January 31, 2003

Hiptop Here

Yes, my Danger Hiptop arrived today. I celebrated by posting to HiptopNation. I already have a wish list of features for the Hiptop, like the ability to use iSynch for my calendar and addressbook. The boxmodel is not so pretty on the Hiptop/AvantGo browser.

I am happy with my purchase as I now have the ability to have my information follow me easily. The mobile e-mail is a great tool. Yes I know Blackberry has this funtionality, but the price and other added functionality, including phone was far more enticing. The form factor on the Hiptop is very inviting to the hands, although the thumb-fu has my bad thumb kinda wanting a rest.

I may build an administrative interface for Off the Top that I can use in the Hiptop and other mobile devices.

January 30, 2003

Georgetown loses to Seton Hall 6 players on the floor

During last night's Georgetown and Seton Hall basketball game Seton Hall went a head with a in bounds pass to a player who dunked. The problem is Seton Hall had six active players on the court, which is easy to see on the highlight (and to many of us at the game) as the Georgetown Hoyas go back down the court. The refs did not call it as Seton Hall called time out to hide their lack of playing by the rules.

ESPN Sport Center and College Gamenight are calling this exact play great coaching, but ESPN does not count the Seton Hall players. Ken Denlinger of the Washington Post does not catch it in his Georgetown Seton Hall coverage.

The Big East Conference has been providing horrible officiating all season and many of the league coaches have been very vocal about the lack of skill. This is hurting the fans and the players who decide to play in the Big East.

Apple Word Replacement Rumor and Information Structure Dreams

Rumor has it Apple is working on MS Word replacement. This would be a great thing if it would read native Word files seemlessly, but even better would be turning out valid HTML/XHTML. MS Word has always made a huge mess of our information with its conversion to something it "calls" HTML, it is not even passable HTML. One could not get a job using what Microsoft outputs as HTML as a work sample, heck, it would not even pass the laugh test and it may get somebody fired.

One of the downsides of MS Office products is that they are created for styling of information not marking up information with structure, to which style can hang. MS Word allows people (if the turn on or keep the options turned on) to create information sculptures with structure and formatting of the information. What Word outputs to non-Word formats is an information blob that has lost nearly all of its structure and functionality in any other format. It does not really have the format the Word document to begin with. What Web developers do is put the structure back into the information blob to recreate an information sculpture again.

You ask why is structure important? Structure provides the insight to know what is a header and sub-header. Structure provides the ability to discern bulleted lists and outlines. Structure makes it script-kiddie easy to create a table of contents. Structure makes micro-content accessible and easier to find with search. Structure provides better context. Structure provides the ability to know what is a quote from an external document and point to it easily. Structure provides ease of information portability and mobile access easier. These just name a few uses of structure.

Does MS Word have this structure capability? Yes, do people use it? No really. If people use it does MS Word keep the structure? Rarely, as it usually turns the structure into style. This is much like a somebody who spent months in the gym to build a well defined physique only to have the muscles removed to stuff their own shirt with tissue paper to give it the look of being in shape. Does the person with the tissue paper muscles have the ability to perform the same as the person who is really in shape? Not even close.

Structure is important not only for the attributes listed above, but also for those people that have disabilities and depend on the information being structured to get the same understanding as a person with out disabilities. You say MS Word is an accessible application, you are mostly correct. Does it create accessible information documents? Barely at best. The best format for information structure lay in HTML/XHTML/XML not in styles.

One current place that structure is greatly valuable is Internet search. Google is the top search engine on the Internet. Google uses the text in hyperlinks, the information in title tags, and information in the heading tags to improve the findability of a Web page. What are these tagged elements? Structure.

One of the nice things about a valid HTML/XHTML Web document is I can see it aqnd use it on my cell phone or other mobile devices. You can navigate without buttons and read the page in chunks. Some systems preparse the pages and offer the ability to jump between headings to more quickly get to the information desired.

These are just a few reasons I am intrigued with the Apple rumor. There is hope for well structured documents that can output information in a structured form that can validate to the W3C standards, which browsers now use to properly render the information on the page. I have very little hope in the stories that MS is working toward an XML storage capability for Office documents, because we have heard this same story with the last few Office releases and all were functional lies.

