I found that for them the computer is important not just for what it does but for how it makes you feel. It is described as a machine that lets you see yourself differently, as in control, as 'smart enough to do science', as more fully participant in the future."

"The staffers and professors were naming their machines after beers: Heineken, Molson, XX--Dos Equis--and so on. But since we were all under the drinking age in Massachusetts, we named ours Grape Nehi. Lick later got a MicroVAX and named it ClassiCola, which we felt was a vote of solidarity."

"Technology isn't destiny, no matter how inexorable its evolution may seem; the way its capabilities are used is as much a matter of cultural choice and historical accident as politics is, or fashion."

The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier, Howard Rheingold

"materializing from the next block or the other side of the planet"

"as more and more informal public spaces disappear from our real lives"

"the most profound technological changes have come from the fringes and subcultures"

"The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it."

"the United States became an overarching culture after the telegraph and telephone linked the states"

[vocabulary emerging from millions of individual online interactions]

"People who never have much to contribute... turn out to have a lot to say ...."

"always awake"

"I want to say out loud how much it's appreciated: infinitely."

"Virtual hugs are *streaming* in his direction...."

"informal written text"

"There's always another mind there."

"It's a place."

"Third places exist on neutral ground and serve to level their guests to a condition of social equality. Within these places, conversation is the primary activity and the major vehicle for the display and appreciation of human personality and individuality. Third places are taken for granted and most have a low profile."

"third places are normally open in the off hours"


comfort and support

"get acquainted with people... who use words in a way we find attractive"

"a floating group of ten to thirty... you could count on on at any time of day to be online"

"One of the advantages of computer conferencing is the community memory that preserves key moments in the history of the community."

"The system is the people"

"selling the customers to each other and letting them work out everything else"

"Deeper technical view"

"Making online tools available to the population"

"most people have to use an old medium to hear news about the arrival of a new medium"

"Nobody is anonymous"

"the real userid"

"The real people behind the online personae were important to him."

"he visited me face-to-face early in the game"


"frontal lobe directly wired"

"Like many of us, he works at home, in a custom-designed office-studio."

"reality-tempered commitment"

"A core of people must flat-out believe... in order for the whole loosely coupled group to hold together at all."

"when I let those bios scroll by at 2,400 bits per second"

intellectual diversity

"With a divergent group, you get separate, nonoverlapping personal networks of experience."

community, hard-core information, or both

"the people who have the information are more interesting than the information alone; the game-like and tool-like aspects of sharing information online drew me in further."

Newuser Report

information overload

"the awful feeling one gets when it turns out that the specific knowledge one needs is buried in fifteen thousand pages of related information."

"a mixture of motives and ephemeral affiliations"

"I have to keep my friends in mind and send them pointers instead of throwing my informational discards into the virtual scrap heap"

"Folklore is an important part of science and technology, consisting of idiosyncratic information about how equipment really works and what tricks you have to know to get the experiment to come out right."

"I had more than two hundred pages of expert advice from my own panel."

"only a few minutes a day for six weeks"

"infinite domain of problem areas"

"Sometimes you give one person more information than you would give another person in response to the same query, simply because you recognize one of them to be more generous or funny or to-the-point or agreeable."

"it is hard to distinguish idle talk from serious context-setting. In a virtual community, idle talk is context-setting. Idle talk is where people learn what kind of person you are, why you should be trusted or mistrusted, what interests you."

"contributors all work at their own pace"

"In virtual communities, the sense of place requires an individual act of imagination."

Imagined Communities

"Virtual communities require an act of imagination to use, and what must be imagined is the idea of the community itself."

"clear ideas on what they can and cannot do with the medium"

"it all tumbled together in about an hour" [Engelbart]

"people who stuck stubbornly to their desire to build better thinking tools"

"at the lowest possible cost"

"they worked with what was at hand"


"Some young programmers felt their virtuosity required the kinds of computers that a good mind could play like a musical instrument, in real time."

"citizen-accessible Net of the 1990s"

"exchange lore and wisecracks"

"as users as well as designers of this thinking tool, they were reluctant to build in features that took power away from individual users"

"bootstrapped research"

"design better tools for themselves; then they would test and debug their own tools and use them to create better tools."

"denied access"

"instant , widespread access to facts that could support or refute assertions made in those debates"

"Americans Communicating Electronically"

"virus (carbon-based)"

"telnet to for a good time"

"the Net is inherently a bootstrapping medium"

"created with public funds"

Project Gutenberg

"All the arcana and uncertainty make Netsurfing somewhat alchemical. Things change so fast that folklore is the only reliable way to find out what is really new."

"Net citizens and self-proclaimed Net architects take it upon themselves to compile lists of resources, keep the lists updated, and post the lists regularly."

"our minds shut down in the face of all the options the Net represents. We need some kind of go-between to mediate between human and network capabilities."


