Monthly Archives: July 2002

UPA Site Redesign

UPA Site Redesign. The Usability Professional's Association is currently redesigning their website. The interesting thing is that they have a redesign journal of sorts that documents the process and many of the deliverables. What interests me most is how “usability professionals” are engaging in IA (not a bad thing)…and it underscores for me how little of the information architecture in the world is actually created by information architects. [ia/ – news for information architects]

Jef Raskin setting up open source project

Jef Raskin setting up open source project. So the author of The Humane Interface, who pedantically claims “there is no such thing as information design”* has set up an open source project that will demonstrate his ideas. Thanks Slashdot ps – Jef's site is being slashdotted right now, Tues. July 30, but should recover tomorrow. *(he's right, for a certain technical definition of information. The linked essay is a chapter from the book Information Design) [ia/ – news for information architects]

They Shoot Dead Media Companies, Don't They?

They Shoot Dead Media Companies, Don't They?.

Marylaine sends along notice that libraries aren't the only ones that need to shift:

Investors May Have Repudiated the Internet, but Consumers Have Not

“The reorganization of AOL Time Warner last week has been recounted as a story of Time Warner, the king of traditional media, reclaiming its rightful throne from the upstart digital pretender, America Online.

But as old-line media celebrates its return to power and to vogue, some analysts and executives caution that the Internet's capacity to change the rules should not be discounted too quickly. Investors may have repudiated the Internet, they say, but consumers have not….

But with 61 percent of American adults using the Internet, up from 46 percent two years ago, analysts and media executives say the medium is beginning to change consumer expectations of what mainstream culture should offer. Consumers who were once content to sit back and absorb what was beamed at them are demanding more control over how and when they consume movies, television, newspapers and music.

And whether it turns a profit or not, media companies are being forced to respond. Some of the Internet's effects on media, like the growing number of multitaskers, are subtle — although not so subtle for advertisers, who might be interested to know whether the eyeballs they are buying are simultaneously trained on two screens. Others, like the online file-swapping that the recording industry holds responsible for a chunk of the 10 percent decline in CD sales in America last year, are more extreme. But perhaps the most far-reaching impact lies in the rhythms and habits formed by daily use of the Web's interactive features.

'We see young people who are flowing between TV and the Web almost seamlessly, finding new ways of getting what they want, going to what they want when they want it,' said Betsy Frank, executive vice president for research and planning at MTV Networks. 'That's what the Web has taught them — you don't have to sit around for something you're not interested in.'

MTV has responded with more participatory programming like 'Total Request Live,' where audiences can vote for the songs that are played. But by Ms. Frank's logic, AOL Time Warner's largely unsuccessful efforts to sell its magazines, music and movies over AOL may have been the wrong approach.

'You'd go on AOL and there'd be a pitch to subscribe to a magazine, but that's almost like the broadcast TV model where you'd turn on the set and there'd be whatever the programmers wanted to send you,' Ms. Frank said. 'This is an audience that wants to make their own schedules….'

Newspapers have also been forced to change by the Internet, adopting a 24-hour news cycle in order to update stories on their Web sites. And they have begun to profit from it as well, recouping some classified revenue that they have lost in print editions….

But Mr. Crosbie added that the reason that people were using AOL and the Internet was to get information that they were not getting from traditional media, which was created to satisfy more general interests. “The media that Time Warner does,” he said, “is very good at satisfying generic interests but isn't good at satisfying each individual's very unique, specific interest.' ” [The New York Times]

So AOL/Time Warner is in the same boat as libraries, newspapers, and almost every other customer service-oriented industry. In this day and age, would you switch to a different bank that didn't provide ATM/debit cards? Would you buy a car that didn't have a CD player pre-installed in it? Would you sign up for a cellular service plan that didn't include long distance? If you answered yes to any of those questions, I'm willing to bet you're 45 or older.

Portability will be the key to the future.  [The Shifted Librarian]

Digital Service Convergence

Digital Service ConvergencePayPal, Stamps.com Ink a Deal

Online payment processor PayPal and online postage provider Stamps.com have joined forces to enable PayPal users to buy and print postage from their accounts.

The companies say the Web-based service will allow PayPal sellers to calculate the exact amount of postage needed and to print a shipping label with the buyer's information already on it, according to a PayPal statement.

In addition, the electronic delivery confirmation feature will allow sellers to verify delivery of their shipments online….

'Our focus is on delivering a complete Web-based technology for shipping and mailing,' McBride says. 'Integrating our functions with PayPal, the leader in the payment space in the online auction space, [makes sense] because the natural place for a shipping transaction is following a payment transaction….'

