theme song (400K mp3)
Wednesday, February 28, 2001
More Nike bashing
Here's a wonderful exposure of the lie that is Nike's brand. And happily, sales are down.
posted 10:50:25 AM
Tuesday, February 27, 2001
From the Noise Between Stations We-Don't-Need-No-Stinkin'-Collaborative-Filter-Software, You-Can-Hear-the-Similarity dept., we present our latest music recommendations:
If you like... You'll probably gonna like... R.E.M. Death Cab for Cutie Pearl Jam Creed Metallica Godsmack Sade Dido Blink 182 American Hi-Fi Green Day Incubus
posted 8:39:56 PM
Claude Shannon, Mathematician, Dies at 84"Shannon was the person who saw that the binary digit was the fundamental element in all of communication," said Dr. Robert G. Gallager, a professor of electrical engineering who worked with Dr. Shannon at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "That was really his discovery, and from it the whole communications revolution has sprung.""A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits"
"A Mathematical Theory of Communication"
posted 6:49:43 PM
Bush to Seek Cuts of $2 Trillion of Debt in Decade
Hello George, it's obvious you're reading my blog. Give me a call and we can discuss setting up a more formal consulting arrangement.
posted 6:31:12 PM
Cooper Interaction Design responds to a challenge to prove the worth of their design approach.
posted 11:56:23 AM
Steward Brand on the pace of change:When I look at the pace of change constantly increasing it's both awesome and exciting and I think -- how do we keep up, how do I keep up? As I get older, I'm 56 now, how am I going to keep up? You know another ten years with all this stuff coming along. By competing with 16 year olds ...there's a kind of gymnastic ability just mentally that's needed to stay with this kind of thing so there is a frightening aspect to it. I think part of what we'll be doing over the next decade or so is figuring out some ways to somehow make ourselves comfortable with that either by slowing down the pace of change.
posted 8:33:30 AM
Monday, February 26, 2001
One of my babies just closed. :(
I was this close to doing a case study on how it changed over time. Damn.
posted 7:21:35 PM
Portable electronics as jewelry.
posted 3:54:38 PM
Just talking across the desk with Barbara thinking about how to apply our skills to organizations that make a significant difference to society. We realized that compensation is generally inversely proportional to the nobility of the work (you can make more in financial services, and progressively less in other industries, government, and non-profits). All inspired after watching double episodes of The West Wing last night.
posted 2:04:09 PM
I'm coming to the realization that I need (dare I say we need) a greater respect for time. Whether on a large scale of living a sustainable life (and running sustainable businesses) so that we don't screw future generations, or on the smaller scale of designing products to be used over time rather than just in the moment.
Offhand I see two contributors to our short-term mindset:
Capitalism - (an easy target) it allows for extremely cheap products that give the illusion of saving money, degrade our lives, and fill our landfills. Change - the 20th Century moved so fast it was a huge effort just to keep up, so thinking 10, 20, or more years into the future was almost impossible. But a strategic approach (see previous post) to life, business, and product design could help change this.
Unfortunately I'm not bullish on the chances of us solving the big sustainability problems before they occur. An example is a post I made to the CHI-WEB list asking people what their vision was. There wasn't a whole lot of discussion around it. Maybe it wasn't the right question or the right forum, but I fear we're solving the problems in front of our faces not really knowing where the solutions will lead us, if anywhere.
posted 9:49:51 AM
The wonderful aspect of information architecture for a hopeless generalist like myself is how it ties into so many other facets of product design and business. It's impossible to separate it from strategy, project management, engineering, and the other product design crafts.
