Hi. My name is David Cary.

I am interested in everything.

OK, well, certain specific things bore me to tears. I do seem to be interested in lots of specific things. What I am trying to say, though, is that when some new piece of technology can do everything the old one can do, so that I never need to use the old one again, I find that sort of technology far more fascinating than other little gadgets and widgets.

I am a major editor of the “Visual Language” wiki http://visualwiki.org/ aka http://visual.wiki.taoriver.net/ .

I am a major editor of the “Open Circuits” wiki http://opencircuits.com/ .

I also hang out at http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?DavidCary.

I have some static webs pages online somewhere…

I created the pages ReserveWiki and InstantCommunityValues and SoftwareBazaar.

I thought about creating page WikiHive. Then I decided to put it at http://worldwidewiki.net/wiki/WikiHive .

I created the page TooManyChoices, not realizing we already had a page (FeatureKarma) on exactly the same subject.

2004-02-29: I feel a little strange to discover French words coming out of my mouth on page DansLeSujetEtHorsSujet.

2004-05-19: I thought about creating page: FailureTolerantWiki?. Then I decided to put it at http://wikifeatures.wiki.taoriver.net/moin.cgi/FailSafeWiki

2004-07-05: SunirShah and LionKimbro have been telling me something that I couldn’t believe, until I saw it for myself in the Wiki:CategoryCategory system: Hierarchies are unnecessary. Reality almost always has several exceptional cases that don’t fit nicely into any hierarchy (or fit into the heirarchy in several places). There are better ways of organizing wiki pages (and other things). I’m thinking about making a HeirarchyConsideredHarmful? or UnnecessaryHierarchy? page, but what would go there that hasn’t already been hashed out in ReserveWiki or in one of the Wiki:CategoryHierarchy pages ? Maybe a more detailed discussion of “A City is not a Tree” by Christopher Alexander. (Check out http://wiki.osafoundation.org/twiki/bin/view/Chandler/BrowserDesign for a few pretty anti-hierarchy sketches).

I much prefer wiki page names that make a positive statement – a Wiki:PositiveCommands. Rather than “HeirarchyIsEvil?”, a page name that says “Don’t do that”, how do I turn it into a positive “Do do this other thing…” ?

2004-09-06: finally added this portrait: ( http://rdrop.com/~cary/image/thumbnail_passport_photo.jpg DavidCaryPortrait? ) … I don’t think I like how it turned out.

I would call it either: HierarchyConsideredHarmful or OrganicOrganization?.

The reason for the first is because it’s a well known name. I don’t remember what wiki it was that the page name is on. But there have been several times I’ve wanted to quote it..! I just remember that name for some reason.

If you wanted to name it what it is, I would call it “OrganicOrganization?,” or something like that.

It should not bother you that ReserveWiki already includes some of this conversation. That’s because ReserveWiki is about- well, ReserveWiki. That there’s some discussion in there that is off-topic or tangentially topical to the page does not matter.

(Suppose that the page LinkLanguage had a text on baseball stars. If we wanted to revisit BaseballStars?, we would want to make a new page BaseballStars?, rather than hold the discussion in LinkLanguage.)

It sounds like to me that OrganicOrganization? is the concept/idea that gets hammered out inside HierarchyConsideredHarmful or less negatively (good idea David, remove as much negative as possible) HierarchyNotUseful?.

2005-03-08: added another portrait: DavidCaryAlmostSmiles

I’m still a little fuzzy on exactly how to use it. I guess I need to read DenotingAuthor a bit more carefully.

It looks much better than what you are using right now. I’d just replace the current one with the new one.

Yes, I like it much better.

I wish I had more time to make a whole series of emotions / facial expressions. Ah well, maybe I’ll just slowly collect them one at a time. http://rdrop.com/~cary/image/thumbnail_passport_photo.jpg

Pages to consider creating

I’m considering creating a page on “TransparentSociety” (is there a better name ?).

