Facebook to Introduce Hashtags

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Facebook is working on incorporating the hashtag, one of Twitter’s most iconic markers, into its service by using the symbol as a way to group conversations, said people familiar with the matter. It is unclear how far along Facebook’s work on the hashtag is and the feature isn’t likely to be introduced imminently, these people said.

Why does Facebook need hashtags? One answer can be found in these statistics:

  • 38% of Superbowl 2013 commercials included a Twitter hashtag. 
  • Only 7% of Superbowl 2013 commercials mentioned their Facebook link, which is a decrease of 4% from Superbowl 2012.

Why also do this? The kids aren’t on Facebook and Facebook needs to get the kids back into the picture. 

An improved hashtag search not only allows brands to reach more people, but opens up Facebook users to find other users outside of their circle of friends and family.

In short, Facebook becomes more interesting to more people by being more open.

Why Twitter Won’t Sell

There’s a lot of talk with Twitter being sold. Again.

But I will be shocked to see if Twitter is sold soon, even though I feel as I know who the new owner will eventually be.

I haven’t looked into the eyes of Biz Stone and seen his soul to know what he and the Twitter team will do. 

Nor am I one to make accurate predictions. I thought that the Segway would change transportion forever. I still believed that until they set the retail price at $5,000.

If you are curious about what Twitter will do next, you need to realize that this is the team that made Twitter is the team that made Blogger. They’ve made their first success by selling it to Google and then working there afterwords. 

The team left Google to start a not-so-succesful Odeo podcasting program. They saw the writing on the wall in the name of iTunes and Garageband.

They brainstormed and worked on what we know as Twitter.

And you know what? It’s more popular than Blogger ever was. 

You have honest-to-God celebrities using the service. There’s no ghost writer or personal assistant updating their tweets. Well, for the most part, anyway. 

And this talk of a Twitter sale or a business model? 

It’s like when a the hot male lead of a sitcom finally gets with the hot female lead. It’s final. It’s over. 

Sure, there were still a few entertaining moments after Sam and Diane finally kissed or Maddie and David got together, but the drama ended.

As soon as Twitter sells, their red hot celebrity status is over and the guys who built the service stop calling the shots. 

So, they are going to enjoy authoring Twitter into our pop culture lexicon and have a good time spending other people’s money doing it. 

And if Evan sells Twitter to Google, he will have a well-established track record of selling to Google. What venture capitalist wouldn’t want to hear what next idea his team comes up with? 

More power to them all and God bless America.

Social Media Expert Trust Certification

Today, I’m happy to announce a project that has been in the works for the past year: Social Media Expert Trust Certification™. 

With a seemingly unending number of “social media expert” consultants out there, as a user experience designer I feel it’s our goal is to have certification process of the social media industry. With this certification, companies and organizations will know they are getting a solid expert in social media and not just some schmuck wanting to be their online friend.

In connection with representatives from Google, MySpace, TechCrunch and Digg forming as an advisorary board, my intention is to make the certification standard complete and open sourced around the same time as HTML5’s completion.

Why Do We Need This?

A lot of people out there claim to be social media experts, but how can you tell the person who sits at in his mother’s basement friending everything with a MySpace account to those that can actually go about monetizing the crowdsource space 2.0-style?

You will with Social Media Expert Trust Certification™.

What Vectors Do We Certify? 

The Social Media Expert Trust Certification looks at five golden vectors for certification:

  1. Can they tell the difference between making a point that benefits others rather than just blabbering endlessly into their Web cam?
  2. Have they ever bought their Second Life avatar virtual clothes that are in season?
  3. Knowing full well that no one can click on them, does their Twitter background image still contain links to their other social media sites?
  4. Do they have an auto-follow mechanism in place on their Twitter account that contains links to other social media sites?
  5. Lastly, but not least: do they like Robert Scoble? No, really. Do they like Robert Scoble? Seriously?

Aren’t There Others That Do This?

In this day, people might ask whey do we need certification of media experts while there are schools like Birmingham City University offering a degree in Social Media.

But we know schools take 5 years to catch up with anything technology-driven. So, while you are getting certified in Friendster by an academic insitution, you can get on the cutting edge with courses like “Being Reborn on Facebook 2.0, the new Twitter.”

How Can I Join In?

