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Saturday, January 20, 2001

      Information Architecture will continue to play a larger role as web information presentation returns to its rightful place and supplants the mad dash to sell anything on the Internet. Many web designers suffering from the dotcom implosion are discovering the acronym IA on job postings. The ability to design and code simply may not be enough these days. Architecting content for easy search and discovery is a significant plus on the resume. To learn more about the importance of this emerging web infrastructure, visit the Argus Center for Information Architecture.

     One of the finest information architects I've had the pleasure to communicate with is Míc Miller. He and I discussed some of his background and techniques last year in this interview.

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     Sincerest thanks go out to Mr. Zeldman for the invitation to play Survivor. I have no idea what I'm doing in the midst of all those web experts, but it certainly got this old brain thinking.

     So just what is it you're studying, my dear? Btw, if you ever find yourself in Vail, Colorado, be sure to stop by my brother Dave's office supply store, VPOS. It's got the hottest items for the "perfectionist seeking compulsions that haunt them." Jack Kemp gets all his stuff there.

Friday, January 19, 2001

     In the latest issue of AListApart, for people who make web sites, Creative Director Jeffrey Zeldman asked many of the world's leading Web Designers, "How are you surviving the dot-com implosion?" In Europe they're asking, "What crisis?" In the States it's all a matter of preparedness and perspective. The responses are as varied as the individuals, but the common thread is keep your skills current.

     It was bound to happen sooner or later. Melissa variant targets Macintosh. Up to this point, computer virus developers have tended to cut the Apple users some slack, but this new virus is tricky because it attacks Microsoft Word 2001 for Macintosh files, a new file format many antivirus products canít quite handle yet. I hate to say I told you so, but you saw it here first in Predictions 2001. It's those crazy tangerine iMacs.

Thursday, January 18, 2001

     I have quite an assignment. I received the following email message earlier this week that sounds like a worthwhile educational project. An Israeli MBA student is working on his thesis and asks some tough questions about micro community web sites. Let's put the community to work here. What are your thoughts on the questions he poses?

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     Iím an MBA student at the graduate school of business at Haifa (Israel) University, working hard on my thesis. I reached you by visting your site (thru Yahoo). The subject of my thesis is small/micro sites — sites with a traffic volume lower than 100 K page views per month, yet a steady one.

     What Iím trying to do is to define the qualitative advantages I believe exist in this type of site, that lies in their ability to create a small yet homogenous community that can be easily defined by a variety of traits and parameters, in many more details than current targeting methods, i.e. not just by keyword and category but also by demographics, socio-economic terms, etc.

     In my work I wish to prove that this is an advantage that will benefit advertisers who need to reach a targeted audience and as a result will also benefit the publishers. To find out just how well defined a micro site audience can be, Iím conducting this survey among publishers and webmasters. The purpose of this survey is to determine a set of parameters with which a publisher can define his/her siteís audience as accurately as possible.

     What I need you to do is to answer the following questions:

  1. On what topics/parameters can a publisher be asked, and provide a reliable answer, based on his familiarity with his siteís audience/frequent visitors?
  2. What are the questions you might ask a publisher wishing to build a site (or might be asked yourself)?

     Simply write down the parameters that define a small siteís audience, as a webmaster, based on your experience and work with small site publishers. These parameters may include sociological, demographic, technological — or any other type or set of parameters. Of course they may vary from publisher to publisher, according to the topic of their site. But the common denominator Iím looking for is the ability to define an accurate and detailed target audience profile, with as many parameters as possible.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

     Good news. Bad news. The sleep study results are in and I don't have sleep apnea. Yay! The reason for ordering last week's C-PAP test was minor upper-respiratory blockage. The pulmonary doc didn't care less that I couldn't stand the machine — it wasn't in his plans anyway. Another Yay! The study results also demonstrated a sleep pattern indicative of depression. Oops. I had a battle with depression in the mid-nineties. Looks like maybe it's back.

     Depression was the first thing out of my primary doctor's mouth when I first approached him in September about the daytime fatigue problems. I didn't talk about it much at the time, but we tried an anti-depressant medication (Zoloft) while waiting for the lab results. It was different from the one I took before (Wellbutrin) and didn't agree with me at all. Looks like that's where I'm headed again. I speak next with my primary doctor in two weeks.

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      Extra Sensory Programming. Now this is funny, in a techno-geeky sorta way.

     We get mail. "I have been visiting the Internet Brothers site...and have had more smiles before 5am today than I had the rest of the week! It has been a pure delight exploring your site. Thanks not only for the technical help...but for the personal touches...and reminders that we are here to care and share. Many thanks to you and your contributors...Bravo! I will be visiting again soon. Have a Glorious day." — Sue

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

     In his ViewFromTheHeart, Al Hawkins asks "How do you tell the story?" A very compelling look at the history lesson he gave to his young daughter about Dr. Martin Luther King. Al appears to be one fine parent, spending hours with her researching the man, then left to struggle with the puzzling question that haunts us all. "How do you explain to a five year old what on earth was so important that it required picking up a gun and taking a father from his children with a squeeze of the trigger?"

