What do I want users to say?

I have been working with SIL team members to help create a better experience on SIL.org. So, I am constantly looking at how people on different web projects talk about user experience making a difference. Today I was visiting the Noun Project. There were some things I didn’t like about the website, so, I tried to give them some feedback. I found out that my ideas had already been suggested and that they were under review by the management and implementation team. A+ to the management team of the Noun Project – not for being perfect, but for communicating through imperfection and being concerned enough with users to add a feedback loop and for listening to user suggestions. The Noun Project has the edge on being Wikipedia for icons. However, it is the project and organizational commitment to User Experience and User Interaction which will make them succeed. As I look at what they are doing, I noticed this quote by their co-founder:

I find working on The Noun Project inspiring because I know what we’re doing is making a difference. I constantly get emails from teachers, designers, architects…and it’s never about how much they just “like” the service. People who use The Noun Project fall in love with it, and that’s when you know you’ve built something worthwhile. –
Sofya, Cofounder

At the end of the day, I want people to fall in love with the things I help build.

Creative Commons and Software

I recently ran across two software products which claim and use Creative Commons licensing (one of them, RGraph: http://www.rgraph.net/). These products are used to create visualizations (graphs), which could be argued to be derivative products of the software used to create them. So while the code product may be CC, the question becomes, is the data as it embedded in the graphs then also CC’d and are the Images the graphs create then also CC’d as derivative products? It seems that the world would quickly become confusing, if a share-alike license is used. Continue reading

Language and Culture Documentation v.s. Cultural Digital Natives

I feel that in the language and culture documentation community that there is a tension between “documenting” and “globalizing”. In the sense that what we as digital natives and cultural technologists think is “living” is in part “documenting”.

Now, in some sense “Language Documentation” is an academic pursuit of its own right independent of linguistics if it has a plan and tries to capture elements of the expression of the culture and language as it is spoken or acted out. I think there is a bit of confusion in the literature as linguists move from linguistics to language development and community development. This is particularly evident with the use of video in language documentation. Continue reading

Design Review…. of iTunes 11

I was having some difficulties with iTunes 10.7 so I opted to update to iTunes 11, now I want to roll back. My opinion is that the UI (and to an extent the UX) sucks, sorry Jonathan Ive. – Yet at the same time I realize that as artists when we have come to a new “enlightened” state about one of our designes solving more relevant problems we have to wipe away the old version and reach out for the new potentials. But in this case I think bringing over the design elements from iOS is a bit overkill. It does not respect the device and the mood created by the device (bring touchscreen to the Mac and I might reconsider).

I have several beefs Continue reading

Some videos I like…

I was looking through Facebook to see if I could generate a list of videos which I have shared from YouTube… I wanted to see what I have “liked”. It would appear that though this information is available to businesses it is not available to me as a user… Sad… I kinda wanted to see what my longitudinal tastes were for videos and how much YouTube watching I do do… and has it increased over time…
Branding and video provider

In some respects this is motivated by wanting to become more able to communicate in video forms. Some of the videos I have enjoyed have been both on various video-graphic styles and various content genres. I have noticed that some of the creative videos I like to watch have sound tracks to MTV culture and music to which I have never been acquainted, but Becky has.

I think this stop motion video of head phones is an example:

Continue reading

The Power of Interns

Today I was reading about how an intern at FaceBook created their new Mobile ad interface. For those of you who watch the business news, FaceBook being able to monetize their mobile market has been a big concern for their investors. I think this really speaks to several things in the corporate culture at Facebook:

  1. They are willing to listen to the ideas of young, fresh people.
  2. They are willing to work with temporary staff.
  3. They are willing to mentor.
  4. They are willing trust (things like project goals and budding technologies).

Each of these things listed above are social issues. They are social issues within the context of the corporate environment. Additionally, the company has to be contentious of them to the point that they implement HR processes to allow these sorts of things to happen. In this respect these four things have to be something that is fought for (in order to maintain them as part of the corporate culture). I currently look at the NGO I work for and wonder, What it would take to have harness the power of Interns? We don’t currently have the corporate culture to facilitate interns, but why is that? Is our walled garden so well constructed with bricks from the baby-boomer generation that we forget the power which comes when we can run with young people? For businesses, even for NGOs, if we don’t fight for relevance within the social networks of the up-coming generation then we will marginalize our significance.

Modular Courses for Linguistics

In 2008 I was contacted by a professor who wanted to be able to share various linguistics exercises with fellow professors. He asked for a website to be build so that if a professor were to translate the directions of these exercises that they could in turn put these translated versions back into the “set of exercises”. Continue reading

Email Befuddling

So, the common concern is:

If I put my email address "out there" on the web that spammers will get it and start sending me spam messages.

Well, that is a valid concern. There are scripts and crawlers which go around and look for email addresses. (And lets suppose that they also do not check for a robots.txt file.) These generally work by focusing on the syntax of the email addresses using Regular Expressions or finding the mailto: term in the HTML code. There are some things which can be done to prevent this from happening.

  • The best way is to use contact forms.
  • The second best way is to use JavaScript hiding. (Go here to read how to do this if you are running your own HTML pages, or here if you want a site which will create a JavaScript for you.)
  • The third best way is to use HTML characters for your email addresses.
  • One way that I severely dislike is to spell out the email address or phone number like (you see a lot of this on sites like craigslist and after a few spam text messages one understands why it is done): seven-one-seven or hugh dot paterson at.

Continue reading