Turning the pages involved a short walk. If you’d like to own this baby, it’s available for only $10,000 on Amazon.
A list of human universals. All known human cultures share these attributes.
Maybe it’s the vicodin talking, but I’m really wanting to share with all you beautiful people the aftermath of getting my wisdom teeth yanked out.
1. Yay, vicodin!
2. I’m running out of spoons. Everything I’ve eaten the last two days has been in the so-called “liquid food” group.
3. I’ve been pondering the nutritive value of pudding. How long can one eat a diet consisting only of Swiss Miss Chocolate Pudding and Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream before dying of malnutrition? If I don’t survive my liquid diet, a loved one armed with my MT username and password will let you know the answer in a few days.
4. The left side of my face looks like Muhammad Ali and I went a few rounds in the ring. Well, maybe only a few seconds. He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee…I cried like a baby and ran like a frightened child. Point is, I have a swollen left jaw and a lopsided face.
6. I can use my laptop while lying down. If I had a bed and laptop at work, I’d probably be there. The loss of work productivity in the US by workers recovering from wisdom teeth removal due to a lack of beds in the office must be staggering.
7. I haven’t had to worry about the religious discussion of database normalization happening elsewhere on this site. A helpful side effect of all this pain and pudding consumption.
Brown Paper Tickets, “the first and only fair-trade ticketing company. Event producers, use this please instead of evil Ticketmaster. People shouldn’t have to pay 20% extra to TM just to buy tickets.
Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature’s models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. [It] uses an ecological standard to judge the “rightness” of our innovations. After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned: What works. What is appropriate. What lasts. Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature. It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but on what we can learn from it.
In the talk, Janine outlined 12 ways in which nature can inform the development of technology:
1. Self assembly
2. Chemistry in water
3. Solar transformations
4. The power of shape
5. Materials as systems
6. Natural selection as an innovation engine
7. Material recycling
8. Ecosystems that grow food
9. Energy savvy movement and transport
10. Resilience and healing
11. Sensing and responding
12. Life creates conditions conducive to life
Those are a little vague and I wish I’d written down more notes, but it was hard to type and really listen at the same time. To fill in the gaps, you can listen to the audio of her 30 minute presentation.
Steven Johnson announces his new book, Everything Bad Is Good For You. Pop culture is making us smarter, not dumber…it’ll be an interesting read because I’m not entirely sure I agree with that (and not just in a knee jerk sort of way).
Never Forget is an online political film festival. Includes clips from a lot of the different shows and films currently going around.
Thinking Machine 4. Watch a chess playing computer work through what moves to make. I like the waves of influence.
Top 100 American speeches. “I Have a Dream” tops the list.
The special kottke.org version of the iPod. It comes stocked with 25,000 photos of me.
Wow, new hominid species discovered on small Indonesian island. The tiny humans — they were around 1m tall — potentially inspired island folklore and may still be around today.
Some behind-the-scenes photography from Jeff Bridges. The Dude abides with photos.
Steve Landsburg is voting for George Bush because John Edwards is xenophobic for opposing the outsourcing of American jobs. In most cases, America should have to compete for jobs, but calling Edwards a bigot is ridiculous. Is it bigoted to prefer that your spouse has a certain job rather than your neighbor? To discriminate on the arbitrary basis of marriage?
I’m not a hot shot programmer by any means, but I’ve done quite a bit of playing around with getting data in and out of databases programmatically. Something that’s always confused me is the near-religion of data normalization among programmers and database admins. Every developer I’ve ever worked with has told me that when you’re building a database, you need to normalize your data — basically this means organizing your data in such a way that removes redundancy — and failure to do so would result in public ridicule and possible revocation of access to any computing device. But I’ve always wondered, given that hard drives are cheap and getting cheaper, what’s the problem with using more storage space in exchange for greater speed?
- Normalised data is for sissies
- Keep multiple copies of data around
- Makes searching faster
- Have to ensure consistency in the application logic
To which I would add: hard drives are cheap.
