Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In Praise of the Ugly - But Useful

Wired has an article about Why Craigslist is Such a Mess. A wonderful mess. Craigslist delivers customer value without the burden of overmessaging. Serendipity plays a large part of the experience there too. You know you've missed a great deal because you didn't reload the page every hour, but you still look for deals anyway.

The craigslist article reminds me immediately of the 37signals blog post Why the Drudge Report is one of the best designed sites on the web. It's ugly, but it's consistent and it's fearless.

Craigslist drives the classified advertising market (and is driving local newspapers into the ground). Drudge drives the news cycle. All with minimal or no design budgets. Both with just the facts, ma'am. No baloney, no hype, just value.

Court Gets it Right

Here's some good news: a federal appeals court ruled that preference-based playlists are not interactive!

Just as anyone can tune the radio dial until he finds a station he likes, he can tell online services what music he likes and hear that kind of music - all under the US compulsory license, which means the online service doesn't have to negotiate special on-demand rights or prices.

This is a victory not only for Yahoo and Launch, but Pandora and every other preferences-based streaming service out there!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Bookmarklets for Search

Here are some handy bookmarklets I use that let me select text on a web page, then click the bookmarklet to look it up directly on Wikipedia, Google and other places. You may find them useful.

In most browsers, you can just drag these links to your Bookmarks toolbar or favorites. In Internet Explorer, you'll need to right click links and select "Add to Favorites", then add them to your "Links" or other folder of your choice. The 2nd link is the same as the first, but with a shorter name to save space on your bookmarks bar.