Are you a company in need of certified social media expert? Or are you someone who has been thinking they are qualified social media expert, but would like the veil of ignorance to be lifted and know once and for all? 

Then leave a comment below and I will get back to you with details once they are finalized with my Nigerian counterpart on this most exciting chapter in the social media industry!

3 Photos of People in Bathtubs Filled with Food (and 2 of Them are Naked Women)

Nothing is as viral as photos of people in bathtubs filled with food. 

First, I believe there was a photo of a woman in a tub of cheese doodles in a bath tub, which I believe scorched the Internet in late 90s. 

Cheese Doodles

Then Whoopi worked with the rock star photographer Anne Leibowtiz to put her in a bathtub filled with milk.

Whoopi and in a Bathtub Filled with Milk

Not sure what the thinking was behind that, except perhaps the 1999 milk mustache campaign didn’t go far enough to express the comedian’s love of the drink.

And then there’s the next logical conclusion after a bathtub filled with milk: a bathtub filled with cereal as done by Ted Murphy. (Ted is promoting his blog by giving away a year’s worth of cereal.)

Ted in a Bathtub of Milk and Cereal

All in a all, I would say that the Internet, if nothing else, provides a speedy vehicle for pictures of food, bathtubs and the people that enjoy them.

UPDATE

Reader Bill Weye pointed out that Dita Von Teese was featured in a bathtub of candy for Chocolate Altoids. 

American Flag in CSS

What better way of commemorating 230 years of American independence than by creating an American Flag in pure CSS? Oh. Fireworks? Well, yeah, you can do that, too, I guess. But let's stick with the CSS flag idea for now.

The goal of this exericse is to create a flag that is not only visually appealling, but is also useful: so that clicking on any of the stars will take you to a different state's main government page, and clicking on any of the stripes will take you to—where else?—the government sites of the original thirteen colonies.

This task, while daunting, will nonetheless flex our designing muscles.

The Basic Markup

First, let's lay the groundwork for the flag by constructing our HTML. Let's include a title for our page, as well as the 50 states represented in the American flag. The title is wrapped in a header tag. A semantically fitting way to markup the 50 states is through a list.

So, enclose the states with an ordered list tag, and each state in a list-item tag:


<h1>
 <a href="http://www.usa.gov/">United States of America</a>
</h1>
<ol>
 <li><a href="http://www.alabama.gov/">
  <strong>State of Alabama</strong>
  <i></i>
 </a></li>
 <li><a href="http://www.state.ak.us/">
  <strong>State of Alaska</strong><i></i>
 </a></li>
 [...]</ol>

Note that we're also linking the title, as well as each individual state, to their respective government sites. We've also included an extra set of italics tags within each link, which we use a selector for styling later.

We also want to distinguish the thirteen colonies from the rest of the states, as these comprise the thirteen stripes of the flag. Let's do this by emphasizing them, wrapping them in the em tag, e.g.:


<li><a href="http://www.ct.gov/">
 <em><strong>State of Connecticut</strong></em>
 <i></i>
</a></li>

So far, what we have doesn't look very much like a flag! That's where the CSS comes in. Now that we have the basic markup down, let's begin styling our page.

Creating the Easel

First, we want to create the "easel" upon which we draw our flag. We do this, by, first, further structuring our HTML. Wrap all of the page's content within a div tag; assign it an id attribute with a value of easel:


<div id="easel">
 <h1>
  <a href="http://www.usa.gov/">United States of America</a>
 </h1>
 <ol>
  <li><a href="http://www.alabama.gov/">
   <strong>State of Alabama</strong><i></i>
  </a></li>
  [...] 
 </ol>
</div>

Next, we need to style this div to create a canvas. How do we do this? Take a look at the CSS:


body {
 margin: 10px 0 0 0;
 padding: 0;
}
#easel {
 width: 955px;
 margin: 0 auto;
 position: relative;
}

We want to first, set the width of the canvas, and, secondly, center it.

To center the canvas for our flag on the page, we, first, set the margins on either side of the "easel" div to auto. The browser automatically splits the margin in half and assigns it value to the left and right.

Now, we want to clear the text from our easel, i.e., create a blank canvas on which to "paint" our flag. To do this, add the following CSS:


#easel ol {
 list-style: none;
 margin: 0;
 padding: 0;
}
#easel strong {
  display: none;
}

First, we've gotten rid of the preceding bullets as well as the default margins and padding. Second, we've hidden all of the text within the strong tag, which includes all of the list items.

