Screen view and other observations from the SVA MFA Interaction Design Lecture Series last night

SVA MFA Interaction Design Lecture Series at White Rabbit Map

north side of white rabbitsouth side of white rabbit

(Left Image: North View) (Right Image: South View)

Last night (Wednesday Jan. 14th, 2009) I took in the third in a series of SVA MFA Interaction Design Lecture’s. The previous two lectures that I took in at White Rabbit were pretty good. I can’t say enough how much I like the idea of the series (though not the name DOT, DOT, DOT – isn’t there already a magazine called that?), not just for the people that are presenting but having SVA’s newest program getting a lot of those in the industry together in a low pressure setting to hang and talk. I’m not going to review the four the people that talked last night but instead mention a couple more conscious and unconscious things I noticed during the four presentations.

For the second talk I was a bit late in coming so I was stuck to the back of the talk. Unfortunately the sound was only coming from the front and there were a lot of people in front of me so it wasn’t the most engaging experience. It was my fault that I was late so I had no one to blame but myself. One of the simple yet smart things that the lecture series has done is send out an e-survey afterwards. For that survey I made a simple comment that those at the back couldn’t hear. So, I was really happy to see that they put a second screen in the back of the room with extra speakers. By doing that they really made the room a much better venue for everyone that was there to hear and see the talks.

I sketched out a quick map from memory that’s def. not to scale but it illustrates where I was in respect to everything going on. The images sort of help show my viewpoint though the image on the left looks worse then what I was actually able to see. What was interesting though, for the first of the four presenters more people were interested in looking in the direction of the speaker with less viewable space of both the screen and the speaker while they would have had an easier time looking to the back (north direction) screen. I’m still trying to decide whether that was a conscious or unconscious thing people were doing. For the subsequent speakers more people drifted their view position to the better viewpoint (north). Either way I thought it was a good fix and fascinating to observe that people at first still felt the need to look in the direction of the actual person talking even if their view wasn’t optimal.

Sketching out a blog post loop


Every once in a while I get the chance to take a look back on a how a post was created and the loop it made. One of those times last year was looking at how one sticker on the street started a lengthy bounce around on my different web outlets. This time around its more about visualizing the site posts that were combined to create my original post on Football and Chess (and design) and what that spawned. A couple days after I made the football and chess post I received a comment about another post talking about football (and design) that I should take a look at. From the other side with that football post that Scott Burnham wrote I suspect that he saw some traffic coming from my post. He then in turn posted about my post which I am now posting – quite the loop eh?

There’s nothing that extrodinary about my diagram aside from illustrating all the sites that were in play. What’s interesting to me is that if a intermediary had not made that original comment there would not have been any chance to build on what was started. And to take it one step back, if there had been no outlet for someone to comment on the first post I did I probably wouldn’t have seen Scott’s post. And if I had been completely freaked out by copyright laws I would never had reblogged the content that made up my first post. Hopefully by describing the process of where I got to this moment hasn’t totally confused you. If it has, just follow the above image as it’s showing the exact same thing simplified.

and on a seperate note, you might want to check out as it’s got a lot more posts and info about sportocracy…

on Football and Chess (and design)

on Football and Chess

A couple days ago I came across a great twitter comment from Geoff Manaugh of bldgblog in which he mentions “Football as a series of contradictory landscape strategies: analytic geometry. Competing ways of using a nd filling space.” I’m a fan of both North American football and soccer which I thought was apt for both sports. Then yesterday I came across another analogy, this time it was about chess and Bobby Fischer’s eulogy via Jason Kottke. Michael Paterniti wrote “This was the beauty of Bobby Fischer’s mind, even then. The boy made very clean, simple lines out of very complex problems, and when the trap was sprung, his style of chess became so transparent you could instantly recognize its brilliance: efficient, organic, wildly responsive and creative.”

I like combining stuff to see what I get, especially with quotes like above. Both of those excerpts are relatable to not only their respective sports but to the bigger picture of design from my pov. If you can follow me for a sec I’ll explain why. In Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design (Interactive Technologies) by Bill Buxton, he describes trigonometry (something that is fundamental to navigation) “more often than not they recast the problem in a different representation that simply side-steps the need for the task to be done”. In football it’s about moving ideas from point A to B by dealing with challenges, while in chess as Fischer illustrated, turning a complex process into something that was simple in it’s brilliance. Isn’t that what design is about?