January 26, 2003

Learning proper French Cooking at and Inn

We has a wonderful weekend at a L'Academie de Cuisine French Cooking weekend held at the Mercersburg Inn in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The Inn was fantastic, with wonderful accommodations, great common rooms, caring innkeepers that are friendly and very helpful, and very good food.

The cooking portion of the weekend was great. It was a present from Joy and it turned out to be a wonderful gift. The weekend revolved around the founder of L'Academie, Francois Dionot guiding the 14 students through making a four course French meal each day. The 14 split into four teams that prep and cook their portion of the meal. The meals are prepared in the kitchen of the Inn, which is just large enough for the 14, the instructor and his wonderfully helpful wife, and one person helping clean-up. Saturday's meal was a Cream of Cauliflower and Roquefort Soup with a Roquefort Flan, Quennelle of Salmon with Saffron Butter Sauce (our dish we helped create), Beef Goulash with Mashed Potatoes, and a Caramelized Pear Cake with Calvados Creme Anglaise. Today's menu was a Bourride of Fish with Aioli, Quail Salad with Polenta and Porcini Dressing (our dish), Chicken Blanquette with Root Vegetables (including salsify), Phyllo Tart of Chocolate and Raspberry with Chocolate Sauce.

We had a lot of fun and learned a lot. Francios is a perfectionist as one would expect and hope for as it pushed us to expand beyond what we knew. We also learned about adding more salt, not table salt, but wonderful sea salt (Sel de Mer) and kosher salt (containing all the minerals that should be in salt). Everything that was made was wonderful and a glass of wine was raised to the team that helped create that course. We also met wonderful people also taking the course, which was an added blessing. We plan to make courses at L'Academie a regular part of our lives and hope the rest of them are as fulfilling as this weekend.

January 23, 2003

Running a Design Critique

How to run a design critique from Scott Berkun at UIWEB. This not only includes who should be in the room, how often, but a list of items to cover with heuristics on it. This is looks to be worth digging back in and reading every word.

Perl site scraper

Screen scraping with Perl www::mechanize will come in handy for many tasks. The information reuse possibilities are wonderful. This does seem to require somewhat valid HTML/XHTML to function properly.

14 Year Copyright Proposed

The Economist recommends 14 year copyright term, which can be renewed once. This is the most same idea I have heard in quite some time. This could be why I really enjoy The Economist as it is a different and often sane view than is purported in the U.S. news. [hat tip Lawrence]

Facets made usable with XFML

Introduction to XFML by Peter Van Dijck is a great first step to understanding the eXtreme Football Markup Language eXchangeable Faceted Metadata Language. This article lays out facets, topics, metadata, taxonomy, and provides a framework based on these understandings to build a usable structure to describe objects.

Parse RSS even if it is wrong

Parse RSS at All Cost by Mark Pilgrim what is required to parse RSS properly. More importantly Mark points out that as more RSS feeds are created the feeds are being poorly created. Then Mark instructs how to build a parser that will be a little more forgiving of poor markup.

OmniOutliner shares with Keynote

You can now get Omni Outliner 2.2 beta 1, which includes the ability to import and export in and out of Apple Keynote presentations. I do a lot of thinking in Omni Outliner and really like the capability to pass these thoughts in outline format to presentation software. OmniOutliner already creates perfect XHTML as an output option, which has been a great asset so far.

January 21, 2003

Understanding Visual Organization

Luke Wroblewski has a must read article, Visible Narratives: Understanding Visual Organization published at Boxes and Arrows. The article shows the importance of and how to visually structure information to assist the user with finding and focussing on content they are interested in. This lesson is one that is often missed in Web site redesigns.

A visual presentation of information is an essential tool to have in your tool belt. Lack of a usable visual structure can hinder your users from finding the information they are seeking. Many users come to a new site and perform a quick scan of the information available looking for something to attract their attention as it relates to terms, visual cues, or a vocabulary that will get the user to the nuggets they desire.

The user's eye needs resting places to guide them or help the user jump from topic to topic until the user finds one topic or link draws the user (as the user believes) closer to the information. Visual organization help facilitate the user's scanning and reading.

