Thursday, April 03, 2008

The John Slatin Accessibility Fund

In honor of our late colleague. Please consider contributing time or money.
The John Slatin Fund Accessibility Project matches accessibility experts with companies that would like a brief review of their site for accessibility. In return, the site owner is asked to contribute a minimum of $500 to The John Slatin Fund. The John Slatin Fund was established to help John’s beloved Anna offset the medical expenses incurred during John’s long illness. The goal of this project is to raise $25,000 for that purpose. Learn about the project and sign up at
oz: the blog of glenda sims ( the goodwitch) » The John Slatin Fund Accessibility Project
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Helter Skelter

The Mike Gravel version. Just ... wow.

Embedded Video

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The truth about 9/11

9/11 Conspiracy Theories 'Ridiculous,' Al Qaeda Says

Reminder: JBTC special issue on social software

Manuscripts for my JBTC special issue on social software are due May 1. If you've been polishing that manuscript, make sure to get it to me by then -- and if you'd like to discuss it with me beforehand, please do!

I'm not an addict, it's part of my health regimen

BBC NEWS | Health | Daily caffeine 'protects brain'
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Barely a website at all

That's the description of the new website for Modernista, a general-market ad agency. Like Ron Paul's website, it barely exists:
Upon punching in the URL, a small navigation bar appears, redirecting visitors to a host of the best-in-class Web 2.0 services. Click on the agency's "about" section, and you're taken to its Wikipedia entry; "work" displays a TV reel via YouTube, print examples via Flickr and web executions on Agency news is delivered through Google News, and a "contact" section lets users get in touch via AIM or Skype.
In some ways this decision is too clever by half, trying to prove that Modernista "gets" Web 2.0 and consequently giving up the control over branding that one would expect from an ad agency. But on the other hand, it also makes sense from the standpoint of cutting costs and boosting user experience:

"The thing about the web these days is there's all these great tools out there, you're just not going to be able to come up with a better way to share photos than Flickr or a better way to build community than Facebook," so it's wise to tap into what's already out there rather than build from scratch, said David-Michel Davies, executive director of the Webby Awards, which each year honors excellence on the Internet. "They're putting their best foot forward in saying we get Web 2.0," Mr. Davies said.

I'm flagging this article partially because it points to decisions we've been making at the academic level, particularly in the CWRL, for some time. At TTU, I built the English department website as a web app in ASP (not a great idea, since I'm not a programmer and the site had sustainability issues). When I took over as CWRL director, we implemented an open-source content management system, Drupal, to take over most issues. But I began thinking in the direction Modernista has taken, and currently our instructors take advantage of a lot of sites such as Flickr, Google Maps, Google Docs, etc. on an ad hoc basis. But our core site remains in Drupal, where we can (a) back it up easily, (b) keep it within accessibility guidelines, (c) guarantee uptime, (d) control branding, and (e) secure data.

Does that choice make sense for other organizations or individuals? Probably less and less. My personal site is at <>, but I barely touch it; most of my activity and "branding" is in FriendFeed, Google Docs, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. The personal site becomes more and more vestigial. As we continue to move away from large hierarchical organizations and toward temporary federations, it makes more sense to organize our professional presences in this way as well.
Modernista Makes a Break With the Past - Advertising Age - Digital
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Amazon expands into SMS

Now you can text Amazon with price comparisons in the store -- and follow through by buying your selections. By doing this, Amazon effectively reaches a much broader customer base, and reaches them anywhere. Brilliant.

Amazon Launches SMS Buying Service
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Monday, March 31, 2008

So there is a name for this terrible fear that grips me

Nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact - and it's the plague of our 24/7 age| News | This is London
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iPhone as lifestyle companion -- sounds really really familiar

Via TechMeme, examines recent Apple patent applications and discovers clues that the iPhone might be positioned as a "lifestyle companion":

Turns out, that Apple is thinking how to make an iPhone into a full “Lifestyle companion” device, that can monitor your health condition, act as a fitness trainer and diet consultant, suggest daily routines dependent on your occupation and personal health hazards, and even shape your shopping habits.

And all this on the same familiar iPhone platform .

The key here is modular approach, incorporation of multiple sensors in the iPhone itself, it’s accessories and specialized software and content available through the iTunes.

Let's extend this a bit. You take a friendly mobile computing and communications platform, modularly add sensors, and use it to continuously monitor status in a variety of ways. You can (theoretically) stream this information to a repository so that you can review aggregated metrics or zoom in to see patterns and correlations at certain points. ("Seems like I feel lousy every spring at this time. I wonder if that correlates with high mold count?" "Do I eat less or more when I exercise regularly?") You can (theoretically) make this information available to your health care providers, your diet and exercise buddies, your Facebook friends, your biographer.

It starts to sound a lot like the MyLifeBits project that Microsoft has been running the last several years. Except that Apple has perhaps figured out how to make it marketable and specifically useful to average consumers.

iPhone. Your Lifestyle Companion » Unwired View
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Peter Merholz on Alan Cooper

Peter Merholz's analysis of Alan Cooper's Interaction08 keynote is really interesting and valuable, particularly because it sounds like the academic-industry divide we often discuss in professional communication. My emphasis:

Alan makes a lot of good points in his talk (many of which we make at Adaptive Path, such as how thoughtful design allowed iPod and Palm to beat predecessors, the value of distinguishing between design engineering and production engineering, and the value of the Quick Win), but he lost me when he advocated ignoring the business folks because they simply won’t get it. Not just “don’t” get it, but “won’t” get it. He seems to think that business folks are wired in such a way that they can’t handle the post-industrial economy. He also believes that attempts to quantify business value of post-industrial work is a fool’s errand.

He basically told the audience what they want to hear, but not what they need to hear. :: Alan Cooper Told The Audience What They Wanted To Hear, Not What They Needed To Hear
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The debate continues

Iraqi astronomer goes on TV to explain why Earth is flat - Boing Boing
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