Likemind 6

Likemind 5, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

See you this morning at Likeminds if you’re in NYC. If you’re not NYC, perhaps you’re living in Seattle, San Francisco, London, Dallas, Oslo, Boston or Malmö. Don’t see your city, get in touch at the likeminds web site to set up your own group.

It’s the third Friday of each month, they tend to start at eight but a lot of people show up later…

Spam Karma

Wobbly Text Spam

Everyone gets spam, but if you blog you’ll also get spam entries for your blog. From time to time I’ll get some comments that are spam, but I wonder if I should let them get posted b/c they’re just so nice. It’s funny how the bots think that if they give a complementary gesture, the odds of getting posted are better. Some of the more recent posts that I’ve sadly had to deny include:

First time here on your site. I am delighted to find your wonderful website online.

Your post is on target. Keep it up….

Thank you, I could not have sead it better my self….

Very good web site

Hi! Very Good Site! Keep Doing That!

Very well! Your site is neat!

Like what you have to say. Your blog makes good since to me….

Exelent! Good work!

You have a great page!

One of the best locations I’ve come across lately!!! Definately a permanent bookmark!

I’m glad I found your site! It’s nice!

Amazing artwork! This is spectacularly done!

Good site, nice design!

Hi people! Great job!

I mean, how could you really argue with these comments? Sadly there’s more text that corresponds with the entry that aren’t exactly appropriate.

If you’re still reading this post, and are interested in spam behaviour, go visit Spamosphere. It’s got a great collection of the strange things that are going on. The categories are quite funny too: SPAM STOCK SUMMARY, animated URL type-in, camouflage fax , confetti fax, content blabber, ending blabber, ending cut & paste, filter test, filter word misspell, fireworks fax, mortgage request, name dropping, pharmaceutical, porn, replica retail, scribble fax, stock tips, table colors, wobbly text…

Noah’s on a tear

Lately I haven’t had much time to think about anything outside of work aside from my favourite Chelsea coffe place, street art and tagging. What’s unfortunate is that I haven’t had the quality time to spend reading the last four posts from Noah Brier. If you find yourself with more than five minutes, read and comment about Creating an Innovative Environment, Attention-casting, Fear of Efficiency, and Blog Everything

Citizen Marketers

Citizen Marketers

I haven’t picked the book Citizen Marketers yet, but it does sound interesting. On their Church of the Customer Blog they describe the book as this: “Citizen Marketers” is all about social media and how it’s fostering the growth of amateur culture. The early adopters of social media are at the forefront of a societal shift that’s rapidly changing the nature of marketing, public relations and corporate communications. The traditional era of one-way message delivery taught in business schools and practiced for decades by all manner of business is being supplanted by two-way and multiple-way message delivery, where everyday people are the messengers as well as the message itself.

There’s also a pretty good interview with Guy Kawasaki and the two authours at

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud

Over at Chirag Mehta’s site, he has created a US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud there’s a slider that has collected State of the Union and a couple other famous speeches of US Presidents. The hierarchy of the tag is as follows: Large Font = Most Used / Small Font = Least Used, Bright Color = Newer / Faded Color = Older. The obvious fascination factor is looking at the year and comparing it with what words were most used. In a clear and quick manner it shows what represented that period of time. Now if only someone would do that for Canadian Prime Ministers… Well apparently you can download the tag code and create your own generator at

Stuff Happens

The NY Art Book Fair

It almost seems inevitable that I’ll go to a design event/thing, and the next day some one comes up to me and asks why I didn’t tell them about what’s going on. So for the sake of letting people know about some of the cool things going on in NYC that I’ll be thinking about attending, I offer this short list below – happy event hopping!

F.I.T. Visiting Artist Program: Massimo Vignelli
November 16, 2006 at 6:30pm
Katie Murphy Amphitheater, New York

The NY Art Book Fair (via swissmiss)
Friday & Saturday, November 17 – 18, 11am – 7pm
Sunday, November 19, 11am – 5pm
548 West 22nd Street (10th & 11th Aves), New York City

Architecture 06: Michael Rock
Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 6:30 p.m.
The Great Hall, Cooper Union. 7 East 7th Street, New York City
Co-sponsored by the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of the Cooper Union.

