This has always been one of my favorite error messages:
"... anything that you might have done that may have caused the error." I suppose from a geek perspective, this is what errors tend to look like: problems caused by people who just won't leave the system alone. It was so peaceful until you went and used it. (Note to sysadmin: I typed in a URL. Sorry.)
A little dated (1997) but still useful, this paper by Ruhleder and Jordan looks at the use of video recording in workplace ethnography and distributed collaboration. Includes both pros and cons.
[via Mobile Community Design]
In one of those instances where critique is more interesting that the object of critique, J.G. Ballard analyzes the TV show C.S.I. in an essay at The Guardian.
In C.S.I., not only are there no cars, but there are no guns. The team wear sidearms, but I have rarely seen a gun drawn in self-defence, let alone fired. The only bullets discharged end up in calibrated water tanks. The assumption is clearly made that reason and logic need never rely on anything so crude as brute force. No cars, no guns and, even more significant, no emotions, except in the flashbacks to the actual crime.
Every viewer knows that the only people who show emotion in C.S.I. are about to be dead.
[via Beyond the Beyond]
If you've tried designing useful icons, you probably know it's harder than it looks. (If you've tried it and it was easy, I hate you.) Ro Landon has a collection of 300 small icons he gathered from 1,800 websites. As Landon says, this isn't an encouragement to simply copy them--but looking at previous work is a good way to jumpstart your own process.
[via Future Feeder]
During a meeting yesterday, I looked down at the folder I'd grabbed to put a bunch of papers in from the "folders to recycle" stack on my desk before the meeting. According to the label on the top of the folder, it's older than I am. (Slightly.)
The Newsbreakers' repertory of characters includes Cheese Ninja, who cavorts in the background of live news broadcasts, derisively tossing slices of processed cheese, and Jiminy Diz, a supposed newspaper reporter, wearing a loud jacket and a hat with a "Press" card in the band, who is angry with local television news for lifting reports from the morning paper.
During the busts, one Newsbreaker watches and records the newscast, telling the Newsbreaker provocateur through a hands-free cellphone earpiece when he is in the camera frame and when to make himself scarce for a while if the report switches over to a taped segment. The group sends its own cameraman to record a Newsbreakers'-eye view of the bust, tape that is then mixed into the actual newscast tape, along with music and graphics. The results are then posted online at newsbreakers.org.
Web Zen this week: Television Zen. Topics range from a collection of test card patterns and Ben Sinclair's Law and Order Plot Generator to theme songs from Canadian children's shows from the 1970s and 1980s.
David Durand and Noah Wardrip-Fruin discuss Cardplay, a framework for "playing" hypertext in a way similar to the way one plays a game:
In Cardplay, we are trying to create a textual instrument whose center of gravity is clearly literary, focused on the creation of a work, a play, that is in some senses conventionally literary, and yet to make the process of playing the work simultaneously be the the process of playing a game in the most literal sense. In Cardplay, players manipulate virtual cards (each associated with text that is not fully visible to the players), in an attempt to win the card game (Solitaire is also possible). However, a successful play wins points when the card played interacts with other cards played to advance the creation of the script of a play, whose transcript accumulates and may be saved. Copyright in the result may be automatically granted to the winner of the game, by the program, on the successful completion of the game. Players of the game are thus in competition with each other to advance the story. Unlike many interactive fictions, however, neither player is identified with a character in the ongoing story, nor is the plot of the story necessarily determinative of victory in the game.
[via Mark Bernstein]
Les Paul turns 90. (Many more interesting links at the metafilter post linked to in the previous sentence.)
Clay Spinuzzi is looking for contributors to a special issue of Technical Communication Quarterly on Distributed Work.
Nina Gordon, ex-Veruca Salt, covers NWA's Straight Outta Compton in a folkie style [5.5 meg mp3 link].
[via Boing Boing]
I neglected to mention that I'll be more or less offline for the next several weeks. I've disabled comments (I think), although this may not be obvious since the result of the flag I set in the comments code has the effect of just making the comments not work--attempting to make a comment just generates an error message rather than politely telling you that I've disabled the comments.