March 2005

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Edited to Add on 7/19/05: Evidently the etymology of “Easter” is more complicated than what I assumed in my title (see Wikipedia on Easter, but the article below is still an interesting read. (i.e. I’m pointing this out more because of the title I used for this post than because of the article below)

Guardian | God and the good earth

Easter is one of those occasions on which human beings entertain a number of contradictory ideas. Christians celebrate a pagan fertility cult, while non-believers make their biannual journey to church. People whose lives are dominated by godless consumption give something up for Lent. A society governed by science engages in the ritual sacrifice and homeopathic magic – eggs and chicks and rabbits – required to induce the earth to bear fruit.
Why? Well, having read this you might fairly accuse me of drawing wide inferences from limited data, but the work of a soil geologist at the University of Oregon offers such a fascinating possible explanation of some of these contradictions that I cannot resist indulging in speculation. …

Strange, et al

I finished listening to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell today. I’d gotten the audio book from for listening on my trips to NC and couldn’t wait til my drive to finish it. It was, um, about 30 hours of listening. The narrator was terrific, by the way.

It was a very good book, and a special one. But I’ll get into the specialness later. The story and characters are very entertaining, engrossing even, but the specialness is in how the book is crafted.

Click for more, wherein I ramble about the book, but don’t give any spoilers that I know of …
Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes, it feels like there is simply no way to work through design concepts with stakeholders. There has to be a better way — and we keep thinking we’ve hit the right balance between showing literal “finished” designs prematurely and showing vague skeletal concepts that can so easily be misconstrued.

But sometimes it’s like you’ve shown how a chair works to someone a lot, and each time they leave the room acting like they got it, then when you bring it out again just to refer to what they’d seen in the past before you go on to discuss the desk, the cabinet and the other pieces to the solution, the conversation goes like this:

Them: “Ok, so you’re telling me that I’m gonna, what was the word… sit? … on that surface there… and that my head is going to dangle from the ceiling?”

Us: “No… um… just like we explained with the diagram last time, no dangling is involved.”

Them: “But there’s all that wasted space between your head and the ceiling… I really think something should go there.”

Us: *stunned countenances*

Them: “Can you be sure to usability test it with that option?”

Just passing along a link to this clever little resource:
The New Yorker: Online Only: The Film File

What exactly is the Ides of March??

The Believer is a cool magazine, and this is a fun interview… well if you’re entertained by philosophy chatter.

It kinda made me feel like I was in college again.

And I agree… screw Descartes’ “cogito”!!

The Believer – Interview With Marjorie Grene


Introducing the Information Architecture Institute

To achieve wider recognition for information architecture, the Institute’s leadership embarked on a process to create a new identity. While the AIfIA name has been well-received and well-known in the user experience community, the name has little equity in the world beyond. Difficulty with spelling and pronouncing AIfIA led us to look for a simpler, clearer alternative.

When we were trying to decide on a name, in that brightly lit room on the Asilomar grounds, we figured it would be, well, arrogant to just call it “the institute” for IA, since that would seem to imply that we claimed some kind of ownership over all of Information Architecture, whatever that was (and is).

But since in the last two years, nobody *else* has made an institute for it, I applaud the decision to just cut to the chase, as it were.

The people who stuck with this organization and continued to do the hard work of molding and nurturing it certainly deserve to make the claim — we’re the institute for IA.

Huzzah :-)

Jef Raskin: He Thought Different

Jef Raskin wasn’t the typical tech industry power broker. He was never a celebrity CEO, never a Midas-touch venture capitalist, and never conspicuously wealthy (although he was wealthy). Yet until his Feb. 26 death at 61, the creator of the Macintosh led the rallying cry for easy-to-use computers, leaving an indelible mark on Silicon Valley and helping to revolutionize the computer industry.