Crowdsourcing Dickens

As an experiment in new new media thinking, I recently crowdsourced a new new literature version of Charles Dickens’s musty old old old lit chestnut, Great Expectations—the familiar tale of Pip, Ms Havisham, the convict Magwitch, et al.

Creative excellence and spin-worthy results required a pool of 10,000 people who had never read Great Expectations. Fortunately, I had access to 10,000 recent American college graduates, so that was no problem.

To add a dab of pseudoscience and appeal obliquely to the copyleft crowd, I remixed the new work’s leading literary themes with the top 20 Google search queries, using an algorithm I found in the mens room at Penn Station.

The result was a work of pure modern genius, coming soon to an iPad near you. (Profits from the sale will be used to support Smashing Magazine’s footer and sidebar elements.)

Gone was the fusty old title. Gone were the cobwebbed wedding cake and other dare I say emo images. It was goodbye to outdated characters like Joe the blacksmith and the beautiful Estella, farewell to the love story and the whole careful parallel between that thing and that other thing.

Gone too was the tired old indictment of the Victorian class system, and by implication of all economic and social systems that separate man from his brothers in Christ, yada yada. As more than one of my young test subjects volunteered in a follow-up survey, “Heard it.”

In place of these obsolete narrative elements, the students and the prioritized Google searches created, or dare I say curated, a tale as fresh as today’s algorithmically generated headlines.

The results are summarized in the table below.

Old Great Expectations New Great Expectations
On Christmas Eve, Pip, an orphan being raised by his sister, encounters the convict Magwitch on the marshes. n/a
The convict compels Pip to steal food from his sister’s table, and a file from her husband the blacksmith’s shop. Pip thereby shares the convict’s guilt and sin—but his kindness warms the convict’s heart. Guy on girl
Pip’s sister, Mrs. Joe, abuses him. Her husband loves Pip but is unable to protect him or offer him a future beyond blacksmithing. Girl on girl (multiple entries)
Pip meets Miss Havisham, an old woman abandoned on her wedding day, who sits in her decrepit house, wearing a yellowing wedding gown, her only companion the beautiful and mysterious girl Estella. Pip falls in love with Estella, but Miss Havisham has trained the girl to break men’s hearts. Guy on guy
Pip visits Miss Havisham until his apprenticeship with Joe the blacksmith begins. Pip hates being a blacksmith and worries that Estella will see him as common. Two girls, one guy
Mrs Joe suffers a heart attack that leaves her mute. A kind girl named Biddy comes to take care of Mrs Joe. After Mrs Joe’s death, Biddy and Joe will marry. Meanwhile, Pip comes into an unexpected inheritance and moves to London, where he studies with a tutor and lives with his friend Herbert. Dragons
Pip believes Miss Havisham is his benefactor and that she intends him to marry Estella, whom he still adores. Day by day, Estella grows more cruel. Pip never tells her of his love for her. Wizards
One stormy night, Pip discovers that his benefactor is not Miss Havisham but the convict Magwitch. The news crushes Pip, but he dutifully allows Magwitch to live with him—worrying, all the while, because Magwitch is a wanted man who will be hanged if discovered. Explosions
Miss Havisham repents having wasted her life and perverted Estella. She is caught in a fire. Pip heroically saves her but she later dies from her burns. Soon afterwards, Pip and Herbert try to help Magwitch escape, but Magwitch’s old enemy Compeyson—who happens to be the man who abandoned Miss Havisham at the altar—betrays Magwitch to the authorities. Magwitch and Compeyson struggle. Compeyson dies and Magwitch is taken to prison. Gunfights
Pip now realizes that Magwitch is a decent man and tries to make Magwitch’s last years happy ones. He also discovers that Magwitch is Estella’s father. Magwitch dies in prison shortly before he was to be executed. Pip tells the dying Magwitch of his love for Estella. Fistfights
Pip becomes ill and is nursed back to health by Joe, whom Pip recognizes as a good man in spite of his lack of education and “class.” Pip goes into business overseas with Herbert. Eventually he returns to England and visits Joe, who has married Biddy. They have a child named Pip. As the book ends, the middle-aged Pip makes one last visit to Miss Havisham’s house, where he discovers an older and wiser Estella. There is the implication that Pip and Estella may finally be together. Anal

Blue Beanie Day 2009

International Blue Beanie Day 2009

Bonne journée du chapeau bleu! Now you know how to say “Happy Blue Beanie Day” in French.

Monday 30 November is International Blue Beanie Day in support of web standards. Get your toque on, post a photo, and pop a beanie on your Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook avatars to help spread the word. Let’s take this viral, kids!

Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=3142

Chicago Deep Dish

Dan Cederholm and Eric Meyer at An Event Apart Chicago 2009. Photo by John Morrison.

For those who couldn’t be there, and for those who were there and seek to savor the memories, here is An Event Apart Chicago, all wrapped up in a pretty bow:

AEA Chicago – official photo set
By John Morrison, subism studios llc. See also (and contribute to) An Event Apart Chicago 2009 Pool, a user group on Flickr.
A Feed Apart Chicago
Live tweeting from the show, captured forever and still being updated. Includes complete blow-by-blow from Whitney Hess.
Luke W’s Notes on the Show
Smart note-taking by Luke Wroblewski, design lead for Yahoo!, frequent AEA speaker, and author of Web Form Design: Filling in the Blanks (Rosenfeld Media, 2008):

  1. Jeffrey Zeldman: A Site Redesign
  2. Jason Santa Maria: Thinking Small
  3. Kristina Halvorson: Content First
  4. Dan Brown: Concept Models -A Tool for Planning Websites
  5. Whitney Hess: DIY UX -Give Your Users an Upgrade
  6. Andy Clarke: Walls Come Tumbling Down
  7. Eric Meyer: JavaScript Will Save Us All (not captured)
  8. Aaron Gustafson: Using CSS3 Today with eCSStender (not captured)
  9. Simon Willison: Building Things Fast
  10. Luke Wroblewski: Web Form Design in Action (download slides)
  11. Dan Rubin: Designing Virtual Realism
  12. Dan Cederholm: Progressive Enrichment With CSS3 (not captured)
  13. Three years of An Event Apart Presentations

Note: Comment posting here is a bit wonky at the moment. We are investigating the cause. Normal commenting has been restored. Thank you, Noel Jackson.

Short URL: zeldman.com/?p=2695

HTML5 Redefines Footer

It seems like only yesterday that the HTML5 Super Friends asked the HTML5 working groups to rethink footer’s content model to avoid web developer misuse and frustration. Okay, it wasn’t yesterday, it was Monday. Close enough. Today comes word that footer is indeed being redefined as we requested. This is a wonderful usability improvement to HTML5, and we salute the working group(s) for listening and acting.

HTML5 For Smarties

The HTML5 specification runs on for over 900 pages, and much of what it covers, while vital to browser makers, is meaningless to people who create websites. If thousands of irrelevant details in the HTML5 spec have you crossing your eyes and crying for Mama, Michael™ Smith’s HTML 5: The Markup Language is just what the HTML5 doctor ordered: lean, clean, and content-author-focused. Until there’s a plain-language HTML5 Pocket Guide, Smith’s edited presentation of the spec will do. (It’s also available in a single page format.)

ShortURL: zeldman.com/?p=2561

MFA Interaction Design, Day 1

Qing Qing greets the students at Day 1 of the MFA in Interaction Design program.

On the last night of August, 2009, the MFA in Interaction Design at School of Visual Arts opened its doors to eighteen gifted students. The intense program will be like Project Runway, except that it lasts two years, and nobody will be “out.”

Created and chaired by Liz Danzico and Steven Heller, SVA’s MFA in Interaction Design is one of the only graduate-level degrees dedicated to interaction design in the U.S. Over two years of night classes, the program teaches students from diverse backgrounds (including design, computer programming, architecture, and even majors in English literature) to envision and create experiences across all manner of media, including the real world.

Students in this program will not merely become better web or interaction designers. They will develop user experience conventions in media where no such conventions exist.

In a beautiful post at Bobulate, Liz places the opening of the new program in the context of SVA’s history.

As a faculty member, I attended the opening orientation and have the crummy iPhone pictures to prove it.

It was a thrill to meet these talented students, who will spend the next two years haunting the program’s beautiful new design space at night (most of them after working at their day jobs, an SVA tradition).

To attend the program’s many free events, or simply to enjoy it vicariously, follow twitter.com/svaixd. And keep watching the skies.

ShortURL: zeldman.com/?P=2439

What’s new in DWWS 3e

Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition

The 3rd Edition of Designing With Web Standards is coming soon to a bookstore near you. Abetted mightily by our secret cabal of interns, co-author Ethan Marcotte, technical editor Aaron Gustafson, copyeditor Rose Weisburd, editor Erin Kissane and I have worked hard to create what we hope is not merely an update, but a significant revision to the foundational web standards text.

Packed with new ideas

After years of stasis, the world of standards-based design is exploding with new ideas and possibilities. Designing With Web Standards 3rd Edition captures this moment, makes sense of it, and keeps you smartly ahead of the pack.

