For a good time, call 760-733-9969
after 2pm Pacific Time.This is a limited time offer! If you don't
call today, you might miss it!
and Principles Affecting the Usability of Four E-commerce Sites."
Title says it all.
Treasure trove of trenchant treats. Excuse the alliteration.
It's just that I get excited when stumbling upon as fabulous a collection
of writing as is available for reading at Max
Bruinsma's web site. Max writes about all manner of design for
the incomparable Eye magazine, among other publications. It's definitely
to be bookmarked for later reading.
immediate interest is the First
Things First 2000 manifesto, an updated tract against the abject
consumerism of commercial design. It's a treat to have such
great thought freely available!
speaks. Taylor (a
very smart, very tall, very bald man whom you should pay lots of
money to do clever Web things, or hire to sit on your side of the
table and intimidate clients) developed the Star Wars comic/cartoon
I pointed to yesterday, and responded to my musings:
But what will
allow you to move comics online? Scott's vision is a good one,
but quite academic. While it retains more of the roots of what
comics are, the form positions it more as a museum installation
or a monument, then a populist art form. Comics have always been
a mass medium, that's always been a heavy influence in it's development.
I don't actually
think that comics can make the jump to the screen as comics. The
differences in the medium and the expectations that the audiences
have or are developing are too great. Instead I'm noticing how
multimedia, computer games, web pages, and operating systems are
using comic languages and tools to solve problems and evolve.
Look at Ultima Online's heavy reliance on the word balloon, or
how the process of panel closure and composition works on your
not survive the jump into the net intact, but by attempting the
jump they will help pollenate the computer medium and lead to
a unique hybrid art form, one that is as much comics as it is
cinema, or graphic design, or multimedia.
Smart thoughts about comix. In Chicago I shopped at the incomparable
Quimby's, a store specializing
in alternative printed media--comix, zines, small press and self-published
books. Therein I purchased The
Imp #3, a beautifully designed and throughtfully written
zine devoted to the work of Chris
Ware. (And I know want to find #1, about Dan
"Eightball" Clowes.) The Imp features
prominently in this fairly
engaging introduction to the fringe-dwelling world of underground
and alternative comix.
I've been thinking quite a bit about bringing comics online. I agree
with Scott McCloud when he says, "Multimedia plus comics is
not multimedia comics--it's multimedia." Too often folks think
that since this medium allows you to animate and use synced sound,
you should exploit that. However, that simply turns comics into
cartoons (Hi Taylor!).
However, there are interactive elements to exploit that wouldn't
violate the sanctity of the spatial nature of comics art, and could,
in fact, extend it.
Lenses are an interface widget that have yet to catch on, though
they're very very cool. The idea of a Magic Lens is that you can
take any visual scene (which is just an amalgamation of data) and
apply a lens to it, and derive a new representation of that information
from that scene. Magic Lenses hold a lot of promise for online
comics--they use the malleability of the screen in such a way that
they can extend and enhance the information in a comic panel without
interfering with the magic of comics.
Lenses are truly
programmatic. Say you have a string of numbers. You could apply
a magic lens to them that adds all the numbers up. Or you could
apply a magic lens to them that charts the numbers on a graph.
Lenses are more simply presentational. I created one for DHTML that
is an X-Ray machine. You can find it here
(click DHTML Experiment, then select X-Ray). The tech here is simple--overlaying
two graphics, and only showing the part of the one "on top" that
is pertinent. But the effect proves quite powerful.
got their start at Xerox PARC. Here's their
page describing them (with some lame applets).
good thought on Magic Lenses: http://www.go2net.com/internet/deep/1997/04/23/body.html
(featuring the world's yuckiest magic lenses applet)
this all mean for comics? Well, you could have a straightforward
comic panel. But let's say some character has, I dunno, X-Ray vision.
The reader could "turn on" his vision and see the panel from his
perspective--perhaps revealing some key clue or whatnot. Or to extend
that, use Magic Lenses to allow us to see a scene from different
character's different points of view. I dunno. Something to think
Go, meme, go! Now you, too can be an Internet superstar.
