Wednesday, June 22, 2005

In Defense of Design Dictators

You don’t do good software design by committee. You do it best by having a dictator. From the user’s point of view, you must have a coherent design philosophy, and I don’t see how that could come about from open source software. The person who’s done it best is Steve Jobs, and he’s well-known for being a tyrant.

-- Don Norman

Monday, June 20, 2005

Surfacing Aging Content

One of the strengths of blogs is that the freshest content is at the top of the page. Indeed, it was this design convention above all others, that led to the blog explosion. I remember having conversations with other people who published zines and personal soap boxes circa 1998 about the importance of updating content at least once a week. Otherwise people wouldn't check back to the site. The other thing we did in those days was send an email announcement when we'd updated our sites, back before our inboxes were what they are now.

I was having a conversation with Bob Baxley the other day about the importance of surfacing aging content. A lot of really great content on blogs tends to languish unread once it's dropped off the front page. One of the things that happens with Flickr is that I notice when visiting my "new comments" page is that people are commenting on photos, adding them to their favorites, and viewing photos that are often more than a year old. And the reason for this is that people are finding the photos in ways other than my chronological photostream: they are finding them through tag searches, or when browsing group pools.

There are a bunch of blogs out there that append a list of their categories on the sidebar, like Common Craft, which I visited today. Tech Ronin not only links the categories on the side, she links them under each post, as well as tagging them and linking back to the Technorati tag page (and let me take this moment to congratulate Technorati on their new launch!). I'd be willing to bet the content on blogs with such link practices stays alive in ways that the content of mine do not. As blogs enter their teenage years, and many people have 6-7 years of posts, surfacing this stuff will be more important.

I'm also thinking a great thing to build would be a flexible blog post microformat that can delaminate blogs from their native domains and aggregate all posts by tag or category in an RSS reader.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Building Trust

The business of the future -- indeed the business of the present -- depends on a network of trust virtually devoid of personal histories and relationships.

Building Trust, by Fernando Flores & Robert Solomon

Niklas Luhmann says trust is a way of managing complexity, and that trust permits us to operate in an increasingly complex world -- especially in a global economy, and on the internet. I've often said that the reason that the internet is changing, and the reason that software such as Flickr is possible is that the psychology of the average internet user has changed. People have seen a lot of blogs, and perhaps have started one. They've joined social networking sites such as Friendster or My Space and have created an online digital identities for the first time. They've bought something on eBay, paid their taxes online, met someone on Nerve. They've gotten confident enough in the internet that they've been willing to contribute their own photographs and music and art. The main thing that has changed is that they trust the internet more, and when you trust, you are able to give.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Congratulations Technorati!

Congratulations to the team at Technorati, for their fantastic new beta release. Starting with the new logo treatment and extending to the new site features, I love how the new design really shows you all the stuff that Technorati is capable of in a single glance. It's an art to make things the complex simple, ask Mingus.

Well done, Derek & Co.!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

They give you free juice at Google so you can actually get some work done

Like Paul, this was one of my favorite quotes from the surreal NY Times article on how much money everyone supposedly has out here.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the billionaire co-founders of Google, were [at the party], so [Andreessen] was able to amuse himself by watching the valley's newest kings as they met their public.

The scene made him think of a study by a Duke University professor that has long fascinated him: monkeys were willing to forego substantial amounts of fruit juice (''That's like crack cocaine to monkeys,'' according to Andreessen) just to stare at a picture of one of their brood's alpha monkeys. ''There was this mob effect around Larry and Sergey,'' Andreessen recalled when we met for a late breakfast one morning at his favorite hangout in a strip mall near his Palo Alto office. ''The pair would try to move, but the crowd just surged with them.