Wow. I just got a spam email with the following subject:


and the following body:


I guess they forgot to enter some variables in their SPAM SOFTWARE!

Server Error

Server Error.

Ever since Gmail added the chat feature, I’ve had nothing but problems with it. I get “server error” messages (from Google!). Gmail is unresponsive. I can’t access my email for hours.

It’s come to the point where I am thinking of moving away from email. Sure, chat is nice, but if it’s gonna destabilize my email experience even slightly, it’s not worth it. Email is lifeblood. If it doesn’t always work, forget it.

Anyone else having problems with Gmail, or is this just me? I’m surprised I haven’t heard any grumbling.

LinkedIn: Peter Van Dijck.

Linkedin is strange: even though I almost never visit or use the site, it strangely persists. I get an invitation now and then, I go to the site. Sometimes I use it to find people. In other words, I hardly ever use it, but I do use it now and then. I can’t think of another site like that – either I use an online service regularly, or it languishes and I have an account there but in my mind it’s long forgotten.

PHP Collaboration Project.

Zend is developing a framework, that seems to be trying to compete with Rails, while at the same time being “enterprise” friendly. I truly hope they build something useful for fast development, but I worry about the “enterprise” focus. I’m afraid it’ll slow things down, and make them focus on the kinds of features I don’t give a (sorry) shit about.

I watched the webcast to get to see some code, which is at the end, and you can’t fastforward. The code examples start around minute 30, so just let it run.

The code examples I saw are interesting, but not convincing yet. So I can get an OO wrapper to a table. Alright. Mmmm… So they have a better mail() function. OK. Still not particularly exciting.. I hope they get this out before I switch to Rails. So I have a new nice search.

All fair, but none of the code examples make me excited about a framework. They’re nice functions. But where’s the framework? Where’s the easy getting-started with a standard website?

Perhaps it’ll be really cool. I sure hope so.

Tag conversations

I’m chatting with Emanuele about tags and structure, getting ready for my talk at the IA Summit this year. Here’s the chat transcript for prosperity. We talked about adding structure to tag spaces, and whether that’s a good thing, and if so, what kinds of structure, and such.