If the visual organization uses HTML markup's header tags and CSS for presentation the information has an underlying structure. The underlying structure can be used to assist bots (non-human search tools that scrape sites looking for information) in finding information. The automated scraping or searching is augmented by the markup as the information in the headers is often given greater value and can help the information get consumed by users interested in finding and using the information. With a little bit of scripting a properly marked-up Web page can generate a table of contents. This visual structuring eases the reuse of information, which is always a benefit.

January 20, 2003

Apple Keynote a wonderful tool

I have been playing with Apple's Keynote today. Once I figured out that the adjustments and transitions are located in the inspection menu I was having fun. Now that I have a reason to use Keynote I am finding it a solid tool. I am now wishing for AppleScripts to connect OmniOutliner to Keynote. I would love to drop my outlines into Keynote and parse them into a presentation. I tend to think in outlines and use OmniOutliner quite a bit.

InformeDesign launches a research design repository

There is a new design research repository on the Web, InformeDesign. This contains research for the Interior Design field. At times it is good to break out of one's normal shell and see what other fields are doing and researching.

January 19, 2003

Smart Mobs and the Man

Jeffrey Veen reports on the mobile technology at the San Francisco anti-war demonstration. It is just another glimpse that the Smart Mobs are taking hold here in the U.S. (the Smart Mobs site captures smart mob use at SF anti-war rally too).

In a quasi-related vein the U.S. Congress is fighting to keep its mobile technology. It seems that members of Congress and their Senior staff are hooked on their BlackBerry devices. The BlackBerry is caught up in a patent infringement case that may limit the use of the BlackBerry (yes there is irony here as Congress set the copyright and patent laws that are making this a problem for themselves). Congress was not smart in creating the laws, but wants to be a part of the smart mob. It seems like they need to figure out what they are doing before they pick up their pen to write any more laws and may want to undo some of the poor laws they created.

January 18, 2003

Model of Attraction moves forward

The upcoming IA Summit in Portland, Oregon is providing me the opportunity to offer the Model of Attraction live and in person. In the coming weeks I will be posting background to this presentation in digestible chunks. You are free to peruse the initial draft of Model of Attraction from March 2002, the Model of Attraction outline from December 2002, and the attraction category here in Off the Top.

Navigation is Broken

Part of the need for developing the Model of Attraction revolves around the broken metaphor of navigation that many IA's put much trust in. Metaphors use a concept that is understood (often not related to the topic at hand) to describe the hard to understand or the new. All metaphors limit understanding as they do not accurately describe the actions and relationships, they only provide a framework that helps understand bits of the whole. The navigation metaphor has been stretched beyond its limits and has limited the possibilities of information structures. We as IAs are worse off by leaning on navigation beyond its narrow boundaries and the users of the sites and the information bound in the sites are worse off by the over reliance on the navigation metaphor.

To see where this discovery began, go to this discussion on IA, navigation, and information space. Pay attention to Stewart Butterfield's comments. In addition navigation does not permit us to think about understanding visual attraction, reuse of information, information access methods outside the PC based Web, mobile access, personalization, content management, or the ability to have a rough cloud of information that follows the user (access to information where and when one needs it). In the Peterme discussion I stated I would sleep on a solution. I repeatedly slept and woke thinking about this problem and fell into the Model of Attraction early last March and have been working with the MoA since then.

I have used the MoA with clients and when mentoring IAs and Web developers. The comprehension is much better when describing the same approach than when using the navigation metaphor. Clients quickly understand the need for controlled vocabularies based on the user's common language and understanding. MoA helps easily explain the need for grouping of information around categories and facets. Card sorting tasks become easy to understand for the clients and helps them assist in the process. Most of the IAs took kit (persona, taxonomy, wireframes, metadata, etc.) are more usable as their need is easily understood by all in the context of attraction.

