What put the “architecture” into “information architecture”?

From Peterme’s closing plenary at the IASummit:

“…I think that web 2.0 puts the “architecture” in information architecture. Think of an architect. They design the space. People flow through it, meet in it, contribute to it.! With that model, the bulk of information architecture currently on the web isn’t really architecture — it’s some form of hyperdimensional document organizing. We’re not creating a space that people move through, and engage with. We’re classifying material to be retrieved. But with web 2.0, we are providing an architecture — a space, a platform through which and upon which people move, contribute, and change…

…If information is a substrate running through an increasing amount of our “real-world” lives, and we believe that these web 2.0 principles are important for the future of information architecture, how do we merge the two?”


“as digital networked media pervades more and more of our lives, the idea of a discreet region called “cyberspace” starts to feel like an anachronism. Who here has a mobile phone on them? One that can send photos by email, for example? Well, you’re all carrying “cyberspace” in your pocket. And once that happens, distinguishing that from the “real world” becomes impossible.”

Yubnub, Skype and Vodafone web access

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Foe wrote a simple yubnub command on the weekend, and suggested it might be quite neat when accessed from a mobile, in order to see whether the other person was available to call (over cellular, not Skype…)

Tried it this evening, to find that mystatus.skype.com was treated as a ‘restricted access’ site by Vodafone’s web gateway.

This is the bar put in place by default by Vodafone in order to stop kiddywinks downloading ‘premium adult content’ (surely they’re all busily making their own with camphones and uploading it to youtube?) – which after ages of wandering around Voda’s Heathrow-Airport of a website and two registrations (one of which involved entering a creditcard number to which I got charged £1 to prove my age, and reimbursed £2.50!?!?!!!) I finally managed to get removed.

I switched the phone on and off (!) and then tried the yubnub.org ‘Skype’ command again. It worked fine.

Finally - it works.

I tried it again with a different friend’s Skype handle, and I got bounced back to the “Restricted Access” page!!!

One can’t help but wonder what Vodafone is doing classing Skype in with porn, and making it as difficult as possible to get to their site online on your phone, it’s not as if Skype have even got a cellular product live yet.

Cockup… or conspiracy?

Flickr impacts consumer-culture: “It’s Playtime”

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Above is a still from Canon EOS350D advert: “It’s Playtime”

I’ll wager it is both directly inspired by, and deliberately targetted at ludic Flickr users and the visual culture they have built.

Here’s the quicktime of the ad on Canon’s site.

LazyWeb: tag to print spooler

If you are anything like me, (a) how are you finding it? and (b) you probably have a lot of entries in del.icio.us tagged “toread” or “to_read” etc. etc. which you have not got round to actually, y’know, reading.

Yesterday I made the effort to actually print out some of the things I had tagged to read, and – read them!

What I’d like, LazyWeb, therefore – is a site/script/widget/thing that would

  • grab the URLs of what I have tagged “to_read” (or an arbitrary tag, of course)
  • goes and gets the text found at those URLs (this doesn’t have to be pretty)
  • then smooshes them together into a file I can then print or save for later printing.

How about it?

Almost guaranteed fame on lifehacker/43folders would be yours, as well as my undying gratitude.


Matt Biddulph contributes this:

OK, you need lynx installed to get a nice dump of html to text file.
For a mac, http://www.osxgnu.org/software/pkgdetail.html?
might have what you need.

Paste this in a terminal window on any mac or unix machine:

for a in `curl http://del.icio.us/rss/blackbeltjones/toread | grep
'<link>' | cut -d\> -f 2 | cut -d\ toread.txt

and it’ll make reading.txt with a html2text concatenation of all your
toread links.

Excellent – will try this on the weekend and report back…


BBC News video in RSS!

BBC News Video in RSS!!

Just found this in the BBC News site’s video player… You can now subscribe to the video via RSS.

A quick bit of copying and pasting from the little orange buttons gives this list of A/V feeds:

Just subscribed to the Sci/Tech feed to check it out, and it works nicely in Bloglines: clicking a headline pops you to an individual pagelet for the video – which is another subtle advance, IMHO.

BBC News Video in RSS!!

One thing they could do is add the duration of the clip to the headline or description so it shows up in your RSS viewer.

Very nice stuff – I imagine this will mean a few interesting ‘mashups’ and alternative interfaces might be showing up on http://backstage.bbc.co.uk in the near future. Look forward to that…

Now, if only they were Quicktimes… or PSP formatted…

Wikipedia: we really haute to know better

Evidence is building that Nicholas Carr’s argument against peer-production of knowledge by amateurs is dead-on.

