Apple Ad Blurs Old and New Media

An inspiring ad in today’s New York Times.

Click play and see how the lines between old media (NYTimes ‘paper’ style view of front page) and new mix together beautifully.

In case the ad moves, I tried to do a screen capture of it, but the voice is lost. Just focus on the ad and the paper’s headline.

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Alpha, Beta, Gamma…Love?

Many bloggers are familiar with Flickr, a fantastic photo sharing site. They and many web 2.0 companies use the “beta” label, seemingly to avoid responsibility if there are bugs or customer complaints. Beta is fine, in my opinion, if the service is limited to a specific customer base and if it is free, but once a customer has to pay, all bets are off.

As Flickr has matured, it changed its logo labeling from “beta” to the “gamma” level of maturity. Today I noticed that their logo no longer contains this cautionary label, but now reads “loves you,” as in “Flickr loves you.” See below.

Flickr Logo Beta

Flickr Logo Gamma

Flickr Logo

So, what does this have to say about the Flickr? What, no love at first site? Did you have to get customer commitment before you learned to love us?

In all seriousness, have you been involved with products that used the “beta” label? If so, what were the reasons?

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IA Summit 2007 Redux: Rashmi Sinha

A closing plenary from Rashmi Sinha.

Rashmi is the creator of SlideShare.

[Runtime: 49 slides | Please make sure you have the latest version of Adobe Flash installed on your computer to watch this slideshow. To download it, please visit: http://www.adobe.com/ ]

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Post a Slideshow on Your Site – Part III

Slideshare

Well, it’s now available and I’m very excited! Think of the possibilities. For teachers. For sharing knowledge in an organization. For sharing knowledge with the world. Sign up now and get started.

Related Posts

Post a Slideshow on Your Site – Part II

Post a Slideshow on Your Site – Part I

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Post a Slideshow on Your Site – Part II

…or, you could simply use SlideShare, once the kind folks open up the beta to everyone. Below is an example using the venerable Lou Rosenfeld’s recently posted “Enterprise Information Architecture” slides.

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Post a Slideshow on Your Site – Part I

I stumbled across this post which describes how you can embed slides into your website. If you use either a free Flickr account (or Google’s Picasa), you can export your Powerpoint slides as image files, upload them to your photo site, and then insert a bit of code to embed your slides. It takes a few minutes, but it is certainly a useful little hack. Hopefully Flickr (and Picasa) won’t change their code to beat this hack.

Obviously the example shown below is not too pretty because my content space does not have a lot of width. I’ve noticed that this alters Flickr’s functionality a bit. One other note – be sure that you upload your slides in reverse chronoligical order so that your first slide is the one most recently uploaded. Unfortunately, I cannot seem to find a way to change the slide order.

The slide example below was created by Ari Weissman after his recent conference experiences. He posted some useful links to accompany his slides. Enjoy!

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UX in DC Week

uxweek

I know, I know. I’m late to the game. I was not able to attend Adaptive Path’s UX week in DC last month. Fortunately, there’s a wiki containing great sessions notes.

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G.E. Brainstorms Too!

G.E. Imagination Cubed

Now this free tool from G.E. might be a helpful tool to use during brainstorming meetings…folks can collaborate during the meeting and then be able to print out the results…[Hat Tip to Lifehacker]

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Online Visio

Gliffy Logo

The rage now is converting every MS Office application to the web (web 2.0) so you can access tools and files from anywhere, enabling better collaboration among team members. One suite of tools that comes to mind is Zoho, which includes most of the MS Office tools, but with less functionality.

This morning I read an article [hat tip to Nomad] about Gliffy, a web tool that looks to provide Visio-like functionality. I wonder if it can provide the mind-mapping functionality as well? The cool thing is that you can easily embed the results into any site.

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Web 2.0 the Enterprise

Digg Logo

I’ve been thinking a lot about the voting mechanism in Digg, Netscape beta and others that allows users to rate content as helpful or worthwhile. Think of Amazon’s “Was this rating helpful?” mechanism but with the power to literally elevate content to higher visibility.

I think there are some wonderful uses for this type of social voting for the enterprise, and Kevin and others might consider teaming with CMS providers to include this functionality into corporate intranets and KM solutions. Here’s one idea:

In traditional organizations, innovation and idea generation is a top-down exercise. That is, business leaders drive the services and products based on their own analysis of market needs. In addition, corporate policy is determined by the leaders of the organization.

