News : June 2005

News : June 2005

Early bird registration ends tomorrow

There are just 24 hours left for you to get the special Early Bird rate for WebVisions 2005. Registration rates will go up starting after July 1st so hurry up and grab your tickets. The show is filling up pretty quickly now that we have announced the keynote speaker; Stewart Butterfield from If you do plan on attending the event, come say hi and join us for dinner after the conference.

June 29, 2005 at 11:59 PM

Nick Finck

New Issue of Digital Web Magazine

This week, we focus on programming technique and theory in the first of several issues we’ll publish this summer. Debuting this week, columnist Jonathan Snook brings us his first effort in his “Behind the Curtain” Web programming column. Snook runs down one of the basic elements that makes the Web work: the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). Find out what your browser says about you, and learn a simple way to test server communication when developing a Web application. Read more…

June 28, 2005 at 1:30 AM

Krista Stevens

Scavenger Hunt winners

It looks like we have the first, second, and third place winners for the WebVisions / Digital Web Magazine Scavenger Hunt. A lot of people completed the hunt, some were pretty close to winning. Several were just a few answers off, but in the end, three came through… and the winners are:

3rd place: Seth Green

2nd place: Meryl Evans

1st place: Adam Judd

Congrats to all three of you, I’ll be contacting each of you shortly to arrange for you to get your prizes. See you at WebVisions 2005!

June 27, 2005 at 5:36 PM

Nick Finck

Microsoft, RSS, and Ethics

So after my previous post I have had a few discussions with Robert Scoble, Nick Bradbury, Jeremy Wright, Tristan Louis, Andru Edwards and others about the announcement of the RSS Extension. After quite a bit of clarification I can only say that what Microsoft is doing is pretty much inevitable. RSS is big game today and Microsoft needs to be a part of that for survival. I do not believe that Microsoft is forking the RSS spec, but you have to ask at what point does the extended version become the de facto, and where does that leave the standard spec? I mean, after all, Windows is the most popular operating system on the planet according to many sources. When something gets introduced into that environment it becomes the de facto standard. I can’t blame Microsoft for not being all supportive of using only the Atom format. That would be like Walt Disney deciding to use Beta only at a consumer level because the format is a better format. Microsoft needs to focus on what formats are dominating the syndication space. Lastly, we can’t complain about what is going to happen until it actually happens. Microsoft hasn’t done anything, yet, it’s just been a lot of talk and some demos. Once we see it in action, once we see the details of the attribution, once we see how they plan to implement it within software, then and only then can we decide if the did things wrong or right. My advice to Microsoft at this stage would be simply this:

  • Allow the extension to actually be created by the community, not by Microsoft employees.
  • Setup free open-to-the-public forums for the community where Microsoft experts working on this project are available and actively participating.
  • Open source the common RSS Data Store as proof that you will not lock-in users into a future proprietary format of MS-RSS.
  • Define the attributions you are intending to set for the Creative Commons license you will use, but be careful, this could be a huge deal breaker with the community.
  • Explain in great detail how the extension will work within your future software, I am afraid the information you have on MSDN and the demo videos I have seen are not nearly detailed enough.

With that said, we can only hope that Microsoft does the right thing here. It would be a huge change in the company’s philosophy and quite a deviation from their very long historical track record. The saddest part is that they could, in one small move, wipe out all of the software vendors who create RSS readers for Windows… yes, the very vendors who came to their aid and helped them figure out how to make this happen in some of the software they have. A utopian view, yes, I know, but Microsoft has its chance right here, right now, to change the way we see them as a company. They have a chance to re-establish ethical trust with the community at large. Let’s hope they don’t screw this up.

June 27, 2005 at 7:18 AM

Nick Finck

BBS Documentary in Seattle

The BBS Documentary screening is going to be tommorrow, Sunday, right here in Seattle. Are you going? Please let me know.

