All posts by Jeff

Jeff Guin is a #digitalheritage specialist. His personal mission is to help people discover and protect their cultural heritage through web communications.

FOWD: Holy Cheesophile! A presentation that’s practical

Hicks Cheesophile

For a while now, I’ve been trying to adopt the Beyond Bullet Points presentation style outlined in Cliff Atkinson’s book of the same name. Some folks call it the Web 2.0 style as well. It focuses on gaining audience buy-in by connecting them to the material through high-impact visuals. It’s essentially linear storytelling. In fact, Atkinson tells the presenter to outline the presentation in “Acts”–just like plays or television shows.

I don’t know if John Hicks of Hicksdesign knows of this concept, but he carried it out wonderfully. He took the audience through the process of redesigning a website–starting with the problems with the original, all the way through the redesign. Humorous and thoughtful, it was enough to keep me awake for the hour after my grease-laden lunch. Considering I had a severe case of jetlag as well, that’s saying something!

The best thing about Hicks’ style is that he talked about the underlying “whys” of the redesign put the super-geeky css talk in context and HELPED A NEWBIE “GET IT.” He could conduct a seminar series or write a university curriculum this way. What a service to help the web designers of the world use both sides of their brains!

I’m buying the Conference in a Box just for this presentation!

FOWD: Print is the New Web

Image via CrunchBase

As a public relations practitioner who does a good bit of design for both print and web, this topic intrigued me. Elliot Jay Stocks is one of the social media/web design deities of Carsonified (for the moment anyway) so this session was a must-see for me. He began by stating he came up with the provocative title and then shoehorned a presentation into it. Fair enough; it turned out well nonetheless.

He began by showing examples of print, such as book covers, and described how to find in them inspiration for web design. He then progressed to other print media and used a process of overlays to demonstrate how print design elements can be effectively ported into web design. It’s made me look at the process in a new way. I’ve already started scanning bookstores (since I’m in them all the time anyway) and magazine racks for great design ideas.

I twittered during this session about whether there is a conference out there that addresses a holistic view of print and web, allowing designers to consider both out the outset of a project.

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FOWD: User experience v. brand experience

pearce and clarke

Steve Pearce of Poke and Andy Clarke of Stuff and Nonsense had presentations that basically boil down to the fact that you have to remember your audience and make sure your site is not only beautiful, but functional as well. Pearce’s presentation replete with handdrawn cartoons with a torn-paper background was a brilliant demonstration of the user experience iceberg concept. Though I remember being entertained by Andy’s talk, I think his persona overwhelmed the subject matter, because I honestly can’t remember any of the points he made. I do remember that he has the longest e-mail address in the universe. Which is more important, I guess, because at least I can contact him to find out what his points were, if I’m interested.

FOWD: Finding inspiration from design

Paul McNeil

Patrick McNeil kicked off FOWD this morning with design examples from his aggregation site Design Meltdown. His ideas for “living” inspiration–know your sources, practice, and have your inspiration detector “always on”–were commonsensical kind of things that make a difference. But it was his examples of these traits that were particularly helpful.

For example, “just practice” inspires no one. However, a practice regimen, like the “one design a day” concept really changed my point of view. Structured practice is the key. Even if it’s just-get-it-out-of-the-way crap practice.

His notations about trends in web design were interesting. Brown is a big color now (new WordPress admin, and even the FOWD site itself). Oversize banners, formerly a no-no, are on the rise. I think Matt Mullenweg beat that trend by a few years at least, though he said at WordCamp Dallas he planned to reduce it somewhat. And no more eye burning colors like hot pink. McNeil says colors are starting to get softer as Web 2.0 settles into its groove.

Perhaps the trend I found most interesting, and one that made a lot of sense to me, is the horizontal scrolling site. Monitors are cinema-shaped now, instead of roughly square. And lots of people are using multiple monitors. So it makes sense that a site would have more horizontal space. Karlik Design is a beautiful illustration of the concept.