     In twelve-step programs they teach the value of gratitude. One needn't participate in one of those self-help groups, though, to understand attitude and perspective. When feeling down or angry, irritated or anxious, a useful attitudinal adjustment exercise can be the preparation of a "gratitude list." Aesthesia does just that in Lessons. (link via spitfire.)

     The Head Lemur is at it again with his Open Letter to Orange Digital Media. No details here, as it's covered nicely in the Lemur's polite correspondence. You gotta like this man's style. "You folks must be having a brain fart. What part of the World Wide Web don't you understand?"

     "Operating somewhere between anarchy and hierarchy, Plastic is a live collaboration between the Web's smartest readers and the Web's smartest editors, a place to suggest and discuss the most worthwhile news, opinions, rumors, humor, and anecdotes online. Plastic is a new model for news." So say the editors of Feed and Suck, the corporate entities behind this new meta-weblog. Modeled after Slashdot, it could become equally unwieldy, or the next hot web community.

Monday, January 15, 2001

     Nature has announced that all genomic information presented in its pages — and on its Web site — will be published in GEML, or Gene Expression Markup Language, a lingua franca defining a common standard for the bits of life. GEML could be the HTML of biology. The year 2001 is to the genomics industry what the year 1991 was to informatics.

     Seti@Home has clocked half-a-million years in computer time searching for ET on home PCs, but the real work is just now beginning. The Seti@Home project harnesses the spare computing cycles of millions of PCs across the globe to search for telltale signs of intelligent life in radio signals beamed from outer space. But the process of figuring out which signals, if any, have come from alien civilizations won't start operating at full swing until the end of January, when the project brings online all its back-end servers. To learn more, check out the IB Seti@Home page.

     Since 1919, the National Parks Conservation Association has been a voice of the American people in the fight to safeguard the scenic beauty, wildlife, and historical and cultural treasures of the largest and most diverse park system in the world. With a web site rivaling the beauty of the parks themselves, this non-profit organization is committed to preserving our nation's parks for the next generation, and beyond.

Sunday, January 14, 2001

     I haven't talked about it any, but this has been a very stressful week for my wife Lynn. On Monday, a brother-in-law had hip replacement surgery, followed during recovery by blood clots and gastro-intestinal distress. He isn't doing so well. Then on Wednesday, a sister-in-law had open heart surgery to bypass two clogged cardiac arteries. Recovery is going very smoothly for her.

     Lynn has received kudos from family and hospital staff for her tireless willingness to comfort and assist wherever possible. She has kept other family members apprised of status, run errands for her brother and sister (the spouses of the patients), and offered a break to those in need of relief. She is a remarkable gal.

Bluzz of the Week      Sunday means Bluzz of the Week. Through this feature, I'm searching for the brightest, funniest, most controversial or otherwise intriguing comments from the previous week's forums, journals and blogs. Weather was a hot topic of conversation last week as winter storms ripped the west coast and desert southwest, and a nice warming trend developed in the east. If you find a true treasure you'd like to nominate for future Bluzz of the Week, even if you wrote it yourself, please let me know.

     The pick this week comes from one of those areas affected by the change in weather, Phoenix, Arizona. The hostess of Aspirations to Sweetness, Jann is in love with the desert and expresses it eloquently in her imagery, thoughts and words. When scanning her journal, I was invited into an aromatic realm filled with sensuous delights. While describing the rain and cold that hovered around her home, she exhibited a unique perspective, turning the seemingly offensive conditions to innocuous pleasure. Here are a few provocative excerpts:

     "... the sweetly fragrant perfume of the desert after rain ... oak & cherry wood burning brightly in the fireplace ... freshly washed skin and hair (so sweet for the kissing) ... lavender candles warming my home and warming my spirit ... patchouli oil massaged into my sore shoulders ... soft cotton sheets scented with a favorite perfume ... Rain has come to Phoenix tonight."

     and then the next day:

     "Tonight, there is a celestial canopy of deep velvety charcoal only to be interrupted by lunar illuminated clouds lost to the storm of earlier today. The moon dances on the damp rooftops leaving the illusion in deception of ice. As I slip beneath the surface of the water, I watch the steam rise then disappear, laughing at the moon's static presence. I lift my hand letting the droplets of jacuzzi water fall back to Earth and I am reminded of the brilliance of diamonds. Body submerged, I feel the cold breeze against my brow ... lifting my hair. Leaning back, I close my eyes and realize that perspective is all relative to how we define it." — Jann

     I do have a question though. Were you burning your furniture? Oak & cherry in the fireplace?

 

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