"starting at a screen all day"

"groupminds and their impact on the material world"

the Delphi method

"a formal method of soliciting anonymous ideas and critiques of those ideas from panels of experts - a combination of brainstorming and opinion polling."

groupware, toolshop, Usenet, newsgroup

"situation wanted"


disembodied sex

"what is a meaningful way to spend one's time"

"An ordinary person today with a coin and access to a telephone booth commands powers over time and space that the potentates of antiquity never dared covert. People who routinely accept such power as part of their reality think of themselves in a certain way."

"the notion of mastery as a crucial missing element in the lives of some of these young people"

"for some the issues that arise during adolescence are so threatening that the safe place is never abandoned"

"many people come to define themselves in terms of competence, in terms of what they can control"

"people who might lack social status in their real-world community"

"description is the same as creation"

"text still has its powers, even in this highly visual era"

Multi-User Simulation Environment


"artifacts have politics"

"The design of the software was a strong factor in shaping what emerged."

"it isn't a game if you can't die"

"who had become obsessed with his own experiments in being treated as a female and participating in female friendships"

"Men in this society are more predisposed to pulling these kinds of con games, and women are predisposed to giving people the benefit of the doubt."

"making friends you can't see"

"most people don't have a terribly glamorous life. They work, they subsist, they are lonely or afraid or shy or unattractive or feel that they are unattractive."

"when one makes statements about what is a constructive use of another person's time, one is making a value judgment."

"internalizing parts of more people than any humans have ever internalized before. Our selves have become "populated" by many others"

"In memory we carry others' patterns of being with us. If the conditions are favorable, we can place these patterns into action. Each of us becomes the other, a representative, or a replacement."

"with social saturation, each of us comes to harbor a vast population of hidden potentials"

"All the selves lie latent, and under the right conditions may spring to life."


Real-time Tribes

"use the lack of context and geographical separation to create alternative communities"

"the uniqueness of names"

"applied daydreaming"

"The regulars in an IRC channel might be the first "in-group" that ever accepted some of these people socially."

"+hottub, an ongoing flirtation space"

"IRC is a global cultural phenomenon, with high potential for citizen-to-citizen communication across national and ideological boundaries"

"If industrial civilization has a taboo so engrained in the culture that few even recognize it as a taboo, play may be it."

"play is the way humans learn best"

First Conference on Cyberspace

nodding and eye movement

"a broad palette of possible activities"

"free-form, purely existential activities (hanging out with friends and conversing)"

"It was clear that we were not in control. The more people we involved in something, the less in control we were. We could influence things, we could set up interesting situations, we could provide opportunities for things to happen, but we could not dictate the outcome."

"we tried to observe what people were doing and aid them in it"


"loosely translated as an intuitive, partially aesthetic, sense of rightness about the contextual elements in a conversation"


"strong but ineffable kinship that cut through other social barriers"

"translating the fine points of Japanese and American cultural codes that aren't written in books. Because of the deep cultural differences that lurk between the surface similarities, I would never have understood 1 percent of what happened to me as an American in Japan"

"it would take many years to visit and get to know people from any more than a handful of virtual communities"

"highway of the mind"

"Izumi Aizu had been looking for a tool for social change for a long time. As a self-employed consultant and college dropout, he also needed something to give him social networking leverage."

"the lack of a traditional college-corporation network means he constantly has to build his own support networks."

"The environment was so alien, yet the conversation was so familiar."

"Why should I take all these pains and go through exam hell to do something that didn't mean anything to me."

"diluted scotch-and-waters"

"singing badly and laughing about it"

"It puts more of the person back in the online persona you have modeled in your mind."

"primarily to connect with each other, and only secondarily to download information"

"The forests that survive and do well are the ones where many kinds of trees grow."

"found breakthrough projects and supported them"

"...information, knowledge, and folklore-sharing cooperatives around the world that will challenge the primacy of traditional wealth the way industrial wealth challenged the primacy of military and national power and prestige."

"seize a social lever"

"cultural co-emulation"

"It was as if I were telling them that a colony from another planet had found a way to occupy the telephone network."

"Net's great gushers"

"sampling online cultures"

"Imagine what might happen when the West begins to use communication tools based on Japanese/Eastern ways of communicating."

"People everywhere seem more interested in communicating with each other than with databases."


"mutual friends on the Net"


"the constant argument online"

"argument was the single most frequent online activity"

"Funny chat was common. Brainstorming was uncommon. Barn raising was unheard of."

"an uncertain society, the place of uncountable decentralized conflicts, a computerized society in which values will be object of numerous rivalries stemming from uncertain causes, bringing an infinite amount of lateral communication."

user's hack

"disparate characters meet online, find that they can discover depths of communication and deep personal disclosures with each other online, form equally intense friendships offline, and when the inevitable conflict occurs, it is sharp and schismatic, spawning splinter subgroups."

wraparound shades

"A new persona started constructing itself online, and a new Dave Winder seemed to be coming together offline."

