January 30, 2000
Bored? Make something! Not feeling creative? Mess with something
someone else has made! It's the shiny new Metababy!
After a year of progressively failing service, I'm reinstalling
Windows98 on my personal laptop. As it has a single drive bay for
a floppy drive and CD-ROM drive, I'm repeatedly popping one out
and putting the other in. It takes me back to, oh, 1985, when Macs
didn't have hard drives, just 400k floppies, and disk-swapping was
an event unto itself. (And remember when you could fit the entire
system on a single 400k floppy? HAHAHAHA.)
January 29, 2000
Why didn't I think of that? YETI@home.
January 28, 2000
One thing I hate about Web analysis. Hackneyed
diatribes against straw men.
January 27, 2000
Live Nude Baseball Players. Surprisingly, a well-read friend
didn't get a reference to Eadward Muybridge, and some digging around
turned up a coupla cool links. Head
here for an excellent explication of Muybridge's work in developing
motion pictures and conducting motion studies. And over
here for a delightful study (rich in animated .GIFs) of various
forms of pre-cinema, including early motion picture attempts
and optical toys.
January 26, 2000
Your self-important voice of reason. So I got this email from
Tomas Clark, an associate editor at Word.com,
in response to my January 21 query
Regarding the word redesign -- your reaction
probably makes more sense than most of the other ones I've seen.
Nobody can truly fathom the mind of our art director but we weren't
expecting people to make such a fuss about it, or take it so seriously
(not that it's entirely a joke either, but still...) You should
see all the mail we've been getting, there are about four main
interpretations of what it "means" and they're all more or less
wrong from what I can tell.
My best guess is that people were already antsy
about the whole "should the web be bland and easy, or complicated
and eye-popping, or both?" issue and somehow people's buttons
got pushed. Beats me! I just wanted to give you a little award
Taylor, are you listening?
Last week, NPR's Morning Edition featured Scott McCloud, Art
Spiegelman, and Stan Lee in a discussion
on comics on the Web. (RealAudio required).
January 25, 2000
Oh, the humanity! Jef Raskin's summary
of his forthcoming book, The Humane Interface, offers
up quality thought grist for the mental mill.
How much sitting do
you need? Yesterday I received the premiere Design
Within Reach catalog, a handsome offering of goods for design-lust
types. Thing is, a good 2/3rds of what they offer are chairs. I
mean, are we all really that obsessed with sitting?
More of the search
D'arcy reminds us of
Base Search, which I wrote about a
while back. (scroll all the way to the bottom). Nifty thing:
it remembers your previous 10 searches, particularly useful in
that you're probably having to restart your machine repeatedly
when using it, and this helps get you back to exactly where you
January 23, 2000
Shareware textbook! That's right, you can read the entire text
User Interface Design" online, and all the authors ask
is, if you dig it, to pay them $5. Looking through the TOC, it seems
to offer a strong foundation in approaching user-centered design.
Seek and ye shall
find. In response to yesterday's beseechment for notably good
and bad search interfaces, I've received some good leads.
offers 'logical' and 'emotional' ways to structure a query. Oh,
and an 800 number to help with a 'personal' search. That's service!
quite disheartened with thomas.loc.gov,
unable to find specific legislation even though he knew what the
bill was about, and unsure whether he was reading full text or
up this intriguing prototype
of a extension to standard search interfaces.
search extends into the interface, allowing you to browse previous
and next through the results as you read messages. [thanks ev]
me to "Cognitive
Strategies in Web Searching" a proceedings paper aiming
to "develop an empirically-based model of web searching,
to help explain how people search for information on the Web and
to develop guidelines for supporting Web searching."
And I'm still looking!
Thanks for your help.
Random thought of
the following moment. Why is there no sushi delivery in San
Francisco? I mean, sushi travels well, no?
Random thought of
the moment. Isn't it great that no one really knows what the
hell they're doing?
The L.A. Times' lengthy
feature on The Onion covers much the same ground as was found
in the Wired
and New Yorker articles about the rag, though with a bit more Hollywood
January 22, 2000
Can you keep track? Dig the multi-channel information reception
stylings of ure.org, Steve Cannon's
gallery of textural textual experiments. Make sure to take in all
three panels of the Art, Interface, and Science panels. Why aren't
next-gen interfaces becoming real?
Turning Search Into
Find. I'm researching search engine interface design for a presentation,
and am hoping to exploit the power of the distributed network to
turn up relevant demonstrations (i.e., looking for y'all to point
me to some nifty stuff).
I'm looking for good
and bad examples of
- Search engine query
interfaces (e.g., innovative designs like the sentence-construction
or poor designs that require knowledge of Boolean operators)
- Search engine results
presentation and interaction (I like Staples.com's "show
me text/show me images" toggle, though it would be better
as a single on/off button)
- Extension of search
results throughout an experience (such as Sparks.com's 'previous
card' and 'next card' on the product
Whether you've got stuff
you love or hate, please send
it in. Final presentation will be posted to peterme.com in early
January 21, 2000
Who cares? For some reason, tons
are going on and on about the Word.com
"redesign." It's a hot topic on bunches of mailing lists.
It's most likely just a joke, and not an original
one. And even if it isn't, why does it matter? Does it matter?
January 19, 2000
Stabbed with a Pen. Enjoy the metaphorical stylings of "Understanding
Understanding Comics." Makes me wonder who will write "Understanding
January 18, 2000
A conference worth going to! The line-up for South
by Southwest's Interactive Conference is looking very very good.
This is possibly the only generalist interactive conference in America
that maintains any visionary and cultural edge.