Creating Stripes

Now, to begin painting our flag, let's begin with the stripes.

Remember that the thirteen colonies, which make up the stripes on the flag are distinguished from the other states through the em tag.

So, we can create the stripes by styling this selector:


#easel em {
 width: 955px;
 height: 50px;
 display: block;
 background: #BF0A30;
 position: absolute;
 top: 0;
 left: 0;
 z-index: 1;
}

At this stage, we have set the width and height of our flag. And, after setting a background color, we've turned the selector into a block-level element so that we can position it on the page. We're absolutely positioning our stripes, which means that we're offsetting it against the edges of the parent element.

Relative positioning, alternatively, places it relative to the element's default position on the page. So, here we've placing it in the upper left-hand corner of the parent element, the "easel" div: we've placing it zero pixels from the top, and zero pixels from the left of the edges of the containing element.

The z-index property governs the "third dimension" of the elements on the web page. That is, it specifies the elements' stacking order. The higher an element's z-index number, the higher it is in the stacking order.

E.g., an element with a z-index value of five is placed on top of an element with a z-index value of one. We want the stripes to be placed beneath the blue field of stars, so we give that a low z-index value of one.

Thus far, it looks like we have only one stripe! Actually, all thirteen stripes are on the page, but they are all placed in the exact same position—and they are all red. To distinguish our thirteen stripes, we have to position and color each stripe individually.

How do we pick out each specific stripe for styling? To do this, first note what attributes individuate each state in the markup:


<li><a href="http://www.ct.gov/">
 <em>State of Connecticut</em>
 <i></i>
</a></li>

Each state is marked uniquely with a different link address. We can use the href attributes to create selectors for each stripe:


#easel a[href="http://delaware.gov/"] em {
  background: white;
 top: 50px;
 left: 0;
} 
#easel a[href="http://www.georgia.gov/"] em {
 top: 100px;
 left: 0;
}
[...]

Since we originally set the background color for the em selector as red, we need to change this color for all the white stripes.

Then, we just need to move each stripe from the top of the page into its designated spot. Each stripe is 50 pixels high, so the second stripe, in this case is Delaware, needs to be placed 50 pixels down. The next stripe is placed 100 pixels down, and so on.

Once we've finished coloring and positioning all 13 stripes as needed.

Creating Stars

Now that our stripes are in place, it's time to move on to the stars. First, we need to create the blue field upon which the stars are placed. To do this, we're going to transform the page header. To turn the header into a blue box, we need to hide the header text, then size, position and color the anchor selector within the header element:


#easel h1 a {
 position: absolute;
 width: 215px;
 height: 175px;
 background: #002868;
 text-indent: -9999em;
 margin: 0;
 padding: 0;
 z-index: 20;
}

Absolutely positioning the element without any offset properties place the element in the upper left-hand corner of the "easel" div, which is the containing element.

After setting the width, height, and background color, we have effectively "hidden" the header text by indenting it far off of the page.

Finally, by setting the z-index value to 20, we've stacked it on top of the stripes.

To create our stars, we employ a technique similar to the method for creating the stripes. We select each state in our CSS through their unique href attribute, and then style accordingly.

We don't want to style over the same element that makes up our thirteen stripes, so we have to use a different selector than the anchor. We use the italic tag as our selector for each of the states:


#easel ol li a[href="http://www.alabama.gov/"] i {
 background-image: url(stars.gif);
 display: block;
 position: absolute;
 top: 13px;
 left: 13px;
 z-index: 50;
 width: 24px;
 height: 23px;
}
#easel ol li a[href="http://www.state.ak.us/"] i {
 background-image: url(stars.gif);
 display: block;
 position: absolute;
 top: 13px;
 left: 90px;
 z-index: 50;
 width: 24px;
 height: 23px;
} 
[...]

The star itself is a small GIF image.

We point to this image in the background-image property. Then, we position this star by moving the element from the top left-hand corner of the containing div. Each state's star is positioned differently, according to its place on the blue field. We've also set its z-index value to 50, to place it on top of both the stripes and the blue field it is set against.

Once we've finished the tedious task of applying CSS to all fifty states, we have a completed American flag.

