New trendwatching audio blog from the CBC

Spark on CBC Radio One

I was happy to discover that one of my favourite radio announcers is back on CBC radio with a new program called Spark. I first heard Nora Young while she was doing DNTO (Definitely Not the Opera) many years ago. When I was in high school and eventually design school, I would listen to DNTO on Saturday afternoons while working on projects. There was such a variety of stories about media culture that it had an influence on me trying to be aware of broad number of interests that would later help me as a designer. She eventually took some time off and passed the show on to Sook-Yin Lee. Most radio announcers sound good, but a great one really brings out the passion of what they’ve learned and pass it on to the audience – and Nora is one of those few that does it successfully.

From the CBC website for Spark, here’s their about: Spark is a weekly audio blog of smart and unexpected trendwatching. It’s not just technology for gearheads, it’s about the way technology affects our lives, and the world around us. What’s a Spark story? Wikis in the workplace, Guitar Hero in your living room, or why the new trend in design is the trailer park. Spark is more than a radio show, it’s a conversation that happens on the air and here on the Web. Spark is something you and the Spark team build together. Maybe you have a hot tip for a story we’re preparing. Or maybe something happened to you that would make a great story. Join the conversation by checking out the blog for the stories we’re working on and leave your comments. Get your voice on the air by leaving us a message. Spark: tech, trends, and fresh ideas.

Go to the Spark website to download the podcasts of the 27 min show at http://www.cbc.ca/spark/index.html?copy-index

My interview with Unlimited magazine about job networking

Unlimited Magazine interview

Quite a few months ago I was interviewed for the inaugural issue of the Canadian magazine Unlimited. In the article I talk about networking, blogs and how I ended up in New York. You can read the entire article here: No Schmooze, You Lose – Getting to know the right people is crucial to land that out-of-province dream job. Below in an excerpt.

Michael Surtees still can’t believe it some mornings. When he walks out of the apartment block where he’s been living for more than a year, one of New York City’s iconic landmarks, the Flatiron building, stands sentinel kitty-corner. Surtees, 29, was a graphic designer at Edmonton’s Northern Alberta Institute of Technology until July 2006, when he and his wife, Tamara, loaded up a U-Haul and drove five long days to Manhattan. Surtees had landed a coveted website design job with the Renegade Marketing Group, a firm with clients such as Panasonic and DoubleClick (the company behind all those streaming internet adds that pop up when you’re Googling).

He’d been eyeing a move to New York for some time, but it wasn’t luck, or even skill, that nailed Surtees the chance. It was networking, with a decidedly modern twist. Surtees had been laying the foundation for career advancement pretty much since he graduated from the University of Alberta with a bachelor of design six years ago. First, he got involved with the design community in Edmonton through the Graphic Designers of Canada, eventually taking over as the association’s president. In that role, he often invited prominent members of the graphic design and advertising communities to come and speak to members in Alberta. Many of the speakers were from cities such as New York and Vancouver, where there are more opportunities for designers. “That sort of built me a small network of people,” says Surtees.

Networking, like other forms of communication, has undergone a major evolution in the past decade alongside the explosion in communication technologies. Surtees made a point of frequenting online design forums to get his name out into the design world beyond the confines of Edmonton. Blogging on a professional subject, he says, “gives people a sense of who you are and what you stand for. It’s a lot easier to get in the door if someone has read your blog.”

It helps, of course, that advertising, design and marketing companies habitually rake through profession-oriented blogs looking for talent. Surtees set up DesignNotes at designnotes.info, where he posts his thoughts on everything from design to book reviews to his search for a pet weimaraner. Last January, he recalled his feelings prior to getting the gig in New York: “Everyday as I walked near the river valley in Edmonton I really wondered if I was ever going to have the chance to find a better place to design, or had I basically hit a really low ceiling where I was working at the time.’

