Writing For The Web, Yahoo!-Style

Yahoo! is here to help you write for the Web with its very own Style Guide (link). Yahoo! and the Guide promise to help you “write and edit for a global audiences through best practices from Yahoo!” Quite a promise. Yahoo! cautions that it is different writing for Web than for print (all references to proper grammar, spelling and traditional style aside), and that Yahoo!”s version will power your style up for the digital age.

While the book itself costs (link here to pre-order from Amazon at discount from list price of $21.99), there are a few articles at the link at the top that can be had for free. The headings include “Write for the Web”, “Identify Your Audience”, “Define Your Voice”, “Construct Clear, Compelling Copy”, “Be Inclusive, Write for the World”, “Make Your Site Accessible to Everyone”, “Write Clear User-Interface Text” (which sounds like an oxymoron to me), and “Streamline Text for Mobile Devices.” There are best practices for editing online material, including punctuation, grammar, organization, and number styles. There is also a sample from the book’s “word list,” covering terms related to communications, technology, branding, and other topics that Yahoo!’s U.S. editors have encountered frequently. The site includes some outside resources (link here) on Basic Web Page coding, SEO, research tools, and a Web Editor’s tool box.

Last but not least, you an even submit a question to a Yahoo! editor (link here). Simply sign on with your Yahoo! user id and submit. Nice resource for refining your Web content.

Presto, Chango, Poof It's Gone! It's Vanish!

Spy Sweeper
Image via Wikipedia

So, all thieving aside, what do you do about that on-line information that you actually want to make disappear? Call up the University of Washington and get your hands on their “Vanish” application. Vanish imposes a time limit and self-destruct on any text uploaded to any web service via web browser. What kind of communications?  Electronic communications such as e-mail, Facebook posts and chat messages. More specifically, web-based e-mail such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail, Web chat, and text posted on social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. Using Vanish, they will automatically self-destruct by becoming irretrievable from all web sites, inboxes, outboxes, back up sites and home computers, lost even to the original sender.

Because web services archive indefinitely, hitting the delete button alone is not the answer for complete eradication. The implications become staggering as we move towards cloud computing, where everything resides on sites that can be accessed by the clever and quick.

Techwack explains the Vanish process:

The Vanish prototype washes away data using the natural turnover, called “churn,” on large file-sharing systems known as peer-to-peer networks. For each message that it sends, Vanish creates a secret key, which it never reveals to the user, and then encrypts the message with that key. It then divides the key into dozens of pieces and sprinkles those pieces on random computers that belong to worldwide file-sharing networks, the same ones often used to share music or movie files. The file-sharing system constantly changes as computers join or leave the network, meaning that over time parts of the key become permanently inaccessible. Once enough key parts are lost, the original message can no longer be deciphered.

In the current Vanish prototype, the network’s computers purge their memories every eight hours. (An option on Vanish lets users keep their data for any multiple of eight hours.)

No one need act on the data to make Vanish work: its own inherent properties result in the destruction, akin to a message written in the sand washed away by the tide, as suggested in the Techwhack article. The only way to save the information is to physically print it out before the self-destruct sequence enables, or copy and paste it into a word processing document on your computer’s hard drive.

Vanish was released today. You can get it free and open source on the Firefox browser.

How should lawyers view Vanish? The closing quote from researcher Todayashi Kohno says it all:

“Today many people pick up the phone when they want to talk with a lawyer or have a private conversation,” Kohno said. “But more and more communication is happening online. Vanish is designed to give people the same privacy for e-mail and the Web that they expect for a phone conversation.”

Check out the supporting paper and research prototype here.

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Presto, Chango, Poof It’s Gone! It’s Vanish!

Spy Sweeper
Image via Wikipedia

So, all thieving aside, what do you do about that on-line information that you actually want to make disappear? Call up the University of Washington and get your hands on their “Vanish” application. Vanish imposes a time limit and self-destruct on any text uploaded to any web service via web browser. What kind of communications?  Electronic communications such as e-mail, Facebook posts and chat messages. More specifically, web-based e-mail such as Hotmail, Yahoo and Gmail, Web chat, and text posted on social networking sites MySpace and Facebook. Using Vanish, they will automatically self-destruct by becoming irretrievable from all web sites, inboxes, outboxes, back up sites and home computers, lost even to the original sender.