There seems to be an idea A that:

Then we have an opposing idea B that:

In other words (or is this something else entirely ?), the pre-computer pre-concieved notion of “access” and “security” has been broken down into 2 completely different pieces: data-preservation and data-secrecy. These go beyond independent – sometimes they are actively opposing each other, so that improving the “data preservation” part of security makes the “data-secrecy” worse and vice-versa.

Idea “A” seems to maximize data-secrecy. Idea “B” seems to maximize data-preservation.

I’m really fascinated by the counter-intuitive idea that, when some unscrupulous person exploits some piece of data, sometimes the problem can be solved by making more information public.

For example, spam email is a problem. Among the proposals for reducing spam are:

(See also Wiki:WikiMailBox, TransparentEmail)

Is this kind of transparency really all that different from the kind described in TransparentMessaging ?

Related to CorrelatingPolls, Wiki:TheTransparentSociety, and possibly related to DebateTool.

Pages to consider creating

unintended consequences of some anti-spam strategies

OK, spam is a problem. But we have 2 forces working against each other – is this an antipattern? (Should I split this off into its own wiki page ? What to call it?)

Web maintainers hate spam in their online forums. The first solution that leaps to mind is (a) force everyone to register and login, and (b) to eliminate spammers “registering” hundreds of nonsense names, verify registration via email.

Users hate spam in their email inbox. The first solution that leaps to mind is (a) Never give out email addresses to anyone you wouldn’t trust with your credit card. And especially don’t type it into “registration” forms on online forums. Even if that web site is not a email harvesting ruse, too many web sites naively display email addresses of their users in a convenient format for web harvesting spammers.

When both sides select this particular solution, the outcome is that no one ever registers for online forums, and they turn into ghost towns.


To Do

“Open Collaboration – A Better Way to Develop Educational Software”

“But The Screen Is Too Small – No It Isn’t. Why Cell Phones - Not Computers - Should Be The Future of Educational Technology”

“Escape from Planet Jar-Gon. Or, What Video Games Have To Teach Academics About Teaching and Writing: A Review of James Paul Gee’s “What Videogames Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy””

“What Can You Learn From A Cell Phone? - Almost Anything! - How to use the 1.5 billion computers already in our students’ and trainees’ pockets to increase learning, at home and around the world”

Other educational wiki:

Pages to consider creating

getting information in and out

the LockInEffect? ?

Wasn’t there a wiki page somewhere about the “lock-in effect” ? How manufacturers would try to build devices that were easy for you to start using (would import all your old data), but were much more difficult for you to stop using (would politely refuse to export that data) ?

I’ve decided not to put any information into something (a hardware device or a piece of software) unless there’s some reasonably easy way to get it back out again (a standard serial or Ethernet port; standard file formats).

TooManyChoices suggests “don’t get locked-in to one choice”.

“My first was a COCO. … the TRS-80 Color Computer … I learned a lesson about the long-term cost of orphan formats (remember Betamax VCR’s?), and that lesson has stuck, coloring the whole of my adult life.” – Wil McCarthy? http://wilmccarthy.com/tourmach1.htm

I think that the “lock-in affect” causes AnalysisParalysis – people think they won’t be able to switch later, so they have to make the right decision up front – but they won’t know enough to make the right decision until after they’ve played with it for a while. Catch-22.

There’s a brief allusion to it at ChoosingaWiki and WikiChoosingStories – mainly to say that since wiki pages are plain text files, it’s fairly easy to switch between wiki, so don’t worry about it.


There’s a bit more on the lock-in effect at Wiki:TheFableOfTheKeys, Wiki:QwertySyndrome, Wiki:ZombieTechnologies

Yes, but is there a page on the lock-in effect in particular ? (… or on “backward compatibility” and “forward compatibility”) ?

“The solution to “vendor lock-in” is called Isolation Layer.” -- http://antipatterns.com/vendorlockin.htm

Wiki Mail Box

Hey David! Good to see you posting here.