Surtees has a tracker on his blog, which allows him to see the ISPs of people reading and posting. Only about 20% of visitors find him randomly through Google. Most are looking specifically for graphic designer blogs – the very people he wants to reach and get to know. In June 2006, set to take a holiday trip, Surtees posted a message on his blog asking for tips on New York sights. One reader, Noah Brier, recommended a useful guidebook. That led to further e-mails between the two men. Eventually, Brier, who works for Renegade, offered to set up a meeting for Surtees with Renegade’s creative director. Surtees had lined up a few other job interviews on that New York trip, but things clicked with Renegade and he was hired.

Surtees had hoped that blogging would lead to connections exactly like his conversation with Brier. But that wasn’t his main aim. Networking strictly to mine people for better job opportunities will eventually reveal your true colours, he advises. “If you go in with the idea that you’re just going to be friends or talk with a person to get a job, you won’t really meet very many people,” he says. “If you are really genuinely interested in them, and there is a connection over shared interests, then people are more than willing to help you as much as possible.”

Got lists?

ListphileListphile

I came across Listphile this morning going through delicious. I knew it was something for me to explore further once I started watching the demo and there was the mention of lists, atlases and databases. A list could almost encompass anything, let’s pretend there’s a geographical component – Listphile makes it incredibly easy to add your data and create a personal visual database that you can either have the option of others to add to, or just yourself. It’s a fairly simple and painless process to explore other areas of the site. I’ve taken a number of screen captures and placed them on flickr to show how the site works. The only thing that I think could be tweaked is the home page. If you’re already logged in as a member there could be a better presentation that combined the lists page and other personalized features. Maybe have a bunch of info buckets that I can drag and drop in the order of my liking like Newsvine does.

Shifting Design Positions as it Evolves

Michael Surtees

After reading Kevin McCullagh’s Core 77 article Design is changing in myriad ways. Are you? I started making a number of connections to other posts that I’ve come across lately. Kevin writes “game changers map out future opportunities by exploring the interplay between their current know-how and potential new applications for it in a changing world” and he goes on to explain how this is done. That statement was preceded by explaining in detail about how design has always been in flux though today the evolution is creating multidimensional issues that didn’t have to be considered at any other point in history. For those designers that see their work as a matter of communication and not as an offline vs. online thing, this article speaks to their transitional ability already. If you grew up on print and remember the days of Linotype Kevin’s article is worth purusing.

But it would be arrogant to think that designers are the only people going through a crazy transition today. How about photographers? Two posts from Alec Soth’s blog are worth checking out. They both have to do w/ him questioning the quality or lack there of of photographs on flickr. Is there more originality going on w/ product shots on eBay? The first post is titled Where are the great pictures on Flickr? and the second is Shore, King & Street Fashion

Dave Gray illustration

And the last of the connected posts is from Dave Gray illustrating the Generalist and specialist approaches. I typically swing towards the idea that the generalist approach is the way to go, but then I wonder if anyone can truly attain a level of greatness if you’re good in a lot of areas as opposed to being the best in one?

A relevant design and research site

serial consign

I came across a new favourite site today, and ironicly I found it through a comment here on my blog. Serial Consign is a design and research site written by Greg J. Smith. Aside from relevant topics to me like social networking and how information is distributed today, the tone is intelligent and understandable. One of the ways I measure interest in something is how fast time flies and not realizing how much time has gone by. I gained a couple hours tonight reading the site.

Another interesting thing to note is how the site is programmed. It’s powered by Drupal which makes me wonder about WordPress. Yes, WordPress is what I’m using here at DesignNotes, but I’m starting to find that the system for pages, posts and sidebars to be limiting in how I will evolve DesignNotes.

Food map of New York Subway

Taste of New York Subway

The idea of Taste of New York Subway works on a number of levels though at this point I’m not sure if I would use it as a reference. I really like how the nodes and the subways lines look visually, but the map overall seems small. I would luv to hang that image on my wall as a visual but as a functioning navigation it’s a little awkward. A filtering system that would allow me to just pick one line would help simplify things too. But lets pretend I just want to explore with no real idea of where I would end up. I just pick a random node and click to find a restaurant I would never had found otherwise. A secondary problem arises. There’s a really narrow frame that provides all the info. Even if this info a been launched on a new pop up screen, it would make things so much easier to read. Its a shame that it isn’t easier to read b/c there’s so much good information hiding in the site. I can’t imagine how much time has already been put into finding all the information.

