post-conference notes from WebVisions 2006

It’s been almost a week, and I’m rereading my liveblogging notes. Following are some final notes, by way of summary and/or things-to-do. All in reverse-chron order of sessions. (I’m not quite done: I still need to add links to all the presenters and their slides, etc. online.)

Day 2

Jared Spool keynote

[Jared’s slides]

I missed a big chunk of this because of (a) a phone call and (b) diverted attention. However….

redesigns are dead, or at least they should be; the best way to improve a Web site is with small iterative improvements, well-tested.

he had some fantastic comments on implementing design, and design guidelines, throughout an organization. “educate and administrate” is the theme, which means to use design problems as teachable moments, rather than throwing the book at people. It also means making good design the easy default.

similarly, the best way to get at better experience design is to make testing easy and inexpensive. (there’s a typo in my original notes!) I love the idea of having a regularly scheduled usability test session every N, and just testing something, anything. to find test subjects, go where they congregate, online or in person.

social metadata & the relevance revolution

[Gene Smith’s presentation]

on the topic of social information architecture: how sites come together through user-created content. at work, the only thing we have like this is the book exchange. in the rest of my life, this applies to OlyBlog. it could, theoretically, apply to the ENA site, but I don’t have time to go there right now. (make this a placeholder for that thought!)

the 3 ingredients for social IA: way to capture user actions; way to aggregate & display; feedback to change the system.

in a ranking system (one form of aggregation), you need multiple rankings to call everything that’s interesting about a particular set. for OlyBlog, maybe different (custom?!) views?

there are, apparently, open source libraries for collaborative filtering (people who liked X also chose Y), including in PHP.

thought experiment question: what are the feedback systems that exist by default on OlyBlog? how do they effect the site content and people’s experience of it?

a question at the end that I’m going to leave alone for the moment: the use of social IA in intranets? (what is scuttle at IBM?!)

accessible design w/out drama

in general: “Don’t praise the machine” — where the machine is the rules and (especially!) the validators (or the DJ-bot 5000, for that matter).

lots of crazy stats about how many people are (insert disability here). something that overlaps with work issues: fastest growing demographic is the oldsters.

a to-do for work: still need to train people using WordPress and/or Drupal on some of the basic accessibility issues.

improving front-end architecture

[Garrett Dimon’s slides]

very inspirational with lots of head-nodding. he focused quite a bit on the long-term issues of web design, which is a place where I have a lot (5+ years!) of experience.

markup as a craft — THE underlying craft of web design. can I get an amen?

plazes was a really nice example of accessibility issues changing the overall conceptualization of a site. for work, this might be something to consider in reworking the maps section of the site, which is something we plan on doing.

keep an eye out for his work with Derek Featherstone on accessible forms.

and his slides were very cool; well worth a look just for some of the grids.

designing for community

this presentation brought OlyBlog front & center in my brain.

“never lose sight of what your product is separate from the social networking aspect.”

90% of visitors are passive users of the site. the 10% — creators, commenters, etc. — need the 90%. who are the passive users on OlyBlog? what do they want/need? why are they there?

remember to send a link to newsvine to C.

idea for book exchange: use ajax to do on-the-fly checking for available usernames.

how do you create a system that rewards good long-time users w/out punishing new/untested users?

Day 1

the new community

general impressions? Derek is a lively and friendly speaker, who has a good turn of phrase & concept, and happens to be insanely optimistic.

a good definition of community: the ability to use voice in public/immediate way, forming relationships over time.

I think I’ll find myself using the term “company town” quite a lot from now on, because it captures a certain aspect of community sites so perfectly. (And because I remember my grandfather explaining the concept of the company town as we drove through mining country in southeastern Arizona, when I was a kid.)

two contrary-wise positions that are worth mentioning here:

  • Joe Clark on the death of privacy
  • Ralph Brandi on weblogs (not) as conversation

a note for OlyBlog, as a company town: treat your folk well, and acknowledge their diversity of online selves.

mobile phones & the mobile web

[Brian Fling’s slides]

great slides, especially the combination of the originally presenter’s and those of the guy who actually presented.

telcos suck.

Americans don’t carry PDA phones, nor do they (over 18) particularly use the mobile web.

there are way too many devices, but some basic commonalities apply. to find the most popular phones, look at what’s being given away with new subscriptions. also the razr.

most screens are 120px wide.

at this point, SMS reminder service might be the hottest possibility. I have this idea kicking around in my head for a “send my schedule on the first day of class” service.

rapid dom/ajax development

stuff to look up & understand later: anonymous functions, closures.

keys to rapid development: maintainability. finding bugs, managing the work of others. extensibility. flexibility.

I do, finally, need to learn and understand OOP. nothing else to do for it.

he recommends using libraries, in part to avoid reinventing the wheel. I still wonder if we have actually invented the wheel yet, metaphorically speaking.

I’d like to create a click-to-expand FAQ in a few spots around the main site…or at least convert the SOS FAQ (say that 5 times fast!) to click-to-expand.

go back and look at the comparison chart for all the libraries.

