Archive for April, 2009

What’s all this talk about Web Standardistas? – interview with the authors

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

web standardistas


So who are Christopher Murphy and Nicklas Persson?

web standardistas twitter
We’re a couple of academics with a penchant for tweed. We teach at both undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Ulster, teaching interactive design at degree level and design theory at masters level.

On our interactive design course, we’ve been actively promoting a web standards–based curriculum for many years now. We’ve worked hard to develop a lecture program for our students that covers all of the fundamentals: a solid grounding in XHTML coupled with a strong grasp of CSS. We strive to ensure that when our students leave our courses they’re doing web design the right way: creating well-designed web sites built using a web standards approach.

In our spare time – when we can find some – we both maintain our own practice as designers, developers and artists.


Basically what is a Standardista?

web standardistas twitter
A Standardista is someone who knows and cares about their markup and who sees the semantic structuring of content and, equally importantly, the separation of content and presentation as an essential part of the design process.


How do I sign up?

web standardistas twitter
Signing up is simple: If you’d like to brandish your Web Standardistas’ credentials for the world to see you can become a card-carrying, badge-wearing Standardista by putting one of our stylish badges on your site. (Paddy has one in his sidebar)


How and when did this book idea come about? What was the driving force behind it?

web standardistas twitter
In addition to the lecture programme we deliver at the University of Ulster we occasionally take our show on the road and teach community groups, retired silversmiths and bicycle repairmen the basics of web design. The feedback we received from these workshops was overwhelmingly positive and we wanted to put the teaching materials we’d created for them to good use, developing this material further.

Our initial plan was to create an online resource, giving the material away for free, but our first draft caught the eye of friends of ED and, as they say, the rest is history.


In an industry that’s moving at warp factor 7, how difficult is it to teach students about technologies and techniques that you know will be out of date by the time they graduate?

web standardistas twitter
One thing we don’t do is teach software or frameworks. We focus on teaching fundamental principles and work hard to promote an attitude of self-motivated learning and discovery.


There is some emerging talent coming out of both your courses, Interactive Multimedia Design and MA Multi-Disciplinary Design. Who is worth watching?

web standardistas twitter
It would be unethical to comment on current students who are approaching their end of year assessments, however, there are a number of past graduates of both our BSc (Hons) course and MA course that are well worth watching.

Gareth Dickey graduated last year and is now working as a designer for Belfast based web design firm Design by Front. His final year project – The 11th Hour – was an exceptional piece of motion graphics.

David Henderson is another recent graduate and the winner of our 2008 Design Prize (a prize we sponsor every year through Web Standardistas), in no small part due to his excellent final year project The Best of Belfast, coincidentally another accomplished piece of motion graphics.

Lee Munroe and Kyle Boyd, both recent graduate of the MA Multidisciplinary Design we deliver, are also talented designers and developers worth watching. Both are currently developing businesses since graduating: Lookaly and the Disability Heroes respectively.


What would you recommend a student do to get onto the ‘worth watching’ list?

web standardistas twitter
The recipe for success is actually quite simple:

  1. Work hard.
  2. Be a nice person.

It’s all about karma.


If you could design a perfect multimedia course, what would it entail?

web standardistas twitter
It would focus on the fundamentals of design: typography, grid systems, information architecture, user interface design, usability and user experience. It’s important to cover the fundamentals without losing sight of the fact that in this industry a strong technical understanding is equally important.

We don’t believe that there should be a split between the role of designer and front end developer, at least not whilst still in education. A solid understanding of design, coupled with a firm technical ability makes for a more rounded and more employable graduate.

Mike Rundle covers this very well in his essay Designers Who Are Technical: The More You Know, The Better Your Work


How can you describe the Northern Ireland web design scene in 2009? Has it changed in any way since I left in January?

web standardistas twitter
It’s a very exciting time with a great deal of activity and a multitude of new talent emerging. Belfast is rapidly establishing itself as an emerging centre of excellence internationally and attracting the attention of respected designers from all over the world.

We’ve worked hard to develop a very successful International Guest Lecture Programme and we’ve been fortunate to have been supported by an all-star cast of designers, speaking at the university. Most recently we welcomed Nicholas Felton to Belfast for an extremely inspiring presentation on his work. We’ve also, amongst others, enjoyed presentations by Nicholas Roope of Poke and Hulger, Andy Stevens of Graphic Thought Facility and design critic Adrian Shaughnessy. All have commented on the growing vibrancy of the web design scene in Belfast.


Can you tell us a little about the book writing process?

web standardistas twitter
The book writing process is a simple one, it involves the following key ingredients: hard work, late nights and weekends, and the occasional reward of Carlsberg and sushi.


What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about writing a book?

web standardistas twitter
Similar advice to someone considering doing the Ironman: Are you really, really sure?


