Monday, October 22, 2007

Dilbert violates the community

So in what contemporary Web world does a blogger get away with removing user generated content so he can publish it for his own economic gain? I love Scott Adams, but I cannot *believe* he is getting a free pass on this! I guess anyone whose comment was included in the book is a big enough Dilbert fan that its inclusion is sufficient payment. It probably would be for me.
Did you notice that the The Dilbert Blog archive suspiciously disappeared last spring? A big publisher agreed with your frequent suggestions that I should turn the funnier posts into a book. So I did, and as part of that deal removed the book content from the Internet.
The Dilbert Blog: IT'S A BOOK!!! IT'S A CONTEST!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

You know you've been coding too much lately when...

...this brilliant comic for SQL geeks cracks you up. (Scarily, it also reminds me of something my team needs to do soon!). If this is all gibberish to you, congratulations, you still have a life :-).

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe

Friday, October 05, 2007

Is The Net Good For Writers? - 10 Zen Monkeys

There are many gems in this Q&A with 10 writers by RU Sirius. If you want to figure out the future of print, this is a great place to get some insight into the challenges and opportunities created for print, by the Web. I'll leave you to read the whole thing on your own, but here's a particular quote I could not resist, from Mark Dery:

Is The Net Good For Writers? - 10 Zen Monkeys
Shrewdly, magazines like The New Yorker understand that print fetishists want their print printy — McLuhan would have said Gutenbergian — so they're erring on the side of length, and Dave Eggers and the Cabinet people are emphasizing what print does best: exquisite paper stocks, images so luxuriously reproduced you could lower yourself into them, like a hot bath.
I've been working for a couple of years now on a system to dramatically change print production. The trite way I describe it is "to marry commercial digital print and Web 2.0,", and most people draw a predictable conclusion from that. "Oh, you are going to print blogs!" The emergence of the Web, and digital commercial presses, has created huge opportunities to revolutionize print publishing, and let me be the first to shout, "IT'S NOT ABOUT PRINTING BLOGS." Please, people, don't diminish the value of our trees by shoveling our blogs onto paper. Though we will learn that lesson soon enough -- like after printing one blog :-).

People create content with the medium in mind. Content written for print does not generally translate seamlessly to the Web, and certainly content written for the Web does not translate seamlessly to print. When print publishing is revolutionized, which I hope is soon, those who succeed first will recognize, like Mark Dery above, what is significant about the print medium, and use it to its strengths.

For instance, I predict the re-emergence of a form of print publishing that was popular more than a hundred years ago, and which can become popular again: the serialized book. This dawned on me in 2003 when I subscribed to the re-issue of Dickens' Great Expectations, by the Discovering Dickens project at Stanford University. Print publishing evolved over time to make that form of publishing impractical for various reasons. The emergence of the Web and commercial digital printing has rewritten the rules again, only the current publishing industry is not in a position to act upon these changes. I think the next installment of Great Disruptions is going to be written over the next few years.

update: Slashdotted

Snapshot-less photography

Snapshot-less photography:
The simple question I asked Phil was “what does Digital Photography mean to you now?” Phil’s answer was that the explosive growth and future of photography is in the combination of personal, community, and professional content that is professionally fulfilled. For Phil, the photography part of “digital photography” is where change is happening now. It’s a new creative medium, not just a way to capture a snapshot. I can see that.
Photography is not about stacks of 4x6's, I wholeheartedly agree. Photos for most people are simply artifacts from our life experience, and we use them, along with other information artifacts (from friends, references, commercial sources) to construct the stories of our lives. It is in these life stories where personal value lies, and photography products should be looking to help enrich those stories. One specific example: GPS sensors should be embedded in all cameras so we can add a location to each photo that is taken.

Why GPS, and not some other feature? One would be misguided to answer that with, "So I can plot my photos on Google Maps." GPS is the most important feature because location does more to support storytelling than any other feature you can add to a camera. True to its box-maker heritage, HP traditionally focuses on technical features like red-eye removal or image sharpening -- features which only improve the quality of the individual artifact-- while investing almost nothing in where the greater value of the photo lies: in the story behind it. Location, on the other hand, is a link. It provides context that leads to more information than the camera could ever record, and ultimately to richer stories.

I could continue on this subject for a looong time. My friends and colleagues will attest to that! I gave this talk many times inside HP while trying to move our digital photography businesses from the old mind set of "print 4x6 photos" to one that is more informed by why people take photographs. I gave it repeatedly at O'Reilly's first Where 2.0 conference at the Where Fair. And I finally gave up on this work two years ago, after pursuing it with no upper management support for five years. Yahoo! and Flickr are now the standard bearers for this kind of work, HP has no place in it -- pun intended :-).

The irony, of course, is that my work was all done under the org chart of the one who now says, "I can see that." My last two years have been devoted to incubating something much bigger, a digital publishing project, which has a similar lack of upper management support. I hope for our customers' sake that we can break through the typical HP barriers to bring this to you now (before Christmas!), and not 3-4 years from now when our execs finally understand what we are doing.

Designing Magazines | Blog Archive | The Children’s Crusade

Hear, hear! What a fabulous post by Jandos over on Designing Magazines.

Designing Magazines | Blog Archive | The Children’s Crusade
Would an Editor at RealTime want a reader trained to read on the children’s version? Does the spoon-feeding of demitasse portions of content and brain-dead imagery send the message that magazines provide value?—that would seem a question of more than passing interest to the folks at Time, Inc., why else would they put this out?

To paraphrase fearless leader, “Is we teaching our children to read a magazine?”
First of all, don't mis-paraphrase our fearless leader! It's "Is we teaching our childrens to read a magazine?" And the sad thing is, we must level the same criticism at magazines for the older set. Even a mag like Sunset with good content still manages to screw up with crappy design and poor execution of advertising.

Kids magazines certainly weren’t always as bleak as the current versions. The magazines I remember loving in my childhood—Ranger Rick, Dynamite—a pop culture journal from Scholastic with a snarky (by 5th grade standards) sense of humor, and Mad all featured stories that sustained for pages, a comparatively challenging vocabulary and more sophisticated (and toned-down) color pallets and typography.
I believe there is plenty of creative talent out there to produce this generation's Ranger Rick and Dynamite, and even better. The first step is to do an end around the current magazine production process, and empower those people to do it. If the Web is good for anything, it is in making it easy to create alternatives to archaic processes and relationships.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Date Of Apple Backlash Set For March 21, 2008 | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Date Of Apple Backlash Set For March 21, 2008 | The Onion - America's Finest News Source:
'At the current rate, we believe that at this time a sea change will occur in which people will look down at their glossy white or black devices and feel a sense of embarrassment and gullibility,' Goldman Sachs analyst Steven Shore said. 'They will realize that, despite all the sleek design, they got caught up in a wave of hype that made them shell out additional hundreds of dollars for options and features they didn't need. Until then, I would like to point out that my iPhone is awesome.'

I've always found Apple interesting as the place where fashion meets geek. I don't understand why someone would pay so much for clothes, and I don't understand why someone would pay so much for computer stuff.