Adding Texture

Why don't we add some additional visual interest to our creation by adding some subtle texturing effects? This can easily be done by strategically placing some transparent PNGs as background images to our elements.

PNGs support alpha transparency which allows portions of an image to be partially transparent. This allows for some very interesting effects, such as creating the illusion of a "textured" surface.

Read my blog post "PNG Transparency for Internet Explorer (IE6 and Beyond)" to learn how to provide PNG support in order browsers. Note that this tutorial is geared towards browsers with native PNG support.

Let's place a transparent image behind the elements comprising our flag. First, we place the image behind our red stripes:


#easel em {
 width: 955px;
 height: 50px;
 display: block;
 background: #BF0A30;
 position: absolute;
 top: 0;
 left: 0;
 z-index: 1;
 background-image: url(flag_bkgd.png);
 background-position: 50%;
 background-repeat: no-repeat;
 background-attachment: fixed;
}

We're placing the image half-way from the left and top edge of the element, the stripe. The background-repeat property specifies that the image is not tiled, i.e., the image is not be repteated vertically or horizontally.

Let's do the same for the white stripes:


#easel a[href="http://delaware.gov/"] em {
 background: white;
 top: 50px;
 left: 0;
 background-image: url(flag_bkgd.png);
 background-position: 50%;
 background-repeat: no-repeat;
 background-attachment: fixed;
}

And, lastly, to the blue field:


#easel h1 a {
 position: absolute;
 width: 215px;
 height: 175px;
 background: #002868;
 text-indent: -9999em;
 margin: 0;
 padding: 0;
 z-index: 20;
 background-image: url(flag_bkgd.png);
 background-position: 50%;
 background-repeat: no-repeat;
 background-attachment: fixed;
}

This final bit of CSS results in a festive American flag masterpiece that works in IE7+, Firefox 2+, Opera 9.5 and Safari.

Happy 4th of July!

Twitter-Sized An Event Apart Presentation Summaries

I'm not one that you might call a copious note taker. I burn out quickly listening to presentations and tend to focus on note taking rather than digesting what is being said.

Rather than long notes, I go another direction. In order to help remind me of what I witnessed during the two-day event known as An Event Apart Boston 2008, I decided to run through the presentations and write-up a Twitter-sized summary of each one.

Title Slide

Understandng Web Design by Jeffrey Zeldman
Web designers are very talented people who should get more respect. Calls user centered design something else: "Empathy Web Design".
The Lessons of CSS Frameworks by Eric Meyer
Eric examined nine CSS frameworks, but says they all aren't right for you. You should make your own or adapt them to your liking.
Good Design Ain't Easy by Jason Santa Maria, 30
Designers should be story telling. Talks about the history of print design and how that can bleed over to Web design.
Web Application Hierarchy by Luke Wroblewski
Give your users the "confidence to take actions". Telling people visually what to do on your site is good. Learn graphic design principles.
Design to Scale by Doug Bowman
We respect proportions. McDonald's scales, Starbucks sells experience, not Java. Quotes Paul Rand: "Simplicity is not the goal."
When Style Is The Idea by Christopher Fahey
Quoted Paul Rand, Stewart Brand, etc. Style encourages innovation. Style sells, style happens. Fashion has a vocabulary, does Web design?
Scent of a Web Page: Getting Users to What They Want by Jared Spool
Five types of pages users encounter: Target Contnet, Gallery, Department, Store, Home Page. Users have a purpose when coming to your site.
Debug/Reboot by Eric Meyer
CSS debugging is a good way to tease out things that might be trouble. Not many people use Link Checkers. Reviews his CSS Reset rules.
Comps and Code: Couples' Therapy by Ethan Marcotte
It's okay to admit mistakes. Covers three projects and problems he encountered. Treat everyone on your team like a client and prototype!
Principles of Unobtrusive JavaScript by ppk
Unobtrusive JavaScript is more like a philosophy. Use JS wisely for improved accessibility and Web standards-based sites.
Standards in the Enterprise by Kimberly Blessing
To get Web standards into large companies, you need to follow the Circle of Standards: train, review, document, repeat. Buy our book!
Designing the User Experience Curve by Andy Budd
People pay for the experience of Starbucks, not for the coffee. Pay attention to detail, pay attention to your customer.
Designing the Next Generation of Web Apps by Jeff Veen
"We are awash in data." Make data meaningful to your users. Another spotting of Napoleon March to Moscow infographic in a presentation.