Daylife Select Release

Daylife Topic Page Banksy Cropped

A couple weeks ago I mentioned the release of Daylife Select on the blog. This is an updated post following our latest release. I want to preface this a bit by mentioning that a lot of people at Daylife made the latest version at kicks some serious ass and I’m just one person that had a hand in it. This is coming from my pov and shouldn’t nec. be seen as official commentary in anyway. I’m just happy that it got released and that there’s some really cool stuff I want to mention… I couldn’t help but smile a bit as I watched the PSFK video of Good Ideas in 2009 in Digital as they pretty much talked about what Daylife can do already as an aggregate. So I might recommend listening to that video as you click around our Daylife Select.

Daylife Topic Page Photos Banksy Cropped

Daylife Photo Grid Banksy

Daylife Photo Detail Banksy

There’s a couple significant things that this release accomplished in my eyes, the site now is starting to have a personality (no more all white boxes), we’ve opened a lot more ways to view photos in the news, and we’ve been able to place quotes in context. There’s also a ton of backend improvements, but an engineer is better qualified to talk about that. I’ve used Banksy to illustrate of that Daylife Select can do. There’s the topic page that collects all the data that we can pull in via Headlines and articles, photos, videos, quotes, wikipedia and related topics. The topic page has four main tabs that collects each of those media types and a fifth that is an overview of everything. The photo tab now has a button that will now display all the images in a grid format that allows you to go through a ton of images really quickly. Once you find an image you want to see by itself it will go to a photo detail page, where you can see even more photos underneath.

Daylife Topic Page Quotes Banksy Cropped

Daylife Quote Detail In Context Banksy

One of my favourite features about Daylife Select is that it can pull quotes. I can get a glimpse of what a lot of people are saying quite quickly. Up until now you would click on the quote and it would send you off site. Now when you click on a quote it goes to a page that will allow you to read it in context and find more quotes of similar nature. The page needs a bit more design luv, but that will come soon enough.

Of course there’s more stuff coming up for Daylife Select, but until you can actually click to see it you’ll have to wait. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’d encourage you to click around and let me know what you think works and what doesn’t. Did something seem weird – that kind of info. As you can imagine the site is in constant growth and evolution mode.

Top 15 Albums of 2008 from Michael Surtees Visualized

Top 15 Albums of 2008 from Michael Surtees Visualized

Just like last year, I’ve thought it would be interesting for me to plot out my top albums for the year. I changed the data axis of the 2 x 2 grid as my music habits shifted quite a bit from 2007. I barely listened to internet radio from a real station and I didn’t bother listening to any music review podcasts from NYT. I can’t really pinpoint any one source for knowing what to buy aside from an assortment of music blogs. It was interesting to note that I bough almost every one of those albums via my iPhone for what it’s worth. I decided to swap that info with a subjective credible vs. embarrassing axis as we all can relate to not wanting to admit to everything we listen to. While I don’t know anything about how the music industry decides to release albums I was curious to see what months were more successful than others for my listening habits. The reason why I’ve chosen 15 albums and not 20 is that I couldn’t think of five more albums that I wanted to add. I don’t think there’s much more to add except that four of the top five are from the UK. Is there anything that I’m missing?

It might be a while before I have time to annotate each album like I did last year…

01. Portishead: Third
02. Elbow: The Seldom Seen Kid
02. The Streets: Everything Is Borrowed
04. Q-Tip: The Renaissance
05. Duffy: Rockferry
06. Helio Sequence: Keep Your Eyes Ahead
07. Wolf Parade: At Mount Zoomer
08. Magnetic Fields: Distortion
09. Kings of Leon: Only by the Night
10. Flying Lotus: Flying Lotus
11. Tv on the Radio: Dear Science
12. M83: Saturdays=Youth
13. Tricky: Knowledge West Boy
14. Girl Talk: Feed the Animals
15. Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III

Following News Online + Getting Information on the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks

news flow

For my own sake I thought it would be interesting to flow how I tend to get my news. Last week w/ the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks that changed slightly after I went to the exact news source on the ground and watched it live online on NDTV. One thing that I wasn’t expecting was by Saturday is that I just had to turn it off. It just became overwhelming.

My News Flow:
1. Twitter: It’s been like this for a while, anytime I find out about something really newsworthy first – it’s from Twitter.

2. Trusted Mainstream News Source: After I read something crazy on Twitter I’ll check to see if any real news sites are mentioning it.

3a. No News: If none of my news sources are mentioning anything I’ll go back to Twitter, do a search on on it and see what people are saying about a particular topic.

3b. Mentions Story: So the original story can be confirmed that I read on Twitter, I’ll take a look at what the trusted news source (and Daylife of course) has to say about the topic.

4a. Follow Links from Twitter: More likely than not, I can get more links via Twitter on subject than following trusted news source, plus they still haven’t mentioned anything yet.

