Neil MacDonald reviews Designing Social Interfaces at his site Perpetual Prototype: An Information Architecture Blog, writing
If you are considering designing a site with social features, this book is a must read.
Rogers Cadenhead’s portable, affordable Movable Type 3 Bible Desktop Edition is now available from Wiley.
I’d love to get my greasy little fingers on a copy of this book!
I can finally talk a little more about my current writing project, by far the most fascinating book I’ve ever had the pleasure of working on. The working title is The Power of Many and it’s about – broadly speaking (my publisher doesn’t want me to be too specific yet) – people networks with digital connections and real-world effects.
The book comes out this summer. I’m about halfway through the first draft. I’ve been researching the subject and interviewing people simultaneously, doing the book wildly out of order, with all kinds of hyperjumps and things to be filled in later. It’s kind of crazy to write it this way, but it’s also exhilarating, and while in a way I wish I had two years to write, in another sense I’ve been working toward it for the last five or six years at least, so it’s more a mater of trying to float my observations to the surface.
I’m also studying the subject with an open mind. I’ve got hypotheses, but like a good scientist I expect them to be battered by the empirical data. My straw models are just there to get the conversation going in my mind, and to give my interview subjects something to focus on and respond to.
My publisher told me the other day that it’s OK to start mentioning the book in public as long as I don’t specify the publication month or give too many other details of the book, such as its outline, coverage, or the people I’m interviewing.
Of course, there’s a blog for the book. For one thing, it’s the only way I could keep track of all the referenes and links (and people). Also, once the book is ready for open promotion, we’ll unveil the book’s blog and website and use it to try to build some buzz. More importantly, since the book is inherently just a snapshot of the current state of the peopled Internet, filtered through my thinking and the insights of another 40 people who are much smarter than me, the blog will enable me to continue covering the subject after the book is out (much as Howard Rheingold has been doing with his Smart Mobs blog site).
It’s a juicy enough subject that I’d enjoy making it my beat for years to come. At the end of one interview a few weeks ago, I told the subject, “It was great to meet you, and I hope we can continue this conversation… for the rest of our lives.”
So, for now the blog is unfortunately password-protected (and obnoxiously sending out occasional trackbacks that can’t yet be backtracked) and its contents not yet made part of the public record for the book.
I can live with that, although I do have a sense that we shouldn’t worry too much about competition knowing what we’re doing any more than we mind looking at what else is out there as we inform ourselves about the ideas. That’s just part of my “openness” ethic, in which I think the value of secrets tends to be overestimated.
I suppose other publishers might be working on entrants into this area that we don’t know about, so of course I am going to defer to the publisher’s wishes.
By the way, I’m adapting this entry from a post at the book’s blog that was about the soft decloaking.
Here’s a similar story: Someone from East Bay for Dean didn’t like that my Oakland for Dean website had links to the local Kerry and Clark sites. I did this in the ethos of “does Macy’s recommend Gimbel’s?” – trusting the voter/customer to do their own analysis of the available information, and trusting them to come back to your site because of the content and message and dynamism there. I was told, however, that my site is a partisan site and linking to your opponent is “just not done.” So, I deferred to their wishes and removed those links.
Add The Julie Powell to the list (along with Salam Pax) of bloggers whose weblogs have landed them sweet book deals.
Congratulations to Julie for conceiving of her brilliant project and then – most importantly – executing it. So now, is the book going to just be a slightly edited rendition of the yearlong cooking project or is it some other kind of derivative work?
Continued technical difficulties at the Dreamweaver Savvy website (problems with Radio, the CMS I’m currently driving new home page updates) have caused me to temporarily roll back the home page to the old, ugly design, so at least there will be something there for visitors.
Next I may have to manually ftp the new blog-based home page since the upstreaming is malfunctioning. Finally, I hope to get it back to automated again (or I’ll switch to a different blogging tool).
The last time the hackers came through they replaced a lot of the index pages of a lot of my sites. After we wiped my server and started over from scratch with a more robust security regime, I still had to replace the missing pages. Most of them were backed up on my production Mac on local sites already set up in Dreamweaver, so I just republished the pages for most of them.
For the blog-based homepages I usually just reposted the top link or otherwise refreshed the page. My MT blogs are back too (“start the presses!”), by the way. The problem was a matter of permissions on the mySQL database tables.