Cal presents normalization as a trade-off that, depending on your circumstances, might be worth looking at…which is a much more useful way of approaching the situation than what I’ve typically heard (normalize or die!). Want faster access to your data? Replicate it in the database but be aware that it’ll cost you some storage space and you’ll need to keep track of the extra data in your application (which can be a pain in the ass). In Flickr’s case, they have 13 SELECTs for every INSERT, DELETE, and UPDATE statement hitting their database. Normalization can slow SELECT speed down while denormalization makes your I/D/Us more complicated and slower. Since the application part of Flickr depends so heavily on SELECTs from the database, it makes sense for them to denormalize their data somewhat to speed things up.
Here’s an analogy for the smokers in the audience…what sucks worse than realizing you left your lighter at home and you’re stuck in traffic on the way to the office? The solution is to buy a bunch of lighters, one for your car, one for your coat pocket, one for the drawer in your office, one for your purse, etc. It’s a trade-off. Your initial cash investment is greater (but lighters, like hard drives, are cheap) and you need to be diligent about leaving each lighter in its proper place, but you’re never without a lighter when you need one.
Fundrace Block Party. Input your address and you get back a list of politically active folks that you can contact for a neighborhood Kerry, Bush, or democracy party.
iPod Photo turns your iPod into a portable photo gallery thingie. Conceivably you could do crude movies with them…play an mp3 soundtrack as you scroll slowly through the frames of the “film”.
Gothamist interviews Errol Morris about his Kerry switch ads and The Fog of War. I liked his take on an old adage: “those who are unfamiliar with the past are condemned to repeat it without a sense of ironic futility”.
Alex Ross posted a story he wrote for the New Yorker about Radiohead, the last few paragraphs of which recount the Oxford show I attended in 2001:
Radiohead came onto the South Park stage at eight-thirty. It was not the most flawless show of the past few weeks, but it may have been the most intense. Yorke’s voice glowed with emotion. If Terence Gilmore-James had been there, he would have been happy; you could hear how Radiohead’s storm of sound was centered on a singing line. During “How to Disappear Completely,” a drenching rain began to fall. The crowd, religiously attentive, stayed in place. Yorke appeared alone for the last number, and hit a few plangent chords. His instrument went dead. “Es ist kaputt, ja?” he said. “I have another idea.” The others came back onstage, and together they launched into the familiar strains of “Creep,” which had gone unplayed since 1998. G major wheeled majestically into B. Jonny made his Beavis-and-Butt-head noise. Yorke sang, “What the hell am I doing here?”
Afterward, in the dressing room, Yorke looked happy. “Don’t know if you could tell,” he said to Colin’s wife, Molly, “but I was in tears for the last part of it.” Then the perfectionist in him reawakened. “Horrible diesel smell coming from somewhere,” he said.
Might be possible to use Bayesian techniques to detect when people are lying. “If people truly hold a particular opinion, they tend to give higher estimates that other people share it.”
CEO of Google says “We are not building a browser”. Note that this is not the same as “we’re not releasing a browser” or “we’re not building a Web-enabled desktop app that we’re not calling a browser for whatever reason”.
Joe’s Pizza location to close. This is a real bummer…cities and neighborhoods need diversity to thrive and high rents are driving out certain types of businesses.
Google’s stock price is going bonkers. It’s up 22% in the last two days.
Literal movie posters. “Back to the Future” becomes “Oh Shit, My Car is On Fire”
A reblog of a post about a reblog of a post about a reblog (I think). Can’t help it, gotta keep it going…remember folks, I’m just a vessel through which content flows.
Unsurprisingly, The New Yorker endorses John Kerry for President. Although from reading the article, it’s more about emphatically not endorsing Bush.
As I mentioned earlier this fall, Errol Morris has produced several political ads in the vein of his Apple Switch ads. The 30-second spots feature folks that voted for Bush in 2000 that are voting for Kerry in 2004.
They’re presented in Morris’ signature style, regular folks talking directly to the camera against a white background about why they’re switching. I find these highly effective, but I (and many of you) are already planning to vote for Kerry. Some of these are going to show on TV (I think), but how can we get these ads in front of undecided-but-leaning-Republican voters in swing states? Paging George Soros…surely you’ve got enough money to get these suckers on Fox News during primetime…
The Earth drags space-time around as it spins, just like the theory of relativity says. It’s amazing that relativity still works after 100 years given the pace of change in that time.
