Archived entries for Uncategorized

And they all nodded. (Experience is key differentiator)

Over on the Sensible Internet Design Journal site, there’s an interesting post titled “In search of … search customer experience. Here are my pull quotes:

These huge Internet players agree that customer experience will be the key differentiator on which they stake their businesses once they’re all pointing their searches to like data.

now, 10 years into this whole Web thing, consumer expectations run so low…

The search engines are promoting bad results in absence of good ones.

The Google Platform

This very interesting blog post discusses Google’s “killer app”, and it’s not Gmail:

While competitors are targeting the individual applications Google has deployed, Google is building a massive, general purpose computing platform for web-scale programming….which makes it cheaper and easier for them to develop and run web-scale applications than anyone else…What will they do next with the world’s biggest computer and most advanced operating system?

First Public Post

This is my first public post. I’ve had private sites for some time now, but this is my move to public publishing. Thanks for having me.

Classification Systems – Topic Maps, Taxonomies, etc

This article by Lars Marius Garshol is great: Metadata? Thesauri? Taxonomies? Topic Maps!
Making sense of it all


To be faced with a document collection and not to be able to find the information you know exists somewhere within it is a problem as old as the existence of document collections. Information Architecture is the discipline dealing with the modern version of this problem: how to organize web sites so that users actually can find what they are looking for.

Information architects have so far applied known and well-tried tools from library science to solve this problem, and now topic maps are sailing up as another potential tool for information architects. This raises the question of how topic maps compare with the traditional solutions, and that is the question this paper attempts to address.

The paper argues that topic maps go beyond the traditional solutions in the sense that it provides a framework within which they can be represented as they are, but also extended in ways which significantly improve information retrieval.

After giving a very clear and understandable overview of Controlled vocabularies, Taxonomies, Thesauri, Faceted classification, Ontologies and Other subject-based techniques (throughout section 3.x), the paper give a thorough but clear discussion of Topic Maps, and concludes with a well-reasoned Comparison to other techniques and approaches.

While some argue that Information Architecture is a dry subject, it’s very interesting to me to peek into the level and structure of the thinking that goes into it. The rigor can mirror and enable the technical layer.

[from InfoDesign via Digital-Web

Date Format

Personally, I’ve used many different date formats and notations. Sometimes I’d write mm/yy, sometimes it’d be mm/dd/yy or mm/dd/yyyy. Well, for better or worse, I’ve settled on my personal preference:


I don’t know what’s the best for you, but this one has been good for me. One of the main reasons I settled on it was because it’s sortable. I use it as a prefix for my documents, and i can always sort. In contrast, sometime I version my files like filename_1, filename_2, which is cool until you get to filename_10, in which case sorting no longer does what it should. Equally bad, you can totally lose track on the sequence when one file changes names. Do you start over at _1 when the detail page is now referred to as the item page? With timestamps in the yyyymmdd format, you can always tell the order of things.

In our world of massive iteration, order is crucial. It’s often the only constant we have!

I wasn’t very confident in this approach, but I knew it worked for me. Doing a little searching finally, i found that it’s actually a ISO Spec #8601. So that settles it, I’ve found my date format of choice.

Which format do you use? Why? What cases haven’t I considered?

Turns out people have talked about this, and this page has a nice Eleven good reasons to use it section which I’ve reproduced here:

  • language independent – a true international standard from the International Organisation for
    (see Note 1 below)
  • cannot be confused with any other popular date notations
  • consistency with the common time notation system, where the larger unit (hour) is
    written in front of the smaller ones (minutes and seconds)
  • easily readable and writeable by software (no month name to number conversion
  • easily comparable and sortable with a trivial string comparison
  • strings containing a date followed by a time are also easily comparable and sortable
    e.g. 1996-01-15 22:45:37 with most significant value to the left
  • the notation is short and has constant length, which makes both keyboard data
    entry and table layout easier
  • identical to the Chinese date notation, so the largest cultural group (>25%)
    on this planet is already familiar with it – so no feeble excuses like “but no-one
    uses this format…”
  • date notations with the order “year, month, day” are in already widely used

    in Japan, Korea, Hungary, Sweden, Finland, Denmark to name just a few. Even people in the US
    are already used to at least the “month, day” ordering

  • a 4-digit year representation would have avoided the Year 2000 problem.  If only
    they had thought of that when computer technology was being developed…
  • Astronomers have been using this format for centuries

Tantek at BayCHI 2004.03.23

The next BayCHI-Web talk will be by Tantek Celik from Microsoft speaking on “Emerging Semantic HTML”. Tantek’s a CSS pro, and this talk on semanatic html and development is quite relevant and parallel to our notion of Layered Semantic Markup

This content has been censored during migration from my behind-the-firewall blog to this public one.

Here’s the abstract posted on the BayCHI calendar

There are many ways to say the same thing in HTML. With the increasing diversity of devices and readers (e.g. desktop web browsers, cell phones, robots), it is more important than ever to use mark-up for semantics and leave the presentation to media-specific stylesheets. Tantek will illustrate the emergent use of semantic XHTML as a sweet spot between old-style presentational HTML and dreams of the Semantic Web.

Tantek Çelik serves as Microsoft’s diplomat to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and HyperText Markup Language (HTML) working groups. In his spare time, Tantek keeps a blog and tinkers with semantic Extensible HyperText Markup Language (XHTML), Favelets, and CSS examples. He also led the development of Tasman, the browser presentation engine at the heart of Internet Explorer 5 for Macintosh and MSN for Macintosh.

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