Days with his Father Narrative

Phillip Toledano - Days with My Father1

Phillip Toledano - Days with My Father2

Via im yesterday Jody passed me on the above site from Phillip Toledano – Days with My Father. My first reaction to her was pretty cool nav – simply click below, above or to the left to advance the images. She replied read the story! If you happen to visit the site that would be my advice too. The option of seeing all the images through one nav, and being able to click sequentially once you decide on your entry point make sense to how Phillip documented his father and his struggles of growing old amid memory loss. It is quite a story that will make you appreciate the time that you are living at the moment.

Designed and programmed by, if I had one slight nit pick from my side – it was the typography. I’m not a big fan of Futura Avant Garde which is what I think they used for the story. I don’t usually spend that much time reading from sites that are all flash – which I did this time, so the argument could be made that the typography did its job. To really have pushed it, it wold have been interesting to see the whole thing written by Phillip’s hand, maybe an option to hear his voice too. Down another path I just wish the type had been slightly bigger, a bit looser w/ the leading and some other typeface that doesn’t have such a ridiculous letter “a”.

With that said it’s still a really great site that makes you forget the technology behind it – and captures a moment that was worth sharing.

Scrolling Through Photos


A couple days ago Luna who is interning at Cooliris emailed me about a free browser add on to view images. It’s called PicLens and it’s pretty cool. After a really simple install I can go view a ton of images quite quickly from flickr. PicLens basically overides the idea of pagination. All I do is scroll from side to side to view more images. In can be from any flickr stream – my own images, sets, contacts or searches. It can do the same scroll for google images, amazon and other compatible sites. As great as it is, it’s not perfect. I’m not a huge fan of it taking over the whole screen – I would rather have it be embedded in a browser. By going full screen it doesn’t allow me to do anything else w/ my laptop. I also can’t close it w/ a simple command-w, I have to move my cursor all the way to the top right and press on the small x. Those aren’t significant issues but they make it less than a perfect app for me.

I do think this is one app that I will keep using to view images, whether it’s for checking out a lot of images from friends quite quickly or doing a visual browse on my own stuff. If you’re curious you can check out their site at

Link Drop for the Week Ending in Friday the 18th (July 2008)


By the end of the week I’m always curious to see how my Link Drop is going to shape up w/ telling me what I found interesting. This week there was a combo of culture between photography, radio, music, architecture, advertising and some stuff that would fall into the category of misc. A lot of it was forward thinking – like what’s next. It’s kind of obvious that there’s a shake up going on and those that have a pov are trying to shape the next stage.

– Michael Surtees

SR-1154+TH+2008+Maker+Map-4Future of Making Map [The Institute For The Future]
EXCERPT: “Two future forces, one mostly social, one mostly technological, are intersecting to transform how goods, services, and experiences—the “stuff” of our world—will be designed, manufactured, and distributed over the next decade. An emerging do-it-yourself culture of “makers” is boldly voiding warranties to tweak, hack, and customize the products they buy. And what they can’t purchase, they build from scratch. Meanwhile, flexible manufacturing technologies on the horizon will change fabrication from massive and centralized to lightweight and ad hoc. These trends sit atop a platform of grassroots economics—new market structures developing online that embody a shift from stores and sales to communities and connections.”

The Coalition for Daring Behaviour_1216343298864The Coalition for Daring Behaviour
EXCERPT: “Launched in January 2008, The Coalition for Daring Behaviour is an on-line artist project that strives to facilitate a global exchange of dares, double dares, and possibly triple dog dares. An ever-expanding network of international artists/daredevils, the CFBD promotes creative collaborations of a spontaneous, non-traditional and, most importantly, daring nature.”

Picture 2Prototype Packaging using Photoshop Smart Objects [creativetechs]
EXCERPT: “Are you working on a product packaging job? Here’s a way to combine digital product photography with Adobe Photoshop Smart Objects in CS2 or CS3 to create quick virtual prototypes. The process is fairly easy once you understand the technique, and can be used for some pretty remarkable results.”

On the death of BPP | Gravity Medium_1216343338131On the death of BPP [gravity medium]
EXCERPT: “Well, the Bryant Park Project has less than a month left. Literally. Was it too beautiful to live, perhaps? Hardly. I mean, can anyone really feign shock that well? Let’s recount the strikes against this endeavor:”

The Facebooker Who Friended Obama - NYTimes.com_1216343352764The Facebooker Who Friended Obama [NYT]
EXCERPT: “Last November, Mark Penn, then the chief strategist for Hillary Rodham Clinton, derisively said Barack Obama’s supporters “look like Facebook.” Chris Hughes takes that as a compliment. Mr. Hughes, 24, was one of four founders of Facebook. In early 2007, he left the company to work in Chicago on Senator Obama’s new-media campaign.”

Design Observer_1216343365301I Was A Mad Man Design Observer
EXCERPT: “In the winter of 1976, while still a student, I worked lunches at a Greek restaurant on Madison Avenue in New York City. Three or four days a week, a well-dressed gentleman in his 50s would come to lunch — strangely alone — and sit at the bar and order a martini. (And ultimately two more, but never three.) He managed to read the Wall Street Journal and eat a little lunch. I was his waiter and his bartender.”

 Secrets of book publishing I wish I had known_1216343375722Secrets of book publishing I wish I had known [Good Experience]
EXCERPT: “Following up on these overviews of the book industry, I thought I’d share some lessons I learned from publishing Bit Literacy. I originally tried to go through mainstream publishers but eventually self-published it, because of what I learned in the process. I wish I had known everything below before I wrote my book.”