Poptech photos on Flickr. Check out those related tags, woo!
Ben and Mena reblog my post about them reblogging. We’re factchecking each others’ asses!
Alphachimp comes to your conference, gathering, etc. and draws comics to help people understand what went on. “You talk. We draw. The pictures tell the story.”
Brand association charts for Bush and Kerry. Kerry is Starbucks, Bush is Bud Light.
I’ll write more in-depth about a few of the speakers here, but for now, here are some soundbites (my comments in brackets):
- Andrew Zolli: All societies have an image of the future. Those that have optimistic images have better outcomes than those with pessimistic images. [The US right now seems optimistic overall, but getting a bit more pessimistic. At PopTech this year and last, about 1/2 the speakers said during their talks something to the effect of “we’re screwed”.]
- Malcolm Gladwell talking about a chapter from Blink:
One of the many ways in which asking someone what they think isn’t necessarily the best way to find out what they want: people move away from the more sophisticated idea and they go for the simpler choice because they don’t have the necessary “vocabulary” to explain their real feelings. [You may prefer The Hours to Goldeneye, but when asked to justify that choice, you may find yourself favoring the Bond flick more than you would if you didn’t have to justify it.]
- Frans de Waal studies primate behavior to gain insight into human behavior. One of his findings: aggression does not disperse, it brings primates together more often than normal. [Destruction is creative. Creativity is destructive. Or something.]
- Bruce Mau: Not all countries have embraced democracy, but most have embraced traffic (individual transportation). [There are many different ways in which openness can be introduced into a culture.]
- Thomas Barnett: China is 30% Marxist Communist, 70% The Sopranos.
- Phillip Longman: Secular societies that cannot reproduce will be replaced by fundamentalist countries where children are an economic asset and a gift from God. And in Brazil, television viewing time predicts birth rate…the more TV a woman watches, the less likely she is to have children.
“Yay for standards, but they are killing design”. Heather Champ on the monotony and inflexibility of standardization.
You can always tell (well, I can always tell) I’m enjoying a conference when I’m not writing much about it at the time. I’ve got the computer open for taking notes, but that’s about it…not doing a lot of connecting the dots with online research or anything and not trying to write any of it up yet. In lieu of actual content, here’s some random stuff from the last day or so:
- The conference badges here are fantastic. The names are huge for easy glancing and the entire conference booklet (with schedules, author bios, etc) fits in the badge holder. It’s got all the info that you need and it’s still small enough that it doesn’t weigh you down.
- There is a 2 square foot area in the park across the street from the conference that is the only area in a 30 mile radius in which my cell phone gets reception. Hi-tech conference, hell.
- Driving to the conference this morning, I noticed a car from New Hampshire in front of me. The state motto was emblazoned on the license plate: “live free or die”. But the screws affixing the plate to the car were positioned in such a way that it actually read, “olive free or dio”. Hmmm.
If you’re not here in Maine, you can catch the Poptech presentations on ITConversations. Malcolm Gladwell, the patron saint of kottke.org, is speaking right now.
I’m in Maine for the Poptech conference and my rental car is equipped with satellite radio (courtesy of Sirius). As I drove up from Portland last night, I tried it out…strike one because it wasn’t broadcasting the baseball game. But this morning, some energetic electronica propelled me quickly into town…which is nice because I don’t think Maine has too many stations playing that kind of thing. I’ll let you know how it goes as I use it some more.
Sox win! Sox win!. The improbability of the Sox comeback from 3 games down is matched only by the magnitude of the Yankees’ collapse.
Ben and Mena are reblogging at Eyebeam. Maybe they’ll reblog this for some hot meta action!
Watching the people who come to see the Mona Lisa. I’ve seen it twice and I actually paused to look at it because what’s the point otherwise?
Non-narcotics which are gateway drugs for other non-narcotics. Barney is a gateway drug for Pokemon, etc.
Red Sox force improbable game 7. I think the Second Coming of Christ would need to happen at Yankee Stadium tonight for game 7 to be more exciting than the last three games.
John Kerry and George W. Bush are actually very distant cousins. Is this family tree for real? Unsurprising that Bush, despite his folksy ways, is just as blue blooded as Kerry is.