4b. Read Story and from Other Trusted Sources: Try to read a bit about what other news sources are saying about the same topic

5. Watching NDTV Online: This is where things changed in regards to the Mumbai Terrorist Attacks. For the first couple of hours nothing was being mentioned online via the trusted mainstream news sources, there was a decent amount of news chatter, but to get details of what exactly was going on I watched it live online from Mumbai. What I noticed is that the reports that NDTV did would then be relayed to the mainstream sources in just about the same detail afterwards. I figured I might as well get it from the original source as opposed to second hand…

Link Drop for the Week Ending in Friday the 31st (October 2008)


For this Halloween edition of Link Drop™ you’ll notice that I tried my best to ignore that today is October 31st. With that out of the way this week is heavily influenced with what me and a lot of others at Daylife have been working on for some time. There’s two or three posts below that talk about what Daylife Select is, and how it’s going to change things once it’s rolled out next week. I’ll have a nice post about it after the switch has been flipped – but until then I’ll let others explain what it is. Whether it was intentional or not there’s a lot of other interactive stuff that’s also been included in this drop. And finally I think this was the biggest drop so far – I had to edit it down actually. Thanks to all those that sent me in stuff to look at. Enjoy your day and be sure to treat someone, tricks are for kids after all.

– m

About: “Antrepo Design Industry is a multi-disciplinary Design culture. Viral communication, printed matter, product design, interactive design. It derives its power from exciting and passionate design members who are actively contributing to the core of design. The antrepo team formed to create unique design ideas for forward-thinking clients. At the base of Antrepo are New formulas created by the Antrepo Team.”

Daylife Select « Upendra Shardanand_1225408944055Daylife Select
Upendra Shardanand wrote “I’m pretty lucky. I love the team here at Daylife – such a crazy concentration of talent and creativity (and a few quirks), no-nonsense, super thoughtful, and an endless source of amusement. And for the past few months they’ve been hard at work in the lab busting out our latest service, which launches today.”

Could Daylife solve the problem of profit vs contentCould Daylife solve the problem of profit vs content?
editorsweblog wrote “With shrinking newsrooms due to increasingly drastic budget cuts and a biting global economic environment, newspapers have been searching for a solution to the age-old problem of profit margins versus quality of product. A relatively new player is marketing a solution to this problem.”

How To Make News Cheaper - Forbes.com_1225409487656How To Make News Cheaper
Forbes wrote “Cheap content is on everyone’s mind, not just Helium’s. New York City start-up Daylife announced its own answer yesterday. It released a product for newspapers to create aggregated news and photo pages for their sites using an easy menu system. The site already works with newspapers like Gannet Co.’s USA Today and the Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J.,”

_1225409159452News, by Colour
About: “A look at how different colours appear in the news. This page contains articles and topics that are related to the idea of “colour”, while the blocks to the right will give an overview for each of the colours – articles mentioning the colour, the topics that are deemed relevant to that colour and quotes from…” 

 Meet the people behind John McCain and Barack Obama_1225409273036Behind the Candidates: Meet the people behind John McCain and Barack Obama
About: “Behind the Candidates is an interactive news site that addresses what we feel was lacking in most of the election coverage. While most buzz-worthy news stories focus on the presidential and vice presidential candidates themselves, we were surprised how little resources have been…”

Young Professionals Meet for a Power Breakfast, but They Don’t Call It Networking - NYTimes.com_1225408682127That Business Card Won’t Fly Here
NYT wrote “TO Erin Middleton, a 27-year-old brand strategist in Dallas, the word “networking” calls to mind “stodgy business types in suits,” who are “very uncomfortable and poor at engaging conversation,” she said in an e-mail message. Melissa Clark, an advertising account manager in Minneapolis, said there is “something smarmy” about the word. Peter Bihr, 28, a media consultant in Berlin, was even stronger in his denunciation…”

Merch Madness | CMJ Band T-Shirts - The Moment Blog - NYTimes.com_1225408636584Merch Madness | CMJ Band T-Shirts
themoment.blogs.nytimes wrote “This week, thousands of young, zealous music fans descended upon New York City for the 28th annual CMJ Music Marathon to see roughly 1,200 bands playing at over 75 sites across the city. The assortment of microgenres at this year’s confab — including world music noise, minimal techno, avant-garde metal and dancehall grime — was reflected in the multitude of well-designed band…”

 Famed Office Chair Shrinks Into Premium Snowboard Binding_1225408655932Famed Office Chair Shrinks Into Premium Snowboard Binding
Gizmodo wrote “The Aeron chair was the most famous office seat of all time, but we never expected it to show up in a Burton CO2 snowboard binding. Craziness? No, just look at the picture. The binding borrows the chair’s breathable webbing and strong Y support core, creating a lightweight and flexible structure that will run interested snowboarders $390…”

 NoahBrier.com_1225408665203On Predictions and Cruft
Noah Brier wrote “Some thoughts on how we understand the world, make decisions and keep patching things until they’re unrecognizable. – I recently watched Kevin Kelly’s great TED video on the next 5,000 days of the web and two things in it really struck me. First was Kelly’s assertion that man is an extension of technology, not vice versa…”

About: “Founded in November 2006, Shift is governed by an association comprised of four Basel organizations active in the fields of film, video, media art, and electronic music. Specifically: [] art and new media; sinus series, platform for electronic music; the videofilmtage Basel and the DVD magazine compiler.”

