MIA No Longer

Usually when a blog goes quiet, lots of things are happening outside the blogosphere. That’s been the case here for a couple days. I just got a really great book in the mail from Princeton Architectural Press that I’ll hopefully get time to talk about before the end of the week.

Over at the CR Blog, they’ve grab a lot of great muzak videos. I’ve stolen three from them to post here. For background info on each of the clips, visit the CR Blog. The first two video’s are dedicated to Tiny Terror who floats around Renegade. The third video is extremely addicting both to listen to and watch.

Friday Four

It’s Friday and you’re tired of reading the same blog stuff over and over. Here are four sites that you may not have come across and you’ll be a better person for reading them. They all come via Robin Cameron, a fellow renegade, who passed them on to me after I asked her yesterday what sites she likes visiting.

ukasgeronimas_Map-of-Eternia.jpg
Promontory Point http://lukasgeronimas.blogspot.com/

niallmcclelland_match-circle.jpg
Swords & Stones http://niallmcclelland.blogspot.com

justinbwilliams_wyoming.jpg
justin b. williams http://justinbwilliams.blogspot.com/

shedoesntloveyouanymore.jpg
Fighting – Power, Mystery, and the Hammer of the Gods. http://shedoesntloveyouanymore.com/

News?

image via nyt.com

“MySpace has a method of reaching people who are historically not interested in voting” and may not read newspapers or watch news on television…
+ Tom Anderson, 31, a MySpace founder
via NYT: The Future President, on Your Friends List

With the talk that Time magazine is getting with their redesign (both editorially and aesthetically) I asked myself one fundamental question – would I now be interested in picking up the magazine on a regular basis? No. It has nothing to do with the content, the stories that Time tells or even how it reads, for me it has to do w/ a finite amount of time. So why not just go to Time.com? Just looking at my past behaviour I don’t go there either that much – then I saw the quote above from NYT about myspce users about politics and how they may not read newspapers or watch news on tv. If there’s only so many hours in the day, are you going to spend it with a one way conversation, or hope that you get friends to comment on the stuff you like? I don’t think myspace is the ultimate answer, but it has changed the way the conversation is being told. That’s nothing new of course but the fact that nothing else has challenged myspace is surprising to me.

Updated Links

Below is a bunch of sites that caught my attention for the last couple of weeks. I’ll be adding them all to my other sites section of DesignNotes…

aptbroadcast http://theapt.blogs.com/aptbroadcast
I first learned about these guys from their design of swich. Usually quick posts that are both stylish and funny at the same time.

Architectradure http://architectradure.blogspot.com
Cati Vaucelle’s blog related to interaction design etc, I’m not sure how I missed finding her site for so long…

Core77/BusinessWeek Design Firm Directory http://designdirectory.com
just like the title would suggest, it’s a directory of design firms

Coroflot http://www.coroflot.com
this site just started and already has 50,819 Profiles+, look at their work and search for design related jobs or build a like-minded group

Diablogue http://diablogue.typepad.com
if you were to combine a strategic planner from Naked in Sydney + a creative director at digital of Saatchi & Saatchi in Sydney, you would get an interesting blog by Michelle Lee and Sean Patrick Ganann

Haga clic para continuar http://hagaclicparacontinuar.blogspot.com
a really visual blog all about information design diagrams collected by Nicolas Ramallo in spanish

Idlemode http://www.idlemode.com/
as their blog states “Idlemode is a community of individuals who share their perspectives on the evolving state of the mobile user experience”, most posts come from Joe Pemberton, Jared Benson and Nancy Broden

Infographics News http://infographicsnews.blogspot.com
an infographics blog by Chiqui Esteban

printfetish http://printfetish.com
“News, information, reviews and history on the subjects of beautiful magazines, self-published ‘zines, handmade books, small press, comix, art books and miscellaneous printed ephemera”

Roboyouth http://www.roboyouth.com
I’m not sure how Chet Gulland’s blog fell through the cracks, but I should have placed it on my links page a while ago, it’s his obersvations as a youth marketer

Search & Destroy http://www.sad-blog.com
a blog about “art, fashion, culture, and the variations and battles between the three”

유타 시간 http://utalam.wordpress.com
Uta Lam’s blog, it’s one part info design, one part pop and one part misc., and all good

Semacode visualized

Kaywa Feed2Mobile Process

Kaywa Feed2Mobile

When making my own semacode yesterday I knew that it would identify my blog if someone took a photo of it, but I wasn’t sure what exactly that person would see. Since my phone is not supporting that kind of software reader I could only guess. But I came across the above diagrams from Kaywa that show the process and what the phone will see.

