Personal names around the world

How do people’s names differ around the world, and what are the implications of those differences on the design of forms, ontologies, etc. for the Web?


People who create web forms, databases, or ontologies are often unaware how different people’s names can be in other countries. They build their forms or databases in a way that assumes too much on the part of foreign users. This article will first introduce you to some of the different styles used for personal names, and then some of the possible implications for handling those on the Web.

This article doesn’t provide all the answers – indeed in some cases it may not be clear what the best answer is. It attempts to mostly sensitize you to some of the key issues by way of an introduction.

(via Personal names around the world –

Worth reading for the examples they use alone.

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Cardiff Rorschmap

Cardiff Rorschmap

Do these streets look familiar?

Rorschmap screenshots taken of various Cardiff locations. Continue reading

Redesigning news

There has been plenty of interesting discussion about the Andy Rutledge NYT/News redux mockup I linked to a few days ago:

Beautiful by itself isn’t that hard — there are lots of beautiful sites on the web, and lots of talented designers. When it comes to effective story discovery, the innovation has all been in the direction of algorithms and raw feeds. An algorithm is how Facebook surfaces items in your News Feed; a raw feed is how Twitter organizes tweets from the people you follow, in straight reverse chronological order. But neither of those is perfect for human editorial control, which is something news organizations rightly value; there are tons of visual and contextual cues on those complicated pages that tell me what Times editors think is more or less important for me to see.

(via Designing a big news site is about more than beauty –

While Nieman Journalism Lab approached from a journalist’s perspective, Paul Scrivens on Drawar takes a designers view: 

Why can’t news agencies get on the ball and realize they are missing a great opportunity to leap ahead of their competition? Whenever you read about the newspaper industry all you hear about is the decline of revenue and how all papers will soon disappear. Everyone is fighting for eyeballs and the way they do it is by looking exactly like their competition?

Now I know it doesn’t have as much content as the NYT, but don’t you wish that more news sites looked like Gapers Block? Would you ever have a problem going to a beautiful site like that to catch up on what is happening today? Hell, wouldn’t you go back to check even more just because of the pleasant design? We are forced to go somewhere if we want our news and that is what is keeping these horrible news sites alive.

Is it wrong to like the Rutledge redesign? Of course not. It is a beautifully laid out page and the aesthetics are spot on, but I just think news sites need a bit more treatment than what we can get from a blog format. This may requires a whole new line of thinking that we haven’t seen before and I do believe the NYT is on the right path with Skimmer. The site itself probably publishes hundreds of news items a day. The current version of their homepage is how they believe they should handle passing all of the information to their audience. It doesn’t make it right, but it helps to show their line of thinking.

(via Redesigning And Re-Thinking The News –

My posts here tagged news are, IMO, some of the most interesting on this blog. This post is a follow-up to News redux: Fixing news presentation online, and I expect to be posting some more ideas I have on this subject soon, in the same vein as my Permanews: Old news is good news post.

See also:

Permanews: Old news is good news

Most news outlets, including TV news shows and networks, newspapers, news websites, and blogs are targeted at news junkies: they never want to miss a story, and they want to be the first to report it to you.

If you look back on these stories even one week later, the majority of them seem unimportant or redundant in retrospect. And if you stop consuming the firehose for a few days or more, you’re lost — there are very few publications that give a general overview of what has happened, especially when venturing outside of mainstream front-page news and into a subsection, such as technology news.

I want last week’s news, but only what I need to know, and only if it has proven to have relevance beyond the day it was published.

(via More ideas than time: Last week’s news –

I had an idea in this vein a few weeks ago, but neglected to blog about it. I called my idea permanews. Instead of being delayed arbitrarily, the news would stick around until it genuinely started to become irrelevant.

On the Permanews site, every story becomes one story, wiki style. As the story develops, the article grows and changes. There are revision histories and links to related stories etc, but at any point you should be able to visit the story and get a chronological breakdown of what happened.

Critically – and this is key – stories with pending outcomes are flagged for follow-up. If some MP promises some reform by ‘this time next year’, then 356 days later the algorithm promotes the old story as fresh news so it can be checked and updated.

Stories are promoted as headlines based on importance (activity/upvotes), not because they are current or ‘breaking’. (Presumably though, you could filter the stories any number of ways).

The algorithm would be key here: ‘Importance’ would need to trump ‘popularity’ somehow (if that’s even possible).

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News redux: Fixing news presentation online

In working to more appropriately re-imagine digital news, I believe we must first address some fundamental failings of modern news. Among the ideas that need to be addressed are:

  • Headlines should describe, inform, and be powerful. They should be the workhorse of the publication.
  • There is no “edition.” All news is global. All news is local. “Global Edition” and “Local Edition,” etc… are non sequiturs. Navigation and filters should be rational and easy to use.
  • There is no “most popular” news. There is news and there is opinion and they are mutually exclusive. Popularity of stories is something not contextual to news sites, but to social media sites.
  • News is not social media. If it is, it fails to be news.
  • Those whose news reporting is of low quality avoid the marketplace and instead concentrate on the mob/opinion arena.
  • Quality news is valuable. It must therefore have a cost. Quality news is subscription only. You pay for valuable information. Fluff you get for free.
  • Quality news requires quality presentation, free from the ridiculous array of experience-destroying marketing. Payment for the PRODUCT allows for this to happen. Experience-destroying penalties for getting the product for free create a broken system while at the same time destroying the value proposition for payment.

