November 29, 2005

Search Engine Referrer Logs 8

21 Nov, Mon, 01:51:06 MSN Search: post partum depression and discourse analysis
21 Nov, Mon, 21:34:26 Google: bodoni typeface - appropriate for law firms
22 Nov, Tue, 12:06:53 MSN Search: an example of onomatopeia
22 Nov, Tue, 14:44:20 Google: Johnson & Johnson font
23 Nov, Wed, 10:13:33 Google: Johnson & Johnson FREE FONT
24 Nov, Thu, 11:38:42 Yahoo: mrs eaves free font
25 Nov, Fri, 16:53:14 Google: itc garamond don't like
28 Nov, Mon, 15:32:12 Google: johnson+johndan+music

Posted by johndanseven at 10:31 PM

Information Design: Theory and Practice Example

Maya has a great overview of their diverse design processes, as implemented in their work with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh: contextual inquiry, ethnography, information architecture, prototyping, and strategic design teams. The article is written for a very general audience--people interested in design, but without a background in design theory, practice, or terminology. They cover more approaches than most people will likely integrate into a small project, but a useful summary of the variety of research and design techniques available. Includes many links to research papers based on their work. If nothing else, it'll make you appreciate how much work goes (should go) into good design.

[via Mobile Community Design]

Posted by johndanseven at 10:09 PM

Bringing Presence to Cellphones

Most cellphones currently support only two modes from the perspective of someone trying to call you: you answer or they get your voicemail. Carlo Longino's "Airtime" column at Gizmodo talks about bringing more levels of "presence" to cellphones, drawing on techniques from instant messaging software, among other things. Here's a snip from the longer article:

One of the big selling points of cell phones has always been that they allow people to be reached at any time. While this initially seemed like a good idea, plenty of people now consider it a drawback; they’re tiring of the constant calls from work, the text messages from friends, or the never-ending flow of e-mails to a BlackBerry. Of course, the simplest solution is just to shut the phone off, but that’s sort of an all-or-nothing proposition. What would be really useful would be some sort of status indicator with which users could state some current information—their availability, at the very least, but perhaps their location or their mood, too. This sort of user information is referred to under the umbrella term of 'presence,' and as communication becomes even more pervasive in our lives, it will take on great importance.

The simplest and most basic example of presence is the instant-messaging status message: 'away', 'do not disturb,' 'available,' and so on. But even these have begun to evolve, with many IM programs letting users customize their message to better fit their current state (such as 'in a meeting'). Skype lets users set status to 'Skype Me,' an open invitation for anybody and everybody on the system to chat. This message isn’t just an indicator of availability—it’s also a social signal that tells the world a certain user is looking to interact with fellow humans.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndanseven at 04:18 PM

November 28, 2005

On The Pleasure of Being Pinged

Laura Richards discusses the allure of phatic communication in this week's frog Design Mind at Gizmodo, ranging from instant messenger to Tamagotchis to biofeedback wristwatches:

Phatic communication, a term first coined by anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, is the international linguistic phenomenon of ‘small talk;’ that is, exchanges meant to provide a social connection rather than transmit information. Think about your last ride in an elevator: did everyone suffer silently, or did someone attempt a connection by offering some idle chatter about the weather? That man was engaging in a bit of phatic communication."

[...] Consider iChat; often the content of the messages is secondary to the fact that people simply appreciate being pinged by their online pals. And sometimes just seeing your pals in the list, knowing they are there, is enough to feel socially connected.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:14 PM

November 26, 2005

Binary Grammar

Maybe it's just me, but everytime I see the .sig line

There are 10 types of people in the world ... those who understand binary and those who don't.

I think, "Actually, that's 1, isn't it?" I thought programmers usually started counting with 0 as the first instance. Of course, all of my programming skills are based on knowing things like assembly language on a PDP-11 and advanced Pascal and reading William Gibson novels, so maybe I'm just old.

Posted by johndanseven at 02:03 AM

November 23, 2005

Traffic: Surveillance and Immobility


Being in traffic involves inhabiting an odd space: a vehicle is a closed, bounded, seemingly private space--but one that's pierced all around by windows that subject a person to public gaze. In 1991, Jean-Christian Bourcart began photographing people stuck in traffic jams in NYC. The results are disconcerting and oddly compelling, transgressing the boundaries between public and private.

There is always a traffic jam below my windows on Canal Street. Melancholic and resigned people are waiting in their powerful sedans. Others, in Greyhound or city buses, fall asleep, stricken by the length of the day. They seem protected but lonely. Visible to all, I stand on the sidewalk, examining the traffic, my long telephoto lens ready to capture the anonymous faces through the tinted windshields.

I am conscious of how invasive my practice is. Some people try to hide behind their hands or a magazine.

Others confront my mechanical stare, abandoning their faces to a destiny they know nothing about


The site includes an interview and a link about the book.

