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petermeme Archives

June 01 - June 09, 2001
May 01 - May 31, 2001
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December 01 - December 31, 2000
November 01 - November 30, 2000
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September 01 - September 30, 2000
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July 01 - July 27, 2000
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October 16 - October 31, 1999
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July 25 - August 5, 1999
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May 1999

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  past petermemes

January 30, 2000
Make something! Not feeling creative? Mess with something someone else has made! It's the shiny new Metababy!

Mac flashback. After a year of progressively failing service, I'm reinstalling Windows98 on my personal laptop. As it has a single drive bay for a floppy drive and CD-ROM drive, I'm repeatedly popping one out and putting the other in. It takes me back to, oh, 1985, when Macs didn't have hard drives, just 400k floppies, and disk-swapping was an event unto itself. (And remember when you could fit the entire system on a single 400k floppy? HAHAHAHA.)

January 29, 2000
Why didn't I think of that?

January 28, 2000
One thing I hate about Web analysis. Hackneyed diatribes against straw men.

January 27, 2000
Live Nude Baseball Players.
Surprisingly, a well-read friend didn't get a reference to Eadward Muybridge, and some digging around turned up a coupla cool links. Head here for an excellent explication of Muybridge's work in developing motion pictures and conducting motion studies. And over here for a delightful study (rich in animated .GIFs) of various forms of pre-cinema, including early motion picture attemp
ts and optical toys.

January 26, 2000
Your self-important voice of reason.
So I got this email from Tomas Clark, an associate editor at Word.com, in response to my January 21 query

Regarding the word redesign -- your reaction probably makes more sense than most of the other ones I've seen. Nobody can truly fathom the mind of our art director but we weren't expecting people to make such a fuss about it, or take it so seriously (not that it's entirely a joke either, but still...) You should see all the mail we've been getting, there are about four main interpretations of what it "means" and they're all more or less wrong from what I can tell.

My best guess is that people were already antsy about the whole "should the web be bland and easy, or complicated and eye-popping, or both?" issue and somehow people's buttons got pushed. Beats me! I just wanted to give you a little award for levelheadedness:


Taylor, are you listening? Last week, NPR's Morning Edition featured Scott McCloud, Art Spiegelman, and Stan Lee in a discussion on comics on the Web. (RealAudio required).

January 25, 2000
Oh, the humanity!
Jef Raskin's summary of his forthcoming book, The Humane Interface, offers up quality thought grist for the mental mill.

How much sitting do you need? Yesterday I received the premiere Design Within Reach catalog, a handsome offering of goods for design-lust types. Thing is, a good 2/3rds of what they offer are chairs. I mean, are we all really that obsessed with sitting?

More of the search stuff.

D'arcy reminds us of Microsoft's Knowledge Base Search, which I wrote about a while back. (scroll all the way to the bottom). Nifty thing: it remembers your previous 10 searches, particularly useful in that you're probably having to restart your machine repeatedly when using it, and this helps get you back to exactly where you were.

January 23, 2000
Shareware textbook!
That's right, you can read the entire text of "Task-Centered User Interface Design" online, and all the authors ask is, if you dig it, to pay them $5. Looking through the TOC, it seems to offer a strong foundation in approaching user-centered design.

Seek and ye shall find. In response to yesterday's beseechment for notably good and bad search interfaces, I've received some good leads.

Violet.com's Inspiration search offers 'logical' and 'emotional' ways to structure a query. Oh, and an 800 number to help with a 'personal' search. That's service! [thanks judith]

Dan's quite disheartened with thomas.loc.gov, unable to find specific legislation even though he knew what the bill was about, and unsure whether he was reading full text or a summary.

Pan offers up this intriguing prototype of a extension to standard search interfaces.

Deja's search extends into the interface, allowing you to browse previous and next through the results as you read messages. [thanks ev]

Andy pointed me to "Cognitive Strategies in Web Searching" a proceedings paper aiming to "develop an empirically-based model of web searching, to help explain how people search for information on the Web and to develop guidelines for supporting Web searching."

And I'm still looking! Thanks for your help.

Random thought of the following moment. Why is there no sushi delivery in San Francisco? I mean, sushi travels well, no?

Random thought of the moment. Isn't it great that no one really knows what the hell they're doing?

Funny "ha-ha." The L.A. Times' lengthy feature on The Onion covers much the same ground as was found in the Wired and New Yorker articles about the rag, though with a bit more Hollywood zest.

January 22, 2000
Can you keep track?
Dig the multi-channel information reception stylings of ure.org, Steve Cannon's gallery of textural textual experiments. Make sure to take in all three panels of the Art, Interface, and Science panels. Why aren't next-gen interfaces becoming real?

Turning Search Into Find. I'm researching search engine interface design for a presentation, and am hoping to exploit the power of the distributed network to turn up relevant demonstrations (i.e., looking for y'all to point me to some nifty stuff).

I'm looking for good and bad examples of

  • Search engine query interfaces (e.g., innovative designs like the sentence-construction of Sparks.com or Zagats, or poor designs that require knowledge of Boolean operators)
  • Search engine results presentation and interaction (I like Staples.com's "show me text/show me images" toggle, though it would be better as a single on/off button)
  • Extension of search results throughout an experience (such as Sparks.com's 'previous card' and 'next card' on the product page)

Whether you've got stuff you love or hate, please send it in. Final presentation will be posted to peterme.com in early February.

January 21, 2000
Who cares?
For some reason, tons of folks are going on and on about the Word.com "redesign." It's a hot topic on bunches of mailing lists. It's most likely just a joke, and not an original one. And even if it isn't, why does it matter? Does it matter?

January 19, 2000
Stabbed with a Pen.
Enjoy the metaphorical stylings of "Understanding Understanding Comics." Makes me wonder who will write "Understanding Weblogs."

