Posts Categorized: tech + web dev

Words and Phrases, part II

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I love ideas, words, and a good sense of humor, esp. when all three are combined.
On Friday, I was in the car with two friends who were discussing an event the night before where the Guy in question attempted to convince his ex to come back to him to no avail:
Girl: You went to the Abusement Park last night.
Guy: Yeah.
Me: The Abusement Park?!?!?!
What a perfect expression. We have all done it. We have all had someone we loved who didn’t love us back or who does but it is definitely over, but yet we keep trying to buy “E” tickets to what we think is the best ride at the Abusement Park. Amusing, terribly sad, and painful all at the same time.

Email: Do People Really Read it?

About a week before SXSW 2004 the very last vertebrae in the proverbial camel’s back of Ms. Jen’s patience was broken. I had since 1997 used “” as my primary email and by last summer I was getting over 150 spams per day and less than 20 real emails a day. I signed up for Knowspam and the flow trickled to a stop. Thank God.
But, and this is a big But, spammers and other nefarious sub-human cretins were using the email address and the well known Earthlink outgoing SMTP to send all manner of crap to all manner of folk. I was constantly told that I was spamming folk or sending them viruses, when Norton had professed my computer virus free and I had not sent such crap to my friends.
I knew since at least 1999 that Earthlink’s mail servers did not require password authentification for outgoing mail as I had expressed my frustration to Earthlink tech folk about this in the past, but I was up to my ears in spammers posing as me. Thus, I cancelled the account after seven years. Bye. Bye. Bye.
I signed up with a new primary account and then emailed everyone I knew the week before SXSW (probably should have waited until after). Everyone: family, friends, colleagues, clients, bands, publicists, etc. Everyone. In the email, I simply detailed out my new contact info: email, snail mail, and phone number.
Funny thing that I have discovered in the six weeks since quite a few folks did not read the email or read it half way and stopped. I have received several angry phone calls about my lack of an email address from people who received my announcement email. I have had bold or sheepish confessions from friends who read a bit, did not take down the new contact info, and then deleted the email but are now mad at me for not having a working email…
I am flummoxed. What am I supposed to do? Send an email a week until over 1,000 people get it right or read the email all the way? Call everyone? Hello?
To me the irony is that I frequently think that I have too much open contact information out and about in the world. My phone number is listed in the white pages, my phone number and address is easily accessible to a Whois search, I have several listed emails and contact forms here and at So, why the anger and the frustration from my contactees towards me?
The bigger question is why don’t people read their email? Why do they only read a sentence or two and then delete? This is not the first time this has happened, as writers regularly confess to me that they did not read an important email all the way and then call to ask what is going on. Has there been any studies on people’s behavior when reading email?
Even bigger question: have you read this far into the post? Or did you stop after the second sentence? If you read this far, do you usually read all the way through your emails? If yes, are you a reader of blogs and books? Frustrated Jen’s want to know.
Side corollary to this Email Frustration is Anil Dash’s suggestion on people paying for one to promptly read their email.


Day 4 Dispatch

Today was the last day of SXSW Interactive and transitioned into music-world by evening.
*At breakfast at the hotel, I had a nice chat with Kristin, Leonard, and James McNally. Fun, bright people.
* Bruce Sterling and his “Rant” panel was funny and all over the place in the best sort of way. He started the session by inviting the audience to his annual Tuesday night house party. I recommend Heath’s transcription of the talk, as I did not take notes but did client work as I sat in the session.
* After Bruce Sterling’s talk/rant, I went for a sweep of the “if!” Trade Show and then to lunch.
* After lunch it was time for the Jonathan Abrams’ Keynote speech. Mr. Abrams is the founder of Friendster and he spoke on why he started it, what they hope for the site to do, how they plan to make money (advertising) and dispelled rumors (no, they won’t be charging the users). The best part was he gave away Friendster condoms at the end of the session.
I have social networking fatigue and would rather not have to go to Friendster or My Space or to have an online representation of my social network, so I spent the time while listening to this session making my links and blog roll XFN compliant on here Black Phoebe : Ms Jen and over at the News and Tidbits.
* For the very last panel of SXSW Interactive 2004, I attended Wireless and Grassroots with Cory Doctorow, Joi Ito, and Dan Gillmor. As I had hoped it was a good discussion on all the favorite whipping boys of each panelist without touching the topic at hand! Go, Cory and Dan, go! I did learn that I can get an unlocked with SIM card new Treo 600 on eBay for less than $450…
*After Interactive was all over, goodbyes said, tons of crap dropped off at the hotel room, I met up with Heidi Richman to start the Music whirl a day early. Heidi and I went to the BMI bbq at Stubbs where The Green Cards were delighting the ears of the party attendees.
* Next up was the Guerrila Monster film Broad Daylight premier at Elysium, as well as the It’s a Chick Productions film premier of The Velvet Hammer Burlesque and burlesque girl performances.

