Muschamp Rd

Relections on Web Directions North Day Two

February 10th, 2007
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Before the conference room even opened for day two I gained a small audience while heaping praise and coolness upon my former classmate Jeremy’s and friends fashion company Undrcrwn. Though I wasn’t wearing the shoes they made at the time, I’m saving them for a special occasion when things are better. The fact I was wearing my Fluevogs and a guy recognized I was wearing Fluevogs increased my shoe and fashion credibility. Although I tend to wear t-shirts and dress down, years of painting perhaps has given me good color sense and my willingness to embrace the weird and unique means I have a few choice items in my wardrobe that are commented upon, including some expensive shoes. I was complemented on my shoes again at the After Party.

Is your sole safe from Satan?” is a great tag line.

Opening Remarks

  • Day two of a conference is often better as you actually know some people in the crowd.
  • They show off the conference Flickr account, some people are fanatical Flickr users
  • John Allsopp is giving free stuff away to people on time.
  • Wireless is working but it is slow today, perhaps because less people are using it at this moment
  • Some people have already blogged about the conference.
  • Reason to come to conferences, meet people whose blog you’ve read or corresponded with by email.
  • All prices are cheaper than Amazon, all books are by people speaking at conference
  • Made David Storey stand up again and talk about Opera Mobile and Opera Mini this time.
  • Tag Flickr photos WDN07
  • My blog made it in the presentation, though I never updated it during the conference. They did mention I was unemployed. I felt a bit embarrassed at first, I didn’t perhaps take advantage of the free publicity and opportunity to self market in front of the entire audience. At least my blog looked decent on the giant screen and the top posting was Ron Sexsmith on Conan O’Brien so they took the screen shot previously, or they just liked Ron Sexsmith or Conan O’Brien. Perhaps they liked how the fonts are bigger in single mode, I’m not sure if that was a decision I made or a bug that I’ve yet to correct. I do know I don’t like how it looks in Safari as much, so it was probably for the best they used Firefox.
  • You have to be careful what you blog about as you never know when your website will be on a giant screen at a conference. Also I’m glad my website code is decent, my index.html validates but the blog and likely some interior pages may not.

Kelly Goto

Someone has posted over at the official website their indepth recollection of what Kelly said. I think they even got the part where I typed too slow and missed key points. Maybe they have access to the audio after the fact. I suppose I could have recorded the presentations myself if I really wanted to.

  • Opened by asking “Do you ever get the feeling it is a reunion not a conference?”
  • She liked the food, she perhaps is in a minority during lunch yesterday
  • Tells an anecdote where Bruce Wayne buys Vancouver Island in some alternate reality as a haven for super heroes as the world ends.
  • The reason you read 35 blogs is you’re interested in the future
  • Designing for Lifestyle
  • Kelly is not a Mac OS X User
  • Emotional Connection can override usability or the user interface
  • More than useable:
    • Are you emotionally attached?
    • Do you think it is useful?
    • Does it meet your needs?
    • Can you integrate it into your life?
  • South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are getting over 100% saturation in mobile (r)evolution.
  • 89 dollars per 12-18 youth in China, most spent on mobile
  • 4900 dollars per 12-18 youth in USA
  • I have a lot more international experience and perspective than many people I seem to meet here.
  • Many Web 2.0 apps that are pretty obscure are shown
  • Calls herself a design ethnographer
  • Got in trouble for claiming to be an ethnographer even though she doesnt have a PHD. which has rubbed a few people (academics) the wrong way.
  • What makes companies innovative, according to Business Week is ethnography, it is the new black.
  • Believes in iterative application development, managed to work in Xtreme Programming and Agile Development in the same sentence. She takes a design approach to this theory, with a goal to get to a lifestyle driven behaviors.
  • Eric Meyer keeps getting mentioned, his three year old daughter upon seeing a Mac store and the big logo said “Poppa” because she is so used to seeing that logo in front of her daddy presumably while he is typing on his laptop.