Following the contact information for Taste of New York Subway brings me to the site Idle Words. Again here’s a site that has tons of reading hours worth of information. The latest post is about their Million Marker Map – a google maps api.

Helvetica in Vancouver and What is Design, really?

Helvetica Vancouver Poster

Over the weekend as I was hanging out in Bryant Park working away on my computer, I had pretty good conversation with Mark Busse over IM. He’s the Chapter president of the GDC BC Mainland Chapter and he was mentioning the success of the Helvetica film screening in Vancouver. Apparently they sold out two nights and caused a lot of chaos on the streets before it opened. They’ve placed some flickr pics HERE. Mark was also cool enough to send me a couple extremely large posters from the event.

And yesterday I received a really, really nice email from David Ngo who created the above YouTube video on the question of what is design? The video is long at eight minutes but well meaning for my short attention span. It looks like it’s the first in a series. I’ll be looking forward to the next installment when it comes out.

Diagram about DesignNotes

Notes about DesignNotes for my creative meeting this morning

For a while I’ve been thinking about how my blog integrates a couple other sites like flickr and delicious and in turn how that has feeds into each other for content. Where I work once a week there’s a creative meeting where one or two people present on something that interests them. It allows people to hear about interesting things that everyone else might not be aware of. Today was my opportunity so I decided to talk about my blog. I went through a bit of the random process about how a post comes together, but to also mention that I use my blog as a tool for rapid prototyping. What I mean by that is that DesignNotes allows me to experiment very quickly with a lot of tools of communication. That’s where my diagram above comes into play. I just started a couple connections of other sites that I use and how that becomes a crazy loop. There’s all the visual stuff that people see and read, but there’s also the backend that involves understanding stats on why people come to my blog, what my tags are suggesting about the patterns of things that interest me, and as an experiment to see public blog and a semi private facebook site I have. I could go on and on about it, which I will at a latter date – but I thought it would be helpful to give some context into what all those lines are connecting to.

The aftermath of eating only one colour per day for a week

Food week of Colour

Last week I mentioned that Johanna was only going to eat one colour of food per day for a week. It was an interesting experiment, maybe a little crazy – but what the hell. If it worked out maybe there would be a new food trend. If it wasn’t the best idea, cool – good thing it wasn’t me. I was curious to know how someone would handle it, would there be sugar highs and lows? Well the week is over and in Johanna’s own words “IT SUCKED”. “By end of Sunday I started to feel terrible. I hadn’t had protein in the previous three days, my body was starting to freak out, etc.” Maybe not the best idea – but if you’re curious to know what colours of the week were good, and which were the worst check out her post week color food.

New York Magazine Interview, afterwards

New York Magazine

New York Magazine Interview

A couple months ago I received a call from New York Magazine asking me if I wanted to take part in a new feature that would have designers going around the city taking photos of things that interested them in terms of culture outside, in subways, on storefront windows etc. If I said yes, this would be the first of its kind for the magazine. That was probably the second most memorable phone call related to anything New York. For me the first was actually getting the design job I wanted about a year ago. I was extremely excited but also reserved. I told a couple people I knew about the article, but until I saw it published you just never know if it’s going to happen.

Emma Pearse who I was going to work with emailed me a short brief and I was off running around NYC. For about a week I would go after work and spend a couple hours walking around photographing anything that I found interesting. I’m still relatively new to NYC so it gave me a great opportunity to explore a lot of areas. After that week I sent Emma the photos and she interviewed me over the phone. A couple days later she came back and asked me to take some more photos. It went back and fourth like that for a couple weeks. Eventually we meet in person, walked around SoHo together and gathered what would eventually be most of the photographs that were used. Then we talked, and talked more and then even more. I’ll be honest, it was slightly exhausting for me to describe the same thing four or five different ways – though I’m sure Emma felt the same way wondering if I was going to say anything clearly. The biggest problem was that I was talking to her as a designer, not as civilian.

