Jason Fried, the president of 37signals, had just finished speaking to an admirer.
“It’s always guys,” he said wistfully of his fan base. “Never women.”
Fried’s colleague, Jim Coudal, said, “Women come up to me all the time. They say, ‘oh my God, do you know Jason Fried? My brother LOVES him!’”
Baby A__ , designer Jason Santa Maria and I were leaving everyone’s favorite egg-and-bean breakfast joint. We paused while Baby A__ and I negotiated the fine points of stroller and sippie cup maintenance.
A guy with just a touch of yesterday’s ashtray about him, one arm draped over a parking meter, eyed Jason Santa Maria suspiciously.
“You a Jew?” he asked.
Somehow it didn’t sound friendly.
Jason, who is of Italian American descent, answered truthfully in the negative.
“Have a good day,” I said to the guy, pushing the stroller briskly out of his universe.
A bunch of us had been dawdling in a sunbaked courtyard and now I was alone and late for the green room. Still wearing jet-black sunglasses against the Austin glare outside, I rode the long escalator through the airconditioned cool. Up, up, up.
I was riding up. Others were riding down. My face was turned vaguely in the direction of the people coming down, but I wasn’t looking at them, and wouldn’t have recognized anyone through my dark glasses even if I had been paying attention to them.
Suddenly, one of the people coming down was in my face, leaning across the up-down barrier to confront me.
“Ya know me!” she shouted angrily. “I’m Mary!” [Not her real name.]
It took all of a cartoon moment. By the time I realized what had happened, Mary [not her real name] was twenty feet below me and about to turn onto a lower escalator.
I could see by her gestures that she was furiously complaining to a companion about my perceived rudeness in not embracing her with flowers and song, or at least with a hello, as our bodies passed in the vast anonymous convention center space. That I might not have seen her hadn’t occurred to her.
Off guard and off balance, I tried to rectify a social mistake I hadn’t made by calling down to her rapidly disappearing body.
“Hi, Mary!” [not her real name] I trilled down the escalator, girlishly waving a hand in her direction. My voice was chirpy and strange to me, my gesture artificial and nanocenturies too late.
So now there are two dolls in hell.
There’s the Mary doll [not her real name] that breathes dragon fire and roars, “Ya know me! I’m Mary!”
And there’s the Jeffrey doll, waving girlishly down the vastness of an endless escalator shaft.
Alice, asleep at her solitaire table, dreamed the cards had come to life. A similar surrealism pervades SXSW, where thousands of your favorite websites become friendly, noisy flesh.
The fun at SXSW Interactive is people. Every year there are more of them, from more places around the world. From Sydney and Stockholm and Tokyo they come, as well as from Denver and Dallas. Each year you ask yourself how much bigger SXSW can get before it starts to suck. Yet each year as it gets bigger it gets better.
This is, of course, a good time to be of the web, and so a special energy buzzes the halls and spills from the stages.
The people provide the kick, the buzz, the juice, but the panels and keynotes aren’t half bad either.
Sunday at 5:00 I led a session on How to Roll Your Own Web Conference. It went well and seemed to provide value, thanks entirely to my wonderful panelists.
(I have found that if you stack your panel with smart people with diverse backgrounds and points of view, the hour takes care of itself and everyone, including you, learns something. This is also the way I run Happy Cog: build a small team of talented people with complementary skill sets, articulate the problem you need them to solve, and stand back.)
Monday morning I’ll have the pleasure of contributing to DL Byron’s panel, Does Your Blog Have a Business?. I’ll also do a book signing and contribute a few nostalgic meanderings to the WaSP Annual Meeting. (It will be the first WaSP meeting I’ve attended since retiring from the group in 2002.)
The session I wish I could see is Carrie’s on Digital Preservation and Blogs:
The emergence of the early web, and of blogging, stands to be like early film; if the preservation of blogs does not begin soon, most of the initial output of this new medium and genre will be lost, and future understanding will be limited to the scraps that survive.This fall, a group of students in the Library and Information School at Pratt worked on a small project to preserve a handful of blogs. Join us as we discuss the technical, social and legal problems posed by this endeavor.
