RE: Join my network on LinkedIn

· long story short, Social Design, The Power of Many, User Experience

'LinkedIn: Invitations Received' screen snap
This is a quandary for me. I try to keep my LinkedIn network literally to people I know and have worked with or with whose work I am familiar. From what I can see, you seem like an excellent person to know, I’m flattered that you enjoy my posts on that list, and I appreciate your providing that context since so many invitations I get have robogreetings on them.
I couldn’t bring myself to click the “I don’t know Jack…” button, but since I take LinkedIn literally (I want to be able to recommend people from my own direct experience) I also don’t feel right accepting your invitation.
I hope you understand.

Skin-deep semantics

· Markup and Microformats, User Experience

Somewhere along the way web developers learned that bold and italics tags (don’t even mention underline) were verboten, careless mingling presentation with semantics and structure, but that emphasis and strong emphasis were cool. Heck, even Dreamweaver and related products now automatically insert em and strong tags in wysiswyg mode when the user clicks buttons labeled I and B.
There’s a problem with this, though. In some ways it’s the equivalent of the CSS-styled span tags Word now inserts to apply font (typeface) choices just exactly the way it used to littler HTML output iwith font tags. So, what’s the problem?
The problem is, for example, that italics does not always mean emphasis. The semantics behind the typesetter’s choice to use italics can mean a number of things. Yes, it can signify emphasis. It can also mean the title of a book or record. It can mean that the word in question comes from another language.
Mindlessly applying em to a French word is semantically as useless as applying an i tag. In fact, I’d say it’s worse. At least italics are traditionally associated with foreign words. Emphasis is not. It’s more like a homonym – it looks the same but it means something entirely different.
So what’s a standards-conscious, POSH, separation-of-semantics-and-presentation web developer to do? It seems that the workaround would be to (as usual) choose the best tag (I like cite for titles, which happens to render in italics in most browsers) and then define classes for the semantic meanings involved.
By all means, continue to use em and strong when dealing with emphasis, but come up with some for word-from-another-language, and then apply it.
Creators of wysiwyg tools might want to trap clicks of those I and B buttons (note I used the i and b tags here because I am literally talking about italics and bold, not emphasis and strong emphasis!), and ask the author which of the several meanings traditionally associated with italics or bold they have in mind. Then create or apply the appropriate markup.
Problem solved.
UPDATE: Noticed that Zeldman praises the new Apple Store’s standards-adherence and encourages his readers to view the source. I couldn’t help noticing the site’s use of strong to produce bold inline headings. I guess a case to be made (tortured) to say that an inline heading is a phrase you wish to emphasize, but isn’t it really a heading that just happens to be bold? Strong is the new bold.

Graphing the social graph graph

· Applications, Events, Patterns, Social Design, User Experience

social graph logo
Just noticed there’s a conference coming up in a few weeks here in the valley that seems extremely narrowcast to me: Graphing Social Patterns: The Business & Technology of Facebook.
A lot of the usual suspects of social network bloviating are speaking (I count two women out of 20 named speakers), including representatives from Facebook, LinkedIn, O’Reilly (Tim himself), Forrester Research, TechCrunch, and of course Scoble, and others.
The conference describes itself as
> for developers and marketers on how to build and distribute apps for the Facebook Platform. This event is for both business executives & technical developers who want to learn more about the Facebook environment, and how to reach online communities using social networking platforms and applications.The conference will be held in San Jose, CA from October 7th-9th. Main conference sessions are Monday 10/8 and Tuesday 10/9; an optional pre-conference workshop is Sunday, 10/7.
If you’re interested, you can register at EventBrite.
They’ve certainly populated the conference title well with buzzwords. The term social graph, popularized by facebookistas (and annoying to those who consider it an obscure jargon synonym for social network – oh, and don’t get jonas luster started on how social network software is not the same thing as a social network) seems to be everywhere these days, and of course people love to talk about recognizing and capturing (or detecting, heh) patterns.
For a counter view of the importance of Facebook’s social graph as a platform for application development, check out the truth about facebook apps: most people ignore them:
> Once installed, most widgets are ignored.
> Slide’s “Top Friends” boasts the most active users: 2.7 million people, or 20% of its user base, use it every day. The app with the highest engagement percentage: “WarBook,” a medieval fantasy game, is played by 18,000 people a day, or 42% of its install base. The “iLike” app, oft-cited as a Facebook success story, may be less popular than we thought: 646,000 people, or 9% of its install base, use it daily.
(via cwodtke’s tweets, who recently noted that she and I seem to be on some sort of convergence path)

Getting fired up for IDEA 2007

· conventionology, Design, Information Architecture, User Experience

idea-badge-120x90.pngI regretted not being able to attend the first-ever IDEA conference last year in Seattle and I was thrilled when the organizers decided to hold the second IDEA conference in New York City, my home town, at the legendary Parsons School of Design.
IDEA has already in one year established a reputation for bringing big-idea folks together to share their ideas about design, architecture, shared information spaces, visualization of dataa, and what it means to be human in an internetworked machine age. I expect this year’s conference program to be every bit as stimulating.
IDEA stands for Information, Design, Experience, Access, and its presented by the IA Institute, an organization on whose board I have the privilege of serving at this time. My involvement in the conference planning has been focused on getting the website up and recruiting volunteers for the technical tasks required (my portfolio, as it were, on the board of directors of the IAI is technical matters). Events director Sarah Rice, IDEA founder Peter Merholz, and volunteer event coordinator Greg Corrin deserve the credit for pulling this year’s conference together.
Technical volunteers Beck Tench, Chi-chi Oguekwe, Grace Lau, Susan Wong, and Gordon McLean have all chipped in to build and maintain the site, with very little supervision or input from me, so they deserve a great deal of credit as well.
For anyone attending (or thinking of attending) IDEA this year, consider signing up in addition at the Crowdvine social networking site. There’s still time to register (the conference runs on October 4th and 5th, with an optional pre-conference event on the 3rd), and if you do manage to come to New York, look me up at Parsons and say hi.