[via anne wysocki]

Posted by johndanseven at 11:07 PM

Chilling Effects: WIPO and Freedom of Speech Abuses

Using data from the Chilling Effects Project (which collects cease-and-desist orders related to Internet activity), Jennifer Urban and Laura Quilter have documented rampant abuses of the WIPO Copyright Treaty (the bulk of which is in effect in the US and Europe), primarily related to the treaty's "guilty until proven innocent" rules. The Web version

In this study, we traced the use of the Section 512 takedown process and considered how the usage patterns we found were likely to affect expression or other activities on the Internet. The second level of analysis grew out of the fact that we observed a surprisingly high incidence of flawed takedowns:

  • Thirty percent of notices demanded takedown for claims that presented an obvious question for a court (a clear fair use argument, complaints about uncopyrightable material, and the like);
  • Notices to traditional ISP’s included a substantial number of demands to remove files from peer-to-peer networks (which are not actually covered under the takedown statute, and which an OSP can only honor by terminating the target’s Internet access entirely); and
  • One out of 11 included significant statutory flaws that render the notice unusable (for example, failing to adequately identify infringing material).

In addition, we found some interesting patterns that do not, by themselves, indicate concern, but which are of concern when combined with the fact that one third of the notices depended on questionable claims:

  • Over half—57%—of notices sent to Google to demand removal of links in the index were sent by businesses targeting apparent competitors;
  • Over a third—37%—of the notices sent to Google targeted sites apparently outside the United States.

    As Cory Doctorow at Boing-Boing adds,

    WIPO is now considering an even more sweeping version of the treaty that gave us this regime: the new proposals floating around on ISP liability could force ISPs to not only delete material, but to shut off the Internet access of those who are baselessly accused of infringement.

    [via Boing Boing]

    Posted by johndanseven at 03:45 PM

    November 19, 2005

    Attention, Lectures, and WiFi

    Avi Zenilman has a (somewhat rambling) piece at Slate on the impact of WiFi access on lecture classes at college.

    It could even be that distractions make for better students. Last year, a high-achieving friend of mine—fellowship finalist, budding academic, campus leader—brought the classic video game Quake to class one day, and afterward he claimed that the distraction enhanced his educational experience:

    The part of my brain that handles spatial relationships and tactical thinking is clearly distinct from the part that reads, writes, and analyzes historically. I ended up both winning the game with a well-placed rocket and learning everything [the Prof] said.

    You'd have to be a little dim, as a prof, not to know that there's a substantial amount of off-task work going on in your classes, particularly lectures. WiFi may increase this, but I'm not sure. (Actually, thanks to WiFi, I now do the same thing at faculty meetings.)

    We don't know enough yet about multi-tasking, beyond relatively rudimentary studies about issues like doing math calculations while reading text, to condemn it. And as far as I can tell, such studies don't control for expertise at multi-tasking--it's not the sort of thing everyone is good at. There are things I do that require full, sustained attention, but many others for which partial attention seems better--not just "good enough," but actually better.

    [via Slashdot]

    Posted by johndanseven at 10:18 PM

    November 17, 2005

    History: Design Journal Online (1965-1974)

    The London College of Communication has scanned in and put on the Web all issues of Design Journal from 1965-1974. Includes graphical scans of pages plus ASCII text of the articles for browsing or searching. Useful resource on the history of design during a key period.


    Posted by johndanseven at 12:57 PM

    Rhetorical Analyses of Journalism

    Scott McLemee recounts his work as a representative of "the tribe of journalists," speaking to a group of academics who wanted to know what role academic media critique played in journalism. (He describes his response as "a combination of grunts and hand gestures.")

    McLemee's not a stranger to academic discourse--he namechecks Bourdieu in the first paragraph--and his responses highlight some of the disconnect between academics and the larger culture.

    The most subtle and cogent analysis by a rhetorician of how The Times or CNN frames its stories has all the pertinence to a reporter or editor that a spectrographic analysis of jalapeno powder would to someone cooking chili.

    [via Bill Karis]

    Posted by johndanseven at 10:13 AM

    November 15, 2005

    Are Online Games Going Somewhere?

    Online game designer (Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies) and game theorist (A Theory of Fun--read it if you haven't already) posts the slides from his talk at the Korea Games Conference. As you might expect, not your usual, dull set of bullet points, but more like (as Cory Doctorow put it) a visual poem.

    [via Boing Boing]

    Posted by johndanseven at 04:46 PM

    November 13, 2005

    Messing with Anthropologists

    Since 2000, glass artist Josh Simpson's Infinity Project has been donating small, glass globes to people who agree to hide them in obscure places where, Simpson hopes, they'll later be discovered by perplexed anthropologists (and other curious people). People interested in participating propose a site; if selected, Simpson sends them two of the marble-sized globes, one to place on location and one to keep for themselves.

    More than 1,600 have been placed so far. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute researchers placed several planets undersea during a dive. Others have been placed at mountain peaks, plane-crash sites, inside antique incense burners at museums, and at one of Charles Linburgh's boyhood homes. See the site for a scrapbook and a proposal form (which, in the spirit of the project, Simpson makes you search for).

    [via The Morning News]

    Posted by johndanseven at 01:38 PM

    November 10, 2005

    Pandora: Personalized Internet Radio

    Pandora is now online. An outgrowth of the Music Genome Project, Pandora lets you type in band names or song titles, then generates a streaming music radio station of tracks having similar characteristics. I've only been playing with it for a little while, but it looks promising.

