June 28, 2004
Clement Mok revisited
Jess had a pointer to an interview with Clement Mok from last fall that I'd seen but not really read carefully. In some respects, it is a follow on to his Designers: Time for a Change article from May 2004.
What's interesting is that he makes reference to a new organization (in the formative stage) called the American Design Council. I'll certainly be interested to hear more, since I'm really interested in the concept. It's nice to see that Jeff was kind enough to also link to a post of mine on this subject from a year ago...interestingly, I think it holds up relatively well.
I can't wait to see how things shake out (if you know what I mean).
Sorry...this is long, and it is a bit off-topic. Skip it if you aren't into political posts!
Shocker, I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 this past weekend. I'd read a few of the "why this movie sucks" reviews beforehand (like this one from Slate by Christopher Hitchens, and this one on Salon (who ran a pro and a con review).
Because of this, my knee wasn't jerked as much as it might have been...I was prepared for the "propaganda" (or what a Salon letter writer more aptly calls counter-propaganda):
Is Moore's work propaganda? Almost. It's counter-propaganda. The Bushies, aided and abetted by almost every organ of the "So-Called Liberal Media," have been propagandizing since 1999; really, since the election of 1992. Even now, Bush and Cheney continue to pretend that Saddam and al-Qaida were in bed together, confident that there will be no loud and sustained resistance to the Big Lie.
The hardest part for me was seeing the woman whose was calling on Allah to avenge her losses (her uncle's home had been bombed and they'd had five funerals because of it). I live in DC, and am just a bit concerned with whether the Bush administration policies will in fact create more terrorism than prevent it. (I was driving to work the other day and wondered when DC would adopt London policies and get rid of its on-street mailboxes and trash cans.)
It didn't exactly help to read an interview with Mark Federman of the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology (you know, the medium is the message people) who theorizes that the US will see a Spain-like episode in terrorism meant to affect our elections. What's more shocking is one of his scenarios for responding to this:
Here is a hypothetical. What does the world do, never mind what America does, if they say we are postponing the election to even January from November. What does the world do in response? Well, what does the United States do to a rogue nation? It cuts off trade. It embargoes trade. It freezes currency. What would happen if the world said, 'you have become a rogue nation'? Look at the definition of a rogue nation: democratic rights are suspended. If that happensand man, I'm painting this doomsday scenario, and its pains me that the idea even comes forwardbut if the democratic rights are suspended... We know the constitutional Bill of Rights has been suspended. There is lots of evidence of that. That has already been done. The biggest stocks of weapons of mass destruction exist in the United States. They have used them in the past.
Yikes. All it all, it's not really about whether Michael Moore is a crappy filmmaker, is it?
Anyways, I was both relieved and distressed to read this article about dirty bombs from MIT's Technology Review. It's nice to know that the radiation won't kill you, but the whole evacuation/decontamination scenarios are pretty damned depressing in themselves. (As an aside, it took me over an hour to get out of my parking garage in downtown DC when we were evacuated on 9/11. It sounds like hanging out in the office next time makes a lot more sense.)
Anyways, I'm not adding Michael Moore to my list of "fair and balanced" reporting sources any more than I'd add Bill O'Reilly. But I was glad to find Media Matters for America. That and FactCheck.org are going to be on the regular bookmark list from now 'til November.
June 23, 2004
Beth does the usability.gov guidelines
First, my apologies for going MIA there...I did a long family reunion weekend which wound up turning into a longer time away (sans computer) than I'd planned. Mea culpa! Thanks to those who inquired where I was.
Before I left on vacation, I was inspired by two serendipitous events: one was Andrei's Design Eye for the Usability Guy post in mid-May, the other was getting a hard copy of the Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines from Sanjay Koyani before his appearance at the STC conference in Baltimore. (I'd been lusting over a print version since I'd seen it last fall.)
After Andrei's post, I started thinking that I really wanted to provide something of some value to the community besides my own blatherings. After getting the book from Sanjay, my thought was that as good as the printed book was, it'd be nice to be able to slice and dice the guidelines in different ways.
So...I dusted off my very rusty Perl skills and spent a couple of hours building some indexes into the PDF version of the guidelines on the usability.gov site. A few trips to online docs regarding hashes later, I had indexes by chapter, title, importance, strength of evidence, and a new score that I callled relative score (which was just a product of the importance and evidence scores).
I sent the resulting pages off to Sanjay, and I'm happy to say that they decided these indexes were useful enough to post on their site. The folks from HHS made some minor tweaks to my column headings and added the "How to Use..." page. They were also nice enough to move the credit I'd put at the bottom of the page up top.
Anyways, I hope others find this useful!
June 07, 2004
Information design goodies
June 03, 2004
BusinessWeek on wikis
BusinessWeek has an article on wikis that's worth a read if you're a fan of the tool (as I am). They note that "wiki-wiki" is the Hawaiian word for "quick" (it's the name of the shuttle buses at the Honolulu airport--see right).
The article credits Ward Cunningham as the father of wikis, but doesn't provide a link (that's easily remedied). It does point to some well-known wikis (like wikipedia) and also some other interesting wikis (like those at OpenGuides).
Thanks to John Robb for the pointer.
A book for your next flight
I was using Bloglines neat references feature to see who had linked to yesterday's geek item. It turns out that Jim McGee is a Super Geek. More importantly, he had a couple of items in his weblog I found very interesting. First, there was this pointer to a more detailed analysis of the girls are evil proof (the comments are good too).
He also had a link to this cool looking book called Window Seat by Gregory Dicum:
Window Seat decodes the sights to be seen on any flight across North America. Broken down by region, this handy little softcover book features 70 aerial photographs; a fold-out map of North America showing major flight paths; profiles of each region covering its landforms, waterways, and cities; tips on spotting major and not-so-major sights; and straightforward, friendly text on cloud shapes, weather patterns, the continent's history, and more.
Here's a sample page:
June 02, 2004
Are you a geek?
Ken always finds the good tests. He's a a "Total Geek" with a score of 26.23274% (gotta love that precision). I, on the other hand, am a "Poser" with a score of 6.1144%. I'm not sure that's a bad thing :).
Karen Schriver on document design
Karen Schriver was across the pond recently, where she presented a session on The Changing Face of Document Design and Technical Communication at the STIC symposium in the Netherlands. I'd love a more annotated PowerPoint, but I found some of the slides interesting nonetheless...it's worth the ~1Mb download to review her trends and implications. One slide that caught my eye was her trends in professional development, which she mapped as follows:
Those of you who hate the what's in a name kind of discussions may not be interested, but I certainly appreciate the effort. I'd love to quibble with Karen over the doc design/info design/info architecture borders, but hey, I love to quibble :).
Thanks to InfoDesign for the pointer.
June 01, 2004
My 15 minutes of fame
Blush...I'm the June profile at one of my favorite sites: InfoDesign. This was actually quite fun, and my thanks go to Peter for the opportunity. It took me longer than I thought to come up with answers, and some of them were quite tough...you try and pick the most important social change...I couldn't. Civil rights, women's rights, the Internet, oh my!
And picking a best place on Earth?!? Yikes! I'm not sure I've been there yet, but of the places I've been, Boston (which really means Boston/Cambridge/Somerville and beyond) is the one I'd go back to (and I hope to!).
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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