Return of the Son of Moto

Q. i have been using your son of moto [blogger template] to build my blogspots. why do i have to have two empty, wide, side fields? pls take a look at the above reference blog. i have to put all the content in the middle, rather narrow field.

A. We regret that we cannot provide technical support for templates we designed in 2004. Please check Blogger’s Help pages and see if they answer your concerns.

Bastardized, corrupted versions of these templates—versions we did not design, based on our work but not done by us—show up all over the web. We don’t know if these bastardized, corrupted versions are authorized (i.e. we don’t know if the republishers paid a licensing fee to Google, who commissioned the templates in the first place). Millions of people use these templates, or unauthorized hacks of these templates. If you need help changing the templates to suit your needs, kindly contact your service provider.

The original templates are part of the 2004 standards-based redesign of Blogger on which we and others toiled. Google paid the least money any of us had ever received on a web design job. But we would have done the work for free. It was all about creating web-standards-based templates—about getting standards out there in a big way: a way only a product with as many users as Blogger, and an owner as powerfully influential as Google, could assure. Finances were beside the point. The reward was making standards-based stuff for millions of people to use and enjoy.

Four years on, we still get a warm feeling out of having worked on the project. But that’s not all we get. Several times a week, we get e-mails from people who want to alter our templates but lack technical know-how. We regret that we cannot debug the style sheets of the universe.

[tags]moto, son of moto, blogger, templates[/tags]

The vanishing personal site

OUR PERSONAL SITES, once our primary points of online presence, are becoming sock drawers for displaced first-person content. We are witnessing the disappearance of the all-in-one, carefully designed personal site containing professional information, links, and brief bursts of frequently updated content to which others respond via comments. Did I say we are witnessing the traditional personal site’s disappearance? That is inaccurate. We are the ones making our own sites disappear.

The vanishing personal site.

Obliterating our own readership and page views may not be a bad thing, but let’s be sure we are making conscious choices.

Interactive art director Jody Ferry’s site is a perfect example of the deeply decentralized personal page. I use the term “page” advisedly, as Jody’s site consists of a single page. It’s a fun, punchy page, bursting with personality, as intriguing for what it hides as what it reveals. Its clarity, simplicity, and liquidity demonstrate that Jody Ferry does indeed practice what the site’s title element claims: Interactive Art Direction and User Experience Design. All very good.

It could almost be the freshened-up splash page of a late 1990s personal site, except that the navigation, instead of pointing inward to a contact page, resume, blog, link list, and photos, points outward to external web services containing those same things. Mentally insert interactive diagram here: at left is a 1990s site whose splash page links to sub-pages. Structurally, its site map is indistinguishable from an org chart, with the CEO at the top, and everyone else below. At right, to re-use the org chart analogy, a site like Jody’s is akin to a single-owner company with only virtual (freelance) employees. There is nothing below the CEO. All arrows point outward.

Most personal sites are not yet as radically personal-content-outsourced as Jody’s, and certainly not every personal site will go this way. (Jody’s site might not even be this way tomorrow, and, lest it be misunderstood, I think Jody’s site is great.) But many personal sites are leaning this way. Many so inclined are currently in an interim state not unlike what’s going on here at zeldman.com:

  • There are blog posts here, but I post Tweets far more frequently than I write posts. (For obvious reasons: when you’re stuck in an airport, it’s easier to send a 140-character post via mobile phone and Twitter than it is to write an essay from that same airport. Or really from anywhere. Writing is hard, like design.) To connect the dots, I insert my latest Tweet in my sidebar. I have more readers here than followers at Twitter, but that could change. Are they the same readers? Increasingly, to the best of my knowledge, there are people who follow me on Twitter but do not read zeldman.com (and vice-versa). This is good (I’m getting new readers) and arguably maybe not so good (my site, no longer the core of my brand, is becoming just another piece of it).
  • Like nearly everyone, I outsource discoverable, commentable photography to Flickr.com instead of designing my own photo gallery like my gifted colleagues Douglas Bowman and Todd Dominey. Many bloggers now embed mini-bits of their Flickr feeds in their site’s sidebars. I may get around to that. (One reason I haven’t rushed to do it is that most of my Flickr photos are hidden behind a “friends and family” gateway, as I mainly take pictures of our kid.) Photography was never what this site was about, so for me, using Flickr is not the same as outsourcing the publication of some of my content.
  • As I’ve recently mentioned, links, once a primary source of content (and page views) here, got offloaded to Ma.gnolia a while back. From 1995 until a few years ago, every time I found a good link, an angel got his wings and I got page views. My page views weren’t, brace yourself for an ugly word, monetized, so all I got out of them was a warm feeling—and that was enough. Now my site is, brace yourself again, monetized, but I send my readers to Ma.gnolia every time I find a link. Go figure.