How have you used social media in promoting the book?

web standardistas twitter
By agreeing to do this interview.


Does a blank canvas in Photoshop excite you or intimidate you?

web standardistas twitter
You should come to Photoshop with your design and ideas already established. A blank napkin or a blank page in your sketchbook might be intimidating; Photoshop shouldn’t.


When was the last time you had an apricot?

web standardistas twitter
Dried, canned or fresh?


You guys are giving away some free books I hear? Want to tell people how they can win a copy?

web standardistas twitter
Our publisher, Friends of ED have very kindly given us some free copies to be distributed amongst our Twitter followers.

In a shameless drive to boost our numbers, we’ve created a carefully crafted pseudo-random-number-generator-system™, through which we’re selecting three lucky new Twitter followers who will win a free copy of our book.

If you, or anyone you know, would appreciate a daily dose of carefully selected web design inspiration via Twitter, all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is to follow @standardistas.


A constant dilemma is bugging me. When you have to do a smiley inside brackets, should you leave a space after it or not? (This :)) or (This :) ). Neither looks right to me.

web standardistas twitter
This problem can be resolved by always sticking your tongue out when smiling. ( :P )


So what’s next on the cards for you Mr Murphy and Mr Persson?

web standardistas twitter
Given last year’s summer was spent writing our book night and day, this summer we plan to retire to our respective dachas in Donegal and Northern Sweden where we’ve lined up a number of personal projects (which may, or may not, involve iPhone development).


What is going to be book number two?

web standardistas twitter
Web Standardistas is firmly aimed at beginners, providing a solid understanding of the benefits of a web standards approach. It’s intended as a starting point, providing a solid foundation on which to build. It’s focus was primarily on markup and our next book is intended to focus on design as applied to the web.

To get an idea of the mix of content we have in mind, stop by the Web Standardistas’ web site, where we’re publishing content daily.

webstandardistas

Thanks!

Thanks guys! It was great chatting to the guys who represent web standards and tweed simultaneously.  If you’re at all interested in web design, web standards, design in general, the Internet or tweed then following @Standardistas is an easy choice to make!

Follow Me

Follow me on Twitter @paddydonnelly to find out first about future interviews and hear the daily ramblings of an Irishman in Belgium.

Is Ghost Tweeting wrong? – An Interview with Guy Kawasaki

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

interview guy kawasaki

It’s not often you get to interview someone of Guy Kawasaki’s stature once, let alone twice! Guy was great enough to find the time to answer a few more questions between running AllTop.com and commanding an army of over 110,000 Twitter followers. I first interviewed Guy back in January but this time we get to hear his thoughts about the ‘ghost tweeting‘ issue and the numbers game on Twitter, while he also has a few questions for you entrepreneurs out there.


There has been a lot of talk since our last interview about ‘ghost tweeting’ and how you allow other people to contribute to your stream.  What is your take on this issue?

guy kawasaki twitter
I was surprised by the reaction of a few people. Essentially, my two primary ghosts were providing me leads that I turned into tweets: one was sending me suggestions that I always used and another was running Truemors which I had set up with Twitterfeed to go into my Twitter account anyway.

In the case of the former, I wanted to be more efficient and just let her post as me. In the case of the latter, she left Truemors, so I jumped at the opportunity to get her to help me. When this all occurred, I disclosed that I was using ghosts when many people asked me how I could be so prolific.

People should look at it this way: Who else cares so much about high-content tweets that he’s willing to pay people to find good stuff? Perhaps I’m a pioneer in taking Twitter this seriously–I’m like the first people who hired professional designers to create websites!


What are your thoughts on the obsession with getting more and more followers? People are clearly viewing Twitter as ‘quantity over quality’.  Perhaps it is the language used? Gaining followers (instead of gaining ‘friends’ with Facebook and MySpace of the past) has affected people’s egos and is warping this social community.

guy kawasaki twitter
You’re talking to the wrong Guy. I’m all about increasing the number of followers because I use Twitter as a marketing tool. The more people who follow me, the more effective Twitter is for me, so it’s a numbers game for me.

Admittedly, this approach isn’t for everyone, but what’s interesting are the self-appointed experts who “know” how people should use Twitter. Today, a person with seven followers who has tweeted four times even admonished me for my tweets with links. He told me that I was ruining Twitter. Holy kaw!


Twitter is pretty much mainstream now, how soon will the ‘web geeks’ and innovators abandon Twitter for the next new thing?

guy kawasaki twitter
I don’t know if they will, or can, abandon Twitter. I know that I cannot abandon Twitter for another service because my 110,000 followers won’t go with me. You could make the case that these folks “abandoned” their websites for blogs and their blogs for Twitter, but I haven’t seen the number of websites and blogs implode.