A lot of the images had a reaction/reaction to it. I’d see something on the street and then a slightly different version used in a commercial sense. But there was a lot of overlapping visuals too. One example would be the stick man + cafe grumpy icon = image from Beastie Boys poster. Obviously the poster wasn’t created like that, but the visuals kind of show how things were merging on the street. A lot of the vibrandt colors that are out there aren’t entirely new, but if you wanted to dissect it, nurave as a scene could be suggested that it’s been grabbing hyper colors and mixing it to their own purposes. There was this street art image that couldn’t reflect this better than not even a block down I saw these guys and their shoes that had the same color pallet as the wall. This was the way my conversations with Emma would go – and though I couldn’t see her through the phone or IM, I’m sure there were times when she was pulling out her hair.

After some of these conversations I still wondered if it would make the cut. I just tried to keep a level head and work the best way I could. Once we started talking about my blog and bio information, and talking with a photo editor I knew things were close. I could almost start to relax. A couple more days passed and once I saw the final text I started letting more people I know that the article was happening and it was coming out soon. So this morning when I got a Google Alert with my name and the url sending me to New York Magazine I could finally sigh a breath of relief and jump up and down. I haven’t seen the August 20, 2007 Issue in print, but soon as I do it will feel pretty good to see something that a lot of people worked really hard on. Here’s the url if you want to read it yourself: http://nymag.com/arts/art/features/35807/

Added Sites

Picture 6

It’s been a while since I’ve added anything new to my Other Sites section of DesignNotes, so here’s six new ones that I’ve discovered in the past couple of months.

Anamorphosis http://anamorphosis-kate.blogspot.com
One of my new favourite design blogs, it comes from a number of UK based contributers though it seems that Kate Andrews is the person posting everyday

Abstract Dynamics www.abstractdynamics.org/
Published by Abe Burmeister, his blog covers design, economics and culture

Eloquation http://eloquation.com
Good commentary about people interacting with each other by Sameer Vasta

neo-nomad ttp://neo-nomad.kaywa.com/
Yasmine Abbas publishes her thoughts on a variety of technology ideas that tend to lean towards mobility

The Praized Blog http://www.praized.com/blog/
A blog that looks at technology through the filter of social interaction

with hands and hair and eyes and bones and knees www.ghostco.org/blog/
A blog by illustrator Matthew Woodson, he’s sharing his process and observations

From my apartment this morning

this morning

I felt like I was in the middle of a thunder storm this morning which in fact was the truth. For a couple hours it poured rain but by the time I went outside around seven to take out Maddie it was just insanely humid. Now it’s sunny and the office is pretty quiet due to all the flooding problems w/ the transit system. Its been a strange morning and it’s only 10.30 am…

A lot of text is a lot of text?

Hiilly back

I had to smile this morning when I came across the blog post Is Copy Dead or Just Evolving? from Advertising Age. Yes, I’m one of those design people that has a preference to using as little copy as possible when appropriate. It’s a difficult skill to attain, but if you can invoke understanding, emotion and inspiration with only a few choice words like have been done with the advertising for the Economist you’re doing something right. But if you’re writing a compelling message, the length won’t matter if it hits the reader. Case in point, one of the coffee cups is worth spending a moment reading while the other is not…

A couple flickr sets from a couple bloggers

flickr today/yesterday

I came across a nice pair of flickr sets from a couple popular blogs yesterday. Swissmiss walked by a two windows of stickynotes with the words “TO DO” in Dumbo. Over the day(s) it has turned into quite the interactive piece where people have writen their to-do’s. Take a look for yourself at TO-DO art installation in Dumbo.

The second set comes from cityofsound. He’s taken a couple pics from the Otl Aicher exhibition, Vitsoe, London. Otl is a pure design genius, I luv the complex yet easy to understand systems he has created. Looking at those photo reminded me that I should really pick the Otl Aicher book soon.