Picdit » Blog Archive » Interactive Mirror_1225408690180Interactive Mirror
Picdit wrote “Conceptualized by Alpay Kasal of Lit Studios and Sam Ewen of Interference Inc. Designed/constructed by Alpay Kasal. This is a patent pending touch capable mirror. The interactive mirror features proximity sensors, gesturing, and both nearfield and farfield infrared.”

Olimax - Possession 78 - Condensed Alphabet Shoot- Portrait Photography. Typography. Design_1225408724761Condensed Alphabet Shoot
About: “On 31st August 2008 about three-score participants gathered together at The Victoria, Mornington Terrace, London to have their portraits taken, based around letters of the alphabet. All this was accomplished over the course of one splendid Sunday afternoon…”

weather pattern » Blog Archive » What is the Role of the AnthropologistWhat is the Role of the Anthropologist?
Weather Pattern wrote “On Saturday, I got to hear Grant McCracken speak at the AIGA GAIN conference in New York. I documented that I was going to the talk in my usual way of writing a quick note in twitter, which gets dumped into my facebook status. “At AIGA, just heard Grant McCracken say…”

 Making Plans_1225408767050Making Plans
Archinect wrote “Often overlooked and recently playing supporting actor in the age of the section, the plan is ripe for rethinking. More recently, plan drawing has been absorbed into representation systems of mapping, diagramming, and indexing, therefore relegating plan drawings simply to plan-making.”

 the barbarian group_1225408961760It’s like I made it myself!
Robert Hodgin wrote “This was the New York City all my friends told me about and I finally got to see it with my own jaded eyes. But of all the experiences I had this last week, there is one that stands out. A single moment that made the rest of the week pale in comparison. It was the moment I realized Paul Smith owed me an apology.”

Lives - Facebook in a Crowd - NYTimes.com_1225408775937Facebook in a Crowd
NYT wrote “One day this past summer, I logged on to Facebook and realized that I was very close to having 700 online “friends.” Not bad, I thought to myself, absurdly proud of how many cyberpals, connections, acquaintances and even strangers I’d managed to sign up. But the number made me uneasy as well. I had just fallen out with a friend I’d spent a lot of time with…”

Atlas of Cyberspace_1225408783102Atlas of Cyberspace
About: “The Atlas of Cyberspace, by Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin, is the first comprehensive book to explore the spatial and visual nature of cyberspace and its infrastructure. It uses a user-friendly, approachable style to examine why cyberspace is being mapped. Full download version at

October Randomness | Michael Karnjanaprakorn_1225408791579October Randomness
Michael Karnjanaprakorn wrote “1. Nike “Fate” Commerical. Beautifully done! 2. Gmail Goggles (Thanks to Trumpet for finding this). According to the Gmail Labs blog, “Sometimes I send messages I shouldn’t send. Like the time I told that girl I had a crush on her over text message. Or the time I sent that late night email to my ex-girlfriend that we should get back together…”

E-sushi - Art et Design » Julien Vallee_1225408799008Julien Vallee
e-sushi wrote “Des travaux de qualités, un style très intéressant et original, c’est ce que nous présente Julien Vallée, directeur artistique canadien.”

Picture 22Plus+ International Design Expo
About: “The Plus International Design Festival is run by designers for designers; it serves as an emissary for the design profession, an advisor to business, and a champion for design education. Plus is a touchstone for the design community. The Festival is managed by Plus Expo Ltd a not-for-profit company based in Birmingham.”

About: “I collect bookmarks wherever I go, and have long been puzzling how best to keep track of them — and how, as well, to record what books they’ve been happily paired with (should they be so lucky). And so: this blog. –”

Design Glut - Home_1225408820049Design Glut
About: “ is a resource which tells the stories of how many creative businesses got their start. You don’t need magic. You may, however, need some inspiration and a little advice. See the interviews below.”

