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Monday Bytes

There's a fantastic post from Joel on interface design (but relevant to so much more than that): Choices = Headaches.

Also related to design, Ryan Fox sent me a link to Raymond's (The Old New Thing) post on why Yahoo is the most searched-for term on Google.

deviantART is sponsoring a BT and Thomas Dolby tour that sounds amazing. Even if you--like other people including me--weren't as fond of BT's last album.

Marketing stuff: John Dodds (Make Marketing History) has a fun little marketing minifesto. Inspired by this, Hugh is taking submissions and posting 500-words-or-less minifestos on his blog.

I don't have words to describe how much I'm loving my Tassimo. While it's not a passion (I want to use it, not learn more about it), it's the perfect thing around here. Everyone in the house gets exactly what they want, always fresh, within a minute (and virtually no cleaning, filters, etc.) I use it for green tea in the morning and lattes at noon. Wow. It's got some mechanical issues that are less than perfect, but we don't care... and it's inexplicably fun to use.

AKMA has a thought-provoking post about writing and teaching and graphics, and he points out a big gap in my "How to use graphics" post--I never talked about when and how and why not to use them. Generally, that's much less of a problem since far too many people error on the side of NO visuals, but done badly and at the wrong moment--I agree--graphics are a distraction at best, a show-stopper (i.e. learning-preventer) at worst. He's inspired another post for me on the topic of distractions... coming soon.

I never do movie reviews here, but I just saw Happy Feet (it's what the all-over-age-18 kids wanted to see) and loved it. While the story is one big cliche, the execution is breathtaking. The kids saw The Fountain and loved it, so it's next on my list.

A tablet computer from Apple would make my holiday dreams come true. Even if by "holiday", I mean my birthday next June. I've waited FOR FRICKIN' EVER for this.

Animal lovers: if you haven't seen the (poorly compressed) video of the recent Netherlands horse rescue (thanks Johannes), go see it. A few brave women rode/swam their horses across and managed to inspire the herd to follow. Although 20 horses died in the storm that stranded them, apparently all the rescued horses in the video survived.

And Shelley Powers wrote this post about a horse tragedy in Missouri, with a partly happy ending thanks to volunteers and an awesome humane society effort to save as many as possible. I sponsored two of them. (We have several rescue horses at our barn).

If you haven't seen the laughing baby video linked to by Liz Lawley, go see it now. Seriously. Now. Then just try to be in a bad mood. I dare you.

I'm deeply interested in Adobe Soundbooth, so if anyone has some thoughts (or more knowledge) about it, I'd love to hear it. I've been missing SoundEdit 16 for a long time, and Apple's GarageBand (and LogicExpress) don't quite make up for it. This looks to be the thing.

The comments on my previous "Web 2.0/buzzword/jargon" post are amazing... both insightful and fun, thanks to those who joined the "what domain uses these words" game. I have no idea what these mean:

Wild Woosey, Pamper, Zip

dufek, yard sale, sweep (although we do use yard sale for spectacular falls while skiing)

slot, graf, cq

cross, scissors, dummy
blue-dot, tin, PARS

and most intriguing for me, Diana's:
seeing, targets, faint fuzzies

Finally, Dare Obasanjo says my "ridiculously empty" post made him "question the entire human race", and sent him into a "pit of despair". I'm not paraphrasing, and no, he is not kidding or exaggerating. He hated it that much. I always respect his opinions, but I still don't agree with his main point that Web 2.0 is "obviously empty." If it were obvious nobody would be having this conversation, and Dare wouldn't be so deeply upset by it.
Which brings up another interesting point... why ARE so many people so passionate in their hate for a word they believe is meaningless? I understand being annoyed, judgemental, frustrated, surprised that people are using the term, but to feel it on the same level you'd use to talk about, say, world poverty or global warming... wow. The level of passionate hatred people have for the word (it certainly fits the not-in-the-zone-of-mediocrity love/hate scale) is a whole different story worth exploring.

Again, I may not be the sharpest tool in the Leatherman, but Tim and Dale are.

