Indy and the garbage

Over the past 6-12 months, Indy had pretty much lost his eyesight, hearing, and sense of balance. He staggered around, and mostly just walked between his two beds.

In his earlier years, Indy was a willful and ornery pup, to the extent his prime nickname was Little Bastard. He loved garbage. And he kept breaking into the cabinet where we stored garbage. Repeated attempts at upping the security failed, so Stacy, at the end of her wits, caught his escapades on a web cam.

indyandthe garbage.jpg

For some reason, I can’t embed the video, but follow this link, and you’ll see an active and engaged dog with his wits about him. For all the frustration this caused (cleaning up garbage is not fun), this is the dog I remember.

Three Questions for Scott Rosenberg, author of Say Everything

Scott Rosenberg’s been observing the blog scene for 10 years. I’ve gotten to know him over the last few years, and recently he’s been talking about nothing but blogs, as he’s just written Say Everything, a history and exploration of the genre.

I haven’t finished the book, but in reading it, I realized I had questions for Scott about his relationship to the form, and his reasons behind writing the book. I sent them to him, and he was kind enough to respond:

What was your motivation for writing this book? What did you hope to impart to readers?

First off, I’m a writer, and this looked like a big absorbing subject for a book that, inexplicably to me, no one had yet tackled.

I also felt there were stories to be told about the experiences of bloggers, particularly early bloggers, that are not only fascinating in themselves but of urgent and practical value to the hordes of people who are putting chunks of their lives out in public today via social networking.

Finally, I believe that the tech world — and the rest of our culture, when it views the tech world — has the equivalent of historical amnesia. We’re always starting over at year one. We don’t have much of a collective memory. And I thought it might be good to capture the stories SAY EVERYTHING tells while they’re still fresh.

You’ve been active in blogging since before the practice had a name. What was the nature of the researching and reporting you had to do, versus simply writing about what you had seen happen over the past 10 or so years?

Not sure if “active in blogging since before the practice had a name” is accurate: I was reading/following the form quite early, and wrote about it for the first time in 1999, but started my own blog in 2002, at a point when, I thought, I was quite late to the party.

Anyway: it certainly helped me that I wasn’t starting from scratch. The research involved (a) as many interviews as I could fit into the limited time I had (less than one year) and (b) reading all the online posts and pages relevant to the stories I wanted to tell. In a lot of cases this was rereading, to make sure my recollections hadn’t gone astray. I also tried to read as much as I could of the existing secondary literature — books, coverage of blogging, etc. The result is inevitably incomplete; I knew it was going to be, and concentrated my efforts on keeping the part that I *was* covering as accurate as I could.

In writing this book, what did you learn about blogging that you hadn’t realized before?

That turns out to be a tough question. When you write books the way this one was written, with a lengthy proposal that a publisher accepts and then a limited time to turn in a manuscript, most of the heavy thinking and learning actually takes place in the proposal part of the process, not the writing.

One thing I learned: The book is in part an argument for the value of blogs that do not have, or aim at, big audiences — blogs that are written primarily for yourself or a small group of friends/acquaintances. And I found that, though I was able to make this argument, making generalizations about this group was incredibly difficult. To the eyes of a journalist/storyteller, each blogger’s story is unique. So generalizing really calls for the tools of a social scientist — hard data, well-designed surveys, and so on. That’s something I couldn’t do. It’s a great opportunity for someone else.

Happy is as happy does

I’m a couple months late on this, but I finally got around to reading What Makes Us Happy?, a lengthy article on the Harvard Study of Adult Development, a remarkable longitudinal study that has followed a set of Harvard men for over 70 years. It’ll take you a while to plow through it, but the outcome is worth it. It offers a fascinating portrait into what makes people tick, and the characteristics that predict happiness and success, and those that suggest failure and misery. I was struck by how much of it is rooted in simple physical health. Anyway, set aside some time, and give it a whirl.

