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Hypertext Tools

Bob Stein's new company, Night Kitchen, is seeking beta testers for its electronic publishing platform. Before starting Night Kitchen, Stein ran Voyager's seminal Expanded Book operation.

Eastgate has begun shipping Storyspace for Windows 1.75. Free upgrades have been sent to registered users who bought Storyspace after 1 September 1998; contact Eastgate if you ought to have received an update and it hasn't arrived.

Hypertext Web toolmaker Trellix has announced improved Web publication facilities. Their new Web site positions Trellix as a Web design tool: "Using Trellix, regular people can easily create...their own web sites."

Web Tools

Third Voice provides a Web annotation service. It works only in MSIE 4.0 for Windows (not MSIE 5, not Netscape, not Mac -- all promised soon) Third Voice debuted at Red Herring, but what is the business model? (Thanks David Kolb!)

Macromedia has announced a new generation of Flash, their vector-based Web animation tool. Flash has quietly become ubiquitous; about 75% of today's Web users are believed to have Flash already installed. It's a built-in technology for current Netscape and Microsoft browsers) Renewed interest in animated text might make Flash attractive to electronic poets and other hypertext writers.

Inquisit offers custom Web agents by subscription. These agents autonomously filter the Web and news wires for new work of special interest. No software needed; the agents run on Inquisit's machines and send you results. A free 30-day trial is available. Thanks to Michael Joyce for the tip.

Graphics, Animation, and Other Media

Visibone offers downloadable color palettes of Web-safe colors, suitable for use with Photoshop, ImageReady, and other image tools. The Visibone palettes organize colors in a color wheel, a better arrangement for designers than the customary (and arbitrary) grids.

Jason Coleman's Flash Interface Tips in describe ways to create cinematic wipes and fades in this vector graphics tool. The interface tips are useful, even if Coleman's grasp of film theory is problematic (he thinks the prominent wipes in Star Wars is techno-gloss when it's really a nostalgic gesture to early Kurosawa).

Christopher Schmitt is interested in color theory for Web design, and sells an interesting mouse pad that tries to organize Web-safe colors in suggestive patterns.

Metacreations has announced a new release of Poser, their unique tool for figure design and character animation. Interestingly, the new Poser 4 will not be limited to photrealistic rendering; Poser will now be able to create sketches of figures in a variety of hand-drawn styles.


Lada Adamic and Bernardo Huberman (Xerox PARC) have an interesting paper on how Web readers visit sites. They examined usage logs of 60,000 AOL customers for one day in 1997 and created an intriguing statistical model based on the data. While 120,000 different Web sites were visited, users congregated at a small number of sites. Almost 1/3 of the users visited one of the top 120 sites, while 50,000 sites received one visit each.

The Association of National Advertisers surveyed 120 large companies about their Web practices. The average cost of developing a site is reported to be $252,000, with annual maintenance averaging $182,000.

Web Design

Lance Arthur talks about ways of rediscovering creative spirit in Creative Notions, appearing in A List Apart. Mistakes are good, admire advertising, and other heresies.

Peter Meerholz takes on the accepted wisdom that fast downloads are the essence of good Web design in Wait for It.

Jon Katz explores the ecology of electronic communities in Electric Media part 2. Foragers, lurkers, defenders, and anonymous cowards.



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