Scent not Strong

You may be thinking this rough explaination you are getting sounds like Information Scent. You would be right, to some degree. But information scent, like navigation, is a metaphor. Yes, scent breaks too and is quite difficult to use with clients as some things get very confusing for them. Scent helps IAs understand what is going on a little better and there is great research that has come out of the Information Scent community. But when you get down to it scent is a subset of attraction. Scent is one method of attracting or repelling the user toward information they are seeking and keeping extraneous information out of the mix. Scent also has its limits. The scent metaphor works with getting the user to information, but it gets very murky when the information needs metadata (to help augment the attraction between the user and the information they are seeking). Scent and odors have distinct understandings and altering the scents for understanding (metadata) raises many questions from clients as the client tries to understand. Scent does not work well when trying to build information structures for mobile access to information, nor for setting the ability to have the information follow the user (What you want to use a blueberry muffin as a perfume? Don't think so).

More to Come

This only defines MoA by showing the limits of navigation and scent. More understanding is on its way in upcoming weeks and will be put in a presentation format for the IA Summit. Those that are worried, we are not throwing out navigation or scent. We are keeping navigation in its small usable space where it works well. Scent has provided great research and has similar properties to attraction as it is a subset. The Model of Attraction will provide a broader foundation that allows us to move into the future as we build information structures that include possibilities for mobile access, social networks, and true access to information as the user needs it by keeping the information close at hand. The MoA does not solve these problems, but provides a framework that does not break when we work to solve these issues.

AIfIA is offering its IA Leadership Seminar as part of the ASIS&T IA Summit 2003 "Making Connections".

The Leadership Conference and the Summit offer great opportiunites to expand our knowledge and skills. This is one event I am really looking forward to this year.

Trust in the Friendster and Ryze social networks

I finally got around to joining Ryze a social networking site. After just a few hours I find that I am more impressed with Friendster for many reasons.

Part of my preference of Friendster is the trust factor, which Friendster takes advantage of and Ryze has left off. When I go to add a person to my friend list in Friendster, Friendster sends a note to the person asking permission. Upon approval from the person I wish to link as my friend the person shows up in my friend list. Friendster also provides "introductions" through people on your friends list and people can recommend friends to others. The testimonies on Friendster are a valuable commodity as they must be approved by the person receiving the testimony (granted this can become rigged, but it offers the ability to give a better sense of the person). Friendster also shows the relationship to others in the whole network. These are assets that are very important to me when building trust and components that are missing in Ryze

The focus of the two systems is different. Ryze purports to be a business networking tool, while Friendster is a social networking tool. The lack of the above mentioned features for trust in the Ryze tool seem to make it more vulnerable for abuse or misuse. In a business context trust is very important as investment and decision that can have a determinant impact on success are made from information. People are one conduit of an information flow.

To me, it seems important to have the ability to have a some measure of trust built into a representation of a human relationship that then provides information the user may then act upon. It is also important to know that this relationship is approved or reciprocal People entering my page on Ryze from a Google search may see that I have Peter Morville as a friend. The Ryze tool does not provide a mechanism to verify this is the case. The only method one may have to determine if Peter and I are friends and there is a mutual trust that may be drawn from that relationship is to see if Peter has listed me as one of his friends. The Friendster model asks the person being listed as a friend if they agree to be listed as a friend. This model also makes it easier to find connections between people.

The Friendster tool can help people find others for various reasons or used as a tool to open doors to new music, movies, or interests. In the week or two I have been on Friendster I have found new music to dive into. I have been bugged by two folks to add my music preferences as they are looking for new music to explore. This would also be helpful for Ryze in a business context, but I don't see digital trust mechanisms that would ease this transaction. Ryze is more tool to provide links and correlations for serendipity then a quick way to find people of similar mind sets or people to expand intellectual and/or monetary pursuits.

I will stay with both social networking tools, but I know which tool I have more trust in at the moment. The trust factor is built over time through interactions that ring true to one's own meter or metric for judging. Friendster provides a step up on the trust meter. The best analogy is a sidewalk meeting: Ryze provides a glimpse of two people walking near each other (we do not know the relationship as it could be victim and stalker, friends, or two people that started chatting on the subway); Friendster classifies the relationships of the two or more on the sidewalk and shows the approved relationship as friends.

