ARCHIVE: June, 2005

A Short Introduction to Microformats: a Stepping Stone on the Way to Semantic Markup, or a Distraction from It?

Up until recently I had been struggling with understanding microformats, those mysterious formats built in XHTML that several folks have been talking about passionately: promising everything from better search engine visibility to better structured code to a realization of true semantic markup. The reason for my struggles was that there were few actual examples of […]

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Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Internet

From the guy who brought us Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: How to Stop Worrying and Love the Internet: great article by Douglas Adams, one of the best documents I’ve run across in a while. Found via Doc Searls, who had a different, even better quote from it than this one:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Brilliant, just brilliant. He’s pointing out, of course, that we’re part of a bigger thing here, something bigger than our own worldview. If it wasn’t for other worldviews I never would have read this…and thus affected my own.

Read article in full (Via Doc Searls via Kevin Marks)

Bokardo Interface

The Web as Marketing? (inspired by Seth Godin)

If you had to define the Web in one word, what would it be?

How about: marketing. Yes, that much-maligned word that makes many run for the hills.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Go read Seth Godin’s latest: Marketing has a marketing problem. Then think about what it is that you do on the Web, and see if marketing fits in with that perception. Pretty close, right?

By the way, Seth’s feed is here.

Bokardo Interface

Fast Clarity: The Answer in an Attention Economy

The basic problem for designers working in an attention economy, I believe, is this:

  • The more information there is to attend to, the less attention any one interface (web site, app, service) will have
  • As attention goes down because of competition, the importance of fast clarity becomes crucial
  • Fast clarity is instant recognition, understanding, and plan for action
  • In an attempt at fast clarity, we often confuse it with shock value, which is short term attention grabbing without long-term benefits
  • Most interfaces exist for long-term benefits

Fast clarity is valuable; shock value isn’t.

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Don’t Click It

This is really cool: Don’t Click It. Instead of clicking, you move your mouse to do everything, a gesture. How long can you last without clicking? (via

The Ups and Downs of Full-Text RSS Feeds

Up until a few days ago, I had a partial text feed on Bokardo. This wasn’t because I planned it that way ahead of time, it was because that was the default action and I had no reason to change it. Also, I didn’t have anybody asking me to change. In my own feed reading […]

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A Scenario about What Goes On when You’re Using a Feed Reader

Here’s a scenario sure to be familiar to most of you:

You’re in your feed reader, and you’re scanning your feeds to see what’s new and interesting. You find posts of all kinds, some about current news, some about technology, some about whatever is happening in the Michael Jackson ordeal. Your problem is becoming more apparent (and worse) every day: which posts do I read? Which ones get my finite attention?

What’s Happening to Our Attention:

  1. There are many things competing for your attention
  2. Your attention is finite (you only have so much of it)
  3. Your attention can only be directed at one thing at a time
  4. There are increasing numbers of people writing content that is relevant to you

Possible Solutions About Where to Pay Attention:

  1. Spend more time attending to your feeds, taking away time spent on other parts of your life
  2. Spend less time on each thing that wants your attention, lessening your comprehension or reflection of that thing
  3. Become more picky about what you attend to, letting more and more semi-relevant content fall by the wayside but keeping your comprehension and reflection level about the same

Notice that each solution has drawbacks because of the finiteness of our attention. In other words, if you click on a post to go read it on a site, you’ve just decided in some small way that you’re not going to attend to other things as much as you could have.

What, Ultimately, Catches Our Attention?

  1. Catchy phrase in the title?
  2. Authority of the speaker?
  3. Quality of content?
  4. Whether you’ve heard about it elsewhere?
  5. Amount of time you have?
  6. etc…

Design accordingly…

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Why Don’t the Big 4 Switch to Web Standards?

Why don’t Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, and Google attempt to code to Web Standards? (each site is missing either a DOCTYPE, character encoding, or both) Surely there must be a reason…

  1. Web Standards are too difficult for them to implement (impossible)
  2. The cost of implementing Web Standards is too high (improbable)
  3. They don’t understand the benefits of Web Standards (doubtful)
  4. They don’t care about Web Standards (unlikely)
  5. They don’t think users would react well to the change (possible)
  6. Many of their users don’t have browsers that handle standards well (probable)
  7. It’s not in the best interest of the bottom-line (likely)

4 of the top e-commerce companies in the World do not code to Web Standards. Isn’t this an elephant in the room? Assuming that these sites have talented and smart people running them, for which there is ample evidence, doesn’t/shouldn’t that tell us something?

I think that it tells us in no uncertain terms that for large e-commerce companies, the benefits of standards still do not outweigh the drawbacks.

What do you think their lack of compliance means?

Your Interface is Your Product

In Web 2.0, your interface is your product. It is not something bolted on, added later, or done as an afterthought. Increasingly, it is a key differentiator that people will use to evaluate and decide whether or not to continue coming back for what you have to offer. It is the frontier of design innovation. […]

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Some Weekend Reading

Here is a list of articles that have changed my conception of the Web and the work that I do on it. I thought that I would recommend them to anyone who hasn’t yet found them in some other manner:

Happy reading…

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