[Paul Ford observes that the web works best when it feeds our need to be consulted.](http://www.ftrain.com/wwic.html).

Brent Simmons has a lovely post [in praise of readability](http://inessential.com/2011/11/25/the_readable_future).


Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have gotten together to adapt a collection of microformats that will make it possible for folks who produce and publish content to the web to make searching that content more meaningful:

> Most webmasters are familiar with HTML tags on their pages. Usually, HTML tags tell the browser how to display the information included in the tag. For example, `


` tells the browser to display the text string “Avatar” in a heading 1 format. However, the HTML tag doesn’t give any information about what that text string means — “Avatar” could refer to the a hugely successful 3D movie, or it could refer to a type of profile picture—and this can make it more difficult for search engines to intelligently display relevant content to a user.

> Schema.org provides a collection of shared vocabularies webmasters can use to mark up their pages in ways that can be understood by the major search engines: Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo!

> You use the schema.org vocabulary, along with the microdata format, to add information to your HTML content. While the long term goal is to support a wider range of formats, the initial focus is on Microdata. This guide will help get you up to speed with microdata and schema.org, so that you can start adding markup to your web pages.

Steve Jobs on Web Applications in 1996

This video over at MSDN is great not only because it’s an interesting bit of history — and a moment when Jobs reveals his ability to see into the future and he’s doing it at a Microsoft event — but also because it’s a great explanation of how web applications work.

A Slight Change in Style

A slight change in style to the website over the weekend: I not only changed type faces, but I am now having them served using Google’s WebFont API:

@import url(http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Tinos);
@import url(http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Maiden+Orange);

I had been serving Yanone Kaffeesatz and Gentium Book from my own setup, but not only does Google save me bandwidth, but it also gives me more choices. (And switching type faces is as easy as changing one of the above lines and then changing the font names elsewhere in the style sheet. (For the body font, this is easy since it appears only once.)

And, finally, for good measure I also changed the active color of the site to the official RGB for loden green:

color: #6D7356;

A new header is coming. I just haven’t finalized the design yet. It is going to be a play on logbook:

A Handwritten Ship's Logbook

More Dropbox Goodness

I wish all services, and even a lot of applications, were as good as Dropbox. I turned the participants in my digital humanities seminar onto it, and, if I had done nothing else, I think that alone would have made the class for some of them. *None* of them hauls around a USB drive anymore. They have made sharing Dropbox files and folders part of how they work: it’s been amazing to watch.

If you haven’t tried it out, do. 2GB of storage is free. I have a slightly larger account, 10GB for $10 a month. I keep my home and office files synced via DropBox, and I also access PDFs and other files in GoodReader (iPad) via DB.

If you try it and like it, feel free to use my referral code. We both get an extra 250MB for free.

Once you are up and running, head over to AppStorm and read their “Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit and Guide” (link to post).

Own Your Data

I had never heard of Lendle until they found themselves on the wrong side of Amazon’s API guidelines, but I agree completely with the assessment offered by _The Economist_: “The brief outage demonstrates a fundamental truth about the internet: if you don’t own the data you need to run your business, you’re dependent on the policies—and whims—of the parties that do.” (Link to post.)

I find myself making this point rather regularly to my students with regards to Facebook, but I also found myself making the same point to a university committee that is working to develop a digital repository. Worse, I wonder now if I didn’t make the point strongly enough as part of the team that is working to build a new infrastructure for the American Folklore Society. (We are using a software-as-a-service vendor, and my experience of it has been, er, eye-opening.)