Six degrees of cold

I went about my normal Saturday morning caffination ritual, a jaunt to my local coffee house, with out looking at the temperature. I did notice is was mighty cold. When I returned to the house I came in to a seemingly warm house then realized I left my coffee in the car. Walking back out I realized it was really quite cold and check the temperature when I came back in. It is 6 degrees Farhenheit at 9 in the morning. I am now wishing I left my coffee at full heat (usually add a little cool water to drink it more quickly).

January 16, 2003

Web Techniques / New Architect says Buh-Bye

R.I.P. Web Techniques / New Architect. Amit and Maggie shared the news.

This is a sad note, but also one that seems to show how things have changed. How many of us were excited when the new issues of Web Techniques arrived or were anxious when it was late? The publication changed over time as did the market for the magazine. The need for a printed magazine changed over time, but having a printed article to show clients or superiors was a great help as they discounted the information printed from the Web (I don't know how much this has changed). There are many Web based outlets for similar information and similar quality of information, Boxes and Arrows, Digital Web, A List Apart, and O'Reilly Network to name a few. None the less, we morn this day and get back to building a better Web.

Spell check in the browser

Hot damn Batman, I am loving the spell check feature in Apple's Safari browser. This should help the quality of the spelling here in Off the Top (I know you are disappointed and many believed the poor spelling was an ingenious method of for me to find my own entries, knowing this is my backup brain) and in comments on other sites. I tend to think in text boxes and e-mail and somewhat publicly.

Those of you that have not turned on the spell checking can find it under the edit menu in the spelling flyout and should check the "spell as you type" item. This item does not have a short cut, but it may be worth keeping turned on all the time.

Jon Udel digs into information mapping

Jon Udell digs into information mapping, which includes a discussion and pointer to Samuel Wan's fisheye menu. Jon's entry has other pointers that will keep you occupied for a little while.

January 14, 2003

Peel exposes layered storytelling

Design Interact examines the Seattle design firm Peel and their layered storytelling approach to information structures. Layered storytelling is explained:

Layered storytelling means that a site opens much like a film, with a splash of music, photography and animation, but not a lot of information. If you stay on the top level of the site, your experience is similar to watching a documentary on television. But if you click on any topic, you dive down into a more book-like experience, with long texts and additional background information. The idea is that a visitor skims along the surface until he or she finds something interesting and then digs in to read more.

This appoach provides the ability to have a one way interaction with the site as it entertains and informs, but when the user is attracted to a topic, idea, or visual cue they can interact and find out more. I have enjoyed the layered storytelling approach when I have encountered it. It does seem like it would have the same repeat user problems that other multi-media interfaces encounter, in that having to wait for load times before interacting or navigating is usually problematic. Providing an option to use the layered storytelling or providing it the first time by default (but if a user is like me and works with three or four browsers open or working from many computers, setting a cookie to track repeat use will not solve the issue).

This too is worth coming back to as it provides intamacy with the user and a topic. This can help break down some of the dry appearance of some dull topics that are difficult to unwrap, like sciences, urban planning, the history of duct tape, etc.

Understanding Open Source Development to help Public Policy and Management

In First Monday The Institutional Design of Open Source Programming: Implications for Addressing Complex Public Policy and Management Problems by Charles M. Schweik and Andrei Semenov. More simply put, what lessons can be derived from understanding the Open Source distributed methods that will help collaboration on intellectual issues, such as public policy, and understaning collaboration to better solve management issues. The physically distributed model is getting a test in many smaller organizations, including on information architecture non-profit that has recently opened its virtual doors.

Gender and using technical instruction

In First Monday A Gendered World: Students and Instructional Technologies by Indhu Rajagopal with Nis Bojin offers a good insight into some gender differences in learning with technology. I want to come back and read this in full.

3D drawing in Sketchup

Mike points to Sketchup a 3D graphic drawing tool (watch the animation in the lower right of the home page to get an idea of the functionality). The capabilitities in this application seem to fill the mind with possibilities.

Collaborate with iStorm

Color me interested iStorm is a Mac-based collaboration tool available for under $20 (including two years of upgrades). I am involved in more than one project that is running virtually and this tool seems what it takes to get the job done and more (yes, most of those collaborating are Mac users, but not every single one -- yet).

