Category Archives: community

A quick lesson in post-modern critical theory

House-sitting for a friend has been cast as somehow scandalous by our friends over at Valleywag. These seasoned journalists deserve props for not only being able to write rhyming headlines, but for also clearly understanding how to leverage post-structural theory to avoid libel. Their marvelously vague terminology (the “latest name linked” to someone) puts the reader, rather than the author, into the position of construing/constructing the narrative: “since meaning can‚Äôt come from the author, it must be actively created by the reader through a process of textual analysis.”

Glad that other people are reading Derrida and Barthes in Silicon Valley.

Kicking off Usability Friday

At Safari Books Online we have started a monthly Usability Friday — and you should, too!

The idea came from Steve Krug who outlined this model of running usability evaluations at last October’s Voices that Matter conference. He proposed that usability evaluation should be: regularly scheduled, attended in person rather than via webcast, and relatively fun and easy to manage. By making the process lightweight and inclusive (rather than formal and ponderous and overly documented) the evaluations are likely to be continued as part of a standard business process, rather than as a once-a-year hullabaloo. Specifically, he recommended having a morning of usability sessions (mostly in the form of one-on-one task analysis) followed by a team lunch to review interesting takeaways and next steps.

I posted the Usability Friday invitations on and The next one is scheduled for March 28.

Integrating regular usability review into your product roadmap makes sense — and this is a good way to start.

on #themeword

One of the highlights of LifeCamp was the discussion about theme words and what our theme word for 2008 would be. (Mine was “create.”) Chris Messina posted his to twitter, and thus a meme was born. See Chris’s recounting: Kicking off 2008 with a themeword

I wondered if there were any interesting patterns in the #themewords, so did a quick tweetscan search for themeword hashtags, scraped the data, and dumped it into Excel (with some nominal de-duping). I noticed that there were only a few words that were used by multiple people, but that the overall tone was amazingly positive.

I thought this would look interesting as a tag cloud (an overused visualization technique, yes, but still sometimes useful) so looked for and found a nice way to create an on-the-fly tag cloud at The tagcrowd CSS got mangled by the WordPress template CSS, so I did a screen capture and posted the image to flickr.

#themeword tag cloud

Beautiful, eh? Here’s to a happy 2008!

LifeCamp 2007

The inaugural LifeCamp was held in San Francisco Dec. 30 and 31. Tantek ?áelik and I concocted and organized this new flavor of BarCamp to provide a venue for thinking thoughtfully, strategically, and collaboratively about life planning and decision-making.

LifeCamp was a two-day event, with the first day focused on reflection (what did you accomplish and learn this year?) and the second on projection (what are your goals for 2008?).

The two days were pretty incredible — intense, hilarious, and cathartic. The group decided to meet quarterly in 2008 for one-day check-ins, with another two day event planned for the end of 2008.

Many thanks to all of the LifeCamp 2007 participants: Silona Bonewald, Eddie Codel, Leah Culver, Erica Douglass, Tara Hunt, Chris Messina, Matt Mullenweg, Noelle Murata, and Mark Trammell (with special thanks to Mark for organizing the New Year’s Eve party and to Silona for traveling from Austin for the event).

One of the primary goals of the first LifeCamp was to document resources and planning processes on the LifeCamp wiki so that others can plan LifeCamps of their own.

Day 1
LifeCamp SF

LifeCamp SF

Day 2
LifeCamp day 2

Additional photos at