Thanks again to everyone who commented here and elsewhere. Clearly this discussion isn't going away anytime soon ; )

Posted by Kathy on November 27, 2006 | Permalink


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» Happy...Feet? from Debanter
One of the few times I don't agree with Kathy Sierra... (usually I'm reading, re-reading, and taping Featuritis curves on the wall next to my desk.) Alex and I went to go see Happy Feet a week and a half [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 29, 2006 7:15:44 PM


Terrific couple of posts on a subject (jargon vs. buzzwords) very near to this word nerd's heart. I applaud jargon when it provides a colorful new frame for a phenomenon unique to an industry or a hobby. But one person's clever, familiar expression is another's head-scratcher. Which brings me to...

>>slot, graf, cq <<

All from print journalism: a "slot" is a seat on the copy desk, and by extension the person who fills it (a copy editor); "graf" is short for "paragraph"; and "cq" means [sic] -- "intended exactly as printed."

I could add:

reefer, banner, dummy
brite, kicker, thirty

Posted by: Nancy Friedman | Nov 27, 2006 6:37:40 PM

I think there's a very simple reason for the hatred of the term Web 2.0.

This is just my uneducated opinion, but I think a lot of the hate stems from the fact that Web 2.0 looks a *lot* like hype for another tech bubble that could cost the average person (like the people running blogs) that invests in the stock market a lot, just like the dot-com bubble did.

Add in a generalized contempt for all things buzzwordy along with the fear and you've got a good level of hate.

Posted by: Smokinn | Nov 27, 2006 7:16:30 PM

Having known BT off and on for a while, witnessed some of the creative process of this album, interviewed him on the technical aspects, and witnessed one of his theater screenings in 5.1 digital surround... I implore you to give This Binary Universe a second chance. Passionate users are passionate listeners too -- the effort we put into the applications we develop, the people we seek to reach was easily matched and likely exceeded by Brian's work on this latest album. Patience is a virtue... you'll get your album full of Godspeeds soon enough. :)

Thomas Dolby is awesome live too.

Posted by: Devon Shaw | Nov 27, 2006 7:55:41 PM

Cross, scissors, and dummy are soccer terms.

Saw "Happy Feet" as well this weekend and LOVED it. As a former hoofer, I appreciated (along with the amazing graphics and fantastic vocal talent) how well the animators captured so many classic tap moves.


Posted by: John Windsor | Nov 27, 2006 8:09:17 PM

Nancy: oooh these are good. Isn't "thirty" the way people end press releases or magazine articles or something like that... so it must be related.

Smokinn: I have no doubt that what you describe is *part* of it, but there must be more (or at least more for some people). This goes way past hatred of buzzwords. Fear, though, now you're on to the one thing that seems to cause people to behave in ways that seem irrational to those who don't feel the same fear.

Devon: Consider me "implored" -- you convinced me! That was a passionate description, so I just bought the whole album on iTunes. I'm looking forward to the tour stop -- it's coming to Denver very soon.

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Nov 27, 2006 8:14:13 PM

OK, now I'm really wanting to go find out what Web2.0 really means. I've been hearing it bandied around by practically everyone who thinks they know anything about the "interweb", and have mostly ignored it because it seems like it's either not as grand as "Version 2", or doomed to failure, or just plain meaningless.
Now I need to go find out what it means.
Curse you!

Posted by: CodeMonkey | Nov 27, 2006 9:20:51 PM

Adobe Soundbooth looks very promising. When Adobe gobbled up Syntrillium, I got the cheap upgrade to Audition, so I am all set, but there is a huge gap that Cooledit 2000 used to fill (at least in the PC world)

Posted by: Deepak | Nov 27, 2006 10:11:51 PM

"Generally, that's much less of a problem since far too many people error on the side of NO visuals..."

Exception to the rule: screenshots.

I see waaaay too many instructional procedures chock-full of unnecessary screenshots. Do you really need to see a screenshot of a message box where all you have to do is click OK? Wouldn't "4. Click OK." be enough? (Disclaimer: I am a technical writer.)

Posted by: Martin Polley | Nov 27, 2006 11:19:31 PM

Wild speculation: The Internet killed the "hot buzzwords".

Before the WWW, when some New Hot Buzzword came along (remember "Synergy"? Or "Glasnost"? Or "Generation X"? How about "Postmodern"?), the Old Media could only handle so many new things at once.

