Stuff that I liked in 2010 (the Product Edition)

The years is almost up so I figured I’d take a look at some of the things that I actually bought and list them. I decided to list it alphabetically because trying to make it a top ten would be hard to do. For example I don’t think anything can really compete with an iPad on my list. Most of the stuff isn’t that out of reach for the average person—typically when I started thinking about it most of the things I bought were somewhat affordable. What I decided to leave off the list were clothes, food and travel. Those should be saved under the category of experiences. I also didn’t include review books just for the simple fact that I didn’t buy them. I just felt if I was coming up with a Design Notes approved buying guide I didn’t want to include JPGS of things that I never saw in person or wasn’t willing to buy myself. The interesting pattern that I noticed after writing most of the reasons why something made my list was that I could carry it around with me easily, I could make something with it, it inspired me and it was affordable.

Beyond the Street: The 100 Leading Figures in Urban Art
by Patrick Nguyen & Stuart Mackenzie

Beyond the street

Beyond the Street

For anyone that is a fan of street art, there’s two books that should be added to their library. This one one of the two. Aside from hearing first person accounts of some artists a lot of the info that I’ve come across has been from the interwebs. What’s great about this book (aside from the beautiful production) are all the interviews that make up the bulk of the work. The time and effort was well appreciated by me.

iA Writer

iA Writer for the iPad

I’m a huge fan of the keyboard from this app. It’s a smart way of making writing easier on the iPad. Plus the fact that I have a guesstimate of how long it will take someone to read what I’ve written is nice.

Apple iPad MC496LL/A Tablet (32GB, Wifi + 3G)


This is an obvious choice for me. I pretty much use it everyday and find new ways to do tasks every couple weeks that make life easier for me.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Lens

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with LUMIX G 20mm f/1.7 Aspherical Lens

I had been using the Leica D Lux 3 for a couple years, it did a great job but was really slow in terms of being able to take more than one image at a time. I also wanted something more versatile in terms of lens. The GF1 was the perfect camera to graduate to. It’s small enough to carry with me all the time, the image quality is much better and I love using it. I haven’t bought any other lenses yet, but the fact that I can is a great option. Another great feature is the auto bracketing. I could go on and on about that camera…

MUJI Recycled Paper Note – Double Ring – Dark Gray B5 – Plain 80

MUJI Notebook

I would be lost without this thing. I carry it with me as much if not more than my iPad. The book is inexpensive enough that I don’t feel guilty for writing notes in it. It’s also not over designed which is the biggest issue that I find with a lot of branded notebooks out there. The inside of this black MUJI notebook is plain white paper.

MUJI Gel-Ink Ballpoint Pen 0.5mm


I buy these five at time, there’s always one in my pocket and the stream of ink makes it easy to write on almost any surface. If someone’s lost a pen I always give them one of my MUJI gel ink pens if there’s any extras in my bag.

River of News

River of News iPad App

I use a number of iPad apps to stay updated (Pulse, Flipboard, Reeder etc), however when I weant to read from my RSS feeds stored in Google Reader I start with River of News. The UI is pretty straight forward, it has the share functionality that I want and there’s some small visual design details that no one else has been able to match. I just wish they’d change their app icon—it’s brutal.

Trespass: A History Of Uncommissioned Urban Art
by Carlo McCormick, Marc Schiller & Sara Schiller

Trespass: A History Of Uncommissioned Urban Art

Trespass: A History Of Uncommissioned Urban Art

For anyone that is a fan of street art, there’s two books that should be added to their library. This one one of the two. What I like about this book is that it puts a lot of what I’ve seen into a context that I hadn’t really considered before. When ever I go through this book it inspires me—not so much to make my own art, but come up with really cool design ideas. It’s hard to explain except that I find that it’s a lot easier for me to think about designing something after I’ve seen some great art on paper.

U.N.K.L.E.: Where Did the Night Fall

U.N.K.L.E.: Where Did the Night Fall

This is probably my top album of the year. I’ve listened to it a million times and never tire of it. I’m actually listening to it as I write this post.

Zero History
by William Gibson

Zero History

While this isn’t my favourite book of the year (not sure if I have one), I’ve really enjoyed the fact that I can read this book anywhere with both my iPhone and iPad while not worrying about what page I’ve left on.

Bending Music Borders Through Simple Technologies like Gift Cards & Air Balloons

Spotify Worldwide

SWITCHED: Weather Balloon Servers Could Take Pirate Party to the Air

A couple unrelated posts if combined showed an interesting pattern of circumventing the traditional ways of listening and buying music. There’s tons of ways to do this already but with the scheme to be able to listen to Spotify through buying gift cards and a ballon playing music in the air shows that people are testing gray areas of what it means to be a border. It’s amazing that while the music industry complains and contracts people are thinking about new ways to distribute and listen to music which brings me to the video below that describes what’s out there in terms of technology that an artist might want to consider for promotion.

After watching the above YouTube video I couldn’t help but think there’s a bit of a music tech bubble going on. His last point while predictable is at least poignant.

FUTURE PERFECT: iPad/cash register the Square dongle for processing credit cards.

While it’s a bit hard to see the Square Dongle attached to the top left headphone jack of the iPad—it’s yet one more thing that the iPad is disrupting. This time the idea of commerce. With that simple tool a person can turn their iPad into a cash register. How much more fun and relaxation can a person have by setting up a simple unit like that. It’s only a matter of time when the idea of a simple lemonade stand takes off with tools like this. A person can start as small as they want, not need much initial capital and try businesses because the risk is minimal.

The Campaign for Wool’s Nice Mark

While I was reading up Next Noize’s post about Lyle & Scott Sheep Parade for The Campaign For Wool I couldn’t help but notice the great mark for the actual campaign. Campaign for Wool has everything I’d want to design for: aesthetics, imagination, movement, elevation of form, balance, rhythm and something I’d want to put on to a shirt, or maybe a sweater…

Walking Around Union Square Taking in Sukkah City

Sukkah City
Shim Sukkah by tinder, tinker of Sagle, Idaho

Sukkah City
Star Cocoon by Volkan Alkanoglu

Sukkah City
Star Cocoon by Volkan Alkanoglu

Sukkah City
Gathering by Dale Suttle, So Sugita, and Ginna Nguyen of New York City

Sukkah City
Gathering by Dale Suttle, So Sugita, and Ginna Nguyen of New York City

Sukkah City
LOG by Kyle May and Scott Abrahams

Sukkah City
LOG by Kyle May and Scott Abrahams

Sukkah City
Single Thread by Matter Practice

Sukkah City
Repetition meets Difference | Stability meets Volatileness by Matthias Karch

Sukkah City
Sukkah of the Signs by Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello

Sukkah City
Sukkah of the Signs by Ronald Rael, Virginia San Fratello

Sukkah City
180 of Union Square

Sukkah City
Fractured Bubble by Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan of Long Island City

Sukkah City
Fractured Bubble by Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan of Long Island City

Sukkah City
Time/Timeless by Peter Sagar

Architecture is one of those constants that is always around—a person can’t really escape an urban area that hasn’t been considered by a person. But there’s also the part of architecture that is viewed on screen that rarely makes it outside into air. When I first came across the idea of Sukkah City (Biblical in origin, the sukkah is an ephemeral, elemental shelter, erected for one week each fall, in which it is customary to share meals, entertain, sleep, and rejoice.) from various sites I was intrigued. The structures looked cool but I wondered how they would relate once built and people were interacting with them.

I got my chance to compare what I thought looked best on screen to what worked best on the sidewalk of Union Square. On the screen my fav was Gathering by Dale Suttle, So Sugita, and Ginna Nguyen—it was unlike anything I had seen before. Seeing it in person I still liked it a lot. It seemed pretty solid and maintained my interest. However there were a couple others that I missed on paper that when built really came together. In the use of materials and form I really liked Shim Sukkah by tinder, tinker of Sagle and Star Cocoon by Volkan Alkanoglu. They both bent materials in ways to create structures that I’d like to spend time in. While the Star Cocoon felt more of a personal space, the contrast of the Shim Sukkah would be an interesting environment to gather with friends.

If there was one consistent, it was that each unique design felt at home at Union Square projecting very different personalities. Contrasting the scale of the Log with the messages of Sukkah of the Signs was amazing. Coming from very two different directions each made an impact which is all I could ask for on a Sunday afternoon.


Sukkah City

NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Sukkah vs. Sukkah

BLDGBLOG: Sukkah City Approaches

CORE77: Sukkah City Arrives in Union Square

NYT: A Harvest of Temporary Shelters

Looking at the Redesign of The Paris Review

I was originally going to include a note in my next Link Drop about the redesign of The Paris Review. After reading the press release that was passed on to me by Web Editor Thessaly La Force I thought it would be worth taking a closer look. This was the line that got my attention.

“We wanted to reflect the look and feel of the print magazine,” said Stein of the new site. “It’s comfortable. The page is elegant and clean, there are no distractions. But it is also state of the art.” Once a static reflection of the magazine’s quarterly contents, the Web site now features new and original content from the magazine and its blog, The Paris Review Daily, which was launched last June.

Usually when I read about trying to turn one medium into another I just want to shake my head, but in the context of this redesign I think it works because of their underlying structure. The aesthetics and type enhance the content as much as a site can, but there’s also some tools that keep the content alive more than paper can possibly do. They’re pretty basic elements like RSS, a blog and a Tumblr site—though it is kind of amazing how many publication sites based in print miss the mark. The fact that The Paris Review publishes quarterly makes the site that much more important. I really like the balance of being able to publish anytime on their site and maintain a high level on the print side.

While I go back and forth in my own mind about the idea of a website becoming irrelevant when there’s Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter, apps and RSS feedreaders that take the traditional web site out of the picture in terms of direct urls, having a strategy to feed content on a daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly time period makes a lot of sense.

In terms of content, they’ve taken one of their most popular features—the interviews and created an entire section just devoted on that. I noticed a lot of people talking about that on Twitter today as the redesign was mentioned. It’s a great lesson for other print publishers to take note of. For me I’ve already bookmarked the site on my iPad and will probably take a closer look next time I come across a printed issue in that I’ll probably pick it up.

UPDATE: 09.22.2010
There’s a good interview with Jennifer Over who was the primary web designer on the redesign titled Jennifer Over and Our New Web Site.

Looking at Stranded Magazine & the Le Cool Travel Series

I had the pleasure of talking with Andrew Losowsky, the person behind Stranded: Stories from underneath the Icelandic Ashcloud, Stack America (something I’ve talked about in the past on the blog), and a great travel series of books among many other publications. Part of me wishes I had recorded the conversation as we went all over the place in terms of publishing, story telling, analytics & algorithms, artist in residencies, the iPad, urban signs and typefaces.

