What is a digital only interface?
Is it really the interface, or lack thereof, of Clear, Letterpress, and others?
Or is it something that we have yet to see? Something more intuitive to a generation that has grown up not knowing what a floppy disk, Dayrunner, Rolodex, and analog telephone are.
Over the weekend something exciting happened. Mind Vault was featured as App of the Week over at GeekWire. They did a wonderful article and discussed it a bit on their podcast, which is broadcast on KIRO radio Saturdays here in Seattle. I feel very honored for the attention and it has been fun to watch Mind Vault be talked about a little more.
Chris Bowler wrote a great blog post about ambition and family.
…[M]y purpose here is to simply encourage those with families. Please do not spend your time endlessly comparing your accomplishments or progress with those who have no family. Your setting yourself up for guilt at best, and resenting your family at worst… [P]eople who do not have a family to care for don’t even realize how much free time they have. They can even afford to waste some, because they have it in such abundance.
Brand New featured some great non-commissioned projects.
Some designers question why other designers do this: Wouldn’t the time and energy be better spent designing something probono for a nonprofit? Yes, probably. But how else is one going to satisfy the longing for designing for our dream clients? I love fake design projects: They are the equivalent of hitting the gym and lifting weights to get stronger, leaner, meaner — it may not always be pretty, but eventually leads to results.
I agree. These type of projects don’t deal with the considerations and personalities that a real client commissioned design project would. In that way they may not be great designs in the truest sense of the word, but they are made by great designers. I especially love the American Airlines design.
A Web design studio built the first news site I’ve ever read from top to bottom two days in a row, and it did so as a side project. Mule Design is not in the journalism business. It builds sites to solve all manner of client communication problems. But it did in a week’s work what news organizations can’t seem to do at all: deliver their output in a form that’s comfortable and convenient for the audience. I couldn’t help myself. I had to figure out how and why.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The ad for the Paralympics on UK’s Channel 4 is pretty inspirational. Please check it out.be).
I had the opportunity to see the Paralympic downhill skiing event in person at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and it was thrilling. Watching a blind person flying down the course at speeds that were above and beyond what I could hope to achieve was incredible. True bravery.
Why isn’t there an opportunity to pay money to get an ad-free feed from a company where the product is something you pay for, not, well, you. To be clear: I’m glad there are ad-supported options, but why does that seem like the only option? For example, I have the option of buying a Mac if I don’t want to buy a crapware-infested PC, right? I have no interest in completely opting-out of the social web. But please, I want a real alternative to advertising hell… I would gladly pay for a service that treats me better.
It’s a summary of the day’s news, written by an actual journalist, with links to the best reporting in the world, published once a day. It’s optimized for your phone or iPad so you can read it on the train home or on the couch. It can be the starting point for a deep-dive or just enough so you sound erudite at your next cocktail party. What it’s not, and what it will never be, is another chirp of noise constantly guilting you into checking it.
Kyle Baxter wrote a fantastic article on online newspapers:
So that’s what I think newspapers should be: digital-only publications which give readers a slower, deeper and more insightful understanding of what’s going on, and provide the best writing on specific subjects around. And charge for it.
Craig Mod has another great essay on his site regarding covers in ebooks.
There is symmetry of loss shared among all physical media as it shifts digital. The ever shrinking book cover parallels the long, slow compression of music jackets. The designers of records must have felt a similar sense of constriction with cassettes and then CDs and now Rdio/iTunes thumbnails. So much lost canvas.
Oliver Reichenstein discusses, briefly, skeuomoporphism:
One way to make software look like a bicycle for our minds is skeuomorphism: making digital interfaces that look – but don’t work – like analog tools. But beware. A digital book that looks like a physical hardcover but works like a video recorder will backfire. As Jan Tschichold wrote in The Masterbook of Typography:
“What one wants but cannot achieve, becomes kitsch.”
Marcelo Somers explains the problem with Facebook ads:
Facebook advertising doesn’t work because they focus on showing you ads based on who you are, not what problem you are trying to solve.
It seems that the stock market is now realizing they just invested in an advertising company that will not provide the returns that a product focused tech company can. Their new camera app is pretty nice though.
I don’t take unsolicited redesigns very seriously because they by their nature they avoid all the issues and interchange that come with a true designer/client relationship, but Sputnik8’s proposed design for Windows 8 is fantastic. It is a lost future, in the same way that old illustrations of the hover cars we were sure to have by 1950 are lost futures. Nevertheless it is beautfiul and worth paying attention to on its own merits.