On the strategy front, Fast Company scores with the article Michael Porter's Big Ideas. Essentially he draws a distinction between short term decisions, which he calls "operational effectiveness", and long term decisions, which is proper strategy. To survive the long term, strategy must consist of big ideas. A similar gospel is preached in "Strategy as Simple Rules" in a recent issue of the Harvard Business Review.
posted 9:38:15 AM
Saturday, February 24, 2001
Wow - Principles of Graphic Design - a great Flash-based intro to the topic. I'm coming around to the realization that, if information architects are creating schematics, then IAs need to know a fair amount of visual design, specifically the "Composition & Layout" stuff. Found in Vincent's picks from 2000.
posted 5:23:42 PM
My friend heard this from a consultant at a technology company in California: "I'll get back to you next week and we can double-click on that issue." OK, that's going to far with the silly, psuedo-trendy tech talk. If you hear this phrase, please help stomp it out before people start thinking this is a useful addition to the English language.
posted 5:06:12 PM
Friday, February 23, 2001
There was a happy little gathering last night of information architecture and usability types at a bar called Double Happiness in New York City. (If you missed it, keep your eye on the SIGIA and UTEST lists for the next one). I met some fine folks from Luminent, Viant, Organic, some freelancers, and even Cam. Much better than the overly-general NYNMA "cybersuds" - I expect once we get to know each other better, and don't drink quite as much, they'll be some significant exchange of ideas.
posted 12:59:27 PM
Sometimes it's the simplest pleasures, emerging with a surprise only every couple months, that remind me of my love of the Internet, like these gorgeous poems by Denise Duhamel, part of the Contemporary American Poetry Archive.
posted 12:17:25 AM
Thursday, February 22, 2001
This upcoming "Personal Communicator" from Motorola will include text messaging, a mobile phone, microbrowser Internet access, e-mail, and voice mail. Makes me glad I haven't replaced my dead mobile phone yet.
As Bill points out, there's really no need for a phone to be a piece of hardware you hold against your head. A handy form factor (for the more distant future) might be two pieces that, snapped together, fit in your pocket. One an earpiece that wirelessly communicates to the other, a matchbook-sized screen that unfolds to an HDTV aspect ratio.
posted 11:32:35 PM
Can more possibly be better when it comes to information design? Consider the lables for quart containers of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, courtesy of Paula, the rock star content developer on my current project.
posted 3:05:42 PM
The kind of people I'd like to work with.
posted 10:58:44 AM
Wednesday, February 21, 2001
From my fortune cookie tonight:Some dream of fortunesThough it could be said I've been blessed with good fortune, it is cookies I dream of, specifically the Black & Whites at Zaro's (who, incidentally, have no fewer than four locations in Grand Central Station).
others dream of cookies
I haven't tried this recipe, but they actually include lemon extract, and it's the lemon cookie that makes Zaro's the best Black and Whites, so I'm inclined to try it. Besides, what a cool site! You can scale the ingredients by specifying the amount of servings you want, and you can "find similar cookies." All at a domain called "cookierecipe.com". What a noble use of the Internet.
posted 10:25:34 PM
I've always liked the concept of Flow, which is when your skills are balanced with your challenges so that you are neither bored nor stressed. Now Scott Berkun has published The Role of Flow in Web Design
posted 6:02:01 PM
Tuesday, February 20, 2001
It's interesting that the U.S. Dept. of Treasury is forecasting a budget surplus for the next several years, and yet is also forecasting the debt will increase. It appears they understand very well how politicians operate (in a not-so-fiscally responsible fashion).
posted 10:11:46 AM
NY Times on the Stock Option Blues. I can understand people thinking the business would stay strong, but to think the stock price will always stay high, and borrow against your options, just seems kinda dumb, considering how irrational the stock market is.
Here's an enlightening explanation and first hand account of the alternative minimum tax from Bill Seitz, an old manager of mine.
posted 9:14:57 AM
Monday, February 19, 2001
An ACIA interview with the fabulous Christina Wodtke.
posted 6:37:42 PM
Sunday, February 18, 2001
Music worth recommending:
Death Cab for Cutie's We Have The Facts & We're Voting Yes. Reminds me of classic (pre-Green) R.E.M., with topics that are a little more personal but no less infectious.