Dalai Lama and President Bush: The iPhone Wallpaper

This week President Bush became the first sitting U.S. President to appear publicly with the Dalai Lama (photo by Eric Draper). This moment in history reminded me of another historical moment: Nixon meeting Elvis (that photo by Ollie Atkins):

Nixon and Elvlis: The iPhone Wallpaper

So, to help capture this history, I made both events into iPhone wallpapers. Natch.

The Taylor McKnight Interview

I first met Taylor McKnight at a SXSW conference, which one I don’t recall. Probably 2004. Or maybe 2005. It seems like many years ago, especially in terms of Web years.

Back then Taylor was a Web Developer for the University of Florida’s Web division. The university’s Web site is so successful it hasn’t gone a major redesign in years and is still the template that other universities copy to this day.

Taylor has since left UF, but still lives in Gainesville, working on pushing forward Internet-enabled entertainment endeavors that we all wish the music and movie industries were undertaking on their own.

I’m happy he agreed to be the first one in my new on-going interview series of Web developers helping to move our industry forward.

Taylor McKnight header


Christopher Schmitt: For the record, what’s your name and what you do? 

Taylor McKnight and I play on websites for a living.

CS: How would you describe yourself? 

TM: 24 year old entrepreneur who likes to create things, travel and listen to music.

CS: What are you currently into right now musically?

TM: Brightblack Morning Light — really chill, Sunday lounging music. The Ghost Is Dancing — Indie pop/rock that can’t go wrong with horns. Mika — Crazy pop that was popular in the UK and recently made it’s way over here. Boy Eats Drum Machine — This guy’s voice is bizarre, but it grows on you.

CS: Where have you traveled?

TM: In the past six months I’ve been to New York City three times, Boston, Austin for SXSW, London, Barcelona, and San Francisco. Most of it was work and or conferences but when you like what you are doing so much, it’s not really work.

CS: With all the traveling, do you have any tips for dealing with traveling? 

TM: Packing wise, I got these Packing Cubes that make it easy to find stuff in my suitcase. I try to concentrate on staying hydrated so I feel good when I get there.

CS: Anywhere you like to go that you haven’t been?

TM: I’m thinking about living in Berlin for a month next summer with some friends who already did it a year ago and want to go back. I also want to see Japan.

CS: What was your first exposure to the internet and/or Web? 

TM: Prodigy. When I was like 10 at my step mom’s office. I barely remember it but it was slow… and awesome.

CS: In what way was it awesome?

TM: I remember being excited that it was this different level of interactivity. Video games were pre-programmed months ago, magazines were written weeks ago, but things you were reading and playing with—even on dial-up—were as close to instant as you could get.

CS: Do you remember what Web sites you used to visit regularly back in the day?

TM: Well, I didn’t use Prodigy for that long, but in the AOL 9600 baud days, it was pretty much chatrooms trying to talk to cute girls who were probably old men.

CS: Was Podbop your first Web application/mashup? What was the experience like in building it and the reaction from the online community?

TM: Yes, Podbop, was my first webapp. I built it with Daniel Westermann-Clark. I was a bit naive and really thought we were just building it for ourselves and a few friends. It was built in our spare time over a few months—most of which was building up our database with MP3 links. At the urge of the Eventful.com crew, we took it to Mashup Camp and ended up winning best mashup. People really enjoyed how insanely simple it was yet useful.

CS: How is podbop doing?

TM: Podbop is on the back-burner these days as I concentrate on Chime.TV and Hype Machine. It’s not growing, but has a steady user-base.

CS: I’ve recenty moved to Cincinnati and I noticed a lot of local bands here don’t have their MP3s listed with the site. Any tips on how I, as a fan or potential fan of some local bands, could get them hooked up on it? Other than emailing them?

TM: Well, anybody, can add them, so if you know of a band with an MP3 go for it. Otherwise, what has been most effective for me is letting labels know about it since they usually have a bunch of bands under them.

CS: Chime.TV is a departure from music and into video from your recent projects of Podbop and Hype Machine. Describe Chime.TV and how it was accomplished? 

