Archive for December, 2007

Digging digg

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

DiggFor those that don’t know, digg is a news site that relies on its users to locate stories and determine which items end up on the front page. One of the things I love about digg is the simplicity of the interaction and the way it encourages users to get involved.

A common misconception with user generated content is that if you add commenting, reviews, etc. to a site suddenly everyone will be sharing their opinions day and night. In reality only a small proportion of users regularly write review or create original content.

Even on digg there is a relatively small group of users that regularly submit stories. However, the simplicity of the voting system encourages a wider audience to get involved. Voting for a story requires a single click once a story has enough votes it is placed on the front page. This is not to say that the mechanism behind the voting process is simple. It uses a highly complex algorithm to try and prevent users manipulating the site. However, from the user’s point of view all they need to do is click ‘digg it’ if they like the story.

The site: digg

Throwing their voice

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I recently received an article about the use of hypersonic sound in advertising. According to the article advertisers have been using the technology to produce spooky experiences in the public.

Apparently, hypersonic sound is a process by which sound is converted into an ultrasonic signal. This has the advantage that the sound can be broadcast in a beam at a specific location. It also means sound does not spread out the side and rear of the speaker creating unwanted noise pollution. When the ultrasonic bean hits a surface it makes it resonate. This includes the head of a potential listener causing them to hear the sound. This means it is able to play sounds or voices in very specific locations so they seem to almost come from within the listener’s head.

I have to say I was quiet sceptical whether hypersonic sound was real as the use of hyper and sonic was just too star-trek to be true. The original article also made me paranoid of the technology which was ironic as it described how hypersonic sound was used together with bill boards to promote a TV show called paranoid state. However, a quick search failed to produce anything to discredit so for now I will reserve judgement.

The article on the ‘paranoid state’ billboard: Schizophrenia is the new ad gimmick

More about hypersonic sound

Build your own phone

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Bug labs logoFor years now I have wanted a tiny phone without a camera, radio or mp3 player. I have a separate devices that perform these functions. If anything I may want my phone to be able to link to my camera or ipod, but ultimately I use my phone to store contacts, email and surprisingly telephone.

Thanks to an American based company I may well be able to choose what functionality appears in my phone. Bug labs has started to sell a module based mobile device that allows users to pick and choose what they want it to be able to do. It may turn out to be a bit complex for most users and lack the styling or usability of modern phones, but a lovely idea none the less.

Springwises article : Build your own mobile

CSS animation

Friday, December 7th, 2007

JittermanThis is great, Chris Coyier makes use of a common issue with CSS to animate the Jitterman as part of his article avoid CSS jitter.  For some reason the animation seems to work better in firefox.

Not sure whether it will catch on, but a great way to demonstrate the issue and very creative.

More, more, more

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Examples of links labelled moreOne of my pet hates is the use of ‘more’ links to take the user to the full story. This is not limited to ‘more’, ‘full story’, ‘go’ and the greater than sign being used as links also attract my distain. My problem with the use of these terms in links is that they tell the user nothing about the content that they link to.

The user has to look at the content around the link to identify what it does. This is fine if the user has been reading the proceeding paragraph, however very often users will scan the page for links if they are trying to navigate to content that will fulfill their goals. In a well designed site links should standout from body text allowing users to easily identify them. If links are not descriptive the user will need to then identify what content they are likely to link to.

This issue is worse for those that use speach browsers. These browsers have a facility that allows users just to hear the links within the page so they do not have to listen to the full page when they are trying to locate something. However, if links are labelled more it will do little to inform them where the link would go and they may end up listening to several more links in a row unable to distinguish them.

I’ve heard it suggested that the title tag could be used to distinguish more links for speach browsers. This is true, although the user will still need to listen to a meaningless label first. However, how much simpler is it to provide a descriptive link or make the title the link.

Having said this ‘more’ can be used effectively in links when teamed with other words to provided a description of the content, such as ‘more categories’ or ‘more news articles’. It is when it is used on its own as a generic term for this is a link. The only thing worse is the use of the term click here. I apprechiate people may want you to access a certain piece of content, but honestly what else are you suppose to do with links.