"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 10 January 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

The Bookmark Less Traveled



At this week's MacWorld Expo, we

saw the future of the Web.

Admittedly, we didn't exactly

see the future of the Web - as

with the Queen's sorrows in

Richard II, the software

products at MacWorld were "like

perspectives, which rightly

gazed upon/Show nothing but

confusion, eyed awry/Distinguish



The future of the Web? Bookmarks.



If all portents come in threes,

MacWorld was no exception.

There, we found CyberFinder,

WebArranger, and DragNet,

all designed to manage and

organize your bookmarks. The

implicit assumption of these

products, of course, is that

you have a good many bookmarks

to manage and organize.


For a brief moment, let's

reconnect to the original

"bookmark" metaphor: a bookmark

of the non-cyber variety, if we

recall, is used to mark a place

within a book, in order to

continue on from that point at

some later time. True, this

function did spawn its own

industry - that of the mass

production of the laminated

bookmark, which, for whatever

reasons, became a repository for

some of the world's most

appalling Christian imagery. But

never did traditional media

cause us to purchase a product

in order to "manage" our

bookmarks - with the possible

exception of the waste basket.



It's not as the futurists

predicted - an informational

economy, based on the processing

of facts and data. No one's

processing the information they

come across on the Web - hell,

we don't even read it. Nope,

they just note that a site might

have some value at some unknown

later date, bookmark it, and

move on, to bookmark the next

unread site. Always traveling,

never arriving. Rather than an

informational economy, we're

still trapped within the same

libidinal economy of consuming

desire, made pure - if you never

eat, you never have to shit.


The old media analogy, of course,

would be walking into a

bookstore in order to purchase

the latest edition of Books in

Print. Or walking into a library

and borrowing the card catalog.

Consider bookmarking as Reader's

Digest Condensed Books taken to

their logical conclusion - why

mess with an abridged version or

abstract when you can have a

work distilled down to its very

essence, its title?



We like to think of bookmarks as

bullets - many get a perverse

sense of security from having

them around, but most, in the

end, are afraid to use them,

given their ability to explode

heads. Bookmarks or bullets,

something bad would probably

come of their use - but it's

undeniably good to hold them in

reserve, just in case something

scary shows up on your front

door. Bookmark 'em all, let God

sort 'em out.

courtesy of Webster