SXSW Day 3 – Afternoon Dispatch

Austin at night
View of the Austin skyline from the Fox & Hound

Here are my notes for the Monday, March 15th, SXSW Interactive Day 3 panels, some coherent, some not – read at your own risk. I am sorry for the lack of pictures, but I left the memory card for the digital camera at the hotel. Oops.
* Hi-Fi Design with CSS – with Douglas Bowman, Dan Cederholm, and Dave Shea — this panel was a mix between the nuts and bolts of CSS and a pointer on how one can design well and be artistic – all at 10:00 am.
* Future of Blogging – with Anil Dash, Justin Hall, Danah Boyd, with good, pointed question help by Molly Steenson Wright.
* Howard Rheingold – ‘Wireless Future Keynote – wrote Smart Mobs – The Next Social Revolution. Howard is interested in cooperation and social action. Howard is very smart and a bit all over the place.
[What follows is my paraphrased transcript of Howard’s interesting bits:
The Internet is a commons. Bring the commonwealth to the world.
Important messages emerging from technology of Internet and Mobile Devices is Collective Action.
Moore’s Law – Cute little cell phone today is much more powerful than a PC ten years ago, and that cell phone can be bought with one month’s salary by the poor all over the world. A device that wil lbe as powerful as a 2004 desktop computer will reach the price of the average worldwide lower middle class one month salary will happend in 7years.
People who were not able to derive benefit from previous industrial revolutions will be benefited by the wireless device revolution.
The users of the PCs are the ones who created the PC revolution. Bill Gates was a 19 year old drop out who loved computers. Same with Apple. The microchip and the TV screen did give us mainframes only to be used by corporations and govenment, but PCs that are used by the world. Trying to figure out the revolution of wireless devices now would have been like trying to figure out the future of the PC in 1980 or the future of the internet in 1990.
Some resources are best treated as private (living rooms, cars, etc.), some resources are best treated as commons (internet, public domain, etc).
You could argue that progress is not all that it is cracked up to be, we build more complex societies, we build more wealth, we can do things with rationalism and organization.
Collective action is the lens that we can look at this untethered [the Internet]… More folks used Napster, 70 million, than voted for the president in 2000.
What could we do with mobile devices while walking around with reputation systems? We now take for granted that we can reach any information or search for it or meet up with common interests on the internet. A lot could be possible if this was available on wireless devices (Howard thinks this is undescribable of what will happen in the future).
The only problem with reputations systems is that only geeks change the default settings. Mobs are a great tool of facists, but the more people who understand the principles of wireless devices and the internet the more control that the people will have over it.
Wi-Fi started with Ham radio. Over 2 million wi-fi cards are bought every month.
Encourage new systems.
Creative Destruction – new ways of doing things that destruct previous way of doing things. Right now industries and governement are restricting innovation with billions of dollars of buying politicians and legislating restrictions.]
* The Aesthetics of Social Networks
Social Networks : people connecting to people
Aesthetics : beauty
Online Social Networks : orignally people connecting online. Now specific applications .
* Heath Row is transcribing / live blogging the panels that he is in to the SXSW official blog. He was kind enough to share a electrical plug with me during the Aesthetics of Social Networks panel. His post on this panel is much more coherent than my thoughts above.
* I am now sitting in Ridiculously Easy Group Forming and Celik Tantek has a great presentation on XFN. XHTML Friends Network (adding a relationship to a link tag) was suggested to Tantek by John Halcyon Styn at SXSW 2003. A XFN creator can be found GMPG or at
Here ends the afternoon dispatch. I am off to get food before the evening events.

