home ....interface design .... web development .... movie reviews .... travel .... about peterme
petermeme Archives

June 01 - June 09, 2001
May 01 - May 31, 2001
April 01 - April 30, 2001
March 01 - March 31, 2001
February 01 - February 28, 2001
January 01 - January 31, 2001
December 01 - December 31, 2000
November 01 - November 30, 2000
October 01 - October 31, 2000
September 01 - September 30, 2000
August 01 - August 30, 2000
July 01 - July 27, 2000
June 01 - June 30, 2000
May 24 - May 31, 2000
May 1 - May 23, 2000
April 1 - April 30, 2000
March 1 - March 31, 2000
February 1 - February 29, 2000
January 1 - January 31, 2000
December 1 - December 31, 1999
November 1 - November 30, 1999
October 16 - October 31, 1999
October 1 - October 15, 1999
September 8 - September 30, 1999
August 29 - September 7, 1999
August 13 - August 27, 1999
August 6 - August 12, 1999
July 25 - August 5, 1999
July 17 - July 24, 1999

July 11 - July 16, 1999
July 01 - July 10 1999
June 09 - June 30 1999
June 01 - June 08 1999

May 1999

April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
All of 1998

  past petermemes

July 24, 1999
All about Saul.
Saul Bass on the Web," has updated and expanded. And added some really bad "Saul"-inspired puns.

Verti-au-go-go. The Saul site points to a site about Vertigo, which features "
Verdant Vertigo: Seeing Green in Technicolor," a thoughtful essay about the use of rich saturated colors in that film, and "A Virtual Tour of Vertigo," detailing the use of San Francisco in the movie. Yum.

I realize now that the deep change began on the first day I brought her to San Francisco. You know what San Francisco does to people who have never seen it before. All of it happened to Madeleine, but with such an intensity as to be almost frightening.

July 22, 1999
Another wander.
Lindsay's mention of the Museum of Jurassic Technology has spurred something of a mental tumble. For starters, there's the fact that the MJT is just so damned cool. If you know nothing of it, may I suggest purchasing Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder and uncover how fascinating the whole premise is. For further tastes, this info-nugget sums up the MJT's gestalt handily, and read Cardhouse's pictorial reminscence.

As I learned by reading
McSweeney's yesterday, the MJT needs to raise money in order to buy its building.

Anywho, the tangent is that in the MJT's
library I first came across Zone 1/2 (which I've previously petermemed). Last night I discussed with a friend an essay from that book, Marc Guillaume's "The Metamorphosis of Epidemia." He proposes an epidemiological model for the spread of information, wherein viruses (thoughts, rumors, what we would today call memes) are spread person-to-person, and

"Media today functions much like an ultrarapid vaccination in that it eradicates rumors by irradiating denials or counterinformation."

Clearly, this plays into the Chomskyian notions of the mass media as a tool to paralyze the thoughts of the populace, to innoculate the masses with "safe" information.

What I find particularly compelling is extending Guillaume's metaphor, which was written before the rise of networked communication. The Internet allows for such a rapid viral dissemination of information that, perhaps, the irradiatory forces of TeeVee, radio, and newspapers can't work fast enough to kill it.

Please to be getting over yourselves now. For to be thanking you.

In your face, Shlomo.
An English-to-Hebrew basketball dictionary.

I hate feeling the need to be an apologist for my sex. Gender. Whatever.

Adrift in the Indian Ocean.
Where will you be if you
burrow straight through the earth?

July 21, 1999

Broadvision sucks. For the past 3 years, I've had various clients that used Broadvision for their application server. And, in each case, Broadvision was a nightmare to deal with. The people who sell Broadvision know this, so what they do is head straight to the people with money but no tech savvy on the client side, and mesmerize them with tales of "One To One Marketing" and the people with money fork it over without bothering to learn that the system is bloated, slow, and pathetic.
I'm compiling a list of reasons why Broadvision sucks. If you know of reasons I haven't listed, please
send them in.
Why Broadvision Sucks [Example sites are shown for demonstration purposes only. This is not to slam those sites, but to slam Broadvision.]:
  • Bloated HTML (look at the HREFs at Outpost.com
  • Servers slow as molasses
  • Cannot do frames (Some might see this as a benefit, but, hey, shouldn't that decision be made by the design team, not by a backend technology?)
  • Each site visitor is given a sessionID, even if they don't register. If you're inactive for a long enough time (say, you go out to lunch in the middle of doing something), you will be dumped into the home page, forced to start from scratch.
  • In talking to engineers who've had to work with BV, they've said that making changes and alterations to the system is an excruciatingly slow process for no legitimate reason--it just is.

Lawrence, for the pointer to this article on searching at Sparks.com.

Yes, yes. Everyone will be pointing to it, but will any of them tell you it looks like a
Creamsicle? That's the kind of patented perspective you come to peterme for. I wanna buy one and lick it.

Unfortunately, I doubt it is waterproof. How cool would it have been if they'd made it waterproof! *Especially* with AirPort. Wireless surfing from the bathtub! Oh the bliss!

