News : March 2007
Creating Adaptive Interfaces
Stephen Anderson recently presented on Creating Adaptive Interfaces at the 2007 IA Summit. He goes into detail discussing the possibility of creating interfaces that intelligently adapt for different users. Think of it as a mix of preferences and artificial intelligence. Having worked with Stephen in the past, this is precisely the type of insightful and forward-looking idea I've come to expect from him. Clearly, we'll face countless hurdles to successfully executing on these ideas, but as we continually look for ways to improve our interfaces and make them more human, this is an area with potential. You can see the slides and some of Stephen's thoughts at his site.
Participate in 'Stop Cyberbullying Day' March 30th, 2007
The folks behind SXSW posted a news item today, furthering Andy Carvin's declaration that March 30, 2007 become “Stop Cyberbullying Day”. As I noted in my recent post, the attack on Kathy Sierra called to our attention some of the more disgraceful behavior on the Web, and it should not be condoned with silence. Tag your posts and comments with stopcyberbullying and help raise awareness of cyberbullying within our community and across the Interenet as a whole.
Recently, the web-professional community has been sobered by stark reminders of the unsavory side of the web, such as website piracy, logo piracy, and even hateful public comments about professionals in our industry. The outpouring of support has been as strong on all accounts, but has been entirely in the format best-suited to the web: *words*. Not action. Now, I'm proud to be part of an industry with such a strong sense of community support, but what do we do with that, concretely?
We can vociferously condemn and lament shaky copyright laws, questionable legal recourse, anonymous commenting, and designers undercutting the community, but where does the condemnation go after it's said? In the case of LogoMaid's suspicious appopriation of Dan Cederholm's SimpleBits logo, we posted our degrees of disgust, and more than a few offered to supplement legal fees had it become a matter for the courts. But supportive comments and some strategic linking doesn't set a precedent that will discourage practices from the underbelly of the Internet. Likewise, we can post how-tos to educate errant designers and unknowing clients via our preferred medium—the web—but that's passively reaching out, not actively. Our intended audience has to seek out our thoughtful posts on their behalf.
As a community, what actions discourage malicious behavior such as piracy and abusive comments? In the varied responses to Kathy Sierra's post, bloggers referenced similar outrages from older online communities, with community reactions ranging from supportive badges to near-shunning. In response to design theft, polite requests and/or legal threats have often resolved the conflict, but other victims gave up rather than call in lawyers. Among folks discussing organized group responses, opinions are so diverse as to be hard to synthesize. Similar organized groups, like craft guilds, unions, and other collective-leverage organizations historically formed to combat industry-threatening issues. Are we at an industry-threatening place? No. But there has to be something in between, where our penchant for words begets action. We're smart, internet-friendly people—what can we learn from this?
Two New Books from DW Columnists
Microformats: Empowering Your Markup for Web 2.0, by our columnist John Allsopp, and The Art and Science of CSS by long-time Digital Web columnist Jonathan Snook (and others), are now in stock at Amazon—and, I assume, your local bookstore. Allsopp's book is 368 pages of practical, powerful, immediately usable info, covering every currently widely-used microformat in detail, both coding with HTML and styling with CSS, and case studies. If you remember westciv’s classic CSS tutorials, you know that he makes new subjects crystal clear.
Last Chance for Feedback!
Ok readers, this is your last chance. I am going to be shutting down the annual readership survey shortly. If you want to give us your feedback about how we are doing and what topics you would like to see covered do it now or forever hold your peace... well, at least until next year anyway. Also, I know that some have seen the first paragraph in the newsletter for the last few weeks has been about our annual reader survey, but the content past that is always new and regards that week's issue. Please support Digital Web and read.
New Issue: Strategies for Email Marketing and Freelancing
Digital Web Magazine has another stellar double issue this week, coming at you with two great new writers, Véro S. Pepperrell and Matthew D. Jordan. To start us off, Véro S. Pepperrell exposes The Seven Deadly Sins of Email Marketing Management. Véro shows us how to avoid the most common pitfalls in email marketing, and offers concrete strategies for keeping on the good side of email clients.
To complete our double issue, the ever-entertaining and insightful Matthew D. Jordan asks if we're ready To Dance the Dance of Freelance. Considering self-employment? You can't beat Matthew's funny-but-sober look at the upside and downside of being your own boss in the web professional world.