"more like a group heart than a group mind"

"the idea of creating a small, private place for a small group of friends to share personal experiences and offer support and help solve problems"

"the means of jacking in are becoming more affordable every day"

"you don't always wait for headquarters to give you permission to cobble something together in the real world; if it might save your ass, you just do it."

"now prefer to operate a small business out of a small house, in a small neighborhood, working with small organizations, using a small computer to make it all possible."


"assembled Native Americans"

"white man's ascii text"

"tasks as deep into human nonvirtual reality as you can get"

nonvirtual realities

"SHowers, WASHing machines, LOCKers," the three elements... that homeless job-seekers most needed"

"Be All That You Can Be"

"way for people to interact with one another"

"It is also possible to alter the nature of discourse by inventing a kind of paid fake discourse."

"technological gadgets that are pictured as a force outside history and politics"

"Uneducated populations cannot rule themselves"

"mind-numbing quantities of individual trivial but collectively revealing pieces of information"

"the flaws in our dreams, the bugs in our designs"


There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle

"the multiplicity of competing agendas and few truly honest players"

"insane euphoria to total depression - that is part and parcel of the American business cycle."

"...when people ask me what he's like, I pause, realizing I can't really describe him."

"...Steve Case didn't feel the need to explain himself."

"power-lunch steak houses"

Jan Brandt, July 1993, first $250,000 on "low-tech marketing blitz of hundreds of millions of disks"

"looking for a simple, fun way to get online"

"The reason users came to and stayed with AOL was simple: The service made it possible to chat about anything at all, in near-total privacy."

"live-and-let-live attitude in its chat rooms"

"Microsoft's Vietnam" [online battle between AOL and Microsoft]


"new customers would try AOL, then dump it in favor of another service"

hourly rates

"The brink of greatness. Or the brink of irrelevance."

August 19, 1996: "...the day AOL suffered its epic blackout."

"...the idea of attitude and not plot as a selling point in entertainment."

"what school did you go to, where were you from?" vs. "what deals have you done? And how much did you make on them?"

"Pages referred to other pages in Time Warner..." "graphics heavy" "it disdained community"

"money being made and its impact on the lives of once-boring techies"

"I chronicled the cheap eating habits of wealthy techies ($4 burritos were very popular)."

"little indication of true strategy"

"AOL rode the phone lines to glory while phone companies got little of the benefit"

"Give a man a white board, and he will change the world."

"outline in a few broad strokes"

"An efficiency machine without an ability to make small talk or engage in the kind of "foreplay" that his job clearly required. Many described him as slow to compliment, fast to criticize, and eager to be seen as a tough operator."

"small details can truly matter a great deal" [disaster of Time Warner employees forced to use AOL email]

"It degenerated into a series of street fights."

"...the bigger problem was that no one from either company valued the history of the other's institution."

"mouthing off without meaning"

"It was a culture so humiliated that we bought them that they couldn't think of anything else."

"the fuck-you tone and message"

"We should have chilled out, because the behavior did not work anymore, if it ever did."

"It was a position he'd quite smartly turned down, obviously aware that grabbing on to that sticky situation would hurt him."

"...a behavior of moving on and compartmentalizing failure that had served him well for so long."

"...AOL had managed to do what no one else had done: Bring tens of millions of mainstream customers online."

"...the way techies always managed to make utter disaster seem like nothing more than a learning experience."

"...only those who had lost something were of value to the next phase of innovation."

"Tough times are often the best times in which to lay foundations for the next phase of digitization."

Travels, Michael Crichton

"how you come to possess it, and ultimately release it" [experience through writing]

"Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of you food, your closet full of your clothes--with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience."

"Modern city-dwellers cannot even see the stars at night"

"It's no wonder that people lose their bearings, that they lose track of who they really are, and what their lives are really about."

"There was no way to get the necessary distance, to detach, except to be outrageous and disrespectful. There was no way to survive except to laugh."

"You could not function if you were overwhelmed by what was happening."

"It didn't make any sense to me. The people who were being punished were having the best experience. The people who were being indulged were having the worst experience."

"During the Korean War, post-mortems on young men had shown that the American diet produced advanced arteriosclerosis by the age of seventeen."

"On the other hand, it was accepted in a vague way that there was a relationship between mental processes and disease."

"And, finally, it was everybody's ordinary experience that the minor illnesses in our own lives - colds, sore throats - occurred at times of stress, times when we felt generally weak. This suggested that the ability of the body to resist infection varied with mental attitude."

"It was to say mental states caused disease."

"Much medical attention had been devoted to removing ideas of blame from disease."

"We were reinforcing the idea that they were helpless and weak, that there was nothing they could do...."

