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links for 2010-02-19

  • On a daily basis I view all sorts of websites and all kinds of designs. One thing in common with successful templates on ThemeForest or with websites around the web is strong visual hierarchy. Often times I see templates that have a great concept going but has poor visual hierarchy. I’ll cover what visual hierarchy is and some great examples in this article.
  • he 24 agencies required to comply with the Open Government Directive have begun soliciting citizen feedback on how to improve transparency, participation, collaboration, and innovation in government. Agencies are using IdeaScale to facilitate two-way feedback with citizens. To date, over 700 ideas have been submitted!

    Unfortunately, the current implementation introduces slight privacy concerns for users. This is due to the fact that the sites automatically assign the user’s email address (minus the domain) as the profile name. This occurs when the user signs up for an account while making their first post. Since many internet users have accounts from a small list of free email providers (e.g., Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.), this implementation makes it possible to compromise the privacy of some user email addresses and, by extension, other off-site information.

  • After six months of tutoring, functional MRIs of the brains of eight Experience Corps volunteers showed improvements in regions of the brain involved in thinking and the ability to organize multiple tasks. Called "executive function," it's a skill that's crucial to maintaining independence in old age, said study author Michelle Carlson, an associate professor in the department of mental health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

    At the outset of the study, the women were considered at high risk of cognitive impairment because they were low income, had completed an average of 12 years of school (high school) and had low scores on a test of cognition.

  • EngagingCities helps urban planners understand & use the internet. We write about new online developments & give practical advice. How can new technologies make your planning processes more participatory, collaborative or effective? Which online tools best suit your needs & how do you use them effectively?

    Why We Do It:

    We want to see our cities being shaped by truly engaged citizens with the help of experts, not by experts for consumers. We are curious to see how the emergence of participatory culture in our society and the rise of interactive technology (aka Web2.0) impact urban planning processes – what will Urban Planning 2.0 look like? By observing and experimenting with innovative planning processes, we want to influence the discussion about the future of our field, & share insights, along with resources, guides and best practices of this new urban planning practice with other urban planners, architects, developers, policy makers, educators, economists, urban enthusiasts.

  • At Maximum PC, computer hardware is our bread and butter. We review it, preview it, and just generally love to talk about it. Unfortunately, hardware becomes less important with each passing day, as more and more software moves onto the internet. We're not looking forward to the day that our PC's become Chrome OS-style thin client, but we have to admit, some web apps are pretty awesome.
  • This brief presentation fit into 20 minutes during a packed agenda this morning, so I wanted the audience to know some of my unconference experience, find encouragement to attend these 'camps' and have resources they might use to find future Government 2.0 conferences.
  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) along with the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), today announced the winners of their seventh annual International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge.

    The winning entries include extraordinary photographs, illustrations, videos and graphics that reveal intricate details of life and the world around us–down to the smallest scale. The winning visualizations range from a video that uses found objects to explain the epigenetics of identical twins, to an electron microscope photograph that catches self-assembling polymers in action as they grip a green orb, offering a powerful message about cooperative efforts to save the Earth.

  • FlowingData is the visualization and statistics blog of Nathan Yau. I highlight how designers, programmers, and statisticians are putting data to good use. Sometimes I write viz tutorials.
    "A few months back, the Caltrans Performance Measurement System (PeMS) opened up a brand spanking new forum where people could discuss how they used the group's traffic data. They created an email list to tell everyone about the new forum. The problem is that PeMS used a single address to email everyone. So when someone "replied all," he would in turn email every single person on the list.

    What followed was a long thread of emails that (entertaining) morning. This is that email thread. It got ugly quick (and kind of inappropriate towards the end). Let this be a lesson to you site administrators."

  • Volunteer 15 hours each week in exchange for free room and board. Weekends are normally free to experience the culture by traveling around Europe. (Check this later)

    Imagine living in Rome, Florence or any of the amazing Italian cities and receiving free room and board from your adopted host family.

    The Need: Volunteer 15 hours a week helping your host family with Conversational English. That's it. Many Italian families want to learn English or get better at speaking English through conversation. They are willing to provide a private room and 3 home-cooked, healthy meals each day.

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