… text summarized and moved to ProductiveWikiOverlap and TerseWriting

All said, it’s great to see you here. 😊

It’s great to be here :-).


Hi David and hello everybody. I am also interested in EVERYTHING, I found it funny to read that on the top of your page here - not many people write that on their homepage…. - Classification for online resources and wiki pages in special would be very helpful, a nice navigation tool could be built with such a system. I’ve been thinking about that for several months now and as i maintain (and develop a bit) a ZWiki based on Zope i looked for products to support it and here’s what i found: I’d like to go with the most sophisticated technology which is IMO TopicMaps and so I now concentrate my development on the “Ticle” thing, a RelationManager? in triples to model [[RDF?]] and also TopicMaps. For example the UNSPSC is available as TopicMap; I would like to build the DDC or the BroadSystemOfOrdering? as a TM and create a protocol which allows the user to view the neighbourhood pages of the current wiki page in a kinda navigation box ie. the subtopics and “related” pages and much more. (BTW ZWiki offers already a “parent” page attribute for a wikipage, so a hierarchy can be created easily - I use that in NooWiki (down at the moment). - FlorianKonnertz - 04-02-08

So am I. See on the beginning of MattisManzel. I am s u r e you don’t mind, David ;-)

That WikiLoversAndWikiHaters page is hilarious, great idea to seperate it out. I just want to add myself to the list of people who are interested in everything. The tag line for my life is: “What’s boredom? I’d love to figure that out.”


David, put up a photo here please, I’m constantly mixing you up with ChrisPurcell or someone else, I don’t remember who. I remember the persons face on his photo though.
I spent a good couple of summer-afternoons staring up into the tops of the pine tree close to the lake “Schlachtensee” in Berlin and I swear this is not only two dimensional. The tree is not. It maybe when you look at it by close sight, but it is not looking up into the mingeling pine tops from the warm and sandy ground there in Berlin-Zehlendorf. Let human brain fail on the tree, let it untill it reaizes, there are trees all over, every tree says, this is my top, this is my trunk and here are the roots, and I hereby make gravitation. And maybe all these trees somehow get in accord about what is heaven and what is the forrests ground after a while. Anyhow. Just a photo, take one of your uncle if you feel like. I don’t mind.

Aya: don’t move, copy instead btw, my contribution is active trollismn or whatever. It’s there to disturb the voting discussion. It’s there to remind us, the voters, what we are sourounded of. This “it” is up in the pinetops.

Yaaaay! A picture! I’m so glad!

Now we just need to hook you up into the Skype collective. {;D}=

Blueish David has a pic! Cool. I promise not to mix you up with anybody anymore now.
Skype is great, lion is right and putting a download link her and there for it is perfectly alright. We just do not forget that it is free but it is not open, that we never may make us dependent on closed things, that means we have to develop a free and open VoIP system soon. In the meantime use skype. Mattis Manzel

Tech stuff

I find “Usage Statistics for all the sites hosted on emacswiki.org” interesting. One thing puzzles me, however: there are a couple of months with more “Pages” than “Files”; also many months with more “Sites” than “Visits”. I thought that was physically impossible – every page I see on my web browser is composed of one or more files. Also, every site that interacts with a webserver does so on behalf of one or more visitors. How is that possible?

My guess is that an URL ending in wiki?foo counts as file “wiki” but page “wiki?foo”, so if you then visit wiki?bar, you have visited one file but two pages? But really, we should just read the webalizer docs (or whatever is used to produce the stats). I also heard that the numbers are rather untrustworthy.

Do you think the previous/next dates are so important? Did you check the Calendar? Alternatively, you could use some markup to add monthly (and yearly) calendars:


I like the prev/next dates.

Alex, thanks for mentioning the Calendar. I didn’t know about it before.



