How awesome would it be if you could combine the aesthetic rigor and clarity of fixed-width, grid-based layouts with the device- and screen size independence and user-focused flexibility of fluid layouts? Completely awesome, that’s how awesome. And with a little cunning and a tad of easy math, ALA’s Ethan Marcotte gets it done. We smell a trend in the offing.
While our designs can never control people, they can encourage good behavior and discourage bad. In this excerpt from Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web 2nd Edition, Christina Wodtke tells us how to make products that delight people and change their lives by remembering the social in social architecture.
If “Our Broken Borders” should someday turn into a ratings loser for CNN’s Lou Dobbs, perhaps he can switch to “The Dwindling Productivity of the American Worker: Is Facebook Sapping Our National Vigor?”
Like comic books, rock and roll, heavy metal, gangsta rap, gaming, and MySpace, the web is no longer an easy card for parent-scaring pundits and politicians to play. But social networking sites AKA community-focused web applications AKA “web 2.0” can still be blamed for a variety of social ills. That they are actually blameless doesn’t matter. The truth never matters in this game.
And since it’s easier to say “Facebook” than “the aggregate of new social networking sites and applications such as Flickr and Twitter,” there’s every chance that Facebook will take the whipping for the entire category.
That this will actually increase Facebook’s market value is known but won’t matter to the people who pretend to be outraged about “the Facebook generation” or “social not-working” or whatever the pundits end up calling the “crisis.”
The same thing happened when religious authorities tried to ban “Carnal Knowledge,” “The Exorcist,” “Hail Mary,” and “The Last Temptation of Christ.” In every case, people who otherwise wouldn’t have bought tickets for these films, showed up, lined up, and even bought popcorn.
At least “The Exorcist” was entertaining.
And of course, parental outrage and the PMRC have sold plenty of rap and metal.
If Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking apps get boosted by fake outrage, they’ll acquire more investors. And they’ll need them, since all these applications run at a loss, and all of them suffer from terrible scaling problems.
The scaling problems will grow worse as the apps become more popular; investors will buy smaller and smaller pieces of a less and less viable business concern; and when it pops, we’ll be back to the bird flu movie of the week.
So the planet warms and the Kenyans kill their neighbors and we tweet about nothing and hope the servers hold out.