Sign up with Blogger.com,
and create your own blog. Everybody's doing it! Why should you choose
Blogger.com over, say, Pitas?
Flexibility! In particular, the fact that your blog is stored at
the URL of your choosing. Like this.
And with a rudimentary knowledge of HTML, you can format it just
how you like it. [On a side note, it makes me feel like a proud
papa to see the "blog" meme spread. And got me wondering
what's at Blog.com. Oddly enough,
it's something like a blog! And has been around since June 1998,
long before the term was coined. I can't quite figure out what is
the blog of Blog.com, though.]
From You Good People. My brain's a little bit slow here in petermeland;
happily, I've got sooper-smart readers to do all my thinking for
me! Following through on our data-information-knowledge-wisdom discussion
of days past is Joe
Clark, design roustabout.
do we mean by terms like information, data,
and knowledge? In the field of knowledge management, a host of definitions have been advanced, most of which
cluster around similar conceptual landmarks. In my view, information
can be thought of as facts that may be useful, with data
a subtype of information that, due to its form (e.g., numbers;
statistics), abundance (e.g., gigabytes of data in a Web site's
hit logs), measurement system (e.g., astronomical units), or
other structural features, requires added human cognitive effort.
are sometimes upwardly mobile, movin' on up to honest-to-God information and knowledge. Lots of people
in major Western cities know exactly where you stand with a T-cell count of 50 or 750 and can offer immediate
advice and tell their own tales. Mention your triglycerides, though, and eyes glaze over. Blood pressure,
percentage of calories from fat, sodium, gas mileage, computer
megahertz, airplane and airport designations, flier miles, and
UV indices are other examples of upwardly-mobile data.)
on the other hand, unites information with experience, heuristics,
emotion, intuition, and other generally subjective properties
of the human mind. (Indeed, the information/knowledge
distinction parallels the brain/mind
are a form of information understood to be true by one party,
usually within the conversation. (Truth, however, can be manufactured; for a fictional treatment
where facts are rather more allegorical, read the novella by Yann
Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios.)
August 20, 1999
[Iowa City, IA]
Why Didn't I Think Of That? The
August 19, 1999
[Iowa City, IA]
Information Flow. Paul
pointed to LifeStreams,
an interface and technology designed to help us keep track of the
overwhelming amounts of information coursing through our lives.
I clicked through the demo, and am left with these questions:
1. Um. How do you buy it? I never saw the word "buy,"
"purchase," or "order" anywhere.
2. Have you used it? Played with it? And by "you," I mean
If so, let me know what
3. What's with that interface? It looks almost as overwhelming as
the information it's trying to wrangle! I think for something like
a LifeStreams, more progressive
disclosure is called for. (And how is it that I've only now
found out that Apple's Human
Interface Guidelines are available on the Web?)
Mailing List Madness.
Quite a few interesting threads are turning up on the mailing
lists I'm on. Webdesign-l
(the best general Web design and development list out there) features
a discussion on graphic design v. information design and the nature
of titles in this field. Here's what I just wrote:
The point made
about the fluidity of titles and responsibilities is a good one,
so please read the following with the understanding that I'm not
proposing absolutes, but wanting to engender further discussion.
Having worked with a lot of graphic designers (and lucky enough
to be exposed to some of the most brilliant in the field) I've
basically divided them into two (oversimplified) camps:
1. Design As Beauty
2. Design As Function
The former come from the world of advertising, promotions, packaging,
etc. They tend to fail in the world of Web design.
The latter tend to perform old-school information design--maps,
transit system literature, signage, etc. They tend to excel in
the world of Web design. (The folks at MetaDesign
are the prime example of this kind of graphic design.) Still,
they tend to approach information as a static substance, and are
ill at ease exploiting the dynamism of new media.
With respect to "information architecture," "information
design," "interface design," etc., this is a much
tougher nut to crack. In the San Francisco web industry, the job
title "Information Architect" has taken root for the person who
does those kinds of things.
