A new movie by Brian De Palma: “A new film about the real-life rape and killing of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl by U.S. soldiers who also murdered her family stunned the Venice festival, with shocking images that left some viewers in tears. Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi was gang raped, killed and burnt by American soldiers in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, in March 2006.”

IA for beginners: long pages work.

Long pages work. Just look at Wikipedia. In the 90s, we had a fashion where websites would cut up an article into 6 pages, 2 paragraphs per page, to get more page impressions. Luckily these days advertising runs on Pay Per Click more than Pay Per View (thanks Google!), so that practice is going away. But still, people seem to have a tendency to cut up good content, and often, they shouldn’t.

Look at this page for example. Over 100 comments, and what’s wrong with showing them all on one page? Sure, the page text is 116 KB, but that’s not too bad. And it’s compressed, so it’s really just 21 KB, which is fine and fast even for a dialup.

What it does is that it lets people scan over the conversation, scrolling, and get to the end and contribute their comment. If I were to cut those long comment strings in pieces, the experience would be worse.

Scrolling works. Long pages work. Anything else tends to be informationarchitecturitis (which I define as “the practice of adding too much structure when it’s not needed and even gets in the way”).

Craigslist’s mistake

Craigslist rocks (and for reasons similar to why eBay rocks), but their internationalization approach has a serious flaw, which I think is responsible for their limited success in many international markets: they don’t localize their taxonomies. I’m not gonna write a long post, but here’s a quick analysis I did of their Dubai site:


As you can see, many categories just sit there empty (the red dots), and only a few categories are active (the green ones). For the original Sanfran Craigslist, the screenshot would be full of green dots.

The result of this approach is that the site feels empty and inactive. The solution would be to remove most categories and build local specific categories. For example, “woman seeking woman” isn’t particularly appropriate in Dubai society. Construction is booming on the other hand (foreigners cannot own property in Dubai itself, but clever businessmen as they are they have started building multiple artificial islands in the sea where property *can* be owned by foreigners), so one of the few active categories is “real estate for sale”, and there could easily be more real estate categories (like “offshore real estate”), specific to Dubai.

IA for beginners: ordering stuff.

Digg is a smart ordering algorithm to show you interesting new stuff. Facebook’s newsfeed is a fairly smart ordering system to show you interesting new stuff. Google is a very smart ordering algorithm to show you interesting stuff related to your keywords.

Conclusion: ordering stuff is really powerful.

Checking your analytics daily when working on a website is like weighing yourself daily when dieting: don’t do it. It’ll just make you obsess about the wrong things.

It seems Livejournal is still going ok (in red) and going up a bit, while xanga is on the way down. Both are somewhat similar community sites.

Mmm the new Bloglines beta isn’t bad. Ajaxy and stuff. But ugly though.

What I wish they’d done instead of the ajaxy stuff was to make it more social and make it easier to find new blogs.

Kawasaki: “As a venture capitalist, I have to listen to hundreds of entrepreneurs
pitch their companies. Most of these pitches are crap: sixty slides
about a “patent pending,” “first mover advantage,” “all we have to do
is get 1% of the people in China to buy our product” startup. These
pitches are so lousy that I’m losing my hearing, there’s a constant
ringing in my ear, and every once in while the world starts spinning.”

Which brings me to this question: why hasn’t anybody tackled the problem of managing mailing list subscriptions easily? It’s not that hard, I think it’s just a lack of imagination.

A personal research agenda:

  1. What does a true, next-generation Internet word processor look like, one that deeply embeds the browser and community? -> very good point.

And the rest are pretty good too. Do you have a personal research agenda?

Mediatemple’s gridserver *is* much faster than Dreamhost

Mediatemple offer this buzzwordy “gridserver” hosting for 20$/month, and Dreamhost offer a great regular hosting service for 7$/month and up. I have an account at Dreamhost, and I am keeping it, it’s great, and they have a great control panel and good support. Cheap!

However, I moved poorbuthappy.com (my travel project) to Mediatemple a few days ago, and the difference in speed is incredible. Pingdom has some really nice tools to measure speed. Before the move (on Dreamhost), pages would load in 2 seconds (2000 milliseconds), 4 seconds and more. Sometimes up to 10 seconds.

After the move, the core html of the page loads consistently in about 400 to 600 ms. That’s professionally fast. That’s about how fast Flickr loads. That’s almost as fast as Google’s pages (they tend to be around the 300ms). I am very impressed.

Below are some screenshots from pingdom.