June 25, 2005 at 7:03 PM

Nick Finck

Scavenger Hunt: Tip #2

Here is the latest tip for the WebVisions / Digital Web Magazine Scavenger Hunt. For question #11, we are looking for a maximum and minimum numeric range. Best of luck, and hope to see you at WebVisions 2005 in Portland.

June 25, 2005 at 12:52 PM

Nick Finck

Microsoft to take RSS five steps backwards

So today at Gnomedex Microsoft will be announcing extended support for RSS. Read that carefully, we’re not talk about better support for RSS, we’re talking about an extension to RSS. They want to be able to do e-commerce via RSS. Yes, you read that correctly. The last thing we need now is yet another fork in the RSS spec. It reminds me of the days where there was regular standards-compliant DOM and then there was Microsoft DOM. Is it the case that every time we take one little baby step forward (getting all browsers “somewhat” standard compliant) that we must take five leaps backwards (MS DOM, MS extentions to (x)HTML and CSS, and now extentions to RSS)? I feel another petition coming one. All hail Dave Winer, the guy who knows how to screw a good thing up. In your frantic race to extend RSS, let’s not forget about Atom guys.

June 24, 2005 at 8:09 AM

Nick Finck

The Wow Factor

Keith has just published an excellent post on content and UCD. Some very good points are made here, and while I agree that a designer’s personal site or even portfolio site is their sandbox to do whatever they like, schools and universities should start focusing on the fundamentals of what makes a good site and what users visit a site for in the first place. The question comes up, do you want to build a something useful for people or do you just want to wow them. I don’t know about you, but to me wow lost its appeal back in the late ’90s. If you are serious about content and want to learn more, I recommend you come and hear our presentation on The Future of Content at WebVisions 2005.

June 23, 2005 at 11:18 AM

Nick Finck

Scavenger Hunt update

Just wanted to give you an update on the Scavenger Hunt. We have a few new prizes to add to the list. For starters the fine folks at Campaign Monitor are going to award the first place winner a $/files/includes/10.css0 pre-paid Campaign Monitor account. This will allow you to send out your own email newsletters, up to /files/includes/10.css,000 of them to be specific. And you can do it from your free host, that’s right, thanks to the talented folks at Bryght they are offering the first place winner free hosting for a year. Lastly, in case you missed it, the last tip given was: for item #4 on the list, we are looking for the name of the show AND the name of the specific episode. Best of luck!

June 22, 2005 at 8:21 AM

Nick Finck

The BBS Documentary screening

For those in the Seattle area who may remember a time when 300 bps meant something, well here’s your chance. I am hosting a special screening of The BBS Documentary right here in Belltown this Sunday from 1:00pm to 8:30pm (yes, it’s that long with a 1 hour dinner break and 2 shorter breaks). If you wish to go please let me know. Hope to see you there!

June 21, 2005 at 3:/files/includes/10.css PM

Nick Finck

Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to the WebVisions / Digital Web Magazine scavenger hunt for 2005. This is your chance to get a free pass to WebVisions 2005 and win some cool prizes as well.

How does it work?

We have a series of questions that have answers scattered about the web. Prizes will be award to the first, second and third person to email us the correct answers.

What are the prizes?

A Gmail account, A Large Clip-N-Seal /files/includes/10.css Pack and a Small /files/includes/10.css Pack, A Flickr Pro account, a copy of “Photoshop Secrets CS for Digital Photographers” training DVD by Photoshop Caf

June 20, 2005 at 9:49 PM

Nick Finck

New Issue of Digital Web Magazine

Are you just getting started in the world of Web design? Need some great tools of the trade but are using that business start-up loan to keep the Kraft Dinner coming until your first paying client comes along? Contributing author Brian Reindel has come to your rescue. He’s got a list of tried-and-true Web design tools for the taking. The best part? They’re free. Read more…

June 20, 2005 at 9:13 PM

Krista Stevens

Odeo beta launched

It sounds like Odeo just launched their first public beta. I hear a lot of people helped out with the project including Dunstan Orchard, Dan Cederholm, Noah Glass, Biz Stone and of course Evan Williams not to mention a whole lot of others. Congrats to the team. Hopfully in the near future you will be listening to Digital Web Magazine articles as well as reading them.