On Tuesday at the PSFK Conference I saw semacode in action with area/code. A day or two before that I noticed a post from do.palicio.us about semacode too. If you consider that almost every single person has a cell phone and I’m guessing that more than half have a camera with the ability to surf the web. If you combine that technology, semacodes become quite fascinating. More so because it acts as an identifying mark or key that allows a person to collect information with a single click.

The biggest issue at the moment is that you need to download software onto your phone to act as reader. My Palm Treo 650 is fairly locked down and doesn’t allow for anything interesting like that. So until phones become less restrictive this kind of feature will be limited to a few savy phone users.

PSFK Conference: the not so quick update

Blogging Cards from PSFK for the Conference

Sometimes things really do go unexpected, especially at conferences. I managed to see all the morning speakers and the first person after lunch for the PSFK Conference, but unfortunately I had to leave early for unrelated conference reasons. But with that said I did get back for the after conference drinks at Link and was able to talk with a bunch of people about the conference. I also took a lot of notes and observations that will fill posts for the next couple of weeks.

I’ve helped organize and volunteer for conferences in the past, so I can empathize with all the work that goes into pulling off an event like this. Overall I was really impressed with how smoothly things went. Yes there were technical difficulties with the second presentation of the day, but I think that had more to do with the keynote file size. In the morning I arrived around the peak time for registering and only waited in line briefly. As a blogger for the PSFK Conference they included blogging cards that had my name and blog which was a really nice touch. I’ve never seen anything like that before, but I’m sure you will see it more and more at conferences like this in the future.

I thought the type of speakers and the order of presenters was well considered. I’ll go into each of the individual people that spoke in the not so distant future, but for now I’ll just say that each of the subject matters meshed pretty good in a diverse kind of way. Timing matters a lot, and the break seemed at an appropriate time as was lunch. I didn’t feel rushed with the time at all. I wasn’t checking my watch so I can’t tell for sure, but I don’t think anyone went over there time to speak. Like I mentioned I only was there until mid afternoon, so I can only guess that the end of the conference finished as well as the morning started.

You can check out some of the photos from the conference on flickr… I’ll be posting more of my images today as well.

as an fyi for the next couple of posts about the PSFK Conference, there probably won’t be much of a chronological order of the notes that I took and the observations that I made…

More about Magazines

printfetish

It’s nice to see a couple blogs here and there talking about magazines. Printfetish is a new one (for me) that I found a couple weeks ago. From their site they describe it like this: “News, information, reviews and history on the subjects of beautiful magazines, self-published ‘zines, handmade books, small press, comix, art books and miscellaneous printed ephemera.”

Flip through their pages at http://printfetish.com/

Blogging at the PSFK Conference

PSFK Conference New York

One of the reasons why I blog is just to keep my brain active, it makes me an active participant. That’s why I’m happy to mention that while I’m attending the PSFK Conference in New York that I’ll also be blogging about it too with the “official blogger” status at the venue (I’m not sure what that exactly means though). Having never blogged at a conference before, I’m interested to see what happens. I also feel that I really need take a close look at each of the speakers, try to understand who they are, what they do and think about the topics they plan to talk about in advance. It should be a lot of fun. If you’re planning to attend, be sure to say hi. Over the next ten or twelve days you might notice a shift of the blog to cover some of the ideas that encompass the conference.

More Sites to look at

Below are a couple blogs that caught my attention that I’m adding to my Other Sites section of DesignNotes. enjoy

The Book Design Review http://nytimesbooks.blogspot.com
I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this blog, it’s really quick comments about book covers by Joseph who’s an ia

design fckr http://dfckr.com
how can you not want to go to a site that’s called design fckr and see what it’s all about? It’s Alex Giron’s blog about design

Fontleech http://fontleech.com
keep this site quiet, it’s all about free fonts you can find on the web

IcelandReview www.icelandreview.com/icelandreview
I really don’t know that much about Iceland, so I’m hoping this blog can help me