Old Media, New Web

  • Craig Saila of the Globe and Mail
  • Used to be assistant editor at digital web.
  • Very few people pay to read the newspaper
  • The other session seems to be more popular, I totally wanted to see this session.
  • Bias of presentation is National and quasi-national newspapers, viewpoint is very Canadian
  • Recommends the book called “The Victorian Internet”
  • USA Today is newspaper’s reaction to television
  • 2006 Electronic Ink editions of newspapers began appearing
  • Says they are still not sure who invented the radio, it is Nikola Tesla, there were court rulings to support this. Don’t listen to Tony Saprano, Macconi saw Tesla demonstrate it prior to any of his published work. I later approached Craig to object to this single bulletin point in his otherwise excellent presentation. He had actually done significant research but didn’t want to anger any local Mafiosos perhaps.
  • First banner ad in Oct. 1994 on Hotwired
  • Canoe launches in 1996, largest online venture in Canadan, started by Sun Media a newspaper company to DE-emphasise the actual published newspaper
  • September 11, 2001 the definitive event in online news, defined how people consume news online.
  • To compensate for the massive demand sites started stripping their design elements.
  • Blogs personalized news, became a genuine means of expression.
  • To cliche, Sept. 11th 2001 was the tipping point of blogging
  • Google News was also a result of September 11th.
  • Canada amongst the top 2-3 for broadband access
  • North Americans spend more time online than on newspapers and magazines.
  • In 2006, 7% of ad buys were online, 43% increase over 2005
  • Globe and Mail is the only site still offering paid registration
  • Pay-per-view newspaper archives
  • Discusses plus minus to pay-per-view and then commission model
  • Difficult to get the Globe and Mail to embrace RSS
  • Comments at the end of an article and forums have been really popular online at Globe and Mail.
  • His charts are too small, he is using that SG5 stuff.
  • CBCRadio3 based in Vancouver is Canada’s most popular podcast, but the advertising model is unproven.
  • Video has huge buzz, but Craig doesn’t think the potential is that great.
  • Not a fan of flash video and doesn’t want to go to proprietary WMV or Quicktime
  • Where to show ads in online video clips, the clips are so short anyway.
  • MyYahoo was available in mid 1990s which was early customization/personalization, I used it to filter news for a while, but it was never as good as Google Alerts is now.
  • Typically only 1-2% like to customize any application, another example of the 1% rule?
  • Craig separates customization moving stuff around and personalization such as a recommendation engine.
  • There was a mention of Citizen Journalism, but no mentions of Citizen Marketing, at least not using the terminology that Jackie and Ben coined such as 4Fs and 3Cs.
  • Advertisers want large ad buys, this is counter to personalization
  • Revenue per online user is lower.
  • Aaron Gustafson took in this one and used to work for an ad agency, described it as selling his soul.
  • Internet advertising spend is greater than Yellow Pages and Outdoor combined. The big dollars must still be in TV and Print by process of elimination.
  • Talked about how Korea has everyone online and citizen journalism is working well there, Hyemi Lee got tasked with this by one of the major Korean portals, while we were both living in China. She had a business card and everything. Once you have a business card are you still a citizen journalist?
  • Asked of his thoughts on long form articles, thinks is still done best offline in magazines.

Adrian Holovaty

  • Opens by asking “What journalism can do to not suck so much?”
  • Journalism right now is broken
  • Doesn’t mean making up news, story selection, political bias, declining circulation, declining stock prices or declining revenue to sites like craigslist
  • Journalists gather so much information but they throw it all out.
  • Journalists take key-value pairs and convert into big blobs of text
  • Journalists should separate presentation from content in news stories
  • Works for the Washington Post
  • Structured Data can be made more useful and available from weddings, births, crimes, etc.
  • Faces of the Fallen, example of doing more with the information carefully collected by journalists, but not used or made fully available.
  • Every soldier has a page, every state has a page, every state has an RSS feed.
  • He is one of the people behind Django, Ruby on Rails for journalists.
  • Video game reviews was the second example because it is less depressing, and it might be more accessible/familiar/relative to the audience.
  • Used to work in Lawrence Kansas that’s Split Lip Rayfield‘s stomping grounds, mentions the local music scene.
  • example of making information collected by journalists available by putting it in an online accessible database.
  • No bar accepts barter in Lawrence Kansas but I know of one in the Yukon that is a Bar and a Pawn Shop, so you can trade your goods for alcohol.
  • Not a philosophical thing, just doing more interesting things with the data already collected
  • Made the local little leaguers feel like big leaguers, though the web
  • Congress person vote database, including searching by astrological sign
  • RSS feed for every member of congress votes, so you can see how your representative votes.
  • Uses a screen scraper to automatically build the congress person vote databases which has to visit four separate sites to get all the information he needs.
  • Any concept deserves its own page, that is one of his philosophies, this makes links easier to send and link to
  • Joe Clark likes the work Adrian has done on Faces of the Fallen, the newspaper is always saying people need gatekeepers, he sees Adrian’s work as democratization not dehumanization which was a query raised by an audience members
  • Another question is the loss of labour, people skimping on research at other papers, and freeloading on the work by reporters. Adrian says reporters at the Washington Post are really competitive, to the point that they won’t even share their information with the person at the next desk.
  • Chicago police contacted him the day he opened but after he went down to the police station, they were pretty cool, even though he didn’t get the information directly from them, though he did ask.
  • He screen scrapes the data from the official site, then the ubiquitous Google Maps API
  • Journalism has to be fair or balanced to separate it from say the Apple PR page or the official page of the Prime Minister
  • Audience member compares Adrian’s work with Bloomberg which reports but also has a data service, but that information is provided by market participants voluntarily
  • Recommends the book “Database Nation”
  • Writing the story, which is a creative act, is the reason for gathering the information, taking that away and just making newspaper people information gathers and data entry clerks would be really bad for moral.