JSON sounds intriguing, but the idea of XSLT-style syntax makes my brain hurt from here.

I like the idea of a “premade HTML shell” — I’ll have to tuck that away in my head for future reference.

[I skipped all the morning sessions on Day 1 to instead have breakfast & go to the Chinese garden with my sweetie. Plus I missed one session on Day 2 while I was trying to help him after he lost his glasses in the Columbia River.]

overall, it was, as usual, a great experience. (as usual, it was too hot in Portland, but that’s neither here nor there.) I always get a lot out of WebVisions.

keynote: experience design

totally ignoring all the intro stuff while I work on Paula’s site.

jared has started. focusing on the nature of experience design and what it means. sandisk — they think they have an ipod-killer. #2 in the market. “I guess they’ve got their work cut out for them then”

he’s very funny, cult of netflix, dissing sharepoint intranet. redesigns destroying value.

(now that I have got cyberduck working, I’m frantically working on Paula’s site as promised.)

phone call from C. came back to wackiness with trip planning on travelocity.

multidisciplinary nature of experience design …hey, that’s *my* job!

the fema graphic that was on the daily show. what was the person who did that design thinking?! usability testing is about seeing a design through someone else’s eyes. cultural difference.

(okay, internet is really, really, really slow.)

good communications, clear focus on vision “a stake in the sand focused on the horizon” what should the experience be 3, 5, 10 years from now? the right people,

missed some stuff while another page loaded (personalized google is teh suck on safari).

redesigns are dead. small continuous improvements. we haven’t caught up to that point.

ugh, I have too many tabs/windows open, and I can’t track with the presentation.

approaches to facilitating experience design. guidelines documents. seriously, it took us 5 years to get to a draft that is still not official!

educate & administrate. that’s how I want to implement the guidelines.

use of asterisks inappropriately. 🙂

educate includes having a clear vision of success. disseminate user knowledge & feedback quickly. use design problems as a “teachable moment” — in the other model, problems involve punishment. (hmmmm, how would that work, exactly.)

160 sites that they “know of” — want to hold a conference. I think the UW has this problem, hell, we probably do too. “build communication paths to all the design agents” let them know what the goal is, and how what they do effects that goal.

make collecting feedback on new design ideas incredibly expensive. some company has a usability test scheduled every wednesday, w/out knowing what will be tested. makes it EASY.

sharing lessons learned. and then making good design practice the path of least resistance. (which is why I LOVE using templates in WP.)

uietips newsletter,,

maybe THIS is where my career is going.

q: does it have to be expensive? no, not at all: netflix success vs. walmart, blockbuster. just throwing money at a problem makes it worse. takes thought, skill, and attention to detail. constantly ask: what are we trying to do? doing small things is working better than doing big things. (that certainly gives me hope!) creating the vision is best done with a couple of beers. (hey, maybe I should invite the intranet gang out for lunch.)

q: how to find users? can use surrogates, but users also congregate in like groups. (like this event!) (somebody tell jared to take his hand out of his pocket!) “discount usability movement”

q: how to overcome beurocratic (sp?!) sclerosis? this is the reason why they’re so excited about apple, netflix, et al, because they become an example of how to succeed. turn this (experience design) into that (shareholder value, increased revenue, etc). steve jobs like a virus: he infects businesses. 🙂

back to our regularly scheduled programming

Okay, so C decided to stay at the beach as originally planned; we’re going to back to our original plan, which involves staying one more night at Tom’s and then driving home tomorrow morning. (“blazing,” as C describes it.)

So while I was sitting here, sucking up electricity, Jonathan Snook wandered by and reminded me that we had met at the SXSW closing party. (I know I took a picture of him, but it’s not online, and it’s not on this computer.)

I’m going to go to the closing party for WV, too, at Greek Cusina, because it was SO VERY tasty last year. We were thinking about seeing Ferris Buehler at flicks on the bricks, but I doubt we will. (Kind of a cruel thing, watching a movie like that w/out glasses.)

One final note: can somebody tell me how to get FTP working right in OSX?!

social metadata, relevance revolution

I may be somewhat distracted. I have my phone in my pocket on vibro mode, waiting to hear from C when he gets back from the beach. (per the whole glasses thing) And if this doesn’t grab me, I’m going to bail.

harness user actions to make site more relevant. he’s from the middle of nowhere, aka Edmonton Alberta Canada.

blah blah blah about his company. he does IA, mostly. has been a metadata nerd. take what users are doing to create architecture of sites.

emergent information architecture -> collective intelligence -> information architecture 2.0 🙂 or social IA.

get a better understanding of social systems
practical ideas for tweaking your own systems
feedback loops as part of design process

he’s tweaked to fit with some similar presentations.

structural design of shared information environments “fancy term for websites” interested in systems where users are co-creating the environment. less structured, more organic.

social IA: user actions create some or all of the environment. use wisdom of crowds to solve problems of IA.

examples: amazon, starting with “customers also bought”, highlighting listmania, combining algorythms with user-generated data. wikipedia, not just creating the articles, but also the connections between them, created by contributors. flickr. not just tagging, but contacts. (I rarely view by tags, but I like the contacts stuff.) delicious. “canonical services” digg.

range of uses, from augmentation (amazon, ebay) to co-creation (delicious, wikipedia).

