i disagree with everything you just said.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

the practicality of the new.

of all the myriad responses to jjg's fine ajax essay, the most intriguing ones are those that raise a question i've pondered myself: why now? as jesse points out in the essay, none of the technologies bundled up into the term "ajax" are new — some are actually several years old and have been steadily gaining usage in other contexts. and certainly the idea of stateless client applications has been around forever.

so why does it feel relevant now? why name it now? what's changed? a few people point to the rise of xmlhttprequest, a little-used-until-recently aspect of the latest-n-greatest browsers i first learned about when i saw it working its magic on flickr's photo pages. and some other folks have suggested it's an outgrowth of the rise of web standards and a grateful world finally being allowed to abandon support for netscape 4- browsers. but there's more to it than just technology. really, technology is the least interesting thing about it. as with so many things technological, what matters is not that it works; what matters is that people believe that it works. and to get to that, people need to see somebody else use it first.

expectation and assurance are a big deal in this context. google's use of the ajax approach lends an imprimatur to it that goes far beyond what any individual — even a really loud one — will ever be able to convince somebody not as technically inclined to believe. it doesn't matter to managers that it makes for cool web apps; it matters that it's not going to break, that their ass isn't going to be on the line for pushing something new, that they're going to be able to prove the value of the technology in some manifest way. most people in this world, sadly or no, me-too it more often than not, and that means they need someone else to do it first [1].

in this case, google, darling of wall street, leads, and we all benefit. or to put a new twist on an old saying, nobody ever got fired for copying google.

[1] in my line of business, this is what's known as "market opportunity."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

ajax: homeric hero or the next big web thing?

one thing i really enjoy about working with jesse, he can frame a new idea better than anybody else (see here and here for reference). and he's done it again, with his explanation for what he's calling ajax (asynchronous javascript + xml), the new and much much better way of building web applications we've been seeing more of lately thanks to google and flickr, among others. read all about it in his latest ap essay.

at adaptive path, we're all over this — it's revolutionized our thinking about what's interactively possible on the web. the implications are so far-reaching, and we've only scratched the surface in terms of the potential utility of this new functionality. so much untapped possibility, it's almost like discovering html all over again. between this and the return of south park as a technology nexus, 1995 really is making a comeback.

also, i love my job.

Thursday, February 17, 2005


in case anyone is wondering what my brother has been up to.

he's also doing a lot of fun, interesting, no-vomit-involved things these days. just to clarify. and i get to see him when i'm in austin for sxsw interactive, which is next month. if you're going to be there, and you want to hang out with me, my brother, the two of us together, or any other combination you can think of, let me know.

update! sxsw music band list posted. so exciting.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


i want the word i use to mimic the feeling i had, and while it doesn't come close enough, "magnanimous" is the best i've got so far for christo and jeanne claudes' "the gates." not perfect, but it brings together the real joy i felt — and could see in others — from the accessibility of the piece, its shared and sharing nature, the palpable sense of the artists' desire to bring people together in a new and different and yet known and comforting way; along with the sheer scale of the project, the amount of effort and planning required to bring into being something so huge, so precise, so perfect and complete and sturdy and yet so utterly, utterly banal and mundane. it's a very open work, a very communal piece, a true gift. i was floored, not just at first but throughout, from the initial sighting to the last. it is a complete and beautiful thing.

in an odd way, it reminded me of burning man — the only other occasion i know of where people are drawn together so intentionally. where people come together to quietly celebrate being people, together. as courtney pointed out while we were there, it's so rare that you end up in large crowds and enjoy the experience of being within, but that's what the work offers, and that's the response it evokes.

it goes without saying that pictures don't do it justice, because it's the environment as much as anything else that's the essence of the work, qualities that cameras don't capture. so if you can find a way, you should hop on a train or a bus or a plane or get in a car with some friends and spend some time with them in central park in the next two weeks. as much time as you can spare. there might be a better reason to cross the country for a weekend, but if so i don't know what it is. i'm just sad — more than sad, almost an ache — that i can't be there for the entire month, so that i could begin every day underneath them, while they're still there.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

how the hell did they do that?

back when the web was new — 93-94, for you latecomers — i used to sit in my basement office at the university of texas, so damn excited every morning to load up hotwired.com on my pokey mac 7200 just to see what great new use they were making of the web that particular day. what sort of cool shit were they doing that i'd never seen before? what magic new technologies were they employing that i'd never even heard of? animated gifs, splash pages &mdash i took it all in, and then spent the rest of the day (on the university's dime) trying to figure out how they did it. hotwired pushed me to master techniques i never would have known about otherwise. hotwired did that for a lot of people. hotwired really did push the medium forward [1].

i've missed that — that willingness within companies to experiment, to try something valuable and different, to move with the moment, to demonstrate the practicality of the new. hotwired's been gone a long time, but fortunately for us, between gmail and (especially) maps.google.com, google's brought it back. it ain't daily, and these days i'm more inclined to pay someone else to do it for me than learn to do it myself, but still, i can't wait to see — and use, and advocate for — whatever they do next.

[1] note to self: start a company with the guy who was responsible for that.

Friday, February 04, 2005

a design philosophy i can get behind.

"when onkar singh kular designed a pair of socks he added a third one in case one got lost."

Thursday, February 03, 2005


I'm pretty happy with the new pic of me up on the ap site, taken by the very talented tim gasparak.

also, this one is sooo peter.

i'm sure you're making money off it, but that's not my point.

oh, nick. much as i enjoy the occasional visit to one of the outposts of your empire, and though i'm a big fan of the concepts behind the latest, lifehacker and (especially) gridskipper — so aspirational! — i can, in a heartbeat, tell why you fled sf for ny. those insanely obnoxious online ads are so large, so unnecessary, so disrespectful of your audience, and so several years behind the zeitgeist. in other words: so east coast media.

seriously, i can hardly tell what i'm supposed to be reading on those sites. thank god for syndication, the savior of bad business-of-design decisions.

(and while i've got you here, nick, let me recommend you acquire design*sponge for your next venture, the one about high-end design stuffs. she's got the format nailed.)

a musical upcoming of one.

if you're wondering where all the good sf shows are, wonder no more. my pal willo is both crazy and thorough, and we all benefit. now if only i could convince her to hit sxsw with me, i'd be all set.