All this spring cleaning has given me some time to reflect on the organization of my sites and a chance to move a little more in the direction of unity and simplicity and away from the multiplicity of brands, blogs, sites, and half-baked projects I’ve spawned all off my little Linux box. One decision I made (finally!) was to merge the fireweaver blog with the Dreamweaver Savvy home page (which I never liked).
The first thing I did was just point the dreamweaversavvy.com virtual host entry at the fireweaver.com root, where the blog page was already the only thing going on. Right away, though, I started getting email from readers who, of course, could no longer find the book-specific links promised in the pages of the book, and instead could find only my vaguely web design-and-development related posts to RFB, anthologized as fireweaver.
So now I’ve gone and reopened the old source pages and tried to copy over the relevant items into the fireweaver home template in Radio. Posting this entry should refresh the page, enabling navigation to the other Dreamweaver Savvy site pages (sparse as they are, and still sporting that ugly old design too), access to errata and corrections, and links to the Yahoo! discussion group we have for the book.
Every time I try to post or crosspost to my Agent7 blog I get an event error (in Radio) like this:
Can't upstream because "Can't find a sub-table named "428"."
Can't upstream because "Can't find a sub-table named "5526"."
Can't upstream because "Can't find a sub-table named "8105"."
I have no idea why this is happening or how to fix it.
Good (public) interview getting underway in the Well’s Inkwell conference with Jesse James Garrett, author of The Elements of User Experience (New Riders, 2003), a book I’ve promised to review in this space and will get around to eventually, I promise!
Garrett is a groundbreaker in the less-than-a-decade old discipline of information architecture. Much of his work and his ways of organizing the design process have become hugely influential. The diagram that inspired his book circulated the web for years as a fundamental IA meme.
Well, that took longer than expected. I’m still getting things re-configured and re-set up at ol’ Open Publishing / ezone / x-everything industries, but most of the sites are at least now visible, and I may hope that we’ve cured the hacked-so-easily problem we had going there.
In the meantime, off the air, I found solace in posting via Radio and Blogger even when I knew the publishing action would fail, and hanging around the Well more.
Forgive the extensive cross-posting. I’m just trying to push out all the categories with current posts.
I’ve been drawing wire frames (also called virtual blueprints) depicting schematically how a number of different page views and portlets and popup windows show look and function for a portal project, and I’ve been drawing these pictures in Visio. It’s an old version of Visio (2000) and I’m running it on a fairly old Dell laptop issued me by the consultancy that hired me to do this project, and between these two old geezers of hardware and software my life today has been a bleeding nightmare.
First, the Dell freaks out if I move it around, and I’ve had the blue screen of death four times today. Worse, this old version of Visio has a special file-corrupting problem that renders the doc I was just working on (and sometimes even earlier versions that should not even be open anymore) unreadable by Visio.
In hunting around with some help from a very smart systems guy, I learned that this is a known bug, there is a Microsoft patch (but it’s for SR-1 versions and later only – the Visio I have is actually pre-Microsoft acquisition), but all it does is minimize the error in the future. It does nothing to help recovered the munged files.
A discussion on an info-arch website convinced me that this is a common problem and that it’s exacerbated by keeping a large number of drawings in a single file (I have over 50 drawings in the file in question). A google search on “recover corrupt visio” however helped me find a shareware product called RecoverMyFiles.
Man is that thing good. They claim they can find things you never saved, things you’ve already emptied from your recycle bin, and even files from a disk you’ve reformatted. I set the little bugger to work checking cluster by cluster and it found 47 lost Visio files on my machine! (Many of them are iterations of my work in the last few days, especially since I started obsessively saving backups and moving on to copies to try to put interim files beyond the clutches of the diseased application, but some go back years.)
The recover tool is very smart: Once it finds your files for you, it requires you to buy it ($59.95) and enter a registration key to actually save the recovered files. I had my credit card out in no time flat.
You also need a separate disk to save to. I’ve actually had to upload over 10 files of nearly four megs each through a VPN connection over DSL to a network-mounted drive, but they’re almost all saved now, so I’ll be able to drag ’em back soon and get on with my work.
Yep, looks like it’s done now. A small test file opened just fine. Now it’s time to go for one of the meatier ones. … Shazam!
Best $60 I ever spent.