On the other hand, some organizations allow for the bottom-up vetting of ideas. Why not use a voting mechanism like that employed by Digg to allows employees to participate in a “suggestion box” approach – suggestions to better the company – both in terms of corporate policy/culture and the products and services they offer to the customer? Fellow employees can then rate these ideas and the best ideas are vetted to the top. These suggestions then get on the radar of corporate leaders.

Implementing this functionality on corporate intranets seems like a no-brainer to me. Unfortunately, in my experience, only the large organizations really focus on harnessing the potential of their intranets. The new social technologies of blogs, wikis, feeds and the like have a slow mainstream adoption process, but the need for sharing knowledge in the enterprise is great and these tools are inexpensive solutions for building an innovative knowledge-sharing organization.

Update

After doing a little digging (horrible pun), it seems as though the folks at Digg will be releasing a Digg API around the time of the version 3.0 release next Monday:

“We also plan on launching an API after the next major release of digg (v3). The API will provide users with access to digg DB data in which you can build your own digg tools/research projects around.”

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Sweet Resume Tool

Emurse Logo

Alex is a busy man. His “day” job has kept him busy with Netcape beta and now he’s publicizing his resume tool called “Emurse.” I encourage you to check it out.

Here’s Alex’s press release regarding Emurse:

“Emurse.com’s mission is to improve your job hunt.

We believe that your job hunt is a continual process that starts with having an updated resume available at all times. Emurse allows you to easily create resumes and manage your existing ones. You can download them in any format instantly from anywhere in the world. Stay organized and save time by easily distributing your resumes directly from the site, keeping track of all their destinations and when they’ve arrived. When its time to update your resume, Emurse allows you to easily make a change to all of them simultaneously. We’ll even help you turn your resume into a web page so potential employers can always have access to your most recent copy.”

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Diggidy Dugg

Digg Logo

Seems there’s a buzz about AOL’s venture into user-recommended-and-rated-news. I am not writing this post to berate AOL for moving into a space carved out by Digg. Frankly, I do not think Digg owns the IP to this social news framework. Others like those at Newsvine have produced similar offerings.

Instead, I think AOL’s offering instead targets the Googles and Yahoos of the world, trying to pit this functionality into their broader portal offering.

Most importantly, I want to give props to Alex for his fantastic work on the product. He and his team have a lot to be proud of.

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Easy Chat

Did you know you could add chat to your website very easily? With Gabbly you can simply type in to your browser address line (best with Firefox) ‘www.gabbly.com/www.mywebsite.com’ where ‘mywebsite’ is your site. You can also embed the chat tool right into your web page like the example shown here. Note sure about security, but it seems interesting.

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Wiki Recommendations

I am looking to set up a wiki for my group at work. The idea is to share information regarding conferences, research, or anything else we’d like to share. We decided a wiki would be the best tool, but after a preliminary review of free products hosted by the wiki provider, there were not too many I’d consider intuitive. The two I’ve focused on are Jot and PBWiki. The big plus with Jot is that is uses a WYSIWYG editor and it has a number of template plugins available.

Can you make any recommendations for a free hosted Wiki with WYSIWYG editing features?

UPDATE: June 10, 2006

I’m not sure why I hadn’t thought of it since I already use WordPress for this site…I’ve been thinking of moving away from using a wiki and instead using a blog tool like WordPress. WordPress hosts blogs at wordpress.com so I can set up a blog that includes wiki-like functionality using editable pages. There’s also a WYSIWYG editor for those who would rather not dabble in XHTML.

In addition, WordPress offers much more for workgroup collaboration. For instance, it lets you feed XML into the sidebar, so colleagues can easily share articles bookmarked and saved in Del.icio.us.

The biggest issue is intellectual property issues along with security. Pages and posts can be password protected, but it would be much easier if only registered users of the site could read posts and pages. Unfortunately, it does not seem that WordPress offers this out-of-the-box functionality. I can only assume they will add this to their enterprise offferings.

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IA Summit Redux: DC-Style

dc-ia

On Saturday May 20, the local chapter of DC information architects got together to recap topics that were addressed and discussed at the 2006 IA Summit. This was a long time coming for me. I’ve been meaning to attend these local meetings, but life has, of course, gotten in the way.