July 20, 1999
Worth the read
Po Bronson's The Nudist on the Late Shift. It's refreshing that it's about people--not companies, business models, or history. And it's about people that you and I can relate to. I can't relate to Bill Gates. Or Larry Ellison. But I can relate to many of the folks discussed in this book. Well, okay, I can't relate to Danny Hillis, but he's still fascinating to read about.

Po Bronson's
Wired article on Danny. It's also in the book. It amazes me that smart people, including his friends, would nay-say the millenial clock. I mean, what's not to get? It's brilliant if you can pull it off.

An interview with Danny and Alan Kay way back when WiReD mattered. And before both worked at Disney.

If you're asking, "Who's Alan Kay?", well,
among other things, he was a primary architect of the graphical user interface (he pioneered the way windows function).

Oooh. Danny has written an article titled
Punctuated Equilibrium Due to Epistasis in Simulated Populations. How could I not link to it?

I had to look up "

I then had to relearn what an "
allele" is. My memory of high school bio is quite murky.

Danny Hillis was known around MIT for his
AI koans. God, I like this man the more I read about him and by him.

I'm watching Letterman and finding myself boyishly infatuated with Brandi Chastain. Why didn't I notice her beauty before? I mean, her looks are essentially a simple cheerleader pretty, but there's an edge, I suppose due to her athleticism, that makes her a treat to watch.

Old-school net.art.
Stumbling across Juliet Clark's site reminded me of
Juliet Martin, whom I knew when I lived in New York. Which sent me back to one of her first web.art pieces, which is perhaps my favorite of hers, oooxxxooo.

July 19, 1999
Tonight's scotch:
Cragganmore. Delightfully full. Solid, well-rounded drink.
Scotch for the past three days:
Laphroaig. The best description came from her: "It tastes like dirt." This isn't a bad thing.
Loch Dhu. Definitely an odd 'un. Sweet, thin. Almost like cough syrup, but, well, tastier. Still, not a favorite.
Oban. Classic. Not as sweet/smooth as I like.

Visual searching.
I'm fiddling with the design of a search engine, and thinking about how much easier life would be if I could present to the user immediate visual feedback as they select search criteria. Something like this is discussed in
Designing the User Interface, where Ben Shneiderman [link found with an "I'm feeling lucky" search at Google] describes the "filter-flow model."

"We applied the metaphor of water flowing from left to right through a series of filters, where each filter lets through only the appropriate documents, and the flow paths indicate AND or OR." (Page 542)

Basically, you start with a reservoir of data, which diminishes as it must meet certain criteria in order to continue right. Ideally, at least for most people searching for things on the Web, there will be but a trickle, a wee drip at the end, providing users with precisely the information they seek.

The filter-flow model is interesting for visualizing Boolean queries. I've been thinking about searches that are strictly Boolean queries (or are simply AND searches), and I wonder if the filter flow model is still too involved. One notion that appealed to me is that of a bullseye. You start off with all your data representing the entirety of a bullseye, and as you specify criteria, the rings of bullseye shed, until, ideally, all that's left is a point.

A more whimsical approach might be a haystack that gradually disappears, revealing the needle.

(Note--these search methods require a fixed and known total amount of data. They wouldn't work for the Web, because its size is always changing, changing too rapidly, and no one knows just how large it is.)

This all reminds me of a metaphor I'd heard about the Web. It's as if someone took all the books in all the libraries, ripped off their covers and their table of contents, and threw them willy-nilly into this big room. It's wonderful that there's all this information at your fingertips, but just try to find it!

I extended the metaphor with noting that search engines allow patrons to scream out some words, and pages that contain those words begin to hover in the air. And that search engines like Direct Hit and Google are akin to having those hovering pages surrounded by other people, and the pages with the most people around them are likely the most useful.

Learn how to
decode a Feynman diagram.

Amazon continues to get it.
Amazon added two tabs, Toys/Games and Electronics. If you do a search in either of those areas, you get thumbnails returned, as well as product name and price. So, you can quickly scan the results and weed out irrelevant choices. Remember, this is Amazon, a company paranoid about bandwidth, but not willing to sacrifice the buying experience for a good design idea.

*The* interactive design conference?
Though this page doesn't look like much, the content suggests that
DIS 2000 could be the interactive design conference to attend. I believe it's a response to the fact that CHI is not a design conference. My favorite line on this page is


July 18, 1999
Join Juliet Clark on a well-crafted, Disney-inspired
reminiscence. There's something almost haunting about it.

July 17, 1999
Because we're materialist sheep.
This excerpt from Why We Buy, underscores a lot of points of interest to those designing e-commerce sites. It's refreshing to see an ethnographic perspective on retail. Primarily, there's the basics of Understanding the Customers by observing their behavior, and figuring out how to design towards their tasks. But almost as important is the fact that people who think they know things, and are in the position to know, don't know anything. The anecdote at the outset about how wildly incorrect a senior executive was about the retailer's convert-to-buy ratio reminds us that in order to know what's really going on, we have to do the research ourselves.