July 30, 2004
Out of Office
Thanks for your email. I will be away on holiday at a fab beach house in the Outer Banks (thanks Dad!) until mid-August and I will not be checking email during that period. If something is very urgent, look for me on the other side of the dune.
Design Studies Forum
Want more email? Then check out the Design Studies Forum list:
Design Studies Forum (DSF) is a College Art Association Affiliated Society. Founded as Design Forum in 1983 and renamed in 2004, Design Studies Forum seeks to nurture and encourage the study of design history, criticism, and theory and to foster better communication among the academic and design communities. DSF's 225 members include practicing designers, design historians/critics, and museum professionals.
Thanks to Ken Friedman (of PHD-DESIGN list fame) for the pointer.
July 29, 2004
It won't hurt...please give!
<bleeding-heart liberal on>
After he accepts the nomination for president tonight, John Kerry is expected to accept $75M in public financing, which means he can no longer accept (or spend) money from donors. George Bush is expected to follow the same path, but because the Republican National Convention is 5 weeks later than the Dems, he has more time to spend the $$$ he's raised.
According to Salon, Joe Trippi thinks that Kerry should take the risk and reject this public financing. But Salon points out that this route means that "if Kerry revved up his fundraising machine again he'd be competing with national Democratic congressional and state candidates." There's also the risk of "unleashing a new campaign-contribution arms race that the GOP would in the end win, given its superior resource base."
Well, what this means to me is that for the first time, I'm planning to donate money to the Democratic National Committee, which has just pledged to spend $6 million in August to make sure that W isn't the only one on the airwaves.
Please...pass it on.
July 28, 2004
Announcing UXnet: What Lou said...
I've been waiting for Lou to go first, and he has:
Besides a minor quibble (it was UPA and DUX that were scheduled at the same time), Lou has really said this wonderfully. Please read the whole post and not just the part I've shamelessly stolen. Or visit the UXnet site and become part of the community. As Lou says:
But there's so much promise in this concept; what we right need now is support, encouragement and, perhaps, a little courage. And soon, volunteers.
Oh, and we're working on the $$ issue too :).
Who signed off on this copy :)
Well, perhaps it's not as bad as the Washington Post handing out
"10,000 copies of a special convention issue of the daily, complete with the dated banner headline 'Election 2000'" (ouch!), but I was amused to see this typo splashed up on yesterday's ultramercial on Salon:
July 27, 2004
CFP: STC Annual Conference, Seattle, May 8-11, 2005
Do you have something to share about information architecture, usability, or information design? Then STC, the Society for Technical Communication, would like to hear from you! We're currently accepting proposals for our next annual conference.
"That's a tech writers conference." you say. Well, yes, there are many tech writers who attend. But STC is home to several thousand members who belong to its usability, information design, online, and indexing special interest groups, and our conferences attract many outside the "traditional" realm of writing and editing.
Here's just a sampling from last year's conference in Baltimore:
You can also see more sessions from last year.
Speakers receive a discount on an otherwise value-priced conference. We also welcome speakers from all levels, as our conference attracts those who are new to the field as well as those who have been in the field for decades. And Seattle is a *wonderful* conference city, with the conference is located in the heart of downtown.
To see the full Call or to submit a proposal, please visit the STC CFP site soon.
The deadline for proposals is 12 noon ET, August 12, 2004.
Postscript: Suspended from TECHWR-L
Ouch. He also included the list rules. They say that "If it is an ad of any sort, don't post it." And that I'm to "Direct all commentary about this message to my address, not the list."
Well, as I was spanked publically, I'd like to respond that way:
Mea culpa...I didn't make the "call for proposals" == "ad" connection. I guess it's a lame excuse, and it's your right to generate revenue. Had I even remotely thought of it as an ad, I would probably have checked your no ads unless you pay policy.
I guess I was suspended because I made this same infraction before, but if Eric emailed me last time, I blanked it out of my mind because it doesn't make any more sense to me now than it would have in the past. And I think I'm also guilty of misremembering a more friendly connection between STC and TECHWR-L years ago (having more senior moments these days). Fortunately for the list members, my suspension will prevent me from making this mistake (or intentional list abuse -- your call) again.
July 25, 2004
More on blog spam
For quite a while, I've been moderating comments as a way to deal with blog spam (here are the the steps I followed back then).
This has worked relatively well, except for the case where you get auto-spammed...where someone posts tens or hundreds of a spam at the same time. So, what I've done is modify the version of mt-comments-pending.cgi that David Raynes wrote to do two things:
You can find my version of mt-comments-pending.cgi here (saved as mt-comments-pending.txt). I also recommend that you check out Elise's great spam tutorial for other ways to get a handle on blog spam.
Adwords and content sites
So David Weinberger pointed to an entry of Tim Bray's on photo integrity -- or rather the "lack" of it. In other words, in the world of digital cameras and Photoshop, don't go looking for truth in pixels.
But what I found very amusing were the ads that Google was serving up
on Tim's entry:
Right. An entry on photo retouching (and implicit integrity) and Google is serving up Susan Lucci's "Youthful Essence."