Because web services archive indefinitely, hitting the delete button alone is not the answer for complete eradication. The implications become staggering as we move towards cloud computing, where everything resides on sites that can be accessed by the clever and quick.

Techwack explains the Vanish process:

The Vanish prototype washes away data using the natural turnover, called “churn,” on large file-sharing systems known as peer-to-peer networks. For each message that it sends, Vanish creates a secret key, which it never reveals to the user, and then encrypts the message with that key. It then divides the key into dozens of pieces and sprinkles those pieces on random computers that belong to worldwide file-sharing networks, the same ones often used to share music or movie files. The file-sharing system constantly changes as computers join or leave the network, meaning that over time parts of the key become permanently inaccessible. Once enough key parts are lost, the original message can no longer be deciphered.

In the current Vanish prototype, the network’s computers purge their memories every eight hours. (An option on Vanish lets users keep their data for any multiple of eight hours.)

No one need act on the data to make Vanish work: its own inherent properties result in the destruction, akin to a message written in the sand washed away by the tide, as suggested in the Techwhack article. The only way to save the information is to physically print it out before the self-destruct sequence enables, or copy and paste it into a word processing document on your computer’s hard drive.

Vanish was released today. You can get it free and open source on the Firefox browser.

How should lawyers view Vanish? The closing quote from researcher Todayashi Kohno says it all:

“Today many people pick up the phone when they want to talk with a lawyer or have a private conversation,” Kohno said. “But more and more communication is happening online. Vanish is designed to give people the same privacy for e-mail and the Web that they expect for a phone conversation.”

Check out the supporting paper and research prototype here.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Searching Twice The Area In Half The Time

Research is all about efficiencies – you want to cover as much ground as you can in an effective manner so that you can provide the best answer. In law, the best answer should be delivered in a timely fashion, often by overwhelmingly-short deadlines.

How about splitting yourself in two and searching in two places at once? How is this possible? –  you ask, knowing full well the ethical implications of human cloning? Erica Wayne at Legal Resarch Plus has the answer: two different search functions that offer simultaneous searching!

Browsys offers the two tools: Twoogle and Twofind. Twoogle allows simultaneous searching of Google and Twitter (hence the clever name mash-up). From the site:

Twoogle provides an easy way to search Twitter and Google simultaneously, from the same site, displaying its results side by side.

Twoogle aims to make easier for people to get the best of two worlds: The realtimeness of Twitter and the relevancy of Google search results; it also provides a “Tweet these results” functionality, making it easy to share on Twitter with just one click.

Twofind allows the searcher to search two search engines simultaneously. The drop down menu on the search page shows:  Google / Bing; Google / Yahoo; Google / Twitter; Bing / Yahoo; Bing / Twitter; and, Video. The results display in two side-by-side windows within the main window, each with their own scrolling.  Since I am finding myself searching both Bing and Google these days more often than not, I love the fact you can hit one search query and get both sets of results at the same time!

Browsys offers other free features on their site as well. Their search function has a search box over tabs marked: Google; Bing; YouTube; Twitter; News; Blogs; Wikipedia; Facebook; Flickr; W/A; Ask Q&A; and, OneRiot.

Advanced Finder expands the engines accessed, including some of my semantic favs and visual search engine Searchme, with category breakdowns such as: general; images; video; news; social; files; reference; and, academic.

There is a tool called SidePad that collects all the big and little search sites one could ever imagine in the left column, and a window display area showing the selected site on the right.

Quiclip offers a notepad for drafting text and urls which then can be shared, tweeted, IM’d or bookmarked with a single click.

Browsys also offers virtual file space or folders for collecting and sharing information en masse.

I am always grateful to companies like Browsys developing innovative ways to access information on the Web and offering their resources for free! Happy searching!

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