“contrails in the great database in the sky” and nobody seems to mind. ah, yes, how the information we throw out into the universe can be mined to serve us more and better ads.

“whoever has the most friends wins” (re: linkedin)

the new yorker cartoon, nobody knows you’re a dog. vs. a new cartoon “Ogle Earth” — the shift in expectations. web as part of our social infrastructure. (hi, guys!) people expect to be part of the conversation, and to get the most relevant stuff. (thinking again about personalized home pages?)

3 ingredients for social IA: way to capture user actions; way to aggregate & display; feedback. today less concerned about why (from our POV or users) than how.

user actions: the things they do that we can track. understand popularity, community, reputation, etc. for the moment, put aside higher goals & motivations.

speculative graph…low to high engagement vs. social intent (personal to participatory). automatic, personal, low intent: pageviews, clickthrus, downloads (server log stuff). personal but more engaged: purchases, tags (boundary-crossing), bookmarks, linking to something. more participatory: posts (flickr, youtube, blog), ratings, buddylists, comments/reviews, wiki-ing (nice coinage). trackback is off in its own little corner: low engagement but more participatory. (I wonder if that is part of why trackback is broken. it’s really easy to fsck with other people.) plus mentioned not on his chart:

as moving to the right & up, identity becomes more important, including its persistance over time. how many of these actions involve an “object” (a virtual or real).

topographies of services. delicious (blob in middle right), amazon (a line of sort heading up and to the right), youtube (a blob similar to delicious, maybe a little higher up, with the anomolous dot of pageviews).

on to aggregation & display. bringing together user actions in a relevant way, and then displaying them. coming up with a set of rules for both.

lots of kinds of aggregation (5 (of N), he’ll talk about 4): listing, ranking, clustering, collaborative filtering, and other stuff.

ebay example of listing and prototagging. men’s apparel category; used to shop there before there was a banana republic in edmonton. 🙂 new pants or used pants? evolved conventions in the subject line. NWOT: new without tags; NWT: new with tags.

listing friends.

youtube and ranking. counting & ordering actions. the essence of popularity. a bunch of different axes of popularity. worst rated: “the cesspool of youtube, but that might be redundant” — getting different videos with different qualities.

yahoo most recommended photos. girls in bikinis: never show up in most recommended, but always in most viewed. reveals something. need multiple rankings to call everything that’s interesting about a particular set.

collaborative filtering: comparing your history with those of others to find stuff you might rate highly. amazon, also netflix (yay!). open source libraries for collaborative filtering (?! in php?!) — kewl.

examples from amazon: new U2 album links to a variety of stuff, but Joshua Tree only to other U2 albums.

digg shows up under “other algorthyms” 🙂 a whole bunch of factors are included. number of votes, source of the story (original or repost), history of submitting user, traffic of category, reports on the user.

feedback experiments. “okay, that was not very successful” “I tricked you into [the wave]”

feedback loops in social software. positive feedback in Digg. influence wanes over time. plus the feedback loop on the individual users and their ratings. “Top 100 Digg users control 56% of Digg’s home page content” how do those other users feel? do you really want to participate? is it really democratic? “but we’re just going to talk about the hows”

5 (of N) places to intervene: introduce delays (moderation of blog comments), modify strength of feedback loops (imagine adjusting the rules), access to information (cliques on digg: what if you couldn’t see who had posted a story until after you voted for it?), adjusting incentives/punishments, change the system altogether.

examples: the emergence of tagging with flickr & delicious. google’s aggregation of links as votes.

mefi cover charge: another intervention point, through limiting membership. or gang initiation. recommended by a member, etc.

danella meadows, list of 12, based on big systems: economies, but they work great for smaller systems. look on wikipedia.

challenges. spam, gaming the system, achieving balance, relevance (do your users find it valuable? talk to real people!), unintended consequences.

his design principles. allow for different levels of engagement (that connects to something earlier today, about the 90%), monitor & tweak feedback loops, participate in the larger ecosystem (ala Powazek & the company town), design new actions, aggregators, displays.

q: when tweaking, don’t you run the risk of alienating the user? yes, absolutely. (I think I remember some discussion on this topic in the new web apps panel at sxsw.)

q: ???? basic thing is figuring out what people are doing that you can do something with and doing that. wary of talking about systems that need high level of participation to get off the ground.

q: inside the enterprise. scuttle (what is that?) something at IBM.

q: what did you not talk about? myspace, consumating.

q: is there a site that lists them all? no, maybe on wikipedia? questioner has found all of them really boring.

well, that changes things.