The main thing that I wanted to mention in the post was the publication of Stranded. Over the summer there was an incredibly unique situation in that people all over the world were stranded do to the volcano in Iceland. Andrew commisoned people all over to submit there stories, images of where they stayed and other contextual elements that would help share the story. I remember reading about the magazine but actually didn’t realize it was from Andrew until he mentioned it last night. Above are a couple images from the first printed copy taken in the dark lobby of Ace Hotel. The magazine is now available at Magcloud. An interesting fact to note is that most of the submissions came from New York, London and Tokyo. The situation was incredibly unique and the stories attached to the publication and a layer that news coverage really couldn’t get to.

The other set of images I uploaded here come from the beautifully designed series of travel books from Le Cool. Cities designed for include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Lisbon, London, Madrid. Part of it reminds me of an updated version of Colors magazine and a lot of great information design with maps and stories. It was the first that I had come across the series and thought to myself even if I wasn’t going to any of those cities I’d still find the stories interesting.

Why I Checked Out of #Foursquare


Last night I watched a live announcement from Facebook about what Foursquare had already done. Once the keynote presentation ended I watched Gowalla go up as the first partner and was sort of relieved. I had never used them because again I thought they were a blatent rip off of Foursquare. (For the record I think the design of Gowalla is gaudy and smudgy.) I felt Gowalla would sell me out data wise if the opportunity presented their company to advance up the social geo chain. But next up was Foursquare and while I didn’t feel the gut reaction, I realized that I would never use the service the same way again.

As a designer I feel that it is really important to understand how communication works these days. I think it would be irresponsible to give a client advice not knowing what is available and what advantages there are to using particular streams. So I try a lot of different services to figure out what advantages they hold. Last night watching the Facebook announcement on Ustream allowed me to consider a couple things. If I wasn’t going to check in the same way again, how could I learn from it? At first I thought why not just check in though what Foursquare considers as shouts. Instead of mentioning where I was I’d just type in the zip code of where I was. I could still use that info for my own reasons and Facebook would never be able to figure out my trending data. So I tried that this morning and realized that was a pretty dumb idea. It was pretty pointless and a waste of my energy. So I decided to just delete my account.

There were a couple other reasons, Facebook Places was the last 20%. 1. I don’t think Foursquare should have an open API. I’m pretty sure anyone that has checked in has not considered what can do with that info. 2. I also think that there has been plenty of time to make Foursquare links valuable. There is zero value in clicking on a link of someone I know that has checked in to somewhere and has mentioned it on Twitter. 3. I felt creepy looking at people’s Twitter accounts from people that checked into places I was at. 4. For all the people I was connected to on Foursquare, I think I only asked a couple people to connect to me—everyone else asked me to join. I really didn’t like putting people in the position of saying yes or no to me. 5. I felt if there was a time to quit, this was it. I design products and I wanted to know what the experience would be to quit something. What would hold me back, if anything. I also realize that I could start up again tomorrow if I wanted. Most of the people outside of NYC that I know probably wouldn’t know to follow me again but if someone really wanted to know what I was up to, they would follow me again.

There’s a couple people at Foursquare that I really respect and think very highly of. But with that said my data is open to anyone that can play with the API. On top of that I suspect the closed API from Facebook is just to watch how people use the info before they revise their own service. Maybe I’ll sign up again, and if I don’t maybe I’ll rethink how the data I used to check in could be valuable to myself.

A couple more thoughts 08.20.2010

This tweet sort of sums things up for me “fortheartofit RT @damongarrett: Facebook assumes we want the same networks of people across each of the social media products we use. Um, not quite.

I’m also thinking about how a signed up for one service and now potentially all that data could have been sucked into Facebook. Sure Foursquare already has an open API that anyone can do strange stuff to my data—but with Facebook it becomes sketchier. And like I said in my prior mentions, I might sign up again at some point. I just felt I had a right to do what I wanted with my data before Facebook got their hands on it.

How do you write a post?


Typically when I start writing a blog post I’ll open up Word Press to get things started. I’ll just use their editing window pushing my ideas out. I thought that was how most people published until I talked recently to another writer who mentioned that she uses text edit. She also mentioned that there’s other blogging tools like MarsEdit. Apparently it plugs into WordPress though I couldn’t get it to work with my old version of version. In any case I’ve been using OmmWriter for a couple projects which has an elegant canvas to write with. So as I continue evolving how Design Notes is used, I’ll try to pull away from just using the WP UI and observe how my writing changes (hopefully for the better).

For those that publish online, what sort of process do you go through? Is it simply opening up the blog and writing, or do you use a different format and copy + paste the text in afterwards?

Getting to the Pay Wall

Getting to the Paywall

There’s a lot of speculation about how some news sites will start charging for their online content, typically via a subscription service or metered content intake. It’s hard to say what will or what won’t work yet. While I’m only speaking for myself when I throw the question of how people will get the wall, I think it’s worth asking. How are people going to trust what content to pay for? Is a reader likely to open their wallet to something that they don’t know is any good? Brand trust isn’t the same online as it once was in the golden age of big brother brands. However if a person’s trusted sources passes on a link or suggests that the article is indeed worth reading a person is more likely to be attentive to reading it. And if a pay service for online content actually does work, the person likely to pay to read it. The thing is, shouldn’t the person that just forwarded on the “sale” of the article get some sort of commision? Chances are that if the source had never said anything, the article may not have been read, clicked and paid for.

It’s totally inverting the pay wall but it does makes sense. Amazon has a service for recommending books, why shouldn’t pay wall news services not do the same? Obviously people will argue that people should have the right to link, others believe that news is a fundamental right while others ask how does quality reporting happen without anyone getting paid? While I doubt that a pay wall will actually do anything more than create a barrier that isn’t going to help the financial issues of most news sites and the morals of a commision to pass on links is sketchy. But if three equal news sites offer different incentives for people to link to sites, which one is going to do better? The free site, the pay wall site or the site that has a metered service that rewards other people that link to them with financial incentives?

Content is the New UI v1.

content is the new ui

If we were to look at some of atomic bits of a typical piece of information that a person consumes these days online, there might be a headline with text, at least a couple supporting sentences of text, maybe an image that could either be a photo, illustration (maybe a fancy animated gif), and a different media type like audio or video clip. This doesn’t take into account dynamic data forms like analytics of course. But for the typical person to person experience the above data points make up a majority of the interaction. Now considering how a person might actually intake some of that info to make sense of it, there’s no one standard outlet. In terms of news it used to be a newspaper or corporate tv, now it’s just about anything that might have a screen on it. Laptops, mobile devices, tv’s, those monitors in elevators, instant messaging, email, txt’ing, game devices and probably a thousand more.

That simple story with a headline, text, image and media type combined now have to be able to play nicely with all those devices mentioned above, and not only that have to be able to interconnect with the devices. For instance maybe I want to read my email on my laptop, mobile device and forward it on to my tv at some point. They’re all pieces that are being defined by content and how it flows together. That atomic piece of content changes depending on how it’s viewed within different contexts and it’s impossible to know what they all could be. The challenge is to make those bits have enough hooks that they can latch on to anything, show other potential items of value and let it grow organically. That also means letting others take that content and merge it with other medias that are out of the hand of the original creator. It’s a scary proposition but just like water content has to be treated as a building block and not seen as something that only one person controls.

The other question is motivation—why would I even bother passing along that important piece of content, or take the time to create something new out of it? Sure people like being creative but there also needs to be financial incentive. While pay walls are being floated out there, I can’t really recall the last time someone passed me on an article from FT. If anything, those that pass on and create new content from the building blocks should see some sort of financial incentive, a concept that probably would drive most people that create the content in the first place insane. But if there was a manageable way that both those that start something and those that make it valuable can work hand in hand the digital content stream that is the new UI could be a win win for everyone involved.

Back to the Bowery for a Moment


Bowery 2

Bowery 3

Bowery 4

Walking to have some coffee yesterday I ended up having a bit more time on my hands than I expected. Usually I like being on time for things but for some reason I was okay with having the chance to continue walking down the Bowery. While the street is a bit of a cliche I really enjoy seeing how everything evolves continuously. Buildings go down, they go up. There’s also visuals that seem alive. A poster on a wall one day will probably not look the same the next—by the time someone has put something up someone else will have tried ripping it down or built on top of it. So in a radius of only a couple feet I came across one construction wall that had to be noted. Who knows how things will change with it today?

A Simple Post About Txting Donations to Haiti

haiti - News, photos, topics, and quotes_1263475707859

 You have donated nearly $3 ..._1263475794994

I’m almost back to a normal blog posting schedule after being in Canada for the past couple of days. While I wasn’t on a digital cleanse it did feel that way at some times. In Canada I did have my laptop but wasn’t always able to use it because I didn’t know the wifi passwords of where I was. It’s a pretty common issue whether a person is in a different country or city, it’s not always easy to get password information. Because of that I used my iPhone a lot more to get my news and information. And that was fine until my network on my iPhone stopped working—but because I was traveling the day my network stopped working I thought wasn’t going to be a big deal because I was flying. Unfortunately I had no idea what was going on in Haiti until I was walking through LGA very late the night the earthquake hit.

The images coming from Haiti are devastating, the photos above are from a screen shot of Daylife’s photo feed. What else is there to say? The news coming out is that there’s wide spread damage and it’s a miserable place to be. What people can do (which I find fascinating) is make a simple and easy donation of ten dollars via txt message to 90999 with the word “Haiti” to the Red Cross. I realize that txt messaging donations aren’t new, but the fact that over $3 million dollars has been raised so quickly that might not otherwise have been given is really phenomenal. It’s a feature that all non profits should consider when they are looking for donations.

If you’re interested in understanding other ways that people are trying to pass along info, there’s a good collection of ideas with this post for Ideas Using Tech to Improve Haiti Relief Efforts on Ground Report.

J.Crew vs. Colette Online

colette - 213 rue Saint-Honoré 75001 Paris_1262178362357

J.Crew - Cashmere, Sweaters, Women's Clothing & Dresses, Men's Clothing, Children's Clothing & Kids Clothes_1262178018179


Last night I was bouncing from blog to blog when I came across the french e–store Colette. Not having any prior history to the brand or their reputation my initial reaction to their online store was it makes me believe that there is an even more interesting bricks n’mortar shop there. Within a couple minutes of mentioning that a friend asked what do you like about that e-shop? I didn’t love it particularly. One of my faves is J.Crew for navigation, browsing etc…. Since I’m always interested in unexpected mashup’s to create a new meaning I thought comparing J.Crew to Colette would be an interesting exercise.