[1:45:20 PM] Emanuele says: Peter
[1:45:27 PM] Emanuele says: I cannot reach mefeedia
[1:45:44 PM] peterkevandijck says: hi emanuele
[1:45:47 PM] peterkevandijck says: yes, it’s down…
[1:45:50 PM] peterkevandijck says: being worked on…
[1:45:59 PM] peterkevandijck says: wanna talk about tags? :)
[1:46:13 PM] Emanuele says: heheeh i’m thinking hard about the future of tags..
[1:46:33 PM] Emanuele says: today Monthly Vision has published an interview with me
[1:46:36 PM] peterkevandijck says: :) I’m preparing my talk….
[1:46:41 PM] Emanuele says: inside an article about tags
[1:46:46 PM] peterkevandijck says: cool
[1:46:47 PM] peterkevandijck says: online?
[1:46:56 PM] peterkevandijck says: congratulations!
[1:47:08 PM] Emanuele says: no it’s a physical magazine
[1:47:13 PM] Emanuele says: and it’s in italian
[1:47:14 PM] Emanuele says: :(
[1:47:19 PM] peterkevandijck says: :) oh well
[1:47:31 PM] Emanuele says: i’m talking about the future of folksonomies
[1:47:39 PM] Emanuele says: with the guy who wrote the article
[1:47:41 PM] peterkevandijck says: so what *is* the future?
[1:47:53 PM] Emanuele says: you know
[1:47:57 PM] Emanuele says: you are the international expert
[1:47:59 PM] Emanuele says: :D
[1:48:02 PM] peterkevandijck says: yeah right ;)
[1:48:13 PM] Emanuele says: you say facets…
[1:48:16 PM] peterkevandijck says: i just have some suspicions.. :)
[1:48:33 PM] Emanuele says: but interesting ones, I suspect
[1:48:34 PM] Emanuele says: :)
[1:49:33 PM] Emanuele says: and hey, I will be there to listen to your talk
[1:49:34 PM] Emanuele says: ;)
[1:50:09 PM] peterkevandijck says: cool
[1:50:21 PM] peterkevandijck says: The competing talks are also very interesting!
[1:50:29 PM] peterkevandijck says: I think it’ll be one of the best summits so far…
[1:50:50 PM] Emanuele says: it will be great, I know
[1:51:13 PM] Emanuele says: your main idea is
[1:51:17 PM] Emanuele says: facet + tags
[1:51:21 PM] Emanuele says: right?
[1:51:38 PM] peterkevandijck says: yes… and other types of structure: what happens when we build structure and semantics into tags?
[1:51:49 PM] peterkevandijck says: using mefeedia as example case study
[1:52:20 PM] Emanuele says: i talked with you about that
[1:52:46 PM] Emanuele says: i love the idea of bottom up structure between tags
[1:52:58 PM] Emanuele says: created by users with a wiki approach
[1:53:00 PM] peterkevandijck says: one of the interesting things is: if you build semantics into tags (like: a tag is a person), then translation becomes sometimes easier (like: we don’t have to translate names of people)
[1:53:15 PM] Emanuele says: uhm semantics
[1:53:41 PM] Emanuele says: yes this is another dimension
[1:53:49 PM] peterkevandijck says: yeah, I’m not sure I’m using the word ‘semantics’ correctly, but it’s the best word I can think of… giving meaning to tags
[1:54:35 PM] peterkevandijck says: and once you add some semantics (like: a tag is an event), then additional structure becomes very easy (like: an event is in a place, a time, …)
[1:55:14 PM] Emanuele says: how to describe the semantic relationships
[1:55:20 PM] Emanuele says: a sort of ontology at the end
[1:55:20 PM] Emanuele says: ?
[1:55:50 PM] peterkevandijck says: but: it can also be confusing, for example: if I have tags that are people, and I have users that are people too, then my semantics start crashing into each other… you can browse users (people)… and you can browse tags (people)… how are they different?…
[1:56:01 PM] peterkevandijck says: yes, it turns into ontology…
[1:56:23 PM] peterkevandijck says: but I think the problem is limiting it: you have to only choose a very few types of relationships and such…
[1:56:26 PM] peterkevandijck says: and make the most of those
[1:56:37 PM] peterkevandijck says: if not, you just get a really big and messy ontology that’s rather useless
[1:56:47 PM] peterkevandijck says: it becomes like a big topicmap
