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<a special snowflake>

SO I'M HAVING LUNCH last week with the publisher and the executive editor of New Riders—But I might as well begin:

So Jennifer calls me at 2 am—third night in a row!—crying about how she'll break it off with Puffy if I'll simply consider getting serious with her. Well, of course, I don't want Halle to hear any of this—


"I'm so tired of helping you with these trivial design problems," I say, slamming down the phone on a whimpering Matt Owens—

Or even:

"My, this lace is delicate," Bill Gates murmurs.
      "Shut up and finish hand-washing it," I say. "I'll need that underwear in an hour."

Only one of which really happened.

Because here is the problem. It is uncouth to discuss the special things that happen in your life, unless they tend to happen in everyone's life. Falling in love. Birth of a child. Death of a loved one. But what if this special stuff that doesn't happen to everyone keeps happening to you? What do you write then? Something like this:

So I'm having lunch with the publisher and the executive editor of New Riders last week, and they are charming, brilliant men. I am certain of this because they are publishing my book.

Not only that, they intend to publish the book I'll write after this one. Not only that, they are about to unveil an array of titles by some of the web's finest designers and writers, many of whom have not written books before.

This will, I conclude, be a good year for books on web design. Maybe the best since 1995-96, when David Siegel and Lynda Weinman established the genre's dimensions and laid down the general practices still used at most web agencies (and codified by most web design tools).

In the intervening years, we've had many fine books on ASP, on PHP, on JavaScript, on XML, on tools like Flash, and on specialized disciplines like usability. But general web design books have been few. And aside from the occasional Veenism, most have merely restated the ideas of Siegel and Weinman, sometimes throwing in a chapter on Dreamweaver or Flash for added value.

Siegel and Weinman are giants. But many techniques that made sense in 1995 no longer do. New books with new approaches have been badly needed. And now they are on their way. In fact, the first is here and the rest will soon follow.

Like I said, it should be a very good year. At least, for books.

So anyway, there we are, discussing this stuff like it ain't no thang, and two hours later I will be doing something equally improbable, especially when you consider that ten years ago I could have died in any alley on the Lower East Side and wouldn't have minded a bit.

And as each amazing new thing takes place (sometimes four or five of them in the same day) I think I could write about it here, but I always decide against it, because how can you write about stuff like this without sounding like you're lying or bragging? Reading biographies is pleasant enough:

Alice was introduced to the Queen. Amid the pandering of the court, the girl's refreshing country honesty quickly won favor with the Monarch, and the two, Queen and commoner, soon became inseparable.

But put the same information into the first person and it becomes annoying:

So I'm having breakfast with the Queen of England (again) when the Duke of Buckingham bursts in, without even knocking—

When it comes to stuff nobody wants to read, litanies of personal achievement are right up there with grocery lists and tax forms. Writing about your life can bring you closer to others or throw up a wall between you and them. So I don't know. I don't know what to write here any more.

I spend time with old friends but that's private time. I call my Dad, but that's private. My girlfriend? Way private. And the "special" stuff? Even if I were delusional enough to think you wanted it, I couldn't write about most of it anyway. Trade secrets. Client secrets. Browser secrets. Business secrets. So what is left?

Kittens and snowflakes.

Or, better still, silence.

8 March 2001
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