I’m not trying to get rid of my readers, nor are you trying to shake off yours. In the short term, including Flickr, Twitter, and Ma.gnolia or De.licio.us feeds sends traffic both ways—out to those services, but also back to your site. (Remember when some of us were afraid RSS would cost us our readers? It did and it didn’t. With RSS, good writers gain readers while often losing traditional page views. But that’s another story.) I’ve certainly found new websites by going to the Twitter profile pages of people who write funny or poignant Tweets. Behind a great Flickr photo may be a great designer whose site you might not have found if not for first seeing that photo.

Site of André Gonçalves

But outsourcing the publication of our own content has long-term implications that point to more traffic for the web services we rely on, and less traffic and fewer readers for ourselves.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Not every person who designs websites needs to run a personal magazine on top of all their other responsibilities. If your goal in creating a personal site way back when was to establish an online presence, meet other people who create websites, have fun chatting with virtual friends, and maybe get a better job, well, you don’t need a deep personal site to achieve those goals any more.

But if world domination is your goal, think twice before offloading every scrap of you.


Translations

[tags]personal sites, blogs, blogging, de.licio.us, ma.gnolia, flickr, twitter, jodyferry, outsourcing, content, readers, readership[/tags]

WordPress 2.5 unleashed

WordPress 2.5, designed by Happy Cog and built by Automattic, has been released. Download and enjoy.

[tags]wordpress, wordpress2.5, 2.5, happycog, automattic, blogs, blogging, tools[/tags]

Monday links

WCAG Samurai
The WCAG Samurai Errata for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 are published as an alternative to WCAG 2. “You may comply with WCAG 2, or with these errata, or with neither, but not with both at once.” Published 26 February 2008. Read the intro first.
Happy Cog Studios at SXSW Interactive
Two hot panels, plus bowling.
Alex King’s Twitter Tools
Integrate your Twitter account with your WordPress blog. Archive your tweets, create a blog post from each tweet, create a daily digest of your tweets, post a tweet in your sidebar, and more.
Chopsticks by Carlos Segura
Brilliant! 51 chopstick bags by Carlos Segura assisted by Ryan Halvorsen. In EPS for your raster or vector pleasure.
Can a Gas Station Really Be Green?
Boston design firm builds green gas station in smoggy LA.
48 Unique Ways To Use WordPress
CMS, city guide, history/timeline site, intranet, movie poster and trailer site, network hub, polling site, Feedburner alternative, Twitter clone, many more.
Misleading Marketing Copy
Words and phrases to avoid if you want an honest relationship with your customers.
Pattern inspiration (Veerle’s Blog)
Design inspiration via wallpaper and tiles.
Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior (on Flickr)
Illustrations from the newly published book by Indi Young (Rosenfeld Media, 2008).
A Speck of Sunlight Is a Town’s Yearly Alarm Clock
On March 8, the sun will rise again in Longyearbyen, the first time since October.
Dockdrop
Free Mac OS X application lets you share files fast. Drag any file or folder onto the Dockdrop dock icon, then choose how you want to send it. Dockdrop uploads it and puts a URL for your upload on the clipboard, ready for pasting into an email, chat program or website.
Official Google Maps API Blog: Google Maps Without the Scripting
The Google Static Maps API provides a simpler way to add maps to your website. Rather than use JavaScript, the Google Static Maps API creates map images on the fly via simple requests to the Static Maps service with HTTP requests.

[tags]zeldman, wcagsamurai, happycog, sxsw, googlemaps, wordpress, veerle, indiyoung, mentalmodels, wcag2, accessibility[/tags]

Adios, Technorati?

Without my permission, Technorati has stuck my photo and its logo in the sidebar of my site’s front page.

Technorati, when it works, provides useful services to blogs and their readers, such as the ability to track third-party responses to a post. (Google Blog Search works the same street, and refreshes more frequently.)

Technorati also indexes “authority,” which is its word for popularity as determined by the number of Technorati users who mark your site as a favorite.

Sooner or later, almost everyone with a blog “claims” it on Technorati by inserting a small piece of JavaScript into their template.

Until recently, that small piece of JavaScript helped Technorati keep track of your site, and that was all it did.

You could configure the script to show your picture and Technorati’s logo but you didn’t have to, and I chose not to.

Technorati called the script an “embed.”

In the last few days, Technorati apparenty converted its “embeds” to “widgets.”

