Monthly Archives: August 2002

Lee and Paul, the Jay and Silent Bob of client-side code have been cooking up some excellent stuff.

Paul wrote a plug-in for MoveableType that performs statistical analysis on the words in each blog entry, including measures of readability.

Lee has taken this and now outputs a little bar-graph measure of how readable each post on his blog is. Lovely!

One lazyweb idea:

  • take a RSS blogroll/subscriptions list

  • take all the feeds, run them through a statistical word analysis and apply readbility index.
  • pump out a little graph/blogroll to your site of who is being readable that day.

Other thoughts on this as a feedback mechanism – how will this affect Lee’s writing? How could you marry this readability information with more subjective measures, such as reader-ratings, or frequency of posts (e.g. if you’re liveblogging from a conference, or taking notes live on a PDA as Lee often does, you might want to compensate)

This from Steve Portigal‘s notes of IDSA2002 conference [found via]

“Some cultural models that were presented by Josephine Green of Philips:
In agricultural times:
religious authority
political authority
women and children
In industrial times, science became the new god:
Political authority
Women and children
The emerging model from their research was a little harder to understand – it as a knowledge-based flattened “pie” where the anchors were truth/energy/quantum soup/”the void”
I can’t begin to do it justice, I’m afraid.
She suggested the emerging values included:
Empowerment (moving from consumers to citizens)
Belonging (sharing values)
Responsibility (considering others)
Care/preserving nature

So tantalising – I want to know more about ‘the pie’ and ‘the soup’ dammit!!! I’m imagining that Josephine’s two course meal might have more than a little overlap with what’s on David Bollier’s menu. Reading his piece “Reclaiming the commons” was galvanising.

MattW posted:

“You ever get a feeling that humanity is on the verge of an enormous, defining change?”

Kinda. I’m more of the feeling that there are tiny, shimmering eschatons all the time. One of them happened a while back, when we started making technology that demanded new thinking in terms of commerce and governance. The ripples get bigger through time, and the whole ‘war in heaven’ geeks vs. hollywood thing is the result. Lessig, Bollier et al are maybe put in the chicken-little camp by some, but they can see the counter-tidal-wave that will engulf us all if we sleepwalk away from the notion of a commonwealth.

“It is time to revive this tradition of innovation in the stewardship of public resources and to recognize its appropriate role in the economy and civil society of the twenty-first century. The silent theft of our shared assets and civic inheritance need not continue. But first we must recognize the commons as such, name it, and understand the rich possibilities for reclaiming our common wealth”

Bollier’s point is a very good one for graphic designers/IAs/experience designers/communications-professionals/Whatevers. We who make the invisible visible could play a great part in supporting the efforts of those are defending our common wealth.

As Hillman Curtis says:

“Think of it this way: a concept is an idea. Our job as designers is to visually explain that idea.”

What we do is make ideas graspable, the intangible almost tangible – we pride ourselves on this!

Here is a problem of pure design if ever there was one. Make tangible this thing, this concept of the commons. Solve the problem of conceiving of its enormous value caused by its value’s incalcuable nature. Pure communication. Absolute clarity of explanation, infused with passion.

We should be relishing it! This is the part of the fight we can win!!

Already, the EFF have thrown down the gauntlet to us with their tinsel-town club parody flash movie.

Imagine xplane, or 37signals communicating beautifully the implications of changes in technology or legislation; or prototypes and scenarios that create business advantage from the commons whilst defending and protecting it.

RSW‘s cabal of contributors making ‘Understanding the Human Commonwealth’ the sequel to ‘Understanding USA’. Scott McCloud updating the Joni Mitchell problem – i.e. “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone’ for the digital age.

Ya dig?

There is a necessary and unique contribution that designers can make, to be sure. Unlike our geekfriends though, are we a bit too fond of the status-quo’s protection to care?

More broadband-shmoadband, I’m afraid.

The forehead-slapping is happening with disturbing regularity these days; as is my writing something here in response to the increasingly-infuriating new media section of the Guardian. The folk at the online section of the paper should walk across the office every so often and give the media folk a good clue-slapping.

Remember the Pew report on habits of broadband usage? Here’s the entry on with a link to it.

Well, David Docherty, “MD for Broadband Content, Telewest” in his weekly free advertisment column in the new media section of the Guardian has stumbled across it, and spun it in a spectacularly strange style towards the ‘broadband-needs-high-quality-content’ arguement.

Docherty picks up the main points of the report: that those with broadband connections enjoy creating as much as consuming. And, that their patterns of usage are those of frequent ‘snacking’ of services and information plus, longer sessions of creation or sharing services and information.

He even admits to having his own blog, but forgets to share with us the URL (or whether he allows vistors to comment on his posts…)

However, he attributes this to the speed of the connection, and the mysterious allure of that ‘dark matter’ of the web: “rich content”*. The speed of the connection, or more specifically the lack of latency in the reponsiveness of the web might be part of the appeal of broadband (it certainly is for me) but this then becomes inversely-proportional to the ‘richness’ of the content (cf. ‘Loosemore’s law’).

Always-On is still the killer property of broadband connections; the speed of the system is a close second. The speed of that system is, still however, contingent on the design surrounding and containing the information and services** going through it. ‘Rich content’* smacks of cholesterol-laden cream pies clogging up the newly-widened broadband arteries of the web.

Of course, even the most fit and healthly of us like to pig-out on something that’s bad for us every so often. Does that mean that we create industries that we later try and sue because we didn’t realise how bad they would be for our health?

The Pew report’s main message for Mr. Docherty should be that the always-on, connected-community would rather bake their own tasty treats and share them with each other, than be force-fed the dubious confections dreamt-up by ‘rich-content producers’. Maybe Telewest would be better off looking after it’s delivery business that trying to play master pattisiere…

* please, can someone tell me what makes ‘rich content’ so, well, ‘rich’??

** I’m experimenting with forcing myself to replace the word ‘content’ in anything I write with what I actually mean in that context, with revealing but often excruiating results.

He’s right. The new Royksopp video is absolutely amazing. Just over four minutes of brilliantly mixed and morphed information graphics.

I want this to be how my journey to work feels when I have broadband location-aware wireless Gucci sunglasses augmenting my reality second-by-second with every accessible statistic beautifully interpreted, overlaid and syncopated with the mp3 stash streaming through bone-conduction into my brain.

» Royksopp: “You Remind Me” [realmedia]

» Royksopp website


It’s a service that references the music featured in TV adverts in the UK. So whenever you have one of those niggling little tunes in your head, you can find out exactly what it is with minimum fuss. It’s saved my limited sanity several times.

The spur to use it this time was a wonderfully summer-y little ditty as featured on commericals for Fanta, which turned out to be from an album I already had – Sleepwalking by Rae and Christian.

Sorry for the diversion.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,133 other followers