C called while I was eating lunch: he lost his glasses in the Columbia River. Which means that the next few days are likely to be complicated, expensive, and/or annoying.

He’s eligible for new glasses (or at least the MEAGER benefit we get), but he also has to have an eye exam before he can get them. There are facilities available in our plan in Portland, but they take a week to 10 days to make glasses. The place we can go in Olympia closes at 6pm today and doesn’t open again until Monday. We could go to LensCrafters, but he’d still need to get an eye exam.

And I’m waiting for him to come back from the river. (He should be safe *enough* to drive back. Keep your fingers crossed.) I have enough info, at least, that when he gets in we can make some decisions. I may be bailing on the rest of WebVisions, just as I’m bailing on the 1pm session to get my info in order and prepare myself.

accessible design without drama

with Matt May (is it joe clark who always calls him MCMay?) — who must be related distantly to Greyson.

the drama in the field gets in our way. (hmmmmm….)

starting with high-level stuff, and then into concrete.

most of the audience is people for whom accessibility is part of a larger job.

break down hope at the beginning to bring it back later.

why are all these standards competing with each other? why isn’t there this accessibility thing that we can drop a cup of into our product?

we can’t guarantee that every message we create is going to be understood by the total set of all human beings. some people are good at convincing a broad range of people. there’s a point where you can’t get your understanding out into the rest of the world. not a cognitive disability: just a core tenent of human communication!

by creating standards, not to make it perfect. the messages that can be communicated can be percieved & understood by the widest range of people possible.

2nd disturbing thing: instead of thinking about people, we think about the standards, checkpoints, etc. keeps up from our full capability. the map is not the territory.

standards exist to be codified, policy-compatible. boil a grand concept into measurable criteria. can’t guarantee that it’s better. we have limitations, because we have to get something. (“if men were angels” and all that.)

folks “subject” to 508 et al start to think about the checklists and make something aweful.

why can’t standards be more specific? limitations of communication. when talking to people who don’t have inner motivations. rolls his eyes dramatically — when he mentions accessibility to designers, first comment is always “oh, alt text for people who are blind?”

508, in adapting an earlier version of wcag 1.0, dropped off lots of things in favor of simplicity.

looking past the documents & criteria (created so they could be measured) and focusing on how people use stuff.

simpsons reference: bart gets elephant. DJ jobs will be replaced by DJ-bot. “Don’t praise the machine”

if standards are an approximation; validation tools are then an “artschool knockoff” of that! “I passed Bobby” is NOT GOOD ENOUGH. the understanding stops at getting the icon; but at the bottom it says check this, this, and this. the machine can’t do that. “that’s why we have English teachers, right?” individuals need to look at what they’ve done.

“paraphrasing and getting it mixed up with with einstein.” (simple but no simpler)

was working on a meta-tool to mashup all the other tools, because of all the discrepancies.

best result: minor improvement. worst result: abomination. inaccessible and unusable.

picks on Bobby because it’s the name everybody knows; lots of others with their own idiosyncracies. if you give someone a hammer, that doesn’t make them a carpenter.

get away from “gaming the system” to get the “tangible artifact that represents accessibility.”

was at sxsw 04, advanced accessibility presentation. austin accessibility rallies. veen: “I don’t care about accessibility.” “what we in the industry call an ‘oh sh!t’ moment.” he said this, posted it to blog (I think I remember that): because he believed in standards-based design, and thus accessibility problems dropped by the wayside (automagically). (in theory; then again, “communism works, in theory.” my simpsons reference!)

#1 indicator of accessibility: conforming to standards.

but what people heard was the kick off line, and then the hype that standards is all that needs to be done.

three things to do….

designing for people. (hm, tools have trade secrets; can’t trust them.) NIH study in 2004, with ranges of disabilities. “can’t grasp or handle small objects” — 2.2 million (18-64 yrs old). huh. total is 3.8 million. hockey-sticks at 65…which is the fastest-growing group of users (and just people in general). vision trouble: 13.3 million (18-64) — not blind but poor vision. and the usual problems with IE and text-resizing.

getting into hearing loss issues, costs of captions. 11.9 percent of 18-64, and then 1 in 6 over 65. “numbers don’t lie”

you don’t hear from people, because they learn to work around.

I missed the ADHD number. And then attention deficit trait (13% of people in IT industry?!). attention span issues.

designing for standards. beneficial specifically because contract between producer and user agent. when you understand how things are rendered in alt devices, etc., you are providing better information. (this is a list with 35 links, vs. line-breaks, etc.)

people using CMSs? about half. (we are a mishmash.) can be a good thing. when you have a system that goes off the rails, fixing accessibility problems can be a bigger problem. fixing templates: easy to improve lots all at once! but if the stuff inside is junk, job could be a lot harder. “just type your stuff into here” but no knowledge among those people about what to do with images, etc.

question about finding people. I missed some of the answer, because I wasn’t paying much attention, because I know where I can find them, I just need to DO it.

problems with captioning and small sizes of video? script? recreate captions? audio description? help? cross-player problems with UI. ability to display SMIL/SAMI (?) captions outside of the bounding box. best advice: …question about what’s being used… Magpie is captioning software. WGBH. sounds like she’s getting already-captioned video from video group.