UX Week 2009 – $1,776 Independence Day pricing extended

For UX Week 2009, We’ve extended our $1,776 Independence Day pricing for another week, recognizing many people were gone over the holiday and might not have had a chance to use it. And, if you use the promotional code FOPM, you’ll get an additional 15% off, bringing the registration price to $1,510, which is nearly $1,000 off the full price of $2,495. At $1,510, that’s around $375/day, which is a remarkable price when compared to other similar events!

Main stage talks include:

  • Matias Duarte, Senior Director of Human Interface and UX at Palm
  • Sarah Jones, Tony Award winning playwright and performer
  • Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics
  • Genevieve Bell, Director, User Experience Group, Intel Digital Home Group
  • Temple Grandin, Best-selling author, Animals Make Us Human and Thinking in Pictures
  • Jesse James Garrett, Co-Founder and President of Adaptive Path
  • David Merrill, one of the creators of Siftables
  • Erin McKean, Independent lexicographer and dictionary evangelist
  • Martyn Ware, Sonic ID (and founder of the 80′s band, The Human League!)
  • Elizabeth Windram, Senior UX Designer & Bernhard Seefeld, Product Manager, Google Maps

    3 days of hands-on workshops include:

  • Good Design Faster with Rachel Glaves and Brandon Schauer of Adaptive Path
  • Noel Franus, Manager of the global identity practice for Sonic ID
  • Strategy Team of One with Henning Fischer of Adaptive Path
  • Content Strategy with Kristina Halvorson of Brain Traffic
  • Facilitation and Collaboration with Julia Houck-Whitaker of Adaptive Path and Sarah B. Nelson
  • Designing for Mobile with Rachel Hinman of Adaptive Path
  • Multitouch with Nathan Moody and Darren David of Stimulant
  • Michal Migurski and Tom Carden of Stamen
  • Making Things with Jared Cole of Adaptive Path
  • Tangible Thinking with Todd Wilkens of Adaptive Path

    So sign up today!

  • Do People Ever Tire of Being Wrong?

    Last April, there was a flurry of “news” coverage on concerns about Up, and whether it not commercial enough.

    Well, it has currently grossed more money than any other film this year (though Transformers 2 will blow past it soon. Still…)

    Is anyone going back to the “analysts” and upbraiding them for their shortsighted work? Is there any punishment, demerit, or other drawback to having been so wrong?

    Cities in film

    Watching a documentary on the gangster film, it got me to think about cities in film. What films depict the idea of the city really well; communicate the warp, weft, and flow of a metropolis. The types of movies that all my friends who are engaged in thinking about urbanism should see. Here’s the start of a list:

    Metropolis
    Though a soundstage picture, it must be acknowledged, in that it’s essentially a filmic treatise on the idea of a city, and is so phenomenally influential.

    Sunrise
    The lure of the city proves great for a country boy. Murnau’s films had palpable energy.

    The Naked City
    The first shot-on-location crime film of the sound era, it’s use of New York City milieus provides texture not found on soundstages.

    The Third Man
    The desiccated husk of wartorn Vienna exposes what cities are like when pushed to their extremes.

    Rear Window
    Because of the limits of its setting, I almost didn’t include this, but that setting is so distinctly and undeniably urban.

    High and Low
    Class bifurcation; seaminess and fun; a police procedural that turns over the rocks in Yokohama.

    Koyaanisqatsi
    Maybe cities aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

    Blade Runner
    a.k.a. Metropolis 2. L.A. is as much of a character as any human (or replicant).

    Wings of Desire
    Thanks to angels, we get to peer into the minds of Berlin dwellers.

    Dark City
    The first 2/3rds of this movie are a brilliant reflection and commentary of urban life. The last 1/3rd is a mindless showdown.

    Run Lola Run
    Only in a city could you cover so much ground on foot. Also, the flash-forwards in passersby’s lives reveal more about urban life.

    I’m surprised, given massively expanding urbanism, no film in the last 10 years strikes me as suitable fodder. I’m sure there are flicks I haven’t seen, though, that would qualify…