 Free Redistributable Rich Data Sets - – Gallery of Visualizations
About: “ We want to help make finding and combining datasets so easy that data mashups combining dozens or hundreds of different datasets become straightforward. We’re not there yet, but we’re intent on being part of the ecosystem that will make this possible. As a way of eating our own dogfood — and since finding beauty in rich information is what gets us out of bed each morning — we’re going to post the occasional exploration…”

About: “Nepotism is alive and well in Belgravia: the subject of our first real softcover is the BP’s proprietor, Raymond E. Biesinger. Within its 106 5×5″ pages are 100 B&W images from Biesinger’s archive, including pieces for the NY Times, Nylon, Vue, Monocle, etc. Boasting a spot-varnished cover, it’s of interest to any illustrator or fan.”

Picture 20*** Kids Vote 2008 ***
About: “The site gives students a medium to state their opinion about the two presidential candidates, and to submit a vote for one or the other. We are interested in showing how kids are perceiving the political process and how they view Obama and McCain. Their opinions are presented in an impartial manner…”

 When it comes to influence, bloggers beat friend lists | The Social - CNET News_1225408952650Study: When it comes to influence, bloggers beat friend lists
cnet wrote “Facebook likes to trumpet the value of “trusted referrals”–recommendations and ads with the endorsements of members of your friends list. But a new study from Jupiter Research, commissioned by analytics company BuzzLogic, says that consumer purchases are more likely to be influenced by what they read on a blog versus what their social-networking rosters recommend.”

About: “Flavorpill loves culture. We embrace the high-brow, low-brow, underground, mainstream, and everything in between — as long as it’s good. Every day, our editors comb through emails, websites, newspapers, and magazines in search of the must-see happenings in their cities — then they get off their computers and experience the events firsthand.”

Domainr, the domain search engine_1225408982829Domainr, the domain search engine
About: “There’s a whole world of domains out there—hundreds at the top-level and even more beyond—Domainr helps you explore them all. Some of our favorites are, and”

 Color Inspiration | The DesignO'Blog_1225409015758Just For Kicks: Color Inspiration
The DesignO’Blog wrote “As designers we are continually looking for inspiration to keep our design skills sharp. We can find inspiration in the strangest places. What better place to look for color inspiration than our own shoes? Think about it – if we pride ourselves on our ability to spot good design then this would carry out into our choice of footwear. I hope you enjoy this post. Thanks to everyone who participated!”

projectbueller wrote “On October 31st, we are recreating the parade scene from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at the Village Halloween Parade. This will involve tens of thousands of people breaking out into the world’s largest Beatles sing-a-long. We want the streets to erupt in joy and for it to be one of the greatest experiences of everyone’s lives…”

 UnBeige_1225409168150Forget Ringtones, Now Switch Up Your Cell Phone’s Font
UnBeige wrote “If you’re like us, you find your cell phone’s immutable display typeface blocky and depressing. Maybe it’s time to move to England! There you can avail yourself of FlipFont, a new service that offers downloadable, mobile-optimized fonts to replace the factory-installed default that kills your design mojo…”

 Everyday User Experience by alex rainert_1225409175093Obama ‘08 shows why he he gets it and how politics has truly changed
everyday UX wrote “I can’t say enough about how impressed I am with the Obama ‘08 iPhone app (iTunes link) that was released yesterday. The thoroughness and the polish really shows how a political process so often stuck in the past can really be revolutionized in 4 short years”

 purple fashion magazine_1225409182857purple fashion magazine
f&art wrote “purple fashion = goddess of fashion magazines and fortunately they now resell some of their out of stock back issues. Be quick and order your missing copy here – I aldready have them all…”

 The Street Art in Japan (グラフィティ) Pool_1225409190338Street Art in Japan (グラフィティ)
Flickr group: “A place to post photos of street art from Japan. Art from artists from Japan and around the world found on the streets of Japan. From Okinawa to Hokkaido.”

Big Think - We Are What You Think_1225408601212Big Think – We Are What You Think
About: “ is a new and growing website, currently in its beta version, with a simple mission: This is a digital age, one in which a wealth of accessible information empowers you, the citizen-consumer. But where is the information coming from? How accurate and unprocessed is it, really?…”

 Best of Ari Gold_1225449403722Best of Ari Gold
Day of the Dreamweavers wrote “This man is the only reason why I still watch Entourage (via TMBLG).”

 Space Invader Explains His New Binary Code Street Art- Part 1_1225408755942Space Invader Explains His New Binary Code Street Art- Part 1 and Part 2
From Wooster Collective


Will I ever be able to see MTA coloured routes on google maps?

NYC transit directions have arrived?

When I read from the Google blog that NYC transit directions have arrived, what I thought that meant was that I could actually see the MTA coloured lines on the map. No, apparently it’s like Hop Stop but on Google. Why, why, why is it so difficult for Google to place some helpful routes lines that a person could look at a glance as opposed to relying on someone typing in coordinates? Anyone that doesn’t know Brooklyn very well knows not to use that type of method b/c the directions aren’t exactly precise. If I could actually see the routes I could then make the choice myself as opposed to a computer that doesn’t know when a route closes or is out of service.

