September 25, 2000-- Newsletter #99

By Joe Burns

September 25, 2000--Newsletter #99
Please visit

Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Did you hear

Let's say you run a magazine, a radio station, or a television station and a rumor comes up about one of your advertisers. The rumor is some what substantiated, but you're still not sure if it is fully true or not. Do you run it at the risk of losing the advertiser even though is may be true? It's a stunning ethical question for a class now that it's reality. Apple computer has stated they will drop advertising from media that print rumors about them. In addition, Apple has brought suit against Web sites that put out specs and images of yet-to-be-released apple products.

The hit continues to hit hard in the Web world of IPOs. Alta Vista has just cut their work force by 25%. That represents 225 people who are now out of work. It was bound to happen. Alta Vista stock has dropped over 70% in the past year.

Speaking of the Web and getting fired, Dow Chemical in Freeport, Texas has fired 24 employees, reprimanded 200 more, and let some contract workers go, all for misuse of company email. The company began reviewing email after some employees reported being offended. It's like I tell my computer students. Unless you don't mind the text in your email read out loud in front of your mother and grandmother in a court of law don't send it., the official site for the summer games is embroiled in a lawsuit over handicapped accessibility. In 1999, Bruce Maguire, a blind Australian man lodged a complaint against the site. As of this writing, the site still does not meet the requirements for a disabled assistant browser to read it properly.

Now onto today's topic

I have been called a Nerd, a Geek, a Guru, and any other number of names that labeled me as a purveyor of computer technology. I'll bet the majority of you reading this online newsletter have been called something of the same sort here and there.

If you have been given these monikers from time to time, let me ask you a question. Because you understand and enjoy one form of computer technology, is it simply assumed that you know and enjoy all forms of computer technology?

It is with me, but I fear that is simply not the case. For I, the author of HTML Goodies am aa

Selective Luddite!

Yes, a Selective Luddite. It's a term I just made up, but it fits perfectly. Maybe you don't know what makes a person a Luddite. If that's the case, they you certainly cannot understand why I am a selective Luddite, now can you? Here's the story, as I understand it. Of course, facts often change from one telling of the history to the next.

Round about 1779-1780, a guy names Ned Lud (I've also seen it Ludd), broke into a Leicestershire, England hosiery factory and destroyed a couple of machines. Why? Well, the best reason I read was that it was a fit of insane rage. The name Lud became a catch phrase for when something became broken. People would state that, Lud must have been here.

Later in the early 1800s (specifically 1811-1816), A group of people named themselves Luddites and set to destroying the machinery, mainly textile, which was ushering in the industrial age. You see they believed that the use of machines would put many people out of work. Apparently they got their point across. The government did more than simply jail them for their actions. They hanged fourteen of the Luddites.

The term Luddite has now become synonymous with a person who shuns technology and the believed hardship that new technology will bring.

So! Join me! Join me in my new and most interesting group of people, the Selective Luddites! We'll have meetings every Wednesday. Everybody bring a covered dish.

What? Oh. You want to know what a Selective Luddite actually believes in. As a Selective Luddite, I reserve the right to love and adore some forms of technological advancement while at the same time berating people for embracing other forms of technological advancements.

Case in point number one, cellular phones. I abhor cellular phones. I don't own one. I dislike using them myself and I cringe every time I am attempting to eat a nice meal and I hear Moonlight Sonata played, out of rhythm, by a tiny, tinny speaker.

I always hope that my hatred of the cellular phone will be allayed when the person answers the phone. If, just once, I could hear something like, The kidney is in? I'll be right in to perform the transplant, my faith in cellular phone humanity would be reborn. It's never happened yet. Usually I get, Hello? Yeah. Uh-huh. Eating dinner. Yeah. OK. Uh-huh. He did? When? Ugh! OK. Gotta go.

Gotta go? Why? What at the specific point did that person have to go? Was the food on her plate going to make a break for it?

I sat next to a woman once that received three calls before I received my desert. On the third call, I put my fork down and turned towards her, staring as her conversation regarding the price of Nutri-bars dragged on. She noticed me, placed her hand over the speaker, and said, Do you mind?

Bingo! It was at that point I became a Selective Luddite!

Case in point number two: Personal Palm Pilots.

I have a good friend who use to lug around a Daytimer. Now he got this little thing that's too small for his fingers to manipulate. Every time I give him a new piece of information he pulls this small screen display out of his hip leatherette belt-clip case and flips it upon like a Star Trek Tri-corder. He them pulls a small stick out of the side and uses that to touch the screen, again, because his fingers are too big for the display. It is my opinion I could bring this guy's world to its knees simply by taking that little stick. Forget the Palm Pilot itself. All I would need to grab is that stick. I'd see him rooting around the campus looking for stick to replace it.

I don't know why, but there just seemed something more civilized about a Daytimer.

Case in point number three: Power Point Presentations

Just allow me to state that the ooooo and aaaah factor has pretty much worn off of Power Point. It's not that I don't like Power Point, on the contrary. If used correctly, it is a great assistant to the speaker.

What bugs me is when the speaker attempts to incorporate every trick of the Power Point trade. Every new letter flies in from a different corner, spins twice, explodes, rebuilds, gets married, had a couple of kids, and finally settles in.

Then, right in the middle of the 26-letter firestorm, the author will attempt to spark an emotion by having a panel with one word, like courage, or unity.

Also if I see the graphics where the man in a suit is leaning over and looking through a magnifying glass one more time I'm going to scream.

The same goes for the numerous stick-figure people who are either snapping their fingers, clicking their heels or looking pensive while a question mark appears over their heads.

Now that I've laid out my three-point plan, join me. Become a Selective Luddite! We'll all chip in and get t-shirts or those shiny coats all the radio DJs wear.

You can still love HTML, drool over the latest release of Internet Explorer, use emoticons, email the world, and generally live in front of a computer. That's OK as long as you make a point of drawing boundaries where your Luddite yard begins and ends.

The few, the proud

The Selective Luddites.


That's That. Every so often I just get tired of the news and want to write something silly. Can you tell this was one of those times?

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: The name of the first plane to travel past the speed of sound was piloted by Chuck Yeager. The bird was named Glamorous Glennis after Yeager's wife. And since we're on names of airplanes, allow me to debunk a widely held belief about the airplane that carried the Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and Richie Valens. It was not named American Pie. In fact it didn't have a name, only its assigned ID number. Don McLean must have named the song for another reason.

Archive Home Page.

Make a Comment

Loading Comments...

  • Web Development Newsletter Signup

    Invalid email
    You have successfuly registered to our newsletter.
Thanks for your registration, follow us on our social networks to keep up-to-date