Music Lab is looking at how people form opinions about music. “If you participate in Music Lab you will have a chance to download free new music.”
Out of Technorati’s top 100 most-linked weblogs**, only 16 don’t feature advertising or are otherwise noncommercial:
Lots of interesting observations to be made about the commercialization of weblogs…the quick uptake of advertising on blogs, the increasingly false perception of blogs as inherently unbiased by commercial interests (and therefore preferable to “big media”), the continuing shift from blogging as a hobby to blogging for a variety of reasons, the number of weblogs launching lately that have ads from day one, the demographic difference between the typical circa-2002 blogger and the blogger of today, etc.
Just a couple of years ago, almost every weblog on a top 100 list would have been noncommerical and the blogosphere in general was mostly opposed to advertising on blogs. Now it’s accepted to the point where I haven’t heard anyone complain about it in months…even Boing Boing’s audience didn’t protest too much when they added advertising a couple of months ago.
** In compiling this list, I ignored the many entries on the top 100 list that weren’t weblogs, are no longer being updated, or are artificially popular, so the total sample is somewhat less than 100.
Update: I just wanted to clarify that when compiling the above list, I counted sites with tip jars or non-ad affiliate links (e.g. Amazon) as primarily noncommercial. In specifying what was commercial, I was most concerned with advertising (text, banner, popup) and overt commercial situations (company blogs, blogs for magazines & newspapers, etc.). There’s no clean distinction between commercial and noncommercial sites, but I think the “ads & pro blogs vs everything else” distinction is useful in talking about how the situation has changed in the past couple of years.
The Guardian hears from US citizens about their initiative to write to undecided voters in Ohio. Among the Brits’ many transgressions: bad teeth, tea sipping, colonizing North America, and shitty food. We’re kind of an angry country, aren’t we?
Why the Zagat’s guides suck. The new guide is “fairly creepy”, “equivocating”, and “supposedly pithy”, compiled by “majority rule”; use the Web instead of this “hornswoggling humbug”. “SooooEEEE.”
Tommy Corn from I Heart Huckabees has a weblog on Blogspot. Recent topics: The Petroleum Situation, Caterine Vauban, and the meaning of life.
The extended DVD version of The Return of the King is available for pre-order on Amazon. The film is now 4 hours and 10 minutes long, although the credits alone probably take up about 20 minutes.
Nick Denton, pornographer. Fleshbot is releasing its own porn films.
The faith-based Presidency of George W. Bush. My main problem with Bush has always been not what he thinks, but how he thinks it. He could be pro-choice, against the Patriot Act, pro-science, for gay marriage, favor individual rights over corporate rights, etc. and I still wouldn’t vote for the guy.
Since I don’t live near a warm beach, I did some Flickr tag surfing this weekend instead. In roughly the order I discovered them, a story:
(Kiss is my favorite, particularly with the hard rock fans sprinkled in.)
PowerPoint to the People is a PowerPoint contest being held in Berkeley. If Lessig showed up, he would 0wn.
Jon Stewart for President. His recent Crossfire appearance is both sad and hilarious.
While handing my cup of soup over the counter, the African-American woman who ladled it out for me asked in such a way that the “s” was almost silent, “crackers?” I nearly shot back, “what’d you call me?” as a joke but instead bit my tongue, smiled, and thanked her. Lucky for me the bite didn’t hurt due to the massive amounts of novcaine coursing through my mouth from a morning jaunt to the dentist…although that and the accompanying dull aching pain may have contributed to almost putting my foot in my mouth in the first place.
The super sizing of Star Wars action figures. “In each image, the Star Wars figure on the left is from 1979 and the one on the right is the re-issued version from 1997.”
12 areas to watch for the effects of global warming. “Climate scientists say they have identified a dozen weak links around the world, regions where global warming could bring about the sudden, catastrophic collapse of vital ecosystems.”
Dear Internet, you think you know me but you don’t so keep your advice to yourself. “My God, I was just trying to tell a story.”
Campaigns should be using Google AdWords to advertise on topic-based search results. I had assumed the campaigns were doing this…I’m kinda stunned that they aren’t.