SXSW Day 2 – Evening Dispatch

Lamp at the Red Eye Fly, Austin
Lamp at the Red Eye Fly, Austin

Notes from the day and evening of Sunday, March 14 – Day 2 of SXSW.

* Viriginia Postrel’s presentation made more sense than the first two chapters of her book. Listening to her speak encouraged me to take the book back up again.
* MoveOn.Org keynote was very encouraging and inspiring. Molly Ivins introduced Eli Parsier and Zack Exley. All three were very funny, intelligent, and it was a good hour spent. Eli and Zach are interested in grassroots, social action and how it can mass to making political change.
* Rebecca Blood was unable to make it to SXSW and as I sat in the Wiki panel she was supposed to moderate I went to her site to find out why she did not come to SXSW, I found this informative list for writers and bloggers.
Photo left: Moblog Nation panel brought new insights on the potential and dangers of mobile devices / cell phones that connect to the internet and/or take photos that one can post to a weblog or web site.
* The SXSW 2004 Web Awards were held in a big beautiful ballroom in the new Downtown Hilton. John Halcyon Styn presented for the 4th year, and for the 3 years that I have attended, his style and sense of humor makes sitting with no dinner in your belly worth it. Thank you John, and a big thanks to all the marvelous sites that won and made it to the finals. Photo to the left is the nice young men of Ruder Finn who designed Mr. Picassohead
Ms. Jen and Brothers Styn
Ms. Jen and Brothers Styn at the Red Eye Fly for Fray Cafe

SXSW Day 1 – Evening Dispatch

Car Fire on West 3rd St., Austin Galvanized Lamp The lovely ladies of Boom Chica Boom

News and Notes from the afternoon and evening of Day 1 at SXSW Interactive:
1) Jeffrey Veen is very tall.
2) There were lots of very tall (over 6′ 4″) at the SXSW Interactive Opening Party at Frog Design. I want to know what water they were drinking as a child…
3) Boom Chica Boom – 2 lovely Austin ladies who are freelance Go Go Dancers.
4) Monsieur Du Rock – the band that Boom Chica Boom dances to… just ok art rock.
5) Frog knows how to throw a kick ass party. In 2001 they had a Long Horn Steer outside that you could get your picture with, this year they had casino gambling. Long live Frog Design.
6) New Mexico raises lots of nice and lovely young men.
7) Too many Accessibility panels, not enough Design, Future of Design, Backend, Where are we going next with Web Design panels.
8) What happened to the Digital Art? At SXSW Interactive 2001, they had a lovely digital art show and panels on digital art. Bring on the artists and the art. Bring on the musicians. Get the creative folk ….
9) Car fires can happen just about anywhere, even on the corner or 3rd and Colorad streets in Austin at 11pm at night.

SXSW Day 1 – The Morning Dispatch

Dispatch from the hotel: I am running late. Imagine that. I did not make it to the 10am panel on the future of Wi-Fi and am now trying to get out of the room for KICK!
The reason I did not make it to the 10am Wi-Fi panel is I felt the need to dump out both of my grab bags and look for the Interactive Pocket Guide. The pocket guide is a handy little summary of panels and night events. When I finally found it, I started to star and circle all the panels and events that I did not want to miss. There is Saturday and Monday, flip it over and I discovered that the other side was Saturday and Monday.
I am the proud possessor of a gimpy Interactive Pocket Guide! I definitely know what I am doing today and Monday, don’t ask about Sunday or Tuesday.