"Because they had no rich lives beyond the hospital, they assumed no one else did either. In the end, what they lacked was not medical knowledge but ordinary life experience."

"I was forced to ask myself what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, how I wanted to spend it."

"The illness helped me to stand on my own, to make a difficult transition."

"...people used celebrities as figures of fantasy...."

"Quitting medicine assured me that I would be forced into all sorts of changes I might not otherwise have made."

"...they always wore dark glasses and never talked to ordinary people."

"...many things about ourselves were difficult to see without outside help."

"I was unrealistic, particularly where women were concerned. I kept imagining that I could do things that I couldn't."

"...certain rules of life had been around for a long time and that life probably wasn't going to make an exception for me."

"I kept thinking that things would be the way I wanted them to be. And I kept learning I was wrong."

"He seemed to think I kept getting into trouble because I wasn't telling women the truth."

"...I was afraid none of the women would like me if they knew I was seeing other women."

"What's your sign? I used to answer, "Neon.""

"I felt as if I was listening to her daydreams about me."

" far as reality was concerned, nobody knew any more than I did. I figured I knew all there was to know."

"...where technical journals were removed from the library after five years."

"sea water, dried fish, packed humanity"

"tiled surfaces"

"kept fresh to the last minute"

"He had filleted each fish with such skill that he had left the hearts intact. These exposed fish hearts were not beating, as a kind of visual display, and as a proof that his fish were fresh. I was looking at a dozen beating fish hearts."

"Soon I feel into a pattern of exploration punctuated by some sight that would leave me unexpectedly exhausted, driving me back to my room to recuperate."

" have to drink a toast holding the glass with two hands, but a single finger from the other hand suffices."

"I thought, There's a lot I don't know about."

"black-ink sparkler"

"The Thai censor had inked out the image of the Buddha, frame by frame, whever Peter Sellers was higher than the statue."

"I liked the way the people behaved in a temple."

"We were getting into that funny territory that men can share in A Night on the Town, or Chasing the Broads. A situation that says much more about the men being together than about any broads."

"Their eyes are dark and smudged."

"What I had demonstrated, to myself at least, was that my ordinary assumption that in some casual and automatic way I know what I am doing, and why, is simply wrong."

"This most practical and observant of men had decided that careful record-keeping was the only way to find out what he was really doing."

"...they seem to have a kind of incontinence. They would be embarrassed not to be toliet-trained, yet they show no embarrassment at their inability to sit silently for more than a few seconds."

"...I am seeing the signs of everything, never the thing itself."

"In short, where I would have struggled, the villagers simply accepted the situation and went on with their lives."

"I couldn't stop trying to control everything around me...."

"Enough is enough. One way I control myself is to hang on to things too long. My past is too present in my life. So I threw the tee shirt out. It seemed a step in the right direction."

"The animals saw me from a quarter of a mile away, and calmly moved off. If I stalked them, they moved a little farther. I was never able to get within a quarter mile from them. I was never able to see them worried, let alone alarmed. Their heads never jerked up. Instead, they would glance over from time to time in a bored way, notice my pathetic stalking, and move off.
William Craig, who walked with me, explained that each animal maintained a characteristic distance from man. It was a kind of invisible perimeter; it you came within it, the animal simply moved until the distance was reestablished. For most animals it was a fraction of a mile."

"I was impressed with the instantaneous flip in my own emotional state, from a barely controlled hysteria to a detached calm once I saw the giant eye."

"It is not necessary to take a picture. I don't take one."

"...their bright jackets contrast with the beige scree of the volcano."

"London psychics"

"synthetic clothing in bright, unnatural colors"

"soft drinks from metal containers"

"I think the only true expression of one's beliefs lies in action."

"Sometimes I think that man needs to feel a special position within nature, and this leads him to believe that he is either specially hated by other animals or specially cherished.

Instead of the truth, which is that he's just another animal on the plain. A smart one, but just another animal."

"...everywhere beautiful, hot, green."

"...we should draw pictures or write - whichever we were least comfortable doing."

" a gentle way, you were constantly kept off balance. You didn't know what to expect. You didn't know what was going to happen next."

"I didn't hear it as an actual voice, I just felt it like an impression. The way you can see someone and get an impression of what is going on with him or her. But I was startled to get a sense of personality coming from a cactus."

"I decided to draw the cactus, because drawing something makes you pay close attention to it."

"Brugh had warned us that a great deal of projection would take place among members of the group, since we didn't know one another. We should be alert to what we felt about other people, what we liked and didn't like, because those feelings were likely to be our own projection and we should "own" them."

"...the seventh, or crown, chakra with cosmic intelligence." [chakras parallel to kinds of intelligence - seventh intelligence supposedly cosmic intelligence?]

"You felt immersed in something dense and thick. It was very peaceful and pleasant to be there."