Eyetrack 2004 Heatmap. Great way of showing how people look at news sites.
(Rambling ahead…) Google Desktop beta. Early impressions anyone? I think it’s pretty damn cool…a baby step towards the GooOS. Do a regular Google search and GD results are inlined right at the top (see screenshots for how it all works). How are they doing that technically?
I’ve cranked up the size of my browser cache…now that GD can index every page I’ve ever viewed in my browser, can I afford to throw any of it away? This one-ups what A9 is doing in caching visited sites and searching past search results.
Could this be Google’s portal play? If they’ve got info on all the files on my computer, why not display my latest calendar items, emails, online buddies, etc. right on Google’s home page?
But then there’s the privacy issues. Is Google using information from my local drive to improve my search results? Should they? “Mr. Kottke, I see you’ve mentioned ‘President Bush’ in a recent email. Here are some Google News stories on that topic.” Useful, but well, you know.
A co-worker wants to put Google Desktop on a Web server and use that as a search engine for a Web site. Not sure if that would work, but it’s an interesting idea. I’m sure some smart hacker will soon figure out how to expose his/her GD search results to the outside world.
Google launches beta of Desktop Search. Windows only…hopefully Mac support is on the way?
Inner ear protein is likely a “key to hearing”. It helps convert sound waves into electrical impulses that the brain can understand.
Light painting photography by Chris Becker. “Light painting is a technique in which light sources are projected or “painted” in selective areas during the camera exposure.”
A friend of mine has always maintained that if Apple had emerged from the 80s as the dominant PC company instead of Microsoft, Apple would be the 800-pound gorilla of the technology world and we’d all be grousing about Apple and MS would be playing up their position as David to their Goliath (much as Apple does now). But I don’t think that ever would have happened because, as Steve Jobs explains in this interview with Business Week, Apple was not about sales and market share but products and innovation (emphasis mine):
I used to be the youngest guy in every meeting I was in, and now I’m usually the oldest. And the older I get, the more I’m convinced that motives make so much difference. HP’s primary goal was to make great products. And our primary goal here is to make the world’s best PCs — not to be the biggest or the richest.
We have a second goal, which is to always make a profit — both to make some money but also so we can keep making those great products. For a time, those goals got flipped at Apple, and that subtle change made all the difference. When I got back, we had to make it a product company again.
It took Apple (and Jobs) awhile to come to this realization and recognize it as a strength — hindsight is 20/20 and it certainly helped that Apple just couldn’t compete on price, the primary factor in how people choose consumer electronics — but now that they’ve realized it, they’re back on track. Apple is basically a luxury computer and software company, akin to Gucci, Bang & Olufsen, and Calphalon in their respective industries. They aim to produce well-designed innovative products, provide a high level of service, and charge a premium for it. Much has been made of Apple’s paltry OS/hardware market share, but when you think about it, when a designer label can capture even 5% of a market that competes heavily on price, that’s an impressive achievement.
The results of Timex’s Future of Time design competition. I love the fingernail watch by Napoleon Merana.
This Philly cheese steak goes for $100. It’s got Kobe beef, truffles, foie gras, and heirloom tomatoes on brioche with truffle butter. Where’s the caviar?
The 20 greatest equations. Euler’s equation is my pick for #1. It’s got e, pi, i, 1, and 0…beautiful.
It’s been awhile since we’ve talked, all of you and I. Here’s what’s going on with me:
I took the day off yesterday. Recovering from sickness.
Last week, I saw a guy almost get hit by a van while crossing the street. He was pissed and understandably so. He was in the crosswalk with the walk signal and the guy in the van was super aggressive in trying to get through; the guy actually had to run out of the way to avoid being knocked down. The guy was so pissed that when the van finally stopped to let him pass, he reached through the window and beat the driver on the head with his cell phone. As a sympathetic pedestrian, I almost went over there to help him.
You can’t even begin to imagine the fascinatingly insightful concept I was explaining in this photo. Perhaps “I can’t believe my eyebrows are so bushy” or “That bottle of water…it’s like, whoa.”