January 12, 2003

AppleScripts for Safari

Apple Scripts for Safari is a good place to watch for helpful tools. I am finding there is not a "mail link" in Safari, well that I could find. I may take my first whack at AppleScript to scratch this itch. [hat tip Jason]

Groov'n to midival punditz

I am groving to Midival Punditz, which I picked up today. The midival punditz have remixed Tabla Beat Science, whom I also really enjoy. There are touches of aural passages in the midival punditz work that are very reminicent of Peter Gabiel's work.
January 10, 2003

Ticketstub memory shares lives

Matt shares a little bit of what the Web can provide, a resting place for open memories. This medium provides a place for connecting people through common understanding and interests as well as shared moments.

January 7, 2003

Sort your Amazon wish list

Sort your Amazon wishlist by items you want most is an app I have been really wanting. Well second to dumping my Amazon wishlist into my Palm and having the ability to add or delete items from the wish list from my Palm or other mobile device.

Apple provides new tools

Steve Jobs did the usual at the Macworld Keynote speach, great new products. The new 17 inch powerbook has severe lust factor as did the Airport Extreme with 802.11g (55MB of wireless connectivity and a USB print capability). The iLife tools are very cool and will be very helpful. But the two items that really got me intrigued were the Keynote a presentation tool and Safari Apples Web browser.

Keynote intrigued me from the beauty of it and its storing all the content in XML. The XML functionality could make reuse of the information in presentations actually usable, unlike the hardwork to extract content from PowerPoint. But, as we know presentation software is best with the speaking note or the spoken versions that go along with the presentation. Keynote could be a good first step. At least Apple is thinking in the right direction with a beautiful product that provides easy reuse.

Safari had me dying to get home to my Mac to download and test it. So far I am very impressed with not only the speed, which is great, but the proper rendering of pages. Safari handles XHTML and CSS box model beautifully. I only had so problems in Tantek's CSS examples. I went through much of Eric Meyer's CSS site worked very well with no discernable problems that I saw. I am very happy with it. It really could use back function on its right mouse menu. Time will tell if this replaces Chimera as my browser of choice.

January 6, 2003

A peek in to Feynman

Thanks to Mr. Blackblet Jones I have stumbled across Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine over at the Longnow site. This article pull enought snippets about Richard Feynman to get a very good understanding of who he was. Feynman was a great thinker, to me much along the lines of an Alan Turing. Understaning how to approach problems is often the key to solving many problems.

Dumbing down of computer and information design books

My trip to bookstores in Florida had me seeing what the person on the street sees as computer books, "Dummies" guides. There were eight shelves of Dummies computer books with a handful of Microsoft publisher books thrown in for color variation.

When I returned home I took a trip to Barnes and Noble and found the computer Web section filled with GUI tool books (Dreamweaver, FrontPage, GoLive, etc.) where there were shelves of HTML, DHTML, CSS, Perl, proper design (by Zeldman and Veen), or Information Architecture books. This trend worried me more than what I saw in Florida. The GUI books did not get into proper markup or understanding of information. The books were concerned with how to make better use of more bandwidth. Not one place in the many books I pulled off the shelf did I see any mention of the user or information use (let alone information reuse). The beauty of learning how to develop properly is knowing when the GUI tools are wrong, but better is knowing what is built properly will work well on broadband and on mobile devices. If the information is important and cared about it should be made available, accessible, and usable.

January 5, 2003

Friendster as a resource

I received an invite to join Friendster when it first opened, but thought it was somewhat silly for those that are married. Thanks to Jish and his invite to join I have found a rather interesting social networking tool. I have been having a tough time finding music, movies, and other media that is of interest (my taste tends to run slightly outside the mainstream pop - interchangeable Britney - mindset). I am not sure Friendster will provide an avenue for discourse, but it could help with media and finding new folks I have not discovered yet that I would be great to know.

Creative Commons license added

I have finally added a Creative Commons license that applies to all content on this site. The bottom of most of the pages contains a link to the license that states how the information on this site may be used.

Blog odometer moves to 1,000 posts

Well my friends this is entry 1,000. The counting of each entry began June 1, 2001 when I moved off Blogger and began completely handcoding again.

