Scripting News for 8/22/07

Anatomy of a Flickr photo (its metadata) 

Thanks to great advice yesterday from SN readers, I am now able to loop over all my photos from a script.

Today I wrote a glue script for Flickr.photos.getInfo, which returns a table of structured information about the picture. It’s a fascinating piece of metadata, and something a lot of people should look at, but I don’t imagine too many have, because it’s buried under so layers of code.

So I took a snapshot of the metadata for a picture that I took at BarCamp last weekend. The page is not dynamic, so if notes or tags get added, the snapshot won’t change. More: The data from flickr.photos.getSizes for the same pic.

PS: The table was generated from an age-old Frontier macro that I had a lot of trouble locating.

Where Today’s Links have gone 

More and more I’m posting my daily links on Twitter.

There may be a way to synch up with the website, I’ll think about it, but in the meantime, you may want to join Twitter and subscribe, or subscribe to the feed in a RSS reader.

Critique of Gnomedex, day 2 

Chris Pirillo, the Gnomedex conference host, responds to yesterday’s review.

I just read the comments on Chris’s post, they’re pretty interesting. Of course I also ready Chris’s post. Not sure what to make of it, and maybe I don’t have to draw any conclusions. It’s his conference, he gets to decide where it goes, it’s an expression of his values, what he thinks is important. I never questioned that. But whether I’m part of that will be a function of where he decides to take it, and that’s my choice to make.

I place a very high value on discourse. The idea of sitting in a dark room with 300 other people listening to someone say nothing for 1 hour really bothers me. In my mind I start multiplying, figuring out how much time is being wasted, and how much better it could be used. Think of all the ideas locked up in all those brains. Is this the best we can do?

To me, this year’s Gnomedex was the kind of conference I was talking about in my What is an Unconference piece. I know we can do much better, I’ve seen it done, by the participants in the four BloggerCons. I saw it done at BarCamp last weekend in Palo Alto. I saw it in the hallways at Gnomedex, some of those conversations were so juicy, everyone should have heard them. Many of them were much more interesting than what was being talked about on stage.

BTW, people who weren’t there think Calacanis was the star of GD2007, because in the post-show flamage, he hogged the attention. In reality, he gave a lackluster talk, an obvious ad. Most people zoned out after an attempt to discuss it with him. Only now are we able to begin to have a discussion about the conference itself. His MO is obvious, he picks Internet fights to draw attention to himself.

Scott Rosenberg: “Gnomedex is no more exempt from the laws of public speaking than any other conference: If a keynote speaker can’t be bothered to prepare a cogent talk, the audience has a right to its disgruntlement.”

How things get better 

I’ve said it here many times in many ways, if you make a tech product or service, there will always be problems — bugs, system failures, human errors. The question isn’t whether your product is perfect, it’s how do you respond when it breaks.

The first time I got bad news about a product was when I asked a friend to use the software I was working on. He wasn’t a programmer, he had never used a computer. An educated intelligent person, roughly my age. (When I was young, believe it or not, there were many people who had never used a computer.)

Before he had fully settled in I knew it wasn’t going to work. I was able to play out, in my mind, what was about to happen. The software would say nothing to him, so how could he know what to do. I waited and what I predicted did happen. He looked at me and asked “What do I do now?”

That’s where the conversation between product and user begins. A first step must be evident, then a second and a third. At some point, a choice. Eventually, a “virtuality” reveals itself — a world with its own laws and logic, it’s own sense of how things work, so a user’s guess at how something works actually does. You build trust, one step at a time, knowing all along at some point the house of cards will fall down. (Something like that happened to Skype a few days ago.)

If you want to make a product that people use then you have to pay attention to their experience when they use it. The better you are at understanding, the better your product will become over time. The inverse is true as well. If you deny the value of feedback, or deflect it, your product will never get better.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by chris on August 22, 2007 at 9:28 am

    “… some of those conversations were so juicy, everyone should have heard them. Many of them were much more interesting than what was being talked about on stage.”

    I wonder how many of those conversations are catalyzed (even if indirectly) by what has been said on stage. I know that when I go to my professional conferences (not in the tech field) I am stimulated to think and consider new avenues by listening to research from subjects only tangentially related to my own. Not always, but it’s healthy every now and again to just listen. No?

    Reply

  2. it’s healthy every now and again to just listen. No?

    Of course! :-)

    I spent 99 percent of my time at GD this year listening.

    Reply

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