Each new trend had to take its turn. Trendy buzzwords filtered through to the public at a much slower pace. But since the culture was more homogenous, the buzzwords would "saturate" it more thoroughly. You could actually get everyone to talk about one single TV series, or follow the same fashion simultaneously.

And in any case, those who didn't like a buzzword had no medium to protest in -- no Internet, remember?

And, before we had the Internet, communications were much more one-way: buzzwords were delivered "down" to "us" from the punditocracy and the trendsetters. This was accepted as the natural order.

Now, in the year 2006, people will not accept being talked down to by pundits. One thing the Internet fosters is an egalitarian spirit of mind: all voices are equal. And with this comes a very strong skepticism to bullshit. Now that people CAN talk back, they will. They will not simply accept anything that is "delivered" to them.

There has always been people who hate "trendy buzzwords". The only difference is, now they have a public forum.

Personally, I think "Web 2.0" doesn't sing.

Posted by: A.R.Yngve | Nov 28, 2006 1:25:23 AM

I thought Joel was being a bit disingenuous, given that there was a big On/Off button clearly on display in the screenshot he used, whereas the confusing (and it was confusing, I'll agree with that) list was on an "extras" knd of thingy that probably wouldn't be looked at by the majority of less geeky users. 'Course, I want to know what all those ways to turn off actually do, but I'm not normal.


P.S. flipper, hook, net (nothing to do with fishing)

Posted by: Mike Woodhouse | Nov 28, 2006 2:37:07 AM

Cross, scissors and dummy are also all bridge terms... And Rugby terms come to that.

Posted by: Piers Cawley | Nov 28, 2006 3:42:19 AM

You yourself have written that an idea/product/etc cannot be really really successful unless there are people passionately loving AND hating it.

And since there are a lot of people passionately trying to make Web 2.0 a reality and loving it all the way, it is safe to assume that there will be people who - with or without a valid reason - hate it equally as much.

Posted by: Jan Wikholm | Nov 28, 2006 4:10:21 AM

I see your laughing baby and raise you three...http://youtube.com/watch?v=sx8e5Io63LY

This vid always makes me smile.

Posted by: Katy | Nov 28, 2006 7:01:39 AM

"why ARE so many people so passionate in their hate for a word they believe is meaningless"

Because it makes communication difficult, and people like to communicate. I've read dozens of discussions on web development discussion lists that start with some mention of "web 2.0" and end with something resembling "Who's on First?" You say it's efficient, but in my experience it's just the opposite. Go try to ask a question on some web development forum about "web 2.0" and you'll see exactly how efficient it is.

Posted by: Scott Reynen | Nov 28, 2006 8:21:11 AM

Kathy -- Yep, in print journalism, "thirty" (or 30 or #) is used to end an article. It's also the title of the obituary column in a journalism trade publications. A "reefer" is a short headline, often boxed, at the top of the paper near the masthead--it "refers" to an article elsewhere in the paper. And a "brite" is a "bright spot" in the paper--a silly or amusing or uplifting article that's guaranteed to give readers a smile. When I worked the slot at the old S.F. Examiner, we'd keep a supply of brites on hand to fill holes and lighten otherwise gloomy news days. And that's enough clues for this mroning!

Posted by: Nancy Friedman | Nov 28, 2006 8:28:44 AM

The very first time I saw the phrase "Web 2.0", I immediately dismissed it as gibberish. Not because it was marketing-speak, or an empty promise, but because, instinctively, I knew it just wasn't (and still isn't) true.

The internet isn't hard media, it's soft, malleable, pliable, ever-changing. Occasionally, it even goes backwards (I'd swear the "Flash is evil" campaigns set us back a few years), it is, to put it simply, impossible to label.

To take this living, breathing, evolving thing and call it 'Web 2.0', feels like trying to put a leash on a tiger, and I, for one, don't want to tame this!

Posted by: Corinne Pritchard | Nov 28, 2006 8:34:04 AM

As for web 2.0, there's also a general tendency for people to assume a word means the same thing to other people as it does to them. So, for someone the word means nothing to, it looks as if people are running around being pretentious jerks trying to have an intelligent conversation about nothing.

Posted by: Kevin | Nov 28, 2006 8:48:59 AM

Scott: "You say it's efficient, but in my experience it's just the opposite."