Why can’t I embed these to show their cool interactivity?

A Map of Olympic Medals

A Map of Olympic Medals

I’m really liking how the NYT’s Map of Olympic Medals is designed. Nice interactive features that show the medal count via geography and ranking. But as I took the screen shots to post on my blog it got me to think about how cool it would be if I could actually embed the who thing into my post like I can w/ videos from Youtube. Seems like a great idea to me, there could always be a link back to the original story. Do you think there’s any negative reason why embedding the original flash interactive piece wouldn’t be a good idea?

Play w/ the live map at

Did you like Clerks because of the dialogue?

Design by

I was clicking through a lot of links this morning when I came across the above gem. It wasn’t exactly easy to figure out who designed it though I think it was by Rich Watts. You can see a larger image of it on his site at The diagram itself is showing all the conversations that happened in the film Clerks. At a thumbnail level it takes some squinting to read everything, but the legend is as follows: “Each colored block represents one second in the movie with individual blocks grouped into rows of sixty seconds… The color of each block indicates the character speaking at that specific moment in time. Seconds with no active speaker are indicated by a split gray block and character lines containing profanity are indicated by white dots in the corresponding blocks”.

Unexpected Visualization Via Motion

Britain seen from the skies above

It’s really too bad that I can’t embed the video from the BBC series Britain seen from the skies above. The still images that I took and placed above don’t even come close showing how the BBC has used satellite tracking and computing to show how things flow in real time. The info dance comes via sea, land and air though the British chatter scene is quite fascinating too. All British phone conversations for a day are shown from where the conversation started and ended. There’s a lot of information visualization out there, most of it is pretty to look at however it’s a bit shallow. It doesn’t really help show information in a new light. The BBC series looks to do just do that, show things that a lot of people really haven’t seen. I really hope this series makes it across to the BBC America channel or at least more clips are released – the motion is pretty amazing. See the video at

People interpreting news events and information

Search terms after Earthquake Rattles Southern California Jul 29, 2008

For a couple hours yesterday when people were wondering about news about the earthquake in California, Google Hot Trends showed a list of their top searches. Click HERE for a larger version of the image. Less than 6 or 7 search terms out of 100 didn’t relate to the earthquake which meant that over 90% of what people wanted more info about at the same time was related to the earthquake. I don’t follow search terms that much but from time to time I’ll see small clusters on trends that relate – but nothing like that. If anything a listing like that shows how people interpret news for themselves – no single keyword, but how the events relate to their own personal motivation. In some respects it’s an information architects worst nightmare, but tons of opportunities for interaction design to deliver how people want more info on a topic.

Visualize your delicious tags in a cool way

top 50 tags from / Michael_Surtees /  by Michael Surtees

I luv visualization tools – you’ll luv too if you have a delicious account. The above image illustrates my top 50 tags from The site has a really nice and simple nav to make modifications to how you want to display the results. Go figure that design is my biggest tag…

How Do You Like Your Type?

Text Prefs

Ampersanderson passed me on an ingenious example of a site to fill out a survey question. Text Prefs is a really simple straightforward site in which your asked what your type preferences are. You’re given a number of options to decide how you like to read type on screen. As simple as it is to fill out, it’s actually a really smart way to package a number of questions into a simple and fun framework. When was the last time you filled out info in a “fun” way. Once you’ve set up your type it’s finished. Once the survey closes they’ll be emailing the info out – looking forward to seeing the results.

Raymond Biesinger flow-charted history of Edmonton bands

Raymond Biesinger flow-charted history of Edmonton bands

Raymond Biesinger Chart (small)

The talented illustrator Raymond Biesinger has created a fascinating 16 lane chart that covers Edmonton’s (Alberta, Canada) music scene between 1956 through today in 2008. While I wasn’t much of a gig person while living in Edmonton, it’s really interesting to see how long bands lasted, merged and contracted over time. You can see the ever expanding chart at I’d also check out his normal site at for work he’s done with Monocle, Fast Company, and Saturday’s Financial Times Weekend magazine…

New York City Subway Diagram 2008 by Vignelli Designs, Inc. for Sale

New York City Subway Diagram 2008


If I didn’t have a lot of other more pressing things to buy, I would seriously considering getting the New York City Subway Diagram 2008 by Vignelli Designs, Inc. for $300. If you’re interested in the limited edition poster check it out at the Condé Nast Store. There’s also a quick blurb about the poster and more detailed images at

via Design Observer

Turning a Data Visualisation Blogs List into a Feed Site

visual n. Any graphic representation such as a chart, picture, diagram, graph, etc.

