Monday, May 29, 2006

The Effect of Caffeine on Web Design

From Wikipedia:

Caffeine has a significant effect on spiders,
which is reflected in their web construction.

The question is, does this apply to humans as well?  After all, humans engage in web design, so it should be possible to do a direct comparison.

Here is the structure of a web site designed by a person who is not impaired at all.  Here's the information about it:

created by Websites as Graphics.

KEY: What do these colored dots mean?
blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Now, what happens if a person makes a web site while drinking too much Starbucks?

Corpus Callosum tag structure

Again, from Wikipedia:

Too much caffeine, especially over an extended period of time, can lead to a number of physical and mental conditions. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) states: "The 4 caffeine-induced psychiatric disorders include caffeine intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine-related disorder not otherwise specified (NOS)."

An overdose of caffeine can result in a state termed caffeine intoxication or caffeine poisoning. Its symptoms are both physiological and psychological. Symptoms of caffeine intoxication include: restlessness, nervousness, excitement, insomnia, flushed face, diuresis, muscle twitching, rambling flow of thought and speech, paranoia, cardiac arrhythmia or tachycardia, and psychomotor agitation, gastrointestinal complaints, increased blood pressure, rapid pulse, vasoconstriction (tightening or constricting of superficial blood vessels) sometimes resulting in cold hands or fingers, increased amounts of fatty acids in the blood, and an increased production of gastric acid. In extreme cases mania, depression, lapses in judgment, disorientation, loss of social inhibition, delusions, hallucinations and psychosis may occur.[13]

When DSM-V is published, it will expand the list of symptoms of caffeine intoxication:
  • Excessive use of unordered lists and bullet points
  • Gross failure to comply with social norms of HTML coding
  • Implusive, pointless linking from one post to another
  • Pathological refusal to use tags only for their intended purpose
This is a good illustration of an important point reagrding the categorization of medical conditions (nosology).  When the expectations and demands of society change, we have to revise our system of diagnosing mental illness.

HT: Hedwig the Owl, et alia.
Update: there are over 400 websites-as-graphs on Flickr.