Fw: <nettime> "The more you say, the more people tune out your message." (Jacob Nielsen)

Posted by Eduardo Navas | Mon Aug 11th 2003 7:49 p.m.

I had to forward this message. Let us stop the pollution!!

With unbearable Lalaland heat, I wish you the best.

Eduardo Navas
http://navasse.net
http://netartreview.net

----- Original Message -----
From: "geert lovink" <geert@xs4all.nl>
To: "Nettime-l" <nettime-l@bbs.thing.net>
Sent: Monday, August 11, 2003 3:11 PM
Subject: <nettime> "The more you say, the more people tune out your
message." (Jacob Nielsen)

> (Finally, the word is out: Jacob Nielsen is a reborn media ecologist. So,
> you, attention thieves, shut up, and listen to Big Daddy Jacob... Ciao,
> Geert)
>
> Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for August 11 is now online at:
> http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20030811.html
>
> Summary:
>
> Excessive word count and worthless details are making it harder
> for people to extract useful information. The more you say,
> the more people tune out your message.
>
> Saying less often communicates more. Our lives are littered with
extraneous
> details that smother salient information, as these examples from my recent
> travels show.
>
> a.. In the lobby of the Sheraton hotel near Kennedy Airport, an electronic
> sign hangs above a monitor. The sign has two lines of 20 characters each,
> and cycles through the following four messages:
>
> 1.. For Your Information and Convenience
> 2.. The Monitor Underneath Will
> 3.. Indicate the Flight Schedules of All
> 4.. Airlines at JFK Airport
>
> Because the monitor's meaning is obvious to anyone who has ever been on an
> airplane, the sign adds nothing. Worse, it wastes people's time as they
> ponder the cycling text, assuming that it will eventually say something
> important. If the goal is to attract attention to the monitor, the sign
> could simply say:
>
> Schedules for All
> JFK Flights
>
> b..
>
> c.. At San Jose Airport, when you board the shuttle bus from the terminal
> to the parking lot you hear the message: "Welcome to San Jose
International
> Airport." Since you've just flown into San Jose, this information is
hardly
> enlightening. Better to say something like "Welcome. This bus goes to the
> Orange long-term parking lot."
>
> d.. FasTrak is a transponder-based system that lets you automatically pay
> tolls on bridges that cross San Francisco bay. Assuming that your car has
a
> working transponder, when you pass a tollbooth a sign lights up that says
> VALID ETC. The word "VALID" is nice: It indicates that the toll has been
> deducted from your account and you can proceed. But "ETC"? Does it mean
> "etcetera" or perhaps electronic toll collection? In any case, it's an
> irrelevant nuisance and communicates nothing given the context of the
sign.
> Each little piece of useless chatter is relatively innocent, and only robs
> us of a few seconds. The cumulative effect, however, is much worse: we
> assume that most communication is equally useless and tune it out, thus
> missing important information that's sometimes embedded in the mess.
>
> Warning: Superfluous Warnings Are Hazardous
>
> Information pollution is a worldwide scourge that afflicts not just
> travelers but everyone. In the United States, for example, you can't buy a
> lawnmower without a label saying that you're not supposed to mow your
feet.
> Most instruction manuals are littered with "important" warnings that
caution
> against obvious stupidities, burying actual dangers amid a mass of
> irrelevancy. An out-of-control legal system has made a joke of the entire
> warnings concept; products are now less safe because nobody bothers to
read
> warnings anymore.
>
> In information foraging terms, information pollution is like packing the
> forest with cardboard rabbits: frustrated wolves are bound to hunt
> elsewhere.
>
> Internet Pollution
>
> The Internet is the worst polluter of all. Spam isn't even pollution, it's
> attention theft. But even legitimate email is typically copied to more
> people than necessary and contaminated by excess verbiage and endless
reply
> loops. The Web is a procrastination apparatus: It can absorb as much time
as
> is required to ensure that you won't get any real work done. Sites
overflow
> with either low-value stream-of-consciousness postings or bland
corporatese.
> Studies of content usability typically find that removing half of a
> website's words will double the amount of information that users actually
> get.
>
> Let's clean up our information environment. Are you saying something that
> benefits your customers, or simply spewing word count? If users don't need
> it, don't write it. Stop polluting now.
>
> # distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
> # <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
> # collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
> # more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
> # archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net
>
  • neil jenkins | Mon Aug 11th 2003 8:59 p.m.
    ha ha ha
    'The Web is a procrastination apparatus'<snip>
    consider it deleted jacob
    :D
  • Eduardo Navas | Mon Aug 11th 2003 10:56 p.m.
    The funny thing is his message was not that brief; that is, his examples
    rather extensive, but his spirit is on the right track.