At first glance it might be fair to say each site is designed particularly well for their intended audience. J.Crew is slightly more affluent on the professional side while Colette is more aspirational on the younger side. Keeping that in mind is important because it allows me to get the user segmentation out of the way of who’s better—neither, they’re just different. But as I was clicking around Colette there were some observations worth noting that I didn’t see with J.Crew that I think are worth thinking about.

For the longest time real stores didn’t have much of an online presence. Some would still claim those flash microsites haven’t really helped do much to enhance brands either. On the other side was Amazon which wasn’t pretty but you could buy almost anything online very quickly, but they didn’t have any physical assets like a storefront. Today stores like J.Crew get the fact that an easy online presence is going to help their online sales front immensly. But it’s so clean that I have to question why I would bother ever going to their physical store again? It’s a strange rational but when I compare it to Colette I’m wondering if their online site is kind of exploratory in a non frustrating way, I’d be really curious to see what their physical store is like. It’s an inverse of the offline and online retailer. The physical places are going to try to squeeze into the digital while the digital want something physical.

There’s a couple other distinctions that I noticed. J.Crew is essential an online catalogue while Colette is emphasizing a lifestyle. Most sites should avoid music but with them it drew me in. I’m actually listening to their site as I do this post. Their music choice goes a long way as part of their curation of what they like. Their curation is magnified with the choice products while J.Crew is stuck showing all their stuff together. Maybe it’s just me but a person should rarely dress head to foot in the same brand. But that’s all J.Crew can push.

So if I take a bunch of elements like exploration + music + lifestyle + curation & I want to visit their store, and compare that to an online catalogue, who has the better experience?

Talking About Reading One Book a Week for a Year, the Interview

I’ve been friends with Inaki Escudero for almost a year now. He’s a creative’s creative in that he’s extremely genuine, curious and open to new ideas. While a lot of people are living in an outdated model to pursue ideas, Inaki is embracing everything and anything which I highly respect. Many months ago he told me about how he was going to read one book a week for an entire year. The year is now up and he has indeed read 52 books. Inspired to perhaps try such a thing myself in the new year I had to find out more about how he accomplished the readings and why. Below is our email conversation.

Michael Surtees: How did the idea of reading one book a week happen? What were you hoping to gain from doing it?

Inaki Escudero: The idea came from the combination of two different events. In October my wife @hazeliz gave me for my birthday all the books that I had in my cart at There were about 25 books that I had been “saving” to read for years.

Also, last December, I saw an article n the New York Times by one of the press correspondents on board of Air Force One. He talked about the personal relationships that the press develops with the president and how the president and the reporter had gotten engaged in a private reading battle, to see who read the most books in a year (Bush 28, the reporter 36).

I remember thinking: Wow, if the president can read 28 books… being so busy… why not me?

52 books in 52 weeks is really a consequence of chance. My wife bought the books, the president gave me the challenge. At the beginning I just wanted to read as many books as possible from the pile I had at home, but I also wanted to remember what I found interesting in each book, that’s why I created the blog at I have a horrible memory and I wanted to be able to go back and remind myself of what I had learned from each book.

MS: How did you actually read one book a week. What sort of process did you have, did you read a certain number of pages a day, or read at different speeds?

IE: Each book was so different that my early attempts to having a method or process disappeared quickly. Some books I couldn’t put down, and I would read 60-100 pages a day. Other books were slower to read because of the subject or the style and I would read 20-50 pages per day.

I read mostly during my commute; 30-40 minutes each way, Q line: 7th ave -23 st. Train delays and unexpected stops became friendly “events”.

Whenever the day gave me “down time” I had to be ready to open my book and read. Having the Kindle for the iphone (free app) also helped me a lot. First I thought that it would be impossible to read an entire book in such a small format but I ended up reading 9 books on the kindle. They are cheaper (sometimes even $15 cheaper) and more convenient than the printed form, but I still prefer the real thing.

MS: What were your top five books and why.

IE: I have been asking myself that question too. Which ones were the best?

The honest truth is that I learned valuable lessons from the 52 books. They all revealed something to me that made me think differently about the world. The books with the most impact are the ones that cause that effect more often.

These 6 books helped me have a wider and richer perspective about our country and Lincoln’s leadership, the incredible intellectual depth of a comic, the new world of communications, humans (good) nature and understanding innovation.

Lincoln by David Herbert Donald

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott Mccloud

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky

Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-Up Idealists by Susan Neiman

Weird Ideas That Work: How to Build a Creative Company by Robert I. Sutton

MS: Would you recommend other people doing it? How did you stay disciplined?

IE: I highly recommend it. Its a fascinating challenge. Selecting the books, reading them, knowing that there is another one coming right after… the sense of dedication, commitment, discipline… I loved it.

What I’ve learned during this year is that if you like doing it, you can do it everyday with passion. I love reading, I’m curious and I love learning, so reading so much wasn’t necessarily a question of discipline like say, training for a marathon in the winter.

MS: How did you choose your books?

IE: I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with rules, so I decided to have just two… don’t start a book until I finished the previous one, and don’t select the next book until I finished the previous one.

I guess I did this to stay focused on the one book I was reading, trying not to get ahead of myself… but it really worked well for me.
Looking back, I have collected lots and lots of intelligent quotes, everyday wisdom and insightful observations, but one comes to mind that relates to this: if you don’t use your ability to read, then it’s as if you couldn’t read.

I know we don’t see it as a privilege anymore, but if I’m able to read, why not put it to practice?

REVIEW COPY: Look Both Ways by Debbie Millman

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 01

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 02

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 03

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 04

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 05

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 06Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 07

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 08

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 09

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 10

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 11

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 12

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 13

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 14

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 15

Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman 16

Before I pass on my review for the really engaging book Looking Both Ways by Debbie Millman, I feel as though I should let people know that I know Debbie quite well. Many years ago Debbie was a contributor to the site Speak Up. While I didn’t know her at the time I found the comments and reactions that she would get from people was interesting. I knew that she was quite successful as the President of Sterling Brands so I invited her to speak in Edmonton. This was still before she started her interview series Design Matters. It was during that time of organizing the event in Edmonton that I began to know Debbie. By the time she had spoke in Edmonton, Design Matters was getting well known as was herself. We kept in touch and when I was visiting NYC from Edmonton she always made time for me and we became friends. Once I moved to the best city in the world we’d bump into each other from time to time. The next stage of me knowing Debbie was from her teaching at SVA, and me meeting her students before they completed her class. After that there’s Debbie the President of the AIGA. Now it’s as authour—I can also make the claim to have listened to every single Design Matters interview at least once, many a couple times. So when I read Looking Both Ways it was really hard not to hear her voice. It was like I’ve heard every syllable pronounced at some point. Having that background only made the book more enjoyable to read.

Some of the stories seemed familiar while others were entirely new to me. Flipping through the pages every story is designed in a unique and compelling manner by Rodrigo Corral. The pace and tone set before and after each story should be commended. For example there’s a story near the beginning title Yellow that is displayed entirely from boards painted black with white type. The following story My First Love changes gears entirely with an italicized typeface sans images, yet fits perfectly after Yellow. Every story snaps into place like a puzzle piece.

I found myself wanting to read most of this book in the evening before I went to bed. I’m not much for reading in bed but I found that taking on a couple essays was an earned gift for the day I had just completed. I also noted that all those visuals affected my sleep state. I was dreaming a lot more. I’m sure this sounds a bit weird but I do think it’s important to note in this review. If you get the chance to read this book, try reading it before you fall asleep, it will change things entirely.

Before starting to read this book I wondered who exactly is this book written for? Debbie is an accomplished branding expert, and for her Design Matter’s intros she would start the program with a monologue of observations and stories. Translating that experience to paper and image, how would it work? And while I think New York Magazine got it right to place the book at the top of High Brow and Brilliant in it’s approval matrix, the description of it being about illustrated essays on design is a bit off. I’d say it’s more about a designer using their observations skills sharing personal reflections that are worth reading. Just like the We Feel Fine book that I reviewed last week, there’s a lot of people that I could easily give this book as a gift to, designer or not.

Thinking about a favourite story, there’s three that come to mind. Economy Foam because I remember hearing a version of this story while back in Edmonton. There’s something about hearing a description about NYC before ever setting foot here. On top of that, I haven’t read that many personal stories about a visual relationship with a brand like that from a design person. It certainly changed my perception of my visual landscape a bit. So reading about it again brought back all those memories. The second story was about Debbie’s experience in Japan getting lost. Fantastic story. And the third is about that momentous decision most designer’s have to make during their career titled Fail Safe. Once you read it you’ll know what I mean.

Title: Look Both Ways
Authour: Debbie Millman
Publisher: How Books

Story vs. Systems, or as things will be for the time being

connecting the dots

for the time being

define stories

This post started from a simple search and by the time I was finished I was connecting dots from all sorts of concepts that I’ve come across recently. I was wanted to get the meaning of something so I’ll often type in the word define: into google with a term I’m looking to get more info from. As I started typing the word define I was being auto promoted by what are the ten most popular terms to be defined on google. That list of ten got me thinking about other data inputs out there and a story I saw from the NYT titled The Robots Are Coming! Oh, They’re Here.. In the post they talk about Intelligent Information Laboratory @ Northwestern University – Projects – Stats Monkey who are attempting to take public info like box scores and play by play action into stories. Thinking a bit further about all the stuff, it reminded me of a round table discussion I was a part of at the AIGA Conference that Nick Law talked about systems and stories and how traditional agency people are stuck in an old model. Adding to that point I found a post from Peter Merholz talking about a Framework for Building Customer Experiences. The base level being systems while building to experiences. Considering all that information and what I’m thinking about day in and day out there just seemed to be a lot of dots to connect.

For the time being there seems to be a battle of people wanting to be “the source” as opposed to understanding that they’ll at best be “a source”. It’s hard to grapple. It’s story vs system a lot of the time. One minute the story is the thing, the next it’s just info being transformed into data to be reformatted, mashed up and turned into new info that’s going to be a different story. In the not so distant future it could be interesting to type in a word that adds a couple unique facets that than create a one of a kind story from everyone’s experiences that have been shared.

Last night at PSFK’s Good Ideas With Jan Chipchase

Jan Chipchase


Last night I visited JWT to hear PSKF’s latest Good Ideas Salon with Nokia researcher Jan Chipchase. Recently I’ve slowed down on the advertising and marketing talks because the speakers tend to be a bit flaky and more about their own ego. I’m happy to report that Jan’s talk wasn’t like that at all, and if I was a Design Chair for a University trying to encourage design undergrads to continue with school—they should bring in Jan to talk about his experiences. The presentation itself was an overview of a number of his adventures out in the field away from Nokia. While the images and stories he shared were interesting, to keep the audience engaged he was quite active in asking people questions about what they thought he was documenting.