Guidelines for moi

Over at Uniquely the Epitome, Marc Rapp asked a bunch of creative types (including me) to write down some laws that they follow. Here’s Marc’s original post: IT’S THE LAW ( AT LEAST FOR TODAY ). I don’t know if I could say the below nine points are necessarily laws so much as they’re guidelines that I try to follow for the most part. You may have even read one or two of my points somewhere else originally. There’s probably another ten or twenty that I could squeeze out, but then the list just becomes a list that is skimmed over. Thanks for the invite Marc…

1. Keep an open mind, don’t be that expert that isn’t open to new ways of doing things.

2. Mistakes – they’re going to happen. Don’t get caught up in being so tight to be perfect, it will strangle any good idea that may come out.

3. If in doubt, use helvetica.

4. Carry a digital camera at all times.

5. Say thank you.

6. Do something everyday that scares you.

7. Exercise.

8. Karma can bite you in the ass if you’re not careful, so try to treat people the way you’d want to be treated.

9. Blog, and blog often – you can never guess where or what something will lead to.

NYC: Catch Up (and Friday Happy Hour)

Catch Up (and Friday Happy Hour) -- NoahBrier.com

The all knowing Noah has come up with ingenious idea of holding a get together this Friday night. He’s also asked anyone that wants that wants to help host to just say so. Since it will be my last night in NYC before I head back to Canada for a couple days, and cause I like Noah – I’m in. So consider yourself invited.

Where: Sweet & Vicious, 5 Spring Street (off Elizebeth)
When: Friday, June 22nd at 6pm until whenever

Hosts:
Noah
Johanna
Charles
Nicholas
Chet
Michael
Joey
Grant

What’s inside BAMN!?

BAMN!

While visiting NYC recently, the Curious Shopper ended up at BAMN!, a vending machine room that sells almost anything imaginable w/ out people there to serve you. Read her review and questions about what should and shouldn’t be inside on of those machines at Snickers or an iPod? I’ve never been to BAMN! yet, though it’s now definitely on my list of things to do in NYC.

New Design Event Blog

Vague Title of Design: stuff to do, see and hear

Every once in a while I’ll have someone mention that they had wished they had known about a design event after it had happened. So with that I’m starting a new design event blog called “Vague Title of Design” at http://vtod.blogspot.com/. It’s in beta at the moment, after a couple months I’ll take a look at how the information is working and make adjustments. I’ll be looking for design events primarily in NYC, but if there’s something that you’d like to add from a different city – please send me an email. Since it’s in beta, if you have any suggestions on how to improve it, please let me know.

My Saturday afternoon at Postopolis!

Postopolis! at the Storefront for Art and Architecture

Postopolis! was nothing less than a five day marathon for those interested in blogs and architecture/urbanism/design. I could only imagine how the four main blog people (BLDGBLOG (Los Angeles), City of Sound (London), Inhabitat (New York City), and Subtopia (San Francisco)) were able to maintain their questions and presentations over the week. I was following online each day though I was only able to watch in person for Saturday which was the last day of the conference. I was there from 2 pm to 6.30 pm and was exhausted afterwards. So for individuals to be there on a consistent basis for a span of five days is truly a feat. As Keller Easterling referred to the heat inside the Storefront for Art and Architecture – it’s like Baptist Church in here.

I’ve learned from experience of planning design talks that one should expect the unexpected. I’m not sure how much advance notice Postopolis! had that presenter Mark Wigley (Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation) would be unable to be in NYC at the time, but the group managed to pull off a decent phone interview that was audible to everyone that attended. It ended up being mostly a moderated discussion with each of the four Postopolis! organizers asking questions and at the end one audience member. I won’t try to summarize his talk but will point out some of the more interesting notes that I wrote down between the moderators and Mark.
· talked about breaking the limits (blogs) or/vs becoming and expensive xerox machine – are people looking for duplications or trying to do something different
· the risk of breaking the limits is that you bring in the idiots – more in the context of the comments that follow a post – that reminds me of the Op-Art piece of a diagram of a blog that Paula Scher did
· brilliance vs stupidity – again about challenging the fine line of ideas
· the question of blogs influence came up, who has more – a blog that a lot of people read and talk about or a professors book that sits on a shelf that no one reads – but then the question became: 1. what type of influence – effecting people or popularity – or in Mark’s position influence is if it changes the discourse 10 years from now
· email – there’s no barrier for communication like face to face
· a blog allows someone to step out of the marketplace, time for thought and reflection

I’ll be honest, I don’t have any notes from the second presenter. It wasn’t that Keller Easterling (Associate Professor, Yale University School of Architecture) talk wasn’t interesting, it was more of something that I just took in about how important blogs are.