How will this then change the Twitter community left behind?

guy kawasaki twitter
If it happens, and it’s a big if, I don’t think it will matter. This is like saying twenty years ago, “What will the Internet be like if the Arpanet scientists don’t use it anymore?” Most Internet users don’t even know what Arpanet is.


What is your take on celebrities using Twitter?

guy kawasaki twitter
Twitter is a platform. The more the merrier. This is like asking, “What’s your take on celebrities using the Internet?” Or, “What’s your take on celebrities using cell phones?”


Do you think you will eventually get bored of Twitter and social media in general?

guy kawasaki twitter
Perhaps. For example, if I strike it rich, would I tweet as much? Nope. But then maybe I’ll change my tweets to the “my cat rolled over” genre, or I’ll hire myself out as a ghost tweeter just for grins.


In what ways are the businesses who hear ‘You have to be on twitter’ using it ineffectively?

guy kawasaki twitter
I don’t really know. Mostly I come across companies that use it well. Life is too short to look for incompetence.


Are there any businesses using Twitter in a creative and effective way that you have seen?

guy kawasaki twitter
Many companies are using it well: @Zappos for extending its brand, @Comcastcares for service, and @Amazondeals for promoting deals. I like these kinds of uses.


If the Internet is really killing print, how do you think The New York Times, for example, will make money in 10 years time? Surely advertisers will eventually realise that banner ads and interruption marketing isn’t the way to go?

guy kawasaki twitter
People need to differentiate between “print” and “journalism”. Print is in trouble because of the economics of killing trees, putting ink on paper, and physical distribution. However, I hear that the Village Voice is doing well in the ink business, so maybe the death of ink is exaggerated.

I hope that “journalism” doesn’t go away–by journalism I mean in-depth, researched, and thought-thru stuff like what the New York Times, NPR, BBS, and Washington Post do.

Twitter is great to find out about events like a plane landing on the Hudson, but it’s not great for investigative journalism. There is more to hardcore news than simply tweeting about something that you saw happen. And let us not forget: so far the New York Times has generated more revenue than Twitter.

I’m sure people will figure out a way to game retweeting too but until they do, there is no better measure of the quality of a person’s tweets than retweeting. This is especially true if you believe that the number of followers doesn’t necessarily increase the number of retweets. You would think that the more followers you have, the more retweets you’ll get, but I don’t think that’s true.


What are the most fascinating apps you are using right now?

guy kawasaki twitter
“Fascinating” apps? That’s a high bar. The really cool stuff is happening in iPhone apps. The desktop world is boring these days.


You have conducted countless interviews and surely get asked all the time ‘What advice would you give to entrepreneurs?’. Instead I want to know if there’s anything you would like to ask the world of entrepreneurs? Anything you are struggling with or can’t wrap your head around?

guy kawasaki twitter
This is an excellent question. Here’s a list of things I’d like to ask entrepreneurs:

1) Why do you think venture capitalists will sign non-disclosure agreements?

2) Why do you try to use sixty PowerPoint slides in a one-hour meeting?

3) Do you really believe that venture capitalists can add value to your company?

4) Why do every one of you think your business is “revolutionary”?

5) Why do you believe that the wireframes and prototype that you cobbled together is better architected than Amazon, Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple (pick any big company)?

6) Do you really believe beta sites when they tell you that they “love” your product?

7) How can you create a forecast that shows you will generate more sales in the first five years of operation than any other company in the history of man?

8 ) Why do you believe you and your co-founders are “proven entrepreneurs” when you’ve never been successful as an entrepreneur?


When was the last time you had an apricot?

guy kawasaki twitter
I have no idea. I do love apricots but not enough to remember when I last ate one. The next time I eat one, I’ll tweet about it.

Thanks!

Thanks Guy, I really appreciate you taking the time! Be sure and follow Guy on Twitter and check out AllTop.com. Make sure and check out the AllTop Announcements Blog to keep updated with all the happenings over there also.

Follow Me

Follow me on Twitter @paddydonnelly to find out first about future interviews and hear the daily ramblings of an Irishman in Belgium.

Brilliant Animation of the American Housing Market

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Absolutely fantastic animation, you really feel as if you could pick up all of the little pieces.


subprime from beeple on Vimeo.

Interview with Jason Sadler from I Wear Your Shirt

Friday, April 10th, 2009

More Links

I Wear Your Shirt.com
I Wear Your Shirt on Twitter
My day on I Wear Your Shirt
Thought and Theory

Follow @paddydonnelly for more interviews!

How Do You Twitter: Tim Van Damme?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Links from the video

@MaxVoltar on Twitter
TimVanDamme.com
MaxVoltar Blog
Made By Elephant