Anyone who has worked long and hard on a blog, zine, or web product realizes how ephemeral they are. (We are Ozymandias.) Preserving blogs is a multilayered task involving curatorial and editorial acumen, systems and programming skills, an understanding of copyright law, and more. If the preservationists do their job right, people 25 years from now will have some inkling of what we have created in this time. If they get it wrong, our work turns to sand.
See you in the hallways, comrades.
Our daughter is a radiant being of pure light. She is also a 17-month-old kid. Fellow SXSW speakers and panelists, if I’m not in the audience for your panel today, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I’m off taking care of little A__.
And if I don’t show up at a dinner or party, it’s because the joint serves hooch, and the State of Texas has laws forbidding little kids from entering such places. We learned about these laws last night when we were unable to join a group for dinner. Ended up in an ice cream parlor. The state frowns at exposing kids to the sins of the bars, but winks at gluttony.
With a book half-written, two conferences looming, and waves of client work smashing the levees, it seemed a good time to change hosts and funnel this old hand-tooled site into a modern content management system.
The site is now powered by WordPress (why?) and hosted by Media Temple (why?). The hand-rolled summaries feed has retired. In its place is full-text RSS 2.0. There is also a full-text Atom feed for those who like their tofu extra crunchy.
Feeds and browsers
As the DNS rolls over, revealing this post, the retired RSS feed will seamlessly redirect to the new. If you’re reading this but seeing the wrong feed when you click the little RSS badge in your browser’s address bar, you’re using Apple’s Safari, and it’s clutching dead files in its cache. Quit the browser and restart OS X to make Safari find the new feed.
(Safari users may not need to do any of this, of course. Bang-your-head-against-the-desk Safari caching problems typically only affect site owners and developers.)
I wanted WordPress to do things my way, which meant getting under the hood. I needed to finish before SXSW, which starts tomorrow. And I didn’t have time to learn anything new.
Still to come
Haven’t implemented comments yet. Still considering how best to do so. May not get around to it until after An Event Apart Atlanta. Comments. Gar. After nearly 11 years without. Huge. Gotta ponder. As for My Glamorous Life, for the time being that part of the site is sealed off until I figure out how (if at all) I want to carry it forward.
[tags]zeldman, wordpress, blog[/tags]
In Issue 213 of A List Apart, for people who make websites:
- Flywheels, Kinetic Energy, and Friction
- You want your users to do something—buy things, beg you to work for them, learn how they too can achieve inner peace. So how do you get them to do what you want? Try getting out of the way.
- Getting Started with Ajax
- In this excerpt from O’Reilly’s Web Design in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition, ALA production editor Gustafson takes you aside for a little chat about the birds and the bees. Or maybe about Ajax.
Ma.gnolia’s linkroll feature rules, but, like a list of “last 10 blog posts,” it is forever sending interesting content into the offscreen past. So here, frozen in time, and in some cases with expanded blurbage, are some of the latest bookmarks to appear in—and soon disappear from—the zeldman.com sidebar:
- Microsoft iPod
- A parody that says a lot about how design processes go wrong.
- Google Code: Web Authoring Statistics
- Which HTML ids and classes are most common? How many sites validate?
- Eyebrow Antics
- Illustrator Brian Tapley uses Flickr as a portfolio delivery system.
- Publish and Prosper: Blogging for Your Business
What do Boeing, General Motors, and a small bag-clip company have in common? They are all blogging about their business. It’s time for a practical book about business blogging: a book that offers concrete advice, no-nonsense research, warnings about common pitfalls, and real-world examples of business-blog successes and failures. A conversation with your market is stronger and more meaningful with a blog. When you’re ready to bridge the gap between blogging theory and business reality, this book will get you talking, easily and professionally.
- So runs the pitch for Peachpit’s upcoming Publish and Prosper: Blogging for Your Business, by DL Byron and Steve Broback (ISBN: 0321395387), now in presale mode. To save 35% and get free shipping, enter this code when you checkout: PP-234P-LKMS. (Journalists and teachers may request free evaluation copies.)