[1:57:10 PM] Emanuele says: very complex…
[1:57:15 PM] Emanuele says: and me feel is simply
[1:57:22 PM] Emanuele says: let the people do the work
[1:57:42 PM] Emanuele says: you cannot impose a centralized structure or sematic
[1:58:01 PM] Emanuele says: it’s people with their mental models
[1:58:03 PM] peterkevandijck says: well.. but you do impose a UI, right?
[1:58:13 PM] Emanuele says: that create structure
[1:58:15 PM] peterkevandijck says: the UI makes the whole thing useful
[1:58:17 PM] Emanuele says: yes
[1:58:26 PM] Emanuele says: but maybe you can think to a GUI
[1:58:38 PM] Emanuele says: that doesn’t restrict users
[1:58:47 PM] Emanuele says: for example
[1:58:51 PM] Emanuele says: my structure
[1:58:57 PM] Emanuele says: could be different from your one
[1:58:58 PM] peterkevandijck says: so you can’t just tell people, add any kind of relationship, do whatever, because you won’t be able to build a useful UI on top of that.. and without useful UI, why would anyone tag?
[1:59:11 PM] peterkevandijck says: i don’t think that’s possible…
[1:59:18 PM] Emanuele says: maybe you are right
[1:59:22 PM] peterkevandijck says: i have never seen a good, generic UI for generic ontologies
[1:59:22 PM] Emanuele says: i don’t know yet
[1:59:34 PM] Emanuele says: but in a social environement
[1:59:42 PM] Emanuele says: you have the power of people
[1:59:54 PM] Emanuele says: that decides what is useful and popular
[2:00:07 PM] Emanuele says: this could make the difference
[2:00:18 PM] Emanuele says: if my tag organizing is useful
[2:00:19 PM] Emanuele says: it will emerge
[2:00:22 PM] peterkevandijck says: right… so people make up their own stuff.. like special tags and such.. like the tag1/tag2 hacks in delicious…
[2:00:28 PM] peterkevandijck says: but that’s very limited in UI usefulness
[2:00:53 PM] Emanuele says: delicious is not made to support structure in tags
[2:00:58 PM] peterkevandijck says: exactly
[2:01:00 PM] Emanuele says: not yet
[2:01:05 PM] peterkevandijck says: so some users hack it a little bit…
[2:01:13 PM] peterkevandijck says: but: the UI support for that is very little…
[2:01:16 PM] Emanuele says: yes but this is a stong signal
[2:01:20 PM] peterkevandijck says: so the motivation to do it is very small
[2:01:20 PM] Emanuele says: yes
[2:01:22 PM] Emanuele says: yes
[2:02:15 PM] Emanuele says: give them an empowering GUI
[2:02:28 PM] peterkevandijck says: so.. my idea is: build in a minimum of structure.. just a little bit… and create empowering UIs on top of that
[2:02:51 PM] peterkevandijck says: the UI will hopefully motivate people to use the structure…
[2:03:01 PM] Emanuele says: so you decide the structure flexibility
[2:03:02 PM] Emanuele says: ?
[2:03:08 PM] peterkevandijck says: yes…
[2:03:21 PM] Emanuele says: i mean the types of relationship
[2:03:37 PM] peterkevandijck says: yes… I could decide to let users enter their own types of relationships…
[2:03:45 PM] peterkevandijck says: I’m not doing anything with relationships right now
[2:04:02 PM] peterkevandijck says: or I could decide to set a few standard relationships and limit users to those
[2:04:25 PM] peterkevandijck says: which gives me more UI possibilities than letting users enter any relationship.. but limits the bottom-up creativity…
[2:04:35 PM] Emanuele says: yes
[2:04:44 PM] Emanuele says: don’t you believe that restricting
[2:04:55 PM] Emanuele says: is against the original folksonomies’ spirit?
[2:05:27 PM] peterkevandijck says: no.. it’s like creativity: restrictions can set you free. For example: ask someone to draw “something”. They’ll be stuck. But ask them to draw “the dream they had yesterday”. That’s a lot easier…
[2:06:09 PM] Emanuele says: so a powerful small set of things
[2:06:20 PM] peterkevandijck says: so I guess it’s a balance.. but I don’t believe in the idea of just “everything is a tag, and everything is a relationship”… because it is impossible to create good UI’s without the semantics, without knowing what it *means*