Where I work, we're playing the SEM game, though, like the writer of this article from the NY Times, we know this is a short-term play. At some point, since we're not selling thousand dollar products, we won't be able to pay for relevant search terms. And so far, I've said no to playing in the content space (as opposed to search space), because I don't need our ads showing up in a context that is either completely irrelevant (see above) or even potentially negative.
July 21, 2004
Cats as blog impediments
Gosh, sorry for the light posts lately. I hope to get back in form shortly. In the meantime, I've been meaning to follow Kottke's lead and add a personal cat anecdote to my weblog.
I mean seriously, you try blogging like this!
Yes, I have an upside-down picture frame that sits on two other frames to keep the cats from adding unintentional text. Hint: if you see 9999977777wwwww333 in a post, that wasn't me :).
It was much easier to blog when the cicadas were around!
July 12, 2004
Libraries embrace September project
What if Americans spent the day talking about democracy? What if they had the conversation in their local libraries? What if it all happened on Sept. 11, a date that means so much in the national memory?
Rats...David is now on the West Coast. I'd hoped to run across him one of these days. Anyways, you can see if the project is coming to a library near you via their map or their list of participating libraries.
A blog version of show 'n tell
Into photography? Like stories? Then you'd probably enjoy A Picture's Worth. Here's some info:
Officially launched on the 1st of August 2003, A Picture's Worth is a personal project that aims to highlight the inspiration that can arise from a photograph and to capture it in the form of words which in turn can reveal the true beauty of a photograph. Ultimately, the project seeks to inspire and enhance captivating story writing and beautiful photography.
Some of the photos are really amazing, and ya just gotta love how the whole "word of mouth" thing works. Now to find a photo with a good story...
Blogs, power laws, and assault weapons
Okay, this is a slight off-topic post. Yes, it's political, but it also has interesting implications for those who like to study how blogs are affecting journalism, politics, and culture, and there's even something for info designers.
Tom Mauser has enlisted blogs to help recruit signers for his petition against assault weapons. It's a personal thing for Tom; his 15-year-old son Daniel Mauser was one of 13 people killed at Columbine High School.
For a knee-jerk, left-wing (I say that like that's a bad thing :) perspective, see Ariana Huffington's column in Salon last month:
Attention, al-Qaida sleeper cells, domestic terrorists, school shooters, David Koresh wannabes and bloodthirsty lunatics everywhere: Be sure to mark Sept. 13 in your day planners because -- thanks to President Bush and his GOP pals in Congress -- your murderous missions are about to get a whole lot easier.
Here's the little something extra for the info design fans...a cool map showing
geographic support by bloggers for Tom's petition:
I didn't figure that there would be enough IDblog readers who'd sign to get me over the tail of the power law curve, but feel free to sign on kottke's page if you want to sign with the head of the curve :).
July 07, 2004
In memoriam: John Rheinfrank
How sad...I just received an email that let me know that John Rheinfrank (who I mentioned in an entry just last Saturday) passed away a day later, on the 4th of July.
July 03, 2004
Mining the search logs
It's been quite a while, but I finally got around to reviewing the search logs to see what folks were searching for. Over the years, I've actually found some interesting stuff by doing a Google search for some of these.
But I found a couple of, umm, interesting queries this go-round. Here are some highlights:
Okay, it's an information design weblog (with a few political off-topic posts thrown in). Reality TV? Tornado? I don't think so. And while I have blogged some of these (like Florence Nightingale -- an early info designer), the above search queries are clearly doomed to failure.
Maybe people think it's a Google search? There, picture of Florence Nightingale's lamp returns 250 pages.
That said, these still don't match my favorite search query (from work):
I paid my dues now where's my card?
Which, alas, does not return any results on our site either.
Searching for people is common. Recent searches have been for Mary Yeo, Joyce Yee, and John Rheinfrank. John has quite the impressive pedigree (Scient, Doblin Group, and Fitch). I gotta find out how he wound up in daBurgh!
July 02, 2004
Mobilizing against Nader
Alrighty then...one last off-topic post before the holiday weekend and I'll be caught up.Ouch. Salon recently ran a feature called the dark side of Ralph Nader. They write:
While Nader's legacy as a consumer advocate is unparalleled, it is worth noting that the onetime national hero wasn't celebrating his landmark birthday surrounded by the hundreds of people he has worked with and influenced over four decades. Indeed, virtually no one who worked with him since the heady days of Nader's Raiders is supporting him politically or personally today.
Unlike 2000, it seems that there are more folks that are vocal about Nader's role as a potential spoiler. This time, the Green Party says "no thanks" to Nader as their candidate, and there are groups like United Progressives for Victory (who generated the funny graphic above), Don't Vote Ralph, and the Nader Factor who are getting some press. (Salon claims there is a Nader's Raiders for Kerry group, but I couldn't turn up anything about them on Google).
Now if only I lived in a swing state:
Intro to web fonts
Another list goodie: All you wanted to know about Web type but were afraid to ask. If you like this, be sure to browse the full topic list for more.
Academic publishing web-style
Here are some links related to the publishing of research and other academic works that I've culled off some lists recently:
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.
blogs and wikis
business and design
content and writing
marketing and brands
multimedia & broadband
society & technology
words can't describe
STC Information Design SIG
boxes and arrows
information design journal
aiga experience design
asilomar institute for information architecture
society for technical communication
usability professionals association
gratuitous right-nav promos