PayPal also entered into an agreement with United Parcel Service of America, in which UPS digital shipping tools will be built into PayPal's online payment process, enabling sellers to print shipping labels and buyers to receive tracking numbers via e-mail.” [PC World]

Are we finally starting to see a micropayment service approach a tipping point? Are any libraries working with PayPal for registration fees, overdues, etc.?  [The Shifted Librarian]

I Guess Magazine Publishers Will Be Lobbying Congress Now….

I Guess Magazine Publishers Will Be Lobbying Congress Now….. Doubleclick: Web Sites' Reach Matches TV, Nears Mags

“The Internet's most popular sites consistently deliver larger audiences than television's most-watched programs and are comparable in reach to popular consumer magazines, according to a study released yesterday by DoubleClick Inc.

The top three Web sites — Yahoo Search, MSN Hotmail and MSN Search — deliver audiences 43 percent larger than three of the top prime-time television programs, 'Friends,' 'ER' and 'Will & Grace,' DoubleClick's study found. The sites also attracted audiences that on average were just 5 percent less than the top consumer magazines: People, Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens, the study determined….

Meanwhile, not surprisingly, DoubleClick's study found that the Internet is effective for reaching males ages 18 to 49 and high-income adults ages 25 to 54. Also according to the study, magazines far outdeliver the Internet and television in reaching 18- to 49-year-old women and African-Americans.” [DM News]

Of course, the “stickiness” factor isn't the same, but these numbers will shift even further as the mass market continues to break down and the advantages of focused advertising to targeted channels are integrated into digital video recorders (DVRs), satellite radio, and web sites.

I wondered where Google came out in the rankings, so I found the study on Doubleclick's site (PDF) and here's what I think is the most interesting statistic: for teens (ages 12-17), magazines outpace prime-time television by a 2-1 margin (298-114) and even web sites pull in more teen eyeballs than TV (213-114).

As the study rightfully points out, this is most likely due to the fact that magazines are portable, although the narrow focus of teen magazines doesn't hurt either. The report goes on to state the following:

“Seven websites, including eBay and Yahoo! Search, outdeliver Friends, while People Magazine outdelivers vehicles in either TV or online….

To put things in more perspective, the highest rating for any of the TV shows for the demos analyzed is 16.3%. By comparison, there are 31 websites among the dozen demos that have higher ratings.”

By the way, Google is fourth on the list of web sites and it, too, outpaces any prime-time TV show and all magazines except People, Reader's Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens[The Shifted Librarian]

Big Brother Hits the Books

Big Brother Hits the Books

“Under the Patriot Act, the FBI doesn't have to demonstrate 'probable cause' of criminal activity to request records. In fact, the so-called 'search warrant' is issued by a secret court. Once granted, it entitles the FBI to procure any library records pertaining to book circulation, Internet use or patron registration. Librarians can even be compelled to cooperate with the FBI in monitoring Internet usage.

This sort of secrecy is not only chilling, it is ripe for potential abuse. A similar Cold War version of library monitoring was called the Library Awareness Program, through which FBI agents specifically targeted Soviet and Eastern European nationals.

The American Library Association effectively fought the LAP then, and is now standing up to the Patriot Act searches. The association unequivocally opposes 'the use of any governmental prerogatives which leads to the intimidation of the individual or the citizenry from the exercise of free expression.' (ALA Policy on Governmental Intimidation, 1981). The ALA sees the new FBI policy for what it is: blatant intimidation of readers….

Just as a person wearing rose-colored glasses sees everything rosy, so the FBI is predisposed to find suspicious facts. If the FBI wants to scour libraries looking for “suspicious” reading records, they're going to find them, but their perception is inherently skewed by their intent. I view reading as access to information; the FBI views it as an indictment. It suddenly fears domestic suicide bombings, so reading lists are examined and suddenly an innocent researcher is a suspect….

While the FBI may never visit your library (not that you'll know if it does as librarians are barred by law from disclosing the FBI's presence), this program of surveillance still has a chilling effect on cognitive liberty….

Freedom of thought and the freedom to read are intertwined. And while monitoring library records is not as direct as banning books, it is bound to cause self-censorship among readers, which may be the intended result anyway. The government may not be able to ban a book, so instead it will make you a suspect if you read that book. The FBI is merely circumventing the First Amendment by threatening readers rather than prohibiting what they read.” [Law.com, via LLRX Newstand via Library Stuff] [via The Shifted Librarian]

overview

Here is a great overview of the amount of money from the entertainment industry that is buying votes in Congress.  Berman tops the list on this election cycle.  A couple of things are obvious:  the amount of money being spent to buy votes is accelerating.  It is up 400% over 1990 mid-term election cycle.  How can indviduals even hope to compete against the staggering ~$125 m the entertainment industry has spent over the last 12 years?   Our only hope is that more people become aware that corruption of Congress by the entertainment industry is going to threaten their privacy, rights, and investments (in computer systems). [John Robb's Radio Weblog]