Me at the World Graphic Design Foosball Championship 2006 (WGDFC)

Me at the World Graphic Design  Foosball Championship 2006 (WGDFC)

WGDFC 2006 was a great way to end a busy week. Foosball, beer, designers and some friendly competition. Organized by the office of paul sahre and the studios of karlssonwilker inc., it was a great venue and they ran it pretty smoothly considering how many people were there. Lillian Coryn and myself did our best to represent Renegade. In the end we had two loses and one win. With a little practice we’ll score a lot more goals next year.

Some of the things that I overheard walking around included “are you in line?”, “is that how long the line is?”, “I think the bathroom is broken!”, “no, the bathroom is fine”, and trash talking about typography “hey man, what’s your favourite typeface!”. Looking at the uniforms or lack there of was also a great time passer. In my opinion Princeton Architectural Press won the award for most innovative use of sign stickers that you could probably buy at Home Depot. Big type was popular too, one guy had a big letter “A” in tennis ball material on his shirt, while another team who I’m guessing were from Los Angeles b/c one guy had a giant “L” and the other had a giant “A” which looked pretty cool when they were standing beside each other. There were track suits, people wearing shorts, pink shirts, striped shirts, and one astronaut uniform worn by no other than Felix Sockwell. Lillian and I had a couple cool ideas, but we just ran out of time…

Whenever I go to something like this, I never know how the vibe is going to be. By the end of the night usually everyone is pretty relaxed and having a good time. For the most part that was the case, I met some people that I knew through e-mail and a couple others through reputations. But in a two floor foosball tournament, your bound not to run into everyone you know or want to meet. Till next year.

I’ve placed all my flickr photos from that night at

Check out Limited Language

Disjointed dog, originally uploaded by Michael™.

“Beautiful as the chance encounter, on an operating table, of a sewing machine and an umbrella.”
Comte de Lautreamont, Songs of Maldoror (1869)

Read the full essay of Visual communication in 0.4 seconds at Limited Language

Two degrees of Hi, a likemind success story


There’s probably an infinite number of way to start this post, so I’ll just pick the one that first comes to mind. A number of weeks ago I was sitting at my computer at Renegade wondering why a person that I had e-mailed a couple days previously hadn’t bothered to get back to me. After having my coffee I turned the cup around to see this quote. It seemed right to take the pic and shoot that person one more e-mail. Though not entirely ironic, they never really got back to me, but in turn the photo introduced me to at least two new people that I didn’t know.

Back to the photo at hand, I started noticing it getting a lot of hits. Not a ton in terms of flickr popularity, but more than I usually get. A number of days later I get this interesting e-mail from Jack Chen:

– I first saw your Starbucks cup on chris glass’ website.
– I was then reading someone’s blog and noticed that she quoted the cup
– I sent her a link to your flickr page for the photo, and we started exchanging emails and IMs
– Then she brought up and I was like, oh yeah! I’ve heard of it… I’ve worked with Piers in the past
– I was going through Piers’ photostream and came across your name and wondered why it looked familiar
– And lastly, at my current job, one of the guys there (he’s not there anymore) used to work at Renegade!

When things like that happen (ok, this really is the first time this has happened) you tend to sit up and take notice. Through his own connections and Johanna’s connections we met up near the end of Likeminds. Before meeting them there, I suspected I might see John, but didn’t know of johanna until the introductions.

So the moral of this story is that even if someone blows you off, the wind might take you to a better destination.

I would highly recommend reading Jack’s account of things on his blog at and then johanna at

happy blogging and be sure to say hi! to someone today.

Designism Tonight

Designism Button

Two days, two design talks. Last night was Ellen Lupton, tonight was Designism with Tony Hendra, George Lois, Jessica Helfand, James Victore, Milton Glaser, Kurt Andersen, Brian Collins and Steve Heller.

