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Ajax, Etc

I knew about Ajax and heard a lot of buzz about it at sxsw, but only now have I begun to appreciate its significance.

Here’s the article that triggered it all . Derek Powazek wrote about its usability implications. For one thing, form validation can be done in real time instead of after clicking submit.

The core takeaway for me is this: Stop thinking about the web in terms of pages that go from a server to a browser, and instead think of pages as collections of chunks that can each go to and from a server as needed. In many ways, it reminds me of the revolutionarily simple lesson from blogs: When you think of the web as posts instead of pages, important things happen. In the same way, thinking of the web as dynamic portions of pages opens up all sorts of user interface opportunities.

Michael Mahemoff writes more about Ajax and the User Experience.

As cool as this is, I haven’t seen much muttering about this in the plone world, so I’m not going to worry about it. If I were a genius programmer, I would probably use the ajax engine to create interactive text-based stories. This doesn’t sound impossible. Hyperfiction has so far been an interesting failure mainly because of latency between clicking from one page to another, and ajax would pretty much solve that problem.

I’m still trying to get my head around Janice Fraser’s description of the Consumating online dating site (started by the irrepressible Ben Brown).

Frivolous dating questions aside, Brown has found a situation where self-tagging makes a lot of sense: dating. The problem with online dating is bland descriptions, and in tagging you have an incentive to use as many tags as possible (both unique and general). While I appreciate innovations such as technorati and delicious, I never have derived value from them (not yet at least). Maybe the primary use is to establish correlations between concepts. On the other hand, what good is proper keyword tagging of actual content. People don’t really search for poems or novels or music on search engines; they read blogs and annotated bibliographies. Even amazon.com’s concordances (while entertaining) don’t really shed light on anything or make me more inclined to buy anything. Nonfiction works, maybe, creative works, definitely no.

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