Widgets do more than embeds, and I’m sure they’ll delight some blog owners. But I am not delighted. I wasn’t asked, or even notified. Through investigation (AKA random clicking) I found the widgets page and “customized” my widget not to show my photo and Technorati’s logo (i.e. I manually opted out of something I had previously already opted out of).

Except the opt-out didn’t take. My photo and Technorati’s logo are still stuck in my front page’s sidebar.

I’ll give Technorati a few days to clear its cache (or its head). If there’s still junk in my sidebar come Monday, then it’s adios, Technorati.

[tags]technorati, widgets, opt-in, opt-out, blogs, blogging, blogosphere[/tags]

Facebook Considered Harmless

IN 1995, I RECKONED everyone would teach themselves HTML and start homesteading on the web. When that didn’t happen, I spent three years on a free tutorial I figured would give the world the push it needed. It didn’t.

I was an early blogger and a late user of blogging software because, why did anybody need blogging software? Wrong. Always wrong.

In 2004, some colleagues and I contributed to the “new” Blogger. We were excited by the thought of bringing well-designed, easy-peasy, standards-compliant web publishing tools to millions of people. Now everyone can do this, we thought. And millions did.

But not everyone, it turns out, wants to blog. Blogging is hard. There’s, like, thoughts and stuff that you have to come up with, even if someone else handles the whole “what should my blog be like and what should it do and how should it be organized and what should it look like” part.

No, what most people were really looking for—or at least, what most people have responded to since such things became available—were web gizmos as easy as farting and as addictive as cigarettes. “Social software.” “Web 2.0.” Swimming pools, movie stars.

All this to preface the unremarkable yet strange to those who know me fact that yesterday I signed up for Facebook. And spent several hours messing with it. And checked it this morning before making coffee, before making breakfast for The Wife and I, before bringing The Child her strawberry milk.

Facebook is a walled garden and I am religiously opposed, but here we are and there I am.

Facebook is pretty. It works with Ma.gnolia. It works with Twitter. In theory it works with iLike, except that you can’t add an existing iLike account to Facebook, which is lame and sucks and iLike’s fault, and the fact that I care and am bothering to share such trivia shows how deeply assimilated I have become over the past 24 hours, eight of which I spent sleeping.

As when I joined Twitter, the first thing I noticed was how many of my friends and colleagues were already there ahead of me. Why none of them had invited me to join, bastards, I leave to their consciences, not that I’m bitter. They redeemed themselves by responding within an hour or less when I asked to be their “friends,” not that I’m keeping score.

I don’t need more friends and I don’t need more contacts. I avoided most of the first-generation social software that was all about Rolodex building, and only gave in to the main one everyone knows and which I shall not name when a loved old client of mine invited me to join his network. Since I made that mistake, I get lots more mail, and lots more mail is something else I don’t need.

But I design interfaces so I’m supposed to know about this stuff. That’s the rationale behind my spending hours of billable time adjusting my Facebook preferences. The real reason, of course, for all this stuff, is that it provides a way to blow off work you should be doing, while creating the illusion that you are achieving something. At least in most offices, you can’t masturbate at your desk. But you can Tweet.

[tags]socialsoftware, web2.0, facebook, twitter, flickr, blogs, blogging, community, walledgarden[/tags]

Link ‘n Park

Travel day. While I’m singin’ in the rain between New York and Philadelphia, here are some nice, dry links for your pleasure.

Cover Browser
Jackpot link! Recall every lost issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Identify with Betty or Veronica. Discover the Mad Magazine you never knew. Cover Browser intends to catalog the cover of every comic book (not to mention every book, game, DVD, magazine…) ever printed. With 77,000 entries, they are just getting started. Via Veer.
Things on Things
If basking in the nostaliga of Cover Browser (above) makes you feel like everything that can be digital is becoming so—and if that thought (however inaccurate it may actually be) makes you wonder if widespread digitization is changing the way we perceive and value reality—you’re not alone. But you may not be as articulate about it as the pseudonymous author of the untitled essay posted yesterday at Things Magazine. Read it. Bookmark it. Share it. Via Coudal.
Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster
The great Jared Spool on lessons to be drawn when a hot new feature fails to please the public for whom it was ostensibly created.
Multi-touch on the desktop
Hockenberry on interface design. Some people who love the iPhone can’t wait for multi-touch to come to the desktop. Hockenberry explains why it won’t.
Radio Telepathy
Eclectic music podcast.
Design Interviews: ROB WEYCHERT of Happy Cog Studios
Web designer, artist and writer Rob Weychert on typography, humor, haiku, neurotically meticulous attention to detail, and the bearded cult.
iTrapped
A photoset on Flickr (and a new meme). Fun!
There is no “first blogger”
Scott Rosenberg, co-founder of Salon corrects the breathless coverage of The Wall Street Journal, beginning with its fallacious assertion that “It’s been 10 years since the blog was born.” There are journalists who get this stuff right, but not nearly enough.
Icon Archive
Over 12,500 desktop icons, organized in sets, for Windows, Macintosh and Linux Systems. Non-commerical use is allowed in most cases. The site’s offerings are culled from other sites (e.g., Star Wars 2, by Talos, comes from Iconfactory); original authors are credited and linked.
No Compassion
Artist Jiri David’s manipulated photos of Bush, Putin, Berlusconi, and Chirac.
Hope is Emo, Chapter 9
Hope gets emotionally damaged at a family wedding. (Video.)

