2005.07.18

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.

Posted by Nate Koechley on July 18, 2005 at 12:25 AM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, Design, Engineering, Layered Semantic Markup, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.03.31

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.

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 31, 2005 at 11:30 AM in Design, Engineering, News, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Software and Tools, Yahoo! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.03.28

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.

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 28, 2005 at 09:09 PM in Design, Idea, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Location: San Francisco, My life..., Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.03.23

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!

Posted by Nate Koechley on March 23, 2005 at 12:00 PM in Design, Events, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Knowledge & Content Management, Location: New York City, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.02.09

Semantic Markup - Create, Support and Extract

Semantic Data Extractor

As Kevin Ryan pointed out at work yesterday, the W3's Semantic Data Extractor is a pretty sweet tool. I've been steadily promoting Layered Semantic Markup at work -- the importance of meaningful markup as the core of web development. This is a great tool to show that value, and remind that the reason you put meaning in is to get meaning out.

The tool tries to extract information from a semantically-rich HTML document. It only uses information available through the good usage of the semantics provided by HTML. “The aim is to show that providing semantically rich HTML gives much more value to your code: using semantically rich HTML allows a better use of CSS, and makes your HTML intelligible to a wider range of user agents (especially search engines bots).”

To see it in action, check out the new next.yahoo.com page. The Extractor handles it pretty well, showing a clear document hierarchy.

What is Layered Semantic Markup?

Today’s Wrong Solution is Tomorrow’s Constraint

Layered Semantic Markup (LSM) is not a technology, but a framework comprised of HTML, XHTML, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), Javascript, DOM and other Web technologies. LSM allows for appropriately implemented principles and standards.

LSM is a development framework for creating Web documents and experiences. LSM builds for the least capable devices first, then enhances those documents with separate logic for presentation, in ways that do not place an undue burden on baseline devices but which allow a richer experience for those users with modern graphical browser software. LSM supports all user agents, and is inclusive by design. (Progressive Enhancement - Unobtrusive Javascript)

LSM has structural semantic markup at its core, which provides lean, meaningful, accessible pages. This well-built core and the clear separation of structural, presentational and behavioral layers make this development philosophy superior to many short-sighted approaches.

Today’s wrong solution is tomorrow’s constraint. A holistic vision - an underlying philosophy - must guide technical decisions. LSM provides the strategy for a sound and future-ready approach.

LSM embraces Graded Browser Support by using one markup document, subsequently layered with stylesheets and scripts that provide a gradually enhanced experience across a wide variety of browsers and devices.

This approach has profound advantages over other browser support approaches such as graceful degradation. Graded Browser Support recognizes that advanced technology support is not a guarantee of the future, and that legacy software as well as alternative devices (mobile) must always be considered. Graded Browser Support defines support in terms of current capabilities, not in terms of legacy or obsolete software; it embraces accessibility, universality, and peaceful coexistence with more feature-rich browsers/devices; and it allows for adoption of new technology and strategies without leaving any browser/device behind.

Credits

This work is heavily influenced and contains directly passages from Debra Chamra's "Progressive Enhancement: Paving the Way for Future Web Design", Steven Champeon and Nick Finck's presentation "Inclusive Web Design For the Future with Progressive Enhancement", and Steven Champeon's "Progressive Enhancement and the Future of Web Design", all of which may be found here.

Thanks also to the great people who have endlessly debated and developed these topics with me: James Berry, Sean Imler, Todd Kloots, Jon Koshi, Mike Lee, Thomas Sha, Matt Sweeney, Chanel Wheeler, and Christina Wodtke; and everybody else; and to everybody who puts their ideas online so that others may be inspired. Thanks.

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 9, 2005 at 03:22 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Browsers, Design, Engineering, Idea, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Layered Semantic Markup, References, Search, Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Software and Tools, Visual Design, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

2005.02.01

How Big Is Your Footprint?

"Ever wondered how much "nature" your lifestyle requires? You're about to find out."

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 4.3 PLANETS.

What's your footprint?

Posted by Nate Koechley on February 1, 2005 at 01:01 PM in Design, Idea, My life..., Other, References, Social Networking and Community | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

2005.01.20

Beautiful API

This page is beautiful: http://www.flickr.com/services/api/. Every service-based web site should have a page like this.

This is a great way to understand and communicate your functionality. If you can't describe your site in these terms, well, start trying because you should be able to. (You don't have to make it public.)

I'm not here to talk about the benefits of web services and open APIs -- but at least internally, if you can think about your offerings in these clean and explicit terms you'll be much more successful.

We've moved beyond the "If you build it, they will come" days. We're now in the "If you offer it, they will build it" days. This cool map-based Flickr interface was built because the API existed.

Posted by Nate Koechley on January 20, 2005 at 03:33 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Design, Engineering, Idea, Software and Tools, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.01.17

Must Provide Volume Controls

Rule: Volume controls and a Mute button must exist for all online audio.

I ended up on a promotion page for American Airlines. I was actually interested in the demo they offered, so I clicked to watch. The demo had an audio track but no way to turn off the volume. Because I couldn't turn it off, I immediately closed the window. For me, this reaction is sometimes nearly automatic - almost a type of panic. In this case, I was listening to music.

Unfortunately for American Airlines, I wasn't as interested in their audio narrative as I was in the music I already had. Plus, I didn't want to switch over to iTunes and then back again. If you want be successful online, forget about the audio. If you really can't, make it opt-in. No matter what, leave the user in charge, or they'll leave you.

Posted by Nate Koechley on January 17, 2005 at 11:11 PM in Accessibility, Internationalization, CSS Media Types, Design, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Web Development | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

2005.01.11

Newsmap

For all the news junkies out there, and for those of you interested in visualizations, check out newsmap if you haven't seen it before.

  • Notice the legend in the lower right corner. Color = age.
  • The size of the area represents the number of sources.
  • Layout controls are in the lower right corner too. I think I prefer "standard" over "square".
  • You can select countries across the top. Each country will get a proportional section of the page. Turn on US, NZ and Canada, and notice how different stories are variously prominent.
  • Archive controls are in the lower left. You can examine news from earlier in the day, or earlier in the week.

Posted by Nate Koechley on January 11, 2005 at 02:41 AM in Design, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, News, Social Networking and Community, Visual Design | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Personal Music Services; The Long Tail

The music service Personal Activaire will be more interesting when it podcasts. I don't feel like putting my mp3 player in a FedEx box. Make it a podcast, and now we're talking. (By the way, I only want the good songs, not the whole album. Haven't you read The Long Tail?.)

Posted by Nate Koechley on January 11, 2005 at 02:34 AM in Design, Gadgets, Music [1], Pop Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack