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CNET Announces closed-captioning

Earlier this week CNET began providing closed-captioning for the online video offerings. This is great for web accessibility, and needed with the rise of web video. As far as I know they’re the first large outfit to provide captioning. It’s about time, the need to “provide a text equivalent for every non-text element” is Section 1.1 of the W3C’sWCAG 1.0 specs (published in May of 1999) and retains that prominence in WCAG 2.0 (which issued its second Last Call Working Draft on 11 December 2007).

The day will come when all online video is captioned, and I’m proud of good ol’ CNET for leading the pack.

Our Dumb World: The Onion’s Atlas of the Planet Earth

The Onion’s newest project has just hit the stores. It’s a hardcover book titled "Our Dumb World: The Onion’s Atlas of the Planet Earth." It’s hilarious.

I’ll admit a bias because my brother worked on the book as editorial manager and as one of the writers. But Newsweek loves it too; the book is so funny that even Newsweek’s glowing review made me laugh.

"Like any regular atlas, it profiles every country in the world and includes lots of facts, or "facts." Wales, the "land of consonant sorrow," is the birthplace of the "oldest, longest, least pronounceable language in the world. When spoken, it sounds like a beautiful song, but when written, it looks like the alphabet just vomited."

"Fearless, which is to say, they don’t care who they offend, the Onion’s cartographers and geographers also boldly tackle more controversial countries. In the section devoted to Iraq, for example, you learn that "Iraq-U.S. relations became strained in 1963 when Iraq leader Saddam Hussein assassinated John F. Kennedy." The Iraq map shows such sites as "family burning effigy to stay warm," "U.S. soldiers arguing over whose turn it is to wear armor" and "father threatening to turn this car bomb right around if kids don’t be quiet." The section on Iraqi history is titled, "From the Cradle to the Grave of Civilization." Equal opportunity offenders, this atlas’s authors do not spare their own country ("Tennessee: Like ‘Hee Haw’ but a State"). And no joke is too silly or too lame to merit inclusion. Taste, obviously, was never an issue."

My brother was in town a few weeks ago for my wedding, and he had a preview copy from the printer that I was able to flip through. My favorite line so far was "Chile: Preventing Argentina from enjoying the Pacific Ocean since 1818."

Our Dumb World: Argentina (page from new Onion book)

Go order a copy for yourself. Makes a great gift, too.

"Control" or "Why is interactive design different from print design?" (Khoi Vinh presentation)

The Web is not Print. I’ve said it a million times.

But it took the master, Khoi Vinh, to express why. He doesn’t have all the answers yet, but he states the problem space more clearly than I’ve heard elsewhere. And that’s half the battle.

Here is his presentation posted on Slideshare. If you’re involved in web design or web development, do yourself a favor and click through it. It’s called "Control".

He is, of course, a great storyteller, so while I’ll post a few quotes here you’re much better off reading his slides directly.

If narrative is the guiding principle of traditional design, then control is its most important tool. But the guiding principle of interactive media is not narrative — it’s behavior. Designing for behavior means transferring some measure of control from author to user.

What are we designing? Digital media is as different from print as a speech is different from a conversation. They’re both exchanges of information between people. But one is a controlled environment and the other is uncontrolled. In fact, what we’re talking about here is the difference between documents and conversations. Digital media looks like writing, but it’s actually conversation. This push and pull is essential to media evolution. Documents and conversations are not mutually exclusive. They are inherently dependent upon one another.

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."



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