Archived entries for Info Mgmt

Down to 22,490…22,491

Spent a bunch of time in the past few days pruning and organizing my feeds, and catching up on some blog reading. When I started, my feed inbox was at about 65,000 unread items. I’ve got it down to a much less daunting 22,491 unread items now.

I read about 400 feeds (well, the 65k unreads number tells you that I don’t *read* them all). If you’re interested in my reading list, and you don’t mind how dated, ugly, and messy it is, then by all means take a look. (Im working on improving it, and will post as update when it’s better.)

Video: Information R/evolution

Information R/evolution is a five minute video telling the story of the transformation from a world of categorized information to a world of living information the we all enrich continually. It’s from the same guy (Michael Wesch) and in the same style as "Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us."

When his "Web 2.0," video came out I wrote that

Perhaps the so-called ’social web’ isn’t about connecting people, but about information conservation: If a person chooses to do something — no matter how small — it’s inherently interesting, precious, and valuable.

I still think that’s true, and I find more support in this new video:

Here is "Information R/evolution" by Prof. Michael Wesch:

Hap tip to the information aesthetics blog which is a great source for "data visualization & visual design."

Slipping: TechCrunch Reporting

Over lunch today I was catching up on my reading. I was drawn in by one of their headlines (which I saw on TechMeme.com). My interest quickly turned to disappointment because the article was poorly researched, exhibited nearly zero analysis, and sat under a sensationalist traffic-grabbing headline that it failed to back up. I expect more from TechCrunch, and I think they owe their 598k subscribers – me included — better reporting. The #1 blog should lead us to quality and respect by example, not through sensationalism and hollow reporting.

This was going to be a comment on TechCrunch’s site, but I agree with many recent commentators that posting on ones own blog and letting Trackbacks make the connection is the more respectful, responsible, and effective way. I’m not exactly sure why I needed to get this off my chest today, but here goes:

Mr. Schonfel, in my opinion your article and its headline are bad journalism. I believe the data reported by AddThis is insignificant and an insufficient basis for your broad headline. You provided no context or substantiation. I feel that you’ve done your readers a disservice by publishing this article.

You report that AddThis is used “nearly 2 million times per month.” Does that seem like a lot to you? Significant? Does their data correlate or challenge other available data or trends? What, exactly, gives you the confidence to warrant such a far-reaching headline?

I believe you would have done well to report on the overall market size that they are a niche within. Technorati’s About Us page reports, for example, that there are 1.6mm new blog posts PER DAY (sounds like “nearly 2mm” to me); over 5mm new blogs each month; over 100mm blogs total.

In addition to questions of reach, I have to question the use-case and user profile that AddThis.com enjoys. I know you have the button on your site, but can you report what % of your visitors interact with it? Have you cross-checked your total del.icio.us saves witt the numbers AddThis reports? You have both those pieces of data – so that should be reportable.

I’m given additional pause when I notice that approximately 1 in 6 AddThis users us it save to their native Favorites folder! Really? Why would anybody do that? You don’t need a special tool to bookmark a site in your browser, in fact it’s much slower than any of the other available mechanisms (native menus, keyboard-shortcuts, dragging-and-dropping). There’s nothing wrong with people doing that, but it doesn’t make then seem like trendsetters.

In total, I don’t see any reason to think that this article is insightful or relevant. I’m worried about TechCrunch’s integrity when such poor data and analysis leads to such a presumptuous headline.

I’ve taken the time to write this comment because I expect more from TechCruch. You’re earned my attention in the past, and I won’t let my silence help you short change yourself. I’m a big TechCrunch fan, like most of your (alleged) 598k readers, but I expect you to do much better reporting than this sensationalist rubbish. I’ll be back for your next post, and hope it’s much better.

I have two hopes. First, I hope I’ve misread or misunderstood something, and that I’ll have an opportunity to retract this entire objection. If not, but second hope is that this call-to-action encourages greater journalistic integrity, whether new or old media.

Respectfully,
Nate Koechley

@Dom Vonarburg, comment #25 on TechCrunch and a representative of AddThis, please feel free to provide the answers my comment is hunting for.

Less Than Perfect

I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means (and takes) to build a high-quality, professional web site or application. I consider the whole spectrum, from macro concepts like Graded Browser Support, Separation of Concerns, and Progressive Enhancement to micro rules like never employ href="#" and always use the label element to bind text to form controls.

It’s difficult to compose a prescriptive list of all the issues a "perfect site" must satisfy. So, lately I’ve been think from a different perspective. Instead of "what it takes to be great," I’ve been asking myself "what does a great site NOT do? More specifically, I’ve been assuming a perfect site gets 100 points initially and then loses points for shortcomings.

Here are a few examples that I could use to measure a site:

  • -1 point for each instance of href="#", (max of -5).
  • -5 points for redirecting old browsers to a "you must upgrade" page instead of letting them see the plain linear content at least.
  • -2 points for design degradation at +/-1 font-zoom level; -1 for degradation at +/-2 zooms.
  • -1 for each form element missing an associated label element.
  • -2 for a missing (or malformed) doctype

It’s too early to debate the mechanics (should it be -1 or -2 points), but I like the approach in general and am going to keep playing with it this week. One good way I’ve found to discover the list of things is to find a nice modern page, hit view-source, and start giving it a code review. Each thing that catches my eye probably belongs on the list, somewhere at least.

I’m quickly building a longish list — and will publish it before too long — but right now I want to ask: What would you put on the list?

wow: photosynth

Watch the video demo of photosynth from microsoft’s labs to see what’s possible when the world has zillions of photos of everything. (Hint: you can go inside them in 3D.)

If you use Firefox and Delicious…

…then you definitely want to install this Firefox extension that seamlessly integrates del.icio.us with Firefox’s internal bookmarking system: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/3615/.

Really, it just feels right. It works just how it would if you designed it yourself. Seamless. Flawless. I’ve been bookmarking about 20x more links since I started using this tool. Love it. Install it now.

Notes

  • During the installation process be sure to click “sync” to avoid losing your current Firefox bookmarks and links-bar bookmarklets.
  • Don’t worry, you can still save private bookmarks by clicking “Do Not Share” during the normal bookmarking process.
  • You can still use “keyword search” and navigation keywords, but it’s a bit non-obvious. To create a keyword, save your link, then save it again to see the keywords field show up.

Enjoy!



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