Fascinating, life imitates William Gibson novels. Again. That always sends a certain frission up my spine. Read story at NewsCloud.
Gosh darn, that is pretty cool. One can almost hear Bill saying, “how do you like them apples, Steve?”
well-reviewed freeware registry cleaner
a jquery way to do sifr, youtube videos or pretty much any flash embedding.
In studying the use (and non-use, and mis-use) of various tools, I’ve come to the realization that some pretty simple rules govern whether, and how, communication tools are used:
- A tool has to be both simple (intuitive to learn, comfortable and versatile to use) and ubiquitous (everyone needs to have access to it) before it will be extensively used.
- Most people are looking for just enough tools to manage both 1-to-1 and group communications, and both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous communications. The fewer the better as long as they cover those bases.
- Most people will tolerate more than one tool in a category if and only if each offers unique and important functionality that is absent in the others.
- Comfort with and access to various communication tools varies between generations, and with it their propensity to use certain tools.
Dean has a blog. World prepare yourself.
I’m a longtime user of Bloglines for reading RSS feeds. It’s simple, clean and very, very quick to use. But, I’d been hearing good things about Google Reader lately, so I thought I’d take it for a spin.
I’ve been reading my ~150 feeds in Google Reader the past few days, and I have to say, I think I’ll be sticking with Bloglines.
Google Reader looks a bit slicker, but it wastes a lot more pixels on the screen with superfluous lines and boxes that distract me from the text. It also doesn’t show as many feeds in the left column, wasting space on the “all/starred/shared items” controls that I don’t use.
It’s harder to mark things as read in Google Reader — one has to manually scroll through the items or remember to click the “mark all as read” button. That’s annoying. I can’t adjust the width of the left column in Google Reader.
I guess the grass isn’t greener after all.
WWF Canada have commissioned this very clever billboard, which casts a shadow on itself that creates a shadow-animation of rising waves, to dramatize the reality of climate change.
Obligatory YouTube video, which is itself a very smart way to get more mileage out of the stunt. (Although with only ~21,000 views so far, YouTube is hardly reaching as many eyeballs as the billboard itself probably is.)
very similar to the approach we’re using, how-to fodder?
Just remember, a new medium is not a magic bullet. As brilliantly riffed by Roy Williams in his MondayMorningMemo: The Media Is Not the Message, the real issue is what you say, not where you say it:
Relevance is what determines whether an ad works or not. Every medium fails when it delivers a message no one cares about.
He then enlarges on the importance of the message in something you should make part of your fundraising catechism:
- Ads that fail in one medium would usually have failed in any other.
- The medium is not the message.
- The message is the message.
- And the message is what matters most.
Yep, Marshall McLuhan was wrong.
There’s no way around it. You have to have a relevant message, or you’re sunk. Get that part right, and then you can start looking for media that take you forward.
a grab bag of stuff, no real reviews or analysis, though
Another state government using Plone!
$45 per site license. could be the basis for a cool add-on product.
Seems like I’m not the only person thinking about website comments these days. Our friends at The Tyee have been doing some heavy duty musing on this lately, too:
The Tyee just launched its new commenting system yesterday, and it’s been a very interesting ride so far. Overwhelmingly positive feedback, but of course some disgruntled commenters who don’t like the changes. Lots of good constructive feedback from readers so far, both on the experiment in general, and on technical details that we could improve on.Check out our editor’s two pieces about the changes:1) “Can We Still Talk Online? Push is on to improve reader forums on the Net. First in a series.” http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2007/05/15/TalkOnline/2) ” Tyee’s New Approach to Comments: A system designed to promote thoughtful posts.“ http://thetyee.ca/Mediacheck/2007/05/16/NewComments/We see the changes we’re making as part of a wider trend in online forums, not just with online publications, but with blogs and other open forums as well.
could be interesting, or yet another high-profile flop
I’m really excited that Dave Fowler got funded by Google’s “Summer of Code” program to do some work on Plone’s comments system. It’s not received much attention in the past few releases, and although it’s still pretty solid, it’s starting to show some wear around the edges. With Plone 3.0 almost out the door, and sporting lots of cool UI tricks (most notably KSS), it’s a great time to look at overhauling the comments system.
Following are some thoughts that I’ve had over the past couple of years of using Plone, and drawing on ONE/Northwest’s experiences implementing around a hundred public-facing Plone sites for small nonprofit organizations. I offer them with the hopes that Dave and others who will be working on Plone’s comments this summer might find some inspiration and ideas.