Today’s Guardian rounds up a panel of experts to score the wikipedia entries against their deep domain knowledge in their somewhat-pointedly-titled “Can you trust Wikipedia”

It’s broadly good news for the free, open and amateur with scores in the 6’s and 7’s out of 10, with one 5 for the article on ‘encyclopedias’ as judged by an ex-editor of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Could the harnessing of “collective intelligence” not just be the wishful thinking of venerable west-coast technohippies, but something that could help humankind out of the beginnings of what may turn out to be it’s most difficult century, a.k.a. The Grim Meathook Future?

Maybe, maybe…

Until – we get to a 0 out of 10.

It’s from Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue:

“Broadly speaking, it’s inaccurate and unclear. It talks about haute couture and then lists a large number of ready-to-wear designers. As a very, very broad-sweep description there are a few correct facts included, but every value judgment it makes is wrong.”

We’re so HOSED!!!

Casual Services: The ambiguity of work

In a post rich with ideas from Russell Beattie, this one stood out for me:

“Casual Services – I wonder if there’s a way to apply the lessons of the success of Casual Games to Web 2.0 type services? I think this is what the 37 Signals guys are really doing with their suite of apps, no? Backpack, Ta-Da and Writely are all easy to pick up and start using, easy to share, and yet are compelling in their own functional way. Yes, there are more advanced, all-encompassing services out there like Salesforce.com, but though they’re the same thing in a way, they meet completely different needs. I need to think about this more, but I think there’s more analogies to be made along these lines.”


I think this adds to Janice and JJG’s thought of ‘feature-stingy apps’ from their interview with David Weinberger at Supernova this year as it accentuates the positive about an app being mr. in-between…

Sorry. That was terrible.

I’m sorry Dave, I can’t let you build that.


Via Dav/AkuAku, this from the Bunchball website:

“You have an idea for a multi-user networked application. Maybe it’s a game, maybe it’s a new way to share music or photos, maybe it’s something nobody’s ever thought of. A beautiful little jewel of an application, you know that you can make something fantastic. But then you realize that in order to build your application, you need to figure out user signup, and group creation, and invitations, and permissions, and chat, and presence, and how to save changes in the application, and how to figure out who to send those changes to, and the list goes on. And oh yeah, don’t forget that you need to setup a server, write server-side code, deal with a database somewhere, worry about uptime and bandwidth and online file storage, and that list goes on as well. All of a sudden you realize that your beautiful little jewel is just the tip of a very large iceberg. You’re going to spend 90% of your time implementing what’s below the water, out of the user’s sight, and 10% of your time building a great application.

Bunchball gives you the iceberg. You just provide the tip. So now you can spend your time doing what you wanted to do in the first place, which is to create a great application.”

Along with Ning.com, Dav has termed these services (or ‘playgrounds’ as Ning would have it) as ‘Blank White Servers’, which are potentially game-changing things, beyond the bubble of hype around Web X.X.

The point the Bunchball site makes – that providing the common building blocks and infrastructure allows developers to concentrate on delivering extra value to the end-user -makes me wonder whether this will be the case.

Will developers, freed from the burden of recreating back-end systems, invest their energy into creating a great user-experience?


Certainly, Web X.X’s real successes so far have been built on great UI design (Flickr, Gmail) and paying attention to the details in the user-experience – hopefully this will serve as inspiration to those who follow.

In my experience at least, it takes a great deal of effort and will on the behalf of the developers to go the extra (several) miles to create a great user-experience on top of getting something to “just work” – especially if there is a pre-established framework or library of things that they are using to create a service or application.

Also, there is the problem of trying to reconcile the design choices you think necessary for the specific service, aplication, user or activity at hand with the design choices predetermined in the platform by those that came up with it.

This building block approach of Bunchball, et al, of course begs the same question of what design choices are encoded in the building blocks themselves?

The following ramble I will have to revisit once I’ve explored and understood Ning and Bunchball more fully from actually playing with them both, but…

Architecture is destiny*: someone elses playground, architecture, landscape, physics will inevitably shape the end design noticeably. What are the combinations it forces? What are the affordances that are built in, and what patterns are most favourable as a result?

As they are aimed at providing infra and building blocks for social applications, would perhaps some of the forced combinations, or affordances of the infrastructure be default-biased towards safety and privacy?

Productivity or (/and?) play?

As playful platforms made by smart people I’m sure that the possibility spaces they afford will sustain 99% of the self-centred or small-group-centred software that people will want to construct right now – which is just fantastic.


Just what politics are encoded at the molecular level of these playgrounds?

As soon as I get my accounts I’m going to start playing and see.

See also: The Otwell on Ning
* Who said this originally? I can’t seem to find the source.