Skip navigation. Web design news and entertainment since 1995. ISSN #1534-0309.
Default style (low contrast).Switch styles (scalable text, medium contrast).Switch styles (scalable text, highest contrast).[Not yet.]
A List Apart
Happy Cog Studios
Designing With Web Standards

More info

Recent ALA: Night of the Image Map. CSS Design: Creating Custom Corners and Borders. Retooling Slashdot With Web Standards II.

Link summary. Google related. Google links. Google Zeldman. Google Jeffrey. Teoma links. Technorati links. Zeldman vs. Nielsen. Legend of Zeldman.

Supported by XDate Speed Dating, 30Dates Speed Dating, and for free online dating,

The Daily Report

16 December 2003 :::

12 noon est


Logic bumps on the information superhighway

Last year, Amazon unveiled a “Look Inside This Book” feature to help potential purchasers decide if an item met their needs. (Unfortunately, book pages are rendered in the JPEG format, which makes the text blurry; GIF or PDF would better preserve text quality.)

This year, the etail behemoth unveiled an even stronger feature, “Search Inside This Book,” a “Eureka”-worthy innovation powered by two facts:

  1. the value of most books resides in their text
  2. the web excels at letting users search for and read text

Two plus two equals more sales. But only if Amazon lets its customers know about these features. It does so by applying graphic headers to its book cover thumbnails. (Those thumbnails would work better as GIFs than JPEGs, because it’s hard enough to read the tiny titles, author names, and callouts without blurring the text as wee JPEGs do. But that is by the way.)

Search inside Lolita!

Amazon could not do the volume of business it does if it required artists to create each thumbnail by hand and editors to review the work for sanity. But unexamined bulk formatting has its drawbacks, as the unfortunate juxtaposition of header and cover art at left shows. (Spotted at Another Pointless Dotcom, where the punchline comes faster and with less fuss. Amazon’s previous “Look Inside...” Lolita graphic was unintentionally funnier and nastier.)

Many readers will recall a similarly hapless juxtaposition between Google Ad Sense, American Tourister text ads, and a New York Post article about a murder victim whose body parts were discovered in suitcases.

Not long ago, every element of every web page had to be crafted by hand, like Shaker furniture. If those limitations still applied, the service- and information-driven web we know and love could not have come into existence.

We are empowered by extensible data formats, image processing server software like Adobe AlterCast, and the ability to build or buy publishing and syndication tools. Intelligent software like Ad Sense that dynamically maps advertisers to content may free many smaller publications from the need to seek and seduce sponsors. It’s all good.

But until software algorithms are as smart as people, there will be logic bumps on the information superhighway. :::

Highlights from recent Daily Reports