How to Integrate User-Centered Design into Real-World Product Development
For those in the Seattle area I wanted to let you know that Wednesday night I will be speaking at the Product Management Consortium monthly event on the topic of How to Integrate User-Centered Design into Real-World Product Development in which I will elaborate on our approach at Blue Flavor. I will be sharing the stage with Robb Nielsen, UX Practice Director at Ramp Group and Heidi Adkisson at Director of Interaction Design, Blink Interactive. More details can be found at pmcnw.org. If you plan to attend please let me know and say hi when you see me. I hope to see you there!
dotMobi Mobile Web Developers Guide and The Project Chain
My business partner, Brian Fling, has been a very busy man recently. First, for those who are interested in breaking into the mobile web as a developer you will want to know that the dotMobi Mobile Web Developers Guide that Brian has been working on is now published. Also, today Brian has also posted about the the project chain at Blue Flavor. A great read if you are into project management, process management, and methodologies. I highly recommend you give it a read even if you are not a project manager.
Happy Birthday Tiff Fehr!
Today I would like to call attention to something that, as readers of our publication, you may never really noticed. As you know, we crank out a great issue every week with great authors on hot topics. What you may not know is that there is a driving force behind the scenes that tirelessly assembles, edits, and publishes each and every issue. I am, of course, speaking of the Digital Web Magazine Staff. Today, I would like to draw your attention to one staff member in particular. She doesn't get a lot of the limelight. You may have seen her name in some of the new issue blog posts. You may have met her for the first time at SXSW in Austin this year. Today I would like to thank Tiff Fehr for her hard work, dedication, and excellent spirit of volunteerism. Why today? Because today is Tiff's birthday. Thank you for all of your hard work!
New Issue, New Column: "The Working Designer"!
This week, Digital Web Magazine is thrilled to launch our newest column, The Working Designer, and our newest design columnist, Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain. In his first piece, Jesse explains his design approach and process taken for EllisLabs' ExpressionEngine Web site. Jesse provides a step-by-step case study involving prototyping and wireframing, collaborating with clients, typography and iconography selections, and everything in between. The Working Designer, aims to show designers at work on real projects, and how they address and come up with design solutions for a wide variety of Web sites.
In other news, happy belated birthday to Digital Web's own Nick Finck!
IBM's latest accessibility venture
Interesting news from IBM - they have created a tool that helps users with screen readers better control over multimedia clips like those found on Youtube and MySpace. Typical problems with multimedia content include controls (play, pause, stop, volume) that may not be accessible via keyboard or may not be in a logical order. Some video and audio files that are set to autoplay interfere with screen readers. Sometimes the original audio isn't enough, so a descriptive audio track can be used where the clip is "narrated" alongside the original audio to describe what is happening onscreen
Based on the description of the tool, what intrigues me the most is that the tool seems to remove at least some of the burden of "doing it right" from the developer. That is pure conjecture, of course, but we won't know until it is released this week (possibly as open source).IBM tool 'reads' Web video for blind
Microformats presentations and related events
With SxSW just gone, whether you went or not, you might be getting a bit sick of conferences, and other events. Or, you might be itching for more. If you are in the former camp, stop reading now OK, so if you are still with me, you might be interested in some upcoming events with a microformats focus from around the world, as well as some wrapups from recent events
"Semantic London is a first shot at organising an event for people interested in all things Semantic Web (both lower-case and Upper Case). If you've got an interest in getting more and better semantic information out on the web, come along" - just a couple of days away on March 20
Features two microformats sessions, Microformats for Web Services and Portable Content by Kevin Lawver, and by me, Microformats: Much more than just promise, April 16 and 17 respectively, in downtown San Francisco
In conjunction with the conference there's also Web 2.0 Open, a bar camp like unconference, where am sure sessions of Microformats will be found.
A dinner for those who are interested in microformats is also planned for Wednesday, April 18 - all welcome
XTech 2007 in Paris
XTech features Microformats: the nanotechnology of the semantic web
SxSWiGoing head to head with Dan Rather (famous TV news guy for non Americans), the microformats session at SxSW filled the biggest room they had. Notes on the session are online.
Web Directions North
Featuring three solid hours on microformats, an overview from Tantek Çelik, and sessions on designing with microformats (by Dan Cederholm) and developing with microformats (me), slides and liveblogging are online now, and podcasts coming soon.