The Design Process

I was planning on attending the other session, but I knew where a good seat with a power outlet was, so I opted for electricity, plus the keynotes are in this room, so I never ever went in the other room. I guess that makes me a Room 1 elitist. Introduced by John Fallhouse, the blinksale guy, who I talked to and was cool. Several Macs on stage, both are independent designers that run their own studio.

Dave Shea is a Vancouverite and one of the organizers behind the conference, Veerie Pieters is a Belgian lass who started her own studio right out of school. She does more offline work than Dave does and she has a partner. Even before they started I wanted to know how many workflow issues can you have in a one person studio? I’m used to projects with multiple decision makers both on the client side and in the office, plus possibly sub-contractors, definitely having to deal with business analysts, project managers, system administrators, programmers, testers, graphics designers, DBAs, etc.

  • For them, it all starts from the place you work.
  • The Belgian lass is perhaps a bit nervous presenting in English in front of a fairly substantial audience.
  • Cindy Li‘s office was shown in a particularly birthday-ed state.
  • The more creative the company, the more creative the office, which presumably has benefits to employee moral and job satisfaction, retention, etc.
  • Slides have suffered due to time difference/technical difficulties
  • Showed a still from “Office Space” as an example of a Dull Environment
  • Mentioned a place in Van where you rent a desk, in an amazing room, called WorkSpace I think Boris Mann has blogged about this.
  • The Cafe office, he goes to wireless-less cafes as he gets more done, rather than stay in a home office. As an independent designer he misses out on a social component of a more traditional workspace.
  • Importance of good lighting for graphics designers, also important to painters, even miniature painters.
  • The mic was passed around to discuss work environments
  • Talk to the figurines on your screen, Designer rubber-ducking
  • Dog friendly office
  • Dave forced to use BaseCamp
  • Belgian uses iBiz for hours tracking, at first I thought it might be Merlin when it showed up on the screen
  • She is looking for a flexiable app that has time tracking and invoicing and it needs to be international, handling different languages and currencies.
  • She uses a sketchbook, two of them one is messy, doodles and note taking, the second is a real sketchbook for art that ends up on her blog after being redrawn in illustrator.
  • Dave Shea is a big Adobe man, Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Integrating digital tools in your workflow means you sacrifice the pen and pencil tactileness
  • Dave’s biggest problem is determining project scope. Clients come in and say I want a website or I want a blog template. The client doesn’t think in terms of templates that are necessary. They deal with templates now rather than pages
  • Browser targeting, for screen size recommends 800 X 600 still.
  • The designers seem to avoid liquid designs, whereas I try to use them but I’m a minimalist when it comes to web design and am definitely not a graphics designer.
  • Music as inspiration, not always possible especially the headphone solution. I prefer speakers and live instruments.
  • Special project to walk through, called Cindy Li was involved in the actual site, they are using it as a demo/roleplay
    • Want to encourage more woman to come to web design conferences
    • Need a homepage, about page, member profiles maybe in second version and blogs are cool these days, lets have a blog and a contact form.
    • If they are given a budget it is always too low.
    • What is your desired budget range? Is a better question than what is your budget?
    • Have to be Geeky to enter the site
    • You’re the designer, I trust your judgment got a laugh as everyone has an opinion on web design, especially color, font size, and placement of stuff on the screen. Force people to read “Don’t Make Me Think“.
    • You know what I forgot to tell you earlier when we started out, we actually have a word document, a letter to the ideal conference attendees boss which needs to be incorporated.
  • Client expectation management, they danced around that but they perhaps over idealized things in the exchange of ideas
  • They start from Photoshop template ie a drawing of a website, whereas I never do that, I do some sketches sometimes on paper.
  • Dave refers people to job boards, Cameron Moll’s or the 37signals one
  • They got around to managing expectations after there demo
  • When I was a developer we would go right down to use cases and determining how many screens they need and the visuals would often be done by an outside designer and would be converted in to WOObjects by me.
  • Should a designer have to figure out command line tools?
  • Working remotely, requires trust especially to get money up front
  • There were some client from Hell stories
  • Limit the number of rounds of revisions to the mockup
  • Can buy two extra feedback rounds at an hourly charge, then if still not satisfied designer can find another client and client could find another designer
  • can download slides from eventually

