Today I made peace with the fact that, yes, I am one of those neighborhood busybodies. Someday I will have the city complaint line on speedial. I'm okay with that.
It's just that I have this innate sense of justice. And when I see the jerks of the world getting away with their jerkiness, it burns me up inside.
Here's the story. Last Thursday night, as I was taking the pups on their last walk of the evening, there was the unmistakable sound of a moving car hitting a still one. A car alarm blared out and the dogs and I turned to see a purple Scion speed down Carl Street and off into the night. No note, no nothing. A hit and run. Bastard.
My car was similarly hit on Carl Street a few years ago and it cost $7,000 to fix. Insurance covered it, but my rates went up for a year. Probably some drunk idiot stumbling out of one of the bars and driving when they shouldn't. Same thing happened to this poor car - it had been sideswiped from front to back. I made a mental note to keep an eye out for purple Scions.
Then, this morning, I saw the same purple Scion. I knew it was the same car because it had a dent and a broken taillight right where it hit the other car.
There's no better way to learn a few things than to tell the internet that you know a few things. Case in point: A couple weeks ago I was having a low self-esteem day. So instead of focusing on what I was bad at, I focused on what I was good at. Coffee. So I posted my little recipe for how I make coffee. And then the coffee nerds found me.
So now I'm sitting here, listening to the CoffeeGeek Podcast, and hearing myself as the topic of conversation. Is this what it's like to live in the future?
Turns out my recipe required some, uh, modification.
It's been six months since we added Tags to Technorati (where I'm Senior Designer), and as it turns out, it was a pretty big deal. So before we get too far away from it, here's the story of how it came about. From my perspective, anyway.
Firstly and most importantly, Technorati did not invent tagging. We were inspired by the tags that Flickr users were using to describe their photos, and the tags Delicious users were using to describe their bookmarks, and the many tagging adventures that came before them. We thought bloggers should have something similar - an open standard for adding tags to their posts. If there was such a thing, we could display all kinds of different kinds of content on the same page - photos, links, and posts - grouped by tag.
Secondly, it's important to note that many people at Technorati worked on various tagging solutions at different points. So credit goes to the company as a whole. We're a small company now and were even smaller six months ago. Just about everyone had a hand in our tags implementation.
For me, it all started with New Year's resolutions. In Fray, we've always had a New Year's resolutions story, and it was always a big hit with posters. In December 2004, I was in my second month at Technorati, and I had an idea: Why not encourage people to post their resolutions to their own blogs, and then use the power of Technorati to gather them all together on one page?
Over Technorati's winter break, Tantek Çelik, Jason DeFillippo, Bradley Allen and I met at Crepes on Cole and banged out the Resolutions 2005 page with help from Kevin Marks and Aaron Bannert who were there via IM. The page was set up to show any post that contained a link to it - in other words, if you linked to that page, then your post appeared on that page.
The page went up on December 29 and we encouraged people to post their resolutions and include a link to that page. And they did! Hundreds of posts came in. It was great. But the system we'd devised had one critical flaw.
There were two kinds of posts that linked to our resolutions page. The first was what we'd wanted - people posting their resolutions and linking to our page for more. But the second was different - it was just people saying "look at all those resolutions over there." It was not a participation in the theme - it was just a pointer.
What we needed was a simple way to tell one kind of a link from the other. Tantek mentioned the "rel" standard for hrefs that he used in his XFN work. Basically, the rel attribute was a way to describe the relationship implied in a link. With XFN, I could say that Tantek is a friend of mine by putting "rel=friend" in a link to his site. I suggested we just do the same thing here, using "rel=tag" to allow a blogger to say "with this link, I intend to tag my post as being about the subject I'm linking to."
The best part about this technique was we could read the tag from the location in the href. So if someone wanted to tag their post "iPod" they could link to any URL that ended in that text, whether it was our tag page (technorati.com/tag/iPod) or the product page at Apple (apple.com/ipod) or the Wikipedia entry (wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipod). All would result in the post getting tagged as being about iPod.
We were making the taggers do a little bit of work to be included, but it made sense to ask the people who wanted to participate to do the work, instead of the people who just wanted to make a pointer.
In the first week of January 2005, Technorati founder David Sifry and coder Kevin Marks sat down and kicked out a beta version in a weekend. Dave wrote a service that grabbed the feeds from other tag providers, Kevin coded up a spider that would crawl blogs looking for those rel tags. Kevin also added an awareness of categories in RSS and Atom to the spider, so people could use those, too. I designed some templates to encourage fun browsing.
Tagging in Technorati was released on January 14, 2005. And we knew at the time that any search service could read the rel=tag standard. We wanted them to! The success of tags would be good for us, good for bloggers, and good for the web in general.
Since then it's been one of our most beloved features, and not just because it's a browsing experience as I wrote back in January. It's because tags are carefully created visible metadata that, for the most part, you can trust. When a blogger says their post, photo, or link is about iPod, you can generally believe it.
