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  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:40 pm on December 24, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Banksy, , , , famous graffitti artist, , graffitti artist, , , , Human development, , Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Maslow's pyramid, Microformat, Personal development, , professor, , , ,   

    Deadprogrammer’s Hierarchy of Web Needs 

    I recently received a phone call from a recruiter. He wanted to lure me away to some “big company” that still had “small company feel” to participate in a “redesign of a major website”. He felt like all of these things, as well as “a well stocked kitchen” were big selling points.

    I am a veteran of many website redesigns, major and minor. I’ve come to dread the word “redesign” because very frequently it meant taking a perfectly good website and making it significantly worse, and then through major struggles making it marginally beter. In the past I wrote a rather bloated article titled “The Russian Tea Room Syndrome” about this. Today I would like to write a bit more about this, as this topic rarely leaves my mind and my life.

    Earlier in my career, I had very little influence over the redesign process, but this is changing. This is the primary reason why my job title has the shameful word “Architect” in it: I write code and configure servers, but I want my say in strategery as well.

    So, Michael, you might ask, what is the problem with redesigns? Aren’t redesigns about making websites better? Well, many redesigns suffer from not following IBM’s famous motto.

    IBM has one of the best corporate mottos ever: CRUSH and DESTROY. Uh, I mean THINK. They even give out props with the word “THINK” on it and publish THINK magazine.

    Many redesigns happen simply as a knee jerk reaction: oh, look company X is doing Y and using Z. When you sit in a meeting and somebody is describing a redesign purely in terms of things other people do, you are likely in trouble. No thinking is involved at all.

    But sometimes it’s the type of thinking that is going on that is the problem. You have to think about the relative importance of things.

    I have a picture by famous graffitti artist Banksy hanging on my wall. It is a metaphor about true and false importance.

    In 1943 a Brooklyn College professor Abraham Maslow outlined what is now known as Maslow’s Hierarchy: a pyramid that ranks human needs. It looks like prior to him nobody really gave a lot of thought to relative importance of pooping and morality. Well, maybe a little – there’s a Russian idiom for a person of untrustworthy nature that originated during WWI when soldiers relieved themselves in rows, next to specially dug trenches: “I would not take a dump next to this person”. Also see “I hope they serve beer in hell

    Here’s Maslow’s pyramid in all of its glory:

    I decided I’d come up with the hierarchy of web needs:

    standard adherence: strict XHTML, CSS, etc

    choice of technology: language, CMS, OS, cloud/servers, etc

    other features: widgets, games, microformats

    multimedia: video, podcasts, interactive flash

    design: graphical elements, typography, pleasing layout

    semantic web: metadata, tagging

    usability: text size, image size, logical layout, uncluttered interface, site name/urls, browser support

    community features: comments, ratings, feeds

    googliness: search, speed, security

    content qualities: usefulness, interest, freshness, uniqueness

    content: text, images, links

    In my opinion unsuccesful redesigns happen when people start from the wrong end of the pyramid (always skipping the first step: I’m yet to meet anybody with power who thinks about these things are important).

    I will expand on this in my next post.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 10:21 am on September 18, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: clerk, , , professor, Puter   

    The Ancient Art of MetrocardTM Puppetry 

    It seems like humans will try to fold and rearrange just about anything. Paper, money, postcards. Some people make a living folding their members in a surprising manner. Others fold dollar bills. What chance did humble MetrocardTM stand from being turned into an art material?

    A couple of days ago I found this MetrocardTM triacontahedron sitting abandoned on a subway staircase. I’ve seen these around in token clerk booths, but never up close before.

    I managed to take it apart and put it together again, and the construction is rather ingenious. I’ll try making a few of these together and post the instructions then.

    Of course, other people have been doing this for a long time. Here’s a guy who created purses, boxes, stars and pencil holders out of them. An entertainer that goes by the moniker Professor Puter has a whole load of tricks, such as metrocard shooter, star, bug etc. Here’s a fine specimen of MetrocardTM art too. If you want to annoy your cubicle-mates even more than you already do – MetrocardTM clicker is the right project for you.

    Ad:


     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 9:40 pm on April 30, 2005 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Body, , , Claustrum, , , Darrell Sweet, , , professor, ,   

    News in Underpeople Research 

    CNN : “In January, an informal ethics committee at Stanford University endorsed a proposal to create mice with brains nearly completely made of human brain cells.

    Just in case, Greely said, the committee recommended closely monitoring the mice’s behavior and immediately killing any that display human-like behavior.”

    Colonel P.M.A Linebarger might have been a little bit off with predicting the timing of Underpeople creation.


    (part of the cover design for “Best of Cordwainer Smith” by Darrell Sweet)

    To quote professor Farnsworth: “You were all for preserving Hitler’s brain, but putting it inside a shark’s body – all of a sudden that’s going too far!!”

     
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