While I wasn’t skeptical of his talk before it started I did hold some biases about being forward thinking research as a general concept. I live in a very closed world of the iPhone. While I don’t know what the worldwide penetration of the iPhone vs. Nokia as a whole is, I did wonder how mobile phones didn’t really evolve much until the iPhone came to market. Again that’s my bias and I’m guessing that fans of Nokia would say that they were ahead of the curve on a lot of the features, but if that’s the case why did the iPhone get all the press and shake things up? I know it’s a pretty weak argument on my part but it was something I was thinking about.

But as the talk progressed, the ideas were less about technology and features, and much more about observing behaviour. Typically he and a team will be out in the field for two weeks. He described how they often collect over 10,000 images and have procedures in place to sort and organize them. He stayed away from talking about methods and geared the conversation to what I think the audience was more interested in. Stuff like symbols that have multiple meanings. In China a woman sitting on a curb with a baby might suggest that she’s selling porn. That kind of stuff for an evening talk is probably more appropriate than methodologies of field work. Or maybe not…

One example that really stood out for me was when he showed a hacked sim card that could switch from one network to a different one. Something that closed loop systems kind of frown upon for obvious reasons. The card represented a way to undermine a business model. That got me to think about business strategies. If someone has taken the time and resources to create a system that busts a business model, why not study it, replicate it and turn that thinking into an advantage. Perhaps that what Nokia is doing and we just haven’t experienced it yet.

Another topic that was briefly touched upon was the digital divide between people who have the ability to track their personal data over a lifetime and those that do not. While I don’t think he had a definitive answer, he seemed optimistic that it wasn’t a bad thing for people to collect their own data. (Once the video of the talk goes live I’ll re-watch what he said to make sure I’m quoting things correctly.) Other things that got my attention was the idea of wearing in, not out—making stuff from nothing new, making stuff that’s interesting and relevant, and even the business culture of needing to be in the office after short periods of time away. Apparently being away for more than two weeks can cause you to be out of the loop.

If you’re curious to read more about Jan, there’s an article at the NYT titled Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty? that should be checked out and he has a number of presentations on Slideshare.

The state of design in 2009

Design in 2009

It would be too easy to bash istock photo for treating logos as a cheap commodity. They’ve just announced they’re going to sell them for five bucks. You can read all about it at If people are stupid enough to belittle their work that much, and people are believing they’re going to get something valuable for the price of a large coffee, who am I to suggest they’re going to get exactly what they deserve? And by the sounds of it, lots of people at TechCrunch seem to think it’s a great idea. If you’re a designer that holds any value in what you do—read the comments. If you’re in a meeting with someone that shows any of those characteristics—be careful.

From five dollar logos to fake ads in contests: after DDB Brazil and WWF blow up of their one run newspaper ad that won a merit award from the One Show, the One Show now has now spelled out their rules in a press release at Funny thing about that press release that I don’t know if anyone has questioned is that within those rules DDB Brazil’s WWF ad would not have been disqualified.

On a better note, there’s friend to me Debbie Millman’s recently given speech at the 2009 AIGA Design Legends Gala titled Why celebrate design during a recession? It’s a timely talk considering the bs going on these days.

On one side there’s design that’s being devalued to the price of coffee, people making fake ads for free, others celebrating achievements in design, and than there’s the PHD level design educated people. The spectrum is quite long. Where in the spectrum does the designer that’s passionate about what they do fall? While the recession can be blamed for the state of design, I think it’s more of a reflection on technology and the way people communicate. Just ask yourself how you get info that’s valuable to you, and compare that from three years ago. Even if the housing market hadn’t tanked and banks hadn’t busted, design would be in the exact same spot today. I don’t have any answers for this, I’m just stating what I’m seeing in front of me. I guess we should design our way out of this issue…

Why are there offices anymore?

I saw the above video where an individual worker that’s digitally inclined looks through his iPhone to find a place to work for what I assume is a couple hours. The augmented reality map is cool in that it shows some of the finer amenities that such a person would want such as coffe, noise, wifi etc. While it’s debatable if a service like this would help find a new place to work, or just throw out a simple question to friends about a new place to work, the more interesting behaviour is the fact that office space isn’t what it used to be. Consultants of one are roaming around at street level while above office areas that used to be full stay empty of the bust that’s happened.

I wonder how long it will be before a lot of street level space that lays dormant will start opening their doors to entrepreneurs that start converting the area to cosy places that serve coffee, wifi, and a nice atmosphere to work. I’ve seen stuff beginning like this, but it’s for collective groups as opposed to single individuals.

Aha with live streaming

Picture 67

Picture 66

There’s very few days when traditional media isn’t under attack. Whether it’s news papers or magazines, radio, the entire music industry, film, tv, they’re all finding it difficult to evolve from their dna of yesteryear. It’s fascinating me to go through those aha moments when I realize how things were aren’t coming back. For getting my news it was seeing the headlines a night early before the paper went to press, than later on it was getting my headlines from Twitter with people I trust as opposed to an editor I didn’t know. For music it was trying to get multiple cd’s onto a player—so I bought a mini disc player, then it was about compressing multiple discs which is when the iPod came around and solved the file size issue. The drive for owning my own music was because I had little control over what the radio played considering how repetitive it was. Along came the iPhone and all the apps which has quickly evolved most of the medias I just mentioned. Last night it was live video streaming. The easier technology makes it for people to use something, the more likely a person is going to try it out and probably continue with something new. For me personally it was easier to go the US Open Tennis website and watch the match than to turn on my tv. That was a major moment for me, not because I watch a ton of tv but for seeing how dead my very large tv seemed. All my tv offered was a one way stream. Seeing the tennis match on my laptop I could click on some minor data points. I could see some player stats and read what others were up to. Nothing really new for online interaction, but putting that together with great quality video was enough to make the tv seem really dead.

While all that was going on I learned via twitter that the Communications Director for the White House was answering questions live on video stream, with the questions coming from people logged into Facebook. Whether you agreed on what was being said is up for debate, however the fact that there’s the apparent ability to talk back and forth is quite amazing. I only caught a couple minutes of that talk but we should all take a moment to pause and realize that it wasn’t that difficult to watch both the US Open, the live moderated discussion and get tweets from a different application talking about those same events.

The only catch with all this live content is how it’s archived, if at all. It is pretty damn tough to find old tweets of people you know and sort of remember mentioning, and if you can’t remember a key phrase for a search term it’s near impossible to find anything. And even if a site had the best ways to find archived video, the size constraints don’t exactly make it easy to store for years. That’s something I think might be missing from this type of discussion at the moment. Funny how print didn’t have that problem as much.

More buy and vote on demand, and distributing things in digital

New Liberal Arts


threadless reprint

I really like the attitude and methods that Snarkmarket & Revelator Press used to distribute their New Liberal Arts content. While it’s not an entirely unique concept of getting enough people to buy something before a larger release, it’s notable that once they sold out of their print run they opened up the digital versions for free. Even better was that there was a no thrills web version and a pdf that I’m assuming is just like the book. While I was reading some of the chapters last night via the pdf it I started to wonder why the pdf didn’t take account that I was reading on screen (maybe a bigger font, more linear etc…) and then I was like oh ya, they do have a web version stupid me… It was a strange moment to see something in default that was easier to read on a screen than a nicer version meant to be read on paper but was on screen.

Getting back to the buy and vote idea, Threadless was the first that I remember that used the idea of testing what a lot of people (ie. a crowd) was wanting to buy. Again there’s a limited run that forces people’s hands a bit. The shirts aren’t going to be there forever. However they have a simple way of selling even more shirts if they sell out quick. You can vote by sending in your name. They collect enough names and the thing is reprinted.

Link Drop (8·28·09)

link drop themes

This week’s collection of stuff that I’ve found interesting via Link Drop contains a lot of new themes. There’s stuff about smell, flowers and even Whole Foods. Apple makes it’s usual appearance, though in a more positive light. I also seem to be listening to a lot of personal stories via podcasts and interviews. Hopefully if it’s raining where you are like it is in NYC today, you have some time to check some links out that you may not have come across otherwise.

Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess

Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess_1251421335608

After reading this, I wasn’t exactly sure what people were going crazy about. I’ve used the service a couple times and was happy with the results. The kicker is that if people don’t like using it, they’re not forced to. And don’t get me started on the proposed redesigns—the idea reminds me of the stupidity that wired did when they asked people to redesign google. sigh… I did have to laugh when it was mentioned in the article about how people have tried to redesign it.

AD Presents :: Weird Summer, A Mixtape

Aquarium Drunkard: Music Blog » AD Presents :: Weird Summer, A Mixtape_1251562753244

If you’re looking for some music to listen to while going through this issue of Link Drop, I’d recommend this mix.

What We Can Learn From Mess

What We Can Learn From Mess_1251421365518

I actually read this post before the wired article. Kind of puts things into perspective, to a degree.

Vancouver Olympics design head dies suddenly at 40

Vancouver Olympics design head dies suddenly at 40_1251421404092

I didn’t know this designer but it still saddened me to read none the less. The Canadian design community has lost a passionate person that was doing what he loved. You can see more of his work via Mark Busse.

What is the benefit of Social Media?

What is the benefit of Social Media

Interesting responses to the dreaded term Social Media. Bonous points are awarded to anyone that checks this additional link: Epic Privacy Information Center

Design Folios with Google Maps

Heavy Backpack - A Creative Catalogue » Design Folios with Google Maps_1251421746845

Great idea to repurpose technology for portfolio viewing pleasure. Though I still think a blog is the best way to show what work a designer has done.


Orchids — National Geographic Magazine_1251421759344

This post wins the award for longest read, but more importantly—most interesting read too. Who knew, certainly not me.

Scents & Sensibility: Aroma Tips from Christopher Brosius

 Aroma Tips from Christopher Brosius - BlackBook_1251421881318

So what’s your favourite smell?

So What Do We Think About This?

 So What Do We Think About This

This was a last minute drop before I published this Link Drop. I’m really liking how magazines are taking a risk by showing people how they really are. Apparently the issue of the magazine is close to selling out already.

IKEA goes with Verdana

IKEA goes with Verdana | Typophile_1251421779572

There’s no hope for design and business if Ikea is turning its back on what they stand for. Wtf is all I could say when I first read about this.

Audi Typographic Relaunch

Audi Typographic Relaunch | Cartype_1251421798410

Another type story, this time not so bad. I thought the comparisons helped a lot to see what they were up to.

Power to Prezi!

