Tag Archives: Web

Well put, David Brin!

David Brin, answering Edge’s big question: What have you changed your mind about?, says, somewhat off-topic:

Let me close with a final surprise, that’s more of a disappointment. I certainly expected that, by now, online tools for conversation, work, collaboration and discourse would have become far more useful, sophisticated and effective than they currently are. I know I’m pretty well alone here, but all the glossy avatars and video and social network sites conceal a trivialization of interaction, dragging it down to the level of single-sentence grunts, flirtation and ROTFL [rolling on the floor laughing], at a time when we need discussion and argument to be more effective than ever. Indeed, most adults won’t have anything to do with all the wondrous gloss that fills the synchronous online world, preferring by far the older, asynchronous modes, like web sites, email, downloads etc. This isn’t grouchy old-fart testiness toward the new. In fact, there are dozens of discourse-elevating tools just waiting out there to be born. Everybody is still banging rocks together, while bragging about the colors. Meanwhile, half of the tricks that human beings normally use, in real world conversation, have never even been tried online.

Cory Thinks Facebook Is Doomed

Science fiction writer and commentator Cory Doctorow thinks Facebook is just as doomed as its predecessors:

Keeping track of our social relationships is a serious piece of work that runs a heavy cognitive load. It’s natural to seek out some neural prosthesis for assistance in this chore. My fiancee once proposed a “social scheduling” application that would watch your phone and email and IM to figure out who your pals were and give you a little alert if too much time passed without your reaching out to say hello and keep the coals of your relationship aglow. By the time you’ve reached your forties, chances are you’re out-of-touch with more friends than you’re in-touch with: Old summer-camp chums, high-school mates, ex-spouses and their families, former co-workers, college roomies, dot-com veterans… Getting all those people back into your life is a full-time job and then some. You’d think that Facebook would be the perfect tool for handling all this. It’s not. For every long-lost chum who reaches out to me on Facebook, there’s a guy who beat me up on a weekly basis through the whole seventh grade but now wants to be my buddy; or the crazy person who was fun in college but is now kind of sad; or the creepy ex-co-worker who I’d cross the street to avoid but who now wants to know, “Am I your friend?” yes or no, this instant, please. It’s not just Facebook and it’s not just me. Every “social networking service” has had this problem and every user I’ve spoken to has been frustrated by it. I think that’s why these services are so volatile: why we’re so willing to flee from Friendster and into MySpace’s loving arms; from MySpace to Facebook. It’s socially awkward to refuse to add someone to your friends list — but removing someone from your friend-list is practically a declaration of war. The least-awkward way to get back to a friends list with nothing but friends on it is to reboot: create a new identity on a new system and send out some invites (of course, chances are at least one of those invites will go to someone who’ll groan and wonder why we’re dumb enough to think that we’re pals).

Facebook Groups would be more useful if…

… it were possible to include the contents of an RSS feed in the group.

This would make it possible to stream content from a group’s website to their Facebook group space, no extra software needed.

For example, I would really like to be able to embed the RSS feed from http://www.onenw.org/news-events in ONE/Northwest’s Facebook group page.  But I can’t.

How lame.  This would be such a quick and easy win

Facebook starts measuring “engagement” instead of raw users for ranking popular apps

Very interesting.  Facebook has announced that it will no longer rank popular applications by raw number of users, instead choosing to measure “engagement” those users have with the apps they’ve installed.  This is a great, smart shift, and I think it presages lots of changes to how online activism is measured.

We define engagement as the number of users who touch your application every day (measured from midnight to midnight each day). These touch points are:
  • Canvas Page Views
  • Link Clicks in FBML
  • Mock-Ajax Form Submission
  • Click-to-Play Flash
The number of engaged users is calculated by putting all of these touch points together. We display this as the number of “Daily Active Users.” Next to it we also show what percentage that is of the application’s total number of users.

Hat tip to Jeff.

8 Really Cool Things About Plone 3

Plone 3 Release Candidate 1 is out. This is a big milestone in the evolution of Plone, and a big leap forward for both developers and for everyday Plone users. The Plone 3 team is still putting the final polish on it, but Release Candidate 1 is more than ready for prodding, poking and testing. Here are eight of the things about Plone 3 that I’m most excited to start using in ONE/Northwest’s projects, with screenshots. Continue reading

If Architects Were Web Designers

Shae Allen offers a sharp, funny riff on the thrill of difficult web design clients.

Dear Mr. Architect:

Please design and build me a house. I am not quite sure of what I need, so you should use your discretion. My house should have somewhere between two and forty-five bedrooms. Just make sure the plans are such that the bedrooms can be easily added or deleted. When you bring the blueprints to me, I will make the final decision of what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdown for each configuration so that I can arbitrarily pick one.

Continues…