TM: Chime.TV is a super video aggregator that is probably the closest thing you will find to TV online with the most content and nothing to install. We combine 10 of the top video sites from around the web into 20+ channels, if you don’t know what you want to watch, and global search, if you do know what you want. It was created by myself and Chirag Mehta and was done over six months in our spare time. It’s easily the most complex project I’ve ever been a part of and I’m very proud of what we’ve done.

CS: Did you win another mashup award for Chime.TV?

TM: Yes, Chime.TV won the Best Mashup Award at Mashup Camp IV this past July in San Francisco. It was my second time winning that award and was very exciting for both of us. Hanging around people and the environment in general at Mashup Camp is really enjoyable.

CS: There is really a lot going on at Chime.TV. Recently, I’ve been searching for Chime.tv videos and having them play sequentially without a lot of hopping around. 

TM: Good idea, I made a Flight of the Conchord channel.

CS: That’s fantastic. I didn’t even know you could do that or that one could be registered user of the site. Does Chime.TV support openID?

TM: Chime.TV doesn’t support openID.

CS: Any other features Chime.TV has that people who like YouTube would prefer over simply surfing youtube?

TM: So with your free user account you can create your own channels, bookmark favorites, and send video mail to friends which shows up when they login to Chime.TV. All the videos play non-stopwe even preload the next video) and are resizable. It’s also better than Youtube because we include videos from: blip.tv, Break.com, DailyMotion, Google Videos, GUBA, Kewego, MetaCafe, MySpace, Veoh.com, and YouTube.

CS: With sites like Chime.TV, Podbop.org and Hype Machine, you are leveraging social Internet trails and turning them into useful applications for people to in turn digest. Are you finding a lot of potential profit in this area? 

TM: I’ve been too focused on creating fun, useful apps to worry about profit too much. A.k.a, I have usually had a day-job that pays the bills. For Podbop and Hype Machine we make money off advertising, which has done pretty well.

CS: Were able to pay the bills right away with these two sites? How long did it take?

TM: For Podbop, our only cost is one $50 a month server, so we were able to cover that pretty easily. Hype Machine was around 2 years before I came aboard and was already making income when I joined.

CS: Could you describe Hype Machine and why someone would want to use the site?

TM: The Hype Machine follows music blog discussions. Everyday, hundreds of people around the world write about music they love and it all ends up here. You can find out what’s popular among music blogs this week, listen to the latest tracks being posted or even search for a specific band to hear more of them. It’s one of the best ways to explore and discover new music.

CS: What’s a typical work day for you? 

TM: Wake up at 8 or 9am, walk down the street with my laptop for a croissant and iced coffee while I check my email. Come back to my home office and work 6–8 hours on various projects like Hype Machine, Chime.TV, my blog, etc. Intersparsed with random errands and lunch. Call it a day usually around 4 or 5pm.

CS: What are typical work-related activities do usually do om a day or week?

TM: Currently I am spending my days working on the Hype Machine redesign. Chatting with Anthony over IM or Skype and implementing various design and code changes. For Chime.TV it’s a bit more marketing oriented. I look for new places to spread the word about our site and come up with new ways to promote it. I’m also currently obsessed with my Tumblelog so I post a lot.

CS: When your workload is heavy, how do you cope? 

TM: Make a physical list of what the steps I need to accomplish. Add copious amounts of
music and caffeine. Shut the door.

CS: How often does that happen in a given week or month?

TM: Probably 2–3 times a month.

CS: What software do you use on regular basis?

  • Synergy. I have a Dell and a 15″ Macbook Pro that share a 24″ monitor, keyboard and mouse using
    Synergy. It’s incredible.
  • Subethaedit is what I handcode XHTML and CSS in (it’s the only thing I use)
  • Transmit and CuteFTP are my FTP clients of choice.
  • Adium and Trillian are my all-in-one chat clients

Also, there is Photoshop, Winamp as all my music is on my Dell, IE7, Firefox, and Safari.

CS: What’s your greatest strength? 

TM: Creative brainstorming.

CS: Anything special you do in brainstorming?

TM: Nothing original. I surround myself with things that inspire me like posters, artwork, music and browse web design galleries like CSS Beauty and other Web sites like NotCot.org.

CS: What’s your greatest weakness? 

TM: Distracted too easily.

