Friday, December 16, 2005

Squidoo's success and failure

Seth Godin has come up with an interesting idea with Squidoo.

The company, whose slogan is "Everyone's an expert on something," allows users to view and create 'lenses', each a single page devoted to a single topic. For example, Seth created What you need (okay, want) to know about Seth Godin. The second concept behind Squidoo, is chunking. "The best lenses divide the world into tiny bite-sized chunks. A long long list of links (which is what most web pages that fashion themselves as lenses contain) is completely useless to the average human. The goal here, remember, is not completeness, it’s to give me a toehold."

As much as I wanted to like Squidoo, I think it has some fundamental design flaws.

One of the argued advantages of Squidoo over a topical blog is that blogs put the most recent posts front and center. This is great if you are a recurring reader (though in that case you are probably getting the blog on RSS anyway), but may not be such a hot thing for readers who are new to the site. First because you may be expanding on a previously introduced idea, and secondly because your most recent post may not be your best post. To solve this problem, Squidoo offers a design which is fundamentally static; there is no expectation of new material except perhaps as information changes or becomes out of date. This solution creates a new problem, however; there is no new information, and therefore less tendency for readers to return!

A better solution is to offer links to featured posts either at the top of the page or in a sidebar. This offers a combination of the newness of blogs with the introduction of a static page like Squidoo.

If Blogger ever improves their service, you may be certain to find "featured posts" here.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Not so flippin' sweet

Following on the footsteps of the "Vote For Pedro" t-shirts, the Napoleon Dynamite Quote Book, and the Napoleon Dynamite Talking Doll...
With the Napoleon Dynamite flip book, fans of the hit film can watch Napoleon bust a move anytime, anywhere.

This is the kind of crap you expect three months before a Disney movie is released, not a movie that's been out on DVD for nearly a year.

Napoleon Dynamite: It's a movie, get over it.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005


  • Toy Story
  • Toy Story 2
  • A Bug's Life
  • Monsters, Inc.
  • Finding Nemo
  • The Incredibles

    This is a list of every feature film produced by Pixar. Six movies in ten years - a film every two years. By comparison, DreamWorks Animation has produced twelve feature films in just seven years - a film every seven months.

    But consider the movies. While every Pixar film has been an enourmous success (both commercial and critical), DreamWorks Animation has struggled, producing such flops as: Antz, The Prince of Egypt, Joseph: King of Dreams, The Road to El Dorado, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmaron, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, Shark Tale, and Madagascar. Even Shrek 2 sold far worse than expected.

    Both companies have computer animation roots going back decades. The quality of animation between their films is very comparable. The difference is the stories. Pixar's expertise is in telling engaging stories through the medium of computer animated films, and they are willing to take time to ensure that the story is good. DreamWorks Animation, on the other hand, is committed to releasing at least two films every year. It's a lot harder to craft a good story when you're working on a short deadline.

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  • Friday, December 02, 2005

    Most dangerous building in the world?

    Taipei 101
    A Taiwanese geologist, Lin Cheng-horng, has said the huge weight of Taipei 101, the world's tallest building, could be responsible for triggering a rise in seismic activity. According to Mr Lin it weighs 700,000 metric tons and exerts a stress on the ground below of 4.7 bars - some of which would be transferred to the earth's upper crust due to extremely soft sedimentary rocks beneath the Taipei basin.

    Ironically, the building has been noted for its innovative construction. A 660-ton tuned mass damper is held at the 88th floor, stabilizing the tower against earthquakes, typhoons, and wind. The damper can reduce up to 40% of the tower's movements.

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    "The aisles will be running with blood."

    That's what Corey Caldwell, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants, had to say about the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) announcement that small scissors, screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers will be allowed in carry-on luggage. The change takes effect December 22, just in time for holiday travel.

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    Putting partisanship aside

    In just the past fortnight, we have seen the realization of a 'Grand Coalition' in Germany, a majority government controlling 78% of the parliamentary seats.

    We have seen Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon leave Likud (of which he was a founding member) to create a new party, called Kadima. He was joined by former Labor Party Prime Minister Shimon Peres. The last event in US politics that even comes close to this was Theodore Roosevelt running as a Bull Moose.

    We can only hope that this tendancy to put partisan interests aside will find its way to the US. For the last five years the Democrats have done their best to put Republicans in charge, nominating candidates who, despite refusing to take a controversial stand, allowed themselves to be painted as extremists. Now the Republicans are trying to toss the hot potato back, as a president who ran to 'return dignity to the White House' faces indictments against Scooter Libby, and Tom DeLay, and criminal investigations ongoing against many others.

    What if we had Colin Powell and Wesley Clark running together? John McCain and John Edwards? Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice? I know that none of these are going to happen, but its still fun to dream.

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