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We Find Peter Morville Extremely Smart


Peter Morville’s Ambient Findability could have been an abstract, jargon-littered clunker of a book. Instead it’s easy to read, grounded with great examples, and has lovely color pictures and diagrams to break up the text.

Using examples from that book, Morville presented a fascinating history of library sciences (in medieval times, books were actually chained to the shelves to prevent theft), pre-internet information search studies, and current information architecture issues from Google rankings to Amazon’s cacophonious layout. Even if you aren’t an IA, you’ll appreciate learning about the way we find the information we need and how design can enhance or hinder the process.

We especially loved learning that, at one point in time, librarians had the ultimate control over all knowledge, making them the most powerful figures in culture.

SXSW Web Awards Recap


It was a ceremony rife with internet humor, including an interview with the Star Wars kid, all grown up (in body, but not in saber-swishing mind), and trivia of this nature:

The day after the Oscars, what answer did you get when you Googled the question “Aren’t you glad that Crash won?”

Did you mean: Aren’t you glad that trash won?

One of the most mind-boggling moments came when 9Rules Network accepted their award for best community/wiki and asked all the contributers to come forward as well. Dozens of designer-bloggers and blogger-designers swarmed the stage. They’re everywhere.

As promised, the winners were posted late yesterday and can we say we’re thrilled to the gills that the AIGA Design Archives trumped the art category (and it’s not even technically art!) Much applause to Second Story and Third Wave who couldn’t be in Austin to accept the award.

We sat at banquet tables, Golden Globe-style, with the good Behavior boys, nominated for The Onion and Media Matters, judge James Craig of frog, Michael Epstein of MIT and Liz Danzico, certainly wearing her AIGA hat tonight.

Interviews and photos will be posted there and on the Adobe site soon.

Design That Gets Out Of The Way


Jimmy “Wikipedia” Wales did a great interview with Craig “craigslist” Newmark for this afternoon’s keynote, and it turns out they’re friends in real life. Wales asked Newmark about his citizen journalist aspirations, which Newmark said are largely unformed and greatly exaggerated by the press. Whew. Job security for at least another month.

More interesting was learning about the design sensibility of craigslist, something Newmark was once told had the visual appeal of a pipe wrench. Newmark said he just did something as simple as possible because he didn’t know any better. After 11 years, it has never moved past this bulletin board style. In Newmark’s words, the design, like much of the other community-building features, “gets out of the way.”

An hour later, a superb panel in a session called “Design Eye For the List Guy” gave craigslist a makeover–and Newmark came up on stage at the end to comment.

Ready? We present craigslist 2.0

In the Future, You’ll Be Ubi-Compin’


When Adam Greenfield chats about Everyware, Bruce Sterling listens. Sterling sat in the front row with (we’re assuming) his daughter. They both took notes on a big notebook opened across their laps.

Everyware is about ubi-comp (ubiquitous computing), meaning many devices, many users, many systems. If you have a generally creeped out reaction to this “vision of the future,” here are four places where it’s already out there:

In Hong Kong they use an RFID technology called Octopus that’s a transit pass, a charge card, an access key, etc. In 2004, 95% of the population between 16 and 65 used it.

New Songdo is a retirement community being built in South Korea that uses reactive architecture to monitor the well-being of its residents. Someone falls, the floors send a nurse.

Look at your Mastercard. If you’ve got a chip with an antenna on it, you’re already set up for their Paypass technology, also known as tap and go.

Remember hypercolor t-shirts? Sensacell is that for interiors.

In the middle of his presentation, Adam Greenfield’s phone rang. “Can’t get more ubiquitous than that,” he said.

He also talked about how people who design these systems have a responsibility to be respectful of their users. Which hopefully makes it a little less scary for the rest of us.

SXSW Wit T-Shirt Contest: Day Two

Maybe because of the award show, fewer nerd shirts were found. Don’t disappoint us today. Less button down. More smart ass.


But the shirt actually kerns itself! Chris Fahey was less impressed with that feature than we were.


It’s not totally interactive-related but this guy said “Take my picture, I’m going to be famous!” with such gusto, we believed him.

Eminem, Technorati Win Big At SXSW Web Awards (And Will Never Again Be Seen In the Same Sentence)


Technorati and took home the best awards in their categories as well as Best of Show and People’s Choice, respectively, at the 9th Annual SXSW Web Awards last night. A representative of Austin’s sofake also won the award for Best Acceptance Speech, saying that “It means a lot to win this award, especially because I know, in the back of my mind, that some of you are bloggers.”

They’ve promised to post all the winners, including video and photos later today. But if they don’t, full recap in a few hours.

Oh Yeah? Well, YOUR Wikipedia Entry Is Stupid

Towards the end of the SXSW vs. death match, Kottke brings up Armstrong’s Wikipedia entry, mentioning that the last line says of Armstrong and her husband:

“They currently both remain unemployed.”

(A visit to the site at that moment revealed that it actually said “self-employed,” same thing.)

This rippled through the crowd like a dare. How long will it take a room of wiki-savvy rabid blog fans to edit that entry?

About six minutes:


A SXSW Lesson: Remember Your Audience

So from what we can tell, these are really two very different, nearly uncomparable blogs. And we can tell this from the Q & A. Armstrong’s readership is more like this:

Rabid Armstrong Fan #1: “I’m a huge fan, I was so excited when I heard you would be here. I also got nervous because I heard what happened to [name of dog] when you were in Amsterdam.”

(Uh, what? Someone tried to take her dog?)

Gushing continues: “You are such a great writer, so honest, so brave and so funny.” (Drool accumulates in small pool beneath microphone.)

Kottke’s number one advocate is a considered voice with an accent, a man who pleads with Kottke not to accept advertising on the site, to stick with subscriptions from readers like him, who will personally make a large donation to ensure its quality.

Although, on the way out, we did overhear this giggly woman:

“Jason is just soooooooo freaking brilliant.”

Dooce vs. Kottke, Round One


Retired web designers Heather Armstrong and Jason Kottke have been blogging pretty much daily for a combined twelve years. They are internet famous. People have been literally camped out in the front row seats for an hour before this presentation. This is the rock concert of the conference.

The conversation, which might have been live-blog-worthy back in 2002, basically boiled down to what felt like “My Blog Is Better Than Your Blog,” hosted by Heather Armstrong.

Subscription vs. advertising model

Kottke believes his subscription drive failed and he might have to start selling ad space.

Armstrong made the decision to sell ads and is so successful now, her husband can stay at home, too.

Being internet famous

Kottke admits Armstrong is the bigger star:

K: “People are kind of obsessed with you.”
A: “What? What?” (mock realization) “I don’t get that at all.”
K: “I’m obsessed. Why do you think we’re up here, Heather?”

Armstrong says Kottke was the first true blogger.

Providing quality content

Kottke notes that Armstrong’s writing (which is truly excellent) has grown increasingly more personal over the years.

Armstrong infers that Kottke’s lost his focus, took subscriber’s money and went to Asia, he’s just doing links now, and he’s not posting as much lately because he’s getting married.

However, should Kottke ever choose to write about himself, this would be the perfect segueway: He met his fiancee six years ago at SXSW when they were both on the first blog panel at any conference, ever.


Listen to the podcast.

Trying…To Post…Signal…Getting Weak

Just looking at the number of glowing, live-blogging laps in this presentation, it’s no wonder our Movable Type account doesn’t have the strength to save our longer posts. More soon…