Nacao Zumbi's Radio S.AMB.A. Northern Brazilian (Brazilian rhythms, twangy/dirty guitars and infectious percussion) meets a variety of American influences. Has to be heard to be understood.
posted 12:50:50 PM
If you're on the policitical left like me, this New Yorker article, Bush's Trillions:How to buy the Republican majority of tomorrow is sufficiently scary. A well-written piece, it looks at the strategic (long term) implications of tax cuts to Democrats and Republicans. This quote from Bush's chief strategist particularly irked me:The tax cuts will make the economy grow. As people do better, they start voting like Republicans--unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.Perhaps they'll tax graduate schools so only the rich can go. No wait, they're against taxes, so they'll probably cut funding to research and Federal student loans under the guise of cutting taxes and thereby keep the non-rich from becoming highly educated.
Seen elsewhere: "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention."
posted 12:29:06 PM
Saturday, February 17, 2001
Ms. l e m o n y e l l o w is leaving us. Said something about doing art instead. Sad. I'll miss seeing her walk to and around work with her eyes never leaving the book in front of her eyes. Or the way she makes these painful-looking squishy faces when she formulates a thought. She's like a slightly over-ripe peach on a summer day.
posted 11:41:31 PM
The New Yorker is finally online, though not with a site worthy of this fine publication, IMHO.
They've yet to discover the beautry of permanent links, so here's a comment I enjoyed:Reagan...was elected...by an outright popular majority. And, when he ran again, he received a larger absolute number of votes than any other candidate in American history. (The runner-up is Al Gore, a visiting professor of journalism at Columbia University.)
posted 10:13:41 PM
Hypertext News - a blog from the hypertext experts at Eastgate.
posted 6:04:59 PM
The Web Standards Project (WaSP) has announced a Browser Upgrade Initiative aimed at encouraging developers to use W3C standards even if the resulting sites fail in old, non-standards-compliant web browsers."This is radical," said Zeldman, "and not every site can participate. Yahoo and Amazon, for instance, can't afford to risk alienating a single visitor. We recognize that many sites are in that position. Our hope is that if enough sites are willing to take the plunge, the typical 18-month user upgrade cycle will be drastically shortened, and a Web that works for all will no longer be something we just talk about: it will be every web user's experience."I probably wouldn't point my users to their generic upgrade page, but it's so awesome that they supply this and other neat stuff like browser sniffing code.
My $0.02 on the issue: Jakob tells us we're stuck with version 4 browsers for a few years because of the upgrade trend, and The WaSP is saying developers can essentially speed up that trend. What is missing is information about user behavior that will affect the speed of that trend. Off hand I'm thinking of two key data points:
What is the average difficulty and time required for users to upgrade? What is the average user's perception of the average difficulty and time required for users to upgrade?
If we can show these are low, or if we can decrease them, developers will be more likely to go the WaSP path.
And another thing...in A Designer's Journey, Zeldman says, "We complain about the WYSIWYG editors, but we write the same kind of code ourselves." It'd be nice if all the WYSIWYG editors had a "output standard-compliant code" setting (or do they already? I'm one of those folks that complains about them).
posted 2:50:05 PM
UIE wrote that it's not good to create a standard information architecture "shell" into which you can stuff any kind of content, and my experience tells me this is good advice. Looking at this collection of magazines also tells me this is good advice. One shell is used for everything from Waste Age to Electronic Musician to Textile World (check the pull down menu in the upper right). I'm sure this is why the articles are formatted in such an uninteresting way, because they chose the lowest common denominator - plain ol' paragraphs.
posted 1:56:05 PM
The Word of the Day for February 17 is:
dragon's teeth \DRAG-unz-teeth\ (noun)
*1 : seeds of strife
2 : wedge-shaped concrete antitank barriers laid in multiple rows
We sow dragon's teeth when we engage in idle gossip, because the hurtfeelings and angry misunderstandings that arise from passing rumors oftenhurt us as much as others.
posted 1:17:35 PM
Friday, February 16, 2001
Who powers Yahoo! ? This is an interesting list of vendors, considering Yahoo! is at the top of its game. It's also nice that they still list the guy that developed the first Yahoo! random link.
