Monday, December 15, 2008

IT wish

I often find myself re-naming files, making them more meaningful to me to aid in retrieval later. Sometimes, this causes problems, especially when trying to coordinate work with others or because the file has effectively been given different names.

I'd like to be able to add a variety of meta-data to files, such as project name(s), participant names, importance level, and topic tags.

I've got a couple hacks to get at this functionality. Often I'll create shortcuts to files that live in various folders, effectively enabling the file to be invoked in varying project-based contexts.

Solutions, thoughts, additional hacks? Please comment...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A word for that

Thanks to AWAD, I now know there's a word for the back-borrowing of design features. Their entry puts it best:



noun: A design feature copied from a similar artifact in another material, even when not functionally necessary. For example, the click sound of a shutter in an analog camera that is now reproduced in a digital camera by playing a sound clip.

From Greek skeuos (vessel, implement) + -morph (form).

A skeuomorph can be employed for various purposes. Since people are used to the click sound of a camera as feedback that the picture has been taken, it is now artificially-produced in digital cameras. Other examples are copper cladding on a zinc penny (for familiarity) and wood finish on a plastic product (for a more expensive look).
As a word nerd, I particularly dig the etymology, but the W'pedia entry gives a more thorough description and several other examples.

I enjoy the tension between utility and familiarity. Sometimes the skeuomorph is superfluous, merely decorative -- a designerly harkening back to the design that informed it. Other times, there's a usability component -- the copper coat on a zinc penny, while not technically necessary, would seem to prevent a lot of errors. And I know some users who find it helpful to hear their digital camera "click".

And I am SO going to incorporate a skeuomorphs-hunt activity in my New Media Studies classes! If you think of any, please comment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

News on the Digital Divide

From the press release reporting on a University of Minnesota study of Internet use among high school students:
First-of-its-kind study at the University of Minnesota uncovers the educational benefits of social networking sites

Study also finds that low-income students, contrary to recent studies, are in many ways just as technologically savvy as their counterparts
(But a brief Baltimore Sun article on broadband subscription is less optimistic.)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Podcast Interview

I was interviewed by Craig Roth, Service Director for Collaboration and Content Strategies for Burton Group, about technology and writing processes. Check it out:

Content Authoring and Enterprise 2.0

I can see the handwriting on the... hand

There are several Flickr groups dedicated to writing on one's body(and wrists!) temporarily or permanently. I'm always interested in notes, scribblings, lists, and temporary texts, though I've never been one to write on my hands. Here's an interesting product for those so inclined...

[via BoingBoing]

Monday, May 12, 2008

texting the video

I'm geeked about this video:

From BoingBoing Gadget,
Digital filmmaker Dennis Liu has produced a video for the The Bird and the Bee's lovely single "Again and Again," in which the lyrics, melody and vocals unspool in surprising ways across his Mac's desktop in a beautiful visual harmony... ending in an artfully delightful pimping of the band in question that makes buying the track on iTunes almost hypnotically compulsory.
What amazes me is the seductive familiarity of the applications streaming across the screen. How it highlights the "you can do it"-ness of new media, plays with the many creation/editing/publishing tools we have, literally at our fingertips. I dig how it includes dialog boxes and mundane widgets like calendars, virtual post-its, and clocks along with text/image/video editing software. I like that includes drop-down menus, audio visualizations and screen savers. I like, I like, I like! (I'm also a sucker for the twee pop.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Passive vs. Active Research

I spend a lot of time thinking about how the presence of computers (& Internet access) can and ought to change classroom practices. I had not thought about how the Internet might change comedic invention. Reading this Newsweek interview with my favorite comic Eddie Izzard changed that:
You mentioned Wikipedia. Has technology made you a better or a different comic than you otherwise would have been?
I think a different comic. I never used to research anything. I used to let research come to me. I used to sit there watching telly, and a program about sharks came on and then I'd know about sharks. Now you can say, "Sharks, how do they work?" Then you go online and find out that they haven't evolved in 2 million years—which means they're very happy where they are just killing and killing. Also I can do gigs and just advertise on the Internet. In fact most of this tour was just put out on the Internet first.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Non sequitur

I just got a catalog for Levenger. As someone with a penchant for office supplies, I enjoyed perusing the pages of fancy pens, desk accessories, and their analog-cool note cards-organization system (the FranklinCovey'esque descendant of the hipster pda). But it was their pads of specialized paper -- or more specifically, their argument for its benefits -- that was blog-worthy. Seems interruption (1, 2, 3, 4) is being invoked to shill paper.
Why Levenger paper may help you think better

How tempting it is online to switch from email to spreadsheet to Internet to document, each time interrupting your flow of thought. Paper, on the other hand, has a way of grounding you, even as your thoughts race across the page. Focusing on the paper in front of you—especially well-designed, high-quality stock—can give you more time to stay with your thoughts.

Try the paper method for at least some of your note-taking and see what—and how—you think. It may lead you in new direction.
The paper is cool; it's the argument I don't buy.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cory Doctorow on Interruptive Media

The Pleasures of Uninterrupted Communication
I love communicating too much to be interrupted. Whether I'm writing an essay or a novel, composing an email, or chattering with someone by voice, the last thing I want is to be given a jolt of useless adrenaline every time something new lands in my queue... The mature information worker is someone who can manage his queues effectively.
Would that I were so disciplined. But he's right. Effective information work does take some personal habits and intervention in default settings. In addition to shutting down auto-alerts, I like non-distracting streaming audio that helps the time pass as I write -- mostly innocuous techno.

Here's a link to Clay Spinuzzi's nice summary of work on fragmentation.

[via BoingBoing]