renice.com web


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Everything's Relative 

I went to the UIUC Webmasters' Forum yesterday to hear Eric Meyer. His keynote was about social networking and XHTML Friends Network, aka XFN.

It was interesting to me because I'd actually thought about this stuff when I was setting up the blogroll I have over on the left. As you can see, I opted for a 0/1 designation: Blogs I read that belong to either 0) people I've met in real time, or 1) people I have not met in real time.

This arrangement has its problems. For instance, it makes it seem as if I'm 'friends' with David Weinberger, and although he and I have had a few real-time conversations – for example, while sitting across from each other at a dinner table, and while driving in my car to the airport during which time he was gracious enough not to use the Passenger's Imaginary Brake™ (gee, that's almost enough to qualify him as Blindly Trusting Friend) – I'm sure he wouldn't recognize me if he saw me again.

In fact, my blogroll arrangement haphazardly lumps in Weinberger-level acquaintances with co-workers who would be embarrassed to hang with me in public (my being twice their age and all), as well as with someone I've poured out my heart to while we sat together breastfeeding our respective infants over 22 years ago.

So I like the idea of XFN. It appeals to my perverse need to mentally map out various associations convoluted by years of living in this too-small university town. Yet, I can't imagine ever using it: 0/1 is simply easier, if not better, than trying to rate any more levels of friendship. Just the idea of trying to remember to update rel attributes as my relationships evolve – not to mention the perils in deciding at which points a relationship has changed levels – represents a huge potential problem to me personally.

[Next: Living with fewer than 2 degrees of separation and the potential redundancy of rel="date, enemy".]


Monday, April 19, 2004


While I was living in Manhattan, my daughter the-art-school-student introduced me to NYC sticker tagging culture. I tried not to be too much of a mom, but I honestly didn't get it. It seemed to me that time and energy spent on propagating personal tags that don't really say anything beyond, "I was here," could be better spent disseminating a message. (Ok, my current job title is Communications Manager, right.)

During a visit to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of my very favorite museums, I noticed a sheet of sticker tags in one of the displays. They were anti-Nazi messages printed maybe 25-30 up on pre-glued stamp paper. According to the display's legend, the stickers were small enough that they could be posted surreptitiously, and were frequently used inside passenger trains.

With some excitement, I told my daughter about the find. Within a few days she had designed some great sticker tags based on The Complete Bushisms – Slate.com's compilation of actual Dubya quotations (scroll down Slate's page to find the most recent additions to the list). So we did a bit of tagging before the last election – though clearly not enough.

Now there's only 28 weeks before the next election, so go.... Print. Cut. Tag.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

Family Ties 

Iffy's comments about his moving up in Google rankings on the search term iffland had me googling wernette this morning. Today mine is the first link in 81 pages of links to Wernette's. And as Iffy suggests, I know I owe at least part of it to inadvertent "link bombing". The other part of it comes from having a personal website up for so many years. At the time I put my site up, my web searches for Wernette's were resulting in only 2 other people.

According to a family tree that my father gave my daughter, I come from the line of Wernette's stemming from Bernard, son of Jean Baptiste Wernette Sr. of Wittelsheim, Haut Rhin, Alsace. Even though it had always seemed to me that the Wernette clan was not as blindly prolific as good Catholics ought to be, there are still plenty of us residing in France.

While I was growing up, my father fretted about his ancestry and his legacy. From a family of 5, he was the only survivor of the June 1936 flood that swept away Nixon Texas, east-southeast of San Antonio. His parents and 2 sisters were buried in Nixon Cemetery when he was 8 – they had always called him Bubba. He worried that, since he hadn't had a son, his family name would die with him. During our family's vacations, he compulsively checked for Wernette's in local phone books in every town we stopped in. I always wondered what he planned on saying if he ever found one, but it didn't matter because he never did.

When Switchboard first loaded the country's white pages to the web over 9 years ago, I searched for Wernette and found over 200. I compiled the list, sorted by first name as well as by city, and sent the 2 printouts to my dad. He was ecstatic. I think it was the best gift I'd ever given him.


Saturday, April 10, 2004

Still Growing Up  

It was so nice to find my friend Mary's* blog yesterday. Her entry "If I had a daughter..." reminded me of what a huge influence she'd had on my attitudes about being a mother and a woman.

My cousin Max had introduced us because I was pregnant and she had a baby. That was it. Something like introducing 2 people for no other reason than they both have cats or Volkswagens or size 12 feet. At the time, I thought it was one of Max's more ridiculous reaches and I only agreed to meet her to stop his incessant you-really-should-meet-Mary comments. But, ever since Max and I had been in grade school, he had probably known me better than anyone – he was right about my meeting her.

I saw Max last at his mother's house this past January. He has 2 sons in grade school now and a new puppy that they were training. Max said he's learned so much from training the dog that he wished he'd had one before he'd had kids. I thought that was funny, and it made me think then that I was glad I'd had a good example to follow in Mary because I'd already trained puppies by the time I had a kid. What I needed as a new mother was someone to show me how to throw out a lot of the rules that I'd thought parents were supposed to follow.

* By the way, it was Mary's literary reading that I mentioned in my first public post.