Bookmarks for March 21st through March 24th

These are my links for March 21st through March 24th:

  • Software Usability – The “Harry Potter” Solution

    "The idea was inspired by an article I read in the Harvard Business Review…dubbed “Harry Potter marketing” (for the well-known fictional character who ages with his readers), the authors contend that… Rather than targeting a certain age group, either implicitly or explicitly, with each of their brands — and then attempting to transition their customers from one brand to the next as they age — the article suggests marketing the same product to the same customers throughout their entire lifetimes, and evolving the product along with that customer segment. So a given face cream, say, might originally be formulated for women in their twenties, and its formulation changed gradually over the decades so that those same women could continue to use it their whole lives. Meanwhile, a new brand would be launched a decade later for the next generation of twenty-somethings, which would grow up with that brand…


    French documentary recreates Stanley Milgram experiment and has game show contestants shocking a contestant (actor) when he gets questions wrong. 80% of participants kept "shocking" the actor even when he screamed out for them to stop.

Signs: The most useful thing you pay no attention to. – By Julia Turner – Slate Magazine

Guerilla Public Service

Bad signs can send perfectly ordinary citizens into spirals of obsession. Take Richard Ankrom, a Los Angeles artist who thought the junction of the 110 freeway and the 5 freeway was badly marked. In 2001, he put on an outfit that looked like the ones Caltrans highway workers wore, climbed up onto a freeway gantry, and mounted an aluminum sign he'd manufactured himself according to state specs. The sign stayed up for nine months without anyone noticing what he'd done; when the story leaked to the press and Caltrans finally cottoned on, the agency left the sign up for eight more years (eventually replacing it with one of their own that served the same function).

via Signs: The most useful thing you pay no attention to. – By Julia Turner – Slate Magazine. (Thanks Joel!)

marchFIRST – (37signals)

Rick 02 Mar 10

In 2000, my company was gearing up for an IPO so we hired marchFirst write up our business plan (wasn’t my idea). And they did it for the low, low price of $250,000! All they did was take our existing business plan and add in some boiler plate dotcom jargon. I still can’t believe they got away with that, and even worse, I can’t believe that companies like mine were brainwashed enough to think that was money well spent.

via marchFIRST – (37signals).

Genius! I am going to start a business plan writing business right away. I had no idea you could charge $250k.


Luke wants to know why he can’t explode a potato in the microwave. He then asked Ethan, What is the age when your parents are no longer in charge of you? Ethan answered, “Twenty-three, but you won’t want to do that then. You will have responsibility. We need to do it now.”

via Sandbergs: Responsibility.

Context for non-family: These are little kids, 10 and 7.

Shopping Cart-iquette «

If you find yourself absolutely unable to replace the cart, after your best effort, just ask me for help. I'm very good at putting them back. I'm kind of strong. I can push the whole row together tighter. I've practiced and I can often roll a cart into the back of the last cart in the corral from a distance of 50 feet. It's great sport, and if a cart sails wide on me, I just laugh at it while I chase it and put it back like it goes.

via Shopping Cart-iquette «

How the Israelis do airport security –

Yeffett: We must look at the qualifications of the candidate for security jobs. He must be educated. He must speak two languages. He must be trained for a long time, in classrooms. He must receive on-the-job training with a supervisor for weeks to make sure that the guy understands how to approach a passenger, how to convince him to cooperate with him, because the passenger is taking the flight and we are on the ground. The passengers have to understand that the security is doing it for their benefit.

via How the Israelis do airport security –

This sounds exactly like TSA to me…

Milestones on Minorities and Poverty in Southern Schools –

“We’ve got to figure out how to break the cycle of poverty, and the way we’re doing it now isn’t working,” said Hank M. Bounds, the Mississippi commissioner of higher education and, until recently, the state superintendent of schools. “An affluent 5-year-old has about the same vocabulary as an adult living in poverty.”

via Milestones on Minorities and Poverty in Southern Schools –

This just kills me. So horrible.

Rory Marinich’s journal

“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ‘tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”

He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water

I think this is one of Cummings’s most accessible poems, because he avoids some of his punctuation tricks that scare people. The concept is simple: The poem is a strangled jingoistic line delivered by a sweating politician following American deaths. What’s incredible about this poem, what made me spit beverage when I first realized it, is this: Despite having a very modern, unique feel to it, this poem is a perfect sonnet. Fourteen lines, very nearly iambic pentameter (though it’s broken, some passages here fit the form splendidly), and the lines all rhyme, yet it goes unnoticed because the poem works so well within its form. It even followers the slightly more obscure sonnet convention of having a “turn” on the ninth line: The first eight lines are merely regurgitated political lines mashed together into a poem, then on the ninth line the topic turns to the dead. The rhyme pattern mirrors this, by going from an ABAB pattern to an ABCBAC.

via Rory Marinich’s journal.

Designing for social traction: Turn a user into a passionate customer *before* making them sign up for your service – Sachin’s Posterous

But sign-up free posting is also great for group sites. When you setup a group Posterous site, you add contributors by adding their email address in site settings. Those people can now email with no account. We do see these people engage with Posterous in the long term with no account, especially users who aren’t tech savvy.

Using Posterous without an account isn’t just some gimmick we did with email, it’s something we believe in through and through. Registrations forms and other hurdles slow down adoption. We want to prove to you how valuable our service is *before* we ask you to sign up. That’s why we allow this flow not just through email, but through our Twitter posting API and even our iPhone application.

Design View / Andy Rutledge – Gestalt Principles of Perception: 1 – Figure Ground Relationships

Almost everything that makes graphic design work can be found in a set of laws and principles collectively known as the Gestalt principles of perception. There is no more powerful tool at a designer’s disposal than a comprehensive grasp of these principles. By the same token, those who don’t have a good grasp of them are lost when faced with design projects and often go “fishing” on design gallery sites, being relegated to cliché motifs and layouts. But clients deserve better than our vague understanding. If you haven’t already, resolve to learn the Gestalt principles of perception.