RSS Feeds

April 10, 2008

It is mostly agreed that RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. Basically an RSS feed is a tool that lets a person view site updates without actually going to the website. They can be accessed using Live Bookmarks, or through a feed reader such as Google Reader. This way, the person only has to go to one place to view the updates. It is only one of many ways to organize information found on the web.


Happy Birthday, DARPA!

April 8, 2008

DARPA, the government organization that sponsored the creation of many things that we take for granted today, including a precursor to the internet (ARPANET) and the computer mouse, turned 50 yesterday. I hope they stuff themselves with cake.

Here’s the article: The Idea Factory that Spawned the Internet Turns 50

Gigaom put out an interesting article about the 10 Ways the Internet Will Die. It seems pretty doomsday-ish, but it is interesting nonetheless. How do you guys think it might end?

Web 2.0 for Designers

April 6, 2008

I wasted a huge amount of time trying to find a meaningful article on sites like Youtube and what it means for copyright, but I give up. I wasn’t happy with what I found, so I decided to give in and look up the differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 design. Here’s what I found: Web 2.0 for Designers. While it was one of the first links I found on Google, it is also widely referenced and did provide some good information.

As the article states, “These tools… will become the frontier of design innovation.” They barely mention the actual look of the pages, instead opting to talk more about the programming and design aspect; the back end, if you will. They mention such things as RSS feeds, XML, and folksonomies.

I have to agree with them on the move from static to interactive. Websites nowadays focus more on participation than forcing the content upon the people. Instead of flashy displays, it’s the content that drives people to the site. It has become more flexible, more workable than the HTML of Web 1.0.

The move towards a more semantic web is also something important, and I’m glad that they mentioned it. The ability to describe the content on the site not only helps search engines find the most relevant sites, but also enables such things as RSS feeds.

I find it funny that they mention that Web 2.0 is a move from design to programming because there are places that say it is the other way around. Other places state that the advancing technology requires that the designer have not only a good grasp on such languages as XML and HTML, but also on elements of design so that the page comes together as something that is both functional and eye-catching. I feel that web design is the art of programming because the two elements of art and science have to come together and coexist in such a way to make the sites work. I have a cousin (yes, storytime, kids) who studied computer programming in college in the mid 90’s. He wanted to be a web designer. I find it funny that I’m in art school to learn how to do the exact same thing. The difference between the two was that the technology at the time he was in school provided a much more limited design capability, where HTML was king. Web design nowadays has shifted to a much more fluid programming capability, letting the designer actually design.

Also check out 7 Things you don’t see in Web 2.0 from Web 1.0. At the end of the article, they provide a link to yet another good article. If you’re interested in the graphic design of the web, those are very good.

The first article I found for homework is actually referenced in Wikipedia’s Web 2.0 article called Market Ideology and the Myths of Web 2.0 by Trebor Scholz. It is in a larger collection of articles called Critical Perspectives on Web 2.0 by Michael Zimmer. I wouldn’t have used it except for a statement made in it that struck me. In the section titled The Shifting Definitions of Web 2.0, they state that, “In 2004, the founder of a large technology publishing house, open source software proponent and multi–millionaire Tim O’Reilly coined the phrase Web 2.0, together with a colleague.” Remember that link from mental_floss where it shows a mention of Web 2.0 in The New York Times? That was in August of 2000. Not only that, but I remember a friend of mine in 2001, the designer of a Three Stooges fansite, addressed the high loading times of his site by saying that he wanted it to be “Web 2.0 ready” (though I don’t agree with my friend’s definition of Web 2.0 because he seemed to think it meant flashier, pseudo-interactive content that in fact was still only trying to pimp his fandom; though he did have a message board on the site). What the article may have meant was that Tim O’Reilly helped bring the term into the mainstream and provided a definite definition for the phrase.

The article itself isn’t too bad. It refutes the claim that Web 2.0 is a revolutionary change. Scholz basically states that using the phrase “Web 2.0” dumbs down the concept of what’s going on with the internet; that it phrases and hypes it for the mainstream. He does not deny that the internet is changing; he merely states that it is changing much more fluidly than one concept can capture. He claims that, while the Web 2.0 hype helped boost the use of the internet, it is “one that is build on false pretenses.”