In May of 2001 I put together my TravelBlog tool that allowed by to post from any Internet connected Web browser again. This step was only used while I was on the road or I did not have ability to FTP new content. In September 2001 I moved my hosting of vanderwal.net to PHP Web Hosting, which I had been using with great happiness for other projects for over a year. In October I began using the hand built CMS that I am still using and developing. This gave me the ability to set multiple categories for each post, which no other tool allowed at that time, and to set location and entry type.

I keep making updates to my own tool and it has served me well. There as some changes to the administration tools that I really want to make and a couple changes to the tools that will allow all of the pages generated out of the CMS to produce valid XHTML. I am also wanting to build a mobile admin tool that I can use from my cell phone, which would give me the ability to post information to myself from anywhere.

Each of you are basically voyeurs. This has been my place to post my thoughts and annotated links so that I can get back to them later. These offerings are open to all as they may spark and interest or help others resolve problems. Finding information that is helpful or entertaining is a blessing of the Internet and having a resouce like a weblog (the term makes me cringe - I do not know why) is a benificial method to share information. I learned most everything I know from others sharing openly or getting new ideas based on reading what others openly shared.

There is one posting that has out drawn all other posts. The why I bought my last Windows-based computer and why I love Mac OS X has received a few thousand readers (2,000 read it in the first three days it was posted). It seems there are many others that felt the same pain and dropped in to read it. More than half a year after it was written it still gets about 50 visitors a week.

I love having this tool at my use and enjoy the friends it has brought closer and people it has introduced to me. Thanks for reading and drop a note to just say hello.

More future proofing information

Speaking of future proofing your information, Mark discusses CMS and information reuse. One quote that brings this to light is:

This ties you to your content management system. The further removed your raw data is from your published form, the harder it will be to migrate away from the tools that convert one to the other.

Mark also discusses how using HTML he then created PDF files of his Dive into Accessibility essays. HTML has much of the semantic tools needed and the structure to provide a reusable information repository.

Touch Graph tool for viewing relationships

Stuart has been discussing Touch Graph lately and has me quite intrigued. There seem to be many uses that would be helpful on a regular basis. Using the tool to view clickstreams or to view actual site maps (versus heirarchial site maps) would be helpful.

Smart Mobs and Emergence provide sparks

I began reading Smart Mobs by Howard Rheingold the past few days. It is a fantastic book that covers a lot of ground, including free riders, game theory, mobile technology, information creation, and information use and reuse. The book is proving to be an excellent follow-on to Steven Johnson's Emergence. The two books are wonderful mind-joggers and fodder for new preceptions about information, technology, and the world around us. A trait that both share is excellent bibliographies and end-notes (the end notes in both books were not very user friendly and would seem to be structured for hypertexting and not paper books).

These two books put the focus on being future friendly, which does not mean any thing new, but reinforces my belief in properly structured information. Information use and reuse are the key elements in both books, which embrace bottom-up information creation and knowledge sharing. The need for access to information drives Smart Mobs, whether it is to grow open development or for mobile use access is important. The best access environment we have in place at the moment is valid HTML/XHTML that is used to properly structure the information.

This also requires thinking through every pixel on a Web page and understanding its purpose. Understanding the user will help provide a framework for building information interfaces. The information/content should take importance also that is why users are reading, not the entertaining graphics. Keep in mind we structured information can be reused on mobile devides that may not use your images, information may be scraped and repurposed, information may be printed, or read aloud to a person using a site reader while they are driving or read to a person with visual difficulties.

You may want to get your hands on either or both books and take a look for yourself and you may be inspired in new ways or have your beliefs in information and its used renewed.

Ticketstubs launches

Tickstubs is launched by Matt. This site is a story repository based on ticket stubs. I have many ticket stubs that serve as reminders of past events, travels, and adventures. I am glad to see there are others that have the same interest and are sharing them. I look forward to following along.
January 4, 2003

Three colors on DVD

Three colors (blue, white, and red) is set to be released on DVD in March. This has been a giant hole missing in my DVD collection. I have pre-ordered and now I am just waiting for the arrival. There are certain days that I really would like to watch Red, while there are others that Blue is what is needed. Soon they will be close at hand.

Previous Month

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