Lunch http://lunchstudio.blogspot.com
my favourite blog about the ritual of lunch

modernblog www.moderntots.com/blog
preface: I’m not a parent and I don’t plan on being one for quite a while. a really neat blog that about design for modern children and it’s store ModernTots

Monocle www.monocle.com
an extension of the magazine of the same name, it uses the web to contain videos and other add ons from the stories it writes about

Print is Dead http://printisdeadblog.com
what’s going on with books these days when there’s the web? this blog attempts to find out

rion.nu http://www.rion.nu
It’s just a really nice photo blog by Rion Nakaya

YEONDOO JUNG www.yeondoojung.com/wonderland.html
once you’ve had the chance to see how this artist visualizes children’s drawings, you’ll look at things qute differently

Lunch, the blog

lunch blog

Explaining to my friend Ray about how I use flickr to find new places to eat in NYC (roboppy being one of the busiest and best), he comes back with a great link of his own. He has a couple friends that have started the blog Lunch. Conceived by two architects, Michi and Yen go on to talk about what they had for lunch, where they went, add commentary and photograph it. While this does sound like a lot of writing – it’s usually very concise and doesn’t go on and on. Ironically my fav. post of theirs doesn’t even have to do with lunch, but about their 4:00pm ritual with Francis Francis! Live vicariously through them at http://lunchstudio.blogspot.com

and since we’re on the topic of food, go visit Noah’s blog post about the great swich. I think he really nails down the philosophy of the company.

Five reasons why I blog

Maddie and me

When David Airey passed me on the question five reasons why I blog, I almost skimmed over it as I thought it was the same questions that was floating around a while back about five things. But obviously the questions are very different and hence I feel compelled to respond if for no other reason then it gives me a chance to see what’s changed from when I first started my blog three years ago. I’m not going to send this question out to anyone else I know, but I’ll leave it open for anyone that visits here to do the same questions on their blog. If you do, please send me an email b/c I’d be curious to hear why you blog. and yes Maddie is beside me most mornings as I do my first post…

1. I do it for myself. There’s no huge growth goal to get a certain number of visits or comments. By doing it for myself it gives me a lot of freedom to explore the things I want to. In turn I hope others enjoy the things I collect on DesignNotes. But if no one ends up visiting, that’s ok b/c I wrote what I did because I wanted to.

2. I do it to remember. You’re more likely to remember something if you’ve written about it. Now that I’m remembering all that stuff, I need to figure out a way to apply that knowledge. (Suggestions welcome)

3. I do it to keep my mind active. Just like when I take photos to help me see, the same can be said about writing for my blog. If you’re actively thinking about the world around you, it makes you better informed to make decisions.

4. I do it to meet likeminded people. I can’t imagine where I would be if I hadn’t taken those first steps to post an idea. I’ve been very lucky that there have been readers of DesignNotes that have turned into friends and it’s been a great resource to bounce ideas off of.

5. I do it because I can. The fact that it is so insanely easy to be a publisher that only eight or ten years ago would have been impossible. The overhead is extremely low… It’s important for me to explore all options for communication. I’m a designer, if you’re not willing to try to understand all the options people have to express ideas, how is it possible to give the most informed ideas possible?

A blog using flash?

magnum blog

I finally found a blog that really, really uses flash in a respectable way. It just works. It’s the Magnum Blog. Designed both from the inside and outside by Orange Logic Europe, it does something we should all study when it comes to a successful design. If only those photographers that are writing for the blog could put their cameras down so they could talk more about what they’re doing…

Which Way?

which way

When I scroll down to the end of a blog’s second page I sometimes feel stupid. I’m usually faced with two buttons, “next” and “previous”. It doesn’t matter which button I press, I have a 50% chance that it will take me to the third page, but inevitable it almost always takes me to the home page. I’m not sure why, but I’m always pressing the wrong button. After getting tired of this exercise of feeling less than adequate in my blog surfing ability I decided to document the confusion. I think part of the problem has to do with language syntax and the placement of the button in consideration to left/right sides. As I collected these buttons I also noticed a couple simple words make all the difference in navigation. I always knew where I was going when the buttons said “older” and “newer”, or if there was a number involved. So how does DesignNotes compare? Not so well, though I plan to change that aspect of the design once I can understand this template better.

