February 26, 2004
IA Summit blog
If you're like me and couldn't make the IA Summit this year (rats!), you may be able to live vicariously throught the IA Summit blog. See also Mike Lee's moblog. Since he's a thousand or two miles away from home, we'll see lots of IA faces instead of Mike's lovely daughter Cianna!
is an inline browser applet for image comparison and manipulation. Users can import images into the applets display area, arrange them in any configuration simply by clicking and dragging, magnify them, and apply basic image processing. The Lightbox will be of potential interest to anyone presenting images on the Web in a context where active comparisonwhat John Unsworth calls a scholarly primitiveis desirable.
There's a screenshot that gives you an idea about how this might be used. Slick!
February 23, 2004
Fun speaker opportunity
Are you attending STC's annual conference in Baltimore's fabulous Inner Harbor in May? Want some more encouragement and/or a fun speaking opportunity? If speakers like Ben Shneiderman, Steve Krug, Ginny Redish, Whitney Quesenbery, Mike Lee, Dirk Knemeyer and Thom Haller don't do it for you, perhaps the idea (and cost savings) of being a speaker yourself may do it! The UID (usability and information design) stem can use just a couple more ID speakers to fill some progression slots that have become available.
In a typical progression, 8-12 speakers with a common theme meet in a large room and speak to 8-10 people at a time, 3x in a 90-minute session. Progressions are casual (no overhead projectors), interactive (meant to include lots of Q&A or discussion), and get you the speaker's discount!
Here are the available progressions. If you're interested, please follow up with Caroline Jarrett (or me, and I'll forward):
UID 5U "Willing and able"
UID 7B "Section 508 for Dummies"
UID 3B "Getting started in usability and information design"
UID 10A "Usability and information design
Feel free to email me if you have any questions or have an idea you want to run by someone.
Otherwise, hope to see you in Baltimore hon!
February 20, 2004
iTunes, Pepsi, and a laugh
More Friday fun. Historians should have a blast with the fact that the power of the Internet is (seemingly) applied to both presidential campaigns and Pepsi iTunes giveaways. So much so, that the traffic to the MacMerc.com site (which describes how not to "lose" the Pepsi challenge) is now around 30 page views/second.
But what really gave me a yuk was this commentary at the end:
You might find it easiest to practice while not in the store. Just buy a few and take them home. Get the knack for the angle, and it isn't that hard to pull off without looking like a huge tool.
Given that you are potentially saving yourself a whopping 99 cents per song, you just have to ask whether it's worth looking like even a small tool :).
Kitchen Stories--a UCD comedy
NPR had a review of Kitchen Stories this morning. It's an independent movie from Norway that's currently only showing in NY and LA, but it sounds like a movie any user-centered designer or ethnographer might find especially interesting.
Here's a detailed synopsis from MovieWeb:
In post-World War II Scandinavia, home science is a booming industry and Sweden's Home Research Institute is conducting studies aimed at standardizing the average household kitchen along the lines of an ultra-efficient assembly-line model. Over time, the researchers discover that simply by organizing the kitchens workstations properly, based on the layout of factories, the benefits (in terms of time, money and physical exertion) for a household could be enormous. Or, as a Swedish ad for the new ideal kitchen of the time put it: "Instead of a housewife having to walk what is the equivalent of Sweden to the Congo during a year of cooking, she now only needs to walk to northern Italy in order to get food on the table."
After thoroughly mapping the Swedish housewifes behavior in the kitchen, scientists at the Institute feel ready to venture beyond their own geographic and gender-based limitations. So, in the early 50s they send 18 observers to the rural farming district of Landstad, Norway, with its surplus of bachelors, to study the kitchen routines of single men.
In order to be on 24-hour call, the observers live in egg-shaped pea-green campers outside each subjects house. From custom-made observation chairs strategically placed high above each kitchen, they study and take notes. The observers must be allowed to come and go as they please, and under no circumstances must they be spoken to or included in kitchen activities. Immediately regretful of having signed up to be observed, Isak (who thought that by doing so he would be given a horse) makes it ridiculously difficult for Folke to analyze him. But small kindnesses whittle away at the wall between them, and they embark on a tentative friendship, much to the chagrin of Folke's by-the-book supervisor, who has zero tolerance for any deviations in this "scientific" inquiry.
DC's not exactly Podunk, Iowa, so perhaps it will show up here. (As an aside, I did not know that there are five Podunk's in the US. None are in Iowa.)
February 05, 2004
See Ralph not run
If you're not sure, or you want a good place to argue with folks about it, see Lessig's take on the situation.
February 04, 2004
No wonder tech writers are insecure
Here's a snippet from a solicitation for a technical writer on a local list:
This person will be developing a template or boilerplate of an Operations Manual for the IT Department. And the individual IT managers will be filling it with the content.
Alas, it was posted by a recruiter, so I don't know what fabulous company this is for. What's that Virginia Slims tagline?
You've come a long way, baby.
Making a living writing doing tech writing can be a tough sell, considering that your average person (or organization) may not value something we all learned to do when we were in first grade. Of course, I don't need to tell you that good writing--like good design--is both an art and a science.
Here's hoping the transformation work is successful!
Now that's music to my ears
Here's a cool toy for music fans. You plug the Beamit (see right) into any headphone jack and it sends the signal to an FM radio.
I can see using it to easily have a carful of tunes for the trek from DC to daBurgh. Or I can use it in my office, which gets terrible radio reception. Or even at home when the CD changer just isn't enough variety. Slick!
IDblog is Beth Mazur tilting at power law windmills. A little bit Internet, a little bit technology, a little bit society, and a lot about designing useful information products. Send your cards and letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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