"I discovered I had a long list of people to forgive."

"Brugh pointed out to me that the music was simply there, a sequence of sounds, and I had the choice of finding something interesting about it or being annoyed about it, but that I should know I had a choice."

"And then I noticed that people were avoiding me."

"It was ultimately reassuring, to see all the different things that snagged people. It made you less harsh with yourself. We were all in this together. What difference did it make that I cried because I didn't like the music, and someone else cried because he couldn't eat during the fast? Neither thing was better or worse. These were all just examples of getting stuck, making yourself miserable by your opinions and beliefs.

As if protesting your opinions was more important than having a fresh experience and rolling with the punches."

" provide an ambiguous stimulus to the unconscious mind."

"...providing ambiguity for you to interpret."

"On the final day of the conference, I visited the cactus to say goodbye. The cactus was just sitting there. It wouldn't speak to me. I said I appreciated what it had shown me and I had enjoyed spending time with it, which wasn't exactly true because I had felt frustrated a lot of the time, but I thought it was more or less true. The cactus made no reply.
Then I realized that from its position in the garden the cactus could never see the sun set. The cactus had been years in that position and had been deprived of seeing sunsets. I burst into tears.
The cactus said, "It's been good having you here with me."
Then I really cried."

"Then I realized I was seeing the screen refresh itself."

"...perception was a commonly reported consequence of meditation."

"...just about everything in my life that could be changed."

"A Human Light Show"

"nondescript apartment"


"...whenever I would see Linda, I would feel a particular gratitude for the opportunity to watch her develop and grow into her new work."

"Women want the respect and admiration of a man, and they know flowers are a sign of respect from a man. But they don't care about the flowers; they don't moon and ooh and aah and sigh, except for our benefit. They don't have any of those romantic feelings men think they do. Men have the romantic feelings. Women're much colder and more practical."

"...each sex assumes the opposite sex is just the way they are. So women think men are explicit, and men think women are romantic. Eventually that becomes a stereotype that nobody questions. But it's not accurate at all."

"Men were weaker, more romantic, more interested in the symbols than the reality - in short, living out a fantasy."

"Did you ever wish a woman would send you flowers?"

"It seemed such a strange idea. But as I considered it, it seemed as if it would be terrific."

"...the foliage is soaking wet...."

local people

"The men form lines and chant and stomp for about thirty seconds. Then they stop, talk, smoke, laugh. After a minute or two, they sing again for a brief time. Then they stop again. Then they sing again. The whole procedure, with its abrupt starts and stops, has a desultory quality that is startling to Western eyes accustomed to a performance at least as long as a three-minute popular song. But that is the way it is done, and the enthusiasm of the crowd indicates that nothing is wrong."

"...she saw so much around people, she was distracted by pictures."

"If you stare at the coffee, you'll spill it. If you completely ignore the coffee, you'll spill it. You have to be mindful of the coffee and not worry about it, and then you can carry it anywhere. It was like that."

"...the nonacknowledgement was brutal."

"landscape of consciousness"

"From my parents I learned to perceive new experiences as fun and invigorating, and not as frightening."

"Unaccustomed to direct experience, we can come to fear it. We don't want to read a book or see a museum show until we've read the reviews so that we know what to think. We lose the confidence to perceive for ourselves. We want to know the meaning of an experience before we have it.

We become frightened of direct experience, and we will go to elaborate lengths to avoid it."

"I stared out the window. I thought about things.

It turned out I didn't need any of that stuff I thought I needed. In fact, I felt a lot more alive without it."

"...the trouble with theories, as Einstein said, is that they explain not only what is observed, but what can be observed. We start to build expectations based on our theories. And often those expectations get in the way."

"Whoever you are: some evening take a step / out of your house, which you know so well. / Enormous space is near...."

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

"Only a fool would waste his time. The problem of data in conflict with existing theory cannot be overstated."

"...a certain tendency to confuse contemporary scientific theories with the underlying reality itself."

""Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her." Science offers a picture of the world, but its picture is not to be confused with the underlying reality itself."

"Existence is infinite, not to be defined." [Lao-tzu]

"He is really saying, Don't make distinctions, because every distinction simultaneously defines its opposite, and in many cases the interplay of opposites is indivisible, just as varying tones make up music. He says, If you approach the world through distinctions, you can never untangle your perceptions.

The surest test if a man be sane
Is if he accepts life whole, as it is,
Without needing by measure or touch to understand
The measureless untouchable source
Of its images....

The attitude of Lao-tzu represents one way to deal with the fact that whatever we say about reality is inevitably wrong or incomplete. Lao-tzu says you must "accept life whole, as it is, without needing... to understand."

This attitude is in a sense antirational, and certainly anti-intellectual. But it is another perspective, clear and consistent. Although it may not be to everyone's taste, we are obliged to acknowledge that it is a genuine solution to a genuine problem."