- Netdiver’s Best
- Long-running, always great design ’zine Netdiver.net publishes its Best Site Designs of 2005.
- S5 1.2a2
- Eric Meyer’s CSS-based slideshow hits 1.2 alpha 2 version.
- Open Letter to AOL
- The Open Letter to America Online is a vehicle for the entire internet community to express its “serious concern [about] AOL’s adoption of Goodmail’s CertifiedEmail, which is a threat to the free and open Internet.” The group explains:
In February 2006, AOL announced that it would accept payment for incoming emails. For these certified emails, it would skip its usual anti-spam filters and guarantee delivery for cash. Our coalition believes that the free passage of email between Internet users is a vital part of what makes the Internet work. When ISPs demand a cut of “pay-to-send” email, they’re raising tollbooths on the open Net, interfering with the passage of data by demanding protection money at the gates of their customers’ computers.
- The design portfolio of Peter Reid.
- Greg Storey blogs the creative process behind Ma.gnolia’s user interface design.
- Beggr 2.0 beta
- A one-way ticket to easy street.
- Images, Tables, & Mysterious Gaps
- It lives! Eric Meyer’s classic on CSS layout as intepreted by Gecko—core of Firefox, Mozilla, Camino, and Netscape—finds a new (and hopefully permanent) home at developer.mozilla.org. Rumor has it all the old Meyer writings are or will be available here.
- Linkology: How the Most-Linked Blogs Relate
- New York Magazine discovers blogs. I usually ignore this kind of coverage by this kind of source, but I’m linking because this is actually a good article of its kind—and of course because it includes A List Apart in its coverage (albeit with blurbage that suggests that the author doesn’t really know what he thinks he knows).
It’s time to pimp my panel at SXSW Interactive ’06:
Sunday 12 March, 5:00 pm – 6:00 pm, Ballroom F
Should you start a conference? How would you do it? What are the risks and rewards? Successful conference creators will share tips on booking speakers and space, getting the word out, spending and making money, and above all delivering value.
I picked people from Canada, Australia, and the U.S. who’ve started their own conferences and asked them to be ready for a no-holds-barred session telling why and how they do it.
- Jason Fried is the president of 37signals, a Chicago-based purveyor of fine web-based collaboration tools for the small business and freelancer market.
- Molly Golightly has been an organizer of the volunteer-run Webzine conference series since its founding in 1998. Her commitment to Webzine is to bring topics and people you won’t find elsewhere to the stage.
- After years of music, graphic design, and web development projects, Bruce Livingstone started iStockphoto, “the world’s best royalty-free photo agency.”
- Maxine Sherrin is a co-convenor of Web Essentials. She believes in bringing people together at events not just so they can learn, but so they can build an industry, resist isolation, and make real connections that will survive the tyranny of geography.
- Eric Meyer is a globally recognized authority on CSS and web standards. After years of speaking at other people’s events, he co-founded An Event Apart with Jeffrey Zeldman, giving him an eye-opening look at the other side of the conference business.
In other news…
Elsewhere in Conferenceville, An Event Apart Atlanta has sold out.
When I was younger, I considered myself too “creative” to work on anything that wasn’t cool or exciting. Eventually I buckled down and became a genuine client services professional. For over two decades, I brought my best to every job, no matter how dull.
So much for that. Today I can choose what I want to work on. And I choose projects that are cool, fun, and personally meaningful. In that context, I link to Ma.gnolia.
Designed by Happy Cog and taken out of private beta 15 February, Ma.gnolia is a new social bookmarking tool with well-thought-out features like Saved Copies (so you never lose a web page, even if it moves or goes offline), Bookmark Ratings, Bookmark Privacy, and Groups. Not to mention a Linkroll I like so much I use it here at zeldman.com.
Gnolia Systems envisioned the product and made it run. (The heavy programming? That’s all them.) Happy Cog developed the user pathways, brand identity, and creamy site design. The best part? Leading a dream team of Tanya Rabourn (information architect), Greg Storey (user interface design), Jason Santa Maria (brand identity design), Erin Kissane (brand director), and Mr Eric Meyer (semantician and technologist).