Return of the Universe of Discourse

The remarkable and talented Mark-Jason Dominus was one of the first people I knew of to have a widely known web page, which has been called The Universe of Discourse since it launched in early 1994. I think the first interactive web page I ever saw was his guess-the-animal game, or possibly his self-teaching hexapawn game (I was jealous; ever since I read the relevant Martin Gardner column as a kid, I had wanted to build a self-teaching "matchbox computer" hexapawn game). And I think he and Ranjit B were the first people I knew who got paid to do web stuff.

Dominus is a Nexus; he knows an awful lot of people, and there was a while when practically everyone I met turned out to have some connection to him. I can think of half a dozen pathways to him through networks of friends who I know from totally unrelated areas. (I believe Ranjit was the first to introduce me to him; some day perhaps I'll explain how I know Ranjit.) These days Dominus is mostly known as a Perl guru, and I've fallen out of touch with him.

But thanks to Zed, I just learned that Dominus has taken up blogging. After a couple of months of one entry a month this past fall, he seems to have hit his stride in January. Unsurprisingly, his entries cover topics ranging from Victorian fiction to math to programming to Islamic inheritance law, plus publishing economics and typographic conventions (for technical books), the etymology of the word soldier, Medieval Chinese typesetting techniques, and Benjamin Franklin (whose 300th birthday I completely failed to remark upon as it went by last week). And so on.

I don't have time or energy to read it all right now (the downside to so many cool and interesting people starting blogs is that I don't have time to read them all), but I thought it was worth pointing to, especially for those of you (I'm guessing at least a dozen of you, maybe more) who know Dominus but didn't know he'd started blogging.

(Oh, and in case you follow referrer links back here: Hi, Dominus!)

8 Responses to “Return of the Universe of Discourse”

  1. Wayman

    Let the flood of “I know Dominus!” comments begin! 🙂

    I met Dominus at a storyreading in Greylock about seven or eight years ago, if memory serves. Memory is hazy, but I still have his business card all these years later, because it’s in Roman characters on one side and katakana on the other. Plus, I already knew then that having it as physical “I met Dominus!” proof might come in useful someday, just from what I’d heard about him from, well, probably a half dozen completely different paths.

  2. jacob

    When I was in Philly I was a somewhat dilatory member of the Philadelphia Linux Users Group. Dominus showed up to give a talk once a year. I can’t say I “know” him, but he’s quite a guy.

  3. Ryan Butkus

    He works across the hall from me; his office is about five feet away from mine.

  4. Mark Dominus

    Hi, Jed!

    My business card has Chinese on the back, not katakana.

  5. Mark Dominus

    But, completely coincidentally, one of the topics I have planned for a future blog post is how to identify different foreign languages by sight.

    Also, immodesty demands that I point out that I really started blogging on 8 January. I put up the “earlier” posts around the same time, and backdated them. I no longer have any idea why I wanted to do this.

    And hi, Ryan. Or maybe I should just holler across the hall.

  6. jacob seems to be down, and seemed to be down the last time I tried to go there a few days ago. Anybody know what’s up?

  7. Jed

    Plover has been up every time I’ve looked at it, including just now. Dominus’s blog is also still up and running. Are you on a computer that’s running filtering software?

  8. Jacob

    Nope, but now it’s up for me too. It’s the blog I’ve actually been trying to get to, but I tried the homepage too. Weird. Anyway, seems fine now.


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