PloneComments extends Plone’s existing comments by enabling:
- Comments from anonymous users
- Moderation of comments
- Email notifications (to owners/managers) of new comments
All of these are welcome features that address obvious gaps in Plone’s “out of the box” comment experience. qPloneComments has quite a few rough edges in its UI — most notably that it takes a lot of clicks to go from an email notification to actually moderating a comment. I can’t offer an opinion about whether its implementation is technically sound, but it’s worth a close look to see whether its ideas could be integrated into a new solution.
EasyCommenting is a more ambitious attempt to re-implement commenting. Kai appears to have recently started again with Zope 3 technologies, so it’s not quite clear where this project sounds.
Things I’d Like to See Most of the improvements I’d like to see in Plone’s commenting system revolve around two related goals:
1) Making it easier for site visitors to comment without having to register and log in, while…
2) … Resisting comment spam.
While not every site requires (or desires!) unauthenticated users to be able to comment, it’s an extremely common feature of blogging software and of other lightweight CMS systems, and for good reason: it knocks down a big psychological barrier to participation for a casual site visitor.
I’ve been using WordPress for a couple of years now (but don’t worry, Plone is my first love! . As widely used, dedicated “blog” software, it puts a lot of effort into its commenting system, and the WordPress team have done a good job of making it possible to allow commenting by non-authenticated users without opening the floodgates to spam.
WordPress does this in a couple of interesting ways. First, the WordPress team have actually developed an extremely effective spam-detection service, known as Akismet. Akismet is not open-source, nor is it free for commercial use, but it works really well, and has a simple, well-documented API along with a Python library. Although it wouldn’t be a silver bullet, implementing an Akismet module for the Plone commenting system would be a quick, easy and effective way to fend off a lot of spam (both comment spam and trackback spam, too!). I’ve written a bit about this before.
A second thing that WordPress does is to ask each anonymous commenter for their email address. It doesn’t show that address to the public, but it remembers it, so that if their comment is approved, it can automatically approve additional comments from that email address. This feature is optional, and only available if comment moderation is enabled. It’s a very simple and effective way to make sure that your “frequent commenters” don’t have to get moderated for each comment.
A third thing WordPress does is to send out rich hyperlinks in its email notifications of new comments. Each comment notification message has three links:
1) Delete this comment 2) Approve this comment 3) View the comment moderation queue
The URLs for options 1 & 2 immediately perform the specified action. Option 3 takes you to a moderation screen.
1) Mark all queued comments for deletion 2) Mark all queued comments as spam (which deletes them and notifies Akismet) 3) Approve all queued comments
This simple scheme makes it possible to efficiently moderate hundreds of comments with just a few clicks.
I’ve not used them much, but some folks are fond of using captchas to differentiate legitimate commenters from spam-spewing robots. PloneCaptcha and Plone Captchas are two (different, but similarly-named) products that implement captchas for Plone.
Plone co-founder and usability guru Alex Limi has pointed out the potential for accessibility issues with captchas in the past. These concerns are real, but modern captcha systems seem to deal with them effectively, either by presenting an audio alternative to an image-recognition task or by using a simple logic puzzle (e.g. what is 2 plus 5?) instead of an image recognition.
I’ve noticed that Drupal (a popular PHP-based CMS) has an add-on product that implements simple logic captchas as described above. I suspect this would provide a simple, accessibility-compliant captcha mechanism that might be very effective for preventing comment spam, especially in the absence of Akismet.
Other random ideas
Here are a few other brainstorms that might be worth considering, although I think they’re all less important than the ideas I mentioned above.
- Include a (small) user portrait alongside authenticated users’ comments. Ploneboard does this (although the portraits are a bit large), and it looks nice.
- Visually highlight comments by the document creator or owner. Many blogs to do this, and it does a nice job of making the blogger’s responses to comments stand out.
- Include a Zope 3-style “recent comments” portlet as a user-addable portlet. This could be based on the existing “recent items” portlet. (I’m actually rather shocked that we don’t already have one!)
- Include a “comments on this item” RSS feed for objects that have comments. This makes it easy for interest parties to monitor comments on an object over time.
- Include an RSS feed for all site comments” on the site homepage (or maybe on all pages). Again, this makes it easy to follow all the discussion on a site.
Do you have ideas about how Plone comments could be better? Share them here, in the comments!