From HTML 5 to web fonts, CSS3 to WCAG2, the latest technologies, claims and counter-claims get broken down in classic DWWS style into their easy-to-understand component ideas, helping you pick the course of action that works best for your projects. As always, the core ideas of standards-based design (which never change) get presented with clear insights and up-to-date examples. You’ll find strategies for persuading even the most stubborn boss or client to support accessibility or reconsider what “IE6 support” means—and for handling the other problems we face when trying to bring rational design and development to the unruly web.

Now with more “how”

While this 3rd Edition, like its predecessors, spends a great deal of time on “why,” it also features a lot more “how” than past editions. If you loved the ideas in DWWS, but wished the book was a bit more hands-on, this is the edition you’ve waited for.

Oh, and the color this time? It’s blue, like l’amour.

Pre-order and save

A few chapters remain to be written, but the goal is in sight, and the book will be out this Fall. To celebrate, you can now save 37% when you pre-order Designing With Web Standards 3rd Edition from Amazon.com.

There’s a new book mini-site as well, with more content and features to come. The sharp-eyed will notice that the mini-site is set in Franklin Gothic. A web-licensed version of ITC Franklin Pro Medium from Font Bureau has been embedded via standard CSS. It works everywhere, even in IE. (View Source if curious.)

ShortURL: zeldman.com/x/57

Editorial Intern Wanted

Update: The position is now closed. Thanks to all who applied.

We’re looking for one good intern. If you love web design, writing, and publishing, this is the gig for you. You’ll work with Aaron Gustafson, Erin Kissane, Ethan Marcotte, and Jeffrey Zeldman on the new edition of the industry-changing Designing With Web Standards, and possibly another great publishing project as well.

NYC area location is ideal, but not required—what matters most is your commitment and professionalism. Must be willing to work with Microsoft Word, have access to one of the latest versions of it, and be a Word styles ninja. We’re looking for 6–8 hours per week through September or mid-October. The right person will see this as an opportunity to experience the publication process from first draft through galleys and launch, and to learn from industry and community leaders who are funny, smart, and nice.

Apply by e-mail to internquest at happycog dot com. Send a short note selling us on you. All queries will be handled with discretion.

[tags]jobs, internerships, intern, wanted, webstandards, designingwithwebstandards, DWWS3e, 3rdEdition, HappyCog, ErinKissane, AaronGustafson, EthanMarcotte, zeldman, JeffreyZeldman, employment[/tags]

Beep

For the third edition of Designing With Web Standards, I’ve brought in a co-author: the brilliant and talented Mr Ethan Marcotte.

Mr Ethan Marcotte

Mr Marcotte is a web designer/developer who “works for Airbag Industries as a Senior Designer, swears profusely on Twitter, and is getting married to an incredible lady.” He is also a technical editor and contributing author to A List Apart, and the co-author of several fine books about the intersection between great code and fine design. Then there’s the fact that I dig him. I dig the hell out of him. I love him like a younger, sweeter, funnier brother.

That’s important because I don’t add a co-author to any book, let alone this book, lightly. In asking Ethan to help me bring the awesome to this substantially revised and rewritten edition, I chose not only on the basis of expertise and writing ability, but also on sheer karma.

In his new role, Ethan joins a SuperFriends™ line-up including technical editor Aaron Gustafson (Twitter), another honey of a guy, and truly one of the smartest, most innovative, and most knowledgeable voices in web standards, and editor Erin Kissane (Twitter), whose mastery of the subtlest details of voice consistency alone makes her the finest editor I have ever been blessed to work with. Behind it all, there’s Michael Nolan (Twitter), New Riders’ sagely seasoned acquisitions editor and a designer and author himself, who first took a chance on me as an author back in nineteen ninety humph.

Designing With Web Standards, 3rd Edition is coming this year to a bookstore near you. I thank my brilliant crew for making it possible. Onward!

[tags]EthanMarcotte, beep, unstoppablerobotninja, airbag, alistapart, CSS, design, webstandards, webdesign, designingwithwebstandards, DWWS, 3rdedition, DWWS3e, writer, writers, authors[/tags]

Seattle-bound

City of Puget Sound, Jimi Hendrix, and the space needle, here I come for An Event Apart Seattle 2009—two days of peace, love, design, code, and content.

[tags]seattle, aneventapart, webdesign, webstandards, design, conference, conferences, webdesign conference, webdesign conferences, standards, IA, UX, ericmeyer, jeffreyzeldman, zeldman, meyerweb[/tags]