If we start using these calendars on pages, I’ll have to look at that CSS. 😉

David, just so you know, I’ve 1/2-way migrated the Graphics Algorithms wiki.

I looked over it, and saw that I was wrong: There was actually a lot of stuff there!

Thank you for migrating gfxalgo.

You know I prefer fully-spelled words, but I see that

But what about

David, would you check out the MoveSwitchWiki? discussion at SwitchWiki? Best, MarkDilley

What? The Switch wiki is moving? Why didn’t anyone tell me!

Umm… where exactly is the discussion? I don’t see anything about Switch wiki moving at any of the most likely spots:

Aha – it’s at WorldWideWiki:MoveSwitchWiki? http://www.worldwidewiki.net/wiki/MoveSwitchWiki . Hang on, while I go to some of the above pages and drop that link on each of them …


Hey David! Are you going to be able to make it to RecentChangesCamp? You’re a US person, yes?

RecentChangesCamp sounds great. If I were still living in Oregon, I’d zip on down in a heartbeat. But I’m in Oklahoma, about 2000 miles away.

Is there any way to convert this step task into a ramp task?

I’m trying to think of some way of rationalizing going to RecentChangesCamp.

  Go to RecentChangesCamp!


  I am your father!

Yes, there is way to turn it into a ramp task:

Just walk a few miles, every day.

David, try if you can, it should be a pretty darn fine time, would be good to have you there.

Hi David, I’m relatively new to cw. I’ve recently spawned an oddwiki (Collective Problem Solving). My hope in creating something new is to learn more by doing, but I also think there is some potential strength in gathering around a fairly specific WikiMission. I’m starting to discover the tradeoffs in spawning (yet another) wiki.

Lion suggested here that you had some specific experience with this that you might be willing to share. Excerpt follows:

This exercise right now is a thing that has been repeated, many times over, by many individuals…But it never succeeds, and always ends in individual silos….It may be best to talk with David Cary; He seemed to realize something about this most recently, when he was trying to do it.


Yes, I’ve started several wiki. I once thought I knew all about computer programming. After I started reading c2 and learned many more things about computer programming, I realized that many of the people there knew way more than I do about computer programming.

I was inspired by http://c2.com/ – the original wiki. Wouldn’t it be cool to listen in as experts talk about other topics I am interested in?

Alas, I can’t force experts to talk about things I am interested in. :-\

In most of the wiki I started, I’m the only editor – talking to myself. I am probably doing something wrong.

Some people (Building a Community) say that is normal – a founder should expect to spend 1-2 years SeedPosting before a community develops.

Still, what if the reason no one edits my wiki is that they are already talking about that topic on some other wiki? If I’m bursting to talk about some topic T, and I see that on wiki A there are 2 people chatting about T, I might talk there – unless I see 10 people talking about T on wiki B.

And since there are 2 635 English-language wiki, chances are pretty good that at least one of them already talks about that topic. ConsolidateInformation.

I heard that the first time a new wiki split from the original wiki, it was pretty controversial – people wanted to know why? Wouldn’t it be more convenient to keep everything together one one big wiki?

Just last month I saw someone ask a new startup wiki (paraphrased) “Why did you start a new wiki on this topic, rather than talk about it on Wikipedia?”

Ah, yes. Why start a new wiki indeed. I believe that is the question to ask oneself. I’ve also managed to spark a healthy debate on why people bother contributing to communities in the first place. Generally speaking, these appear to be worthy, yet well-worn topics. When speaking about a specific person’s passion, however, they are meaningful - at least to that person.

I probably have to slog through this process in order to learn my own lesson. I believe I have an answer to the first part from above (why create a new one?) and am being forced to figure out the second one (why should anyone care?). LearningByDoing.