New blogs that I’ve added to my Other Sites section of DesignNotes

In no particular order, here are a couple new links that I’ve added to my Other Sites section of DesignNotes. You’ll probably laugh, cry and cheer as much as I did after looking at them…

A Daily Dose of Architecture http://archidose.blogspot.com
a really passionate blog dedicated to architecture and the surrounding ideas by John Hill

Type for you www.typeforyou.blogspot.com
I haven’t really been following the typography blog scene for a long time (not too sure why not), but this blog run by Valdemar Lamego, Pedro Serrão, Pedro Mesquita, Pride Paranoia got me back up to speed pretty quickly

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc www.in-hindsight.blogspot.com
I always appreciate people linking to me, especially from Australia. MM Andamon’s blog is offers observations (mainly design related) after her graduate school experience.

guardedly optimistic http://guardedlyoptimistic.com
who guards their optimism? Well Justin does and you’d be a foolish not to visit his blog to find out why

The Internet’s #1 Source for Jason English News http://jasonenglish1.com
I’m sure Jason’s title has nothing to do with SEO and his blog is not merely for searching – it’s his collected color commentary, both insightful and inane…

Creative Think http://blog.creativethink.com
Fun ideas to stimulate your creativity is a pretty good summation of this site by Roger von Oech

Mental Floss www.mentalfloss.com/blogs
who doesn’t want to read a blog that will make you feel smarter again?

Creative Design www.davidairey.com/blog
a really diverse design/advertising/art blog by David Airey

unlinking?

I like links as much as the next person. Ok I actually live off them. But is it fair and more to the point credible to talk critique through links and not let people respond. Unbeige is fun and all, but let’s say they take aim at me and decide to get all design mainstream moral. There’s no way I can respond to them on their site. There’s other sites like that too that are all link crazy, but if you’re not willing to have a two way conversation it’s a bit one sided.

Coming in from Brazil

ideiaforte

I noticed some nice traction yesterday coming from Brazil to DesignNotes. Naturally I followed links to see why there were so many people visiting my blog from that country. ideiaforte had given me a simple via referral to one of my posts. I can’t read portuguese, but ideiaforte is a great site that has a lot to look at. Mostly design, architecture and advertising related, it’s a great source to check out for things online that you may have missed.

Design Interviews from DesignNotes

target

Doing interviews on my blog is one of my favourite things. But I don’t do it as often as I should, but w/ the encouragement of friends like E. Tage Larsen I’ve continued on slowly. So, I’m pretty excited to mention this upcoming Monday that I’ve got a new interview ready to go. The criteria on picking people to talk with is pretty simple. They’ve done something that I’ve found interesting and I would like to know more about them. Though the first interview I did was by accident – sort of.

Back in the day when I was using blogger, I was just experimenting – using it as an excuse to put up cool links. Then Target ClearRx came out. The only information I could find came from New York magazine. I linked to that article and soon afterwards I was getting a lot of web traffic to my site from others searching for more information just as I was. So soon after that I contacted Deborah Adler for an interview b/c I simply needed to know more about the system and thought others could benefit too from hearing her. Of course now there’s a ton of stuff out there about ClearRx, but at the time there wasn’t.

Below are all my other interviews, just be sure to come back Monday for the next one. I really enjoyed doing it, and I hope you get as much out of it as I did.

Deborah Adler ClearRx Interview

Pasqualina Azzarello Interview

A great conversation with Tina Roth (Eisenberg)

Plastique Life

DesignMaven Revea!ed (Part One)

DesignMaven Revea!ed (Part Two)

What you can learn from a Super Bowl bound blog

da_bears

While I could speculate on who the fanatics are behind the Da’ Bears Blog, their about section leaves it in doubt as to who the are. However Noah Brier has broken down the success of the blog in five succinct points at Super Bowl Bound, A look at the success of Da Bears Blog. Maybe he’s one of the guys behind it? Anyways, the points he makes are applicable to any blog. Noah’s observations are as follows – though be sure to go to his site to read the why’s to what he’s saying: 1. Find a voice, 2. Post frequently (but not soooooo frequently), 3. Think about SEO, 4. Consider SEM too, and 5. Encourage email subscriptions.

Using Photoshop to Render a Shoe

rendering_shoe_psd

First Pullover, the excellent shoe design blog that is based on hummel shoes has a tutorial titled Footwear Photoshop rendering tutorial > part 1-6. Even if you only use Photoshop a bit and don’t design shoes, there’s some interesting techniques that could probably help you with other renderings that you might have to do some day.