"Children don't ask how the sky is blue. They ask why the sky is blue."

"...we must find meaning."

Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck

"once a bum always a bum"

"we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it."

"I remember so well loving Addison's use of capital letters for nouns. He writes under this date:

"I have observed that a Reader seldom peruses a Book with Pleasure 'till he knows whether the Writer of it be a black or fair Man, of a mild or cholerick Disposition, Married or a Bachelor, with other Particulars of the like Nature, that conduce very much to the right Understanding of an Author. To gratify this Curiosity, which is so natural to a Reader, I design this Paper and my next, as Prefactory Discourses to my following Writings and shall give some Account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this Work. As the chief trouble of Compiling, Digesting and Correcting will fall to my Share, I must do myself the Justice to open the Work with my own History."

"And finally, in our time a beard is the one thing a woman cannot do better than a man."

"Strange how one person can saturate a room with vitality, with excitement. Then there are others... who can drain off energy and joy, can suck pleasure dry and get no sustenance from it. Such people spread a grayness in the air about them."

"There are as many worlds as there are kinds of days."

"...everything in the world must have design or the human mind rejects it. But in addition it must have purpose or the human conscience shies away from it."

"hard and humble work"

"too proud or too lazy or too soft to bend to the earth and pick up the things we eat."

"I was born lost and take no pleasure in being found."

"...a cold, refreshing drink guaranteed synthetic."

"In a garbage can under an arc light I found a clean corrugated paper carton and packed my city clothes."

"An animal resting or passing by leaves crushed grass, footprints, and perhaps droppings, but a human... [leaves] his recent history, and... his future plans and hopes."

W.P.A. Guides to the States

"It was compiled during the depression by the best writers in America, who were, if that is possible, more depressed that any other group while maintaining their inalienable instinct for eating."

"...when the quality of aloneness settles down, past, present, and future all flow together."

" occurred to me that the delicate shades of feeling, or reaction, are the result of communication, and without such communication they tend to disappear."

"Only through imitation do we develop toward originality."

prepared foods

omen, strange

"it set up mysterious response in me."


"'s difficult to analyze love when you're in it."

" is inarticulate."


"Of all the states it is my favorite..."

"I wonder why we think the thoughts and emotions of animals are simple."

"If anywhere in your travels, you come on a man with guts, mark the place."


"cot covered with army blankets"

"On the other hand, I yield to no one in my distaste for the self-styled dog-lover, the kind who heaps up his frustrations and makes a dog carry them around. Such a dog-lover talks baby talk to mature and thoughtful animals, and attributes his own sloppy characteristics to them until the dog becomes in his mind an alter ego. Such people, it seems to me, in what they imagine to be kindness, are capable of inflicting long and lasting tortures on an animal, denying it any of its natural desires and fulfillments until a dog of weak character breaks down and becomes the fat, asthmatic, befurred bundle of neuroses. When a stranger addresses Charley in baby talk, Charley avoids him. For Charley is not a human; he's a dog, and he likes it that way. He feels that he is a first-rate dog and has no wish to be a second-rate human."

"When one has been long at sea, the smell of land reaches far out to greet one. And the same is true when one has been long inland."

"white beds of shaved ice"

"To me dawn and dusk are quiet times."

"And Carmel, begun by starveling writers and unwanted painters, is now a community of the well-to-do and the retired."

"When I went away [from Carmel] I had died..."

"And on one of those oaks my father burned his name with a hot iron together with the name of the girl he loved."

"...where my mother is always shooting a wildcat and my father is always burning his name with his love."

"External reality has a way of being not so external after all."

"From start to finish I found no strangers. If I had, I might be able to report them more objectively. But these are my people and this my country. If I found matters to criticize and to deplore, they were tendencies equally present in myself."

"The American identity is an exact and provable thing."

"Life could not change the sun or water the desert, so it changed itself."

cross-country road trip

"I have felt this way in the Prado in Madrid after looking at a hundred paintings--the stuffed and helpless inability to see more."

"There's absolutely nothing to take the place of a good man."

"You got to be awful rich to dress as bad as you do."

"He loved deeply and tried dogfully."

Virtual Light, William Gibson

high-impact plastic


cola-colored resin

"hiss of climate control"

cotton sheets

"muted by the gas-filled windows"

"he has never bought another piece of software"

"her tensed thigh"

"chimes softly and only once"


recycled rubber

liquid crystal

ceramic engines

"tires squish over the wet concrete floor"

disposable gloves

pima cotton cowboy business shirts

"one who smelled like a million dollars, talked dirty, slid all around, and wore underwear from Milan"

quadruple-distilled water

de-mirrored window

"that rush of Going For It, was maybe something that wasn't always quite entirely to be trusted."




five-gallon plastic paint bucket that served as a wastebasket



unfiltered sunlight

"Someone had rigged up a couple of sheets of drywall down the middle of the room."

wide bed


recycled neon

neon patchwork


corrugated plastic

"tattooed bracelets in the form of stylized indigo lizards"

"a new program had emerged"

"certain useless and inexplicable monuments, pointless uet curiously artlike features of the urban landscape"

chemical toilet

"it's on your file"

"She pulled on a pair of black cotton leggings..."