Oregon institute on disabilities, etc. really fscking long name. local guy, offering his assistance to locals. more similar centers nationwide (ADA). good for finding testers.

the basics on images, link images. text equivalents for rich media, captions for video.

layout: hope-building exercise. layout tables are not necessarily inaccessible. but often symptomatic of an older system of design. (I don’t do tables. Haven’t for years.) fixed vs. liquid. good news: browsers that scale up the whole page. IE7, apparently. Opera does the same thing. also familiar, the trouble with px in font sizing.

contrast. outside of black on white, the math gets complicated. grey on grey = bad! soothing, but unreadable. who has best refs? I thought he mentioned joe clark (I was distracted again).

tables, data style. communicate using the semantics of the table. there was a conference in DC just on data tables; he’ll cover in 90 seconds. use th! *scope* for disambiguation. okay, that does work.

forms. label is really cool! (I explained it to Tom yesterday.) find alternatives to form.submit and other JS-only stuff. bigger problem than

navigation. ugh, it’s 2006. “click here” is evil. use structure. device-independent menus (dropdown)

honestly, nothing is especially new to me here in terms of techniques, although I greatly enjoy his presentation style.

CAPTCHA: his particular hobbyhorse. pandora’s box.

q on captcha: on blog, had 2700 spam comments, and captcha stopped it. what else to do? Matt uses spam karma 2 (for WP), and has great success. a high value target will attract mechanized defeat of captcha. “the club lock of web security.”

improving front-end architecture

SRO! and I was out in the hall during break, so now I’m in the front row.

housekeeping, blah blah blah. I should be in the back, given how much I type, but I’ll just have to be light of fingers.

long I in Dimon, fyi.

investment in the future, for the long term. (hey, that sounds like my work!) takes more time to build something correctly.

short-term costs cross with long-term costs. I know all about those long-term costs! training others to know what’s in your head.

“nobody wants to go near it” (hmmm, I’m thinking about the crazy underlying code on a couple of projects….)

entropy! once it’s built it’s done: not true. ah, “total cost of ownership” broken window theory. less investment in fixing problems: and before you know it, it’s just trash.

stop and think: “what’s this going to cost me?”

myth of separation. to some extent it’s true, as an ideal…a target.

be looking for the simplest solution. example: the print stylesheet.

grid of typographic choices. considering the limitations of various options. oh, hey, that’s a great chart to print out and share. any time you want to have “beautiful headlines” you need to go through this sort of decision process. (rework that grid as a decision tree?)


Dallas Morning News. “if they didn’t have exclusive content on the Mavericks, I wouldn’t ever go there” can’t tell the difference between content & advertising. hard to click on the navigation items. code view: bleh! “heavy, ugly, hard to read”

contrast: NYT. “it feels like a newspaper” and the underlying code is easy to read.

and DMN hasn’t updated in ages, while NYT has been able to change.

myspace. craziest selector in custom(user) CSS I have EVER seen.

bubbles! all the elements of front-end design. backend bleeds into frontend.

useragents: touch of some of those. what you support influences how you construct your site. (on Pierce: IE 6 is close to 90%, Firefox is closing on 10%.) and “how much sleep you’ll lose”

“I, for one, welcome our browser overlords.” — knowing that IE 6 is going to take another 3 hours of our time. (sigh.)

but hey, it’s gotten better!

markup is the technical foundation. treat it like a craft. (hell yeah!) “is this really the right tag for this job.”

first front-end improvement: ditch the (layout) tables.

microformats…might not take off, but any time you invest in learning, the better your markup will be.

accessibility, and again markup is the foundation/root.

css also touches a few areas in the bubble chart.

the problems of browser hacks: what is the cost?

being bulletproof; go Dan C.! scaling. (always an issue with navigation, I think.) encouraging reading Dan’s book.

lots of crazy options.

scripting. oh, the dark days. (and one reason why I never quite got my brain around JS.) photo of Jeremy Keith & his book. now we can do clean beautiful things across browsers. renaissance! “can’t recommend this book (JK) enough.” (me too.)

and the libraries & frameworks. handcoding is like a hand tool (saw), libraries are a power tool (circular saw): powerful but potentially dangerous. (hm. I can’t use our circular saw at home, because it’s too damn heavy.)

not the best investment to use JS to make dropdowns look pretty. just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD. scripting is for behavior. is the font tag of DOM Scripting. 🙂 this.className! CSS where it belongs.

AJAX is what got him thinking about front-end architecture.