Look at map … reorient … walk 50 ft … repeat

I’ve decided I am directionally hopeless. It’s bad enough on a grid, but give me streets that curve and slope and go round and through parks where folks drive and walk on the opposite side I’m used to, and you can give me up for lost.

So it was getting to the conference this morning. On the bright side, I got to see parts of jolly ole London that I’d never have seen otherwise. These folks really have the garden thing going on and I like it! They offer a nice spot for me to rest when I’m trying to figure out where to go next.

A new view on Pride and Prejudice

I’ve always really liked the story of Pride and Prejudice, but heretofore reading it was a little ambitious for me. With it’s stilted phrasing and long, looong speeches, I never could quite seem to read it all before moving on to a Western or a Star Trek novel.

I only got a good sense of the story from the old movie with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. Well casted and well acted, it’s in the top 10 of my favorite films. Also, PBS recently ran a new version during its Jane Austen film series. I don’t know the actors, but it was very good as well and had a little more depth than the 1939 version.

Well, I finally found a way to READ and enjoy Pride and Prejudice recently. There’s an online service called Booklit that allows you to read a book by e-mail. Each weekday, they send another portion of the book equivalent to what one can read in about five minutes. Perfect for my easily distracted brain.

A moment ago, I finished reading the 77th installment in a series of 149. Halfway through! Reflecting on these last couple of installments, I found myself enjoying them a lot more … almost savoring them. Granted, they were the emotional scenes when Darcy proposes to Elizabeth, against his better judgment, to which Elizabeth replies “get lost.” But there was more color there. I could hear their voices. Imagine the setting.

Without my realizing it, just BEING here among the streets and accents and structures here in London made small parts of the story suddenly explode with color in my mind.

It’s interesting to consider how important a sense of time and place are to a story. Indeed, my most favorite books feature those concepts as uncredited characters. But there must be something about being present in those settings that enlivens the story so much more.

I think that’s why heritage values are so important to me. All of our lives are stories. And when I see or touch something that has managed to stretch through and beyond the lives of us mere mortals, it’s some sort of affirmation that’s beyond my thinking to define.

I’m thinking objects but books definitely fit that category as well. Pride and Prejudice was written how long ago? And yet, someone like me can still experience it thanks to the talent of a writer and the value a society placed on preserving its context. Maybe I’ll have to put together a travel guide based on my favorite book list!


After calling Nadina and subsequently dropping off my bag at her flat, I decided to wander a bit (with my map, of course!) until she got off work. Instead of the hoped-for bookstore, the path led to the fashion district. Fish out of water indeed. The phone rings. It’s Nadina. She asks where I am.

“Walking past Hugo Boss toward Sloane Park.”

“DON’T MOVE. I be there in five minutes!”

So there I stood. The short, fat American in front of 20 ft. window posters of European male models in bikini briefs. I made it three minutes on the busy sidewalk and then eased on over to an empty bench in Sloane Park.

“JCheff!” I finally hear, as she bounds over and practically leaps into my arms. I had visions of Tigger and Pooh.  Just like old times. We hug for about a minute before she takes my arm and starts dragging me down the street, peppering me with questions about ElizaBeth, Kaleigh and gossip about Natchitoches. My, my do we really have three years to catch up on? When she left Natchitoches, EBeth was about 7 months pregnant. So much has happened since then.

Before long, we see a beautiful older couple walking toward us. Nadina gestures wildly. “This is what I will look like when I get old,” she says. “We should all be so lucky,” I said.

The couple turns out to be her parents, who arrived in London from Argentina about a half-day earlier than me. They are the kind of folks you meet and instantly know they are good, loving people. We know where Nadina gets it now.

Back to the flat now, the ladies are making a spaghetti supper while Mr. Reussman and I–two men with accents AND auditory perception disorders–have been trying to converse. Luckily, Nadina’s friend Rob has been here. He’s a conservator here in England and knows a little Spanish. It’s a fun evening.