Unfortunately, "information anything" is insufficient to describe
the breadth of responsibilities that are typically undertaken
in that role. Information design is a part of my user-centered
methodology, but there's a whole practice of user research
that isn't necessarily accounted for by that title. For the sake
of completeness, I prefer the moniker "user's experience designer,"
though it's clunky. "Experience" implies that one designs more
than information structures, and is cognizant of the entire interaction
the user has with the product.
At Zefer in Chicago, such
practitioners are labelled "cognitive engineers," an intriguing
title that I find a tad too manipulative--"I am here to engineer
your cognition! You will think what I tell you to think!"
on the CHI-Web mailing list provides business cases for user-centered
design--great for convincing those with the purse strings that this
process actually provides positive results.
It turns out I had my nails (fingers and toes!) manicured and painted
silver the day before lemonyellow
applied glitter eye makeup. Must be something in the air. And it's
a damn shame more het boys don't allow themselves such delightful
indulgences. It's fun!
August 18, 1999
BYOB - Be Your Own Boss. Richard
pointed me to the shiny new Guru.com,
a resource for independent professionals. Ever since I started freelancing,
I've bemoaned the lack of Web resources for folks like me. It's
great to see someone fill that need.
August 17, 1999 [Chicago,
Resistance is futile. Ad parody is the subject matter of this
article on Wired News, which in turn points to Jason Kottke's
Simply Porn, my posting of which knocked
off a couple of my allotted 15 minutes. As the article mentions,
the Web is the best thing to happen to pointed parody and satire--quality
memes spread extremely fast, often to the frustration of corporations
who are unused to not having total control over their image.
August 16, 1999
[Grand Rapids, MI]
I should be sleeping. But I finally scored some dial-up access,
and I was jonesing for an internet fix, and foolishly, I looked
at my site, and thought, "Hrm, it needs an update."
So, some flotsam and
jetsam as I write to you from Grand Rapids, MI.
I spent Friday night hanging out with Leon, IA's entire Internet
industry, my friend Lisa
(in fact, the one site listed in Yahoo!'s
Leon directory was designed by her), and staying at the Leon
Here's a picture
of me standing under a plaster elephant eating a Buster Bar outside
the town's Dairy Queen.
writing, Jon Carroll-style. Writing daily is hard. How to fill
that space? I shall utilize The San Francisco Comical columnist
Jon Carroll's let-the-readers-write-it-for-you method, where you
simply reprint what has been sent in. So, not only do I do no actual
writing, I also get to give my site the patina of "community"
by encouraging a "dialogue" among its readers. Shall I
Anyway, Tim Gasperak,
whose job title should be "Design Mack Daddy," and who
has posted a fabulous
presentation on the design of garden.com, wrote in response
to my August 10th "practicin' perfesser" ramble:
Here are some thoughts/definitions
to further supplement your discussion on information.
obtained by research, observation, study or instruction in a form
allowing for its recommunication to others enabling a state of
knowing. It is synonymous with "facts" or "intelligence."
This most certainly
implies both the processes of receiving and transmitting, and
alludes to the designer's ability to shape both sides of that
It also reminds me
of the construct:
data + meaning = information
information + design = knowledge
knowledge + experience = wisdom
So you have to know
the other components:
- inherently chaotic
- structure imperceptible
- devoid of meaning
- culturally, personally, physically, motivationally and environmentally
- what users know about the info space
- mental models
knowledge: - an organized body of information
who is a librarian and thus
knows more about information than you, wrote in:
We used to say in library
school that the difference between information and knowledge is
the difference between having Christy Turlington's phone number
and having Christy Turlington.
I suppose I have neither
information nor knowledge, then.
People Who Get It.
Within this distressingly small group is Zefer,
an agency headquartered in Chicago, but with offices elsewhere.
section contains briefs on writing RFPs and how to best use
system errors. The former reminds me that Fire
Engine Red also offers RFP
guidance--very helpful for clueless potential clients.