4 November 2005 11 am edt

Kashmir, Kashmir

The unshaken world looked on in horror as school buildings collapsed on children during the Kashmir earthquake. Carrie and I watched a man clawing at rubble because his little girl or boy was somewhere under there. A television journalist, reporting from the scene, said every child in that village had died.

Television journalists report on all kinds of awful events from all kinds of places, and it is part of their job to calmly relate even the most terrible facts. Yet this particular television journalist, standing just a few feet away from the grief-maddened parent, looked as if he, too, had been crying.

Then the 24-hour news cycle turned its attention to the next scandal, the next storm, the next talking point.

But the people of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India who survived the earthquake don’t have the option to change the channel. Three million are homeless and a harsh mountain winter is setting in. Three million who survived will die in the coming weeks if not enough is done to help them.

It will take money and effort. And both are wanting.

You would think the governments of rich western nations would consider saving three million lives a no-brainer. For one thing, they are human lives, and from our pulpits and benches we constantly and truthfully proclaim that human life is an absolute value.

There are humanitarian reasons to make every effort to save these lives. There are ethical reasons, spiritual reasons, and even (though it is horrible to say so) political reasons, given that most victims are Muslim and the west has, to say the least, not done the best job of winning Muslim friends lately. But that is just logic and ethics and the religious duty of one human being to another, and thus not enough is being done.

So it is up to us, the people, to reach into our pockets and give whatever we can to aid agencies working to save lives in South and Central Asia.

25 October 2005 4 pm edt

A List Apart 206

A List Apart’s Hallowe’en issue takes the scalpel to dead copy, brings life to what were once mere redesigns, and throws in two killer illustrations by Kevin Cornell:

Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign
by Cameron Moll
The difference between redesigns that make you look busy and give your stakeholders something else to argue about, and strategic overhauls that reposition your brand and help you set and reach business goals.
Attack of the Zombie Copy
by Erin Kissane
You’ve seen them around the web, these zombie sentences—syntax slack and drooling, clauses empty of everything except a terrible hunger for human brains. Here’s how to fight back.

24 October 2005 5 pm edt

Ad network for web, design pros

A List Apart, 37signals and Coudal Partners have formed The Deck, a new kind of ad network focused on web and design professionals.

Our three sites serve up millions of page views each month, allowing marketers to reach a highly targeted, influential audience. (But only appropriate marketers: we won’t take an ad unless we have paid for and used the product or service.)

Only a single ad will be shown for each page viewed. Buying a month on The Deck gives you an exclusive showing on twenty percent of all pages viewed for that month across all three sites. And no Google or other ads dilute your exposure. The Deck ad is the only ad on the page.

A buy in The Deck reaches the creative community on the web in an uncluttered, controlled environment, making it far more valuable than a standard banner that costs much more, or a single text ad suffocating among dozens of others.

We’re not selling based on page views or hits or click-through, but if we were, the CPM for a buy would be extremely attractive and well below industry norms. Past performance shows that as a group, The Deck will deliver between three and four million page views each month. But it’s not about “cost-per-thousand” it’s about “cost-per-influence.” Read more about this unusual advertising opportunity.

20 October 2005 5 pm edt


“Found is the New Search,” the page proclaims. Zen koan? Nope. George Orwell outtake? Uh-uh. It’s the thought-provoking slogan of Ma.gnolia, an upcoming social bookmarking service now in pre-launch, sign-up mode.

The temporary site’s design is not only lovely, it is also unusual, suggesting levels of thought and depth rarely seen in the category. What a pity this beautiful mini-site will have to die!

I know something about the product that’s coming, and look forward excitedly to its release. You might want to sign up.

19 October 2005 12 noon edt

Sold out

An Event Apart Philadelphia has sold out! Thanks to everyone who registered. Please watch our RSS feed for announcements of future events, coming very soon.

18 October 2005 10 am edt

Only 20 seats left

There are only 20 seats left at An Event Apart:

If you’re still thinking about registering for AEA Philadelphia, you might want to think a little faster: as of today, there are only 20 seats left. With a mere two weeks to go before the early bird registration deadline passes, we expect a rush of registrations right before the price goes up, so now’s definitely the time to act. Our thanks to everyone who has already registered.

Oops, make that only 19 seats left. You people are fast.

11 October 2005 11 am edt

In today’s Report we present a swell new issue of A List Apart Magazine, announce an after-party for An Event Apart, explore signs that either Microsoft or the Web 2.0 bubble is in trouble, and find out the best way to report bugs in Apple’s Safari browser.

ALA 205: strategy and findability

In a spectacular Hulk-colored issue of A List Apart, for people who make websites:

Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia (or Build a Website for No Reason)
by Greg Storey
If you don’t know what the website you’re working on is supposed to do, it’s going to be really hard to succeed. Greg Storey offers a simple web strategy development process for everyone.
Ambient Findability: Findability Hacks
by Peter Morville
In this excerpt from his new book, Ambient Findability, Peter Morville explains why findability is a required element of good design and engineering — and what that means for you.

Post-Event Apart Happy Hour and a Half

Can’t attend An Event Apart but want to meet and mingle anyway? Join us after the show at The Public House in beautiful downtown Philadelphia for a Happy Hour and a Half. Everyone is welcome! An Event Apart’s Happy Hour and a Half is sponsored by Pixelworthy, specializing in accessible, standards-based solutions for small and medium-sized projects.

It’s 1999 all over again

Rockefeller saved his fortune by pulling out of the stock market just before it crashed in 1929. Story goes he knew it was time to pull out of the market when a shoeshine boy offered him stock tips.

I’m not sure why I am reminded of that story, but at least a dozen people I’ve lent bus money to have become gazillionaires in the past few weeks.

A key aspect of the first bubble was that participants felt they could do anything. For instance, they thought they could topple Microsoft. In the mid-1990s, Sun and Netscape banded together to challenge Microsoft’s office software hegemony. With Netscape’s browser and Sun’s Java, the partners thought, all business would be done using open-source, web-based software; the crinkle of cellophane crisply unfolding from new boxes of Microsoft Office would go the way of the clopping of horse-drawn carriages and the poignant cries of chimney sweeps.

It didn’t work out that way, but Sun is trying it again, this time with Google. Less hyped but equally intriguing is the work of the OpenDocument Fellowship:

As a true Open Standard, OpenDocument is available for the benefit of all. It levels the competitive playing field and provides wider opportumities for innovation, diversity and choice. This choice and diversity is a natural evolutionary consequence of the market maturity of general productivity software. We believe all responsible citizens in the digital market place will embrace ODF as the central focus for document production.

Signs and portents these be. Whether the bell tolls for Microsoft or Web 2.0, we shall see.

Bubbles, bangles, and bug reports

Time was, if you thought you’d found a bug in Apple’s Safari web browser, you either had to click the bug button at the top right or send email to Dave Hyatt. These methods worked but took time and provided only one-way communication with no visibility into the bug after it was submitted.

But WebKit was open-sourced at WWDC 2005. Bugs filed in the open-source database go directly to Safari engineers and open-source contributors, and anyone can see the status of a bug at any time. (For instance, here’s a report showing Safari 1.3/2.0’s problem with A List Apart 3.0.)