In it, they reference the fact that much of the technology used has in fact been around for years. I say that, while it is true that those technologies were around for years, it is the application of such technology that makes it unique. Our use of the technology is maturing, and that is the beauty of Web 2.0.

Even though there were “Web 2.0” sites around for years before the dot-com bubble, the majority of the sites were one sided places where one could not provide much feedback. At that time I remember most websites were connected using webrings. There were a few sites, such as Yahoo Picks and Cool Site of the Day, that provided a site to go to per day, though those tended to be based solely on the preferences of the webmaster (ha, archaic term). The biggest thing about those old sites that stands out for me is that the user could not comment on these sites. Those sites’ Web 2.0 counterparts, such as, have user submissions and a place to comment. Many sites in the mid-90’s had guestbooks, but those were annoying as anything. The article only takes a look at the forerunners and does not look at the state of the majority of the sites at the time.

The article is right about the change being more gradual; it’s just that the article was that the author downplayed this shift by describing it as he had. Sure, it was more gradual than Tim O’Reilly makes it out to be, but many cultural shifts in history have labels that “dumb down” what happened. My first home computer was a Sony Vaio PCV-70, bought in 1996 (awful computer, full of bloatware). I connected to the internet via AOL using a 56k connection. Yet, I got into the game late; a friend of mine recalls accessing BBS’s using a 1200 baud connection. At least I had graphics, even though most of those were animated gifs and garish colors. There was a change between what my friend saw when he first connected and what I saw when I connected, just like there is a change in the ways people connect nowadays. The technology has been maturing and evolving for years at an exponential rate, and labeling this shift is only human nature.

The author annoyed me a bit at his description of Web 2.0. Labeling something does not dumb it down for the public, it’s only tries to substantiate a phenomena into a catchy term. Contrary to what the author states, the web has shifted its focus, as it has in the past, and will change for years to come.

Another Link

April 4, 2008

Before I get my articles posted for class, here’s a link that’s relevant to our homework. The mental_floss blog has a series called The First Time News was Fit to Print. In it, they dig through the New York Times archives to find the first time a major topic was mentioned in the news. If you scroll down, you’ll find Web 2.0. The link is here: The First Time News was Fit to Print, IX. It’s interesting that the Times article mentioned was written soon after the dot-com bubble burst.

Now I swear I’ll get to the homework.

First of all, here’s a site I found via 42 Must-Bookmark Resources for Web Designers. Might not be too useful for us at this point in the class, but they’re interesting links none the less.

Ghost Sites of the Web is a blog about Web 1.0 sites that are still up, defunct sites, and sites that are just terrible. There’s even a video from 1994 about the web and its content. The whole site, and that video, really give us a glimpse at how the web’s changed in only a few years.

Speaking of the history of the internet and computers, I just got off the phone with my mom. When my mom was a grad student (she was studying math, ugh) in the late 60’s, early 70’s, she worked on the mainframe computers. She said that even then the technology moved so fast that her professor went to school in the summer and taught what he learned in the fall. She was also the only woman in most of those classes, by the way. I asked if she knew of ARPANET at the time, but unfortunately she said no. She did reminisce about the bb’s of the 80, early modems, microcomputers, and having to use DOS, though.

There’s another article that I can’t seem to find right now. The blogger bought a magazine from 1967 off of ebay. In it, there was an article on how the future of technology will make it easier for the government to track your life. Basically the blogger stated that, if they changed around a few terms, it could have been mistaken as an article written by the EFF. I agree with that; it’s always creepy when something from the past is so accurate. I only wish I could find the article. Does anybody know what I’m talking about? It was on digg a few weeks ago, I think. It even had scanned copies of the actual magazine.

Now I will stop slacking off and find those articles for class.


April 3, 2008

This is a test. Ignore it. This is only for the first class and I will probably delete this later.

This was added on after I already published it.

I won’t reveal my livejournal account because it is a writing journal for my fan fiction as well as my blog. Yes, I acknowledge that I am a dork, thanks. I also have a blog at blogspot which I can’t seem to remember its name. I think it’s under the same username, but I need to check. I haven’t updated it since I put in the article about the Bank of the South, anyway, so it’s been awhile since I’ve updated it.