onLine weblog archive

Friday, July 28, 2000

A List Apart: Usability vs. Design (Mars vs. Venus)
In the usability corner, wearing the blue and purple underlined trunks, weighing in at just under 25K per gig... J-a-a-a-a-a-kob Nie-e-e-e-e-lsen, usability guru extroadinaire, with over 16 usability patents and several "lists of 10" -- do's, don't's, thou shalt's, and thou shalt not's.

And in the graphic design corner, wearing the greyscale trunks, weighing in at 500K per site (that's dollars, not bytes)... Kioken(oken-oken-oken), firing clients left and right, and wielding Flash as if the plug-in itself were built into Joe Newbie's genetic makeup.
Getting Fresh With Your Content is good for a laugh or two.

Thursday, July 27, 2000

Dynamic-core.net features some amazing DHTML.
Vincent Flander's take on Jakob's latest: Jakob Nielsen, Darwebinism, Dog Shows and Web Design.
Curt Schilling on his fond memories of Philadelphia:
I was booed so much less than I probably deserve to be booed here, which I don't think too many people leaving Philly can say.
From Gamasutra comes a really fascinating article on online game cheating: How to Hurt the Hackers: The Scoop on Internet Cheating and How You Can Combat It. [via calebos.org]
From CNET.com: Toysmart pulls customer data from auction.
Yesterday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Carol Kenner granted Toysmart's request to withdraw the information from auction. So far, the highest offer for the information had come from Disney, which offered $50,000 for the information and promised to destroy it.
Hey, somebody else finally borrowed our colorscheme switching concept we did about four years ago, but implemented it differently. Cool.
Smarter Times, which publishes daily corrections to erroneous information in the NY Times, makes a good case for the web log as a valid media format, in case you still needed that case made. It is tightly focused, has subject matter conducive to regular short posts, and is a useful, interesting read. [Via girl hacker]

Also, Nublog has some excellent thoughts on the web log format and its possibilities. (I wish I could link directly to it, but they don't yet offer permanent links to current content.)
Zeldman points us to Idiotbox, a parody of Jakob that needed to be made.
From Wired News: Whose Link Is It Anyway?
The question underlies a new feature from Deja.com that will automatically link mentions of product names in discussion threads to a commerce area on its site. The new service could also raise copyright issues over whether hyperlinking constitutes changing content.
Wow! This is a sticky subject. At first glance it seems like Deja.com is substantially changing the meaning of the post by adding links, but there are all sorts of third party tools (Zapper, GuruNet) that allow the end user to do essentially the same thing as the added hyperlinks. I suppose the important distinction is that with the third party tools there can be no confusion that the link is a sort of endorsement from the writer. But if Deja.com can come up with a way to differentiate between user added links and links added by the system, would that be enough? I am torn, because I really would like hyperlink systems to evolve into something more useful than the current web, but perhaps Usenet posts are not the correct material to start experimenting with.

Wednesday, July 26, 2000

From CNET.com: Judge issues injunction against Napster.
A federal judge today ordered Napster to halt the trading of copyrighted material, saying the founders of the enormously popular music-swapping site have "created a monster."

Napster proponents said the injunction, which takes effect Friday at midnight PT, essentially cripples the service until a trial later this year. It does not directly affect the estimated 20 million people who have used Napster's software to download countless MP3-encoded songs since last year.
It's nice to know the judge doesn't get it at all:
"Napster wrote the software, it's up to them to write software that will remove from users the ability to copy copyrighted material," Patel said. "They created a monster...That's the consequence they face."
Some paintings by my friend Rachel Ferguson.
The new browser controversy:
The most successful Web sites are fairly devoid of anything too slick. Because the only thing the average user can be counted on knowing is that the back arrow cycles back a page.
This is really such old news, but it's about Jakob!

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Here's the thing about the "End of Web Design" piece: Jakob is right! No, web design is not over, but he is still right: consistency is good.

One of the reasons the Macintosh interface has been so succesful is the control Apple exerted over developers through their Human Interface Guidelines. It forced consistency on any application built for the Mac, and it made the Mac easier to learn and use. (Sadly, Apple seems to have abandoned their commitment to their own guidelines, and we have been cursed with interfaces even from Apple that break from the standards set down in the guidelines. Witness the clunky QuickTime 4.0 Player.)

But that is Apple; who can even pretend to be able to control the interface of the World Wide Computer Inter Net? No one owns it, and no one can is in any position to impose any restrictions on web interfaces. So every designer from San Francisco to, well all the way back around the world to San Francisco, feels the right, and seemingly the obligation to reinvent the wheel and introduce the user to a new interface on every site they build. That is a bad thing, and I share that guilt for having built such DHTML monstrosities as this. I believe there is a place for such experimentation, but the emphasis for too long has been on freedom and experimentation instead of consistency and ease of use (I could have said "usability," please note my restraint).

Jakob is trying to turn the tide, and for that he should be applauded. You have to understand that to turn the tide you have to exert some influence, and to do that you have to be talked about, and to be talked about you have to be controversial. Everyone, even Jakob, knows that web design is not dead! But every web designer this side of the Pacific (and the other side too) has read his piece by now, and Jakob I'm sure is sitting somewhere chuckling with a knowing grin plastered on his face. His antagonistic tone is more than anything a tool to spread his message of simplicity.
Towards the Anti-Mac - a discussion on the The Anti-Mac Interface paper from Don Gentner and Jakob Nielsen.

Monday, July 24, 2000

Chris Nelson responds to the WaSP at mozillaZine: Astounding Comments From the WSP.
In the latest installment of Stating the Obvious, Michael Sippey disagrees with Jakob: The Beginning of Web Design.
From osOpinion: What went wrong with Mozilla?
Mozilla will eventually be declared "finished" and released on the public, but it will in all likelihood be just as slow, buggy, and idiosyncratic as its predecessor. A combination of bad design decisions and poor project management has turned Mozilla into a has-been before it ever got the chance to "be" at all.
[via Zeldman]
There's been a lot of talk about the end of web design lately, maybe a little too much talk. This alertbox is not a rebel song. This alertbox is... the End of Web Design:
Websites must tone down their individual appearance and distinct design in all ways.

Sunday, July 23, 2000

Blockbuster Announces Movies on Demand:
No more waiting for 8 p.m. to roll around before purchasing The Beach through your local cable provider. Soon consumers will be able to select movies via their computer or television screens. The 500-plus movies available will have VHS quality and control, so you can pause, rewind, whatever.
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