June 17, 2005 at 5:47 PM

Nick Finck

Google’s site ranking algorithms revealed

It seems that Google has publicly posted their site ranking algorithms via a public patent filing. Now my first thought was “oh great, now every manipulative marketer on the block is going to abuse this info,” but if you look closely you’ll see that if they, in fact, followed these site rank guidelines to their best advantage, their site will become less of a link farm, less of a re-blog, less of a link exchange, less of a faux landing page. And who knows, maybe some more useful content will be generated out of this. [via Jordan Rule]

June 17, 2005 at 8:46 AM

Nick Finck

Looking for a Mentor?

Rick Cecil has authored a great post about Finding Mentors. For those who may have been present for my presentation to the graduating students of the Multimedia Design and Production program at the University of Washington, you may want to read this post. It gives some good tips about what qualities you should look for in a mentor. Likewise, if you are interested in doing IA, the Information Architecture Institute has a mentoring program they are putting together that may be of interest.

June 16, 2005 at 8:41 AM

Nick Finck

Portable Ideas for Experimentation

I know this is kind of short notice but my good colleague and very talented designer, Gabe Kean, is going to be giving a presentation Wednesday night along with Anmarie Trimble of Born Magazine on Portable Ideas for Experimentation at Portland State University in the School of Business Auditorium. You can read more about it and register via the DevGroupNW site. If you happen to be in Portland, I highly recommend you check it out.

June 14, 2005 at 9:28 PM

Nick Finck

New Issue of Digital Web Magazine

We are jacks-of-all-trades. We are, for the most part, a self-taught lot of well-rounded Web craftsmen with no formal training in design. We’ve learned by studying the work of others and through constant practice. It’s time for design school. Class, eyes front and hands to yourselves—Joshua David McClurg-Genevese is starting from the very beginning with a formal introduction to the principles of design. You’ll want to bookmark this new Design in Theory and Practice column!

June 13, 2005 at 9:41 PM

Krista Stevens

Early bird discount for WebVisions 2005

Well, after many months of pure volunteer effort, it looks like WebVisions 2005 is almost ready to to kick off. We are about a month away from the big day and I wanted to remind everyone that the Early Bird discount ends on June 30th so you might want to take this opertunity to register for WebVisions before the rates go up. Also, I wanted to let you know all of our speakers have been confirmed including keynote speaker, Stewart Butterfield, special presenters B.J. Fogg, Molly Holzschlag, Peter Merholz, Cameron Moll, Sandro Corsaro, Sarah Horton, Erik Falat, Thomas Vander Wal, Bill DeRouchey, Tom Byrnes, Chris Bond, Alan K’necht and many more. Plan on going to WebVisions this year? Make it one of your 43 Things or add it to your list of events.

June 13, 2005 at 4:00 PM

Nick Finck

Thoughts on the Technorati beta

Jay Fienberg tells me that there is a new Technorati Beta out for everyone to kick the tires on. A lot of great people are working on Technorati and have contributed to this beta release. While I agree it’s an improvement over the current version, some of the issues I have reported in the past still remain to be problems today. Since in my previous post I didn’t go into details (those were communicated via private emails) I thought I should point out the burning ones I have noticed this time around publicly. They are mostly to do with search. Here goes:

Inconsistent IA – First and foremost is the lack of consistency in navigational interface and interaction. For example pagination should be consistent across all pages linked within that paginated set of pages. Some of the lesser used searches produce paginated results that are apparently less than the total number of pages in the pagination navigation.

Performance – What can I say, the search is still damn slow. I know they have a ton of data to deal with but there are ways to improve the performance… most of which will probably involve re-writing a lot of code but will be well worth it to the end user (it’s almost painful for me to use it, yes, that slow beyond the first page of results). My suggestion would be to reprogram the search engine, the value of a fast performing search engine related to the purpose of this site outweighs the amount of time and money it would take to re-program it.