Power to Prezi! | Blog | design mind_1251421818277

I haven’t tried this yet though I have seen it in action, and it helped the presentation. Good breakdown of what the tool is.

Can we make the case for a phonetic alphabet today?

Can we make the case for a phonetic alphabet today

I was surprised by the reaction to this post after I tweeted about it—so for more reaction I’ve added it here.

Le Paris de Patrick Jouin

Design Diário_1251421856692

I liked how the rational for his designs were brought out via the narrative of the questions.

Full interview: Andy Baio on remaking Miles Davis and crowdfunding

 Andy Baio on remaking Miles Davis and crowdfunding | Spark | CBC Radio_1251421896184

Cool idea to create funding for creative projects.

Please vote for my SXSW panels! - Please vote for my SXSW panels!_1251421910722

This was one of the smarter ways of getting the word out about SXSW panels. The discussion in the comments section of the post is worth clicking on in itself.

25 things journalists can do to future-proof their careers

25 things journalists can do to future-proof their careers | Blog | Econsultancy_1251421925315

All of these steps are relevant to designer’s too.


Lumadessa | Collections_1251421940657

These illustrations are great. And the purchase aspect is quite easy too, though I have to admit I haven’t bought of them yet.

Apple May Be Highest Grossing Fifth Avenue Retailer

Apple May Be Highest Grossing Fifth Avenue Retailer (Update2) - Bloomberg.com_1251421964244

I’m surprised that I didn’t come across this info from more sources. If it’s true, what a coup for Apple.

Landscapes of Quarantine: Call for Applications

 Call for Applications_1251421977439

If you’ve ever thought about quarantine, perhaps you might be interested in designing something around the concept.

WTF at Whole Foods (doing the cultural math)

 WTF at Whole Foods (doing the cultural math)_1251422001452

The business implications of talking about politics when you’re the face of a company.

Great example of hospitality from Whole Foods

Great example of hospitality from Whole Foods - marcschiller's posterous_1251422012480

Sort of apt considering every other day it’s been raining in NYC.

I have no home. I have created a new home. This is my home.

I have no home. I have created a new home. This is my home._1251422030788

This post is for the architects out there reading this.

Summer Surf City

 Summer Surf City_1251422070384

I’ve haven’t surfed yet but it seems like it’s been everywhere I’ve been in NYC this summer. Sure I live on an island but it’s a bit unexpected for me.

The 3 key parts of news stories you usually don’t get

The 3 key parts of news stories you usually don’t get at Newsless.org_1251422081101

Yet more advice for newspapers, this time about content.

How Long Does it Take to Build a Technology Empire?

How Long Does it Take to Build a Technology Empire

A diagram that puts things into time perspective. Great terms: Rocket Ship, Hot Company, and Slow Burner.

Introducing Typedia

Introducing Typedia | Jason Santa Maria_1251422110906

I think these type of posts are worth passing on because they get to the reason d’etre of why someone design’s something. It also goes back to my mention of portfolios above using google maps.

Back Talk: Jarvis Cocker

 Jarvis Cocker_1251422126190

It’s never a bad idea to include an interview with the artist of one of the best albums of the year.

Aug 27: Canadian model Liskula Cohen on winning her lawsuit against bloggers* Bob Garfield on his new book “The Chaos Scenario”, about the scorched landscape of traditional media in the digital age* A panel discussion on heavy metal

mpeg Object)_1251554681644

The interview with Liskula Cohen is worth a listen, the silence in between answers and follow up questions was a bit strange. But it wasn’t that strangeness that made me listen to it a couple more times, but more about the response to how things were settled. The rest of the podcast wasn’t too bad either.

The iPhone is not easy to use: a new direction for UX Design

 a new direction for UX Design_1251553951583

I’m always going on about how wonderful iPhone apps are, and how they’re easier to use than real sites. This post puts that into question in a good way.

Double issue of Link Drop (8·14·09) & (8·21·09)

link drop themes

This week’s version of Link Drop was a week late and while I hate excuses there’s a pretty good one. Last weekend I was redesigning the format of Link Drop when my computer stopped working. I wasn’t exactly happy about that so I decided I’d continue finding good stuff on the web to remember and keep working on the design when I got my computer back. It’s now Friday and I’m happy to report Tekserve did a great job of fixing everything. So with that said hopefully Link Drop next week will be a bit easier to read. As always, I’ve jotted down some of the themes that flowed with what I saw.

The Agency Problem - Bokardo_1250277869209

The Agency Problem
This kind of sums up things for me in terms of design today. While I’m not running a multi billion dollar design agency yet, I question why even online design is treated like traditional print projects. The online is handed over to the client with no proof if the thing will actually work. That’s why I wanted to talk about agile design and wondered out loud how more companies should be thinking that way…

Tuft vs. Turf - today and tomorrow_1250849929527

Tuft vs. Turf
The flow and motion of the plastic was really changed up their outside view. From the street is must be quite the view.

Summer 2009 Playlist_1250849586054

Cool Hunting’s Spring/Summer 2009 Playlist
I’d recommend pressing play to this while going through this week’s double edition of Link Drop.

 Managing Recruiting_1250849456382

Reading Ahead: Managing Recruiting
A fascinating comparison of finding people via all the social networks out there to older processes of using a recruiter to screen people.

The Most Interesting New Tech Startup of 2009 - Anil Dash_1250849479710

The Most Interesting New Tech Startup of 2009
Working with a startup I was naturally interested in this post. As weird as it seems, perhaps government agencies are a good candidate to be thrown into start up mode considering the changes both in technology and social communication tool. Brochures are no longer how information is passed along (or at least I hope it’s in conjunction with online).

 Todd Zaki Warfel’s Prototyping for UX Practitioners_1250849486125

IxDA NYC: Todd Zaki Warfel’s Prototyping for UX Practitioners
Unfortunately I missed this due to work. In any case this is a good recap for those that might have missed it too.

 Receipt Tape | Duarte Blog_1250849491738

Unique Storyboard Method: Receipt Tape
A different type of method for telling stories. I’m going to try it when the right opportunity arises.

10 awesome videos for designers | Designer Daily_1250849504341

10 awesome videos for designers
Perfect viewing for a rainy day if you’re a designer—or just bored out of your mind.

Huffington Post Debuts Social News Service Using Facebook Connect | Kara Swisher | BoomTown | AllThingsD_1250849511555

Huffington Post and Facebook Go “Social News,” With Connect on Steroids
This has a lot of potential. I don’t think Facebook Connect should be taken for granted. It’s unlocking a lot of doors that I think most designer’s don’t even realize existed in the first place.

MediaShift . Journalism Students Need to Develop Their Personal Brand | PBS_1250849521891

Journalism Students Need to Develop Their Personal Brand
I think this goes for everybody out there today…

 How To Become A Social Brand REDUX_1250855118060

How To Become A Social Brand REDUX
And the diagram that compliments the last post.

 The Blog_1250849533245

Creative Grab Bag
Happy to see Ethan’s book out. Lot’s of familiar names and faces involved including moi.

A Photo Editor - The Sad Strange Financial Predicament Of Annie Leibovitz_1250849559823

The Sad Strange Financial Predicament Of Annie Leibovitz
I suspect that there’s a lot of stuff going on in the background. Until that comes to light here’s one person’s take on the situation.

 Microsoft, I'm a PC - Outtakes_1250849565377

Website Update: Microsoft, I’m a PC – Outtakes
Remember those computers called One Laptop Per Child? These are the first images I’ve seen them in use for the intended audience.

 NOT IF BUT WHEN_1250277887447

Quite the photo series of the times we live. Sort of reminded me of the Detroit series I mentioned in the last Link Drop.

 Lady Gaga as Architectural Cipher_1250277904182

More Than Just a Pokerface: Lady Gaga as Architectural Cipher
This was one of my favourite posts that I came across last week. Music, fashion and architecture combined, contrasted and critiqued.

Pr*tty Sh*tty_1250277918564

Pr*tty Sh*tty
Smart idea—compare both good and bad design at the same time. I suspect this blog will pick up some traction soon.

Aza’s Thoughts » The Over-the-Phone Test_1250277928091

The Over-the-Phone Test
Good method for some but not all design ideas. While simple is ideal, understandable is a better target to shoot for.

HELLO BAULDOFF_1250277934238

Designers on Twitter
While I don’t take these type of lists too seriously, it was nice to be added to this one.

 Hand & Arrow Icons_1250277943688

Hand & Arrow Icons
from this post
I had no idea how many people like myself were searching for arrow cursor icon. Now you know where to find them…

 GQ Features on

Ok list, a couple from NYC in there.

 The Nine Eyes of Google Street View_1250278091300

IMG MGMT: The Nine Eyes of Google Street View
Amazing captures from Google maps. A really insane viewpoint of what’s going on out there…

 DIY Cartography_1250278101221

Rethinking Maps and from Amazon
This book looks like a great read, though it’s a bit pricey.

I like dots, and I like visualizations—hence this is the perfect post for me.

 Scientists Prove Dogs Look Like Their Owners_1250278118163

Scientists Prove Dogs Look Like Their Owners
It’s finally official. This is what my weimaraner Madison and I look together posted on Flickr a year ago.

Eye blog » A going concern. Toilet signage as an international cultural artefact_1250278125305

A going concern. Toilet signage as an international cultural artefact
Interesting to see how people all over the world show where to go the bathroom.

The future of the textbook | Spark | CBC Radio_1250278135858

The future of the textbook
More questions about reading on paper.

 Reading Non-Braille Books and Tactile Flash Cards for the Blind_1250278146584

Reading Non-Braille Books and Tactile Flash Cards for the Blind
Great idea to use design and technology to help people.

The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today | UXbyDesign.org_1250278156014

The 65 Most Annoying things about the Web Today
Good list to take note of.

teehan+lax » Blog Archive » Talking ‘bout (m)Y Generation_1250278197523

Talking ‘bout (m)Y Generation
Good to hear what the kids are talking about these days too.

 Captchas Are Bad for Business_1250278204002

It’s Official: Captchas Are Bad for Business
Interesting contradiction to my mention of captcha’s a couple week’s ago in Link Drop.

 Brandon Martin-Anderson - BusinessWeek_1250278233152

Data Visualization: Stories for the Information Age
This is kind of old by interweb standards, but just in case you missed it, it’s worth a look. Lot’s of good listings of both familiar and unfamiliar data viz stuff.

 Drink from Concrete & Glass_1250278243186

Drink from Concrete & Glass
I’d love to get a set of these. Cool contrast of materials.

Nike Basketball’s 10 Best TV Commercials | Complex Blog_1250852280873

Nike Basketball’s 10 Best TV Commercials

This is art.