(via News Redux –

This is interesting to me, as I’ve been working on a WordPress theme for news sites, which I think has some nice innovations. I agree with a lot of what Andy Rutledge says, but it’s pretty clear that fixing news design on the web isn’t going to be as easy as he thinks:

Martin Belam also wrote a post about the four key pieces of audience engagement missing from Andy Rutledge’s news redux (I recommend you read the whole piece).

  1. Faces matter. The fake redesign doesn’t use any photos except in the lead image and columnist mugshots. If people are going to engage with a page, they need to be  guided by faces of people in the stories, not faces of people writing the stories.
  2. Users want brief summaries. Users read summaries and expect them. Headlines alone won’t suffice.
  3. Navigation is more than links. It’s about setting the editorial standards of a news site.
  4. News is social. The redux gets rid of any social tools, saying “popularity has nothing to do with news.” Wrong.

(via Fake New York Times Redesign Gets Torn To Pieces On Twitter –

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A History Of The Title Sequence


Designed as a possible title sequence for a fictitious documentary, this film shows a history of the title sequence in a nutshell. The sequence includes all the names of title designers who had a revolutionary impact on the history and evolution of the title sequence. The names of the title designers all refer to specific characteristics of the revolutionary titles that they designed.

A History Of The Title Sequence by Jurjen Versteeg & Lea Jurida
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Graphs speak louder than numbers

With President Obama and Republican leaders calling for cutting the budget by trillions over the next 10 years, it is worth asking how we got here — from healthy surpluses at the end of the Clinton era, and the promise of future surpluses, to nine straight years of deficits, including the $1.3 trillion shortfall in 2010. The answer is largely the Bush-era tax cuts, war spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and recessions.

(via How the Deficit Got This Big –


The 20 most expensive keywords (and another misleading infographic)

This infographic shows that just over half of the top AdWord keywords fall into insurance and loans categories … but hang on … 24% and 12.8% add up to 36.8%, not 50% or more. I’ve knocked up a quick chart in Numbers showing what I think the pie should look like in reality. Am I missing something? Why would somebody even want to misrepresent that data? So they can overcharge finance companies for SEO work?

Still, the data itself is quite interesting (if you still trust it):

The 20 keyword categories with the highest search volume and highest costs per click, thereby netting Google the most money, are:

  1. Insurance (example keywords in this category include “buy car insurance online” and “auto insurance price quotes”)
  2. Loans (example keywords include “consolidate graduate student loans” and “cheapest homeowner loans”)
  3. Mortgage (example keywords include “refinanced second mortgages” and “remortgage with bad credit”)
  4. Attorney (example keywords include “personal injury attorney” and “dui defense attorney”)
  5. Credit (example keywords include “home equity line of credit” and “bad credit home buyer”)
  6. Lawyer (“personal  injury lawyer,” “criminal defense lawyer)
  7. Donate (“car donation centers,” “donating a used car”)
  8. Degree (“criminal justice degrees online,” “psychology bachelors degree online”)
  9. Hosting (“hosting ms exchange,” “managed web hosting solution”)
  10. Claim (“personal injury claim,” “accident claims no win no fee”)
  11. Conference Call (“best conference call service,” “conference calls toll free”)
  12. Trading (“cheap online trading,” “stock trades online”)
  13. Software (“crm software programs,” “help desk software cheap”)
  14. Recovery (“raid server data recovery,” “hard drive recovery laptop”)
  15. Transfer (“zero apr balance transfer,” “credit card balance transfer zero interest”)
  16. Gas/Electricity (“business electricity price comparison,” “switch gas and electricity suppliers”)
  17. Classes (“criminal justice online classes,” “online classes business administration”)
  18. Rehab (“alcohol rehab centers,” “crack rehab centers”)
  19. Treatment (“mesothelioma treatment options,” “drug treatment centers”)
  20. Cord Blood (“cordblood bank,” “store umbilical cord blood”)

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Japan has always been on the forefront of cutting edge robotics. Its roots can be traced back 200-300 years during the Edo period when skilled craftsmen created automata (self-operating machines). Using nothing more than pulleys and weights they were able to make the Karakuri (Japanese automata) perform amazing tasks.

Japan’s modern day robots can be traced back to the Karakuri. Today Hideki Higashino is one of the few remaining craftsmen who is determined to keep the history and tradition of Japanese Karakuri alive.

Karakuri by Matthew Allard
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Rocking the rolling shutter

Here’s something quick and eyebrow-raising to boot this morning. A YouTube guitarist puts an iPhone 4 inside his instrument to capture some rarely seen footage of how the strings oscillate. The awesome effect is further amplified thanks to the way the iPhone 4′s shutter works, he explains in a video description: 

I just happened upon this trick when testing what it was like filming from inside my guitar. Note this effect is due to the rolling shutter, which is non-representative of how strings actually vibrate.

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