Blogless: Blog of Design Less Better.

Posts tagged Internet.

Open Internet!

Finally, you can intelligibly protest internet regulation 24 hours a day, thanks to Aram Bartholl.

Check out these protest signs by Aram Bartholl, either by looking immediately below where you are currently looking (see it there, in your peripheral vision?), or else by visiting his exhibition ‘Reply All’ at [DAM]Berlin through March 10th.

Open Internet!


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PaulMar 2, 2012

Get To Know an Internet Commenter

Kevin Collier curates a collection of comments left over time by single users on various blogs, forums, and review sites.

Collier's project, found on McSweeney's, gets at one of my favorite things about the internet: the accumulation of small instances of comments over time allows a reader to construct a persona of a commenter through their interactions on the web. Check out the entire collection at McSweeney's. Here's one of my favorites (admittedly, it might be my favorite simply because I find Yahoo Answers to be so amusing).

EPG Mr. Justin MD.

Username: EPG Mr. Justin MD
Site: Yahoo! Answers
Gender: Male
Location: Omaha, Nebraska
Age: 18 at first comment, 21 now
Favorite Disney movies: The Aristocats, Fox and the Hound, The Rescuers, The Rescuers Down Under

Sample questions he has posted to all Yahoo! Answers Users, In Chronological Order:

"How Do You Get On A Jet Ski?"

"How Old Can Horses get Before They Die Any Kind Of Horse?

"Can Cats and Dogs Get Headaches? It May Be A Random Question But Is It Possible That Cats And Dogs Get Headaches?"

"Asking For A date? There Is This Girl That I've Known For A Long Time Since 1st Grade To Be Specific Anyway I Want To Ask Her If She Wants To Go Out Sometime But I Dont Know What To Say"

Sample answers:

Answer to "[My dog] does good most of the time, but he tends to bark at people on bikes and motorcycles. He'll also sometimes just bark at everything. Any suggestions?"
"If He Is Barking At Bikes Then He Was Probably Hurt By A Bike Or Hes Just Never Seen One Before"

Answer to "How do you hide the smell of smoke on your clothes/hair?"
"What I Would Do Is Get Some High Endurance Or Some Kind Of Body Spray And Spray That On Before You Get Home"
Answer to "Can i have and example of a palindrome sentence?"
"A Palindrome Is Anything That Can Be Spelled Backwards (Example) Nebraska-Aksarben"

A few years (and blogs) ago, I met a guy at a blogger's meetup who introduced himself as John. I asked him what his blog was, and he said "I blog on Mark's blog."  Mark was a friend with a blog about local politics, and John regularly commented on the posts on Mark's blog. The way John talked about it suggested that he thought commenting on others' blog posts was the same as blog-ing. I thought that was a little strange, but now it actually makes more and more sense, as projects like Collier's or applications like Facebook aggregate more and more of our online interactions. These collections of comments, lumped together and taken out of context, make me feel a little awkward about the random streams of reviews, comments, tweets, and such that are splayed across the internet with my username(s) attached. The internet can seem like a very fleeting place, but it remembers more than we would like. If I knew all of my output were to be grouped together in the style of Collier's project, would I interact on the internet as if I were blogging all the time?

Thanks to Mariah for the original link.

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AndreaDec 1, 2010

Are Computers Changing Your Brain?

Research says that information overload causes distraction.

We've previously spent time worrying that the internet and computers are changing the way we think and process information. The New York Times recently had a rather sad article which gives an account of the negative impacts of technology on our ability to focus. Constant digital stimulation is creating attention problems:

While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress. And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist.

The article includes two simple interactive tests, one where you can test your focus, and one where you can test your ability to juggle tasks. I took the test and am actually better at concentrating when there are more distractions. If you knew me, this might not come as a surprise.

The heavy concern laid out in the article is that the overuse of technology may diminish our empathy by limiting our interaction with each other.

This got me thinking. Is there something we can do, as designers of technology, to make things that help our brains?* Should we be thinking about design which helps users concentrate? Or are our jumpy, distracted thought patterns a necessary side effect of the Information Age?

I discussed this with a colleague, who wryly suggested we write novels, not blogs. Hmmm....

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AndreaJun 16, 2010 is a URL shortener with a twist. You can share a URL but hide it behind a question that only insiders can easily answer.

Sort of Private

Via Seth's Blog:

The internet is constantly, relentlessly public. Post something and it's there, for everyone, all the time.

Acar has come up with a clever idea, a small idea that makes things just a little protected. is a URL shortener with a twist. You can share a URL but hide it behind a question that only insiders can easily answer.

So, for example, you could tweet, "Here's the source for my world-class chili:". Anyone can go there, but only people who can figure out the clue can discover the site you were pointing to.