[2:06:26 PM] peterkevandijck says: if you know what I mean.. ;)
[2:06:37 PM] peterkevandijck says: yeah, I think so…
[2:06:58 PM] Emanuele says: and what about facets in this scenario?
[2:07:05 PM] Emanuele says: do they still fit?
[2:08:06 PM] peterkevandijck says: Well… facets are useful.. yes: they let you assign semantics (“nyc” is a “place”), PLUS they also let you then use all the powerful faceted browsing techniques that we know and love… as opposed to just letting people assign semantics (“person”, “…) without them being facets
[2:08:14 PM] peterkevandijck says: making any sense?
[2:08:33 PM] peterkevandijck says: the great thing about facets is that they allow for crazy efficient browsing
[2:08:34 PM] Emanuele says: yes of course
[2:08:58 PM] peterkevandijck says: if not, we might as well let people tag tags, randomly, without restrictions… but then we’d loose the great facetbrowsing…
[2:09:02 PM] Emanuele says: but you thought to a one level faceted approach
[2:09:24 PM] peterkevandijck says: yeah, for now.. I don’t see much gain in adding hierarchy for example.. not on mefeedia
[2:09:55 PM] Emanuele says: hierarchy gives context IMHO
[2:09:56 PM] peterkevandijck says: perhaps if I was organizing something else, like products, that would make sense… but if you’re gonna get users to do it, it’s gotta be simple
[2:10:16 PM] Emanuele says: my point here is that
[2:10:23 PM] Emanuele says: users only knows if Venice
[2:10:26 PM] Emanuele says: is in Italy
[2:10:29 PM] Emanuele says: or in US
[2:10:49 PM] Emanuele says: and they could help to create “foci”
[2:10:59 PM] Emanuele says: for your faceted organization
[2:11:13 PM] Emanuele says: a sort of polyhierarchy
[2:11:16 PM] peterkevandijck says: it just seems like too much work for the user (and me!) for too little payoff…
[2:11:33 PM] peterkevandijck says: why add so much structure? I don’t think it’s really needed…
[2:11:38 PM] Emanuele says: did you conduct any test?
[2:11:41 PM] peterkevandijck says: remember, we don’t need 100% recall
[2:11:45 PM] Emanuele says: no ok
[2:11:53 PM] Emanuele says: but a little more precision yes
[2:11:58 PM] peterkevandijck says: just some informal usability tests… and I haven’t rolled out everything yet…
[2:12:13 PM] Emanuele says: as an user
[2:12:20 PM] Emanuele says: serendipity is great
[2:12:40 PM] Emanuele says: but what if I want a more targeted “browsing”
[2:12:49 PM] Emanuele says: at the end facets have the same aim
[2:13:11 PM] Emanuele says: making easier to understand the tags’ mess
[2:13:20 PM] peterkevandijck says: yep
[2:13:31 PM] Emanuele says: i could have not only Us
[2:13:35 PM] Emanuele says: but also Utah
[2:13:43 PM] Emanuele says: in a big system
[2:13:52 PM] Emanuele says: and delicious, flickr or an IBM intranet
[2:13:54 PM] Emanuele says: are big systems
[2:14:06 PM] Emanuele says: this could improve the findability
[2:14:09 PM] peterkevandijck says: but wait, are you like, looking for pictures on flickr, or looking for a tech doc on IBM? It’s very different…
[2:14:24 PM] peterkevandijck says: in IBM, you need to find the right doc
[2:14:28 PM] Emanuele says: yes
[2:14:32 PM] peterkevandijck says: in Flickr, you just have to find something nice..
[2:14:36 PM] Emanuele says: but in flickr
[2:14:42 PM] Emanuele says: i want a Cork’s sky
[2:14:48 PM] Emanuele says: (Ireland)
[2:14:58 PM] Emanuele says: or a Cork’s Monument
[2:15:02 PM] Emanuele says: but i don’t know it’s name
[2:15:13 PM] Emanuele says: i could click on the Ireland
[2:15:21 PM] Emanuele says: or maybe Cork tag
[2:15:32 PM] Emanuele says: and have a chance to find it
[2:15:43 PM] peterkevandijck says: right.. and you might not find the best picture, even though it exists in flickr… but that’s the way it is…
