Archived entries for Design

Local Is Simply You – best description yet of Web 2.0 and Glocalization

This is excellent. Over the last 36 hours, I’ve been chewing on these intersections, not quite seeing how they’re going to end up fitting together. Then along came this new essay by Danah Boyd, “Why Web2.0 Matters: Preparing for Glocalization“, and I’m totally there.

Well, not totally — as she says, it’s “bloody tricky” — but she did give me more than one epiphany moment and the motivation to dig deeper. As I read it, I also started to see answers to questions like these:

  • Why does Friendster (nearly all social networking sites) not hold interest?
  • Why is Google (inbound-link-based search) broken?
  • Why don’t I like some of my friends restaurant recommendations?
  • Why do I care what some blogger’s lat/long is?
  • Is it OK that I have 20 different tag maps tag clouds?

Still with me? Cool, go check it read it. I’m quoting several sections below (taking notes as I read basically), but her piece is lengthy and broad in scope, and worth reading in full.

(emphasis mine):

During the boom, there was a rush to get everything and everyone online. It was about creating a global village. Yet, packing everyone into the town square is utter chaos. People have different needs, different goals.

A global village assumes heterogeneous context and a hierarchical search assumes universals. Both are poor approximations of people’s practices. We keep creating technological solutions to improve this situation. Reputation systems, folksonomy, recommendations. But these are all partial derivatives, not the equation itself. This is not to dismiss them though because they are important; they allow us to build on the variables and approximate the path of the equation with greater accuracy. But what is the equation we’re trying to solve?

But on a personal level, no one actually wants to live in a global village. You can’t actually be emotionally connected to everyone in the world. While the global village provides innumerable resources and the possibility to connect to anyone, people narrow their attention to only focus on the things that matter. What matters is conceptually “local.”

In business, the local part of glocalization mostly refers to geography. Yet, the critical “local” in digital glocalization concerns culture and social networks. You care about the people that are like you and the cultural elements that resonate with you. In the most extreme sense, the local is simply you alone.

When the web started, the hype was that geography would no longer matter. Of course, we know that now to be utterly false. But the digital architecture did alter the network structure of society, allowing interest-driven bonds to complement geographically-manifested ones. Web1.0 created the infrastructure for glocalized networks.

Yet, the responsibility of big Web2.0 companies is to provide flexible glue to all of this innovation, to provide the information infrastructure that will permit glocalization, to allow for openness.

Those are just a few pull quotes. I know I missed numerous great one. If you read it, feel free to quote your favorite sections in my comments, as I’d love to hear what you got from it too.

OK, off to bed.

Thanks,
Nate

Update:

(I didn’t know it until I went back through this post to add links that Danah is a researcher at Yahoo! Research Berkeley.)

DOM Scripting Task Force – WaSP

Once again the fine folks at the Web Standards Project are helping us all move the industry forward, this time with the launch of their DOM Scripting Task Force as announced in their buzz archive today.

“The skillset of a front end programmer is a three-legged stool: structure (XHTML) is the first leg, presentation (CSS) the second, and behavior (DOM Scripting) the third,” said Peter-Paul Koch, a prominent scripting expert and one of the founders of the task force. “These three legs should be equal, but at the moment the behavior leg is the shortest, least-valued and least-understood of the three, even though the DOM has been a W3C specification for seven years and enjoys relatively solid browser support.”

They have a press release, a manifesto, and of course a website.

These topics aren’t anything new necessarily, but it’s good to see more and more developers picking up the torch. For more reading on this/these topics, check out these other posts from my blog: The Behavior Layer, Unobtrusively, and Semantic Markup – Create, Support and Extract.

If you eat and breath these topics, please send me your resume.

Yahoo isn’t just back in the game – it’s winning.

Ben Hammersley writes an interesting piece in the Guardian today titled Second Sight. It’s well worth reading, and looks at recent developments from Yahoo and Google, and reports that “Google, it seems, has jumped the shark.” His conclusion is that it’s “Three-nil to Yahoo.” Give it a read, I think you’ll be impressed, and probably find out some things about each company that go against the prevailing PR winds.

Yahoo is the new Google. Google is the new Yahoo. Up is down, and black is white. This spring has been very strange. Google, it seems, has jumped the shark. It has been overtaken, left standing, and not by some new startup of ultra smart MIT alumni or by the gazillions in the Microsoft development budget, but by the deeply unhip and previously discounted Yahoo.

The article provides a good overview of recent Yahoo activity, including the Yahoo Search API, research.yahoo.com (and next.yahoo.com), live traffic conditions on Yahoo! Maps, a gig of storage on Yahoo! Mail, Yahoo! 360, Flickr, and even the quietly released Creative Commons search on Yahoo!: http://search.yahoo.com/cc

Update: Danny Sullivan, Editor of the premier search industry publication, released their 5th Annual Search Engine Watch Awards today, and for the first time Yahoo! Search takes first place, bumping Google to second.

Remember what I said about prevailing winds, and hold onto your hat.

Carpool Conversations Vol. 2

In the second installment of Carpool Conversations, we talked about the dynamics of communication and collaboration. This image is a visualization of our thoughts.

Thinking collaboratively speeds the development of an idea. Talking about a problem helps us understand the problem. Conversation and collaboration are important to the process.

Another thought we had, that’s not represented in the chart, is that “silence is a powerful tool”. It seems that speaking less sometimes gets better results, and that moments of silence are important. For one, it’s important to listen and it’s important to think, both of which are markedly more difficult to do while you’re talking. Secondly, repeating a point has the generally-unintended consequence of reducing the potency of the idea. If you keep talking after you’ve made your point, you have a tendency to stray from the initial message, thereby watering it down. At the same time, your listener doesn’t have a chance to absorb the idea. Know your message, deliver it as clearly, accurately and succinctly as possible, then allow it to stand on it’s own and flourish.

