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Why My Mother Loves the Internet

A few years back I did something that had serious ramifications for my family. There were unexpected consequences, some serendipitous, others just scary. It started as simple fun, but then became increasingly more intense. There were moments I thought we would totally lose control. But then things plateaued and levelled out. But for a minute there....

What did I do? I opened a Facebook account for my mother.

How Blogging Improves Social Media

When I created this website, I really wasn't going to start a blog here. I swear. But then I read a friend's Facebook update, or should I say updates. It started with one sentence about a morning on the beach. Ten individual entries later and three screens on my TweetDeck and I felt like I needed a shower to get the sand out of my hair. I now knew what she ate, wore, saw , did (and it wasn't that interesting) and smelled.

Is that what Facebook updates were made for? Really?

The Sociology of the Forum and How to Prevent Freedom of Speech Tragedies

Long ago, about 252,288,000 seconds ago in programming time, Clay Shirky gave a speech called A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy. In it, among other things, he talks about how group members' (users') behaviour can wreak havoc on an open social entity of any kind (open being the key term here). He talks about the need to control members of any group by having clear rules to keep order.

5 Top Ways to Piss Off your Website Programmer

If you've ever contracted a programmer, whether it be through a company or a freelancer, you've likely encountered some rather frustrating responses to your requests. Programmers aren't always right, but for the most part, the ones I know are honest and have the goals of the client in mind. In general, you don't want to upset him -- it's simply not in your best interest.

The Search Engine Optimization Conundrum

Think you need SEO help?

Let's try something. Google "SEO". Then click on the "10" in the Gooooooooogle pager at the bottom. Go ahead and do it. I'll wait...

See how many SEO companies are ranked 90 or more? Granted, SEO is an extremely competitive search term, and if every one of those companies was doing everything right with their own sites, still someone would have to be number 100, right?

Pitfalls in Communication with Developers

(The following is based on actual events)

You have a fairly good idea of how you want your new website to look. You spend some time searching around for a developer, get some feedback and advise here and there, and are ready to proceed. You have someone plan your site, maybe add a few wireframes, a designer designs something that looks great on paper and the developers start working.

Planned Obsolescence and Your Website

There's a great documentary called The Light Bulb Conspiracy which basically explains how planned obsolescence is built into the capitalist system and without it, capitalism would be in trouble. The light bulb is designed to last no more than 1000 hours, printers are designed to fail after a certain number of pages, computers, cars, washing machines and even bras are designed to last a limited amount of time.

What about your website?

The Organizational Chart Effect

Has this happened to you? You visit a website of a company or organization, and you're fairly sure you know what you're looking for, but can't seem to find the correct menu link. For some strange reason, the links around the site just don't make any sense. You've had experience with the organization -- at least as a client -- and you think that you should know where to find things, but you can't.

Eventually, many, many clicks later, you find what you're looking for under some esoteric sub-category.

The Most Important Question When Creating Your Website

I have created or been involved in scores of websites in my 15 years as a web programmer, and one of the hardest tasks is convincing clients that they're missing the point. By the point I mean the point of having a web site at all. What usually happens is that I ask them one question, and after that, sometimes, they get it (and sometimes they don't).

That question is: What do you want your users to do when the get to your site?

Making the Upgrade

You just noticed that your website only takes up 40% of your new super wide screen that you bought yourself for your birthday. And it looks a bit like it was designed in the mid-90's. Your clients complain that even after searching for the exact name of your company, it's address and your full name, you still only show up on the third page of Google. And you can't find the phone number of your friend's cousin's wife who can change that spelling mistake you can't believe you haven't seen until today.

It's time to upgrade your website.

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