Orbicule | Undercover_1216343382368Undercover
EXCERPT: “Because laptops are increasingly popular, and desktops are becoming smaller and more portable, computer theft has reached huge proportions worldwide: there were about 600,000 laptops stolen in the USA in the year 2004. According to a recent FBI report, 97% of all stolen computers are never recovered. Many people we know have had their Macs stolen, often in ‘safe’ situations. That’s why we developed Undercover: a unique theft-recovery application designed from the ground up for Mac OS X.”

design mind | business. technology. design._1216343400362design mind | business. technology. design.

 News, Coverage, and Commentary_1216343408466NPR cancel Bryant Park Project – Can a hybrid work? [fast forward blog]
EXCERPT: “It was announced this weekend that NPR will have to cancel their new News program The Bryant Park Project for cost reasons. The NYT story is here. The BPP site with comments on the closing of the show is here. You can see that I was not the only fan nor am I the only one who is upset!”

 Soldering, Guerilla Knitting, & Bomb Shelters - O'Reilly Radar_1216343415111Ignite NYC: Soldering, Guerilla Knitting, & Bomb Shelters [radar oreilly]
EXCERPT: “The first Ignite NYC is going to happen 7/29 at M1-5. We are going to feature 16 speakers. Each speaker will get 20 slides that auto-advance after 15 seconds for a total of five-minutes. Ignite is free and open to the public — you’re on your own for drinks. We’re also going to be joined by Ignite co-creator, Bre Pettis. Bre is going to lead us in a creative soldering contest. RSVP at Upcoming or Facebook to let us know you are coming.”

Barbarian Group Adds Strategist_1216343424741Barbarian Group Adds Strategist [adweek]
EXCERPT: “The Barbarian Group is beefing up its strategic offering by adding Noah Brier from Naked Communications.”

 Coffee shop chalkboard signs_1216343430820Coffee shop chalkboard signs [cellar door]
EXCERPT: “In the past several months, I have been taking photos of chalkboard signs outside of coffee shops. Very specifically: Sweet Farm and El Beit in Williamsburg. These two shops started out being next to each other, and I wasn’t sure how each one would do, competition-wise.”

EXCERPT: “A visual listing of redesigns, design refreshes/updates, and overhauls.”

Sandra’s Sources | Leffot - The Moment Blog - NYTimes.com_1216343447626Sandra’s Sources | Leffot [NYT]
EXCERPT: “Steven Taffel, a self-proclaimed shoe hound, was tired of having to hoof it all the way uptown for quality footwear, so he decided to open the ultimate boot-ique in the heart of the West Village. The tightly curated selection includes labels like Edward Green, Pierre Corthay, Artioli, Aubercy and Gaziano & Girling, a young English cobbler.”

 Three Glimpses of Photography's Future_1216343452814Three Glimpses of Photography’s Future [pop photo]
EXCERPT: “By now I’m guessing that most people who read blogs (or email) have read Vincent Laforet’s insightful, tough-love opus at Sports Shooter about the state of photography today (and tomorrow), The Cloud is Falling. It’s a long piece, so there’s a chance you might not have gotten to this late paragraph:”

Shake it Like a Metaphorical Picture | Jason Santa Maria_1216343461251Shake it Like a Metaphorical Picture [Jason Santa Maria]
EXCERPT: “Sometime next year, Polaroid will stop producing instant film. There have been lots of people jumping in to help save the format, and others writing some striking eulogies, as the rest of us start mourning the oncoming loss. But one thing I can’t quite shake is what Polaroid represents to me, something that will likely be on its way out the door too: the visual metaphor of a photograph.”

 prince of the gift economy_1216375597296Lil Wayne: prince of the gift economy [This Blog Sits at the: Culture By]
EXCERPT: “Since his last LP, Lil Wayne has been working the gift economy. In the words of Jonah Weiner, [T]he New Orleans MC struck upon a music-distribution model so radical it made Radiohead look like Thomas Edison shipping wax cylinders by Pony Express. Step 1: Rap about whatever pops into your head, over any beat you please–copyright laws be damned. Step 2: Flood the Internet with material, compiled on mix tapes or leaked a la carte. Step 3: Say yes to anyone who invites you to guest star on a track (anyone: meaning Enrique Iglesias and Gym Class Heroes). Step 4: Repeat at an inhuman clip, not merely keeping pace with the relentless blog cycle–in which MP3s ping from studios to iPods to trash cans in a matter of days, but leaving the blog cycle face down on the racetrack, turf in its teeth, gasping for air.”

 NYC Window Display Series continues..._1216375058930NYC Window Display Series continues… [Copyranter]
EXCERPT” “Last time, years ago, I went inside The Apartment at 101 Crosby St., they were an offbeat furniture store. But now, apparently, they offer “fully integrated branding, marketing, architecture, and interior design services.” Here, in their ever-changing window display, they present six people (employees?) artfully faking taking a dump.”

My 2 days at Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive workshop in Minneapolis

UX Intensive w/ Dan Saffer

Last week I spent a couple days in Minneapolis taking in Adaptive Path’s UX Intensive. I would have really enjoyed taking the full four days but couldn’t b/c of work commitments. In any case two days was better than none and had the chance to take the Information Architecture and Interactive Design days. The obvious question to answer would be “how was it?”. The simple answer would be to say it was good… But how good and was it worth attending – and I would have to say I was able to connect a lot of dots that I had been thinking/doing but was looking for a bit more structured organization, and it really helped me provide a lot more confidence in how I approach design – so yes it was worth it.

