Further easy targets

Three facile attacks against vaguely risible and besotted targets. We’re feeling uncharitable today. What can we say?

  1. Just how do you transform Teleprompter copy for the Web?

    Have you even imagined doing that? Isn’t it indeed too shudderingly terrrible to imagine – scripts for blow-dried anchormen in podunk Midwestern towns “repurposed” for the Web?

    Convert the script from upper case to upper and lower case, correctly capitalizing as you go along. Many newsroom computer systems let you drop an entire script to lower case with a single keystroke.
    Change the sound bites to quotes, adding the correct attribution. To speed up the process, reporters should get in the habit of writing out the full text of each sound bite in their package scripts. Here’s the correct format: “The scumbag shot at us,” said Bill Smith, police spokesperson. If the sound bite is more than a simple sentence, split it up and put the attribution in the center: “The scumbag shot at us,” said Bill Smith, police spokesperson. “He better watch his back.” [Perhaps he had better watch his back – NUblog]
    Drop unnecessary punctuation like ellipses and hyphens, and convert sentence fragments into complete sentences.
    Finally, add links to any relevant reference materials. Tack on interactive elements, pictures and multimedia – and run the spellchecker. See, wasn’t that easy?

    That’s barely a third of the suggested tasks. Why not just rewrite from scratch?

  2. Physical libraries have no choice but to weed out unused materials – sometimes a newspaper a mere eight days old gets pulped. They have reason: There’s only so much space in a room.

    Online, we can keep everything online indefinitely. There is no marginal cost to adding another item, nor do costs accumulate to retain old items. Popularity may follow the same rules as the physical world – new items are hot and interesting until a later item becomes the new one. You never know when your old posting will be of interest to someone. There is no downside to retaining “old” content.

    But perhaps we’ve been wrong about this all the while.

    Check your Web pages. How old are they? Have you updated them lately?

    Check your links to make sure they work. Are there any pages you don’t maintain anymore? Get rid of them! (You can leave them on your own computer if you ever want to go back to them one day, but take them off the Net.) We know it’s not fun to turn a critical eye to ourselves, but starting with yourself before looking outward is the right thing to do.

    Next, spread the word to everyone around you, friends, family, co-workers. Tell people about us. Encourage them (with kindness!) to participate in their own way, by making sure the information they publish on the Web is up to date.

    Sounds a tad too Howard Beale–esque, doesn’t it?

    Are we churlish to point out that Web pages do not need to be “maintained” like, say, a car, a flowerbed, or a coal-fired power plant? You post a page and it works. It then keeps working transparently, running under its own momentum like refuse jettisoned into space – unless your content-management system erratically chews through your archives, randomly removing space characters and specific strings.

    Even pages that decidedly do need to be kept “up to date” should, wherever possible, list a change history that documents the life of the document (NUblog passim).

    Nuke potatoes, not content.

  3. Microsoft flubs Xbox localization: Well, we have to excuse that sort of thing, don’t we? There’s a war on – the war against the freedom to innovate. A company putting so much effort into fighting American laws on its own American soil really cannot be expected to make its products work internationally. As usual, foreigners always have the disadvantage of not being American.

    Xbox glitches Isensee touched on mainly centred on international issues. The game console’s bulky controller repelled Japanese consumers, for instance, forcing Xbox to design a slimmed-down version that comes standard with the Japanese Xbox and as an add-on purchase for U.S. and European users with small mitts.

    “There is a perception we didn’t know what we were doing when it came to the controller,” Isensee said. “What we failed to do is a usability test for a global market. You need to do that, because things that work in the U.S. don’t always work in Japan or Europe.”

    That includes the Xbox start-up screen, which had to be redesigned for the Xbox’s European launch because nobody realized that the German “einstellungen” wouldn’t fit in the same text space as “settings.”

    A journeyman error.

Posted on 2002-04-18