Heads up, this content is 17 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

There’s a growing trend in the Web 2.0 world to develop tools that can “learn” with you.  The more you use them, the more they adjust and adapt to your style (or, in some cases, the more you adjust and adapt to theirs).  This is awesome.  It means we’re throwing out the idea that all people fit a mold, and we’re building things that actually customize to our audience’s unique snowflakes of lives.

However, I’ve also been seeing a trend of skimping on user research as a result of this.  The mentality is, “Oh, the tool morphs and grows to fit them, so we don’t really need to know what they want.”  But if the default settings on a tool don’t mostly fit what most users are looking for, most people will pick another tool.

The most successful tools out there do both:

  • They  morph and grow to fit their users.
  • They work like a dream solution right out of the box.

Customization is awesome, but if it’s required, people will surf on by.

Heads up, this content is 17 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

Spammy Spammy Spam SpamNot to scare you away from WordPress, but… I got 13 spam comments in the last 12 hours after my install (moderated and hidden for now, but still clogging up my inbox with notifications). Looks like it’s already time to check out anti-spam hacks. That was quick.

Meanwhile, I want to direct you to danah boyd’s analysis of Twitter, the source of those “web pings” at the top of my blog. A related topic? Yes. Twitter, to some, equals opt-in spam, and there’s some debate among tech geeks over whether it will survive the test of real social communities after the novelty has worn off.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Let me back up. Twitter is a new publishing platform that merges blogs with IMs with text messages. Basically, you can post as much you want (supposedly about “what you’re doing”), but each post has to be less than 160 characters. Why 160 characters? Because that’s the limit on most cell phones’ SMS text messages. So yes, you can do this from your phone. And you can receive your friends posts as text messages on your phone. And if you get a lot of friends who like to post a lot, that’s a lot of text messages.

Cell phone companies love Twitter. And speaking of which, I’m over my max of 500 this month thanktwitterverymuch, and need to increase my plan to unlimited text messages.

Twitter got a lot of action at SXSW. It was really an ideal machine for solifying quick hallway connections and keeping in touch about which panels/parties/dinner joints were worth the time it took to get to them. But now, away from SXSW, it has a different purpose. It’s more like listening in on acquaintances with myspace or livejournal, but with a louder megaphone.

danah pointed out some key gripes with Twitter, and I want to respond with my wishlist for feature changes:

  • Multiple levels of filtering for outgoing tweets, a la livejournal (uses of this could include: topic of interest, geographic location, personal closeness).
  • Multiple levels of filtering for incoming tweets.
  • The ability to mark an outgoing tweet as important versus regular (with an exclamation point before the post, perhaps?), and the ability for tweet recipients to decide if they want those categories filtered differently.
  • An alternative to Twitterific that allow for full 160 character display and respects the “leave” command.

So far, I like Twitter, and my appreciation for it actually has less to do with the network than with the medium. I’m using it to augment this blog with more frequent, current, and pithy thoughts. And it makes me pretty happy that I can do it from my cell phone.

Heads up, this content is 17 years old. Please keep its age in mind while reading.

Apologies for the mess here. I’ve had it with b2evolution as a blog software, and am finally migrating to WordPress. Leave it to Murphy to set the rules around blog migration, though; this process is turning out to be anything but smooth. Here’s a quick list of reasons for why I’d like to punch a SQL database:

  • The migration tool managed to save my data but lose my formatting (scroll down. there are no paragraph breaks in any of my entries. This violates the cardinal rule of blogging — “give it to ’em in small chunks”. I’m really really sorry you have to see this…).
  • My RSS feed is changing, which means that anyone who’s following me via another platform is about to get very confused.
  • I have a lot of template hacking to do to get back up to speed.

But, there’s also a bright side to all of this…

  • I did manage to (mostly) recover all of my posts, comments, and categories. That’s worth a toast.
  • I’m celebrating the software migration with a new blog name. Goodbye, “Sarah Says…” Hello “Dopp Juice”!
  • WordPress has a heckuvalot more options and support. I’m grinning right now at the automatic “Saved at 8:24:06” text (auto draft saving!) which sits right beside the “Save and Continue Editing” button in the admin panel, and I already know I’ve made the right choice.

To WordPress!