Together we're creating a web that's both more organized and more human. A web where the content creators are in control of how their words are categorized, not some academic in an ivory tower. A web where the difference between a reader and a writer gets blurrier every day.
And I'm so happy I could play some small part in helping it along.
Uploaded by Heather on 22 July 2005, 8.30pm PDT.
Someday I'm gonna write a post called, "So I Married a Photoblogger."
Jon Stewart mentioned the Bring Back The Couch Campaign on the Daily Show tonight. He said:
Apparently there is a campaign ... to bring back the couch to the program. I've got some bad news. The couch ... died. It was surrounded by family. Assorted recliners and such. It was a terrible whoopie cushion accident. But it is no more. All of us would like nothing more than to have the couch back. Just know that the couch right now is being sat on by someone else who's dead.
The couch may be lost, but then again, so are the annoying animations behind the speakers that rolled out with the new set. And tonight, the blurry background images went away, too! Was the teasing from Billy Bob Thorton last night the last straw? Whatever the reason, tonight saw the return of the humorous images in boxes that I lamented losing last week. Smells like progress.
Oh yeah, also, the show was a fantastically sharp and and hysterically funny look at the John Roberts nomination, and exactly the thing I turn to them for every night.
What? I'm a designer. First thing's first.
Today I wondered what people were saying about Jon Stewart's new Daily Show set. So I did a Technorati search for "Daily Show" "Jon Stewart" "New Set" Desk Couch. The top three results were all within the last 24 hours:
The funny part is, while all three present differing opinions on the new set, they all use the same Blogger template. Jon Stewart fans prefer Minima?
Personally, I love the show and trust them to evolve it according to their vision. But I agree that the new backgrounds are distracting and I kinda miss the boldness of the foreground graphic overlays. Stewart always seemed uneasy when they got the laughs, though. ("Oh you like that pun, huh? Hmph.") Backgrounding and softening them seems to detract from their humorous punch.
As for the couch, yeah, I miss it. But it always seemed like an uncomfortable layout, the way guests had to sit all scrunched up on one side, twisting their necks to face Stewart. Is say: bring back the stools from the old MTV show! (Yes, I'm a longtime fan.)
Just don't stop doing what you do, Daily Show peeps. You're the best thing on television.
UPDATE: Just saw tonight's show. Hooray for the non-moving orange background during the first half. But did you see the menacingly enlarging Newsweek cover during the interview with Michael Isikoff? I literally had to look away to avoid getting dizzy. Please, Daily Show, chill out on the motion for the sake of motion.
Some days I feel like I really know what I'm doing. Some days, not so much. But no matter how bad the lapse in self-confidence, there's one thing I always know: How to make coffee. And since this site has my name at the top of it, I'm here to tell you the Derek Powazek Preferred Method of Coffeemaking. Feel free to take notes.
Step 1: Gather Ingredients
Step 2: Make Some Coffee
So that's what I know about coffee. It's not much, but it's gotten me this far.
It's my little tradition to redesign the ol' dotcom around the new year, just to keep things interesting. And today, I finally got around to it. For those playing along, yes, that's only six months late. A new record!
Being a remedial CSS student, the grey boxy design this site was sporting until about five minutes ago was my first real all-CSS design (for powazek.com, anyway. My clients always got the good stuff - cobber's children and all that). So this time I decided to try redesigning by only modifying the stylesheet. And that's what I did. Mostly. I wound up having to do a little in-template tweaking to achieve my favorite feature: the header and footer images.
In general I just wanted to bust out of the drab boxiness of the old design, and embrace the whitespace. The recent redesign of Plasticbag was an inspiration in this regard. White is the new orange.
There's more I want to do here, but I think I'll call it quits while I'm ahead. Hope you like it!
This section is called Just a Thought. It's a blog where I post little pieces of what I'm thinking about at the moment. This page shows thoughts from July 2005, including:
Justice, Cole Valley Style
31 July 2005
How to Make Coffee 2: Revenge of the Nerds
29 July 2005
How Tags Happened at Technorati
25 July 2005
My New Glasses
23 July 2005
Jon Stewart on The Couch
20 July 2005
Jon Stewart fans prefer Minima
14 July 2005
How to Make Coffee
11 July 2005
And only six months late!
2 July 2005
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Working the web since 1995, Derek Powazek is the creator of many award-winning websites, a couple of which still exist. Derek is the cofounder of JPG Magazine and the CCO of 8020 Publishing. Derek lives in San Francisco with his wife, two nutty Chihuahuas, a grumpy cat, and a house full of plants named Fred. More »
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Justice, Cole Valley Style 31 July 2005
How to Make Coffee 2: Revenge of the Nerds 29 July 2005
How Tags Happened at Technorati 25 July 2005
My New Glasses 23 July 2005
Jon Stewart on The Couch 20 July 2005