I think it's impossible to generalize... my point was that jargon is efficient ONLY for those who really do have a shared understanding. And those people do exist. I think it's more accurate to say that "it's just the opposite for most of the people who use it.

I'm not defending the label "Web 2.0." I'm defending the subset of people using it who really do use it to communicate something meaningful and specific. I acknowledge, though, that in practice the majority of people using it today--thanks to the hype and that the word IS misused as a meaningless buzzword--aren't using it in a way that facilitates much of anything other than confusion.

So, Scott -- I think you're right but with a qualifier. It's inefficient (or worse) for the mass of people using it, but that STILL doesn't make it meaningless, and it still doesn't mean it's not useful jargon for a certain group of people.

Corinne: I think you have a good point -- and it's probably why a lot of people don't like it. They (Tim, etc.) never intended it to be taken literally... but you're right that it still feels that way and I agree it's just not true! Thanks for the comment.

Nancy: I like the "brite" idea : )

Posted by: Kathy Sierra | Nov 28, 2006 9:08:21 AM

Seeing, targets, faint fuzzies are astronomy terms. Seeing refers to how stable the atmosphere is - does the sky look "jumpy". Targets are what you plan to find through your scope. A faint fuzzy is what your target may look like - a nebula that you almost don't see.

I found the term web.20 educational when I finally figured out what it was. It forced me to realize just how interactive the web had become. A transition had been made that I wasn't paying attention to, even though I blog. I stopped myself from using the term because most of my friends wouldn't know what it meant.

Posted by: Diana | Nov 28, 2006 10:48:31 AM

About the joel on software link (first one):
I really think, he is wrong in some way.
Advanced users need more than one button to shut down, and someone who makes software should think about advanced users too.
He says you have to choose between 9 options or more every time. No, you don't have to choose between nine options, those options are for advanced users. "My uncle" has to choose between 2 options: shut down, or lock (the two icons, i think it's very cler which is which).
I'm not a big fan of microsoft, but the shut down method is not as bad as described there.

Posted by: Adam | Nov 28, 2006 11:06:18 AM

Duffek, yard sale, sweep are all handpowered boating terms (canoe, kayak)

Duffek =
A powerful, dynamic kayak or canoe stroke for entering or leaving an eddy. Called the "Duffek stroke" because it was developed by Milovan Duffek of Czechoslovakia.

Yard Sale = same effect as snow skiing - gear EVERYWHERE

Sweep = kayak or canoe stroke used to turn the boat.

Posted by: Kathy | Nov 28, 2006 11:27:49 AM

Seems to me that Web2.0 is like high definition DVDs: everyone's got their own standard for what it means. It's the technology that supports interactive web applications! No -- it's community! No -- it's mashups! Wait, no, it's the new Web economy!!

Jargon only helps if everyone knows what you're talking about. In the case of Web2.0, it's not just "the masses" that don't have a clear definition, it's a lot of the tech luminaries unable to come to a consensus. Every talk I see starts with a different definition of Web2.0.

I understand what people generally mean when they say Web2.0, but I wouldn't commit myself to a specific definition. For me, that's acceptable: it's still a nascent concept. For many people I suspect the ambiguity reinforces the impression that it's a meaningless buzzword.

Posted by: Ashley Gadd | Nov 28, 2006 11:36:26 AM

Thank you so much for the link to the Netherlands Horse Rescue. :)

I've been wanting to comment on yesterday's post but have yet to be able to give it the time it deserves. Your observation about the depth of emotional response to Web 2.0 is dead on. If, as some people like to say, 'there's no there there', there'd be apathetic or no responses rather than passionate ones.


Posted by: Vera Bass | Nov 28, 2006 2:13:00 PM

Wild Woozey, Pamper and Zip are all associated with Ropes courses and experiential learning. They are elements (activities)located on the courses.

Posted by: Dennis | Nov 28, 2006 4:58:19 PM

Cheers to Dennis! Wild Woosey, Pamper & Zip are all Challenge Ropes Course "elements" (activities - more jargon). Basically they consist of aircraft cable strung between trees or poles.

I had described each of them in detail, but deleted the text because it was confusing without pictures and meaningless without context (usually educational, but often developmental or therapeutic).

Posted by: Tim | Nov 28, 2006 8:57:43 PM

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