Web Standards Project launches Street Team
WaSP Co-Lead Kimberley Blessing announced the latest initiative from the Web Standards Project at their annual meeting, which took place at SXSW this week.
The WaSP Street Team aims to
give you ways to get involved with web standards evangelism in your local area and in the places you work or spend time online - so if you want to make a difference where you live, head over and sign up to receive details of Street Team tasks.
New Issue: Screencasting for Macs
This week, Digital Web Magazine is happy to bring you the Mac expertise of Miraz Jordan, with a piece about creating screencasts for Macs. Ms. Jordan shares tips to help web professionals streamline the creation of instructional materials on Mac platforms, with an eye on cost-effective solutions.
We're also publishing this week's issue direct from the all-consuming geekery of SXSW Interactive. Myself (Tiff Fehr), Nick Finck and Matthew Pennell have been roaming the sessions and halls, looking for all the wonderful people who contribute and read Digital Web Magazine. If we haven't tracked you down yet, come say "hi"! We'll undoubtedly be at South by Northwest (SXNW) this evening, sponsored by Blue Flavor, Bryght and Raincity Studios, so come on by.
I'll Do It Myself
Glenda Watson-Hyatt is a web accessibility consultant in Canada. She has cerebral palsy and has recently published her story in the book I'll Do It Myself. A fascinating read that will help anyone learn more about disability and accessibility. Even more fascinating? Glenda has come up with a brilliant strategy: a virtual book tour, in which she visits 40 blogs in 40 days. Check out her book blog at doitmyselfblog.com
Beautiful Redesign of Expression Engine sites
Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain of 31three designed/redesigned 4 related sites that were released today. Check them out if you'd like some inspiration: Expression Engine, Ellis Lab, Code Igniter and Engine Hosting. Watch for an in-depth article on the design process from Jesse, which we hope to publish a few days after SXSW.
New Column: The Working Designer
I've had a pet project for the past few months—creating a new column called The Working Designer. In each article, a talented designer will choose one of his or her sites and take us through his or her thought process and work process as they create the design. This will be a terrific opportunity to watch a designer at work, see what inspires him, why he makes the decisions he does, the tools he uses, how he deals with colors, grids, typography and, of course, clients. Each article will be different, as authors are free to focus on the aspects of their work that interest them the most. The first article will be published a few days after SXSW, written by Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain of 31three. He tackled a huge project—the design of 5 related sites for the pMachine-Ellis Lab (Expression Engine) people (actually, four sites and a forum). These sites are stunning, in my opinion—see details in my next post. Jesse Bennett Chamberlain has long been one of my favorite designers, but there are other mega-talented people out there, people we'd all love to learn from, and I hope that you'll become contributors to this column. I send a long list of questions to the designer, but they are free to choose which questions to focus on. Many of us are hungry for more design-related information, and this is one effort to meet that need.
New Issue: Font Management
This week, Digital Web Magazine brings you strategies for Better Font Management, under the guidance of typography and font veteran, Joel Sacks. Joel gives budding web typographers recommendations for managing font libraries, and tips about font management software for advanced typography hounds. Bring some sense and order to your growing typeface collection today!
Second annual South by Northwest party
Yes, that's right, we're doing it again. For those attending SXSW Interactive you may want to take note here. Blue Flavor, Bryght and Raincity Studios are proud to present the second annual South by Northwest (SXNW) geek fest party at the Iron Cactus in Downtown Austin. There will be plenty of free drinks and cool people to meet. This year we have booked virtually the whole venue but please let us know you are coming so we can plan ahead. Be sure to RSVP, we're nearing fire marshal capacity! Hope to see you there!
Digital Web deployment
You may have noticed some weird stuff going on on this site for the past hour or two. There's a good reason for it! Digital Web's codebase is now being deployed to the site using Capistrano, a tool for application deployment written by Jamis Buck.
Capistrano was written for use with Ruby on Rails, luckily those of us working on applications in almost any other language can still use it to help ease deployment woes.
For those in the Seattle / Puget Sound area you may want to know that we are "rebooting" Refresh Seattle. Refresh Seattle, part of Refreshing Cities is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of New Media endeavors in the Seattle / Puget Sound area. Promoting design, technology, usability, and standards. Tonight is our first social event. It starts at 6:00 PM and will be held at Hales Brewery (4301 Leary Way NW, Seattle, Washington 98107). Please let us know in advance if you are planning on attending, space is limited.