Archive for the 'communication' Category
I ran across a new service called dotSUB that streamlines the process for subtitling and translating online video. The site recently featured a Rocketboom episode explaining how the service works, allowing users to quickly and easily enter captions which are overlaid onto a Flash video file.
The captions also allow other users to translate the content into other languages. Once subtitles are entered, the new language is immediately available for viewing, since the original video is shown with the new language overlaid on top.
Unfortunately, dotSUB’s options for embedding video in other sites appears to be limited. I wasn’t able to embed the Rocketboom video here because it would break my template’s layout. However, it’s worth visiting the site to check out. I’m willing to bet that the options for embedding video will expand as the service matures.
I think dotSUB has some excellent potential. Off the top of my head, I could see it being useful for nonprofits, activists, language learners, and anyone with hearing problems. I’d love to see some good foreign language documentaries made available through the site.
UPDATE: Apparently dotSUB was listening (see the comments). A smaller version of the dotSUB player is now available, so I’ll include the Rocketboom video below. Try clicking on the up and down buttons (to the left of the speaker icon) to switch between the various subtitle languages.
The OnTheCommons blog recently ran a post about a new law enacted in São Paulo, Brazil, outlawing most outdoor advertising. I know some U.S. towns have laws to limit the size of such ads, but I haven’t heard of anything on the scale of what São Paulo has done. I’m interested to see if the ban stays in effect.
The City of São Paulo, Brazil, the largest, most prosperous city in South America, has gone ad-free! Last September, the City Council by a 45-1 margin approved a law that bans all outdoor advertising in the city of 11 million people. The law applies to outsized billboards, neon signs, electronic screens, ads on the sides of buses, the distribution of fliers, and even advertising banners pulled by airplanes and placed on the sides of blimps.
The University Channel website is a collaborative project between several universities to catalog and link to a variety of audio and video guest lectures. It’s a great place to get exposed to interesting research and thinking.
One of the lectures I listened to recently was a talk given by Robert Cialdini, author of Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion, on the Secret Impact of Social Norms. The lecture is especially interesting because it is focused on influencing people toward positive and sustainable changes.
Professor Robert Cialdini is the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, a book which has established itself as one of the most important publications on the subject of the psychology of persuasion. The book was the result of a three – year programme of study into the reasons that people comply with requests in everyday settings. Yet it also provides a highly accessible guide to the subtle influences that drive behaviours and decisions in everyday life, from the size of a tip left in a restaurant to life and death decisions. Professor Cialdini is now turning his attention to the subject of sustainability. How can cutting edge persuasion techniques be used to encourage environmental responsibility?
In this RSA lecture, Professor Cialdini delivers a presentation on his recent research into the successful use of social norms to promote pro-environmental action.
Even if you’re not interested in influencing others, Cialdini’s research and writing is fascinating because it can help you to see and understand how others try to influence you.
I spent some time tonight tracking down notes from some of the SXSW Interactive panels. There are some panels I couldn’t attend because they overlapped with others and some I attended but wasn’t satisfied with my own notes. I’ve compiled a list below of six blogs that I found to have great notes.
- Throwspace’s SXSW Interactive 2007
- Hellonline (Eran’s blog)
In addition, the official SXSW Podcasts are already being posted. Unfortunately, the official podcasts get posted over weeks and months, so if you’re looking for specific panels it may be a while before they make it onto the site. The podcasts from SXSW Interactive 2006 are all online though and there are some definite gems in the bunch.
Unfortunately, the SXSW Baby Notes Exchange Wiki has seen almost no updates during the festival. The the wiki was a great idea, requiring a login goes against the nature of wikis and was apparently enough to keep anyone from creating or adding content.
Wiki Patterns is a new site that is site attempting to gather some best practices or “patterns” to help make wiki implementations more successful:
Looking to spur wiki adoption? Want to grow from 10 users to 100, or 1000? Applying patterns that help coordinate peoples’ efforts and guide the growth of content can give your wiki the greatest chance of success. Equally important is recognizing anti-patterns that might hinder your wiki, so you can fix them or avoid them altogether.
I’ve been keeping an eye on the Giveaway of the Day website lately. Every day, the site posts a new Windows program that is available for downloading free for just one day. The programs are fully licensed, though they must be installed the same day they are downloaded and are not upgradeable.
I’ve been using mindmapping software for a long time. Mindmapping has been especially useful for outlining my ideas before sitting down to write. I originally used Mindjet MindManager, but it has gotten to be too expensive, in my opinion.
Lately, I’ve been using the free, open source mindmapping package called Freemind. Freemind is slow to start up and a a bit clunky overall, but it is remarkably useful, especially considering the price. Still, I’m interested in giving MINDMAP Personal a try. I’ll be downloading it as soon as I finish this post.
I just ran across the WikiSummaries site which is off to a great start at becoming a resource for high quality free book summaries. My own book notes tend to be outlines that are more ideal for reviewing material I’ve already read in depth. In contrast, WikiSummaries take a more narrative form, similar to CliffsNotes or Barron’s Book Notes and make for easier reading.
Both fiction and non-fiction titles are included. WikiSummaries can help you decide whether or not to read Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope or help you review the plot of a previous Harry Potter book before starting the next one. And since anyone can edit the wiki, it’s easy to contribute your own summaries or help to improve the existing ones.
Anyone using WordPress may want to check out the recent call for ideas and feedback over at the WoredPress Development Blog. It’s a chance to offer some constructive and even not-necessarily-constructive feedback.
If you could add anything in the world to WordPress, what would it be? If you could name the thing that frustrates you the most about WP, what would that be?
NPR recently ran a story about John Sawatsky, a journalist who has put a lot of thought and study into how to conduct interviews. While teaching at a university in Canada, Sawatsky had his students ask some of the same questions over and over to different people. It became apparent that certain questions consistently worked well and others consistently fell flat, regardless who was being interviewed. Sawatsky began to refine the questioning techniques and eventually distilled them down into a few simple rules.
Sawatsky’s rules are simple, but he says they get broken all the time: Don’t ask yes-or-no questions, keep questions short and avoid charged words, which can distract people.
I’m a fan of well done interviews. Interviewers like Terry Gross, Charlie Rose, and Bob Costas can bring out some of the best in people. I have only done a few interviews myself—mostly for the profiles I’ve written—but I find them to be challenging and fun. As Sawatsky suggests, I try to put a lot of thought into the questions I ask.
If the NPR story on Sawatsky leaves you wanting to know more about his interview techniques, check out the additional audio clips on the NPR website. One of the clips includes an additional hour of David Folkenflik’s interview with Sawatsky.
The American Journalism Review also ran a story on Sawatsky a while ago. The AJR story included a sidebar with a more details of his do’s and don’ts. For even more information on interviewing techniques, the Poynter Institute has a thorough collection of links and references on interviewing.
Google regularly brings in experts from various fields to give presentations to the company’s employees. In the spirit of sharing, the company makes these Tech Talk presentations available to the public via Google Video.
There are currently over 70 presentations, most lasting around an hour. Topics range from MySQL Tuning to Collecting Meteorites in Antarctica. Presenters include authors, such as Kevin Kelly and Barry Schwartz.
Of the ones I’ve watched so far, I recommend Seth Godin’s “All Marketers are Liars” talk. As with many presentations exported to the web, the video and audio aren’t always the best, but the content and the caliber of the speakers are hard to beat. And new videos are posted on a regular basis.
This week’s Austin Chronicle features an article about a radio show on KVRX called These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For. The show is a weekly half hour of radio all about Star Wars. I haven’t heard the show yet, but I applaud the creativity of the concept.
Everything in the movies is there to be discussed and dissected from as many angles as possible. Military strategy, scientific inconsistencies, the theological subtleties behind the Force: all in an evening’s work. As Needles says, “For the sake of the show, there’s more to talk about if you accept the world as real.”
On a trip to Hong Kong a couple of years ago, Amanda and I wished we’d had some kind of Rosetta Stone to take with us to the dim sum restaurants we visited. We knew dishes we liked, but we didn’t know the Chinese names or characters for them. Most of the places we tried didn’t have the typical dim sum carts to order from, so pointing wasn’t an option either.
In getting ready for our recent trip to Beijing, I decided to put together my own dim sum cheat sheet. I used Wikipedia to find a list of dim sum dishes along with the Chinese characters for them. I then searched Flickr for photos tagged “dim sum” that were under a Creative Commons license. I put the two together to create a Dim Sum Beginner’s Guide. This guide is released under a Creative Commons license, so please feel free to add to or build-on the idea.
The printout did come in handy on our trip to Beijing. Dim sum wasn’t as prevalent there as it was in Hong Kong, but we did come across a few places. The ones we ate at didn’t have English menus or picture menus, so the cheat sheet was a big help.
Admittedly, I’m still a dim sum beginner myself, so this is not a comprehensive guide. There are lots more dishes I could add, but I stuck to the ones I know well—things that we hoped to eat on our trip and would recommend to anyone who hadn’t tried dim sum before. For more options, check out the book “Dim Sum: A Pocket Guide.”
My hope is that there will be a massive social and cultural move away from television. The benefits of such a change will be tremendous. We will become smarter, more informed, and less prone to commercial manipulation. We will not stand for lies and misinformation from our government, we will take action and effect change. We will eliminate credit card debt, and pay off our mortgages faster. Our kids will eat more fruit and do better on standardized exams. We will become global participants, and won’t need to tell foreigners that we are Canadian when we visit their countries. We will use less oil. We will get to work on time. We will have better relationships with friends and family. We will make better music, write better books, and develop better software. Just for starters. Pardon my naïve optimism, but I really think that remarkable progress can be achieved very quickly, if you too decide to cancel cable.
Several years ago, I decided to go a year without watching TV. It permanently altered my television watching, to the point that I hardly watch any now. During my year without TV, I read the book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television. One point that stuck with me from the book is that things we absolutely must have don’t require advertising:
Advertising exists only to purvey what people don’t need. Whatever people do need they will find without advertising, if it is available. . .
People do need to eat, but the food which is advertised is processed food: processed meat, sodas, sugary cereals, candies. A food in its natural state, unprocessed, does not need to be advertised. Hungry people will find the food if it is available. To persuade people to buy the processed version is another matter because it is more expensive, less naturally appealing, less nourishing, and often harmful. The need must be created.
In terms of bad examples, I’ve seen a lot on populicio.us. Populicio.us is a great way to find new and interesting sites, but it offers no context about why the site is interesting. It’s often not immediately apparent why people are bookmarking it. Many web designers would benefit from the advice in the Spark This post:
So how do you engage in a conversation in three seconds or less?
There are four things you can do to improve your odds:
- What’s in it for me?
- Call to Action
As in, “WAIT WAIT! Don’t back-button me!”
I know my own site’s front page could use a redesign. Now I have a better idea of how to go about it.
Incidentally, I’ve created a Google Blog Search bookmarklet for times when I can’t immediately figure out what might be interesting about a site I’ve run across on populicio.us. Searching on the URL will give you a list of other sites with posts about the page in question. The delicious linkbacks bookmarklet is also useful for providing context.
UPDATE (05/08/06): I’ve created a more generic version of the Google Blog Search bookmarklet that prompts for a search string, rather than prompting with the current URL.
The Austin American-Statesman has a story on the new plan to bring free wireless to much of downtown Austin. This is in addition to the existing free hotspots in parks and businesses.
The City of Austin plans to create a high-speed wireless network that will deliver free broadband Internet access to parts of downtown Austin, East Austin and Zilker Park.
The city is partnering with Cisco Systems Inc., the largest maker of computer networking equipment, and the World Congress on Information Technology. Cisco will donate nearly $700,000 worth of wireless networking equipment for the project to the group hosting the international gathering of technology leaders in Austin in early May.
Amanda and I flew back into town last night from Beijing. On the flight from Houston to Austin, I finished my book, so I was looking out the window when I noticed some HUGE writing on the ground. The writing spelled out “LUECKE” using trees.
When I got home, I looked up the word and Google pointed me to a post on the Google Sightseeing blog about the giant letters. It turns out that Luecke is the name of a rancher who decided to leave his mark on the world in a big way.
One of the commentors mentioned an article that had been writen in the Austin American Statesman about Mr. Luecke. I tracked down the article, from March 6, 2000, which included the following:
Before you even think of invading Earth, check the trademark just north of Smithville and go see Jimmy Luecke. You see, it’s Luecke’s world — some of us just fly over it.
We know you’ve seen the name. Commercial airline passengers into and out of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport have seen it carved out of the woods on the Luecke ranch. Jet pilots who don’t know who Luecke is have long guessed he cut the name 3 1/2 miles long and 3,100 feet high to make absolutely sure you knew who owns this planet. Hell, John Glenn, our oldest astronaut, helped take pictures of it on a shuttle mission two years ago.
I just finished up my last day of SXSW Interactive. Unfortunately, I’ll be missing the last day of the conference. Of the panels and presentations I made it to, my favorites were:
- Daniel Gilbert’s How to Do Precisely the Right Thing at All Possible Times
- DIY Now More Than Ever
- Roll Your Own Web Conference
- What People Are Really Doing on the Web
I wish I’d taken better notes, especially in that last one—What People Are Really Doing on the Web. I’d be especially interested if anyone wrote down the three trends Michele Madansky mentioned at the end of the Q&A. I remember the first one was something along the lines of personalizing media. My brain was a bit fried by the end of the day though and I missed the other two.
I would have included the Ambient Findability in my list of favorites, but I think Peter Morville needed a good dose of Presentation Zen. He certainly wasn’t the only one, but his slides were the most information dense I ran across during the conference. He had great photos and illustrations to back up his talk, but many of the slides were text-heavy to the point of distraction.
I’ve been pretty busy lately and haven’t been keeping up with news much. My weekly dose of news often comes from the Week in Review.
Each week, a group gathers in a bar in L.A. to draw a visual representation of the week’s news. It’s a fun way to get a quick glimpse of what has been happening in the world.
Next, I’ll work on upgrading this blog to WordPress 2. Then, I hope to work on integrating PmWiki and WordPress a little better, especially establishing a consistent look across both parts of the site.
I recently finished reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing and I just posted my notes to my wiki page of book notes. Some of the examples in the book are a bit dated, but the information is still relevent. If nothing else, I think I’ll have a different perspective on marketing going forward.
If you’re shooting for second place, your strategy is determined by the market leader.
“You must discover the essence of the leader and then present the prospect with the opposite. (In other words, don’t try to be better, try to be different.”
In each situation, only one move will produce substantial results.
“Most often there is only one place where a competitor is vulnerable. And that place should be the focus of the entire invading force.”