"...milky plastic; halogen-shadows of plants behind it and the gurgle of hydroponics."

dented steel thermos-mug

"...the way to put a poster up forever was use condensed milk for the glue."


"his gaze attracted by the tone of Fiona X's soundbite."

"About the only people who wore shirts and ties and shoes like that were immigrants, people who wanted it as American as it got."


fuck chip

"it was really the melding-with, the clicking-in...."


"She was entirely part of the city...."

"...she made her thousand choices...."

black foam

bodily fluids

burgundy nylon bomber

open can of beer

"Nothing here was ever planned in any overall sense, and problems of drainage were dealt with as they emerged. Or not, most likely."

"How it was, when you lost things, it was like you only knew for the first time that you'd ever had them."

"But little things were what it was all made of."

"This place had just grown...."

"There was a different material anywhere you looked, almost none of it being used for what it had originally been intended for."

hot bath and a dry bed

twenty gallons of rain

"Because he forgot, and let himself think a movie was how you really did it."

major footwear

"a bundle of dusty candle-stubs secured with a rotting rubber band"




"Cheap clothes like K-Mart stuff, all wet."

" being fed through a dot-matrix printer...."

"Everything was gray, gray carpet and gray plastic and gray imitation leather."

"There was Coke in the fridge...."

"They brought the first expert systems into Central America, nineteen-eighties, to coordinate their shipping. Somebody had to go down there and install those systems. War on drugs, Rydell. Lot of Americans on either side, down there."

"...a city like San Francisco has about as much sense of where it wants to go, of where it should go, as you do. Which is to say, very little."

"...aspirin in a Coke. In a Coke."

"felt like foam cups"

"You can always sell tools."

"Somebody'll always buy 'em. But then you always need 'em again, exactly the one you sold."

"Wood is very scarce in Tokyo, Skinner-san. You would not see it thrown away, not even small scraps."

" we'd lived in this funny little pocket of time when a lot of people got to feel like a piece of ass wasn't going to kill anybody, not even a woman."

"People. Just too goddamn many of 'em, Scooter. Flying all the fuck over everywhere and walking around back in there. Bet your ass somebody's gonna pick up a bug or two. Every place on the damn planet just a couple of hours from any other place."

"really ugly hot-pressed recyc"


"If you didn't at least try to get out, what would you wind up feeling like?"

Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet

"human brains and computing machines will be coupled... tightly... as no human brain has even thought... process data in a way not approached by the... machines we know today."

Larry's Route

risk assessment

"the foreseen, the unforeseen but foreseeable, and the unforeseeable"

"How can you tell when one problem is more interesting than another?"

"It's just experience."

"How does one get that?"

"Find someone who has a lot of experience and go work with him."

"...small, tightly knit groups composed of very bright people. He believed that individual productivity and talent varied not by factors of two or three, but by factors of ten or a hundred."

"... a predilection for judging people not by their looks or manners or political views, but almost purely by how smart he believed them to be."

"He looked for people who would be committed to a common mission rather than a personal agenda. He preferred to keep teams small so that everyone was always talking to everyone else."

"looking down into the bits, lesser engineers with larger egos might attempt to show off.... The inner strength of Heart's team was its restraint, its maturity."

"There was an infinity of ways we could go wrong, and a substantial numbers of ways to go right."

"In the first few weeks of 1969, Crowther did a lot of hanging from office-door frames. .... Crowther's style, recognized by the rest of the team, was to appear as if he were doing nothing for days, or doing just a lot of door-frame chin-ups, before finally releasing in a torrent of whatever had been forming in his mind."

"plain vanilla, off-the-shelf 516"

incandescent bulb through a paper tape pulled across a line of photocells

"watchdog" timer

"To program in assembly language was to dwell maniacally on the mechanism."

"Cosell and Walden drank a lot of Coke to keep themselves going."

"reliability... - design for it, build for it, prepare for the worst, and above all, don't put your machine in a position to fail."

"...formal design reviews were unnecessary. They talked in the hallway, sat in one another's offices, debated, and shared ideas constantly. ...chalk was applied liberally and often to explain, diagram, outline, argue, and teach. .... The whole team shared information."

"Everybody knew everything."

"numbered series of informal technical notes"

"We'll steal ideas from anywhere, but most of the time we had to roll our own."

"Most of the rest of us made our livings handling the details resulting from Will's use of his brain."