The Dawning of the Age of Experience

Here is another recollection of Jared’s presentation as posted on the official website.

  • Jared M. Spool
  • A god in the area of usability and accessibility
  • Put Eric Meyer and Molly together on the training circuit
  • Has great taste in music SURPISINGLY :-P
  • Founder of User Interface Engineering
  • Magicians conferences aren’t much different than web design conferences
  • Works for a think tank
  • His life goal is to not design a website
  • SanDisk sansa has what it takes to make a dent in mp3 market place
  • SanDisk is number 2 mp3 manufacture, Microsoft is number 3
  • Sum total of experience is what is important iPod + iTunes + iTMS
  • Apples Success
    • Sold over 2 billion songs
      • four years ago Apple was not in the music industry
    • 21 million iPods sold during recent holiday season
      • 50% increase over previous year
  • Microsoft Logo appeared during an Apple slide so it was the butt of a few jokes
  • Netflixs success:
    • 6.3 million subscribers vs 2 million from blockbuster despite all of blockbuster’s advantages
    • 20 contiguous quarters of more than 50% growth
    • 85% of new subscribers are referred
    • 93% of existing subscribers regularly evangelize the service to friends and family
  • Experience design disasters
  • More Microsoft jokes, this time riffing on SharePoint
  • Successful Experience Design = Integrates the user and the business
  • Learned about chicken sexing, has to be true because it is in Wikipedia
  • Chicken sexing is learned but not open to introspection. This phenomenon is repeated elsewhere including experience design.
  • Netflix customers never mention how cool their popups are.
  • Successful Experience Design is invisible
  • Much mocking of websites ensues
  • Successful Experience Design is multi-disciplinary
  • Successful Experience Design is Cultural
    • Clear focus on vision: Imagine a stake off in the distance on the horizon with a flag that is the vision. You can see it but it will take a long time to get there. Everyday you take a few babysteps towards your vision. How do you know you are moving forward, you can clearly see the vision. If you don’t have a vision, how do you know where you are going? You’re probably going in circles.
  • Why are New Yorkers so depressed? Because the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey. One person hissed, so he asked her if she heard about the tornado that hit New Jersey and did 55 million dollars worth of improvements?
  • Successful Experience Design:
    • integrates user and the business
    • learned but not open to introspection
    • invisible
    • is multidisciplinary
    • is cultural
    • is something we’re are still learning
      • but we are getting better every day
  • The demise of the apprenticeship model cost us a way of transferring craft. It didn’t scale in a modern industrial society. Need a mentorship model in your firm.
  • He’s a consultant so he can make money go away, he can also make large amounts of time disappear.
  • Closed with if you’ve had half as much as fun as I had today, then I’ve had twice as much fun as you.

In Conclusion

This conference was another opportunity I failed to take advantage of during my post-MBA job search. Now I am once again unemployed. I’m also once again overhauling my WordPress blog and attempting to edit it and optimize it so that it is an asset instead of an albatross. I really have been online too long and I’ve written too much, but hopefully I’ve gotten better at blogging.

If you have advice on finding a new job online or on web design or software development or search engine optimization you can leave you comments below.


  • Muskie says:

    Kirk Rundstrom, lead singer/guitarist for Split Lip Rayfield passed away from cancer at age 38. Cancer can be a long slow painful death, brain cancer being particularly tough to watch a friend or relative die by.

    I really wish things can be made better between me and my classmates, I never understood how I went from being a friend, to not being trusted, to not being wanted. What did I do? What did I say?

    Live is short, too short for unnecessary suffering like this.

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