Card Sorting: The Book

Rosenfeld Media has announced their first author (other than Lou himself): Card Sorting by Donna Maurer.

Card sorting is a technique that is used to gather user input to design the information architecture of a site. The technique is easy to prepare and run, and great fun. But sometimes the results can be hard to interpret and it is not always clear how to use them to design the IA.

This short, practical, and accessible book will provide the basics that designers need to conduct a card sort in a project. More importantly, it will explain how to understand the outcomes and apply them to the design of a site.

I use card sorting exercises with clients quite often. I’m looking forward to reading the book when it is done and hopefully participating in its creation (this is a beta book type of publishing process).

Messaging Bloggers: Doesn't Work

Advertising Age has a great article on why marketers must really understand blogging before they engage in that space: Resist Corrupting Blogs With Messages. Those who start sending press releases to bloggers will only incite ridicule, if anything.

So, if marketers enter the blogosphere by messaging, they will stand out like an ad on a birthday cake. Messaging simply won’t work in the blogosphere because bloggers have gotten too used to the sound of honest talk with other customers. Worse, messagers will suffer perhaps irreparable harm to their reputations. Besides, blogs are much more interesting than marketing messages.

The opportunity is not for marketers to pick off the chickens one by one but for marketers to unlearn what they have spent so long teaching themselves. The blogosphere is a vibrant human conversation. If marketers can learn to enter that conversation as humans first, talking honestly about what they care about, identifying themselves and exposing themselves, then they will be welcome in the blogosphere. But, of course, that means they cannot enter it as marketers.

Martin for ASAE Scoble

Ben Martin wrote an April fools post about how he had just been hired as ASAE & the Center’s membership evangelist and would be blogging for them full time.

It is with equal parts excitement and sadness that I announce that I’ll be leaving my current job to join the staff of ASAE & The Center for a newly created position: Member Evangelist. It seems this little blog and my unmatched enthusiasm for the CAE has gotten more than a little attention over on Eye Street, and after a couple of interviews with Susan Sarfati and John Graham, they have made an offer I simply can’t refuse. My primary duties will be blogging on a new official ASAE & The Center blog, implementing a video podcast featuring members (e-mail me if you’d like to be among the first members interviewed) and ASAE staff, and undertaking a word of mouth member outreach campaign. I start May 1, so I’ll continue blogging here until that date, but of course, a condition of my employment is that I don’t maintain a personal blog about the CAE or Association Management or the Association Management industry. So, goodbye — and hello!

As someone commented on his post, I wish it were true! Hiring a Scoble-like person for ASAE is probably the best idea I’ve heard for them in a long time. Despite their best efforts, I think ASAE still has a transparency problem, and I’m actually in the governance. Ben would be a great person to help with that issue in that kind of role.

The Permeable Nonprofit

Here is an interesting essay from Nonprofit Online News: The Permeable Nonprofit

People Support Causes, Not Tax-Exempt Corporations

Organizations could respond to this assault on their boundaries with policies of control, as many did with email and are trying to do with blogging, were it not for some critical facts: The people who are in these new networks are their people. The issues being taken up by these networks are their issues. The passion that is driving these networks is the passion they were counting on.

This fits well with some of the ideas I discussed in my Association 2.0 article.

(Via World Changing.)

Under the Surface of Beta Publishing

The Pragmatic Programmer’s blog, PragDave, has a post up about what they do under the surface to be successful at publishing their books. They have gotten a lot of attention about their success in selling beta versions of their books and involving the community of buyers in improving the final product.

Behind the stuff that you see us doing, there’s an underlying philosophy and set of practices. They all reinforce each other. For example, the fact we have continuous builds and author-typesetting means we can create beta books that are living documents. The fact we have an errata system hyperlinked from these beta book pages means we can put feedback in the hands of our authors, and hence we can get updated revisions out faster. Each of these aspects of what we do is a small thing in isolation, but we have hundreds of them, and they all add up to a cohesive, and we feel revolutionary, whole. Copying just the visible aspects misses this depth.

I think the post is a bit unfair, or unrealistic, to expect no one else to be successful in using the model they have developed. However, the point that you have to have a compatible business philosophy and practices in order to do it, is a critical one. Louis Rosenfeld may be someone who can successfully replicate their success, with his new publishing venture, Rosenfeld Media.

2005 Best of High Context Blog

I just went through my archive of posts for 2005 and have collected links to the entries I think are the most interesting or I’m the most proud of. Here they are in reverse chronological order:

Can You Get a Bad Grade on a Wikipedia Entry?
From just this week, where I mea culpa on making an error in the unconference entry of wikipedia. This got me a link from Dave Winer, which provided about 700 pageviews of that entry in 24 hours. A new record!

Conference vs. Unconference
This post was inspired after reading about several recent conferences that let the attendees drive and provide the content rather than it being delivered top down. With the help of a few others, I compile a comparison list of attributes between traditional conferences and unconferences.

The 15 Minute Web Plan
Create a plan of action for your web site in 15 minutes.

5 Ways to Improve the Online Dues Payment Process
A list of tips on improving the dues payment experience online. The tips focus on the goal of making it as fast and easy as possible for them to pay you money.

Associations Blogging Katrina
A round-up of blogs by associations covering the Katrina disaster. I think the most compelling stories by associations on this issue were told via blogs in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane.

I Read My News via HTTP
How RSS will eventually be used so widely you won’t even realize you are using it.

Content Garden Hoses
A favorite analogy of mine on managing web content flow in a large, decentralized organization.

KMpings is Dead, Long Live!
Retirement of the KMpings trackback service after a run of a couple years.

Announcing High Context Consulting!
This one was personally important to me, obviously. It has been a great first 6 months of business since my launch. This experience has exceeded my expectations. Thanks to all of you who have supported me!

Managing Logins for a Members-only Web Site
General recommendations on managing member logins based on years of painful experience. 🙂

Association Weblog Round-up
Another round-up post on association blogs around the web. Some by associations, some by association people.

Can you get a bad grade on a Wikipedia entry?

I believe that Dave Winer would give me a low one based on his reaction to my incorrect attribution of coining the term ‘unconference’ to him rather than Lenn Pryor in the unconference entry I started. Sorry about that Lenn!

John Robb points out that Dave could have easily made the edit in addition to just complaining about it. A few folks have jumped in to clean up the entry some more since Dave’s post.

I think the point here is not that I didn’t approach writing a wikipedia article like writing a research paper. The point is that I got the ball rolling in about 5 minutes for a topic that really deserved an entry. 20 other people can each spend five minutes improving it and eventually you’ll have a nice solid piece. Is this a bad thing?

Update: Dave responds in the comments to John’s post discussing his concerns with Wikipedia.