Livia Labate has provided a wealth of useful material, including MP3 recordings of the local DC event, as well as links to material that was presented at the Summit.

Anyway, the following is a brief summary of my notes. Certainly these notes do not codify the entirety of the redux – just my own brain dump based on notes taken at the event. The topics to be addressed are listed below (those in bold are the ones we had time to discuss):

Overview

  1. Summit Overview#
  2. Tagging#
  3. Wireframes#
  4. New Technology#
  5. Content Management
  6. Business and IA
  7. Theory#
  8. International

Summit Overview

Dan Brown facilitated the DC-IA redux, and one of the things he discussed centered around the format of the Summit. He mentioned that in the past, there was a greater selection of things to attend and a greater variety of topics. On the other hand, he mentioned that there were better opportunities to connect with people outside of sessions this past year. He asked for input on how to create a culture that would both maximize connections outside of sessions and make good use in-session time.

Tagging

James Melzer addressed the topic of tagging, focusing primarily on using the bookmark tool del.icio.us.

Some discussion revolved around making a distinction between a group versus a crowd. A group, James indicated, is intentional, known, and planned. In contrast, a crowd is unknown and not planned. Del.icio.us embraces both, and James noted that sometimes crowds become groups in Del.icio.us because is sometimes ends up being the same people who are the forefront of tagging, and their aggregate work sets trends for other users.

Tagging::Kinds of Tags

  • Description (Singular)
  • Categorization (plural)
  • Opinion
  • Action (temporary, personal)
  • Relation (for userid)
  • Insider Reference (e.g., “enterprise_ia”)

Wireframes

Nathan Curtis discussed wireframes. Apparently, Nathan worked at K12 for a few months just before I arrived. I’ve heard very good things about him – in particular, how he shared some of his wireframing techniques with current K12 IAs.

Wireframes::Techniques

Nathan explained that there was a discussion of using different wireframing techniques/tools, including:

Wireframes::Challenges

Nathan mentioned that IAs need to struggle with representing interactions over time. With the advent of RIAs such as Flash and Ajax, IAs need to be able to communicate how information is to be presented, but how user behaviors will affect the feedback and visual representation of a web application. Nathan mentioned Bill Scott at Yahoo! and how he uses interaction storyboards, complete with interaction matrices to document all behavior changes for a given interaction type.

One technique Nathan mentioned was to segment the “modules” that comprise a wireframe. In other words, reusable widgets can be saved as components to be used over and over again. In addition, Nathan commented on Kevin Cheng’s use of comics to communicate HCI usability issues with stakeholders.

New Technology

Nathan briefly discussed how new technologies are affecting the profession. For instance, Laszlo and Adobe Flex make it easier to move from a rapid prototype to a working solution. The web metaphor is moving away from “pages” to “mashups,” so IAs need to be able to embrace change and add new skill sets to accomodate for this change.

The group also discussed game design and the use of incentives as a way to interact with the user.

Theory

Olga Howard took some more time to cover the distinction of “crowd” versus “group.” With regard to tagging in Del.icio.us, the group discussed how there may be a flurry of different tags used to classify objects, but over time, the number of tags flattens to an accepted assortment.

Next, the discussion turned to Morville’s championing of “findability.” The basic questions to ask include:

  • Is it useful?
  • Is it desirable?
  • Is it valuable?
  • Is it credible?

Conclusion

Since I have not been able to attend the IA Summit yet, I found this redux to be pretty informative. In addition to getting useful information, I enjoyed spending time with other like-minded individuals who have a passion for creating usable intuitive products.

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Comment Spam

Well, I’ve caved and have to turn off comments for a bit. For the last month or so, I’ve been getting slammed with comment and trackback spam – so much so that it takes me about an hour each day to stay on top of it.

I will turn comments on once I find time to upgrade WordPress, using their Akismet spam plugin.

UPDATE May 25

I’ve upgraded WordPress and have activated the spam plugin. I’d also like to incorporate a “captcha”-style comment (spam deterrent) option as well. Any recommendations?

Google Calendar – First Impressions

Google Calendar

Today Google launched their own calendar offering. I created a Google Calendar for myself and my initial review is relatively positive, but not enough to make me a convert.

Pros

The definitive positives include the ability to manage multiple calendars, sharing calendars and delegating permissions to access these calendars. Also, there are a variety of ways to get notified of events – emails, SMS, etc.