The IA day was by Chiara Fox with help from Leah Buley. The day was divided into four sessions; Metadata & Controlled Vocabularies, Content Analysis, Content Modeling, and Classification & Site Structure. Each of those sessions had an exercise – some were group activities while others were individual. The Interaction Design day was put on by Dan Saffer and Kim Lenox. Again the day was divided into a number of sessions; Introduction & Characteristics of Good Interaction Design, Making Models from Research, Ideation, Design Principles, Innovating Design Methods, Fixing Broken Products and Prototyping. The activities themselves were there own sessions as opposed to the IA were it seemed like it was more of a reinforcement of the concepts on a high level. The ID exercises were Making a Conceptual Model, Brainstorming, Design Principles, Innovating a Design Method and Device Prototyping.

Each day included a workbook that contained all the slides and exercises. The context for all the exercises was for a fictitious hotel in California. All the presenters were quite clear and smart which at times made the learning slightly deceiving. They would share a point that was to be emulated in an exercise, and when I thought I had taken everything in found it challenging to complete. They made things look a lot easier than it was – that was something that I overheard a bit from others. In a lot of ways that’s a good thing – they knew their stuff and we had to learn.

The biggest takeaway wasn’t any particular session or thought, but wanting to take what I had learned and implement it as part of my daily design process. It’s taken almost a week of going through my notes and reviewing the slides. That of course only goes so far without hands on action. I’m pretty excited to see how I can do that in the next couple of months. I’ve put up some photos of my experience on flickr, you can get more info about the Information Architecture workshop at and the Interaction Design workshop at Conferences have their place, but for me at this point in my career the hands on workshops are a lot more valuable to me. If you have the time and resources I would highly recommend trying to get in to any of there workshops, it’s a great opportunity to enhance what you already know.

No Pantone, No Photoshop

no Pantone

Like all absolutes, there are none – though I was struck by two recent things I read on the web recently. From the Barbarian Group website I was in a section called barbaripedia where they “talk” to potential people. One such person is the outside Art Director. What was fascinating about the conversation was that they’re trying to talk to a lot of different skill sets, both the young hotshot and the old person that still design web stuff in illustrator in cmyk mode. I just liked the candor of how they go about letting people know how some aspects of web work should be produced. Read the full conversation at

no Photoshop

The other post that made sense to some degree was from 37 Signals in which they talk about Why They Skip Photoshop. Both the points they make and all the comments for and against that idea are worth considering. While I don’t think Photoshop is going away anytime soon I’ve yet to read something that really throws out the practical reasons why sometimes Photoshop isn’t the best way to show comps. Read it for yourself at

Universal Sound

Map - image and design by Matt Ell

Last Thursday I managed to take a break from work and head over to the Art Directors Club to attend the SVA 2008 Senior Graphic Design Portfolio Review. Having never been to one before I wasn’t sure what to expect. Honestly I was slightly overwhelmed in the sheer number of students with portfolios wanting to show their work. There was a couple reasons why I actually wanted to attend – part out of curiosity to see what young designers were up to, and also in part b/c I need some help where I work. I wasn’t timing things, but I was probably there for just over an hour and saw six or seven books.

All the work was quite impressive though there’s only one that I’m going to mention b/c it was quite different from everything else that I saw or heard. The project that Matt Ell showed me (vs a portfolio of work) was comprised of experimental audio and visuals that combined together. What was interesting is that I was flipping through a book of visuals that documented environmental sounds, yet as I looked through it I was hearing the background noise of the portfolio show. It wasn’t until I downloaded the audio files at home did I know what I was looking at. At itpc:// you can download the five tracks. There was a variety of sound recordings from around New York and one from the ocean overlayed with music that worked well together. What I liked about the combination of ambient noise and recognizable notes was that it reminded me of my first trip back to Canada after visiting New York before I moved here. One of the not so subtle things that I missed was all the noise of New York. The taxi horns, the squeaky bus brakes, over worked air conditioning units – they all make a hum that I was starting to associate with a place that I wanted to be at.

While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that every designer leaving school do a project like this, if you have a pretty good idea of the direction you want to shoot towards – why not explore it fully? You can check out more of his visual and sound work at

Reading the New York Moon

The New York Moon

I’m not much of a moon man myself, but a while back I got an email from Zack Sultan mentioning an online publication called the New York Moon at In his own words he describes it as something that “seeks to integrate design and journalism in experimental ways”. There’s an interesting publishing cycle – it comes out during each months full moon. The publication is pretty easy to read and integrates a lot of different mediums that make up the web – it almost makes you forget that it’s a website that is not an easy feat to do.

Hearing Roger Black

Roger Black

Roger Black

Roger Black

At the end of Roger Black’s talk last night held at Frog via AIGANY, I kind of wished he had started the talk how he ended it. My friend Vineet who I work with at Daylife asked him what he thought of web 2.0 design. The audience got a bit of a surprise commentary about how designers need to open up the reigns a bit on the online side. He referenced the popularity of the film Helvetica as an example where normal people are interested in fonts and want to have the ability to control how things look on their screen. The designers will be creating the structure but people will ultimately control the out put. Those ideas certainly weren’t there cornerstone of the talk though those ideas that he had about that are worth hearing more about from him. That concept is of particular note as I’m kind of doing something similar at the moment. I can’t say much more than that, but to hear some of the same ideas coming from someone else makes me consider that I’m on the right path at the moment though examples are not out there just yet.