January 18, 2000
A conference worth going to!
The line-up for South by Southwest's Interactive Conference is looking very very good. This is possibly the only generalist interactive conference in America that maintains any visionary and cultural edge.

From the San Francisco Comical:
`Echoes' of Buster East Bay author meticulously tracks down original locations for Keaton movies. A feature entertainment story on a man retracing Buster Keaton's film locations, including some nifty photos.

Superheroes Find New Life on Superhighway: Internet may save the day for comic-book industry. Or not. Okay piece. Disappointing in that it doesn't cover alternative payment methods. Scott McCloud, whom longtime petermeme readers know I love, is among the few remaining proponents of micropayments, as he feels it's the best solution for making sure independent artists get paid.

This quote from Stan Lee is unfortunate: "'It will be a whole new way of telling stories,' he said. 'It will be more like minimovies than comic books.'" If it's true, it marks the death of comics on the Web (because, really, movies are simply not comics). Happily, I don't think it's true, so I suspect Stan is barking up the wrong tree, and it's disappointing that he's not working harder to evolve the comics medium, instead pursuing the lazier path of "multimedia" which will probably mean dull Flash animations.

January 17, 2000
Shit keeps falling.
After many months on hiatus, Leisuretown returns with a magnum opus on being a contractor in the software industry. Funny, crude, and not for the kiddies.

Homage? Ripoff? Quality? Lame? Modern Wood Works offers reproductions of the classic Eames Storage Units at prices significantly less than the new Herman Miller reissues. Does anyone know if these guys are on the up-and-up?

Cocaine? True. Santa? False. Cokelore provides the real deal behind the various claims surrounding The Real Thing. Typically, most rumors surrounding Coke are false, though one that the Coca-Cola Company will deny left, right, and center, that Coca-Cola once had cocaine, is true.

The trip to Cokelore was brought on by Tog's thoughtwander on whether or not Mac OS X will be the New Coke of interface design. Tog's piece is balanced and incisive.

The comp'ny. A few things worth noting.
Epinions.com is among the Industry Standard's 10 Companies to Watch.

The guy I sit next to, Nirav Tolia, is one of Women.com's Men of Silicon Valley. Vote for him, will ya?

<-- Look at the top of the left column for details on our new User Advocate position.

January 16, 2000
Though an unfortunate misappropriation of metaphor, "the big bang theory of human evolution" is hoping to put to rest the controversy around human origins, with massive evidence supporting a multiregional theory, the belief that human ancestors left Africa 2 million years ago, spread throughout the world, evolved separately, yet maintained genetic ties through some interbreeding. While much has been made of the vanquishing of the "Out of Africa" hypothesis, it still holds on strong--it's clear this debate won't be resolved any time soon.

January 15, 2000
Last night caught the Beth Lisick Ordeal, a fabulous local (San Francisco) musical act headlined by the irrepressible over-sized pixie Beth Lisick, a lyricist par excellence reminiscent of MC 900 FT Jesus, but cheerier. (And what in the heck happened to him? One Step Ahead of the Spider is awesome, but he's been silent since.) Turns out Beth also covers the SF indie scene in a weekly column that I've just added to my spyonit repertoire.

January 11, 2000
Design lust.
Netsetgoods.com offers a variety of tastily designed goods, including the entire Blu Dot furniture and furnishings line. I am so wanting the 2-D/3-D magazine rack, and I suspect the Chicago Low Boy will solve bookshelf needs. Oh, and a Go Cart for my television. And maybe Modulicious as clothing drawers. Um. After I pay taxes, that is. (Quarterlies? Oh, you mean I was supposed to file those? Oh.)

January 09, 2000
I'm, well, glad.
One of the The New Yorker's best writers, Malcolm Gladwell, has launched a personal site, featuring much of his writing from the magazine. Personal favorites include "Six Degrees of Lois Weinberg," about Chicago's most well-connected woman, and "The Science of the Sleeper," a thoughtful look at collaborative filtering. The latter lead to this Epinion by my dad, who doubts the power of the recommendation technology.

It appears the site will largely serve to market Gladwell's forthcoming book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things can Make a Big Difference.

It's a book about change. In particular, it's a book that presents a new way of understanding why change so often happens as quickly and as unexpectedly as it does. For example, why did crime drop so dramatically in New York City in the mid-1990's? How does a novel written by an unknown author end up as national bestseller?

The topic is fascinating. It definitely resonates with punctuated equilibrium (wherein a small environmental shift can trigger massive species change), and with notions from complexity theory about 'order on the edge of chaos.' Drool.

January 8, 2000
So, I'm kind of addicted to Netbaby's Boatrace (requires Shockwave). It hearkens back to the classic Atari Sprint. My high score is 20680. I love the simplicity and quickness of this game... If you have similar favorites, please let me know. Brief timewasters are beloved. Also, though I don't know what purpose it serves, I've also created a Netbaby team, the Infozorkmiads. If you want on, just ask. .

January 6, 2000
Competitive gloat.
According to PCData, Epinions.com ranks 217 among websites overall, with nearly 1.8 million unique users. This is after having launched at the beginning of September and with almost no money spent on marketing. What's satisfying is that our most direct competitor, Deja.com, who has had the benefit of much more time online, and spent millions on advertising, ranks 256, with 1.6+ million users.

January 5, 2000
He's not bitter.
The Hermenaut, the journal for frustrated pomo crit types, is now online, featuring, among other items, an extensive interview with Eightball creator Dan Clowes.

January, 3, 2000
A PSA (peterme service announcement).
Get a flu shot. See, I didn't, and have been suffering from an "extra nasty strain" of the virus all weekend. It turns out this year's vaccine is an excellent match, so if you haven't been inoculated, get it done. Trust me on this one. Oy.