It's not secure. It's sort of private. Neato.

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PaulJun 7, 2010

Two Monday Worries: March 8, 2010

Two Monday Worries starts your week off right, tracking troubling tales trending in design, advertising, and ethics.

1. Google is Making me Stupid

I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle...

The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge we acquire from the author’s words but for the intellectual vibrations those words set off within our own minds. In the quiet spaces opened up by the sustained, undistracted reading of a book, or by any other act of contemplation, for that matter, we make our own associations, draw our own inferences and analogies, foster our own ideas.

Read the whole article here and an interesting follow-up here. (Thanks, Seamus.)

Detail of 'Google Monster' by Asaf Hanuka
Detail of Google Monster by Asaf Hanuka

2. Max Barry: The Lawnmower People

But [corporations] weren’t enough of a person, apparently, so now they have First Amendment rights. In particular, they have the right to spend as much money as they like on political advertising: airing ads in favor of anti-regulation candidates over pro-regulation ones, for example.

The Supreme Court has let them into homes: now the [corporations] will speak to us through TV, radio, internet, print, and tell us who to vote for. That might not seem like a problem. After all, you are a smart person. You’re probably not persuaded by advertising. The thing is, everyone thinks that, and advertising is an $600 billion industry. Someone, somewhere is getting $600 billion worth of persuasion.

Read the whole article here.

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PaulMar 8, 2010

How is the internet changing the way you think?

Brian Eno and other Long Now Foundation members weigh in.

The Long Now Blog recently linked to a collection of responses to the Annual Question posed by John Brockman's Edge, "How is the internet changing the way you think?"

There are over 160 responses from scientists and thinkers, including Long Now Board Members such as Stewart Brand and Brian Eno. Here's an excerpt from Eno's response, which is by far one of my favorites:

I notice that I now digest my knowledge as a patchwork drawn from a wider range of sources than I used to. I notice too that I am less inclined to look for joined-up finished narratives and more inclined to make my own collage from what I can find. I notice that I read books more cursorily — scanning them in the same way that I scan the Net — 'bookmarking' them.

I notice that I correspond with more people but at less depth. I notice that it is possible to have intimate relationships that exist only on the Net — that have little or no physical component. I notice that it is even possible to engage in complex social projects — such as making music — without ever meeting your collaborators. I am unconvinced of the value of these.

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AndreaJan 13, 2010

Caveat to the End of Advertising

The venerable Eric Clemons recently proclaimed the death of Internet advertising. DLB's alternative: Advertising can change or die.

Eric Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, recently wrote a highly controversial guest post at TechCrunch. It is a wealth of ideas worth considering, but its basic message is this: advertising on the internet will fail. Today I'm going to try and evaluate this conclusion. On Wednesday, I'll touch briefly on an interesting point he makes later in the article.

According to Clemons, advertising on the Internet will fail because of three states of affairs (hereafter, SOA):

  1. People don't trust ads. (cf. BlogLESS, Remembering Promises)
  2. People don't want ads. ("When do you leave the TV to get a snack?" he asks, "Is it during the content or the commercials?")
  3. People don't need ads when they have friends and independent professional rating sites from which to obtain information. (cf. BlogLESS, Social Networking and Brands)
A Puff of Smoke Appears
via Flickr

Now consider the following. SOA3 states that people don't need ads because other, more preferable resources are available to provide them with information. Clemens notes that "It’s not that we no longer need information to initiate or to complete a transaction; rather, we will no longer need advertising to obtain that information." This means that SOA3 is the case if and only if SOA2 is the case. In other words, if people found ads sufficiently preferable, this would undermine the efficacy of SOA3. There are many thriving phenomena that consumers want but clearly do not need. For example, reality television.

Now, ask yourself why SOA2 is the case. Or better, ask Clemons, who takes up the question as he dismisses a certain practical alternative: "better targeting of ads using individual interests and individual behaviors will ensure that we do not bore or annoy as many people with each ad, but cannot address the trust issue." In other words, people do not want ads because they are noise. The messages contained in them are not worthy of consideration, and thus are perceived as useless cognitive clutter in the already messy space of the Internet.

This means that SOA2 would collapse if SOA1 was not the case. In other words, if people perceived that they could trust ads, they would become virtually indistinguishable from other contentful, potentially useful information on the Internet.This means that, advertising on the Internet will indeed fail, but only if it can't develop trust by making meaningful, keepable promises.

Of course, some of you will recognize this as what we've been talking about for the last year. We hope that Clemons' popular essay and findings provide further motivation for advertisers to work hard on developing strategies that Clemons himself may not have yet considered a feasible subset of advertising.

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PaulApr 13, 2009