Black framed the talk with his past experience’s from Rolling Stone and Newsweek magazines with a heavy emphasis on typography and how that influenced the layouts and what he was trying to accomplish to the reader. He then went on to talk briefly about Bloomberg’s internal system and how that translated to their website which is pictured above. The end consisted of some moderated questions and then was open to the audience afterwards. The talk was held at Frog which was a pretty good location for this event. It was the perfect night to have some wine on the terrace that they have before hearing one of the magazine greats.

Here’s some of my notes from the talk.

“People don’t remember the bad layouts, people back then tried things – they took risks”

“Playing against the expectation”

“Weight, stage and push forward”

“Web = blurry”

“Narrative design; YouTube vs. documnetry, Iraq vs. Vietnam”

“Web 2.0 – open it up”

I Want You To Want Me Video by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar

Design and the Elastic Mind

While I have seen I Want You To Want Me project at MoMA I haven’t actually interacted with it. However after watching the above video and seeing a similar presentation about the installation via AIGA NY Designers Remixed series a couple thoughts come to mind. I would luv to know how long the project took and how they sustained their energy though out. The amount of work that it would have taken to pull it off was quite amazing.

youtube video via information aesthetics

Designing a better system for fire alarms in SoHo…

Fire alarm in our building

Fire alarm in our building

Over at Daylife HQ’s this morning in SoHo (444 Broadway for anyone wanting to visit) the building had a fire alarm. At the time I was listening to Portishead in Portishead quite loudly so for the first couple of seconds I thought the siren was part of a song. Once I realized that wasn’t quite the case I said my goodbye’s on IM and proceeded from the top floor to go outside. Hanging out on the street with a couple other people from Daylife I noticed something interesting. Neither of the buildings that were connected to us had to evacuate. More to the point there was a shoe store that was half in our building and half in another. The even bigger picture was that the entire block was essentially connected. If there had been an actual fire I wonder how the other interconnected buildings would have known that there was a fire? I know absolutely nothing about fire alarm systems but I would have hoped that if one alarm had tripped the buildings connected would have sounded the same alarm.

While I do mention my iPhone a lot on DesignNotes I was happy to see that once again I could take some pictures and upload them to flickr ASAP. Along that same line if there had been some sort of real disaster and people were indeed wondering if I was ok and the cell/wifi towers were working I could send some information both visually and wordy via email, sms that would end up in email, flickr, twitter, facebook and friendfeed in a matter of seconds. Small comfort now if I look back and think that only a couple years ago would have been difficult to do w/ out a laptop and a digital camera.

Reading Blogs that I Can’t Read

alice wang
alice wang

SLN:blog* |Web Magazine「ハニカム |Web Magazine「ハニカム」

I’ve noticed a small but noticeable trend in some of the blogs I’m drifting towards. The thing is that I’m not always reading them though they look fascinating. For these blogs deal w/ design though I’m not sure what the text is saying. Those blogs are coming from other languages that I really have no idea how to read. But honestly they more then make up for the language difference w/ the way they display their content and show really cool things that I’m not likely to see in design blogs from North America. I’ve taken screen captures of three such blogs that have been making my visual environment on the design blogosphere better.

alice wang

SLN:blog* |Web Magazine「ハニカム」

Looking at help





When I first held the two prototypes for help in my hands a number of weeks ago I wasn’t blown away with the packaging. I was instantly comparing it in my head w/ Target ClearRx. It was probably not a fair comparison as there’s a lot more information considerations and systems at play with Target then with help. I also thought that there wasn’t enough of a unique visual on the typographic side. If someone else stole/knocked off the idea with a me too product I wondered if help looked unique enough. Could they sustain a number of competitors going with a similar clean aesthetic. A simple branding exercise I like to refer back to is if you were to place your thumb over the logo – could you still tell what brand it is? This is always a challenge with new companies as no one knows who they are – but you also need to hope that at some point the visual points will help trigger that memory. While the shape of the packaging is unique and one of the best features that’s bit hard to transfer to other media types.

But when I came across two different sites that mentioned help I decided to challenge some of my first branding assumptions. PSFK interviewed the founder while the blog i am bella mentions help too. The one thing I didn’t originally do was go to the help website The conversational tone and soft pitch reminded me of another extremely successful business called Swich. Both brands come off as human while smart and not constrained which helps make them different. The idea and language create as an interesting brand. I luv their idea on selling shirts. Make your own message with help. They also have some smart ideas on the issue of being bored. So the question I ask myself is that if I place my thumb over the logo and can’t tell where it came from, yet on the flip side I’m now likely more to remember the brand b/c of the site’s conversational tone is it going to be a success? I hope so – there’s a lot of potential with other packaged product that could use a tonal adjustment.

Noticed today (04/12/2008) that MoCo Loco has a post too

Noticed tonight (04/12/2008) that Cool Hunting has a post too

Vietnam Veterans Memorial is Now Digital

Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Vietnam Wall) -

original sketch of that concept

I first met Chris Willis of Footnote last December when he was helping work out some concepts w/ Daylife. During one of those days he mentioned an extension of Footnote that was about digitizing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial where each name on the wall could have information added. It sounded like a great idea at the time and now the site has launched to great acclaim and media coverage. Take a look for yourself at You can follow more info about the launch at Launching The Wall. Sometime in the not so distant future I’ll try to have an interview w/ Chris to talk about the project.