Jurassic Park quote! again, not thinking about “should”

traditional model graph. vs. partial page loads. quote from JK, about planning for AJAX from beginning, but implementing at end. Hijax.

response format options. XML, HTML, or JSON? know advantages & disadvantages. if API in place, maybe use XML (also: “pure”), etc. quirksmode article link.

macroom used 32 GB with AJAX instead of 196GB of bandwidth during live keynote. (how?)

accessibility & ajax? ideally, it would just work great. but screenreaders want to start at a page, read through, link, etc. (lather, rinse, repeat). keep an eye out!

accessibility. most people, first response: screenreaders. but it’s bigger than that! 2nd only to project management in areas that it touches.

reiterate…vision isn’t the only disability.

example, plazes. uses google maps to represent your friends, who’s nearby. “this map is never going to be accessible to someone who can’t see” and it becomes a contact issue. the addition (that they never implemented) is to include text that describes where your friends are in relation to you. and then use that content & microformats to generate the map info! (whoa.) is the content even on the page that people need access to. (remember this for the map discussion with Carolyn when I get back.)

labels are just the beginning. what happens with error messages? he’s working with featherstone to find the happy medium: accessible & attractive.

social responsibility. also legal? (it’s in our guidelines!) validators are only a start…too much that you have to *understand* to make right. example of color-blindness.

inherent benefits beyond… theoretically, better markup, usability (fitt’s law — do people know about clicking on label text?!), SEO.

design — softer topics. we can do more usable things than in the greenscreen days!

engineers vs. designers. (I *think* I tend to slip right in the middle there.) seeing the big picture.

“undesign is the new black” — ebay, craigslist, myspace. the right design for the job.

WaMu redesigned to look like craigslist? yipes! building trust involves the right design.

usability. user testing doesn’t necessarily get us what we need. lies, damn lies & stats. more important to understand the people. (one good reason to videotape.)

heat maps? isn’t it 80% common sense? don’t necessarily NEED these tools to get there.

(neilson) good info, but take w/grain of salt? why? because he’s so tunnel-vision.

IA. google news vs. google finance. design driven by content. prototyping choices. another one of those cool grids. includes “getting real”! what’s a PDD?

tagging in a bugtracker? crazy idea! (bad crazy) because this is an application that needs precision.

content: red-headed stepchild. (no sh!t) content dominoes: cool design, great IA, but yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll drop the content in later, and it doesn’t fit! and you have to change everything else. (this is the reason that Don & I do greyscale.)

content will change. build pages that accomodate that.

flash. he doesn’t love it a whole lot, but it can fit in nicely. sIFR. takes tinkering, touches a lot of areas, but balances issues nicely.

backend. presentation layer. .Net tags output markup on their own. disconnects! engineers need to understand what happens.

elegant integration. “oh, wow, I’ll have this integrated in like 20 minutes.”

IA & content affect the database, presentation can effect (a/e?!) queries.

project mgmt. loosely related, but touches everything. managing change, costs.

need specialists, managing them and their “special egos” — need to take the objective view to make the right decision.

whole > sum(parts).

is the form project done? no. IE6 is the big problem.

selling accessibility? yes/no. if required: easy. if not: sell other benefits. clients latch on to SEO bennies. rarely is it a lot more expensive; easy just to do as you go w/out telling, and then you look good later.

web designer at a software co, engineers are all into agile design & think front-end design is archaic. help? it’s a conversation, showing articles, ongoing education. open the line of communication. spend more time with them. introduce them to 37signals concepts, because they combine “getting real” (agile-like) with a focus on design.

designing for community

“we want to be the myspace of financial traders” !!! ? — his articles on the topic.

one-way web vs. two-way web. best way to describe what web 2.0 really is.

(why yes, I am still getting going.) where people interacting with each other improve the site. most examples will be from the news industry, because that’s where his interests are now.

one-way web example: NYT. great site, but the expert POV.

WaPo, with holovaty, is going more two-way.

the inverted pyramid: all the important stuff at the top. (goes back to the Civil War era?!)

how did it get started? in a panel he was on recently, 4 different people had 4 different people. now, in syndication, don’t know how much room will be available, so make it cut-able.

newsvine approach is the hourglass, as it tapers off, the comments take off and go into other directions. “hey, I shot a guy in the face there too.”

increasing loyalty by allowing comments.

“much more leveragable”? CNN (200 people) vs newsvine (6 people).

goals of sites. review sites want good reviews across genres. social bookmarking wants people who know what tags are. corked…started because owner wanted to know more about why. finding people who share similar interests.

more than just being social. friendster didn’t do anything but be social networking. in comparison to flickr: social network on top of a great photo service.

never lose site of what your product is separate from the social networking aspect.

active vs. passive users. pay attention to your passive user: everybody starts that way. (who are the passive users on OlyBlog? what do they want/need?) the 1%, 10% of users who create/mixup content need the audience of the 90%.

newsvine: a story that has a lot of votes and no comments is interesting, but non-controversial (or uncomfortable to comment on), or a story with a ton of comments but view votes. “bush acknowledges racism still exists…getting smarter [sotto voce]” best thing is a story with a lot of votes AND a lot of comments.

hmmmm…C might dig newsvine. he loves Google News, and it looks like a souped-version.