Here’s a couple impressions from those that spoke in-depth tonight.

George Lois: Activist first, designer second

Jessica Helfand: Ask why, apply answer and do it bigger

James Victore: Cause you need to

Kurt Andersen: Take it beyond

Milton Glaser: Work around people’s immunity

and though Karl Rove was not there: Understand people’s responses Tags

Have you ever studied your tags? What does it say about your interests? Here’s all of my tags for

10, 37signals, accessibility, activism, adobe, ads, advertising, agency, aggregator, airfare, airline, Airlines, airplane, AJAX, animation, anthropology, aol, apartment, api, Apple, arabic, Architects, architecture, art, artist, artists, audio, author, Awards, awesometown, b&w, bands, bats, bbc, beer, berkeley, bike, billing, blackmail, bloat, blog, blogging, blogs, book, books, bookstore, Bookstores, brand, Branding, brands, brooklyn, Browser, bush, business, businessweek, button, buy, buzz, cafe, camera, canada, Canadian, cartoons, CBC, celebrity, cell, charts, chocolate, claimid, Clothes, clothing, CMS, coffee, colbert, collage, comedy, comic, comics, comments, commercial, commercials, communication, community, computer, conceptual, conference, content, cooking, cool, coolhunting, corporate, coudal, counter, courses, cover, creative, creativity, crocs, CSS, culture, customer, dab, daily, dance, design, design-firm, designer, development, diagram, digital, Diseño, diy, django, dns, dogs, download, DS, dutch, Earphones, eboy, economics, economists, education, electronics, Email, employment, emusic, English, entertainment, eps, espresso, evangelism, events, experience, experimental, fashion, feed, feeds, feminism, firm, Firms, flash, flickr, flights, font, fonts, food, foodblog, foosball, football, footwear, framework, free, freeform, Fun, funny, furniture, gadget, gadgets, gallery, game, Games, gdc, geek, gel, generator, geography, ghostbusters, girl, google, googlemaps, gossip, government, graffiti, graph, graphic, graphicdesign, graphics, hack, hacks, hardware, headphones, healthclub, history, hockey, hotel, howto, html, humor, humour, ia, ibc, icons, id, idea, ideas, identity, ideo, illustration, images, immigration, indie, information, innovation, inspiration, interesting, interface, internet, internetradio, interviews, invoices, IP, iPod, itunes, japan, japanese, java, javascript, job, jobs, Kawasaki, Kitchen, language, laptop, law, lectures, LED, left, letter, liberal, libertarian, lifehacks, lighting, links, literature, logo, logos, london, mac, macosx, magazine, magazines, Management, mantra, manual, manuals, map, mapping, maps, marketing, mashup, media, mediacenter, missing, mobile, mod, moleskine, montreal, movies, mp3, music, muzak, myspace, NAFTA, name, names, netherlands, network, networking, news, newsletter, newyork, newyorker, nike, Nintendo, NintendoDS, ny, nyc, nyt, NYTimes, ocad, odeo, OpenSource, Opera, origami, osx, painting, papercraft, paris, people, personal, philosophy, photo, photoblog, photography, photojournalism, Photos, photoshop, php, pinhole, pixel, pixelart, planning, podcast, Podcasting, political, politics, pool, portfolio, poster, posters, pr, pr2.0, presentation, Presentations, print, product, productivity, programming, promo, public_relations, publisher, python, radio, recipes, recruiting, Reference, research, resources, restaurants, retro, reviews, Royksopp, rss, Ruby, ,running, saw, school, Science, screenprinting, screensaver, search, seating, secret, secrets, security, seo, ,,servicedesign, shoes, shop, shopping, skate, skateboarding, sneaker, sneakers, soccer, social, socialmedia, socialrank, software, sound, space, spec, speech, spore, stanford, staple, statistics, stats, stencil, Stockholm, store, strategy, streaming, streetart, studio, studios, Studios.Netherlands, subway, sushi, syndication, tags, target, tattoo, tech, technique, Technology, ted, teens, television, tennessee, text, theonion, theory, throwingmuses, tips, TN, todo, tools, tourism, tracking, translation, translator, travel, trend, trends, tshirts, tutorial, tutorials, tv, typography, uk, UN, university, urban, urls, usability, usb, useful, userexperience, UX, video, Visa, visualization, vlog, watch, wayfinding, Web, web2.0, webdesign, webdev, weblogs, webradio, weimaraner, weird, whois, widget, wifi, wiki, williamsburg, wine, wireless, wordpress, work, world, writing, wtf, yahoo, youtube, yugop