posted 5:32:57 PM
Two from the Scout Report:
Environmental Sustainability Index - 2001 Country Rankings
Hubble Space Telescope: New Views of the Universe
posted 5:24:55 PM
When you're in that aimless surfin' mood: inspirations
posted 11:25:01 AM
Thursday, February 15, 2001
Neil, a colleague of mine, made an interesting comment regarding participatory design:"...there is a gray area in between [ a designer's design and a user's design ]that can be quite fruitful. Keep in mind that it is often not the outcome ofwhat a user does in a participatory design exercise, but what theycommunicate during it. People are usually not terribly good at predictingthe future, or thinking of entirely new product categories, so that's why it's critical to do user research in the context of their lives to determine latent needs...This is always going to bean issue, since we aren't users, and users aren't designers."
posted 2:09:14 PM
Woman gets mobile phone stuck up back orifice. Good thing she choose a Nokia 8550 and not one of those bulky Nextels.
posted 9:34:51 AM
Wednesday, February 14, 2001
Customatix, besides building great shoes, does some fantastic marketing. First off, their site is dripping with unapologetic attitude. Today I was impressed with their email newsletter. The email subject - "Victor's newsletter" - was a simple stab at personalization, but it really stood out from all the spam and list banter that floods my free account these days. The newsletter design is a full-fledged portal-like modular layout that, if you're into the shoes, has something to draw anyone's itchy mouse button finger. It even features cool shoes from their competitors.
This company has the potential to become a lovemark.
posted 9:49:13 PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2001
New Razorfish site.
posted 9:25:23 AM
Monday, February 12, 2001
Information architecture riddle of the day: what classification has been quoted by anthropologists and ethnographers, German teachers, postmodern feminists, and Australian museum curators, and about which Michael Foucault said, "[it] shattered all the familiar landmarks of thought"? Answer
posted 2:59:56 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2001
First Look at Human Genome Shows How Little There Is. First off, that's such a funny title, like something aliens would say after having a look at us. But there's some great ideas here:
Far frombeing a blueprint, the human genetic code was only a guidepost. The true directions for what makes a human being lie not inletters of code but in what the body does with that code. There is no genetic basis forwhat people describe as race Only a few smalldifferences set one person apart from another. ``Probably only a few thousand differences accountfor the biological differences between us, which means we allare essentially identical twins..." They have done the first analysis andhave found what they believe to be a history of humanevolution. The changes that made humans a little different fromother animals had been preserved. ``I don't knowif people realize that we just found the world's greatesthistory book. We are going to be up every night reading talesfrom the genome. It's so cool.''
posted 1:45:37 PM
Saturday, February 10, 2001
In Peter's notes and in Christina with a C's echoes, the idea is discussed of designing with the client instead of just reviewing with the client. I can proudly say I've been doing this for awhile, though not always voluntarily. In the Fall of 1999 we completed an ecommerce site in under 10 weeks that couldn't have been done any other way. Immediately after that we worked on a site related to institutional stock broker research which involved an intimate familiarity with the subject only the brokers have. On my present project I've learned this lesson and asked the client to participate in several all-day worksessions.
I agree this is indeed a better way, but that doesn't mean it's easy. In my experience there are two main factors that help this work:
A client that gets it. If the client is juggling this project and a few others, they won't have time to devote to design worksessions. Also, they need to have a pretty good understanding of what works on the web and what doesn't, unless you have a year or two to train them. My current client gets it, and I'm soooooooo grateful. Awesome interpersonal skills. Because you don't have the privacy of your office to think, experiment, and document, you have to think on your feet. You have to learn from the client and immediately apply what you've heard. You need good active listening skills and a fair degree of emotional intelligence. You have to patiently but assertively explain the reasoning behind your decisions.
In short, it's like going from playing classical to playing jazz; you've got your chops down so well you don't have to think about them, you just use them to create new music on the fly. Jazz requires practicing improvisation, so the sooner you start the designer-client worksessions the better.
Also, do you have the guts to tell your client if they don't get it and recommend they assign someone else to the project, or silently suffer the consequences? Razorfish used to use some pretentious term for how digital technology changed the client's business - Digital Change Management - and that's what this boils down to, making sure there is a robust organization supporting the technology.
posted 11:40:12 PM
Peter's notes on the ASIS&T 2001 Summit.
posted 1:12:53 AM
Friday, February 09, 2001
A quote from an an interview with Joshua Davis:
Digital Web:What would you say is beauty in design?
