Category Archives: web


Logging Traces of Web Activity workshop at WWW2006

Yesterday we had a great workshop about Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection at the WWW 2006 Conference.

All of the papers, presentations and statements of interest provided a number of insight into different methods for collecting data about Web use including using both server and client based tools including the issues faced when trying to decide what to log about users’ interactions and what the log formats should look like too. A number of revealing studies also reviewed some current views of how Web users do interact with the Web as well as a number of applications, plug-ins and scripting methods for getting data, distributing it and what users’ perceptions of their data might mean to them.

We were just one of the many excellent workshops at WWW2006.

The entire day went well thanks to my excellent co-organizers for the panel: Kirstie Hawkey, Melanie Kellar, and Andy Edmonds. is back online

As you may or may not have noticed, was down for almost 72 hours. My hosting provider, who became and is now seemed to have a little trouble (well, more than a little if you ask me) updating my domain name and then getting my account back online. I’ve been living with online hosting for about a decade and I have to say that this was the most frustrating time I’ve ever had trying to get something fixed.

I am pretty certain that all the people at netbunch are nice, hard working people but they have a series of problems in their systems that are not very customer-centric. No live phone support (you can call and leave a message), nor will they call you back. There is a live chat feature on their web site (which is a great idea), but doesn’t seem to be open during the times of day they claim it will be. Also, despite getting a ticket number when you send in an email, the feedback loop is either slow or a null op (which I’ll give them the benefit of my doubt in that they aren’t responding because they’re trying to hurry up and fix my problem?).

To make a multi-paragraph story short(er) – I think it would be wise to look around for another hosting provider in case I have more trouble. Do you have a recommendation? Ideally, it would be someone that makes hosting WordPress easy, uses something like the cPanel interface to coordinate things, provides log analysis support (like urchin), lets me coordinate multiple domains (and their blogs) from one account name (and purchase order) and has phone support (I’d even pay a fee if I really needed real-time feedback in a pinch). In my dream world, they’d also provide VPN or maybe just SSL POP and SSL IMAP too.

Much thanks.

The New New Portal

The ingenuity of various independent developers in conjuction with simple scripting, open source databases and XML data formats such as RSS are making old school (1994-1997) portals nearly obsolete. Take this great idea that annotates a prototypical New York Times front page with links to related blog posts (and other feeds) : The Annotated NY Times – About

Throw in Bloglines with its easy to use, Web-based interface for any number of RSS feeds and very soon, a few personal tweaks with greasemonkey, not to mention integrating your own personal blogosphere view using Technorati tags or even more personally oriented, pluck with its client interface/information dashboard++ and you can kiss your portal application providers goodbye.

ORACLE’s recent buyout of Peoplesoft may not be so smart in the long, long run when every business unit, not to mention employee, can crank out structured data feeds, tweak simple logic to act on other’s sources and keep up to date with everything in the organiztion with just a few clicks on everyone’s favorite orange button: .

All about Zipf's Law

As you may know, George Kingsley Zipf was obsessed with a rank-ordered world. The law named after him has a number of uses beyond even what his grandiose, universal plans were, so read all about it: information on zipf’s law.

Trivia note: originally Zipf’s work was based on some ideas from Condon (which GKZ acknowledged), way back in 1928, but Zipf’s name won out over time.

How to Leverage Solipsism @ SXSW

If you’re going to be at SXSW, come by and ask a good question while we talk about the good, the bad and the worse about
social computing systems design and use

Here’s the blurb:

Room 18A on Sunday, March 13th from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Monolithic, overarching imposed systems rarely provide full support for the range of use and users that these systems are intended to serve. Networked software should be smarter, taking advantage of users’ behaviors to evolve a system keenly adapted to actual use, not just intent. We are currently in a special moment, witnessing the development of systems that are beginning to demonstrate the power of this approach. Whether it is through passive tracking, such as purchase histories on Amazon, or explicit tagging of content, such as bookmarks on and photos on Flickr, websites are increasingly taking advantage of the aggregation of individual behavior to improve the utility, usability and desirability of their systems. Drawing on a range of perspectives, this session will address the intersection of the personal and global, the tensions that exist and the opportunities they afford.

Wists- a few suggestions

I’ve just started playing with Wists, a new social bookmarking++ service and have a few quick comments on the signup interface.

  • There is no marking of which signup fields are required. Why do you need to know my birthday? It’s shown as not optional (as opp to zip code being optional), but I didn’t put my birthday in and things seem to work fine.
  • The first name and last name fields are what your id will be generated from – why not let people either use their email address for an id or choose their own id for consistency of names in the online world. Also, it’s not too flattering to be called “don 3”.
  • What will zip code be used for? Give us a hint in a few words.
  • What is the “cool products newsletter”? A link to a sample issue would give us context for making getting even more email worthwhile or not.
  • The link to might as welll be a clickable link to show what wists can do.

Thanks for all the good work wist!