delicious hasn’t paid attention to the passive user, which may be creating a barrier to entry. (he asked if anybody had to explain it, and I popped up with my experience with C. took freaking FOREVER, but now he loves it.)

worst example: mark canter’s people aggregator. (hm, that’s baffling looking.) entertaining usability bashing. 🙂 video: “control all the people in your network”?! mmmm, buzzword-tastic. plus, randomly, his kids.

marc canter has his own category on valleywag.

dipping toes in the water, with customizing w/out registering. example: findory. (like the personal list feature on our directory. oh, hey, that gives me an idea.) and moderating.

make registration as light as possible. newsvine is reducing their already light registration form. ajax for checking what names are available. (oooh, try that for book exchange!)

give people something to do immediately after registration.

reputation building. three versions of identity: real identity, anonymity, pseudo-anonymity. real is mostly for stuff like banking. most of what you see in social sites is pseudo-anonymity. (MeFi, OlyBlog, etc., etc.)

how to create a system that rewards good long-time users w/out punishing new/untested users. (look at ebay rating system?) vineacity? get one rung for free. and a 2nd one is easy if you just hang around and don’t do anything.

adjust early & often.

quote from veen: on post “intellectual bargain shopping” — quote from nietzsche. in essence: users aren’t stupid, they’re mentally efficient.


noticed you added chat rooms, and nobody ever seems to use them? what’s up with that? like walking into a bar, don’t see anybody there, and leave. hasn’t done well, esp. in re: how good they thought it was going to be.

how is community interaction working out? newsvine “code of honor” — not anarchy! (cute graphic.)

business model? we are an advertising-based business. but with only 6 employees, they don’t need a lot of ads. also talking to some other news assets about licensing the technology.

technology? mostly open source. PHP, standards-compliant HTML/CSS. MS-SQL?

the new community

damn it’s cold in here. and I know it’s crazy hot outside. sounds like it could be record-breaking over the weekend, up into the 90s. it always is when I go to Webvisions.

dude, Nick Finck is following me! huh, Derek designed the blogger logo.

he’s a darn lively speaker.

virtual community. his book in 2000, in the last part of the last chapter, 4 pages about blogging. now you can’t talk about virtual community w/out talking about blogging.

“feels like something slightly new going on”

grrr…he’s reading his slides.

definition of community “you know it when you see/feel it” ability to use voice in public/immediate way forming relationships over time. (that works for me.)

george pullman: the company town. what happens when one guy controls the whole community. cut everybody’s salary, but left up prices/rents. “they burnt that sh!t down”

bulletin boards, usenet (blah blah blah), the well: as the company town.

blogs: you are your own company town. shows of hands to prove idea of decentralized conversations, commenting on other people’s ideas. (pace Ralph’s commentary on that topic.)

connective tissue, sidewalks of the intarwebs. “trackbacks, which are more or less dead” and all the usual stuff, technorati, blogrolls, and so on and so forth. “nobody’s talking about that one.”

boingboing used to have comments, but everybody picked on everybody else. “nobody graffiti’s their own house”

aggregators, by interest or location. pb on the spot!

as the age of company town diminishes, how will we find each other?

memes as proof of life. (four things. hey, did any/all of the people I tagged actually do it?)

what’s different? is this good for us? he thinks so. no boss-man can turn you out. human-scale …the vastness is part of why I dropped off of mefi.

“no one to cry to when someone is mean to you” (am reminded of joeclark: he just cries out to the whole world. ;))

flickr is a company town; manager: “she’s my wife, she’s very nice.” but they understand that they live in a different world; more ways to get pics out than in. (tho they aren’t EASY now.)

when amazon started, you could post your review, lots of reviews, but no way to show “joe’s awesome reviews” until the common POV changed.

livejournal, also a company town, but allows public/private boundaries.

when you think about real-life communication, we don’t talk to the whole world at once. we wear different hats. he thinks this thing we’re doing — same to everybody — will be seen as a historic anomaly. (vs. joeclark & the death of privacy)

if you run a company town “turns out we’re really the man!” (OlyBlog?) — treat them well: you need them more than they need you. “anybody who says ‘we’re creating community’ is lying to you.” example of JPG Magazine: instead of starting their own tool, they created a flickr group. go to where they are. look for the communities that pre-exist: there’s already a community for almost everything.

life cycle ideas of online community….

“nowhere to go but up” yay! optimism!

comment from audience: threadless, on profile pages, has places to pull in flickr photos, delicious links,, own blog, etc. acknowledgement of diversity of selves?

“maybe that’s where the e from flickr went” superglue

“less of a social benefit to being a dickhead” in a decentralized system.