Get up in my grill. View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia.

[tags]comics, cover art, digitization, UI design, rob weychert, jared spool, facebook, multi-touch, icons, manipulated images, hope is emo, wallstreetjournal, salon, blogs, blogging, first blogger, radiotelepathy, itrapped [/tags]

Daily Reports from 1997 on

Our “Twelve Years of Web 1.0 Goodness” theme continues with a mini-retrospective of Daily Reports from 1997 on. (Earlier Reports are lost due to over-writing.) You don’t need the WayBack machine to go way back in zeldman.com history. Enjoy these representative Daily Report pages from …

Damn, that’s good eatin’. There are thousands of entries; these are just some I found while clicking idly along. As I look at them, I mostly focus on column width, font, text size, and color. I can’t bring myself to read them (although I’m sure some are okay). What is the value, anyway, of an old blog entry? Compared to an old song, an old valentine, not much. What an odd activity for so much human energy to have been channeled into.

Related

Since 1995
Twelve years of juicy Web 1.0 Goodness.™

[tags]blogs, blogging, daily report, blog history, zeldman, zeldman.com[/tags]

Conference speaker’s pledge

WEARING this attractive six-pointed star on my sleeve signifies my pledge to abide by a code of conduct. Presently the code of conduct is a draft, but we hope, by working together, to one day turn it into a second draft.

While speaking to you from this podium, I pledge the following:

  • I will not yodel.
  • I will not introduce my first slide by saying, “Here is my first slide.”
  • I will not conclude the discussion of my first slide by asking, “Any questions about my first slide?”
  • I will not ridicule my fellow presenters, not even the shallow idiots.
  • I will not become a womb of light.
  • I will not guess the weight of randomly selected audience members.
  • I will wear comfortable slacks.
  • I will not activate an under-seat “tingler” at the moment of greatest suspense.
  • I will not reveal the ending of the final Harry Potter novel, or that the lady in “The Crying Game” is a dude.
  • When I think about you, I will not touch myself.

Of course, sometimes, I might need to yodel, or even touch myself. Wearing the Gallagher Hammer-and-Watermelon Badge signifies that my presentation will be “anything goes.” You folks in the first five rows, button up your overcoats.

[tags]code of conduct[/tags]

Comments are the lifeblood of the blogosphere

I spent the latter half of last week with my dad (photos). I did not bring a laptop, nor did I use any of his computers to access the internet. The trip was about dad, not about dad between e-mails.

When I returned to New York City, 193 comments awaited me in the moderation queue. 191 were spam. Some concerned a young lady. Others promoted medications. Two of the 193 comments were actually relevant to my site’s content, although they were trackbacks, not comments. (By the way, Wikipedia, which is it? TrackBack, with an intercap, or Trackback, without? Wikipedia’s trackback entry has it both ways.)

I use Askimet to control comment spam, and although it missed the 191 spam comments previously mentioned, it did flag as spam an additional ten comments, eight of which were spam. The other two were actual reader comments—the only real comments that came in while I was away. Askimet works for most users. Nothing works for me. But I digress.

Executive Summary: Of 203 comments received in a three-day period, two were comments (falsely flagged as spam), two others were trackbacks, and the rest were spam, although 191 of them were not identified as such. If comments are a site’s lifeblood, my site is having a stroke. (Which, by the way, was a popular verb in 42 of the spam comments I received.)

If I wrote more frequently, I would not get less spam, but I would enjoy a higher proportion of actual comments. I wrote every day, several times a day, for years here before comment systems, let alone blogging tools, were available. These days I have less time to write here or anywhere. But I will write more, promise.

I would get much less spam if my site were less frequently linked to and visited, but who wants a less-linked, less-visited site?

I would get no spam if I turned off comments, but I would also get no comments. And comments, real comments, are good.

Or so they tell me.

Comments off.

Kidding.

[tags]blogs, blogging, blogosphere, comments, spam, commentspam[/tags]