Bons Mots - from Andrew Bonventre - Solve it!_1250278360947

Solve it!
Things to consider.

Molecular Voices » The direction forward with web fonts_1250278368979

The direction forward with web fonts
More about typefaces and reading on the web.

Link Drop (7·17·09) & (7·24·09)

link drop themes

This week’s Link Drop is a double issue as I was preoccupied with being in SF last Friday. For this post I combined the best of what I found in the last 14 days. The biggest surprise for me was that I didn’t mention the iPhone, Apple or Google once. In their corporate place was Amazon and Zappos—no big surprise considering their news this week. There were quite a few times this morning as I was typing away with the links that I said to myself that this could be a best of year post. What I mean by that is there’s some really good content from others that I might want to save for my year end post. Maybe the summer brings out the best in us all?

The New York Review of Ideas_1248431331710

The New York Review of Ideas
This site came out of no where (at least to me). The design and content match each other. I hate to say it, but I hope they publish their best content yearly.

Charlie Rose - A conversation with The Publisher & Editors of Politico_1248431354923

A conversation with The Publisher & Editors of Politico
There’s a lot of observations a viewer could take from this round table talk. There’s the predictable print vs online aspect, but what perked up my ears was their strategy talk of wanting to own their sector in terms of being the “ESPN” of politics. Combine that attitude and energy with unique personalities and the hour went by very quickly. Afterwards I had to wonder how soon it will be till Charlie himself makes a couple appearances on Politico…

Walmart Announces a Sustainable Product Index - Walmart Green Products - thedailygreen.com_1248431373389

Walmart Announces a Sustainable Product Index
This gives an overview of what Walmart will be asking it’s retailers in terms of environmental impact of their products. I think this is a big deal as up until now most companies that have power to change things haven’t really stepped up to the plate.

Oh Snap! Our Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Shot By The Sartorialist -Refinery29 Pipeline-_1248431389160

Oh Snap! Our Step-By-Step Guide To Getting Shot By The Sartorialist
Smart info design of everyone’s favourite street fashion photographer….

 Zappos Review Incites Reproach From Ad-Agency Creative - Agency News_1248431397835

Zappos Review Incites Reproach From Agency Creative
FYI, this link doesn’t work anymore if you don’t subscribe to Ad Age. I kept it because I wanted to use this as a perfect example of why a paid content wall doesn’t work. I thought this article was one of the best that has come out of Ad Age for quite some time because there was a great debate between the merits of the pitch and measuring how long a client actually looks at a pitch. The post that instigated the discussion didn’t bother turning on the comments which made it a one way discussion—not a great thing for online content. With the above link there was a lot of info being added to the article which I appreciated. Now behind a wall no one is going to subscribe for one article. Now that I know there’s a time limit on Ad Age articles I’m probably not going to include them in my Link Drop anymore.

Zappos’ culture evident in their design - Bokardo_1248431404918

Zappos’ culture evident in their design
There’s going to be a lot of posts like this now that Amazon is going to purchase Zappos. I thought it would be funny to have this post beside the above issue of companies working with outside vendors for communication.

Amazon Buys Zappos, Gives Press the Boot - - Gawker_1248431416112

Amazon Buys Zappos, Gives Press the Boot

The press release in the internet age.

Penguin Tunes | ShellsuitZombie magazine™_1248431435210

Penguin Tunes
It’s amazing how a publisher’s branding can be transferred to well known album art in a visual way. The initial idea is still intact with the popular designs, yet the low saturation and paper crinkles also tell a story.

 rethinking innovation_1248431457656

rethinking innovation
I liked Chris Anderson’s book Free. It’s a good business 101 in the digital age kind of refresher. Nothing really new being mentioned. What I liked even more though was how this post put those type of ideas into a larger context that I hadn’t really been thinking about.

100 Years of Design Manifestos -- Social Design Notes_1248431463896

100 Years of Design Manifestos
If I had a couple days of free time (which I don’t), I’d read all of these a couple times and try to pull out all the common themes, take those themes and look at them in the frame of today. With that info compare each of the ideas to the other time periods in the timeline and see what’s universal applicable and what’s just naive.

Blind Photographers Use Gadgets to Realize Artistic Vision | Gadget Lab | Wired.com_1248431472465

Blind Photographers Use Gadgets to Realize Artistic Vision
Any story that talks about the blind in a visual context is something I’m interested in. It helps me understand how communication can be done in a non visual way. It becomes more about the interaction.

W+K PORTLAND · WK gets Hand Jobbed_1248431481493

Fun tag line to read about one authour’s adventure to a studio.

 Things That Fall Over_1248431498159

STVLAH: Things That Fall Over
This might be one of my fav. posts of the year in terms of making unrelated designs fit really well together. Especially in the economic period that we’re all in.

When You Put Data In, You Should Be Able to Get It Out | Smarterware_1248431505888

When You Put Data In, You Should Be Able to Get It Out
Did you know that if you tweet over 3,200 times, the 3,201 isn’t available unless you know how to use their api. Within that context this post talks about some of the ethical issues that digital services need to think about.

ZEVS’ Chanel Store Liquidation Could Cost A Million Dollars - ANIMAL_1248431514626

ZEVS’ Chanel Store Liquidation Could Cost A Million Dollars
This is one way to slow down unauthorized street art.

Table of Contents_1248431520000

The Psychology of Cyberspace
I haven’t read this yet but it seems kind of interesting.

i am the weather » » Volkswagen Golf 1974-2009_1248431526032

Volkswagen Golf 1974-2009

The irony of this diagram is quite telling. The nature of the compact car growing…

The fall from the top is far and fast | Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Creative Powerhouse._1248431541953

The fall from the top is far and fast
A post that will probably make you stop and pause for a myriad of reasons.

Marketing Small Businesses With Twitter - NYTimes.com_1248431556270

Mom-and-Pop Operators Turn to Social Media
Go figure—everyone is finding a reason to tweet.

 SCOTT BURNHAM_1248431576626

From New York to Amsterdam: A Tale of Two Hotels
I’ve never been to a pod hotel before so I was interested in reading about that type of experience.

Every time you type a two-word Captcha, you're helping to digitize the world's printed archives. - SimsBlog_1248431585921

Every time you type a two-word Captcha, you’re helping to digitize the world’s printed archives.
Did you realize that you’re doing a service by filling in Captcha—I didn’t.

 Dean + Deluca._1248431593720

Dean + Deluca.
One of the benefits of living in NYC is that when people from other cities shoot Manhattan they capture moments that quite possibly could be taken for granted with resident. With fresh eyes it reminds me of all the cool everyday stuff floating around.

 Design Was Born In The Great Depression. Will It Be Reborn Out Of The Great Recession

Smart Insight: Design Was Born In The Great Depression. Will It Be Reborn Out Of The Great Recession?
Great concept though I’m not so sure about the execution of it.

NYT Co.’s top lawyer doubts that aggregation is a copyright issue » Nieman Journalism Lab_1248431610230

NYT Co.’s top lawyer doubts that aggregation is a copyright issue


Brain Pickings_1248431621066

Brain Pickings
The technology, entertainment and design conference known as Ted has been starting to feel predictable as the years go by. For some reason having it overseas has invigorated it. I’m seeing and reading a lot more about the people presenting that seem kind of worth while. This site is pulling a lot of that content together in a great format for those like myself that aren’t there.

Metropolis POV » Remembering Shulman_1248431634309

Remembering Shulman
Metropolis Magazine reflects on the photographer Julius Shulman.

The Books of Oxford | Blog | design mind_1248431643958

The Books of Oxford
I haven’t had time to read this yet, I’m going to after I publish this Link Drop…

Audio from the Web Fonts Panel at TypeCon2009 | Typography Commentary | Typographica_1248435671696

Audio from the Web Fonts Panel at TypeCon2009
Litherland passed this on to me just before I was going to hit the publish button for this Link Drop so I haven’t had the chance to listen it yet. It’s hard to comment about what’s been said with this discussion about issue of licensing fonts for the web before I’ve actually heard what they have to say. But since this is my site I can say what I want. My take is that this discussion should have happened like fifteen years ago. Type designers used to be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and distributing their typefaces. At this point I don’t know if there’s anything those same type people can say that is actually meaningful. As a collective they’ve ignored technology, ie 6 and now I’m pretty much using Arial and Georgie too much. I blame you type designers for ignoring the fact that times change. And since we’re on it, why do I have to use bitmap like typefaces for super small points? Can we please move past type being designed for paper?

Link Drop (7·10·09)

linkdrop themes

July is here and with that comes the Tour de France. I’ve found a number of bike and tour related stuff that is shows the sport in perhaps a slightly different light then most people are used to reading about. There were a number of process pieces that I didn’t connect directly though on a second look might warrant it. There’s behaviour process, big question process and the big idea process along with emotional process. And as usual there’s a number of photo and type related things. I’m heading off to SF for a couple days next week, so I’m not sure what the format for next week’s Link Drop will look like. Stay tuned…

 where to get off the subway_1247224883208

where to get off the subway
Now that I have this app I’m hope it will be easier to find my exit on Canal St or 34th St a lot easier. Up until now I’ve been choosing my train car haphazardly. Now I’ll pick it by design.

 beauty made from ugly_1247224896925

beauty made from ugly
There’s something really cool about making architectural forms out of metal shipping containers.

Lost in Translation « Choicelessness_1247224908557

Lost in Translation
I really like how the abstraction on the left carries a lot of visual resonance to Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to the right.

i am the weather » » there are 4 phone booths in NYC, this is one of them_1247224842179

“there are 4 phone booths in NYC, this is one of them”
If this fact is true that’s quite amazing. When I think about how NYC was shown in film many years ago before mobile phones were out, phone booths played a role in the set. How times change.

Lefsetz Letter » Blog Archive » Michael Jackson Turning Points_1247224922308

Michael Jackson Turning Points
This post was one of the best collection of ideas relating to MJ and the way old media was.

New York Times Considers Charging $5 Per Month For Access To (NYT)_1247224929968

New York Times Considers Charging $5 Per Month For Access To (NYT)
Interesting developments going on about a paywall. It would be interesting to see how this plays on in terms of people passing on links to articles read from that site. The reason why I don’t pass that many links from WSJ—because it’s behind a paywall…

 Why are Cheap Airlines so cheap

Why are Cheap Airlines so cheap?
There’s a side by side comparison of how some airlines can be cheaper then others.

jetBlue’s award system is broken #jetBlows_1247224944146

jetBlue’s award system is broken #jetBlows
A point by point breakdown on why JetBlue’s point system isn’t working.