We didn’t get to talk too much today (no pun intended), because for some reason the traffic was sparse and we make good time north.

Stay tuned for Carpool Conversations Vol. 3.

Information Esthetics (i.e.)

Lecture Series One: March–July, 2005

If I was in New York this spring, I’d definitely check out some of these lectures. Looks excellent, and these topics and critical as unfathomable amounts of information continue to be made available to the world.

Making data meaningful—this phrase could describe what dozens of professions strive for: Wall Street systems designers, fine artists, advertising creatives, computer interface researchers, and many others. Occasionally something important happens in these practices: a data representation is created that reveals the subject’s nature with such clarity and grace that it both informs and moves the viewer. We both understand and care. This is the focus of Information Esthetics.

Information Esthetics, a recently formed not-for-profit organization, has organized a lecture series dedicated to helping this happen more often. World leaders in seven different aspects of sense-making have been invited to speak on topics from typography to visual perception, from charting to electro-mechanical engineering. The goal: to help expose the beauty experts see in their databases, better engaging their whole minds in interpretation; to help inspire art that’s not just decorated with data but makes the data readable, satisfying viewers’ minds as much as their eyes and hearts.

The format of the talks lets us explore more deeply than a typical panel or academic paper presentation. Each speaker will talk for a full hour, we’ll break for a half hour of fine spirits and snacks, then sit down again for an interview/chat led by series organizer and interaction designer W. Bradford Paley. The intent throughout is to delve into the implications these profound ideas have for human communication in general—but also to share some simple techniques that people can immediately put to use in their own projects.

The lectures will take place Thursday evenings in the Chelsea Art Museum at 565 West 22nd street in Manhattan. They are free with the discounted $3 museum admission, and start promptly at 6:00pm on these dates:

  • Robert Bringhurst, March 31 · Typography and layout

    The distinguished Mr. Bringhurst is perhaps the most recognized typographer, a published poet, and the author of the fundamental contemporary work on typography: “Elements of Typographic Style.” http://www.typebooks.org/i-r_bringhurst.htm

  • Judith Donath, April 21 · Social computing

    Dr. Donath’s group at the MIT Media Lab studies intriguing social interactions and produces some of the loveliest and clearest visual representations of these complex systems. She is a well-read and careful observer of fine art. http://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith

  • Ted Selker, May 12 · Situated devices

    Dr. Selker focuses on putting intelligence into everyday objects: his invention of the eraser-like IBM Trackpoint device transformed laptop keyboards throughout the industry. His MIT media Lab group continues to expand those explorations. http://web.media.mit.edu/~selker

  • Lisa Strausfeld, May 26 · Real-time charting

    Ms. Strausfeld is a partner in Pentagram, the respected New York design firm. Her dense, readable information displays are well structured, visually rich, and intellectually satisfying. http://www.pentagram.com/people-strausfeld.htm

  • Bill Buxton, June 16 · Supporting creative analysis

    Mr. Buxton is a musician, mountain climber, and interaction designer; former Chief Scientist of Silicon Graphics; and a well-known and controversial computer interface expert. He owns an art gallery in Toronto with his wife and has been developing user interfaces explicitly for designers for over a decade. http://www.billbuxton.com

  • Ron Rensink, June 30 · Visual perception

    Dr. Rensink is one of the world’s experts on “Change Blindness” a feature of the human visual system that allows major changes to happen unnoticed right in front of one’s eyes, allowing (among other things) magic performances to work. He studies human perception, discovering and sharing principles useful in design. http://www.psych.ubc.ca/~rensink

  • Tamara Munzner, July 14 · Large data sets

    Dr. Munzner specializes in information visualization: showing complexities in subjects that range from genetically-determined phylogenetic evolutionary trees to environmental sustainability. Her work is informed by an eye developed under her art-teacher father, and often reveals structure more clearly as a result. http://www.cs.ubc.ca/~tmm

This lecture series is an Information Esthetics production, made possible by a project of Digital Image Design Incorporated. The talks are presented by The Project Room at Chelsea Art Museum by producer/curator Nina Colosi, and are supported in part by the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University.

Generous volunteer efforts support Information Esthetics, including high-reliability Web site hosting by Michael Rosenthal, Web site supervision by Perry Metzger, and (soon) graphic design by Warren Kemp. Please contact i.e.director W. Bradford Paley if you would like to volunteer, be put on our mailing list, or otherwise participate.

If you go, please point me to your notes!

Carpool Conversations – Trip #1

Background Information

This is the first dispatch from Carpool Conversations. I live in San Francisco, but work in Sunnyvale about 43 miles south, in the heart of Silicon Valley. The long drive sucks, but the great thing about it is that it’s an protected time to think, to reflect, to brainstorm, and to explore. There are no distractions in the car; no Internet connection and nobody popping into my cube.

I often carpool with my friend Jon Koshi, and we have great conversations about the web, design, interface, the future, and the present. We both tend to bring complimentary sides of the same topics to the conversation. We both like to think big, and, if I do say so myself, we’re more aware than average of current events, practices, trends, and developments. Jon is a Designer by practice and I’m a technologist by practice, so we’ve got both sides covered in that regard too. (We talk politics and currents and news and life too, but this series will largely focus on technology and human beings.)

Koshi and I both believe in words and word smithing. We believe that examining and designing frameworks for ideas to operate within creates stronger ideas while helping to vet the root concepts. We like to discuss nuance and subtle distinctions, and in the process gain a deeper understanding.

I’m writing this from the road right now. I’d like to resist editing too much, and instead share the thoughts as they appear in the carpool. Hopefully this will be on interest to some of my good readers.

And with that, I can’t resist saying, “start your engines!”.



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