    peazze.
    ;)
    eduardoN.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "neil jenkins" <neil@devoid.co.uk>
    To: "Eduardo Navas" <eduardo@navasse.net>; "rhizome" <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Monday, August 11, 2003 5:58 PM
    Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Fw: <nettime> "The more you say, the more people
    tune out your message." (Jacob Nielsen)

    > ha ha ha
    > 'The Web is a procrastination apparatus'<snip>
    > consider it deleted jacob
    > :D
    >
    >
  • curt cloninger | Tue Aug 12th 2003 12:08 p.m.
    Eduardo Navas wrote:

    > The funny thing is his message was not that brief; that is, his
    > examples rather extensive, but his spirit is on the right track.

    http://www.grographics.com/usabilitysucks/magritte.html

    _
    _
  • MTAA | Tue Aug 12th 2003 12:26 p.m.
    IMO the anti-nielson currents in the web design world are a bit childish.

    he's very clear on what his guidelines are good for.

    if you're working on a site similar to Amazon, you might use his guidelines.

    if you're working on something like nikelab.com you won't need many of them.

    designers need to extract from their clients what they need and what
    they want and develop solutions for those needs and wants. if part of
    the solution comes from nielson, good. if part of the solution comes
    from learning from josh davis flash stuff, that's good too.

    there isn't one answer to web design just as there isn't one way to
    approach communication via the web.

    At 11:13 -0400 8/12/03, Curt Cloninger wrote:
    >Eduardo Navas wrote:
    >
    >> The funny thing is his message was not that brief; that is, his
    >> examples rather extensive, but his spirit is on the right track.
    >
    >
    >
    >http://www.grographics.com/usabilitysucks/magritte.html
    >
    >_

    --
    <twhid>
    http://www.mteww.com
    </twhid>
  • David Girolami | Tue Aug 12th 2003 2:18 p.m.
    Agreed. Although I lean as far to visual representation in Design, you
    have to treat each project in an organic fashion. You have to explore
    all aspects of what works best to create great solutions. Design is
    about solving problems in both Visual and Text formats...which ever
    works best for the project should be the chosen route. Understanding
    each for its worth and applying it accordingly is what makes a good
    design great.

    -----Original Message-----
    From: owner-list@rhizome.org [mailto:owner-list@rhizome.org] On Behalf
    Of t.whid
    Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 10:27 AM
    To: list@rhizome.org
    Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: re: "The more you say, the more people tune
    out your message." (Jacob Nielsen)

    IMO the anti-nielson currents in the web design world are a bit
    childish.

    he's very clear on what his guidelines are good for.

    if you're working on a site similar to Amazon, you might use his
    guidelines.

    if you're working on something like nikelab.com you won't need many of
    them.

    designers need to extract from their clients what they need and what
    they want and develop solutions for those needs and wants. if part of
    the solution comes from nielson, good. if part of the solution comes
    from learning from josh davis flash stuff, that's good too.

    there isn't one answer to web design just as there isn't one way to
    approach communication via the web.