 Insert hands to dry - Pleasure and Pain by Whitney Hess_1247224957348

Photo of the day: Insert hands to dry
Would you put your hand inside this box?

Desperate-to-leave LinkedIn users rename accounts "delete delete delete" - Boing Boing_1247224969354

Desperate-to-leave LinkedIn users rename accounts “delete delete delete”
I’m sure LinkedIn has a reason for not allowing people to delete their accounts, however people are going to always come up with a solution no matter what a service wants to do with other people’s data.

 Notes On Vibe Magazine - Grids - SPD.ORG - Grids_1247224978295

George Pitts: Notes On Vibe Magazine

Vibe’s founding Photography Director goes back and talks about a lot of the people he worked with and what he got from the experience.

Super Colossal » Surry Hills Library Signage by Collider_1247224992220

Surry Hills Library Signage by Collider
The typography of this wayfinding system is quite special. I love how the type is angled. I want to be able to do that for something in the not so distant future.

Well-formed data » dbcounter – quick visual database stats_1247224998060

dbcounter – quick visual database stats
I’m putting this info in my things to remember pile.

how @CarinBerger changed my twitter process - collapse and delight_1247225006010

how @CarinBerger changed my twitter process
This process worked for her, maybe it will for you.

 walking berlin._1247225034455

walking berlin.
When’s the last time you saw a building get up and go for a walk?

Letter from AIGA’s incoming president — AIGA | the professional association for design_1247225045945

Letter from AIGA’s incoming president
It’s amazing to me that more incoming design organization presidents don’t write a simple letter explaining what they want to accomplish. It should be mandatory to have an outline like this. - sort of surprised airless tires haven’t hit it big..._1247225051694

Innovative Airless Tires by Michelin |
The tire that doesn’t run on air. I wonder of we really gain much from a design like this though?

In Pursuit of Elegance | Emotional Design Delivers Intangible Value_1247225062000

Emotional Design Delivers Intangible Value
I’m not a Pottery Barn shopper so I can’t vouch for their emotional design. But it does seem like an interesting process to consider.

 The New Practice of User-Centered Design, by Robert Fabricant - Core77_1247225074363

Tools of Engagement: The New Practice of User-Centered Design, by Robert Fabricant
Asking big questions, hard to know if the authour is right or not when we look back in a couple years.

Advertising Could Do With More of Bernbach's Genius - Advertising Age - Al Ries_1247225091273

Advertising Could Do With More of Bernbach’s Genius
I wonder if someone under thirty would write something like this?

'Le Tour' Rolls into Austin - Grids - SPD.ORG - Grids_1247225102660

‘Le Tour’ Rolls into Austin
I hope this show makes it’s way up to NYC. Looks fascinating.

Photographers » Blog Archive » My other pair of eyes and hands | Blogs |_1247225114394

My other pair of eyes and hands
One photographer’s experience shooting bike racing.

Italian Federation Calls For Redesign Of Pozzato's Jersey | Cyclingnews.com_1247225124208

Italian Federation calls for redesign of Pozzato’s jersey
Maybe they should have hired a real designer instead of having the cyclist design the shirt.

 Sarah Palin in spandex

JerkStrong How Lance Armstrong is like Sarah Palin.
Interesting connection between Lance and Sarah. There’s also some brand advice to be found in the post.

Molecular Voices » A lesson on (im)personal brand management from “LeVideotape” James_1247225151966

A lesson on (im)personal brand management from “LeVideotape” James
If this happens to be true—crazy…

FRANGRY - I love our president. (image via Yahoo News)_1247225130932

I love our president. (image via Yahoo News)

This photo could turn iconic.

KinoSport | Black Sun, Closet Plus_1247225138902

Black Sun, Closet Plus
I’m sure there’s a logically explanation for all these settings—but would you even want to guess?

My morning tweets—a different kind of file experiment

ok I'm officially tired just thinking about the energy @debbiemillman has, SVA in 2010 will have Masters of Professional Studies in Branding

NEW DEGREE FROM SCHOOL OF VISUAL ARTS BRIDGES BUSINESS, SCIENCE AND DESIGN MPS IN BRANDING OFFERED AT SVA IN FALL 2010 A new one-year advanced degree program focused on the intellectual link between leadership and creativity will be offered at the School of Visual Arts (SVA), New York City, beginning in the fall of 2010. The Masters of Professional Studies in Branding will examine the power of design thinking as a way to combine creative skills with problem-solving and decision-making processes. The department will be chaired by Debbie Millman, partner and president at Sterling Brands, who conceived the program withSteven Heller, a design historian, New York Times columnist, and co-chair of the MFA Design Department at SVA. From Apple to Starbucks, from Rachael Ray to Tiger Woods, corporations and individuals alike are immersed in brands,

finally out... RT @PSFK: Chris Anderson's book for free in audio MP3 file off the site: #free [Piers]


RT @nookaNOW: - nooka pop-up shop at den—consider yourselves invited, if not to the party, the shop is up 6 weeks


This morning I shot out a couple quick tweets within minutes of each other. They all were somewhat link intensive. For my own curiosity’s sake I wanted to put those tweets together and see what the related outgoing links in their native format looked like via screen shot. While all the tweets were related in that they were viewable online, one piece of info came via email, one was an mp3 file while the last was a jpg. All digital bits but different in their output. It’s easy to take digital for granted and lump everything together. However when a person takes a closer look at the file extension they’re not the same at all.

Citing search in a book when the content won’t be released


I’ve been slowly reading Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein in advance of the next UX Book Club: NYC later this month. I’m only a hundred pages in but it seems like a pretty decent book. While it isn’t a fast page turner I’d recommend it as something designers should read. It falls into that genre of Donald Norman kind of reading about human interactions.

The reason why I wanted to bring up the book is a curious poem that was omitted from the pages. The book’s authours tried to get the rights to be able to publish Smart by Shel Silverstein. They were denied access by the Silverstein’s estate. To get around not having the poem the book basically suggests googling “Smart” and “Shel Silverstein”. This is the first time I’ve come across a content strategy using search. The search did work and illustrates a murky online content world that people in the real world are going in two different directions with. On the one side there’s the book authours wanting to cite a poem, willing to pay for it and are denied. There’s an estate that wasn’t willing to part with the poem for their reasons and the words don’t make it back to print where it can be paid. However online the poem is there for anyone to read with no possible way of the estate being compensated. It’s a dilemma that I’m sure will be played out a lot more as methods of spreading ideas twirl around out there in the digital world.

REVIEW COPY: I Miss My Pencil by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson is a highly unusual design book in that it’s not just about the final product, it’s not about dry process and it’s not about trying to build a egocentric design legacy. Through all the modern day technologies of today like IM, email and face to face communication, Bone and Johnson work in parallel talking about projects that don’t yet exist. They use their discussions as starting points for experiments that in the end may or may not become products and may or may not be successful. For a number of topics they interviewed people they admired for what they do and used that information as another driving force to see what they could design. Those back and fourth communications are illustrated by different typefaces for both Bone and Johnson. To display the bursts of discussion their words are displayed like an IM talk would look like. Because there’s a relaxed nature to what they’re driving at, the reader almost feels like their being invited into an intimate discussion. The discussion doesn’t feel forced.

As they both authours work through issues together, their thinking skills are put on display. The buildup of ideas and how they work is incredibly valuable to anyone wanting to learn more about design process. While it’s easy to diagram a process in a linear manner, it rarely reflects how design actually comes to be. In this book they discard that type of diagram for a narrative that allows for unexpected results. Unexpected is probably not the right word, they had an idea in mind what they wanted to do, but their flow allowed them to explore ideas that normal commercial products might not allow. That knowledge in turn is helpful when working in the business reality. Another almost but not quite right term could be “play”. It’s exploration without constraining themselves by anyone else except themselves.

While Bone and Johnson have a great book in hand, it also is an example that any designer that wants to learn should try doing. The steps they go through could easily be replicated. All designer’s should be as curious as these two. There’s no reason why two friends couldn’t start off the same way that they did with an issue and work it through to completion—client or not. What I appreciated was that it didn’t seem like they tried to build themselves up as design superheroes, but as two designers working to challenge themselves through projects. Sometimes it didn’t turn out as hoped and sometimes it did.

As mentioned some of the starting points involved interviews with a number of people that they admired. They talked with a chef, a metal designer, a writer and a BDSM educator. There’s also some short anecdotes from a car maestro, photographer and sous-chef. Each of those people added a different layer of narrative that meshed nicely with the projects that were being made. It made the designs more about a human experience and not about an object that is going to collect dust. Another layer was that for each of the three overlapping themes of aisthetika, punk manufacturing and love+fetish they showed other designer’s examples that fit the categories. Of all of those ideas I was drawn to the Saturday watch by Peter Riering–Czekalla and the grass and test tube flowers called Bloom by Gregory Germe.

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

While the book is highly recommended from me there’s one example that I wished they had gone further with more exploration. There’s a two page spread of the deconstruction of the PB & J sandwich and cookies & milk. While the photos are great I would have been interested to read more about the whole thing. Did he serve them to anyone? Was there a reaction from those that tried it, did they believe that those things came from an oreo? I suppose there could be a hole book on common foods that have been deconstructed and built back up…

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

I Miss My Pencil, by Martin Bone and Kara Johnson

Most people that will read this book will probably not get to see any of the objects in person. While walking around IDEO for the book opening in New York I didn’t really put that together until I started reading the book. My favourite experience that was quite different seeing in person to reading about it in the book had to do with a camera. The camera was designed in reaction to a story written by Cory Doctorow titled Make it a Verb. In person I thought the outer shell was the lens. The shiny object was laid on its side and the large metal surface looked like a lens to me, though the fact that it wasn’t glass should have tipped me off. In any case it wasn’t until reading how the shape came to be and the fact that the photo showed the camera hanging from a ceiling that I noticed the small aperture on the side. It’s those types of experiences that are valuable to a designer. I could empathize with non designers looking at something for the first time, throwing my own sensibilities to something I’ve never seen before. It was a good learning lesson.

Title: I Miss My Pencil
Authour: Martin Bone and Kara Johnson
Publisher: Chronicle Books

Brewing the perfect coffee organically vs. systematically

Cuisinart and Bodum side by side
Coffee Taste Test

Bodum empty cup and filter

Coffee Taste Test

Cuisinart empty cup and filter

Coffee Taste Test

When it comes to coffee I’m very much for it. It’s what powers this blog for the most part. I write early in the morning and there’s always some warm goodness beside my keyboard. For the last couple of years I’ve been making coffee with one of those classic Bodum’s that sucks the water from the bottom to the top and brews itself naturally above, only to come back down as something good. The thing is, the bottom of the pot is starting to look like the ground outside in NYC. There’s a layer of sludge that probably isn’t that healthy.