Here’s a couple additional links he sent my way

The situation room (cnn):



First 48 hours of The Wall:

Taking a quick look at Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior

MM001: Front Cover


MM070: Chapter 10--Audience Segment Histogram

I was passed on pretty good link from Robbie de Villiers about a new book titled Mental Models: Aligning Design Strategy with Human Behavior by Indi Young. The book itself looks quite fascinating for anyone that’s in the design field w/ a bent to the digital side but also for the publishers use of flickr. They’ve taken over ninety pages and placed them on flickr to give an idea of what you’ll get. Take a look of the flickr set at From the standpoint of promotion it allows a number of ways to promote the book digitally, creates permalinks to content which I think is kind of a small but big deal and gives enough of a taste that allows the person to decide whether it’s a book to get.

Since we’re talking books Robbie mentioned Right Hand Left Hand by Chris McManus to me a while back. You should check that one out also at

DISQUS Comments


I’m trying out a new way to keep comments on DesignNotes from the startup DISQUS. This is very much beta for me at the moment so bare with me as I test things out. I’m not too sure why, but all my old comments are not showing up. If I turn off the plug in they come back – so don’t worry that they’ve been erased, they have not. After a week or so I’ll post about my experience and decide whether I want to keep it running.

If you feel so inclined, please post a comment here so I can hear feedback from your experience. I suppose that would mean you’d have to double post, but I digress…

Learning about Reuters Labs

Reuters Labs - Home

Nic Fulton

Nic Fulton, Reuters Chief technology strategist spoke last night at Daylife’s second cozy speaker series. The first event was a month ago when we had Clay Shirky talk about his great new book Here Comes Everybody. My friend Johanna wrote about her observations of that talk on her blog cellar door. I didn’t know much about Reuters aside from their news service before Nic’s talk and didn’t even know that they had a Reuter’s Labs The talk wasn’t long which opened it up for a lively discussion which seemed to fit into his demeanour. There was a couple things to note from the actual presentation. First, check out the labs site at, it gives an idea as to some of the things they’re experimenting with. When one of those projects becomes something that Reuters wants to put more resources into it leaves the labs area and it’s known as a graduation. Very cool process to consider where ever you are. Set up some creative people with limited resources, have the expectation that many of the projects will fail and when one does become manageable in a strategic and profitable way – have it graduate. Probably the most insightful thing I heard was about twitter and how they are using it to discover news – perhaps an earthquake. When certain keywords are mentioned over and over again it alerts a system which in turn helps find news almost real time. It’s an incredible idea that I think we’ll be seeing more of in the not so distant future.

Daylife Photo Matrix

photo matrix

Last week I mentioned that Daylife had started to launch an updated site. Things are still moving quite quickly so I’m going to wait a while before I talk about some of the bigger design changes. But one small thing that I thought would be fun to mention was the Photo Matrix that can be found on the Photo Hub page. Daylife receives great photos from Getty, Reuters, the AP etc all the time. I wanted to show in a linear fashion how all these images coming in make a unique pattern. One way of doing that was to break each image down to it’s simplest color combination and stack those colors into bars like a matrix or dna strip. When you stack the image not only does it make a compact view for a lot of images it creates and interesting method for exploration. Down the road there’s a couple more things that I’d like to see happen with it. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could embed something like that on your own blog and show your last 30 posts images with the intention of clicking on a bar to get to that post? I could never say enough great things about Flickr (except for when it disables features after their servers crash) and yes it’s a great tool for searching. I thought it would also be interesting just to show some of the color influences as I progressed with the idea of the Photo Matrix. Here’s a couple pages that caught my eye as I was working through the concept: Memento + Swiss New Graphic Design + 3 – 2 – many.

As with anything that comes from Daylife I would be remiss not to mention that this wasn’t a sole project and that a lot of other people had a say in it’s form and development. With sites this big no one can do anything without a lot of help.

Looking for feedback on your online storytelling stuff?

One of the more interesting parts of DesignNotes for me is the conversation that happens outside of the regular posting and comments. Jody Sugrue passed me on a link to a site that she and two others started. Their rational in the about section explains it better then I could try to summarize… “MOVE30 was created out of a desire to democratize the multimedia landscape. It is a community upload website that showcases multimedia stories whether they are documentary, fiction, video, photography-driven, motion design or animation.”

I think one of the best features is that there’s a check box for feedback. I’ve had people ask me about websites that are peer driven for design that can help in reviewing work. I haven’t come across that many so I thought it was a great idea. So if you’re in the online storytelling business you might want to check it out. If you’re not you’ll still some pretty cool work.

Daylife Redesign Part One

Daylife: A New Way to Explore the World

For the last couple of months I’ve been busy at Daylife as the Design Director. I haven’t really said much here on DesignNotes about what that has entailed until now. Late last night a new version of was released. It is by no means a complete redesign and there’s a lot more releases of new design happening in the upcoming weeks and months. I’ll have a more detailed post about the design of the site and what has evolved written sometime over the weekend. But for now I’d encourage you to check out the site at and let me know what works and doesn’t work well for you.

Can you exist without a permalink?


Everyone searches for their name on Google and when stuff comes up it’s because a page was searchable. If your name is in a flash piece it much more likely to be missed unless the developer really knows what they’re doing. In a way you either exist or don’t via how the text was set up to me optimized. I think the same thing could be said about elements that have their own permalink. Clay Shirky who has a book coming out called Here Comes Everybody (book review coming) talked at Daylife where I worked. He briefly mentioned in passing that flickr essentially gave every photo it’s own permalink. Those photos are then collected on another page with another url.