laptop, paper and plasma

laptop, paper and plasma

While the laptop wifi feature is nothing new, I think the combination of tv + laptop or newspaper + laptop, or even book + laptop with internet access are going to be more like brothers than distant cousins. Over the last couple of months I’ve been noticing that I really can’t enjoy a newspaper or tv show w/ out access to a computer.

Whether it’s b/c I want to look something up, jot a note down, or look something up b/c of a question that was triggered from a show – in any case it’s a new mode of behavior that I wasn’t reacting to a year ago. I think as more people notice this move to a brother/brother media play happen, websites will evolve in their interface. What that is exactly, I’m not too sure.

I did spend about ten minutes watching the MTV’s MVA’s last week (I switched it off once the Black Eye Peas won). During that ten minutes I tried to log in to their behind the scenes web cast. My computer has the most up to date downloads and I still couldn’t get the thing to work. So obviously if the tv + laptop/web thing is to really work, perhaps they should test it out. I’m sure MTV did, but it still needs some tweaking obviously. Football seems to do a good job too about keeping the live game in sync with their online content. What I haven’t needed to do, but think will pop up is how people search for the archive content. Relying on google is one way, but the interface should really allow for more than a couple ways to search. Date and subject matter are but only two ways.

Pretty Serious Fun with Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova in NYC

I think it’s safe to say that most people have seen the commercial that has Maria Sharapova starring in NYC. Maybe you’ve even started humming the song “Pretty”. It’s a really fun piece of communication that does hit a serious note near the end. It appeals to a lot of different groups for various reasons. As you’ll often hear, if you try to please everyone you you’ll probably not reach anyone. But with her ad I don’t think it’s true. Obviously males are excited to see Maria in a commercial, for females I’m going to guess that a lot of them are used to being gazed at. Attention is one thing, but you also want to be taken seriously. The end of the ad hammers that point to the wall. Plus at the end you’re cheering for her.

That leads me to last night. I was lucky enough to see her play her first game at the US Open. Continuing on the “fun” side of things, she had a great outfit that was a nod to NYC. “An elegant black Audrey Hepburn cocktail dress adorned with shiny crystal beads” was the commentary from the NYT. The back followed her hair which I thought was pretty cool too.

Just like her ad, I thought her outfit followed the NYC theme really well. Have fun while kicking some ass. Or in a more staged theme: part one was the commercial, part two was the outfit and I’m going to assume that part three will be her winning the whole thing. That of course is yet to be determined.

IKEA product naming system


Have you ever wondered how and why IKEA products are named the way they are? According to Wikipedia, names are used as opposed to code numbers because it’s easier to remember. The names themselves come from a number of countries and ideas. From Wikipedia:

  • Upholstered furniture, coffee tables, rattan furniture, bookshelves, media storage, doorknobs: Swedish placenames (for example: Klippan)
  • Beds, wardrobes, hall furniture: Norwegian placenames
  • Dining tables and chairs: Finnish placenames
  • Bookcase ranges: Occupations
  • Bathroom articles: Scandinavian lakes, rivers and bays
  • Kitchens: grammatical terms, sometimes also other names
  • Chairs, desks: men’s names
  • Materials, curtains: women’s names
  • Garden furniture: Swedish islands
  • Carpets: Danish placenames
  • Lighting: terms from music, chemistry, meteorology, measures, weights, seasons, months, days, boats, nautical terms
  • Bedlinen, bedcovers, pillows/cushions: flowers, plants, precious stones
  • Children’s items: mammals, birds, adjectives
  • Curtain accessories: mathematical and geometrical terms
  • Kitchen utensils: foreign words, spices, herbs, fish, mushrooms, fruits or berries, functional descriptions
  • Boxes, wall decoration, pictures and frames, clocks: colloquial expressions, also Swedish placenames