    Each friend told us their favorite artists and songs, explored the music we suggested, gave us feedback, and we in turn made new suggestions. Everybody started joking that we were now their personal DJs.

    We created Pandora so that we can have that same kind of conversation with you.

    The free version includes ads; ad-free versions are $36/year.

    [via Mark Bernstein]

    Posted by johndanseven at 08:09 PM

    November 09, 2005

    On the Appropriateness of Puns


    CBS News website has an otherwise perceptive and well-argued commentary on the Andrea Yates legal case (which involved an overturned conviction, Yates' severe post-partum depression, and the drowning of her five children). The headline seems at odds with a commentary that lays out a case for the appropriate use of the insanity plea.

    Posted by johndanseven at 04:36 PM

    November 08, 2005

    Women in Games

    Online gaming journal The Escapist's issue number 17 has just been released. This issue's topic: Women in Games.

    [via jill/txt]

    Posted by johndanseven at 04:00 PM

    November 05, 2005

    The Impossibility of the Web

    In a Financial Times commentary on the fifteenth anniversary of the first Web page, James Boyle argues that the Web emerged in a rare climate of open protocols, regulations, and copyright openness that has since vanished.

    Why might we not create the web today? The web became hugely popular too quickly to control. The lawyers and policymakers and copyright holders were not there at the time of its conception. What would they have said, had they been? What would a web designed by the World Intellectual Property Organisation or the Disney Corporation have looked like? It would have looked more like pay-television, or Minitel, the French computer network. Beforehand, the logic of control always makes sense. “Allow anyone to connect to the network? Anyone to decide what content to put up? That is a recipe for piracy and pornography."

    And of course it is. But it is also much, much more. The lawyers have learnt their lesson now. The regulation of technological development proceeds apace. When the next disruptive communications technology – the next worldwide web – is thought up, the lawyers and the logic of control will be much more evident. That is not a happy thought.

    [via Slashdot]

    Posted by johndanseven at 10:24 AM

    November 04, 2005

    Creative Commons on Google

    Google now supports searches for CC-licensed material in their advanced search function. (Yahoo offered similar support a while back.) Cool.

    [via Joi Ito's Web]

    Posted by johndanseven at 11:08 AM

    Typographic Crash Course

    particletree offers a useful set of links that's a crash course in typography for all of you who keep saying you've really been meaning to get around to learning more about type. Includes links to resources in history of type, web type, fonts, typographic punctuation, great free fonts, and more. My favorite is the link to "I Hate ITC Garamond," (which particletree labels "How to Hate a Font"). Note: This is an advanced topic. Don't attempt this sort of maneuver if you don't know what a "serif" is. (And I haven't verified this, but I think according to Jan Tschichold "dog poop" is a typographic technical term.)

    The most distinctive element of the typeface is its enormous lower-case x-height. In theory this improves its legibilty, but only in the same way that dog poop's creamy consistency in theory should make it more edible. Some people dislike ITC Garamond because it's a desecration of the sacred memory of Claude Garamond. That part doesn't bother me. For one thing, despite its name, Garamond as we know it appears to be based on typefaces developed by Jean Jannon, who lived about a century after Garamond, and Garamond based his designs on those of Aldus Manutius: it's hard to say where you'd locate authenticity in this complicated history. And I've been stimulated by Emigre's revivals like Mrs. Eaves and Filosofia, which take inspiration from --and bigger liberties with -- the work of, respectively, John Baskerville and Giambattista Bodoni with great success. But there are good revivals and bad revivals, and ITC Garamond is one of the latter.

    [via Lifehacker]

    Posted by johndanseven at 01:24 AM

    Deep Thoughts on Onomatopeia

    From Overheard in NYC:

    Guy: You know what I hate about the word onomatopeia? It's that it's not an onomatopeia.
    Girl: Shut up. Just shut up.

    --A train
    Overheard by: Okoska

    [via Overheard in New York]

    Posted by johndanseven at 01:00 AM

    November 01, 2005

    Post-It Notes, Meetings, and Spaces

    Mark Bernstein points to David Straker's book, Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes [amazon link preserving Bernstein's referrer bounty), then he redirects the issue to using Tinderbox and a projection system in meetings, which has the benefit of preserving sessions as online texts (someone told me Richard Powers does a similar thing at meetings very effectively, although not with Tinderbox).

    I haven't used Tinderbox this way since I try to avoid meetings, but it sounds useful since I frequently do use Tinderbox as if it were a big box of Post Its and a whiteboard. It's always a tradeoff, though, because I like having my notes on the computer (and being able to do things with them in Tinderbox to boot), but I usually run out of screen real estate at some point. (A smart person would occasionally try to reorganize things and cull out some of the duller ideas.)

    [via Mark Bernstein]

    Posted by johndanseven at 04:11 PM

    1971 Filmstrip on Electronic Music

    Download a 1971 filmstrip on The Birth of Electronic Music from Got LoFi, in two parts (as mp4 files no less): Part 1 and Part 2 (links are to web pages rather than directly to mp4s).


    Posted by johndanseven at 10:55 AM