Category Archives: Internet

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

It’s time for a little education. Just because you see something on the news, hear it in a politician’s speech, find it on the Internet or even read it on my blog—that does not mean it’s true.

NPR messed it up, by way of an interviewee.

Politicians of every stripe have been known to mess things up, from George W. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech to Hillary Clinton’s sniper fire.

And the Internet—yikes, where to begin? From e-mail forwards, to uninformed blog entries, to out-of-context YouTube videos, there’s plenty to distrust.

The lesson is to have some healthy skepticism.

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Bloggers to Uganda

Compassion International is taking a bunch of bloggers to Uganda from Feb. 10-18 to experience what it is Compassion does. A couple of the bloggers are folks I read (occasionally), including Anne Jackson and Shaun Groves. Should make for some interesting reading (and watching).

Seems like Africa keeps coming up lately, from rebels invading Chad to violence in Kenya to continuing trouble in Darfur. But there’s also missionary friends traveling to Sudan and another missionary friend heading to Botswana, this group heading to Uganda–and of course our (eventual) adoption from Ethiopia. The differences between here and there are kind of staggering, but I’m grateful for anything that can help bridge the divide and bring us closer.

Twitter: Communicate 140 Bits at a Time

I’ve been playing with Twitter a lot the past week or so. What is Twitter? I don’t know–ask Wikipedia. Twitter is kind of like mini-blogging because you’re limited to 140 characters, but the updates are also broadcast all over the place–RSS, Facebook, blogs, cell phones, IM, etc. You follow other people’s tweets (yes, it has its own lingo–that’s how you know it’s cool) and a flow develops. It’s just another interesting medium to play around with.

So what’s the point? I don’t know.

It feels very much like every other Internet fad that comes along where nobody gets it at first but a few people dive in and love it and then those who didn’t get it start to get it and then as it starts to get big the people who loved it don’t love it so much anymore and they find something new to dive into and the whole process continues. It’s the circle of life–or tech trends anyway.

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Encyclopedia of Place

I like information to be easy to find and freely available. I like knowing things. When I go to a park, I like to know who created the sculpture and what it’s called. I like to know who the statue is of and why they get a statue. I like to know the history of a location and why it’s important.

Unfortunately, most of that kind of information is hard to find. And it bugs me.

So I have this crazy idea of creating a sort of encyclopedia of place.

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Josh Lewis is LaserMacaroni

This goes out to my good friend lasermacaroni–I mean Josh Lewis–who is now immortalized in a poorly drawn* web comic, Friendly Stegosaurus, and a hilarious Googlebomb. All because he’s no longer the first Google result for his own name.

I am so jealous.

Well, Josh, if you can’t have your own name, at least you’ve got lasermacaroni.

*I should point out that most web comics appear poorly drawn (have you seen xkcd?), but it’s actually a lot harder to draw a comic than you think it is. Trust me, I’ve tried. Of all the get-rich-quick-on-the-Internet schemes, the web comic is my favorite.

Is Click Here the Best Text to Make You Click Here?

You’ve got to be kidding me. A pro copywriter is arguing that ‘click here’ is the best text to use to tell someone to, well, click here.

For years I’ve been avoiding the inane ‘click here’ like the plague because it’s archaic (we’ve had the Internet for nearly 15 years, I don’t think we need to be told how to use it anymore), it’s condescending (you don’t know how to use the Internet, so I’ll tell you) and it’s not helpful (what am I actually clicking here for?).

Plus, the always controversial usability guru Jakob Nielsen suggested so in Designing Web Usability where on page 55 he writes:

The oldest web design rule is to avoid using “Click Here” as the anchor text for a hypertext link. There are two reasons for this rule. First, only mouse-using visitors do in fact click, whereas disabled users or users with a touch-screen or other alternative device don’t click. Second, the words “Click” and “Here” are hardly information-carrying and, as such, should not be used as a design element that attracts the user’s attention.

Nielsen suggests linking the most important words that actually describe what you’re linking to. That’s why I linked the title of his book, instead of ‘click here to buy Nielsen’s book’.

Sorry Mr. Pro Copywriter. I just can’t click here.

Facebook is AOL 2.0

While talking about the redesigned Vimeo (one of the video sites where I post), Jason Kottke made an interesting remark about Facebook:

“Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace…not in terms of closed versus open (you do know that Facebook is AOL 2.0, right?) but in terms of being a bit more well thought out and not as, well, ugly (and not just in the aesthetic sense).” (emphasis mine)

I love the ‘Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace’–so true.

But the comment I found interesting was that Facebook is AOL 2.0.

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