Updated Links

diagram

I’ve just updated my “other sites” section with the below links: Advertising/Design Goodness, black . white . bliss, the Charlie Rose Show, Diagram, Dumbo NYC, Experience Manifesto, frogblog, The News is NowPublic.com and State of the Art

Advertising/Design Goodness www.frederiksamuel.com/blog/
Frederik Samuel’s blog that show a lot of advertising and design visuals

black . white . bliss blackwhitebliss.blogspot.com/
Trisha’s about statement on her blog is pretty accurate I think: obsession with all things black and white. Most of the blog consists of those type of images

The Charlie Rose Show www.charlierose.com/
it’s the man and his interviews – there’s a redesign of the site coming soon

Diagram http://thediagram.com/
I sort of forgot about this site for a while, but I’m happy I rediscovered it lately. Essentially it’s about diagrams, but presented in a passionate way

Dumbo NYC http://dumbonyc.com/
I really enjoyed visiting Dumbo a number of months ago, and with Hideyoshi’s blog – I can keep up to date about the neighbourhood

Experience Manifesto http://blog.brandexperiencelab.org/
David Polinchock’s blog that relates to the brand experience lab

frog design™ / frogblog www.frogdesign.com/frogblog/
I’ve been a fan of frog’s idea of what design is, so their blog just continues on moving the conversation forward

The News is NowPublic.com http://nowpublic.com/
an updated news site that seems to find things I might have otherwise have missed

State of the Art http://stateoftheart.popphoto.com/
yes, it’s the group blog from the editors of American Photo magazine

Content Today

tabs

Why does the best content come when you’re really busy? Here’s a bunch of links that I need to go back to read when I have five minutes… via various sources

Theme Magazine: X-Pollination of Streetwear

BLDGBLOG: Divided Kingdom

Cool Hunting: Refinery29 Shops

metacool: metacool Thought of the Day

Resumé Media

Business Week: The iPhone Is Cool–But Is It An Ecosystem?

Motionographer: Blacklist’s Cisma Scores for ESPN and the NBA

russell davies: blag interview

Subtraction: Bad for Palm, Good for Typography

The News is NowPublic.com: How Apple kept the iPhone secret

plus six: hitting the ground running

Pulse Laser: Japanese repair culture and distributed manufacture

Advertising Age: How Would You Fix the Gap?

New York Times: Brands For the Chattering Masses

Offbrand: Wodcast launch

Alec Soth: Shit Week

MoCo Loco: Podcast Interview: Anne Asensio

Treasure Island?

costco

I would never had guessed that Costco would be seen as a place for treasure hunting, but over at the Curious Shopper Sarah makes a compelling argument about it at Come for the deals, stay for the treasure.

On searching out that perfect chocolate fountain… But the best part was the checkout. As the cashier was ringing me up, she says, “This is twenty bucks? Are there any more left? Because this would be great for my daughter’s wedding.” I laughed and told her there were. Then the guy in line behind me starts asking questions. “How much was that? Twenty dollars? What kind of chocolate goes in it? And twenty dollars? Hold on, ma’am, I’m just gonna run back.” She goes, “Hey, can you get one for me too?”

Design*Notes is now DesignNotes

DesignNotes is now live

It wouldn’t be a new year without a new blog design for myself. There’s one primary reason and a couple subtle motivations. The biggest change is the url: it’s now designnotes.info I had more than a couple people ask me about why I had the url sidewalkpressed.com when the name of my blog was Design*Notes? The original intention was to turn Design*Notes into SidewalkPressed, but I noticed my motivation just wasn’t the same until I changed the name back. Weird I know, but still it felt better. Since I was changing the url it gave me a chance to refine what I liked about my blog and look at things that I could improve. The original intention of Design*Notes was a place where I could gather links and make notes about things in design that I could remember. It was never about the long essay, but a way to organize the things that caught my attention. So with the new design I’ve tried to make it more like a CMS (Content Management System) and less a design portal. Keeping that in mind I’ve added a couple sections to the top of the blog. They’re some of the things that I’m interested in, but aren’t really something that needs to be tagged like a regular post. All of those new sections are a running list of things I like; other blogs, books and the city I call home now, New York. On the aesthetic side you’ll notice that there’s a photographic banner. My plan is to update this most days with an image of mine. It will be some additional work everyday so it may not happen all the time. The fourth section will be a collection of those banners.