Many times I’ve talked about my dislike for design magazines in general, but I’ll have to give credit to Randi Greenberg of www.metropolismag.com. She was quite enthusiastic and appreciative of all the traffic that blogs bring to the site that she oversees. Here are some of my notes from her moderated talk.
· the readership is considerably more online then the print magazine of Metropolis
· article’s life is extended on the site, a number of Inhabitat posts were cited that brought attention that the articles would never have seen
· the print side people seem to be more interested in finding out who the readers are and why they are reading a particular article
· on the writing side there’s the perception and reality that the web offers a way for new writers to start out, and that the print side is still where the money is
· the question of image use came up – is it bad to pull from a website? the consensus was that if your using the image to actually promote an article that you are linking to, it’s probably not that bad – though the line is still very gray at best
· Subtopia asked a brilliant question to Randi – had there been any consideration of letting a number of bloggers know ahead of time about a particular subject that the magazine was going to cover and then essentially do a group talk about it once the particular article came out

I’m familiar w/ Archinect or so I thought, a lot of the contributors of the site talked about their experiences. Ironically I’ve never looked for any of the names of contributors to that site so I was surprised to see quite a range of people talking in front of me. Ok if there’s on gripe of that site, I wish they would redesign the home page, I find it way too cluttered, once you’re inside it’s easy to read and understand. Of all the architecture sites out there, Archinect has a lot of power to influence (I think this is where the question of influence was rooted when asked to Mark). The thing was, the contributors didn’t hit anyone over the head with arrogance suggesting that they were part of a select club. In a sense the site continually refreshes itself with new contributors that want to be there. The influence comes from the community that is based around the discussion, and in turn people get a lot of learning from it. Now from hearing all of them speak I’ll be paying closer attention to their site.

The final discussion of the day was the Blogger open house (George Agnew, Alec Appelbaum, Abe Burmeister, John Hill, Ryan McClain, Miss Representation, Aaron Plewke, Enrique Ramirez, Quilian Riano, Chad Smith). I thought this was a great way to end everything, it allowed some more familiar and less familiar blogs a forum to explain what they’re all about.
· it seemed like they all did it for various reasons, though there were some similarities: on the question of having an editor most welcomed the idea of it – if for no other reason to clean up grammar
· on web traffic again there was an unexpected similarity, whether if they posted something or not, the traffic stayed fairly consistent, of course keeping in mind that there were traffic spikes occasionally
· other questions asked included the lack of female participants though the audience seemed to be fairly gender mixed, the lack of ethnic diversity and wealth
· miss representation was a dude – I certainly had no idea
· for those that live in Edmonton, aggregät 4/5/6 gets a lot of hits from the capital of Alberta and where I had been living for the last ten years – though he’s not sure why that is – perhaps it comes from madeinedmonton.org members?

Like I mentioned before I only was able to attend the last day in person, but like all things blog there’s talk before an event, during an event and even more discussion after the event. I’ll be interested to see how the discussion follows and how Postopolis! evolves next year if there is something done again. I was thinking about who the audience for something like this is. I think it would be a mistake to not go b/c you’re not an architect or urban planner which I am neither of. When you distill something like this from my pov, it’s trying to understand how to communicate something and events like this help the dialogue of that.

and here’s some of my pics the day on flickr

Thinking about Google Analytics

Google Analytics

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been actively playing with the revised Google Analytics. In the past I’ve never been a huge fan of GA due to the lack of it’s real time data. There’s also a couple other reasons why it’s not my number one choice, but I’ll go into that later. The free tracker that I do go to more often is Stat Counter. On the negative side the Stat Counter interface is pretty bad but there’s one feature that I think is pretty important though not exactly click efficient. I can look at the isp address of the person looking at my site and find out how they got there. I’m able to see if they got to my site through another link, from a search engine or whether they came to DesignNotes directly. GA will show a referral and the isp of the viewer at the same time – but they’re not connected. I can’t click on the referral information and see the isp or vice versa. Having the connection helps me understand the who and the how of the viewer much easier.