“the gentleman mentions fray” — a company town: he picked/edited/created questions, etc. wanted people to tell stories, but now that’s happening all the time, all over. if it comes back, it’ll have to be different.

what piece of the puzzle is still missing? if he could invent a fantasy tool, talk directly to our communities w/out being a company town. making it/blogosphere smarter about human relationships w/out anybody being in charge.

what about 9rules, etc.? (I’m checking my email, etc., instead of paying attention.)

how does bringing money in change the community? (mefi has a “cover charge” now) in the decentralized model, money doesn’t come into it, except to create the site. “ask matt” of course, people in the audience already know the answers. example of craigslist charging people who “should pay”.

mobile phones & mobile web

Nick doing the intro again! Original presenter couldn’t make it, so his (Nick’s) business partner Brian Fling is speaking instead. Brian runs Idea Day (?)…one of the few mobile experts [in the US, as the Norwegians (or Asians!) will tell you]. runs (did I get that right?) blue favor director of strategy.

Brian used to work for, and is inspired by, the planned presenter. Will be mashing up both presentations. One person has some experience, the rest of us are blank stares.

Mobile is not the Web. Can’t just go buy a book and figure it out. 200+ devices in north america. (1000+ devices worldwide) device fragmentation is a huge part of the problem. and then…30+ browsers. hail mary mother of jeebus. some hope: a lot of them are various flavors of a previous version. most phones are locked down. carrier controlled ecosystem. no sh!t. napster would never happen with mobile. “to make it a better experience” but also a frustration. I/O limitations. not a lot of resources available: if David hadn’t been a close personal friend, he wouldn’t be where he is today. (!!!!) “Mobile Mondays” “no standards” — but that’s not true; more standardized in some ways because of the controlled ecosystem. and consumers (in US) don’t “get it”. (And in US it’s painfully expensive, IMHO.)

goddamn telcos.

jargon alert: “G” – 1G to 3G, with some decimal points in between. 1G …omg, I used to babysit some kids of a guy who had one of those, “car phone”! 2G, not so clunky, but just phones. “2.5G” is about where we are now…cheaper airtime. data capacity, but not much use. or we are at 3G?

LBS: location-based services. GPS chips, location-aware. locality to information.

skipping thru a bunch of stuff. ARPU — average revenue per user. or, how the carrier fsck over the consumer by charging for one thing 72 different ways. also, see Walled Garden. (Ala ye olde AOL.)

chart of carriers w/networks, platforms, etc.

some questions about walled garden issues, streaming, etc. storage space? (I jumped over to email briefly.)

awesome graphic! the device bomb. and then a big grid of pictures of phones.

mvno: mobile virtual network operator. Virgin, ESPN, etc. run on top of an operator/carrier platform. models by carrier, only double it to go back a year or two.

motorola is huge because of popular because of the razr: every carrier has them.

1 1/2% of phones are windows mobile….

pick 5 popular phone to support. how to know what’s popular? see what they’re giving away for free. 🙂 check periodically. people always go for the cheepest phone.

184 available devices available. 38 have audio playback, 64 have video streaming or playback. (it was kind of a PITA to find a tmo phone that plays music.)

Java/BREW support. Verizon is BREW, all else is Java.

more devices in US that support Flash Lite? No. hasn’t been released yet. Samsung has adopted for phone UI.

US is only country he knows of that subsidizes phones, and that drives the slowness of uptake.

Overwhelming majority of phones are “feature phones” — 120 px wide! presentation is on the website.

how many people are taking advantage of the features? and he goes on to talk about all the crazy nifty things that CAN be done. but it’s not happening. early failures. “mobile’s been hyped up.” spent more time talking with lawyers to do licensing for music/ringtones….

people still see their phones as phones.

getting cheaper to get better connection.

prediction: “mobile will revolutionize the way we gather & interact with information in the next three years.”

GOGL SMS queries.

zeldman’s head popping up randomly on the web 3.0 slide.

what do you serve by being mobile? find a need & fill it. nice chart/grid that he almost flashed past. (lots of little iterations, between hardware issues and connections to carriers.) wurfl( — open source database of phones.

how do you understand the limitations of each carrier? way he’s seen it solved in the past: have one contact at each carrier. (yeah, as if.) wikipedia (!) has info about carriers in North America. huh.

W3C believes in one web, with CSS to control the presentation. “.mobi” domain breaks the web in a fundamental way, according to TBL.

one web vs. mobile web debate.

options… the do-nothing approach. php script that strips stuff (other sorts of progammatical reformatting). alternate stylesheets. “handheld” to automagically reformat visuals.

stylesheet methodology doesn’t address context issues.

“mobile publishing is easy.” throw WML out unless you have extra resources. use XHTML.

I wonder what would be useful for students? (send me my schedule by SMS?)

questions about us vs. the rest of the industrialized world. japanese don’t have computers, so they use the phone. average US house has 1 1/2 computers, plus we are a ginormous country. (no mention of the endless bullsh!t that the telcos put us through.)

reminder service as a great example. if I paid for the bigger SMS plan, I’d probably use something like that. 🙂 again, I think that might be a nice spot for us.

publishing tools “like Movable Type” make perfect mobile web platforms. would wordpress do the same?

slides will be on blue flavor’s site.