    At 11:13 -0400 8/12/03, Curt Cloninger wrote:
    >Eduardo Navas wrote:
    >
    >> The funny thing is his message was not that brief; that is, his
    >> examples rather extensive, but his spirit is on the right track.
    >
    >
    >
    >http://www.grographics.com/usabilitysucks/magritte.html
    >
    >_

    --
    <twhid>
    http://www.mteww.com
    </twhid>
    + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
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  • Eduardo Navas | Tue Aug 12th 2003 2:24 p.m.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "t.whid" <twhid@mteww.com>
    To: <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 9:26 AM
    Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: re: "The more you say, the more people tune out
    your message." (Jacob Nielsen)

    > IMO the anti-nielson currents in the web design world are a bit childish.
    >
    > he's very clear on what his guidelines are good for.

    Yeah,

    I agree with you about his guidelines, which is why I sent it to the list.

    My follow up to Neil's playful comment was just a way of pointing out how it
    is ironic that it takes just about as much text to explain the problems of
    net pollution as generic net pollution itself. I think Jacob is on the
    money.

    eduardoN.
  • MTAA | Tue Aug 12th 2003 2:39 p.m.
    hi eduardo,

    below:

    At 10:34 -0600 8/12/03, Eduardo Navas wrote:

    >
    >
    >> IMO the anti-nielson currents in the web design world are a bit childish.
    >>
    >> he's very clear on what his guidelines are good for.
    >
    >Yeah,
    >
    >I agree with you about his guidelines, which is why I sent it to the list.
    >
    >My follow up to Neil's playful comment was just a way of pointing out how it
    >is ironic that it takes just about as much text to explain the problems of
    >net pollution as generic net pollution itself. I think Jacob is on the
    >money.

    right. i wasn't really responding to this thread in particular. it's
    just this sort of 'feeling' in design discussions online. you'll
    always see a post here or there dissing nielson.

    on the other hand. he is pretty heavy-handed in his recommendations.
    and it's a bit ironic to defend the guy by saying there isn't one
    solution to web design as that's what he seems to preach: one
    solution.

    cya ;-)
    --
    <twhid>
    http://www.mteww.com
    </twhid>
  • Eduardo Navas | Tue Aug 12th 2003 2:49 p.m.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Dave" <dave@pixelgallery.org>
    To: "'t.whid'" <twhid@mteww.com>; <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Tuesday, August 12, 2003 11:18 AM
    Subject: RE: RHIZOME_RAW: re: "The more you say, the more people tune out
    your message." (Jacob Nielsen)

    > Agreed. Although I lean as far to visual representation in Design, you
    > have to treat each project in an organic fashion. You have to explore
    > all aspects of what works best to create great solutions. Design is
    > about solving problems in both Visual and Text formats...which ever
    > works best for the project should be the chosen route. Understanding
    > each for its worth and applying it accordingly is what makes a good
    > design great.

    Well, the above may be true, but as a designer, a person may not always
    choose the text; the content is often given to the designer by the art
    director or other huncho; although, these days, designers do often work on
    every aspect of a project independently. But the point is that the comments
    by Nielsen should not be individualized but rather considered in relation to
    the overall visual communication practice. I think the problem is that some
    designers take Nielsen's writing personal, and make reactionary comments, as
    opposed to thinking in relation to the productive team. A good example of
    this is Curt's recent post of a Nielsen spoof:

    http://www.grographics.com/usabilitysucks/magritte.html

    which at the end reads:
    "Jakob Nielsen, jakob@youzit.com, is a self-proclaimed "usability expert"
    who wants to make all pages look the same and work the same way because he
    thinks people are all really stupid, whereas the authors of this site think
    Web designer people are all really like Magritte. "

    An obvious personal reactionary response, which only limits not Nielsen's
    but the commentator's own practice. Especially when comparing themselves to
    Magritte a "genius" of the 20th Century. Can we get more egocentric than
    that? Problem solvers must let go of their egocentrism. I do agree that
    Nielsen's guidelines might seem didactic in a time where slippages of
    meaning are in vogue, but like I already said, he is saying some things that
    make sense. Take it with a grain of salt.

