reading list

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reading list

Postby III » Thu Oct 23, 2003 2:56 pm

there have been a number of suggestions for feature changes here. often they are contested, or disputed. rarely is anything used to back up an opinion, other than personal taste and experience.

here's an opportunity to share experts (or at least published) opinions that support your position.
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Postby III » Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:00 pm

_the visual display of quantitative information_ by edward tufte

http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_vdqi

not so much aimed at web design, but discusses the idea of information density and visual clutter, and how anything not supporting information sharing hinders it.[/url]
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Postby III » Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:05 pm

_the design of everyday things_ by don norman

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/de ... 465067107/

on how to evaluate the useability of design, and distinguish between something which looks nice, and something that is actually useable.
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Postby III » Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:10 pm

_internet writings_ by clay shirky,

in particular

http://shirky.com/writings/group_enemy.html
http://shirky.com/writings/community_scale.html
http://shirky.com/writings/group_politics.html

on community behavior when the primary interaction is through an electronic medium
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Postby III » Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:15 pm

_alertbox_ jakob nielson

in particular http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030825.html

on making useable web interfaces.

(note that he works closely with don norman, mentioned above, but has taken opposing positions to clay shirky, also mentioned above. this is not a homogeneous group, and it's possible to take different interpretations on their writings. nevertheless, reading any and or all of the books here will at least provide much better food for thought on how to succeed with providing a community oriented product than trying to reinvent the wheel with little practical experience.)
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Postby PJ » Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:27 pm

III wrote:...any and or all of the books here will at least provide much better food for thought on how to succeed with providing a community oriented product than trying to reinvent the wheel with little practical experience.


The company I worked for was sold by its scientist/founder to some absentee MBAs. They fired the experienced product designers and replaced them with inexpensive but impressively-credentialed newcomers, who ponderously went about designing new products that included fundamental mistakes that we'd learned all about decades earlier. The description I coined for this process was: "Reinventing the Square Wheel."

I was not thanked for my opinions.

Much time was wasted in meetings where they proudly announced their discoveries of things that didn't work and what they were doing to overcome these hurdles. They could have simply read about those same discoveries if they had browsed some of the old product manuals before throwing them all away as being "representative of old thinking."
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Postby III » Thu Oct 23, 2003 3:43 pm

>little practical experience.)

i'll eat these words right now. i know spanky had practical experience. but i think it's a different sort of practical experience, and may not necessarily translate to what's going on here. or i could be wrong, entirely. but i still think it's a good idea to read about this stuff, if only for the opportunity to verify that you're doing things right.
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Postby Kinetic II » Thu Oct 23, 2003 4:00 pm

Quick summary: Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

(That will be $2700 for that analysis, thanks). :D
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Postby technopatra » Sat Oct 25, 2003 10:12 pm

Thanks for the reading list, III. It may shock you to know that I've read all of these, (with the exception of Shirky, whom I hadn't until you recommended him in another thread).

I attended one of Tufte's (in)famous seminars, got the signed books, was entertained by his presentation but thoroughly disappointed when he dismissed web design outright, calling the web a "low-res medium".

In my day job I am a freelance information architect and interaction designer. When I was still with an agency in 2001, I worked on a major redesign of informationweek.com. Our client hired NNG to review the wireframe designs I did with my content lead, prior to giving us the green light to build them.

Jakob himself reviewed our design and I sat in on the call where he gave his findings. He gave us a score of 84 out of a possible 100. That was, at the time, the highest score he'd ever given a designer outside his own consultancy. Most sites got around a 40.

I say this partly to toot my own horn, partly to point out that Neilsen stacks the deck against everyone he reviews, and partly to point out that even armed with this valuable collection of knowledge, designing a good product is als dependent upon a good process.

We had a lousy one. We're fixing it as much as we can. Working in a volunteer environment creates added challenges in promoting user-centered design, which is the core of most of these experts writings.

I guess I want to let you know you are not working with total amateurs here. The evangelization of UCD has been on my and Haunani's plates for 2 years, and the org is slow to come around, as it generally requires a more time and patience up front. I've done this successfully with business clients, but it works with them because I can show them how much money they save in the long run by investing in user research/interative design in the short term. The org lacks the cost/benefit analysis impetus because most of the labor is volunteered.

The Burning Man way is to do it, then fix it if it's broke. Trying to turn it around, to design it so it doesn't break in the first place, has been, and continues to be, a real challenge.

All that rather long-windedly said, I've finished the eplaya meeting update, and have sent it to Spanky to add his comments. It's a long one, and will, I hope, increase your faith in our approach going forward.
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Postby III » Sun Oct 26, 2003 10:45 am

> The Burning Man way is to do it, then fix it if it's broke. Trying to turn it around, to design it so it doesn't break in the first place, has been, and continues to be, a real challenge.

ayup. i've seen *that* with my own two eyes. and i remember you saying that you'd opposed the rollout on such an early basis. thank you for the additional insight. it helps.
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Postby III » Sun Oct 26, 2003 10:49 am

oh, and another classic:

_a pattern language_, by christopher alexander.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195019199/

not oriented towards online communities at all, but very much concerned with how ones environment affects quality of life and human interactions.
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Postby Bob » Mon Oct 27, 2003 11:45 am

I can't think of any particular cite re: BBS design.

I can think of obvious precedents, though -- newsreader and email software.

Not many have graphical bells and whistles, with the possible exception of AOL.

Just text on a screen, sorted by thread, usually with some ability to sort the incoming, and to easily flag/sort/open/close/delete whole threads.
Amazing desert structures & stuff: http://sites.google.com/site/potatotrap/

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