Why that got me thinking was that at Daylife we have Topics, Articles, Photos, Quotes, Connections, Sources and a couple more elements coming out soon. Each of those elements have their own unique url but they also are also collected on the same page depending on what you’re interested in. Why this is interesting to me in the bigger scheme is that if you are an element of information and you don’t have a permalink – do you really exist outside of your content creator? If you’re valuable can someone share that information with others or do they have to send you a larger page that may have a lot of other content before the person can scroll down to you? If there was one thing missing with magazines that are trying to balance what content to put online and what not to – every piece that doesn’t have it’s own url ceases to exist soon as a person closes that article. If it’s online someone will always be able to find it, and if it’s actually good someone will want to share it.

This also in my mind has consequences to graphic design. A lot of the work finds its way on to paper. If you’re not thinking about how this can transfer to a digital version in some form, the lifespan of that design is exceedingly short. It’s a bit of a far reaching concept that I haven’t heard many designers concerned about just yet – though they should be. That’s one of the reasons why I focus a lot more towards digital then ever before.

As I mentioned above there are some new things coming out with Daylife, soon as they launch I’ll be talking a bit about that too. Stay tuned…

Difficult Assignment: Personal Portfolio

indexhibit 01

indexhibit 02

As I was looking through the online portfolio of Oliver Munday (which is quite good btw) I noticed a small line at the bottom of the site. It said it was built with Indexhibit. Curious to see what Indexhibit was a clicked on the name and landed at They’ve essentially created a downloadable system that allows you to show your work quite easily. The template can be easy or visually complex as you want it to be once installed. The history section of Indexhibit has some fascinating pieces of information. “The more people who used it the more invisible and archetypal it became. During two years over 200 people responded, forming a community web project promoting content over complicated website designs.” How nice is that? They do give links to all of those sites which really demonstrates how a simple framework can really make original visuals.

Aside from me really liking the simplicity of the site, their ideas on how to use it are quite nice too: Why not use Indexhibit to start a website for somebody as a gift? Buy them a domain name, install Indexhibit and start their site. Or use Indexhibit for your own creative content, a weird collection or something you have always wanted to exhibit. Collections: stamps / records / toys / coke cans / shells / fixed wheel bikes / butterflies / coins / postcards Small Business: garden centre / pizza shop / estate agent / bookshop / hair dressers / second hand clothing store / guitar shop / gallery A new project: every item your own / every item you dispose of / every piece of mail you receive / every meal you eat / all your clothes

How it was done – describing creative process

thomas herbrich

thomas herbrich

Hopefully I’m not dating myself too much with me saying that I remember when Step Magazine was Step by Step and that when I was still in school I found it as an invaluable resource. A lot of the articles were process driven. A design was shown through all the stages to get to the final piece. It was a great to learn from “famous” designers. I don’t think Step magazine does that anymore – I haven’t picked up that mag or any other design mag for a while so I could be mistaken when I suggest that they don’t present that kind of quality anymore. Maybe they do – probably they don’t. But this post wasn’t meant to be a nostalgic look at the yesteryear of design magazine editorial.

I came across a nice photographer’s site that reminded me of the Step by Step magazine methodology. Each photo that Thomas Herbrich has in his portfolio has a simple text button with the caption “how it was done”. It doesn’t go into great detail, but what it does do is give a sense of how his images came together. A lot of design portfolios have practical information and if they’re really with it a description of how the design made the business better, but almost never mentioning how the design came to be. With a couple simple lines of text you really get a sense of how Thomas approaches photography. Visit his site at If there was anything I would switch on his site, it would be to get rid of the flash because the pages can’t be forwarded on with a link – only the home page…

Talking Sticker

motobus diagram 2

Since the new year I’ve started a couple personal projects to keep my eyes active. Now that I work in SoHo I walk to that area almost everyday from my apartment that’s in the garment/midtown area. I walk by a lot of cool looking stickers – it’s hard not to look at for the sake of interest. I started to collect these stickers by shooting them with my iPhone and sending them to my tumblr site called Copywronged at After a couple of days of that I thought it would be interesting to map out the locations of where these stickers were at. It’s an incredibly easy thing to do and gives me a chance to play as a mobile blogger. But with a lot of these online projects they have unexpected bursts of exploration/learning.

The above diagram illustrates one such case. I had taken the motobus sticker one morning after being stopped by this little character on the sidewalk. What the original photo didn’t show was that the sticker was framed by a hugs circular tube in metal. The contrast in scale was quite jarring. Along with sending my sticker photos to Copywronged I also store them on flickr so I can tag them. It wasn’t until a flickr contact had mentioned the name of the sticker in the comment area that I was able to tag it appropriately.

The blog look, party people! is run by the person behind the sticker motobus and uses the blog as place to keep track of the sticker in it’s various forms from different cities and the responses they elicit. One way this person finds the sticker taken by other people is through tags on flickr. That’s how the person found my photo of the sticker and ended up checking out Copywronged. They then went to DesignNotes in which has my contact information. So long story short the person contacted me about some photo information. It was a fairly simple communication’s loop though would never had happened if for not a couple of chance events that I mentioned above. The person also relies on word of mouth, little cards she’s made with the blog address, and chance encounters. What’s the lesson to be learned here? Take some pictures and tag’em and do something with it!

