web servers don’t fill up: the Great Russian Novel (unfinished)

As a young child, I remember pondering with my brothers the idea of digging a hole to China. We considered this to be possible. After all, we understood that the earth was round like a ball. But we figured that digging a hole to China would be too much work. We settled on digging a swimming pool. We dug a small hole that filled with muddy water after a rain.

In 1994, concerned about economic reforms in Russia, I decided to write a Russian novel. Russian popular culture, it seemed to me, lacked hugely popular literary masterpieces like Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, and Stephen R. Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I imagined writing something like Ilf and Petrov’s The Twelve Chairs, but updated to reflect subsequent insights from economic history.

You can’t swim in that hole we dug. But, if you can read Russian, you can now read the chapters that I wrote of my Russian novel. These chapters won’t contribute much to Russian economic success. But perhaps some Russian schoolchildren might find them amusing. Here’s the English translation of the title and the first paragraph:

The Way to Wealth

Chapter 1

Several years ago in Saint Petersburg I met an American. A lot of those foreigners are running around now, talking with everyone, and no one follows them. I met this American in that new restaurant Pizza Hut. He was sitting next to me, and I noticed that he had on his pizza green peppers, onions, and broccoli. On my pizza was sausage. [more in Russian]

Technical notes: Because I wanted this work to be culturally authentic, I chose to type it using the KOI8-R character encoding. I’m grateful to Petko Yotov’s Universal Cyrillic decoder for converting it to CP 1251, an encoding easier to use with MS Windows computers. Babelfish offers Russian-to-English machine translation, but the results in this case are quite bad. So if you don’t read Russian, you’ll probably have to wait for machine translation technology to improve in order to appreciate this unfinished literary masterpiece.

YouTube's success

How has YouTube succeeded? YouTube makes uploading and sharing videos free and easy. It has hosted some popular high-quality clips and stimulated calls for a copyright-brawl-of-the-millennium. These are well-recognized aspects of YouTube. But consider the outpouring of sympathy for Martin. YouTube has also succeeded as an innovative communications service.

Social networks and communications services are closely related. Robert Young, an insightful industry analyst, recently noted:

communications ultimately serves as the anchor feature and the driver of retention and growth. …when dealing with an online community, that one lasting activity is almost always communications. … Social networks, which are rapidly becoming the portals of the next generation, must place high strategic priority on their communications functionality if they wish to continue their pace of traffic growth, usage, and retention.

Mirroring this remark, Norman Lewis of Orange, a mobile communications service provider, suggested at the Telco2.0 Industry Brainstorm:

Any future applications which do not have a social networking aspect to them will be irrelevant. If we don’t understand that, we won’t have a business in the future.

YouTube shows communication service providers that video can be important driver of communication. On the other hand, sharing video, like providing VoIP, is a service that many providers potentially could offer. If YouTube doesn’t link itself closer to enduring real-world social networks, it may not have a business in the future.

Taxman triumphs on stationary bike

Taxman left the field far behind to declare victory in the JDRF 2006 Spin to Win Thursday in the heart of Washington, DC. The Lanterne Rouge rider has been embroiled in controversy after finishing atop the General Category (GC) in the Tour de Frolorado. He entered the Spin to Win hoping to resolve any lingering questions about his ranking among elite cyclists.

The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Capitol Chapter, sponsored this inaugural event. The field was enthusiastic and determined. Conditions were ideal. D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams and U.S. Congressman Tom Davis pedaled briefly at the front of the field and urged the riders on. The event helped to raise money for diabetes research. Given its importance and the quality of its field, this event is sure to become a fixture on the U.S. cycling scene.

Emphasizing the growing importance of citizen journalism, we bring you exciting video coverage of this newsworthy event.

alternate economic analysis of underwear folding

Excited by the potential profit from a male-oriented omnimedia homemaking enterprise, I emailed to one of my female cousins:

To help [her husband] and other husbands keep house while their wives are on vacation, I’ve started a new “homemaking” series on my blog. Check out:

You might consider investing money in this enterprise. It’s going to be bigger than Martha Stewart!!!!

She responded:

Dude, you are going to remain a bachelor for a long time with a Web page like this.


I hadn’t taken that into consideration in my economic analysis of underwear folding. But because of our networked economy, I can benefit from others’ ideas!

socks in drawer