Usability – There is a lot of what we in the IA world refer to as “mystery meat navigation” which is to say icons and content that are linked but it is unclear of what sort of functionality that link has or what page it would take the user to. For example “Posted 1 day ago in Donut Age” for someone who doesn’t visit all the sites in the Technorati database it is going to be confusing to know that Donut Age is actually a blog. The experience is sort of traumatic to the user in that it launches them into a different site with a totally different UI when they click on that link. Another example is the use of the little caption bubble often found in comics. What does this mean? What should I know about that icon. Most users may think that the link would lead them to a page where they can comment on the search result. My suggestion would be to remove the icons, they don’t make since.

Design – This one is rather minor in the scope of things but here goes anyway. When a user clicks on some links the entire layout of the page shifts over to the right when the page does not scroll. This is because the main design is centered in the page. There are ways to solve this problem using CSS and possibly Javascript.

Metaphors – When a design of the site’s architecture calls for the use of tabs it is best to keep all secondary and tertiary navigation tab-less to avoid confusion of page state. Here we see both primary and on some pages secondary navigation using the tab metaphors. It is a bit confusing to the user if they try to follow this metaphor. My suggestion would be to remove the second level of tabs and just use a standard navigation or integrate the design of the secondary tabs better with the content it is switching between.

Having said all of that, my intent is to help Technorati improve their product and produce a more efficient and effective user experience. This will, in turn, deliver Technorati as a valuable tool to anyone interest in listing to the world of blogs.

June 13, 2005 at 12:23 PM

Nick Finck

Bus Monster

For those who will be going to Gnomedex in Seattle this month …and for those in Seattle who won’t be, ahhem! Seattle Bus Monster just launched the other day which will help you navigate Seattle’s bus system. It’s another hack of Google Maps and a pretty handy one at that. It’s interesting to see all these variations of tools coming out of the woodwork, I wonder what will be next.

June 11, 2005 at 2:07 AM

Nick Finck

Now publishing on Tuesdays

Way back in October I asked you, our readers, the question What day should we publish on? You responded and all signs seemed to point to Tuesdays. Some of you may have noticed that for the last two issues we have moved to publishing on Tuesdays (well, technically we publish very late on Monday nights). I am curious to hear how well received the new publishing schedules. Please post your comments below.

June 9, 2005 at 2:46 PM

Nick Finck

The lesser known

There has been a lot of sites circling around lately about web celebrities; A lists, top 50 lists, what famous web guru are you, who’s in the musical baton circle, the uberrati etc. The funny thing is, as much as I do read those who are popular within the industry I often times find a lot of value from those who are lesser known. It makes me wonder about the 80/20 theory (well, to me, it’s more fact, but still) and randomness. If we only pay attention to that 20% what gets overlooked when one or two people from the 80% write something good? What if no one read Tim Berners-Lee’s proposal on Information Management? What would things be like today? This is why I make it a point to read the lesser knowns. Whose feed do you subscribe to who may be a lesser known web professional? What lesser known web professional blogs do you know about that I may have never seen before? Add your comments below.

June 8, 2005 at 7:17 AM

Nick Finck

New Issue of Digital Web Magazine

Many of us building the Web struggle daily with competing priorities: Clients. Current projects. New business. Taxes. Kids. Family. Fun. Sleep. The list is endless. In this heyday of 43 Folders and Getting Things Done, productivity prowess has become the secret superpower of today’s well-rounded Web professional. In “Getting IA Done: Part I,” columnist Joshua Kaufman shares best practices he’s learned as an information architect, so you can work more efficiently. Share your own insights for Part II, coming later this summer. Read on…

June 6, 2005 at 11:18 PM

Krista Stevens

Deadlines and Local Events

Some of you may have noticed that posts here have been slowing down over the last week, this is in part because of an up and coming project deadline I am working on. It is also because I am preparing for an event I am going to be participating for the graduating class of The University of Washington’s Multimedia Design and Production program.

June 3, 2005 at 4:24 PM

Nick Finck