While I love how the Bodum tastes because it keeps a lot of the impurities of the bean in liquid form, others have described the taste as unpleasant at best. Over the weekend I was subjected to a blind coffee taste test with my first love and a metal Cuisinart. Within one sip I could point out which was the better coffee. The difference was quite clear—literally. While the Bodum looked like a natural brew, the Cuisinart was pure black, no inconsistencies. Most people would see this as a plus but for me it felt like it sucked out some of the flavour.

It wasn’t until I had finished both cups that things got really interesting. The bottom residue reflected how things tasted. The Bodum’s bottom was very organic looking while the Cuisinart was very clean, systematic and predictable. Those bottoms reflected how the coffee tasted. Is it a cultural thing? Impurities make the flavour vs. the clean but loss of taste? I’m not sure, but I took it one step further. I was curious to see how the two filters compare to each other. No surprises, the filters reflected how the bottom of each cup looked and in turn influenced how things were tasting. While I don’t have much choice as the Bodum is going to be making an exit soon. I’m going to give the Cuisinart a week, taste the Bodum after seven days to see if my taste has adjusted or not. I don’t think my taste will adjust, I guess it will be mind of matter…

How do a few people find iPhone apps to buy?


With all the attention that the iPhone is getting because of OS3.0 and the new iPhone 3G S I thought it was a pretty good time to talk about the app buying experience. After viewing the pulsating live App Store Hyperwall at WWDC 2009 I was pretty mesmerized just like everyone else out there. It showed a real time view of what was being bought in relation to every other iPhone app. People were buying stuff all the time at an incredible rate. Watching that screen online I wondered how people were actually buying them. I’ve never bought an app directly from iTunes. It’s always been via word of mouth on a blog or tweet. To be honest I thought a lot of people were buying apps that way. I’ve always felt that iTunes could be a way better experience then it currently is. Browsing is painful—where to look? Search on the other hand isn’t so bad but it’s because I know exactly what I’m looking for. So yesterday I was going to do a simple post about how browsing isn’t that great and that most people buy iPhone apps from a third party. But before I released that post I thought I’d back up my theory via Twitter. I asked people how they bought their apps. I was pretty surprised with the response. Itunes search and browse was the majority and how I bought was in the minority.

While my survey was pretty unscientific it did give a quick impression. When I dug a bit deeper with the answers to iTunes, in part the reviews played a big part in whether someone bought an app or not. On the flip side of that people sometimes questioned the quality of the reviews and others complained that layout hindered the experience. So while people were using iTunes there’s a lot of room for design improvement. While the OS and Iphone keeps evolving perhaps a re look at iTunes is in order soon.

News on Banksy and Iran Elections


If you’ve been coming to my blog on a semi permanent basis you probably know that I’m the Design Director of Daylife. Daylife is an online news service that allows publishers to collect a lot of info of interesting topics on the web. One of the platform tools that we’ve been designing is called Daylife Select. Underneath that hood a publisher has a lot of tools available to to sculpt news that isn’t just comprised of one publisher, but as many as a reader wants. I figured I’d throw that out there before I mention my latest post.

At the moment I can’t think of two more interesting topics these days then Banksy and the Iran Elections. Keeping that in mind I made two pages that collect a lot of what’s being said on the news about those two things. However if you compare the pages side by side of tweaked the modules slightly. They’re both image intensive, however I moved some of the other text based elements around a bit to their strengths. Because news is fluid I’m planning to shift those news modules (articles, photos, tweets, videos and quotes) around depending on how the relevancy shifts over time.

If you’re curious about those two topics in the news, you can read and see Banksy at and the Iran Election at

Link Drop (6·12·09)

Link Drop Themes

It’s been a crazy blog week for me and because of that my Link Drop is three days overdue. The High Line opened which I was happy to experience first hand early in the week. Quite a few interesting blogs passed some nice traffic to me because of it, so I thought in return I’d compile those sites near the top of this post. I also got a lot of interesting response from my AIGA post, a significant amount coming via twitter which I thought was interesting. On top of all that, there was a lot of great stuff on the net. So adding that all up I finally can present last weeks Link Drop. See you back in a couple days…

Untitled Document_1244846073781

L’Observatoire International
If you get the opportunity to walk the High Line at night, these are the people responsible for the great lighting design. It was one of my favourite parts of the experience walking around that first night.

When the High Line Was for Lowlifes - BlackBook_1244846105152

When the High Line Was for Lowlifes
I can only imagine all the stories like this that abound from people and the High Line back in the day.

The High Line is Open! -- Social Design Notes_1244846117686

The High Line is Open!
There’s some good links about the High Line during it’s conception phase.

mental_floss Blog » The High Line_1244846139235

The High Line
There’s a great opening quote talking about the High Line and nice use of my photos that they asked about using before they published.

Bahntrasse mit neuer Funktion_1244846144923

Bahntrasse mit neuer Funktion
This has to be my new fav. site that passed on traffic to my site. My unique visits went through the roof after their post.


Happy to see a non design post associated with quips coming to my High Line post.

High Line open_1244846198886

High Line open
Quick post with reference links to some of the first High Line reviews, cool to be included.

High Line Opening Roundup - PSFK.com_1244846226106

High Line Opening Roundup
Nice to be included in the PSFK round up, too bad they spelled my last name incorrectly. Oh well, better than not being mentioned at all.

 Recap « Design for Service_1244846236350

SVA Service Design Lecture: Recap
Interesting observations about the talk I was at last week. They’ve included a couple people’s audio clips of the talk.

Books for Service Designers « Design for Service_1244846249726

Design for Service
Digging around the site of reading the review I found a good collection of books for anyone wanting to get more knowledge about Service Design.

Post TYPO Berlin 2009 – Making Amends With Mrs Eaves | The FontFeed_1244846288043

Post TYPO Berlin 2009 – Making Amends With Mrs Eaves
I’m not sure how I missed this video the first time around, but there’s some great footage and recap of a designer that is known for drawing type all over herself.

Hype for Type_1244846258262

Hype for Type
The person behind this site did all the right things to get the word out to the design blog sites out there. I might do an interview with them as they mentioned something kind of interesting about why they wanted to start the site in the email I got. They were “frustrated with the lack of quality and original typefaces within the design community.” I’d like to hear more about that from them.

rosa maria_1244846347788

rosa maria
I thought the image was a nice extension of those blocky letter forms out there at the moment.


Promax|BDA North America 2009 Conference
I’m hopefully going to be covering a couple of the talks for this conference next week. Are you planning to be there?


New Mingering Mike exhibition in Washington, DC opens this Saturday, 6/13
I’d love to see this somewhere in New York at some point in the not so distant future.

 he sees, he's a seer_1244846360165

he sees, he’s a seer
The idea has a lot of potential though I wish it did more then just use the Amazon api for suggestions. If only there was a real person behind this—or better yet a group of librarians to offer suggestions.

Kindle’s Not Working - PSFK.com_1244846366134

Kindle’s Not Working
I don’t have a Kindle and I’ve often wondered if it’s a bit overpriced considering a netbook doesn’t have any of the same limitations that Amazon has put on their machine.

 Guy #3_1244846374116

Guy #3
I thought the video was quite amazing, and better yet I don’t think it was staged.

 The New Negroponte Switch_1244846383987

The New Negroponte Switch
Good presentation to look at about stuff moving away from academic discourse and application of interactive ideas in the real world.

The Media Equation - In Media’s Hometown, Two Paths and Two Moods - NYTimes.com_1244846395071

In One City, Two Soirees Ages Apart
A contrast of a couple worlds inside NYC.

Apartment Therapy The Kitchn | More iPhone Apps for the Home Cook_1244846416137

More iPhone Apps for the Home Cook
If you’re into cooking and have an iPhone, you might want to give a couple of these apps a testing.

 Are you kidding me

Are you kidding me?
I thought the modularity and the unlimited number of sitting combinations to be kind of interesting. Too bad the price is kind of crazy. » The National Openings Through the Years_1244846701590

The National Openings Through the Years
This was quite a blast from the past for me. I remember seeing all of these from the CBC with the exception of the first video they show.

 The iPhone is our crystal ball | Digital Media - CNET News_1244846714229

IAC’s Diller: The iPhone is our crystal ball
Kind of telling about what one media person see’s the digital market heading…

In Tough Economy, New Survey Shows Design Professionals Use More Stock Photography to Cut Costs_1244846720256

In Tough Economy, New Survey Shows Design Professionals Use More Stock Photography to Cut Costs
Interesting survey that I was emailed.

AppleInsider | Apple stuns WWDC crowd with pulsating App Store hyperwall_1244846800123

Apple stuns WWDC crowd with pulsating App Store hyperwall
This is a pretty cool visualization of the apps being sold. Too bad itunes is a really bad experience in finding new apps. I think I’m going to do a blog post about that soon.


I discovered this neat site via twitter. Cool observations on what he does.


Fun with flash—something I don’t normally say…

W+K PORTLAND · Creative Dreams_1244846834380


I haven’t actually had time to read this, but it’s next on my hit list once I have five minutes to sit down.

Can Computer Nerds Save Journalism

Can Computer Nerds Save Journalism?
Another perspective on what needs to be done with journalism. Everyone has an opinion these days it seems. I wonder if anyone aside from journalists are actually reading these things.

Microsoft Biffs the Bing Logotype | blog.choppingblock.com_1244846852218

Microsoft Biffs the Bing Logotype
I liked this first person account of working at Microsoft as an intern and how there was actually good design going on, and how it kept getting killed. Relates to that awful Bing logo.

The Architecture Issue - Data Center Overload - NYTimes.com_1244846862178

Data Center Overload
The whole magazine issue is quite strong content wise, the redesign looks like it came from New York Magazine. Here’s one article from the Infrastructure issue.

+ HORT « PLUS and MINUS things_1244846894360

My friend has a great eye and mind for picking stuff to talk about.

Banksy's Bristol show - Thinking aloud_1244846906169

Banksy’s Bristol show
Banksy’s got a new show, would be interested to get my hands on the book if there was one. From some of the clips it looks like a lot of his stuff from NYC is on display from the pet store.

Asian Poses - The Definitive Guide to Asian Poses_1244846922334

Asian Poses
One of the more popular posts on twitter that I mentioned this week. Fun—no?

Power Issue 10 | design mind_1244846930046

design mind magazine the theme of POWER
Happy to say that I have my hands on the paper version of this, looking forward to reading what it has to say about Power.

 Interview with Anne Helmond_1244846936080

Interview with Anne Helmond
Good interview about blogging if you’re into that kind of thing.

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