"And so this is Christmas and what have we done?" Well Mr.Lennon, it has been a fairly packed year. A mixture of highs and lows - but enjoyable all the same. Probably the best moment was the launch of my book back in September. I don't expect to do that many times in my life! Some other highlights include my brother's wedding in Poland and the time Alistapart.com contacted me to say they wanted to publish an article of mine. This year I will be spending Christmas with my folks at home in Portmarnock in Dublin. It is nice to visit there every so often - it is so quiet and relaxing. Following that I will head north to Donegal for a few days on Cruit Island. My brothers and I started a tradition there some years ago, whereby we partake of a short swim at midnight on New Year's Eve. It is always freezing but a lot of fun. Finally, to all visitors of this website - have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. I'll see you again in 2007. Nollaig Shona agus ath-bhliain faoi mhaise dhaoibh go leir. Guim buiochas ar gach cuairteoir a thainig anseo i mbiana. Ta suil agam gur fhoghlaim sibh giota! Slan go dti an bhliain-ur.
Two interesting articles for website managers from ComputerWord. The first discusses 10 things you need to think about before adopting video in your organisation. The second reports on an initiative by ICANN to allow domain names to be created in Non-ASCII languages, e.g. Arabic and Chinese.
Jealousy is a green eyed monster, or so said Othello. Well, my eyes burned a deep forest green this week when I heard that two of my colleagues were invited to hear Neil Armstrong speak at the launch of Microsoft Vista in Dublin. Had I known he would be there, I would have found a way to wangle myself onto the guest list. My enthusiasm stems from the books I have read this year. In mid-summer I read Andrew Smith's excellent "Moon Dust" followed by "A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts" by Andrew Chaikin. Both books left me in thrall of that enterprise. It really was a breathtaking accomplishment and one that is utterly unsurpassed. Chaikin's book was best for getting to know the missions beyond Apollo 11. Without doubt, my favourite must be Apollo 12. Just listen to the chatter between (commander) Peter Conrad and (pilot) Al Bean as they bobble around on the lunar surface. Bean regularly calls his boss 'Babe' (You've got it, babe!) while Cernan hops around whistling "Dum de Dum de Dum" to himself! Their genuine friendship and happiness at being part of Apollo stands out so clearly. And think, in about 10 years time somebody will step onto the moon again. I bet all the test pilots, scientists and astronauts in America are furiously jockeying for position! Indeed—although a mission to Mars is years away yet—it is just possible that the first person to visit that planet is already alive in North America. Having said that, he or she is probably more interested in Sponge Bob Squarepants at the moment, than Orbital Mechanics!
Gerry McGovern was on top form last night at the launch of his new book, "Killer Web Content". If you have ever seen him speak, you will know why he is consistently listed as one of the web's most influential of commentators. Not only are his ideas simple and compelling, his delivery is incredibly entertaining! Take his example of a well known electrical manufacturer. Gerry convinced them of the misunderstandings that could arise from the homepage slogan 'Find a dealer'—could we buy a TV and LSD from these guys?! The key advice I got from the session last night was to bring website customers as close as possible to the content creation process. Indeed, it occured to me afterwards that perhaps readers should be asked to write the website text themselves. For example, would it make sense to invite random (or regular) visitors to a site to suggest better homepage text via some type of online survey? I wonder if anyone has tried it before? Although a lot of trash might be received, some real gems could also emerge. These are likely to be much better than anything marketing can come up with. For one, such users would be entirely unconcerned with 'brand integrity' which—as Gerry described—can be massively obstructive to good content.
A red-letter day approaches! Next week, Gerry McGovern will launch his new book "Killer Web Content" in the salubrious surrounds of the (U2-owned) Clarence Hotel in Dublin. Anyone familiar with my own views on website management will know how strongly influenced I am by Gerry's writing. A regular part of my weekly routine is reading Gerry's email newsletter 'New Thinking'. It is rare indeed that it does not to contain ideas of direct relevance to my job.