Orange Bicycles in New York

There’s a lot of things things one can take for granted living in New York as there’s so many new places to check out. One area that I try to visit once every six weeks is Central Park. My favourite area is the line that makes up the mall. Walking towards Central Park I passed Bryant Park which is in the midst of Fashion Week with all the tents on the grounds. Aside from all the fashion people floating around outside the gates the other thing that caught my eyes was a bright orange bike with the simple url The uptight designer in me wants to laugh it off as a silly stunt, though the civilian in me was still caught by the bright colors and I still remember the url today.

As a way to drive people to a fashion website I think this works really well – as part of a brand maybe not, but even what a brand “is” is really being challenged. Part of recognizing a brand is through the ability of not seeing the logo yet recognize what the company is. Why the orange bicycle actually works is not b/c of the bright stunt but it’s part of an abstraction of the actual web campaign (I suspect print too) with the orange color and New York and has less to do with the actual logo. Fashion is all about emotion, not tight logo constraints. Isn’t it more fun to flaunt in the face of practicality? I’ve also seen the orange bike on 23rd and 9th ave and I imagine when I walk to work on Monday to SoHo I’ll see one or two pop up there. In the end I did end up visiting the site and appreciated the tie in – smart art direction as opposed to oppressive design police.

3 Sites That Had Me Thinking

Street fashion photos from street style blogsStreet fashion photos from street style blogs

There were a couple new sites this week that piqued my interest that I hadn’t seen before. How I actually came across the three also speaks to the miscellaneous ways I’m finding information. One site was passed on to me directly through delicious, one site came up at a discussion group that I participated in and the third came from a subscribed mail list. I didn’t get any of this stuff from mainstream media outlets or magazines which is kind of interesting in itself. While the three sites all serve different tasks they all kind of make scanning a lot of information quite quickly. If you’ve read the book Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger you’ll know what I mean – if you haven’t read the book be sure to check it out.

Street fashion photos from street style blogs is exactly what the title claims to be. It’s feeding a number of fashion blogs and the images are collected by tags and cities. You can go visit New York to Vancouver to Oslo extremely fast. Once you click on a photo is sends you to the original blog post from their site.

Instapaper for some reason doesn’t work on my mac firefox browser – so keep that in mind when I talk about this site, if you’re on a pc it probably does work. The simple idea is that while you’re jumping around from one to site to the next you might not have time to read the entire post. Instapaper has a button that you are supposed to be able to drag and drop on to your toolbar. Once you see something you want to save you click on the button that saves it to your own Instapaper page. Once you visit that page you have a couple options, you can read the story, skip the story or delete the story. The log in is incredible simple too – you’ll see what I mean when you try for yourself.

Photos in 10001 | EveryBlock NYC
Photos in 10001 | EveryBlock NYCPhotos in 10001 | EveryBlock NYC
EveryBlock pulls public data to a new level. Depending on where you live there’s a lot of information that can be turned into some interesting facts. On top of that there’s a layer that maps things geographically. There’s a number of interesting categories that you may not think that has public data though apparently they do – like graffiti cleaned, building violations issued, restaurant inspections and fun things like Missed connections from craig’s list and photos being feed from flickr. There’s a bunch more though the restaurant inspections interested me the most.

Space of Actions

densitydesign — Communication Design & Complexity

I came across yet another site via flickr, this time it’s from Density Design which is part of a Master Degree Course in Communication Design at the Politecnico di Milano. The blog resource site can be found at Not surprisingly some of the posts are in Italian though that shouldn’t stop you from checking it out. In the about section there’s an interesting breakdown on their description of what “Space of Actions” and what DensityDesign project is. “…approach suggests that in design practice information and data should be gathered from different places, practices and disciplines. The aim of designers is not only to collect high number of data, but to synthesize and organize them in a goal-oriented way in order to be able to develop effective design interventions.” And their blog itself described: “In this framework we identify, diagrams – maps, moodboard, storyboard, video scenarios – as such kind of tools: strategic artefacts helping the decision makers to built a vision about: (I) the elements of the systems, (II) the connections and the relationships among elements, (IV) the behaviour of the system, (V) the future evolutions of the systems.”

Soothing Nav.

Nav refreshed

Playing with the nav.

I found a great site to explore yesterday via flickr. Damon Zucconi has a number of sites though the one that I really want to mention is The nav. is really soothing and encourages exploration. The images above show how the site starts and what happens once the cursor is dragged around. If there’s one complaint, it’s that the contact info is really difficult to find. I had to go to one of his other sites to find it.

The Purple List and Ning

the purple list

When I first came across the social networking platform from Ning some time ago, I really didn’t think much about it. There’s already Facebook – why would anyone need something else? You already get to decide who sees your information. Sure Facebook is already starting to stagnate and is less then perfect when it comes to connecting content to ads, but the motivation to start something else seems to be an effort not worth exploring. That changed when I was invited to the Purple List that is another node in the PSFK empire. It’s an invite only group that connects people that have diverse backgrounds though probably have more in common then they think. It’s only been up for about a week but it’s fascinating to watch how the activity and growth has grown.

Ning has created a platform that takes on familiar cues like friending people that are in the same list, but takes off some of the handcuffs that Facebook has. I’m a big fan of customization which Piers has worked out perfectly, though what’s even better is that you don’t have to customize elements if you don’t want to. There’s a nice balance between letting people take their knowledge of one platform and tweaking it for their purposes. Am I going to create my own group from Ning? Probably not at this point b/c there isn’t much of a need. If I was in an organization or group or even working on a project, something like this could potentially challenge other platforms like Basecamp perhaps. As much as I’m pushing the technology, the reason why the Purple List will work has everything to do with the people behind it, not the web site. It’s a creative enough group of people that there’s motivation to test its limits to see what’s possible.