Getting back to GA, here’s a couple quick notes of what stood out for me in the design update.

1. Timeline: There’s a couple ways to define the dates of the stats, either through a calendar or this visual timeline. What’s nice about this feature is that it gives you a quick visual reverence to the date. It can be long or as short as you want.

2. More Graphs: The graphs are small, but surprising clear in terms if line weight. Considering how little space these six sections take up, I can a general outlook quickly.

3. & 4. Map Overlays: The one step backward of the design update is the new Map Overlay (3.). In the old map (4.), it showed individual dots first as opposed to general continent information that is highlighted in colour. While the dots were not entirely helpful in telling the number of visitors, it did give a quick indication of where people were coming from.

5. The new and old Dashboards: Overall a whole post could go into the site architecture of the new and old dashboard, but since both are still confusing to me I won’t dig that deep. What I will mention is that the new one is less daunting and friendly, but still I think there’s some work to be done. Possibly keeping the viewer settings like the old one, but also add a number level from beginner to expert. The icons are a nice break up of steady text.

Since the design update I really haven’t changed a lot of my natural stat behaviour yet with Google Analytics, but it has more to do with the function then taking a look at the newer visual information that isn’t quite connected for a regular blogger like myself.

Next week: More Design

postopolis

As this week starts to slow down with design week fun (after the Ric Scofidio talk at the IAC Building Thursday night), I was looking forward to taking a couple days off, visit D.C. for the first time on the weekend and taking the next week to slow down the design extracurricular activity. That was the plan but the reality is probably going to be a lot different. The Storefront for Art and Architecture is holding a week long (Tuesday, May 29, to Saturday, June 2, 2007) event called Postopolis! The schedule isn’t out yet, but if the number of invited guests is any indication I don’t think it’s humanly possible for a full time working designer to be there for everything. Since it is about blogging I’m sure that most people will be able to catch a lot of it online before/during/afterwards.

Olivetti Divisumma

But there’s more… Via Architectradure, Cati mentions the future exhibition IDEO Selects: Works from the Permanent Collection at the Cooper-Hewitt. Having that design displayed along with the other exhibition Design for the Other 90% is something that most design enthusiasts would be hard pressed not to miss. Funny though, the designer in me looks at the image of the The Divisumma 18 Calculator by Olivetti (Mario Bellini, 1973) and wonders why not make the “C” button the same width as the “+” button? It would make the alignment so much better.

The Apartment and Design Blogfest: what was Day 1 of Design Week

Design Blogfest

My wife actually scoffed at the idea of going to a “blog party”, when I mentioned the Design Blogfest to a couple people at work I got the same roll of the eyes. What no one mentioned to me was that I never thought of Design Blogfest as a blogging event. It just seemed like good timing to have a get together w/ noble purposes. The only irony is that a lot of the people there may have been bloggers that I visit daily, though I missed out on talking with them b/c I would have recognized their names before their faces.

But with that said I did get to meet a couple of the hosts inside the Apartment. John Gargiulo from Swich was there asking people about chips and spreading rumours that llb was the drink to have, Stefan Boublil the resident landlord of the Apartment was happy to say hi and Pia Richter got some serious rays from the glowing review of the work that the Apartment did with the design of Swich. Btw, if you don’t know who or what Swich is, here’s an interview that I did about my fav. place to eat lunch and sometimes other times of the day: http://designnotes.info/?p=949

I stayed there for most of the early night and then stumbled out later to find myself eating tacos, talking with a designer who mentioned the difficulty of getting pretzel dough shot through a caulking gun to even later hearing Charles (another work guy) play guitar on stage to drinking some can beer. Now day two starts…

I’ve also started posting some of my pics at http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsurtees/sets/72157600230643583/

the Moleskine City Blogs

moleskine city

Everyone likes Moleskine though sadly my nomination of it for the People’s Design Award didn’t win. Then there was the Moleskine City Guides, a pretty good idea for the closet tourist. You could open one of the books up to find directions without fear. Now to extend things further there’s the the Moleskine City Blogs. Just like the books, the blog covers London, Milan, New York, Paris and Rome separately and together. You could either look at one particular city or combine them all.