    eduardoN.
  • neil jenkins | Tue Aug 12th 2003 3:14 p.m.
    > on the other hand. he is pretty heavy-handed in his recommendations.
    > and it's a bit ironic to defend the guy by saying there isn't one
    > solution to web design as that's what he seems to preach: one > solution.

    ay, a bit of a stuck record (just like keiko) .. yes usability is an
    issue, when its relevant.. still, everyone seems to have an opinion :)
    http://www.communiculture.org/continuum.php?contid

    >
    > cya ;-)
    > --
    > <twhid>
    > http://www.mteww.com
    > </twhid>
    > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
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    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >
  • curt cloninger | Tue Aug 12th 2003 3:36 p.m.
    Eduardo Navas wrote:

    > I think the problem is that some designers take Nielsen's writing
    > personal, and make reactionary comments, as opposed to thinking
    > in relation to the productive team.

    http://www.mememachine.net/graphics/obey_closeup.gif
    http://www.untickalock.com/jakob/gallery/fat_jakob.html

    _
    _
  • Michael Watson | Thu Aug 14th 2003 4:12 p.m.
    I apologize for coming into this thread late but I just wanted to say,
    while agree his spirit is on the right track, Neilsen seems to feel
    that every message should be meaningful to him. "Because the monitor's
    meaning is obvious to anyone who has ever been on an airplane..." So
    what about people who haven't been on an airplane? And also, apparently
    he has never arrived at the wrong airport.

    Michael

    > The funny thing is his message was not that brief; that is, his
    examples
    > rather extensive, but his spirit is on the right track.
    >
    > peazze.
    > ;)
    > eduardoN.
    >
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: "neil jenkins" <neil@devoid.co.uk>
    > To: "Eduardo Navas" <eduardo@navasse.net>; "rhizome"
    <list@rhizome.org>
    > Sent: Monday, August 11, 2003 5:58 PM
    > Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Fw: <nettime> "The more you say, the more
    people
    > tune out your message." (Jacob Nielsen)
    >
    >
    > > ha ha ha
    > > 'The Web is a procrastination apparatus'<snip>
    > > consider it deleted jacob
    > > :D
    > >
    > >
    >
    >
    > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at
    http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >
    >
  • Eduardo Navas | Thu Aug 14th 2003 4:31 p.m.
    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Michael Watson" <michaelw@eleanorrigby.net>
    To: "Eduardo Navas" <eduardo@navasse.net>; "neil jenkins"
    <neil@devoid.co.uk>; "rhizome" <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2003 1:12 PM
    Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Fw: <nettime> "The more you say, the more people
    tune out your message." (Jacob Nielsen)

    > I apologize for coming into this thread late but I just wanted to say,
    > while agree his spirit is on the right track, Neilsen seems to feel
    > that every message should be meaningful to him. "Because the monitor's
    > meaning is obvious to anyone who has ever been on an airplane..." So
    > what about people who haven't been on an airplane? And also, apparently
    > he has never arrived at the wrong airport.
    >
    <--snip-->

    Until reading the responses to my original forwarding of Nielsen's writing
    on e-mail brevety, I had no idea that he was disliked so much. I actually
    thought his writing on brevety was on the right track, but I found it even
    funnier that his statements were just as long as the electronic material he
    was critiquing.

    Now, after checking him out a bit more, and realizing that he has an iconic
    reputation (for the wrong reasons, maybe), I understand the reactions to his
    writing a bit better.

    I do not care for Nielsen, really. Actually, I am affected more directly by
    Donald Norman. Here is some info on him:
    http://www.jnd.org/

    I would be more inclined to defend Norman's writing; he thinks that all good
    design must communicate properly by providing effective feedback. For
    Norman, I am ready to bust out the pen (or keyboard, I guess), but for
    Nielsen, as you saw in my previous postings, he is only worth two or three
    sentences.

    peazze.

    eduardoN.
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