July 24, 1999
All about Saul. "Saul
Bass on the Web,"
has updated and expanded. And added some really bad "Saul"-inspired
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.
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
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
"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"
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.
to be getting over yourselves now. For to be thanking you.
In your face, Shlomo. An
English-to-Hebrew basketball dictionary.
Shit. I hate feeling the need to be an apologist for my sex. Gender.
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
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
- 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.
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 is Po
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
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.
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
I had to look up "epistasis."
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
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:
18th: Laphroaig. The
best description came from her: "It
tastes like dirt." This isn't a bad thing.
Dhu. Definitely an odd 'un.
Sweet, thin. Almost like cough syrup, but, well, tastier. Still, not
16th: 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
[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
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. Recently 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
ALL SUBMISSIONS SHOULD PRESENT MATERIAL GROUNDED IN ACTUAL DESIGN
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
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