If you look in the Activity Viewer and see that the Finder process is pegging your CPU at 90-95%, ask yourself if you’ve dragged a photo from iPhoto to the Desktop. If so, trash it and try to empty the Trash. If you cannot empty it because the file is still in use, run Force Empty Trash, reboot, and you’re golden. God bless Google for helping me with the answer.
I owe you a post about McSweeney’s #13. Jesus, that was more than 2 months ago. I’m sorry. (I also owe you a Last 100 Posts roundup. Sorry.) (Oh, and I also owe you the answer to the Ken Jennings question, but I can’t actually tell you what it is yet. Nor can I tell you why I can’t tell you. Sorry.) So basically, I’m really behind on a lot.
I miss when this weblog was more freeform. Stupid post titles and permalinks.
Got a new camera. Results soon.
So what’s up with you?
The Onion’s 2004 Election Guide. “Nation’s Liberals Suffering From Outrage Fatigue”.
The six degrees of terrorism: Saddam linked to bin Laden through love of Kevin Bacon movies. That’s some damning evidence.
New kind of ape found in the Congo?. Sounds like that Michael Crichton book of a few years ago.
Question of the day: What’s your estimate on the amount of mobile storage available on the iPods of NYC’s citizenry?. “Are we talking many, many terabytes? Or are we talking even petabytes of music storage?”
Dr. Strangelove hit fairly close to the bone. That’s what makes it such a good film.
You can skin Gmail with a custom stylesheet in Firefox. Nice little hack.
After being in intensive care for three month, micropreemie Eric is finally home. The biggest and warmest congratulations go out from me to Eric and his family.
The beginnings of a Dropcash API. Which reminds me, I have a lot of Dropcash stuff on my plate…and some stuff to write about it as well.
So, the Web 2.0 conference was pretty good and I’d like to thank John and Tim for inviting me to participate. There was a fair amount of hype present, but that’s to be understood (and I’ve been guilty of a fair amount of irrational cheerleading on this issue myself). Largely, I think that Web 2.0 as it was presented at the conference is a bit of a pipe dream** (partially because guessing about what the Web is going to be like in 3 years is bound to be fraught with difficulty), but there is a lot of neat stuff happening that feels like it’s part of a new kind of Web.
Everyone at the conference had their own definition of what Web 2.0 was about, but I think Bezos got it right when he said it was about machine to machine communication versus the machine to human communication that typified the early days of the Web. And that’s nothing new..it’s just that it’s starting to really take off as an idea that people are buying into, both literally and figuratively. Portable structured data formats (e.g. XML) have been around for several years now, but it wasn’t until an ecosystem evolved around RSS (blogs producing freely available content and newsreaders to read said content) that people had tangible evidence that, yes, this structured data thing has legs.
** Bloggers, journalists, please don’t quote this part out of context because if you keep reading, there’s a Sir Mix-a-Lot-sized but after it.
Right now, the face of Jerry Yang, Chief Yahoo!, is up on the giant screen here in the ballroom. A few rows back, a gray-haired gentleman snoozes in his chair, occasionally snoring audibly. It’s the 2004 version of George Orwell’s Big Brother: The Man is up on the screen telling us what to do and we’re snoozing instead of touching our toes.
Odd photos on Flickr from some soldiers in Iraq. WMD, LOL!!
Jot - Bringing structured data to wikis. Actually let’s not use the word wiki, because Jot isn’t that. It’s part Word, part Excel, part database, but deployed through a Web browser and published as Web content (as well as email and probably in other ways as time goes on). If you had asked me a year and a half ago what software I would like to build if I had the money, time, and programming chops to do it, a wiki-ish program with structured data capability where you don’t have to worry about people learning the wiki-ish formatting syntax would have been near the top of the stack. (The last remaining big wiki problem is that the fundamental unit of wikis is the page. Wikis need to be less dependant on the page (think chunks instead, like weblog posts)…TiddlyWiki is a good step in this direction.)
I stupidly left the music panel yesterday before Danger Mouse could drop some science about the music industry:
Artists are responsible, because for some reason we think we should be millionaires for making people smile. But I don’t worry too much, because it will be over soon. There won’t be a market for making people smile because kids will just do it for free.
Thanks to Veen for the quote (visit his post for another good DM quote.)
