Okay, so I think I could have done a better site (what’s with the mad loading time?!), but the movie’s a pretty cool addition. They definitely serve the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had (although wireless would be nice), and once I’m done with school it looks like I’m going to have to specifically make trips down to the Village for this place.
Last Friday, Clay had a guest speaker, Scott Heiferman, the creator of meetup.com, come in and speak to us. As someone interested in creating social networks myself, I found it intriguing that Heiferman admited that most of the features he tried to implement into the site had failed–for instance, he was originally against the idea of having group organizers, but eventually caved when it proved essential for the group’s structure.
I don’t really use Meetup, but I have defended Meetup.com’s decision to charge groups. In a world where social networking sites are being gobbled up by Yahoo! and Google, these guys have braved it on their own and found a viable way to support the service. What’s interesting is that the fees are really a side-effect of creating more cohesion, and prior to the fee members were trying to create groups based on every and any type of subject matter, yet few were really, well…meeting. Also surprising is that much of the hate mail following the fee announcement originated from members that hadn’t really even been using the service. Fast forward to today, and Meetup is now close to the critical mass it had prior to the fees.
Oh, and wondering why there’s a minimum limit to the number of members needed to start a meetup? Statistics proved that with only five people a group had a 50 percent chance of surviving after a few months. With 10 people, that chance jumps to 90 percent.
Well, in Mo‘s own words, he has succeeded, and a bunch of people I know are probably wondering why I am setting them as Flickr contacts at five in the morning. The truth is that I am preparing slides for my ITP thesis presentation on CodeTree and thought a screen capture of my Flickr account would be a good example of context. Once I signed in, though, I realized just how abysmal my account was. I then preceded to go on an uploading frenzy. What can I say? I’ve been staring at code for months and have barely picked up my camera. Signing into Flickr reminded me of just how many photographs I have on this hard drive.
I didn’t even know about Flickr when we launched Beyond Second (who knows if we’d have launched it then!), but I will admit that I have been continually referencing it as I built CodeTree to see how they managed tagging.
And how has Mo succeeded, you wonder? He [supposedly] predicted this blog and that I’d be all over del.icio.us and Flickr within six months (I won’t tell him I’ve had a Flickr account for awhile, though).
So, I took CodeTree live on Saturday (or maybe it was Friday, I don’t really recall since I was up all night working on it) and am now in the process of writing up my thesis paper and finalizing slides for my presentation for Tuesday. Apparently, Clay Shirky and Alex Rainert of Dodgeball.com fame will be some of the guest critics, so it should be pretty cool.
*Okay, now my bug rant*
So, the site isn’t perfect, hence the BETA (Ah, beta, a.k.a. not having to say sorry. Wouldn’t it be nice to have such a label in real life?!). There was a technical bug that was exposed during testing which involved the file upload of the JAR file (Flash files work flawlessly), or the compiled, finished Processing artwork. When a user submits a Processing piece, sometimes the JAR file did not successfully upload. In other cases, the file would upload, but the server-side function chmod(), which set permission for the JAR applet to run, would not fire. What made matters worse was that the validation set in place to display an error wasnâ€™t being triggered, meaning that the submitter didnâ€™t receive any error feedback but instead was left to see non-functioning artwork. My greatest challenge was recreating this issue; I could see whether or not the file would upload through FTP software, but I could not recreate the issue that so many testers had experienced. I was eventually able to limit the issue to users of Appleâ€™s Safari browser, yet through additional testing I have found varying levels of success. In two cases, the files uploaded but the timestamp that recorded the submissionâ€™s date did not pass into the database. I have no explanation for this and have been unable to find other developers experiencing similar issues. While I will definitely have to monitor this situation, my conclusion is that itâ€™s a browser bug since the code appears to work successfully in most other browsers.
Given that I am by no means a print designer, I thought this illustration I did for the New York Road Runners came out pretty well. I’m told that the kids that wore this loved it, and, more importantly, I think Chelsie would be proud 🙂
Social networking sites are the new “big” trend on the net, which, ironically, is what the net started out as before we all got distracted with e-commerce and the corporate invasion. So, as I’m in the middle of creating a thesis presentation on CodeTree and writing a paper on the subject of social networking, I’ve also been looking for some research on online group interaction.
Inspired by Dan Fink‘s request for a Beyond Second site in his new home of Arizona, I considered the thesis idea of empowering the non-programmer into creating their own social networking site. Unlike Ning, however, I intended to create something less centralized. I’d envisioned something similar to WordPress–something easy to download, install, and customize. Assuming Ning hires enough developers and does make applications robust enough to empower each community, the idea of a one-stop shop for all our folksonomy needs is still an idea I don’t warm up to.