Andrew Bird – Measuring Cups

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, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

Get out your measuring cups and we’ll play a new game
Come to the front of the class and we’ll measure your brain
We’ll give you a complex and we’ll give it a name

Get out your measuring cups and we’ll play a new game
Can’t have the cream when the crop and the cream are the same
Liquid or gas no more than the glass will contain

When you talk about the hand of glory
A tale that’s rather grim and gory
Is it just another children’s story that’s been de-clawed?
When the tales of brothers Grimm and Gorey have been outlawed

I think they’re gonna make you start over
You don’t want to start over
Put your backpack on your shoulder
Be the good little soldier
Take your places now
‘Cause we’re all predisposed

Measuring cups, play a new game
Front of the class, measure your brain
Give you a complex and we’ll give it a name

When you talk about the hand of glory
A tale that’s rather grim and gory
Is it just another children’s story that’s been de-clawed?
When the tales of brothers Grimm and Gorey have been outlawed

Put your backpack on your shoulder
Be the good little soldier
It’s no different when your older
You’re predisposed
That’s all for questions now
The case is closed!

10 things I’m getting used to in NYC

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, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

· Placing dollar bills in vending machines
· A doorman
· Lacoste Stores
· Heat
· Being able to walk where I need to go, no more car
· Fashion
· Taking a dog in an elevator when she needs to go
· More options on coffee as opposed to just 2nd Cup and Starbucks
· Subscribing to newspapers and magazines
· Apartment laundry service

Brand Attributes

Today is my last day in the D3 team at NAIT as I head out to NYC on Tuesday. One of the smaller things that I noticed during my time at NAIT was how people interacted on one particular stairwell. The west side of the college is connected to the newer HP Centre with a long walking platform. To get to this platform you have to walk up a single person staircase. What’s funny is that this is one of the highest traffic areas in the college. When the staircase was originally built, it was never intended for the connection with a newer building and hence the small width. What surprised me the most was how people were willing to share this staircase. One group of people will go up while a group will be waiting to go down. You would never think that this system would really work, but it does. I think it speaks to the culture at NAIT. People go to NAIT so they can get a better job, but while they’re there people are also in a support mode. It’s one of those brand things that NAIT will hopefully remember as the do their “reBrand”.

I’m relocating to NYC!

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I’m relocating to NYC!, originally uploaded by Michael Surtees.

Yes, it’s true – I’m moving to New York to work at Renegade Marketing. More to come as I can collect my thoughts…

Designer Weims

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About six months ago I decided that I needed to get a bit of a life outside of design. Of course when a calling is your profession, it’s hard to ever really get away from it. But I did try, really. I had always wanted a dog, but never really took it any further than an idea. But since the time was right to start something new, Tamara and I did a lot of searching for the perfect breed. When we finally got to the “W’s” we knew we had found it. A weimaraner of course. Only after joining the Weimaraners (Pool) at flickr did I realize that you’re never that far away from designers. There are a lot of designers out there with weims as best friends. I never saw the connection before, but now it’s really obvious.

I’m not the only person that’s made this connection. Callie Neylan (a recent MFA graduate) makes a similar observation in her post Dogs and Modernism. She comments that weims are the only dogs that she sees in magazines like ID, Dwell, Design Within Reach etc. It’s hard to argue the point, they are the best breed out there. I’m being slightly biased of course, but when you have a dog like Maddie smiling back at you, it’s hard to argue.

World Cup Logo, maybe it’s not so bad after all?

Friend and fellow co-worker, Randy Troppmann shares an image that his daughter drew for him on fathers day at his blog. As bad as the FIFA World Cup logo is, maybe it’s not when you consider it through the eyes of an eight year old. To compare the drawing to the real thing, visit the FIFA World Cup site.

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