Mary Meeker - Don’t forget about China. There is huge Web/mobile/gaming business going on in China right now. If you believe Jared Diamond’s hunch (which I do), the so-called dominance of Western Civilization in the world is just a blip on the radar as far as China’s actual dominant position goes.
Danger Mouse: “We [artists] think we should be millionaires for making people smile. But I don’t worry too much, because it will be over soon. There won’t be a market for making people smile because kids will just do it for free.”. Damn, that’s good.
Six Apart gets $10 million in a series B funding round. Mena said I had to post this or she would come in through the MT backdoor and delete my archives.
An introduction to using pattern in Web design. After Christopher Alexander’s A Pattern Language.
And if you’re living on Internet time, perhaps even if you have seen it. The most overused phrase at Web 2.0, aside from “at the end of the day”, is some variation of “next generation” applied to software or services. Every new app being talked about here is next generation or revolutionary or __[fill in the blank]__. The sheer amount of supposed novelty being blasted at the audience is exhausting…everything is changing the world in a significant way. I imagine many of the attendees — those who read 900 Atom/RSS files in their newsreaders daily perhaps — find this energizing, but it saps my energy. No wonder Meg left the biz to focus on something a little less suppositious.
Jason Fried, Jeff Veen, and I did a workshop yesterday on Design for Web 2.0. In preparing for the informal chat we had among ourselves and with the audience, we prepared a list of questions to consider. There’s about 15 of them, presented here unedited without context or answers:
- Right now, Web design feels like talking to the del.icio.us API and blending Flickr RSS with Upcoming iCal subscriptions. What happens when design(ers) has little to do with what’s on the page?
- Blogs democratized publishing, now “tags” could be considered to democratize information architecture. What’s behind this? Are powerful tools in the hands of millions really better than well-trained experts?
- How do we justify the high upfront costs of doing user research? Is there a magic bullet formula that will tell us if it’s worth it?
- I love quick wins. Find something you can fix in two weeks. Measure how it works now. Fix it. See how the numbers change. Repeat until you run out of stuff. Why is this so shocking to corporate Web sites?
- It feels to me that IT departments still operate under the assumption that technology is a precious resource that should be guarded carefully and trickled out. This is like a pair of handcuffs to most Web teams. Why do so many enterprises treat their Web sites like shrink-wrapped software and not publications?
- Can usability drive innovation? What’s the balance between giving the user what they need but also giving them what they do not yet know that they need?
- How do you go about designing for groups? When the “user” is a collection of people rather than a single person?
- Do brochureware sites still have a place on today’s Web?
- What does user experience mean in the context of cross-media services? How do you keep it consistent when you’re using T-Mobile’s interface to email your photos to Flickr or updating your blog with your TiVo using your Blackberry as an input device?
- home pages -> sites -> “posts” -> ????
- Q for Veen re: your content management is a process, not a software package mantra. Is there a lesson here for software in general?
- How would you design a web-based application differently today than 3 years ago? What do we have in our design war chests today that is capable of making the experience feel 3-years more mature?
- Do you think design “talk” is too focused on technological achievement (“Look mom, no tables!”) these days, or is it a step in the right direction?
- Should one design fit all? Should designers worry about their web designs working on alternate devices by default, or should each device have its own unique design?
- What is your feeling on Personas? Do they really help drive the visual design process or are they just process for process sake? What does it really mean to know your audience might be represented by a 30-something single female who likes to watch Friends, prefers paying her bills by mail, gets coffee every morning at Starbucks, and has a 56K connection at home?
- Who should we follow into the Web 2.0? What are some of the best examples of interaction design today?
I’ve opened the comments if you’d like to discuss any of these questions amongst yourselves.
Hep is a universal translator of sorts for Web bits (posts, emails, etc.). Got a demo of this last night…it’s quite neat.
I’ve got a few minutes before things get going here at Web 2.0 today, so I thought I’d wrap up what happened here yesterday.
During his interview with JohnÂ Heilemann, John Doerr (who sits on Google’s Board) indicated that the Web browser space is ripe for some action again, but that Google is not doing anything. No Google Browser?
