My notes from BayCHI, February 2002

Peter asked me how BayCHI was and the message I ended up writing was so long, I decided it was worth putting on, for your perusal. Click MORE to read my notes.


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.

1 thought on “My notes from BayCHI, February 2002”

  1. While writing down my notes, I found I couldn’t find bibliograph in the dictionary, so I emailed Geoff Nunberg.

    Here’s what he had to say (I added the link):

    Etymologically, epigraphy means “writing on” (i.e., a surface, etc.) but I think yours is a good definition. The best modern work on epigraphy is Armando Petrucci’s book La Scrittura, which was published in English as Public Lettering — a better title than the original, I think. The opposing term is bibliographic. When I consulted the American Heritage, with whom I’m associated, I discovered that we didn’t have the relevant sense for that word. The OED does give a sense for bibliography as “the writing of books,” but says it’s obsolete. My impression though is that this sense is current in this particular literature, in several languages. (I’ll see whether I can get this sense included in future AHD editions.)

    So, maybe my email will result in an addition to the American Heritage Dictionary. You’ve got to admit, that’s pretty cool! Thanks to Geoff for letting me post his email to

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