Davis:Being able to justify every pixel.
It's just so fucking intense, I love it.
posted 6:32:52 PM
Today I'm confusing the "Forward" and "Reply" buttons in email. Not good.
posted 1:09:51 PM
Thursday, February 08, 2001
from an email regarding the recent ASIST IA conference:For those of you who attended the IA summit in SF, I was wondering what haveyou learned or taken away from it...I would have been happier if there would have been less case studies (somebetter than others) that went great. I would have preferred people to tellme how they failed miserably than have them tell me how this was such aflawless success. They didn't tell me anything.It's so hard to stand up in front of a group of people, especially people in your field whose respect you want, and show them how you failed, or at least your shortcomings. Nonetheless I hope to do more of this, first within my company and then in forums like ASIST. I encourage you to as well.
posted 6:24:34 PM
Funny Mac IE error massage (they don't support Mac IE). Interesting that this is the opposite of what Kaliber 10000 used to say, which was basically, "Mac IE is simply a much better browser, so we're not making a special effort to support Netscape."
posted 4:53:07 PM
Monday, February 05, 2001
pb's look at Pyra...a wonderful overview of their experience. This blog was the eighth on Blogger, so I've witnessed a lot of that evolution from the outside, watching all the feature additions, helping beta test, occasionally reading their blogs. It definitely doesn't sound like the end of this story yet.
posted 5:34:06 PM
At the very end of a press release that glosses over some big changes in language too broad to make much sense in this context, Razorfish announced it eliminated 400 positions today. Were the writers hoping readers would get bored before making it that far down the page and not notice the layoffs?
There's not much I can say about this issue that hasn't already been said, it's just surprising how gut-wrenchingly sad it is to see so many competent professionals, friends of mine, lose their jobs.
On a pragmatic note, if you're looking for talented people (designers, programmers, etc.) please email me and I can put you in touch with them.
posted 5:33:03 PM
The Global Business Network is a possibly misleading name for a pragmatic group of futurists applying ideas such as the "long now" and the use of business scenario planning (reminder to myself go back later to see if that's related to product scenario planning). Stewart Brand's books for the next 50 years is a great resource.
posted 1:05:54 AM
Friday, February 02, 2001
So there is a real Net Nanny after all.
posted 11:04:33 AM
Thursday, February 01, 2001
Pyra is down to one employee :( via webseitz On a related note, Dave Winer says "the economic tide has turned, and now we're sure that we'll keep losing money until we have to shut down the service...We're exploring ways to distribute the load, so that our users' machines can do most of the work, leaving our servers free for new applications that we can base money-making businesses on.
That's an important lesson - that to scale in this case could mean keeping instructions local and only transferring data, in other words using a resident application to do the hard work, like SETI@Home does. In Blogger's case you wouldn't need any servers, just a little FTP/database/content management app (that's all!).
Ev also posted another essay on his payment philosophy (I can't even get to evhead.com right now). Seems to me the logical thing to do was/is to make Blogger a subscription service. I kicked in some cash for their new server and would happily kick in a monthly fee for this service.
posted 3:24:17 PM
Lane is thinking of going to a four-column layout. This had me emailing little information design fantasies to him....As I read this I imagined one of those folding partitions that women in 1940s/50s movies would change behind while they continued conversation with a man (which is so much sexier than anything in the movies today, but I digress). Because the panels of the partition alternate back and forth (so it'll stand up on its own) the one contiguous pattern across the entire thing changes in perspective. Each panel in your case is a frame, and the Monstro! is emblazened across it. You could vary the perspective of each background image the same way, which might create an interesting feeling of depth. And maybe you could have Audrey Hepburn peeking over the top.and...It makes me realize we haven't completely leveraged the online capabilities of the web; online newspapers for example still have sections made up of pages rather than sections on a long virtual page. Might be nice to get that diverse information in columns and you could navigate through it more by scrolling than by linking. Just thinking out loud.He also thinks I'm "about as cutting-edge as a hip young information designer can hope to be." Ah, if only he knew the truth.
posted 3:08:14 PM
Blogger blog #8!
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