[2:16:02 PM] Emanuele says: yes but here the point is not the known-item search
[2:16:10 PM] Emanuele says: i don’t want “the righ one”
[2:16:31 PM] Emanuele says: but i want one believing at the “right category”
[2:16:44 PM] peterkevandijck says: so you need to find the right tag…?
[2:17:00 PM] Emanuele says: no, one that approximates well enough
[2:17:09 PM] Emanuele says: and structure is needed
[2:17:23 PM] Emanuele says: also to surf the big amount of photos
[2:17:27 PM] peterkevandijck says: ok… so you want to find a good-enough tag… and facets clearly help with that.. and hierarchy would help even more…
[2:17:28 PM] peterkevandijck says: right?
[2:17:33 PM] Emanuele says: yes
[2:17:45 PM] Emanuele says: why not put them together?
[2:17:46 PM] peterkevandijck says: but letting users add hierarchy is really hard…
[2:17:57 PM] peterkevandijck says: I don’t think it’s possible
[2:18:07 PM] Emanuele says: adding geography tags is not impossibile
[2:18:18 PM] Emanuele says: you gave me the “Space Facet”
[2:18:21 PM] peterkevandijck says: what do you mean by “adding geography tags”?
[2:18:33 PM] Emanuele says: you decided to have a space facet
[2:18:37 PM] peterkevandijck says: yes
[2:18:45 PM] Emanuele says: i will add a Europe tag under it
[2:18:52 PM] peterkevandijck says: and I add antwerp :)
[2:18:53 PM] Emanuele says: then tomorrow
[2:19:04 PM] Emanuele says: i will add italy under Europe
[2:19:18 PM] Emanuele says: and one of my friend will add Rome to Italy
[2:19:29 PM] Emanuele says: a wikipedia of tags
[2:19:36 PM] peterkevandijck says: and another will add rome under new york state
[2:19:50 PM] peterkevandijck says: it might be possible..
[2:19:55 PM] Emanuele says: ok.. also wikipedia needs some disambiguation
[2:20:07 PM] Emanuele says: but this is quite rare
[2:20:13 PM] peterkevandijck says: true
[2:20:24 PM] Emanuele says: to avoid restricting users
[2:20:28 PM] peterkevandijck says: except in other facets… like topic
[2:20:33 PM] Emanuele says: the system has to be ambiguos
[2:20:39 PM] peterkevandijck says: right
[2:20:41 PM] Emanuele says: yes
[2:20:47 PM] Emanuele says: topics are messy
[2:20:56 PM] peterkevandijck says: so add hierarchy in certain facets…
[2:21:12 PM] Emanuele says: don’t know exaclty
[2:21:21 PM] Emanuele says: maybe it could work with every facet
[2:21:27 PM] Emanuele says: the system could converge
[2:21:39 PM] Emanuele says: wikipedia is improving its quality
[2:21:56 PM] Emanuele says: because people put it their very different point of views
[2:22:05 PM] Emanuele says: and it makes sense
[2:22:27 PM] Emanuele says: but you are the expert
[2:22:28 PM] Emanuele says: :D
[2:22:35 PM] Emanuele says: it’s only an idea
[2:22:58 PM] peterkevandijck says: who knows…
[2:23:00 PM] peterkevandijck says: :)
[2:23:06 PM] peterkevandijck says: we’ll have to try it and find out..
[2:23:36 PM] Emanuele says: you could give it a try
[2:23:49 PM] Emanuele says: and paying me a beer if it works
[2:23:55 PM] peterkevandijck says: mefeedia should be working now.. :)
[2:23:55 PM] Emanuele says: ;)
[2:23:57 PM] peterkevandijck says: :)
[2:24:44 PM] Emanuele says: Am I crazy?
[2:24:55 PM] peterkevandijck says: yeah, probably
[2:25:00 PM] peterkevandijck says: :) we all are
[2:25:05 PM] Emanuele says: a lot of experts say that structure does not fit tags..
[2:25:06 PM] Emanuele says: but..
[2:25:07 PM] Emanuele says: :)
[2:26:07 PM] peterkevandijck says: oh whatever “experts” :)
[2:26:22 PM] Emanuele says: :)
[2:26:28 PM] peterkevandijck says: A little structure.. how bad can it be? Optional structure…
[2:26:41 PM] Emanuele says: yes optional bottom up free structure
[2:26:43 PM] Emanuele says: :)
[2:31:30 PM] peterkevandijck says: ok, gonna log out :) nice brainstorming with you..
[2:31:37 PM] Emanuele says: :)
[2:31:41 PM] peterkevandijck says: mind if I publish this chat trasnciprt on my blog?
[2:31:49 PM] Emanuele says: no, i would love it