From the San Francisco
of Buster East Bay author meticulously tracks down original locations
for Keaton movies. A feature entertainment story on a man retracing
Buster Keaton's film locations, including some nifty photos.
Find New Life on Superhighway: Internet may save the day for comic-book
industry. Or not. Okay piece. Disappointing in that it doesn't
cover alternative payment methods. Scott
McCloud, whom longtime petermeme readers know I love, is among
the few remaining proponents of micropayments, as he feels it's
the best solution for making sure independent artists get paid.
This quote from Stan
Lee is unfortunate: "'It will be a whole new way of telling
stories,' he said. 'It will be more like minimovies than comic books.'"
If it's true, it marks the death of comics on the Web (because,
really, movies are simply not comics). Happily, I don't think it's
true, so I suspect Stan is barking up the wrong tree, and it's disappointing
that he's not working harder to evolve the comics medium, instead
pursuing the lazier path of "multimedia" which will probably
mean dull Flash animations.
January 17, 2000
Shit keeps falling.
After many months on hiatus, Leisuretown
returns with a magnum opus on being a contractor in the software
industry. Funny, crude, and not for the kiddies.
Homage? Ripoff? Quality?
Wood Works offers reproductions of the classic Eames Storage
Units at prices significantly less than the new Herman Miller reissues.
Does anyone know if these guys are on the up-and-up?
Cocaine? True. Santa?
provides the real deal behind the various claims surrounding The
Real Thing. Typically, most rumors surrounding Coke are false, though
one that the Coca-Cola Company will deny left, right, and center,
that Coca-Cola once had cocaine, is true.
The trip to Cokelore
was brought on by Tog's
thoughtwander on whether or not Mac
OS X will be the New Coke of interface design. Tog's
piece is balanced and incisive.
The comp'ny. A
few things worth noting.
Epinions.com is among the Industry
Standard's 10 Companies to Watch.
The guy I sit next to,
Nirav Tolia, is one of Women.com's
Men of Silicon Valley. Vote for him, will ya?
Look at the top of the left column for details on our new User Advocate
January 16, 2000
Kaboom. Though an unfortunate misappropriation of metaphor,
big bang theory of human evolution" is hoping to put to
rest the controversy around human origins, with massive evidence
supporting a multiregional theory, the belief that human ancestors
left Africa 2 million years ago, spread throughout the world, evolved
separately, yet maintained genetic ties through some interbreeding.
While much has been made of the vanquishing
of the "Out of Africa" hypothesis, it still holds
on strong--it's clear this debate won't be resolved any time
January 15, 2000
BLO by BLO. Last night caught the Beth
Lisick Ordeal, a fabulous local (San Francisco) musical act
headlined by the irrepressible over-sized pixie Beth Lisick, a lyricist
par excellence reminiscent of MC 900 FT Jesus, but cheerier.
(And what in the heck happened to him? One
Step Ahead of the Spider is awesome, but he's been silent since.)
Turns out Beth also covers the SF indie scene in a weekly
column that I've just added to my spyonit repertoire.
January 11, 2000
Design lust. Netsetgoods.com
offers a variety of tastily designed goods, including the entire
Blu Dot furniture and furnishings
line. I am so wanting the 2-D/3-D magazine rack, and I suspect the
Chicago Low Boy will solve bookshelf needs. Oh, and a Go Cart for
my television. And maybe Modulicious as clothing drawers. Um. After
I pay taxes, that is. (Quarterlies? Oh, you mean I was supposed
to file those? Oh.)
January 09, 2000
I'm, well, glad.
One of the The New Yorker's best writers, Malcolm Gladwell,
has launched a personal site,
featuring much of his writing from the magazine. Personal favorites
Degrees of Lois Weinberg," about Chicago's most well-connected
woman, and "The
Science of the Sleeper," a thoughtful look at collaborative
filtering. The latter lead to this
Epinion by my dad, who doubts the power of the recommendation
It appears the site will
largely serve to market Gladwell's forthcoming book, The
Tipping Point: How Little Things can Make a Big Difference.
It's a book about change. In particular, it's
a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so
often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example,
why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's?
How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national
The topic is fascinating.
It definitely resonates with punctuated
equilibrium (wherein a small environmental shift can trigger
massive species change), and with notions from complexity
theory about 'order on the edge of chaos.' Drool.
January 8, 2000
Ready...3...2...1... So, I'm kind of addicted to Netbaby's
Boatrace (requires Shockwave). It hearkens back to the classic
Atari Sprint. My high score is 20680. I love the simplicity and
quickness of this game... If you have similar favorites, please
let me know. Brief timewasters
are beloved. Also, though I don't know what purpose it serves, I've
also created a Netbaby team, the Infozorkmiads. If you want on,
just ask. .
January 6, 2000
Competitive gloat. According to PCData,
Epinions.com ranks 217 among websites overall, with nearly 1.8 million
unique users. This is after having launched at the beginning of
September and with almost no money spent on marketing. What's satisfying
is that our most direct competitor, Deja.com, who has had the benefit
of much more time online, and spent millions on advertising, ranks
256, with 1.6+ million users.
January 5, 2000
He's not bitter. The Hermenaut, the journal for frustrated pomo
crit types, is now online, featuring, among other items, an extensive
interview with Eightball creator Dan Clowes.
January, 3, 2000
A PSA (peterme service announcement). Get a flu shot. See, I
didn't, and have been suffering from an "extra
nasty strain" of the virus all weekend. It turns out this
year's vaccine is an excellent match, so if you haven't been inoculated,
get it done. Trust me on this one. Oy.