Bill Spornitz on 19 Jan 2001 21:16:59 -0000

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<nettime> re: boring texts

     [mime-attched image deleted @ nettime--tb]

I sent this letter to Tim O'Reilly (publishers of those computer 
books with the black and white animals on the cover), but he never 
wrote me back. That's boring.

(btw I don't know if the logo that is embedded in the middle of this 
email will reach you - but if you want your own pig, just drop me a 
line and I'll send you a small one directly...-bill)


I've been following the developments (and the hype) surrounding p2p 
on I have my own idea that seems to have p2p written all 
over it. Please take a moment to suspend disbelief... ;->

The Lumpy Labs Story

At 06:45 CST On 12 Jan 2000 I released my company, Lumpy Labs, to the 
world as an *open source* corporation.  My intent is that anyone 
could start their own Lumpy lab - in other words, anyone could use 
the logo and the name for anything they wanted, royalty free. They 
could download the logo, print it onto iron-on transfer material and 
sell them - whatever.

Why oh why?

First, why Lumpy? As a musician by profession I found myself doing 
all kinds of other work to help make ends meet. I worked in film and 
theatre, I worked at the local museum/science centre, I learned html, 
Perl, browser scripting... I was doing many things and I found I 
needed a company identity that was extremely all purpose and one that 
said *creative*. Lumpy Labs was born.

But wait. Customers were confused. Lumpy? A Pig? I found that as the 
nature of my business was changing, Lumpy Labs was not as useful an 
identity. I didn't need the pig any more - maybe someone else could 
use it.

I've always been a fan of the story of Onka's Big Moka - the story of 
an indigenous tribal leader in the islands of south Asia who 
organizes a big party where he manages to give lots of pigs away and 
thus rise in prominence in his community. I like the idea that giving 
can make you richer and, as the promise of open source became a 
reality, I was inspired to be a part of this movement.

We have a three year old son and I couldn't help noticing that all 
his toys and books seemed to be the product of vertical integration 
and marketing - Playful creatures represented in these toys only 
played with their own kind and often were shills for merchandise or 
services, almost always owned by a horking big corporation. I wanted 
my pig to be (as we say here on the Canadian prairie) a Free-range 

I'm an artist at heart. This Lumpy gift also has it's foundations in 
art - the idea that, possibly, something as simple as an image and an 
associated name could mean many different things to many different 
people, things that were completely out of my control. In a sense, 
it's an experiment about itself.

Lumpy Labs is the opposite of a trademark - a logo and identity that 
could represent a multitude of different things. A Public Brand.

What does this have to do with p2p?

Okay, I released the name and logo under the GPL. Big deal. What 
would make this system stronger? I asked myself.

I figured: If people are going to have their own Labs, they're going 
to want to share information about their Labs with others and they're 
going to want to feel a part of a larger organization, one rich in 
complexity and variety. They are going to want to form allegiances, 
and comment on the progress of others.

I had investigated Jon Udell's dhttp perl module and I got to 
thinking - that it would be neat if people could have their own 
weblog-style portal for their lab served from their own computer. 
Perhaps they could syndicate content from other Lumpy Labs. Using 
rss/rdf, Labs could subscribe to other interesting Labs' rss streams, 
but one could even have a Lumpy dtd so that metainfo about the 
streams could make sense somehow in the Lumpy context. (Whatever that 
turns out to be.)

I figured I could use to build an easy to use content 
management interface (a la Zope) so that people could make their 
weblog simply by filling out a web-based form. If this got fancy, a 
form-based interface could even be used to update the dtd for that 
particular Lumpy Lab. Sort of point-and-click xml authoring.

Then I found radio userland - here's an *off-the-shelf* way to 
quickly set up a lab. And Jabber and Groove - like you said in your 
*memes* article - a dial tone for xml transfer <- people could use 

There are ways around the dynamic IP address problem - static pages 
that automatically point to assigned IP addresses, or store requests 
for content until such time that the lab goes online and checks for 
messages (as it were) then deals out (or brings in) content. 
Pre-arranged times for connection. Centralized brokering of addresses 
- again, whatever.

The bottom line is that I really do want to just *give the pig away* 
- I don't want to write a piece of software that is Lumpy, I want 
people to start their own Lab and then simply using a basic xml 
structure - text-based, extremely portable - start living the life 
with it. I don't care if it's written in perl or visual basic (did I 
just type that?  ;-> ) and I don't care if people design their own 
pig for that matter.

As I think about this, I'm greatly encouraged by the progress in 
discourse about p2p as outlined at I'm writing to say 
- what do you think? You know a lot about this. Advice? Direction? 
Flame? I'm ready, and I appreciate anything you have to say about 
this idea.



ps: here's your pig:

pps: I'm just now redesigning my portfolio pages, so there's very 
little on the web about this at this time. Hopefully by next week...

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