I’ve also looked at the sidebar and added a couple items. The first is addition is a live del.icio.us feed of things that I’ve bookmarked. I’ve also added back my flickr feed at the bottom. I kind of missed that thing when I moved on from blogger to word press. Below the photos is a cool looking time thing – why, why not?

The overall template is also a bit cleaner too. When I was looking at the redesign originally I had made wireframes and was planning to do a completely new template. However as time went by I thought I could use my time more effieciently making new content and watching out to see what works and what doesn’t. Originally the new template was going to be Hemingway. I really liked how they had their own support group and the design seemed to be following the trend to have a lot of the quick content on the bottom. But after testing it for a while the two column content didn’t really work for what I do. So in the end I used the simple fSpring theme with some slight modifications to the typography and icons.

The final addition that I’m testing out is snap – that thing that shows up every-time you roll over a live link and it shows a picture of what the link is. If you find it really annoying or like it, please let me know! Aside from that everything else is pretty much the same.

I Saw NY

I Saw NY

This year for Renegade’s annual season greetings to clients and friends we’ve all contributed to a google api that shows all the places we luv to visit in New York. You can see it for yourself at http://isawny.com/

and I got this ecard from my friend Tania over in Singapore…

and over at Organic’s blog they have a Holiday Card Roundup

and I got this from Vacuum

About moi

I'm Back Tuesday

Noah has thought enough of me that he tagged me for Five things you probably don’t know about me. So here they are in typical short note form…

1. I probably wouldn’t be working in New York if it wasn’t for Noah

2. January 1, 2007 I’m changing my blog url and will have a new design

3. Saskatoon is my hometown, not Edmonton

4. Of all the web 2.0 apps out there, flickr is my fav.

5. Tamara is my best friend

Hey, it’s a page from Leonard Cohen’s notebook

Over at notebookism (btw a great blog on everything notebook’ish) they have a link showing inside scan’s from Leonard Cohen’s notebook. Each of the the pages have lyrics on it. For the pages that are hard to read, you can click on the page and a pop up screen appears with the text typed. Read it for yourself at www.webheights.net/10newsongs/alex.htm

Selling 101 from a booth



end of the day, originally uploaded by saralynncantor.

Sara Cantor and her blog the Curious Shopper talk about the experience of selling from a booth for the first time at Lessons from the other side.

Lesson 1: Don’t stare at shoppers. Don’t even look at them. Forget what you know about manners. Don’t smile at anyone. It only freaks them out. Don’t even make eye contact. At all. Resist the urge to watch the endless parade of fascinating people walking by your booth…

What was 11 Spring Street

11 Spring Street (Wooster On Spring)

The simple question would be was it worth it? You have the option to do anything you want on a Saturday in New York and you decide to stand in on something for a couple hours – only to be rewarded with the chance experience something that will only be here once. But the bigger question is what do you do with that time? Standing in line seemed like such a painful obstacle, but really where would you rather be? You can’t live through a lens yet it’s hard not to want to capture every moment. That’s how I saw it

Sunday is the official closing, so like they say go early to 11 Spring Street, and if you want to see some of my quick shots, visit my set at http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsurtees/sets/72157594423917521/

One Laptop Per Child Interface

One Laptop Per Child Interface

Sure, everyone is talking about the $100 laptop. But what exactly does it look like on the inside and what is it exactly going to do? Well there’s some hints from the Pentagram blog where you can read all about the spatial navigation metaphor. Lisa Strausfeld, Christian Marc Schmidt and Takaaki Okada are given credit on the design. You can read their explanation of the interface at New Work: One Laptop Per Child.

As for the actual idea of a laptop that is accessible to any child to own, I go back and fourth. First I thought it was a great idea, then I questioned why people would put faith in a laptop to bring everyone to an acceptable entry point for education, and now I wonder how I take for granted that I have internet access (and a laptop) and wonder where I would be if I didn’t have it. So maybe it is a good idea, though then the second level of questions is to see if the navigation of the laptop makes sense, and does it have enough flexibility that people can make their own interface if wanted….

UPDATE: kottke mentions a wiki that has more info at OLPC Human Interface Guidelines

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