Demos of the Snap and A9 search sites. Two interesting things about Snap: the data they’ve purchased from a “large ISP” about what people do after they search (e.g. how many pages they visited on Wal-Mart’s site and if they bought anything) and the exposure of their statistics information, including how much money they’re making on any given day. However, I’m not sure I want search results that looks like an Excel spreadsheet.
In general, I’m very skeptical about these search engines that offer second-level searching (Snap, Clusty, A9) or personalized search. I’m not convinced that people are going to spend that much time tinkering with their searches. Search results are not a mp3 collection or photos…I don’t know how much time people are going to want to spent organizing them.
Heard a curious phrase last night…companies are doing lots of deals with other companies because they’re “not Google”. That is, Google would rather hire people to build stuff for them than partner with companies (which seems a bit self-centered to me). So it seems there’s lots of opportunities out there for smaller companies trying to compete with Google to partner with Google’s larger competitors.
And finally, the design of the paper program here at Web 2.0 is, shall we say, less than optimal. There’s no single listing of events in the program that contains the 3 vital bits of information attendees need: event description, time, and place. The description and time are listed on one page and then you need to flip to another page to figure out where it’s being held. Annoying, especially since it seems like the program is designed for maximum ad space rather than for usability.
Kottke for President!. I’ve got my own illustrated monkey! And freckles!
Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne wins the X Prize. The prize was offered to promote low-cost commercial space travel.
Tim Shey on reblogging. So many of these observations apply to blogging in general that it makes me wonder: what’s the difference between blogging and reblogging?
The Smaller Picture: collective typography. This is brilliant.
Some impromptu Internet art exhibits. Gallery space provided by Google Images.
My new fighting, filing, chatting, voting, hand holding, glazing, brain eating, planting, shirt folding, updating, blogging, waxing, screaming, litter scooping, sewing, theater going, parenting, dressing, programming, turning cool, randomization, swiping, Election Day news gathering, exercise, hamburgering, atomic browsing, laundry folding, penguin smacking, fucking, coloring, dustpan, thread killing, replying, actionscripting, tabbed browsing, publishing, vote rigging, Rumsfeld fighting, reinforcement learning, designing, folding, hibernating, muffin eating techniques are unstoppable.
Ok so there’s not 400 on the list, but there are at least three billionaires who blog:
- Pierre Omidyar, $10.4 billion
- George Soros, $7.2 billion
- Mark Cuban, $1.3 billion
A little bit surprising that Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, David Filo, Jerry Yang, and Oprah aren’t on the list. Come on gang, TypePad is only $4.95/mo.
Ichiro Suzuki breaks George Sisler’s 84-year-old record for most hits in a season. It’s an impressive feat…everyone else in the top 10 played earlier than 1931.
Some Possibilities in a Half-Hearted Campaign to Rename the Middle West. I liked “America’s Meth Basket” and “National Endangered Goatee Reserve”.
Web design and development has come a long way in the past ten years. Early assumptions have been replaced by mature decisions based on tested principles and clear best practices. We’re taking what we’ve learned in those ten years and presenting the workshop attendee — be you a designer, technologist, or businessperson — with a collection of practical tips and techniques for designing Web sites, Web applications, APIs, feeds, and everything else that makes up the next-gen Web. So join us for a lively discussion of Web design as it continues to move beyond the browser.
Given the freewheeling nature of the workshop format, that description may not be entirely accurate, but it’s close enough and if you show up, you won’t be disappointed. (For a chuckle, if you look at the rest of the workshop roster, there’s me and my one-man band stuck in amongst a bunch of CEOs, Partners, Directors, and VPs. Good times.)
Amazon UK borks up a birthday order but recovers wonderfully with an employee *hand-delivering* a portable DVD player to a delighted 8-yo. And they swallowed the 50 pound difference in cost as well.
Amateur revolution. “From astronomy to computing, networks of amateurs are displacing the pros and spawning some of the greatest innovations.”
I like to learn from my mistakes, so I’m partial to Cmd-Z. Judging by how much I use it during the course of the day, I must be learning a lot. Either that or Cmd-Tab…my productivity in OS X jumped dramatically when they finally got that feature working correctly.
100 most frequently banned books. Twain, Angelou, Steinbeck, Blume, and Salinger are all in the top 20.