Random Etc. - Data Visualisation Blogs You Might Not Know About

A couple days ago I mentioned a site that started compiling Data Visualisation Blogs You Might Not Know About. This morning as I was going through my referral sites that came to me I noticed a similar site but taken it another level. At has taken that original list, grabbed feeds from each of the sites and has collected the links from each of the sites last three posts. I’m not a huge rss feed reader kind of person (I still open a lot of sites via tabs), but I could see myself going back to this site as it’s not a ton of sites and I visit a lot of them anyways – now I’ll know when there’s something new. There’s a minor issue of attribution that I think is missing. It would be nice if the site mentioned where the original list came from – I’m assuming that the site was for personal usage, but on the net pretty much everything is public.

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

Design and the Elastic Mind

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

youtube video via information aesthetics

Attending MIND08: The Design and the Elastic Mind Symposium


Blog posts will be kind of slow tomorrow b/c I’ll be hanging out at MIND08: The Design and the Elastic Mind Symposium. However as long as I have a decent cell connection and my iPhone battery lasts I will be sending quick txt bursts to my twitter account at I’m not too sure what to expect but I’m pretty interested to see how it turns out.

My review of the symposium can now be viewed at

Keeping Track of You


morale-o-meter 2

morale-o-meter 3

A couple weeks back I was have tea w/ Jack Cheng and he mentioned how he was keeping track and organizing things in work and life. One site that he mentioned was Morale-O-Meter, a simple way of keeping track of a number of personal related things. There’s a number of categories ranging from health, moral to the amount of caffeine you take. You rate each of those items on a scale from one through ten. After saving the numbers it creates a bar graph of that day and compares it with the rest of your days via another graph. I’ve only been using it for a couple days so my chart isn’t that telling just yet, but I could see over weeks and months how the data would show interesting trends. Another great feature is that you can opt in to have an email reminder to fill in your information from the previous day. Also contained in that email is some “fun”, it picks out one persons chart that seems of the scale which is kind of interesting in itself. If I had one complaint it would be that sometimes it’s a bit buggy – I’m guessing that when a lot of people are on the site loading information at the same time it will not allow me to log in. If I hit refresh a couple times the server error goes away. Not a big deal but if you go to the site and it doesn’t seem to work you’ll at least know to just hit refresh. Make your own chart at

Learning about Reuters Labs

Reuters Labs - Home

Nic Fulton

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

The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) have cleaned up the frontend of their site

Society of Graphic Designers of Canada finally has had a facelift

I’m happy to mention here on DesignNotes that the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC) has redesigned their frontend of the site at Thanks to Mark Busse and Christina Peressini for the heads up. Unfortunately the redesign is three years late in coming and while there’s some great new additions GDC National has stood still for too long. The fact that local chapters had to create their own blogs and a number of Facebook groups speak to how people are unwilling to wait for a top down mentality. I say this as a former GDC member (Chapter Student Rep, Chapter VP of Education, Chapter President and for a brief period National VP of Communications) who unfortunately left b/c of the laisser faire attitude within National. So please keep that in mind as you read the remainder of this post.

If there’s one huge improvement to the site, it’s their homepage b/c it now looks like there’s some activity. There isn’t a time stamp to mention when new information is posted though hopefully it was just an oversight and not intentionally done. I say that only b/c if they don’t have new content they might not want to advertise how old it is. The other big improvement in my eyes is that they have recognized the need to communicate to members and the world in a efficient manner. I hope this is how they will use their blog functionality. The way the blog is currently set up I’m not too sure if they entirely know how it is going to be used. The posts that they have are chronologically set up backwards and it’s not entirely apparent who is actually posting. When it comes to posting information that members think are important to other members I would be all for giving every GDC member the opportunity to post. If you’ve passed the test to become a member you understand the responsibility of sending appropriate information. I may have missed it but I don’t see tags associated with the posts. Tagging the posts would make it easy to filter posts with user preferences. But their biggest error is that the blog nor any other part of the site is RSS feed friendly. When sites like FriendFeed or Facebook live on streaming information it makes you wonder why that wasn’t considered.

When I was the chapter President for Alberta North a couple years ago I found it incredibly frustrating to update my information as both a personal member and Chapter President with the cms provided. I can only guess if the cms has been improved. I’ve been a member of AIGA NY since my move to New York and have noticed how easy it is to update and find information on their current site. One thing that I noticed right away going from Chapter to Chapter on the GDC site is that there isn’t really a way to find out who the Chapter Executive is in a timely manner. They’re the people that run the real show and should be the face, not the static template.

