and AT & T will bring you there

I haven’t heard anyone use the term “Information Superhighway” in a very long time. Remember when a giant network of interconnected computers all over the globe was such a tough idea to grasp?

I’m going to do my part and use it as often as possible.

Why don’t you own a TiVo yet?

The New York Times article “Why TiVo Owners Can’t Shut Up” totally nails the cult of TiVo, which I am a 7th-level member.

Although I talk about it incessantly here on this site, I don’t talk about tivo much with anyone unless they start talking about tivo first. I’ve probably converted a dozen people to tivo after hearing them mention it at parties, or when people come up and ask me. My sales pitch is pretty simple, and works even for people that don’t like much on TV. Here’s my elevator-pitch version of why you should own a tivo:

TiVo takes the hours and hours of shit found on television, and squeezes it into a diamond.

After I hook them on that, I usually go into the virtues of time-shifting: coming home and watching your favorite shows, when you have time, instead of when they are on live; being free of the tyranny of the tv timeslot once and for all.

Anyway, enough tivo evangelizing, if you don’t already own one, you should really get one and change the way you deal with your televison.

Don’t be like your uncle Matt

The universe never fails to amaze me. Today I became an uncle for the second time, and my Brother-in-law and his wife purposely avoided finding out the sex of their child until birth. Apparently they wanted to go old school on that and be surprised.

A few weeks ago, we were talking to them and the subject of previous wagers on life events came up. I proposed a bet on the sex of their new child.

Now, my brother-in-law has degrees from MIT and law school, but he’s a man’s man. He loves beer, steak, and sports. I knew he’d be a fit father whether his first born was male or female, but I’m sure it’d be easier for him to have a boy. He was talking about how great it’d be to have a boy for the past 9 months, and they had the boy’s name all set (they were still undecided on the girl’s name).

In my 30 years, I’ve learned two things about life: it is never easy, and life is one big comedy.

Whenever you think you’re on easy street, the universe always seems to throw you a curveball. I knew a boy would be the easy way out, and that in life’s divine comedy, he was getting a girl. I put my money on girl.

Today, at 6:38PM, I won 50 bucks.

Growing old online

The other day I made a comment on someone’s blog and I noticed I was the only one that put my online pseudonym into the name field. Everyone else posted as “Jane Doe”, “Bill Simpson”, etc.. Thirty real people and then there’s me with my cute name. How quaint.

This is one of those moments when you notice you’re becoming a dinosaur.*

I would venture to guess it happened sometime in the past year or so, due to two factors. One factor is when movable type-based weblogs began proliferating with comments enabled. It clearly says “name” next to the name field, and not “username” as most previous applications did. The second thing is the explosion of Google and most everyone’s acceptance that anything they say anywhere will eventually be mapped back to their name. With Google, it doesn’t matter who you say you are, if people know the real you, your psuedonym will point to your real identity.

In some sense, people have given up on anonymity online**. If everyone has a long history in Google, it’s not that bad for any single person to have their life indexed. Essentially, if there are bad things to come from having your life online, we’re all equally fucked. I used to read papers written by online and community experts, who used to put a lot of stock into crafting separate online identities and for one reason or another, people just don’t seem to care anymore. Blogs started in the past year almost always give a full name to the author’s posts, they tell you where they live and where they work. Their comments area is populated with people openly posting their first name and last names as attribution. Many of the user accounts registered in the past year at MetaFilter (when user signups were on) are in the format Firstname Lastname.

I’ll probably drop the “mathowie” moniker from future movable type blog comments, as every day passes and I make a comment somewhere amid a crowd of real people, using a clever username feels more and more like an anachronism.

* Back in the olden days, my first email account was on a aging relic of a DEC, sporting VAX as the operating system. Your email username couldn’t include spaces and the max length on the field was eight characters, so few accounts were based on real names. I guess I brought that mentality to MetaFilter when I built it, seeing how Slashdot relied on usernames separate from real names.


** When I say “online” I’m only referring to blogs, not IM, IRC chat, gaming communities, or even community sites. Just blogs and other spaces within the reach of the mighty Google.

Swap Meet

After reading about the MetaFilter CD Swap in this New York Times article a couple months back, I decided to finally take part. I put together a list of songs for the past week, and tonight I sat down to rip five copies of it, I printed up inserts and put it all together. The final bit was writing linear notes to go with the URL I put in the inserts. Here’s my contribution for the Spring swap.

Tomorrow’s the shipping deadline and I’ve already gotten two great CDs in the mail from my group’s five members. If you’re a member of MetaFilter and love music, give it a try.

Chilling vision of the future

The other day, Anil mentioned to me a Public Enemy B-side release from 1994 that should have been a single release or at least on a major album. He sent me a copy of it, and after looking around online for info on the track, I couldn’t find much. I was so amazed by this track that tonight I decided to pop open BBEdit and transcribe it myself. If you can find a copy of this track on any P2P network, check it out. Harry Allen and Chuck D had the industry totally figured out in 1994, but unfortunately no one did anything to stop it. Transcript ahead:
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Community Rawkin’

The other day on MetaFilter, someone created, recorded, and posted a song they wrote in response to something they read on the site. I was impressed and figured there were probably more musically-inclined people on the site than I thought, so I floated the idea of a place to hold their songs.

It’s up now at music.metafilter.com, and I gotta say, there are some talented motherfuckers here.