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, David.

if we are talking here or on another page ore on another wiki, that’s no difference for me .
but if we are talking about what’s the best wiki, then perhaps it becomes important .
having the best wiki, we indeed don’t need different wikis (see above: “people wanted to know why?”) because each page of a wiki can be the start-page of a sub-wiki (like a folder contains other folders) . this is obvious and trivial . why so many peoples here don’t can see this?
but what we then need are adapted recent changes, i.e. relative to this folders .
moreover we need a hive-mind which doesn’t stick on special wikis (this off-topic crap, this walking on crutches, which doesn’t see the wood for the trees) .

FreeWillAndDeterminism is breathtaking. I like your style. It clearly takes the edge out of it, not the contents does but the effort and its wonderful funniness in explaining this difficult matter in easy to understand words does. Don’t waste time ever trying not to be funny, it explains best. My sincere hopes that it’s been enough of a flame war barrier. Thanks.

Thank you. Although I must admit that most of the text came from Helmut and Lion. Also I found the PlainTalk essay pretty inspiring; that had a lot of influence on my editing. Thank you for the positive feedback – I was trying to “turn the PlainTalk knob to 11” on this one, and a little worried that I was going too far. Now I have evidence that PlainTalk works. – David Cary

David Cary, I thought of you when I read this: → http://www.laetusinpraesens.org/docs/mindfut.php

I remembered the principle (we seriously need a wiki page for the principle alone) that if someone comes, and what they have to say or contribute doesn’t figure into your immediate thing, but somewhere nearby, the appropriate thing to do is to tell them where it could fit, or help them figure out how to assemble such a group.

Thank you for showing me "Minding the Future: Thought experiment on presenting new information" . Interesting thought experiment. I’ll have to think about this.

What book author was it that said, “You can’t write a novel about someone smarter than you are.”? It was VernorVinge. – LionKimbro

You already know that I already believe that someone smarter than me already is trying to get messages through to you and me.

If we split that principle out of the OnAndOffTopic page to focus on that principle alone, what would be a good name for it? EverythingIsOnTopicSomewhere?? WhereIsItOnTopic?? TalkAboutItHereUnlessThereIsABetterPlace?? OnTopicHereUntilProvenGuilty?? APlaceForEverythingAndEverythingInItsPlace?? – DavidCary


  • RouteMessages?
  • RouteIdeas?
  • SendToUsefulPlace?

Let’s see… There’s the receipt, the evaluation, the rejection, the thinking about where it should go, the redirection, the waving goodbye.

Of these, “thinking about where it should go” and “redirection” seem primary to me.

Then there’s the intent behind the idea: To make sure that vitality is not wasted, to respect the health of others and the whole system.

Imagery and Metaphors: Sands falling into holes, inputs and outputs, reception desk, service, …

I think I like “RouteMessages?” best.

PosteRestante?, ke ke ke

I mean, you know, the addressee of the message is unknown/unreachable at the moment, so why don’t you leave it here so that he can take it when he passes by?

Yes :-). Leave the message at the front desk of the hotel.

I vaguely remember an illustration of “Jack Sprat could eat no fat; his wife could eat no lean” that showed Jack Sprat building a mountain of discarded fat next to him; and his wife building a mountain of discarded lean next to her.

This failure to route stuff to where it can actually be used is an example of the situation that page needs to talk about.



Define external redirect: OnTopicHereUntilProvenGuilty BaseballStars OrganicOrganization HeirarchyConsideredHarmful TalkAboutItHereUnlessThereIsABetterPlace McCarthy BroadSystemOfOrdering PosteRestante EverythingIsOnTopicSomewhere SwitchWikiDiscussion RDF FailureTolerantWiki HeirarchyIsEvil RouteIdeas UnnecessaryHierarchy RouteMessages WhereIsItOnTopic MoveSwitchWiki SendToUsefulPlace APlaceForEverythingAndEverythingInItsPlace HierarchyNotUseful DavidCaryPortrait LockInEffect RelationManager

EditNearLinks: FeatureKarma VernorVinge SeedPosting SwitchWiki NooWiki AnalysisParalysis WikiMission SunirShah


The same page elsewhere: