Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How do you read stuff online?

There's a good article over on Slate that I'm recommending you read.

Here's how it starts:
You're probably going to read this.

It's a short paragraph at the top of the page. It's surrounded by white space. It's in small type.

To really get your attention, I should write like this:

- Bulleted list

- Occasional use of bold to prevent skimming

- Short sentence fragments

- Explanatory subheads

- No puns

- Did I mention lists?
The article examines the theories of usability guru Jakob Nielsen, who I've referred to often in terms of designing good web pages and general net etiquette from a user point of view.

It's well done and fun to read. And if you're interested in getting your message across to your readers in the best way possible, you'll want to read this.

Here's the link.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A new definition for trailer trash

I've been too busy to blog much lately, but I realized that I'd let things go a little too far. Sorry about that. I've got a new full-time gig and it's taking a while to transition from working in a home office to moving back into the 9 to 5 world. Once I settle in, I should get back to the more regular review of all the things that are interesting around me again.

For now, I'm going to keep pointing you to stories I notice that are worth talking about - whether for serious reasons or not.

Today's pointer is to a delightful story about US First Lady Laura Bush, who has taken to travelling abroad in her own Airstream trailer, conveniently loaded into the back of a military transport plane.

I'm sure that there is probably a rational explanation for this (security, convenience, etc.) but on the face of it, it's just too silly for words.

Here's the link.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Take the time to read this story

Someone told me to read this story awhile ago, but as I so often do, I found something else that I considered more important and didn't get around to it.

This morning, weeks later, I sat down and finally read "The Things That Carried Him," Chris Jones' incredible, true story in the May, 2008 issue of Esquire, about an American soldier's journey home from Iraq - one of nearly 4,000 young soldiers who have been killed since that conflict began.

It's a remarkable tale. And it's one of the best pieces of writing I've ever read anywhere.

Take the time right now to read it.

Here's the link.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Creative ways to take care of people

Any of us that have friends or loved ones battling with memory issues (and it seems like all of us are) will appreciate this story.

Rules are one thing - but all too often they're used as a crutch to get around having to come up with meaningful and workable solutions to problems with caring for people. The rules often overlook the fact that people are "people" - not just items to be catalogued and inventoried.

Here's the story, which I found on Boing Boing.

A nursing home in Germany built an exact replica of a bus stop in front of the facility. The only difference is that buses never stop there.
“It sounds funny,” said Old Lions Chairman Franz-Josef Goebel, “but it helps. Our members are 84 years-old on average. Their short-term memory hardly works at all, but the long-term memory is still active. They know the green and yellow bus sign and remember that waiting there means they will go home.” The result is that errant patients now wait for their trip home at the bus stop, before quickly forgetting why they were there in the first place.

“We will approach them and say that the bus is coming later today and invite them in to the home for a coffee,” said Mr Neureither. “Five minutes later they have completely forgotten they wanted to leave.”