At the Ref Desk (6/17/17): Quick - look up the hours for today!!! (A popular question during the summer.) [more...]
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Drupal Turns 5

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 1/16/07 (11:25am)

The popular CMS, Drupal has just announce the release of version 5.0. There are a number of enhancements particularly in administering the software. This site runs on Drupal so I guess I'll probably be upgrading soon.

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Meanwhile in France: The Ségosphère & Disco Sarko

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 1/14/07 (4:28am)

The tools of Web 2.0 are available not only to Americans but to anyone on the planet fortunate enough to have a computer and access to the Internet.

In France, a country with 3.6 million "bloggeurs", the "presidentielles" are coming up in April and all the online manifestations of a political campaign that we became familiar with here during our own election in November -- the websites, blogs and videos -- are popping up in France as well.

(more after the jump...)

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Follow Your Users (Because They Sure as Hell Aren't Going to Follow You)

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sat, 1/13/07 (8:43pm)

Jon Alper, the Director of Technology at WGBH Interactive was asked at a conference by a j-school teacher (of all things) how to coax students away from MySpace.com and towards the school's own blog instead.

Alper's answer, as reported by Carleen Hawn from PaidContent, was essentially that posting on MySpace.com was bad because it abetted free content to the detriment of traditional (legitimate) content like newspapers and broadcast media.

It's hard to know where to start with such an approach. As Hawn herself points out, "...Isn't the idea of New New Media to leverage as many entities as possible?"

At a more basic level, the students are no dupes. They're simply following the crowd -- the market, the popular choice. Myspace.com is where they perceive their postings will have the widest and most significant audience.

And who's to argue with them? Instead of trying to rope them back in, the teacher should be working on how to get out there himself -- how to use their tools to his instructional advantage.

This stuff isn't rocket science.

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We Prefer the Barnum & Bailey School of Web Design

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 1/11/07 (5:53am)

It's great to highlight the wonders of technology but we serve our users best if we first acknowledge what they're coming to us for.

Whatever that is -- and in the academic world, I'm assuming it's articles and books -- that's what we have to build our websites around. Indeed, the whole success of the operation depends on how well we deliver on these core functions.

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Podcast: David Platt on 'Why Software Sucks'

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 1/9/07 (11:44pm)

"It just works", repeats author David Platt almost as a mantra in this Podcast from IT Conversations. That's what software is supposed to do.

Users aren't interested in what goes on behind the scenes. All they want to do is accomplish their goals with the least amount of hassle.

Captcha of the Day

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 1/9/07 (7:40am)

Hoo Baby! I caught a live one! No less than 10 characters long that you have to input perfectly in order to create an account at Myspace.com!

Fear of the spambot creating too many accounts? Is that the problem? Not that I'm complaining -- this one's worth it. Hello, 'mhhh5h7D7J', nice to meet you! (Though naturally I blew it on the first try.)

Dear ScienceDirect,

This is my semi-annual message to you explaining how awful, frustrating and ultimately self-defeating your registration process is.

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The Usability of Logging In

Submitted by Leo Klein on Thu, 1/4/07 (12:17pm)

Emre Sokullu writes about the "big barrier" of logging in to a site and what companies do to make things easier:

Keep It Fields!

Submitted by Leo Klein on Wed, 1/3/07 (5:12pm)

As anyone familiar with Chicago knows, changing the name of "Marshall Fields" to "Macy's" by Federated Department Stores is a sore subject around here.

Now the Chicago Tribune reports:

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