CS: Lots of people have that problem, but they haven’t been part of three Web properties like Chime.TV, Podbop, and Hype Machine. What keeps you focused to carry these projects out?

TM: They interest me personally. I love videos, go to concerts and like discovering music, so improving these sites benefit my life and that’s motivation.

CS: In your opinion, what parts of the Web need to be improved or fixed in order for the Web of today to evolve into the Web of the future?

TM: Overall, I’d say more aggregators like Chime.TV and Hype Machine to help filter out all the noise that inevitably comes with everything becoming cheaper/easier/common like making your own music or videos or blog, etc. Maybe even super aggregators for the aggregators.

Music on the Web needs to find a legal way to better cope/compete with things like bittorrent and album leaks. Things like pre-release album orders when music leaks and the ability to actually get everything in one place.

iPhone-specific Web Development Misguided

Today, I noticed that A List Apart ran another article on how to get Web sites up to speed on the Apple’s iPhone.

First, a few points. As a Web developer, I’ve relied and will continue to rely on the strength of ALA’s articles time and time again. Also, I’ve written for ALA twice before and, as always, would love to write from them again. And I’m a fan of Apple products as much as the next Web designer out there, but the exposure of the iPhone is a little too much.

Yes, surfing on an iPhone is a rewarding surfing experience than say, I don’t know, every other cell phone on the planet. I’ve even mentioned before that iPhone’s browsing capabilities will completely eliminate the need to provide a separate “mobile” Web site.

Rather than promoting the new hotness, though, we need to have more information about creating rich, yet salient surfing experiences for other devices besides the iPhone.

One of the main arguments I picked up from Joe Clark’s book, Building Accessible Websites, for the development of accessible Web sites is the desire to grab the largest audience possible.

Apple recently sold its first million iPhones. Yet, there are an estimated 37 million Americans with sensory and physical disability between the ages of 16 to 64.

If only ten percent of these 37 million people with disabilities surf the Web on an assistive technology, their numbers are 300% greater than every iPhone sold.

Looking at those numbers, focusing on iPhone Web site optimization seems like an imbalance in priorities. This is perceived overkill especially when you know the dirty little secret about optimizing a Web site for an iPhone: If a Web site is built on Web standards like XHTML+CSS, your Web site will be viewed on the iPhone without too much worry.

The point is that I believe that there are more important issues at hand for making sure our Web sites can be seen by an Internet-enabled device other than a Web browser rather than forcing every other electronic doodad to have a Web browser on it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think you can over-sell the importance of Web standards, but reselling them is another thing altogether. If your Web site is geared to run on assistive technologies like screen readers, hand wands, eye tracking, voice recognition, or braille displays, the odds are that you’ve opened your site up to more of an audience than the iPhone crowd.

There’s no reason we can’t have both a great surfing experience on an iPhone as well as one on assistive technologies. I’m just asking for more balance.

Suspicious Death Scene Under Investigation

A new design blog, A Brief Message, launched today. Keeping guest editorials to under 200 words, the blog is aimed at featuring deep thoughts about design-related issues from people of all walks of life.

The site design itself is a lovely piece of work by Khoi Vinh and, under the editorial direction of Liz Danzico, can only grow to be a success. I will be checking regularly.

However, I laugh at the opening editorial which touches on the point that print is dead by way of David Carson’s book, The End of Print. As my friend, Katrina, said the concept of print being dead is “very bourgeois”.

Print is not dying. It’s simply becoming more special than it has been in generations. In the age of instant swapping of MP3s and movies, the entertainment industry is looking for value-added products.

For example, U2 released a collector’s edition of their latest albium that included a small, limited edition book to get die-hard fans to buy one or more versions of the album.

If print is dead or dying, the site’s design is proof enough that print design will live on in other media. The site, while looking very sharp, has roots in print design.

Take a gander at the design elements: grid layouts, short column widths, text wrapping, typefaces other than Georgia or Times, and so on. It oozes non-interactive style.

Brief Message animation

Also, if you resize the fonts of the browser, you will notice that the design of the site shows doesn’t shore up the design integrity when the browser’s default text is resize. As the text enlarges, it overlaps the images and making the editorial itself hard to read, but it gives the design a more dynamic flare.

If David Carson amusingly killed print, then I believe he might also enjoy this version of the site, too.