april, 25, 2002 archives

if i could travel back in time, i'd twist the arms of early html specifiers to create a way to use something akin to the <a> element to submit form data, so early search engines wouldn't have had to implement the lame heuristic of avoiding pages with a ? in the url because it was the only way to implement a text link to an unsafe operation. (and you don't usually want search engines crawling around doing things that change your site. like the robot who voted down posts on glenn fleishman's weblog.)

i'd also whisper “use web as the hostname” in the ear of the first person that used the barely-pronouncable www. (assuming, of course, i didn't get to the people who developed urls first, and convinced them that having the scheme be part of the name lookup would be a good idea so that http://example.com/ could be directed to the right host at the dns level without telnet://example.com/ having to be the same host.)

yes, the sorts of things i'd do with access to time travel include some fairly modest things. it's annoying when things that were so right (like the overall web architecture) have these annoying burrs that are still annoying all these years later.

here's another one: i'd get the early html specifiers to make the <input type="submit"> element have a property other than value that set the text on the button. (anyone who has ever dealt with having more than one button on a form in a localizable web application knows what i'm talking about here. you end up with hacks like special formats for the name attribute to reduce dependencies between your logic and presentation.)

this essay by derek powazek about community-friendly advertising does a really good job explaining why obnoxious advertising is a losing proposition in a space that people actually care about.

the website for the plaintiffs in the idealab shareholder suit really is doing itself a disservice by not taking advantage of the fact that cindy margolis is one of the shareholders bringing the suit. (or the fact that she's appearing in a movie with rap superstars shaq and vanilla ice, carrot top, and one of the members of 'n sync.)

the infamous megnut has written a very nice piece on using personas in designing a web application. it sounds like a great technique. one other trap that i think people fall into is making something overly pretty, or optimized for first-time use, that make it a bear to use on a regular basis. it seems that thinking about how a web application fits into the long-term work habits of a persona would help avoid that trap. there's some interesting thoughts in the related discussion, too.

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