I think there’s something special about the passion that went behind Beyond Second, and I don’t think that these huge social communities can touch it.
I also thought Sphere was a cool idea. I’ve been wondering when someone would create a blog-only search engine, and while Sphere sounds nice (I couldn’t get the site to come up…maybe it’s temporarily down), I fear that Google has too much brand recognition to share this facet of the search world.
It’s unfortunate that when someone approaches me asking where to learn a new technology that I can’t conciously leave them to wade through search engine results of outdated technology. Do creators of Web resources know when their gift to the community has overstayed its welcome? By not updating tutorials and coding repositories, online coding resources slowly pollute the Web’s educational landscape.
Take HTMLGoodies.com for instance. Back in ’98 when I needed to learn HTML, this was THE source; lessons were broken down clearly and the primers got me up-to-speed with ease. Today, the site still exists, but it still teaches HTML 4.01 when XHTML 2.0 is already on developers’ doorsteps. Hopefully, someone wishing to learn how to code a Web page will not find this site.
Then there’s FlashKit. This resource has a ton of free audio tracks and loops, however, there’s no guardian reviewing the outdated code that’s submitted throughout the site. While it’s possible to find a diamond in the rough here, I usually point people to Kirupa instead.
Of course, I could be just as guilty if I don’t watch it. My recent Flash DriveBy suggests using the Zigo Tween Class, yet the new classes I e-mailed MosesSupposes.com for are far more effective. Someday I’ll update it…
Last semester I met with Alyssa Wright in an attempt to overhaul the existing Floor 4 site. I’d met with those who created the previous site, talked to Nancy to see what options there were, and approached a previous ITP generation and offered to purchase their domain (floor4.org) from them (they wanted to keep it). Of course, classwork and freelance got in the way of me completing anything besides a design, and ultimately it fell off of my to-do list. This semester, Dan will be redoing Floor4. I wish him all the luck, but he’s got to shake off a notorious history with this project, as he will represent the fourth (or fifth?) generation to attempt to make this work.
Besides previous failed attempts, what keeps holding this project from becoming a success? Last year, a signup form was required that couldn’t use NYU net ids. Fortunately, with the new servers this year, this hurdle has been jumped. Now the biggest hurdle is the listserv, which is the pulse of the ITP community to many students. How could a site replace the list? The best the site could do is eliminate all of the noise that comes with 150 daily e-mails. This then hinders the conversation-style interaction, as it’s less of the content coming to us and more us seeking the content.
Then there’s the Wikis, where a slew of student knowledge is constantly brewing. If the student online resources were to be centralized, They would most certainly need Wiki support. When I argued that the DriveBy and TNO be incorporated, I met with a little resistance.
The major reason I don’t think a site would work, though, is because of how Red has structured the program. When I started ITP last fall, I felt totally disoriented and, like many others, relied on the then strangers (now classmates and friends) to help me and point out the difference between a 5V regulator and a QProx sensor. This is according to design; by not providing resources outright, students look to one another and build a stronger community. I’m still not 100 percent sure what I think about this. ITP has been the best learning experience I’ve had. I wonder, though, if I’d have accomplished more without the blinds on. Regardless, it’s this reason–a program that is purposely structured to have a short-term memory, that makes me think that the footprints created on a community Web site would conflict too much with the structure of the program.
The project itself was an experiment to disseminate the idea of origami creation alleviating stress during finals. My group and I started by placing origami randomly on the floor at ITP. These pieces were noticed, but didn’t start up the discussion we were looking for. On the Web end, I took it as an opportunity to try an interface unlike anything I’d done before. After learning about the 8 basic forms of origami, realizing the lack of good origami resources, and recognizing a static diagram’s inability to instruct, I’ve decided to take another crack at this.
The new site will also give me the opportunity to create a strictly AS2.0 site and work with the Flash Communication Server. One interesting thing to note was that I used timeline-embedded video in this project and recycled footage to create the transitions. This still came out to being a big file size (>1MB), and I eventually had to export the movie as frames, since the playback was awful when I attempted to rewind the video programmatically.
I e-mailed Hillman Curtis at least a month ago after watching one of his video designer documentaries (I really liked the one on Paula Scher). I just wanted to know what the deal was with those wacky videos on his home page. I guess I’ll never know…I’m sure the dude’s a busy man, but I hope I never get so busy that I don’t respond to the little guy…
I'm a creative technologist at Hauck Interactive, Inc. and an adjunct instructor at HACC. I live in Harrisburg, Pa. with my wife and three boys. I enjoy good coffee, Trappist beers, Orioles baseball, and good design.