Pew has the latest statistics for web usage in US. “Some online activities such as email are universally popular, but others, including online shopping, are favored only in certain regions.” Another set of rankings is the Nielsen//NetRatings’ current events/news sites. According to audience served, CNN, MSNBC, Y! news, AOL are the top 5. Google news ranking is not taken into account, but it is expected to be around 18.
JD points to this Guardian article about a remarkable account of a person seeing for the first time since he was three. This article shows that the experience before learning an interface is vastly different from the one after learning the interface. This is an important factor to be taken into concideration in usability tests.
Micha Alpern writes why we need a WYSIWYG XML editing tool instead of a WYSIWYG html tool.”We often want to manipulate the structure and the presentation at the same time, but it’s important that within the underlying representation these two layers remain separate. It’s because this separation exists that you can copy and past a column from Excel into Word as either plain text, formatted text, a table, or an actual Excel object.” Now the problem is getting users to put metadata along with the data they write. As John Udell points out, the answer is to give the users tangible benifits while they anoint the data. For example if the user uses tag, an ability to list all the quotes on the blog, ability to list of all the posts with quotes, on the blog. Different presentation formats: How the post will look on blog front page, on the blogs internal page, in an aggregator should be available to the user on the XML editor interface.
Mitch Kapor posted a request for guest blogging he recieved, after removing all the proper nouns to protect the identity of the user. JJG found a way to identify the writer. Just google for a rare phrase used in the text. Googling for “disruptive competitive advantage” gave the answer in this case. Now only if google found patterns in writing. Thanks to Navneet Nair for the link.
Macromedia announces Flash MX 2004 Professional, making it simpler for developers to make Rich internet apps. Flash is now available as MX 2004 and as MX 2004 Professional. Their features are documented here. The new action script books will be released around mid october.
There was a cool web presentation on Breeze publicized on JD’s blog, an hour before it began. I got in a little late but saw lots of cool stuff. The conference administrator sends you a link. You login as guest with your user name and the administrator lets you in. If you are on dialup, voice is available on a toll free number with a passcode. The participants can talk on the side while the presentation is going on. The refresh rate was about 1f/s. A screen shot of the breeze presentation is here.
There is also info about central at actionscript.com.
Alison Head writes detailed article on how personas help in staying in touch with the user. Personas prevent “feature bloat”, which satisfies few users. Update: More on personas here. Personas reduce the complexity in the design process by concentrating on a few personas which satisfy most of the nessasary tasks.
Adam Curry declares, “Email is Dead” and proposes a solution. It works like this… I send an email to my mom with a link to a pub/sub outlook plugin and the feed that I publish privately for her. After recieving the email, my mom downloads and clicks on the plugin, which creates her own blog on a server with private pages/feeds for each of her friends. It also automatically subscribes her to her private feed that I publish and creates a folder in outlook. When she sends a mail to one of her friends, it gets sent through smtp and also to her blog. The mail sent through smtp includes the link to plugin and the friends private feed, so it is viral in nature. Other problems like encription and finding new personal feeds can also be solved.
Adam writes, “I like this model best because it requires both sides of a conversation to commit to the relationship and simultaneously allows for either side to break it off if desired.” If this pub/sub model becomes successful, most of the data will reside on the servers. Central can be of help with the client interface because there is very little local data to be stored.
Aaron Swartz writes how the open wiki for Echo/Atom turned out, when it was used for conflict resolution. The bottom line, use loosely connected task specific tools.