Waking up early again

Daylife - I'm now the Design Director there

When I turned thirty a couple months ago, I never had any regret about hitting that milestone. I’d had a good run up to that point – there’s been a lot of opportunities in both personal and professional life that has always kept me interested. I thought I was ready for more of a challenge professionally, as the saying goes you should be careful for what you wish for. The night I turned thirty Tamara surprised me with a party. At first it was a little scary b/c it was so unexpected, but it was also a lot of fun. At the time I didn’t realize that my career would follow the same unexpected surprises after that night.

There was a couple reasons why I moved to NYC – on the surface it was to work specifically with Renegade, but it was also about the experience of a Canadian living in NYC with Tamara. As first jobs in NYC go, Renegade was a great place to work when there was a lot of work and the people that they had were curious and lived with the same attitude. But things change and Renegade made some deep cuts – and I was included in that. It happens, you move on – when I blogged about the experience I was humbled with all the people that tried to help me. Both from people I knew and people I didn’t. About a week and a half later I found myself working with Hillman Curtis. I was pretty excited – who wouldn’t be? During this time of thinking about finding my next career path I also had another big thing to think about. I was going to be giving my first design talk in Saskatoon – where I’m originally from. From all the different things going on with my career I kept having to re-write parts of the talk. Like I mentioned I was pretty excited to work with Hillman – unfortunately it didn’t work for either of us. The simplest thing to say is that it wasn’t the right fit.

So two days after leaving that I was in Saskatoon trying to explain publicly about what the hell happened. There wasn’t much that needed to be said about the work situation – in the end I thought the talk went pretty well – I’ve even kept up a dialogue with some of the audience up until now. So I get back to NYC without a job, deal with Visa stuff once again and I have to prep myself to start talking to a lot of people. But I ended up not having to that many people. Before I had accepted my previous job I had been talking with Tom Tercek at Daylife. We’d had some interesting discussions about how the net could work. He invited me to come help Daylife with a couple small projects to get a sense of how I worked and also for me to see if I would fit into their culture. What is Daylife? My simple idea is that if you’re one of those people that read both the NYT and the WSJ – this news site is for you. Daylife finds interesting news stories and then makes connections from other papers, but also visualizes the cast of characters in the story too. The functionality and the engineers behind the site make the information great. The only issue from my POV is that it’s not the easiest or nicest thing to read online. That’s where I’d like to say why I’m there. I’ve been named the Design Director of Daylife and may goal is simply to make Daylife a site that a news explorer would want to use. It’s by far the most exciting challenge that I’ve had the opportunity to consider so far. When I was in school many years ago it was extremely easy to wake up early – I was happy to be learning. I haven’t really had much time to sleep since starting with Daylife, but sleep is not being missed at the moment.

From my experience so far, companies that have a curious person leading makes it easier to believe in what they’re about. It also makes you want to kick a lot of ass and do something that’s worth putting your time into. I’ve been really fortunate to work along side Upendra Shardanand who was the person that conceived Daylife. Being able to pick his brain on a number of different levels is exactly why I want to be in NYC. I can’t say a whole lot about what will be happening in the next couple months with Daylife – but it’s going to be fascinating and a lot of fun. Stay tuned!

DesignNotes Part Deux: Mobile Blogging from my iPhone

DesignNotes Part Deux

I’ve been trying a difficult dance between sending images from my iPhone to flickr that would then find their way on to DesignNotes as a post. For whatever reason flickr and wordpress are not talking to each other from my site when I press flickr’s blog button. But now looking back at it, wordpress is probably not the best platform for when I want to do a quick mobile post. That’s where Tumblr comes into play. It’s another tool to post info on to the web. For almost a week I’ve been experimenting with sending images and a quick message from my iPone to a brother site of DesignNotes – called DesignNotes Part Deux. I like it a lot. It’s simple, the back end is as editable as my tech skills allow it to be and it gives me a different voice from some of the other platforms that I use.

To the point of different platforms I drew a map of all the different ways I’m connecting information. I’ll be going more in depth about what that all means to me, but the quick synopsis is that each of those platform points gives me a slightly different voice as pieces but helps me explore a lot of venues for communication (which is a big part of design). In the short term DesignNotes and DesignNotes Part Deux will be seperate. In the not so distant future I will be sending a feed to each other that will create an interesting feedback loop of information. I also plan to post to each while not at the expense of the other.

Navigation through scrolling

Inspiration Shots

Jpg close up


I was going through some network contacts of mine from delicious when I came across a familiar flickr contact that had collected a number of sites and created a flickr set. What got my attention from jibbajabba’s Inspiration set was looking at some of the screen captures at full size. The screen captures were stitched together to give an overview of the site. It partly reminded me of how magazines will often place the entire magazine on the wall to check the flow before it goes to the printer. It also reminded me of Frost’s web site that has a fairly interesting navigation that scrolls through exploration. The thing that surprised me about the stitched screen captures was how easy and intuitive it was to just scroll around the pages. I’m not sure I would have said the same thing a couple years ago. I’m so used to scrolling through pages from my iPone that I wonder if that increased my tolerance for the scroll of the page…

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