Client-Side Content Restrictions for Archives and Content Providers

Two times since the launch of the new SIL.org website colleagues of mine have contacted me about the new requirement on SIL.org to log-in before downloading content from the SIL Language and Culture Archive. Both know that I relate to the website implementation team. I feel as if they expect me to be able to speak into this situation (as if I even have this sort of power) - I only work with the team in a loose affiliation (from a different sub-group within SIL), I don't make design decisions, social impact decisions, or negotiate the politics of content distribution.

However, I think there are some real concerns by web-users users about being required to log-in prior to downloading, and some real considerations which are not being realized by web-users.

I want to reply to these concernes.

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Software Needs for a Language Documentation Project

In this post I take a look at some of the software needs of a language documentation team. One of my ongoing concerns of linguistic software development teams (like SIL International's Palaso or LSDev, or MPI's archive software group, or a host of other niche software products adapted from main stream open-source projects) is the approach they take in communicating how to use the various elements of their software together to create useful workflows for linguists participating in field research on minority languages. Many of these software development teams do not take the approach that potential software users coming to their website want to be oriented to how these software solutions work together to solve specific problems in the language documentation problem space. Now, it is true that every language documentation program is different and will have different goals and outputs, but many of these goals are the same across projects. New users to software want to know top level organizational assumptions made by software developers. That is, they want to evaluate how software will work in a given scenario (problem space) and to understand and make informed decisions based on the eco-system that the software will lead them into. This is not too unlike users asking which is better Android or iPhone, and then deciding what works not just with a given device but where they will buy their music, their digital books, and how they will get those digital assets to a new device, when the phone they are about to buy no-longer serves them. These digital consequences are not in the mind of every consumer... but they are nonetheless real consequences.
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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.

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

New Feature for Craigslist

Ever look for something on Craigslist and get hundreds of results – look at a few and decide that you don’t want a few and then type in something else and get the same search results?

Obviously you were looking for something else… what is needed is a check box to say that you are disinterested in a particular listing. (Or that a listing was no-longer for sale, but the owner “forgot” to remove the listing.)

Craigslist as it currently is.

Craigslist as it currently is. (Incase you forgot.)

Needed Check Box.

Needed Check Box for better results.

The Look of Language Archive Websites

This the start of a cross-language archive look at the current state of UX design presenting Content generated in Language Documentation.

http://www.rnld.org/archives
http://www.mpi.nl/DOBES/language_archives

http://paradisec.org.au/
http://repository.digiarch.sinica.edu.tw/index.jsp?lang=en

http://alma.matrix.msu.edu/

http://www.thlib.org/

http://www.thlib.org/

http://www.ailla.utexas.org/site/welcome.html

Permanently accessible? to whom?

Photo of the Bush House


Bush house: the BBC World Service is leaving its home after 71 years
Photo: Paul Grover via The Telegraph

There has recently been some discussion on the about the BBC selling its production facilities and moving from the Bush House to somewhere else. The BBC world service has been a major player in radio and oral culture in Great Britain and around the world for 71 years. A lot of history has been reported by the service. And the BBC's records (including its archive) have oral histories of a variety of world events for the last 71 years in a variety of languages (Wikipedia has a brief description of the collections at the BBC.). Continue reading