One more Milton Glaser quote: this time for New York magazine

“New York’s design is not about the grid, the typography, or the photography as much as it is an essential component of its editorial voice. Every aspect of the design, every element on every page, brings an integral part of the magazine’s content forward for its readers. Week after week it reflects the energies and experiences of New York in all its complexity and diversity.”

I caught this quote this morning via Unbeige as mentioned when Milton Glaser presented an Ellie to New York magazine. Why I think this quote is worth commenting about is that a considerable amount of blogs are essentially using templates that could be used for any type of content – including the template that I use. It’s something I go back and fourth about – spend a lot of time designing an original template, or tweak the functionality and content and let the template simply act as the container. There’s also the tech side of things like how someone is going to read the blog. Is the reader stripping out every thoughtful decision for reading the blog that I’ve made? Reading a quote like the one above kind of stirs me to think that it’s worth the effort to design a blog as original as the content that it makes available to read.

Comment?

comment spam

I’m going to apologize in advance if you’ve come to this blog, placed a comment and returned to never see it. Part of the problem is that all first time comments have to be approved by me, problem is I’m getting a ton of spam b/c of it. I’m trying to come up with a better plug in, but that may take time as I’m trying to catch up on a week of not having any internet access. If you did comment on something, please send me an email so I can make sure it goes up.

merci

While I’m Away

As I alluded to in my last post, I’m going to be away for a week. Below are a couple sites I enjoy reading when I get the chance – hopefully you will too. If you’re still looking for more sites, check out my other sites section of this blog at http://designnotes.info/?page_id=35

swissmiss
http://swissmiss.typepad.com/

Noah Brier
www.noahbrier.com

Personism
www.personism.com

Jason English
www.jasonenglish1.com

guarded optimistic
www.guardedlyoptimistic.com

Architectradure
www.architectradure.blogspot.com/

del.icio.us / network / Michael_Surtees
http://del.icio.us/network/michael_surtees

Joey Roth and his website

Joey Roth

Even while Noah is keeping busy, he still has time to connect people that he thinks should meet. That’s what he did recently when he did a virtual introduction with Joey Roth and myself. Joey’s got quite the portfolio site that shows both his conceptual and executional design skills. One of the more notable items is his Sorapot. He’s also got blog worth reading, and like any smart designer he’s got links to Coroflot, Design: Related, Squidoo, claimID, and LinkedIn. Take a look for yourself at www.joeyroth.com

honeyee

honeyee

Every once in a while I’ll come across a site and wonder if I’m the last person to have discovered it. honeyee is one of those sites that I’m surprised that I’ve never come across. They have a notable way of showing multiple author’s blogs in that they use pulsing colour to indicate how new a post is. There’s a lot of fascinating content inside each of the pages, even if you don’t read Japanese. Start surfing at www.honeyee.com/blog/

This is not the book review (yet) for Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike

Honestly I don’t think I’m going to have the time to read Mingering Mike before the last week of April, but I wanted to mention it here before Friday. I received it in the mail this week from Princeton Architectural Press. I’ll spare you the background about what he’s about. What I do want to say that of the books I’ll be packing with me when I hit the Dominican Republic soon, this will be one of the few. The subject matter is unique in the detail and imagination that it’s the perfect book to escape with sans laptop. Once I get back I’ll have more of a proper review – I promise… Thanks for sending me the book Russell.

Diagram of a Blog?

Op-Art

Everything about this diagram is spot on but there’s a small problem. It’s describing Design Observer’s user comments, but is Design Observer really a blog? Not that it really matters what the classification of a site that hosts essays – I’m just saying there should be a different term for that type of site. Personally to me a blog should be dirty, the language isn’t perfect but passionate and the likeliness of the writer being published by mainstream publications is low. While I don’t have much experience with zines, to me the parallel is similar to a blog. A blog is a tool for those that don’t have any other outlet to be heard.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin