Notes from BayCHI February 2002

Geoff Nunberg started by reading his piece from NPR. The rest of his talk was not so much about blogging as it was a discussion of community, which stemmed from a comment someone made about his NPR piece on MetaTalk. I was surprised that I recalled hearing the piece on the radio. Since I don’t spend much time in the car anymore, I don’t listen to NPR as often as I used to. (Note to self: buy radio for the office.)

The MetaTalk comment was basically, “Nunberg misses the whole multiple communities aspect of blogging.”

He discussed the newspaper as a creator of imagined community – meaning that, by reading the paper, lots of people end up sharing a common experience and knowledge.

He also talked about how the word community is inappropriately perceived as being inherently good, suggesting that no one thinks about the terrorist-sympathizer community or the pedophile community.

He also talked about epigraphy – writing that appears in public spaces, like on the wall of a building, and bibliographic writing – writing in books. His contention was that the blog has qualities of both epigraphic and bibliographic writing. I agree.

I think he could have made even more interesting insights if he had considered the information dissemination aspect of blogging. As it was, he focused on the personal journal side of blogging.

All-in-all a very enjoyable talk.


The talk by Victoria Bellotti was less interesting, but still good.

She discussed the spectacular failure of PDR Inc. A startup with funding from Xerox.

They were to develop a document reader that was going to be a prestige piece of hardware for top executives who had assistants who could scan documents into the reader for the exec.

Basically, the whole project failed because the PDR Inc. management. ignored the results of the research that told them their target market simply didn’t exist.

The thing I found interesting was that Victoria mentioned that FXPAL was involved in the project at the beginning, but later bailed out. Why is that interesting? Because late last year, a researcher from FXPAL spoke at Stanford and demonstrated the exact device that Victoria described.

The guy from FXPAL thought there still wasn’t a market for the device because the hardware is still too expensive.

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