Mark Willis wrote about a couple of things Apple should do to improve their products. The first has been a constant frustration for me since the first release iPhone.
The finale of Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix is up and, true to form, it is fantastic. If intellectual property sounds boring, this might just convince you that it is the one of the more important issues of our time.
A beautiful video remembering Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
Picking a CMS is a daunting, but necessary, task. The platform that powers a website will influence how it is built, maintained, updated, and more. It is a significant investment in time to learn a new CMS and an investment to maintain. I just read an article that very clearly lists the factors to consider in this decision at Web Designer Depot. I cannot say which single CMS is best for every situation. I doubt anybody could, but this article is a great start for finding what is best for your project.
Following up on SOPA/PIPA the Freakonomics folks give Hollywood’s estimates of loss to piracy a second look and it is not flattering.
Marco Arment brings a well-reasoned end to the celebration over the temporary SOPA/PIPA defeat…
All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi—hell, you can even get online while you’re on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?
Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we’ve sent you. Don’t wait for the time machine, because we’re never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer’s convenience with contempt.
This sums up the disconnect between DRM in all forms and the forward march of technology. Embrace tech or die, people will pay you if you make it easy for them to do so.
Shawn Blanc wrote one of the best posts I’ve read it recent memory. It is an excellent reminder for anyone who defines themselves by materials things.
This article by William Deresiewicz has been getting noticed quite a bit over the last couple days. I wholeheartedly recommend reading it. Here is a sample:
We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don’t know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don’t know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they’re worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don’t have are leaders.
Go read it, you will be happy you did.
A great video about Protect IP from the maker of one of my favorite series Everything is a Remix.
Twitter revamped their user interface yesterday on their iPhone and Android apps, as well as their website. It is a pretty significant change and I am of two minds about it.
Mills Baker wrote a great post about why compromise can be such a dirty word when it comes to getting things done.
William Gibson on technological externalities:
We’re increasingly aware that our society is driven by these unpredictable uses we find for the products of our imagination.
Thomas Brand’s review of Pixelmator:
I like to think of Pixelmator as the version of Photoshop Adobe would have made if they still cared about designing great creative software for the Mac.
My thoughts exactly. I love Pixelmator, and I’m finding new ways to use it every day.
Microsoft has released a video showing it’s view of the future. Let’s take a look, comparing it to Apple’s view of today.
Stephen Fry on Steve Job’s design focus, characterized by some as showmanship:
John Gruber linked to this as well. What a great video of Jobs explaining the computer.
What a cool project. Aggregating such a massive data set in such an appealing way is always a treat to watch.
Technology is not an invisible force; it is not still air waiting to be blown hither or thither. No, technology is the work of people, and insofar as technology “values” anything, it reflects the values of its creators and users. Technology is born with intent. We ignore that intent at our peril. Alex Payne — [...]
I’ve mentioned this a couple times on Twitter, but really wanted to point anyone I can to my favorite internet video series, Everything is a Remix. The latest edition ends with this inspiring quote from Henry Ford:
I recently started using a Tumblr blog to post things that I like as I find them throughout the day. Check it out and let me know what you think.
I ran across this blog a couple of days ago (I can’t remember who referred it to me, sorry) and immediately knew I’d be a frequent visitor. Katie Quinn is a self described foodie based in Sydney, Australia and her photographs are stunning. It makes my mind turn on a cook book design project I’ve been slow cooking for a while now.
I first became familiar with Dieter Rams when I recently watched Objectified. His design sensibilities really resonate with me and today I found out about two online interviews with him from some timely tweets. He has a lot to teach when it comes to the objects that make up our lives. After watching these videos I was struck with how much Dieter’s ideas apply to interactive design as well. Check them out, if you’re anything like me, you’ll really enjoy them.
Letterpress has been on the brain the lately. In class we recently toward the Hatch Show at Seattle’s EMP. Their catalog of work is really impressive. We were also able to tour and see a demonstration at Sev Shoon, in Ballard. The craftsmanship and hard work that goes into creating these pieces really impresses me. I found the video below that discusses a reprinting of the Bible in Letterpress in the tradition of Gutenberg. Arion Press’ efforts are especially impressive today. Their craft is slowly being phased out for cheaper and quicker means of production. I suppose it is the natural progression of things but it is also impressive to see Letterpress practitioners at work.
One of my favorite books for design inspiration is Pictograms, Icons and Signs by Rayan Abdullah and Roger Hubner. One of the discoveries within that I find most interesting are the Olympic pictograms, the little figures that represent the different events.