Cons

The biggest negative, for me, is that there is no sync capability. Google allows you to import your calendar from another program, but there is no way to sync a localized version of your calendar, either on a client program, a handheld, or otherwise. In addition, it does not publish in the iCal format to allow for subscriptions. Why should I only be able to view the calendar on the site? Shouldn’t I also be able to subscribe to the calendar and view it using a portable device? Perhaps the thought is that all portable devices in the future will have a persistent connection to the Internet, but I for one cannot now justify spending a few extra bucks for my mobile phone provider to offer this option.

I understand that Google starts off with limited features and expands its offerings, but this sync criticism is one that I have with a majority of the web calendar offerings out there. My current solution is to use iCalx to host my calendar. Essentially, it is a site that offers webDAV technologies and uses PHP iCalendar. That way I can use a client like Apple’s iCal or Mozilla Calendar to publish and sync my calendar in the iCal format to the iCalx site. Then I can sync the client with my portable device (Palm).

Conclusion

I have no problem using a web program like Google instead of a client program, but it must at least offer a way to subscribe to the calendar for viewing on other platforms and devices. Google is on its way to solving the problem of sharing and collaborating using calendars, but until they can offer a subscription and a syncing feature, it will not replace my current solution.

Update

I spoke too soon. Google does offer the ability to view the calendar from other applications by offering both an xml feed and an iCal subscription! Yippie! Now they just need to let users create entries from these other applications so they can be synced to the Google calendar.

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Foxmark Your InfoCloud

Foxmarks Logo

In my never-ending quest to manage my personal infocloud, I came across a great article referencing Foxmarks, a tool to sync Firefox bookmarks between computers. If you are a Firefox user (which you should be!), I encourage you to use this tool. It’s in beta now, but I’ve had no problems whatsoever syncing bookmarks between my work pc, my home Mac, and my laptop.

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Which Stakeholder is Greater?

I understand that one of the big reasons Grants.gov went with its current solution was so that people could fill out forms offline. However, I wonder which stakeholder is more affected – the person who cannot have constant Internet access or the person who has a Mac (or another alternative OS) and has to jump through additional hoops in order to submit his or her application? I am amazed that any research institution would not have constant Internet connectivity. Do we know what percentage of applicants might fall into this category? Dave indicates that as many as 33% of the Grants.gov audience uses a computing platform other than Windows OS. I just cannot imagine that 33% of applicants in the grantee community would not have access to the Internet. As I’ve remarked tongue-in-cheek in the past,

“There are federal mandates such as Section 508 that provide for equal access to web applications for handicapped individuals. Shouldn’t there be an equal access technology policy too?”

My point being that official G2C business systems should allow for multi-platform accessibility. Granted, I’ve spoken about the alternative of using Citrix, but this is not a particularly intuitive solution for many people. At least there are some offers of help.

Frankly, I do not think that it would be such a stretch to create a product that is available on multiple platforms. Sure, perhaps they cannot have something available “for every platform imaginable,” but this is not forging new ground. For instance, a tool like JEdit is Java-based and can therefore be run on multiple platforms. It is a text editor that handles a variety of plugins, including fairly robust XML editing. Now, although I do not know all the technology requirements for a tool to be able to transmit the data to grants.gov, it seems to me that something similar can be created that meets the requirements for offline application creation.

If Grants.gov is unwilling to “host” grantees’ data centrally, then it seems that this saved money could easily be used to resolve this issue. It’s just a shame that they did not think to include the multiple platform requirement when they initially contracted with PureEdge. I guess the saying goes “better late than never,” but it sounds as though there are some angry people – I’ve been monitoring this dissatisfaction for almost 2-3 years now.

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Grant.gov Usability Incompatability

Grants.Gov

Today’s Washington Post catches on the problems Mac users have identified for a while now – that Grants.gov does not support Mac users unless these users use a Citrix workaround.

Scientists should focus on science, not on how to submit applications for funding. It seems to me that the process should be intuitive and quick – not painstakingly difficult to figure out. The Grants.gov issue starts off with usability problems because it does not support a variety of computing platforms. Why does the grant community gush about NSF’s Fastlane system? Well, you don’t need to get bogged down in instructions to figure out how to use it and it is platform independent.

Perhaps Grants.gov should determine why scientists love this system. Previous posts about Grants.gov here and here.

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