"[he] worked all night on the first note, writing in the bathroom so as not to wake anyone in the house. He wasn't worried about what he wanted to say so much as he wanted to strike just the right tone."

Request for Comments (RFC)

"intensely creative, sleep-deprived"

Network Working group

protocol - first leaf of a volume, top of a scroll, synopsis, authentication, and the date

"Proclamations of officialness didn't further the Net nearly so much as throwing technology out onto the Net to see what worked. And when something worked, it was adopted."

"...reflected experience. .... We had this constant pragmatic feedback about whether things worked or didn't."

Zodiac, Neal Stephenson

Deep Cable [far reaches of late night]

Spiderman "he's broke and he never gets laid."

"Shit, man, Spiderman's got his health. James Bond probably has AIDS."

"nothing beats an all-black breakfast"


"By visual standards, I'm the scum of the earth."

clothes "easily adjustable to regulate my core temperature"

"No briefcase, aimless way of looking around, tendency to sniff the river."

"when I asked him to just start from the beginning, he accused me of being too linear."

Frog commandos

"I could eat onion rings at IHOP again, but I couldn't afford to."

Sangamon's Principle - "The simpler the molecule, the better the drug."

1st. oxygen - "only 2 atoms", 2nd. "nitrous oxide - a mere three atoms", 3rd. "ethanol - nine."

econobox [car]

""Shit, man," Gomez said, scandalized. That was another good thing about Gomez. He never got jaded."

"...give people a figure like that and they'll pass you off as a flake. You can't get most people to believe how wildly the eco-laws get broken. But if I saw "More than twice the legal limit," they get comfortably outraged."

"The fact that we weren't going to be there in the near future made her a hundred thousand time--oops--more than twice as beautiful."

"Been out on your Zode?"

"Once I got flying on any toxic theme, she could slip in one tough question while my guard was down, watch my hairy and highly expressive face for a reaction, and glimpse the truth."

"And we never talk about anything over the phone. Regular professionals."

"I cruised past and didn't even turn around when some high-pitched jerk issued his challenge."

"He was so astounded by the coolness of Science that it acted oh him like an endorphin."

"Look at any downtown city: what would be a tiny distance on a backpacking trip becomes a transcontinental journey. You spend hours traveling just a few miles."

"...what I needed was some bitterly cold beer and really loud, brain-crushing rock and roll."

chip designers

"On those bikes we were weak and vulnerable, but invisible, elusive, aware of everything within a two-block radius."

Liquid Skin

"Any property that's open to common use gets destroyed. Because everyone has incentive to use it to the max, but no one had incentive to maintain it. Like the water and the air."

"people think by linking images in their brains"

"Plastic is essentially frozen gasoline."

"You go around thinking you're cool, a veritable shadow in the night, and then you find out that someone's got your number."


epoxy resin glue

"The idea is to keep the information in my hand, not to live like a caveman."

[making traditional objects using contemporary tools]

"I mixed up a shitload of papier-mch and added a new mountain to my train set."

"the laugh of a man with a clear conscience"

"Me, I was trying to avoid going into a fight-or-flight reaction."

"...until I body-checked him into a wall."


"He had a sense of irony that ruled his life, made it impossible for him to use his considerable brains in any kind of serious job. Kind of like me."

" order to be a fugitive you have to fuge...."

"The Zodiac was the modern equivalent of the Viking ship."

"...water after that, then Sprite, then duck soup, then fish."


"He had this way of drifting in and out of classes. I'm not sure if he even registered or paid tuition. It didn't matter to him because he didn't care to have grades, or credits, or a diploma. He was just interested in this stuff. If one day's lecture was boring, he walked out, wandered up and down the halls and maybe ended up sitting in the back of an astrophysics or medieval French seminar.

Later I found out that he was on a special scholarship program that the administration had set up to lure in the kinds of students who normally went to Harvard or MIT. The university waived all tuition and fees, and set up a special dorm on Bay State Road. It wasn't really an expensive program because they didn't have to pay any money out. They just avoided taking any in from these particular students. That was no loss, because without the program those students wouldn't have showed up anyway."

highly conceptual software

"We don't have a sufficient shitload."

exposure suit

eminently practical

bit by bit

"He was acting more like the psychotics you read about in the newspapers: calm, methodical, invisible."

"...when you've been thrashing through mud and leaves for a while, nothing looks stranger than a bunch of cars glinting in the sunlight."

""Whatever." This was a useful word I'd picked up from Bart."

warm paneling

"An old concrete laundry tub against one wall which he used as a urinal."

"a nice stack of Big Macs and pseudo-shakes"

"Is this what they call being a workaholic?"

"It was made from all natural ingredients."

"He was carrying a briefcase in his other hand, an executive to the fucking end."

"...but we can kick them out of civilized society...."