Simple group chat for business: Campfire

Simple group chat for business: Campfire: I am trying out Campfire. It is very, very good in the sense that it’s chat with a home. I have the feeling this will improve productivity a lot, and I have the feeling it will be one of the default tabs in my browser (together with Gmail and Bloglines). Not sure yet though, there are a few things missing (or: they did a great job resisting feature rot), so we’ll see.

The only annoying feature now is that, to look to yesterday’s chat you missed, it opens up in a separate window. That’s no fun.

Why Yahoo! is releasing their UI patterns and code

Yahoo didn’t just release their Yahoo! Design Pattern Library today, they also have the ajax code for it available for free. Yes, you can use this Yahoo-tested, mature code in your own commercial projects.

What’s in it for Yahoo!? They are releasing it under a BSD open source license, but I don’t think their main motivation is to get outside programmers to help improve the code by open sourcing it. I think their motivation is to become leaders in setting new UI standards for the web.

Let me explain. Web UI’s are becoming pretty rich pretty fast these days. However, there is no clear leader that sets standards. If Yahoo can make their own standards become adopted by many web properties, it inforces the familiarity users have with the Yahoo! UI standards. If Yahoo! uses a slider widget, and that works the same on a bunch of other websites too, the slider becomes a standard for users, something they can rely on. And all Yahoo!’s properties become standards too.

I like this strategy, it’s clever. It’s saying: follow us in UI design, we’re the leaders. And giving people the tools to easily follow them (how hard will it be to convince a manager to use drag&drop if it is “good enough for Yahoo to use”?). This way, Yahoo’s UI becomes a standard rich web UI.

Google, meanwhile, is showing how bad they really are at UI. The new chat implementation in Gmail is really, really bad, to the point of being unusable.

Lucas Gonze: “The situation whereit’s too much work for the average user to dosomething is a pretty commonpattern in net software. There is
sometimes a workaround: designyour application to magnify the impactof the few people who do do the work.

CDDB is an example of that workaround. Most people didn’t type insong titles, but the few who did had a huge impact.”

“Invasion from Space”: I am a digikid, and today I’m gonna show you how to wardrive with your PSP!

Techie kids. Gotta love it.

Watch movie (, 4.5 min, 17.7 MB)

Original post, from The digiKID:

This is a stop motion animation created by the digiKID along with two of his friends. They made heavy use of Apple’s iMovie

Current style in web design

Current style in web design: a quick analysis of the visual design of recent. It’s a bit superficial, I’d like to see a discussion of which elements will feel “old school” fast, for example. Or how this compares to previous “design waves”.

In general, I don’t see a lot of deep thinking about design coming from the design world. Any specific blogs I should be reading?

I have to say I am stunned by what FeedBurner
is doing. They are the perfect web 2.0 business. Sure, there are no tags. No Ajax. But they’ve taken a piece of the new infrastructure (feeds), and turned it into something much more powerful, when nobody thought (even today) it mattered. And they execute very, very well. Their stuff just works. And it builds and builds on a vision. Amazing.

Strangely, they are rarely mentioned in the web 2.0 lists.

At DEMO, they’re charging US$ 15,000 to do a demo. That’s like only worth it if you’re looking for VC cash. In other words, DEMO is only for VC companies, not web2.0 companies (who are supposed to do without VC cash, right?).

Not only is WordPress doing an “etnerprise” version of their blog stuff, it seems that Drupal is going that way as well.

And more on URLs: “When Flickr started, made some bad URL decisions (e.g. link to the actual photo file). Originally was – really hard to scale. You have to support the old style URLs for ever. Lesson learnt the difficult way.”

You know how IA’s always talk about search and browse? And integrating them?

Are tags search? Or are tags browse? Or are they something else in between?

So I went to the Apple store, showed them my disfunctional iPod video (less than a year old), within a few minutes they gave me a brand new one.


They told me: for 6 months, they’ll replace it for free, after that it’s 30$ to replace it.

We are sorry: “In the middle of all the mayhem surrounding the Danish cartoons controversy, a group of Arab and Muslim youth have set up this website to express their honest opinion, as a small attempt to show the world that the images shown of Arab and Muslim anger around the world are not representative of the opinions of all Arabs.”