I’m currently reading a review copy of the book Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. In the upcoming weeks I’ll be posting a number of quotes and eventually a review. One quote that may put things into perspective with the laisser faire attitude of the older GDC set is this. “Our electronic networks are enabling novel forms of collective action, enabling the creation of collaborative groups that are larger and more distributed than at any other time in history. The scope of work that can be done by non institutional groups is a profound challenge to the status quo”. These networks are already exist in Canada and have left the National part of the GDC behind. That’s why I mentioned above how I think the new GDC site was years behind in execution. I still have the out most respect for the local chapters trying to do what they can with their limited resources. I hope that the new site can invigorate the fact that they are the only relevant spoke-people about Graphic Design in Canada and build further momentum that may have not been as good as it could have been for the last couple of years.

Daylife Redesign Part One

Daylife: A New Way to Explore the World

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

Line length

nyt twitter

While it’s still debatable if twitter is still more of a time waster than not, I do have to admire how people have taken a simple idea and modified it to their needs. Recently I started following a bunch of feeds from the NYT on twitter. Bare with me as I list them all off – a general nytimes, nyt_books, nyt_arts, nyt_food, nyt_world, nyt_style, nyt_metro. That in itself isn’t that significant but what is more interesting from my own personal use is that when some of those stories are sent out I’m clicking more so then if I was on the homepage of NYT. I used to visit the parts of NYT that showed what was most popular and most emailed articles. Now the headlines are more important to me then usage patterns of others. The other thing that I find interesting from a visual design side is that these headlines are devoid of any enhancement from a designer. It’s as default as a headline can be.

3 Sites That Had Me Thinking

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

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

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

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

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

Are you what you buy?

Low Fi/ Hi Fi

As different as Kate Bingaman-Burt of Obsessive Consumption and Burak Arikan with mypocket are in how they express their personal spending habits, it’s kind of fun to see how similar people just are. Kate draws her purchases while Burak tracks his information with a keyboard and code. Both forms of tracking take discipline to recognize patterns that may or may not be apparent. Doesn’t it make you just want to do something similar if you could figure out what you would want to track personally. A new month is almost here – there’s no time like the present to start.

My Top 20 Albums of 2007 Visualized

Top 20 Albums of 2007 from Michael Surtees Visualized

The great thing about year end lists in music is that chances are you’ll find something that you missed through out the year. The album that I found (or so I think as I’ve only been able to hear one or two songs from) was Roisin Murphy’s Overpowered that I found via Refinery29. Too bad it’s an import that I haven’t been able to find yet. But I digress, the other thing about music lists is that there’s a lot of them out there. So to make my list more interesting to myself I decided to see what the patterns of my choices would show me. I decided a 2 x 2 grid would give me some options to visualize my listening habits via time and two sources that I used a lot through out the year. This was the year that I started to get tired of KEXP’s playlist and started listening a lot more to a station in Minnesota (of all places). Maybe my tastes are mellowing a bit, but I really like listening to Minnesota Public Radio’s the Current. I also like listening to the NYT Music Popcast, I knew that there was a number of albums that I bought after their reviews. So I was interested in how everything over the year would compare.

1. The National: Boxer
As the saying goes, “those who like it, like it a lot”.

2. M.I.A.: Kala
Posters do work, I had no idea that M.I.A. had a new album out until I saw this poster on a wall. Curious I went to iTunes, listened to some of the tracks – liked what I heard and thought that the visuals corresponded pretty well with the music. When was the last time both music and visuals were on the same path?

3. Panda Bear: Person Pitch
Don’t buy this album from your iPhone – I did and it took three days. I suspect that the file sizes (on average 15 mb) had something to do with it. Tech issues aside this album is different like M.I.A.’s but in an acoustic way.

4A. Cam’ron: Public Enemy # 1 Part 1
4B. Cam’ron: Public Enemy # 1 Part 2
This was the only free as in really free album on the list – download a copy at Yes it’s a hip hop album, but I felt listening to this guy that he had something to say as opposed to bragging about talking. There’s a underlying tension that makes the album sound like he would would rather get something out the door rushed/unpolished as opposed to never getting the album out, and for this double album lends to making it sound authentic.

5. Feist: The Reminder
I truly wished that Feist wasn’t featured on an Apple commercial though ironically as many times as I’ve heard that song on tv I rarely skip over it when I’m listening to it through my headphones. You probably have the album too so you know why it’s on most people’s top music lists.

6. Dinosaur Jr: Beyond
When my friend Chet passed on this album to me I would have been surprised at the time to hear that I would have it on my top music list at the end of the year. The thing is/was, I almost always never skip on song from this album when it comes on. Go figure…

7. The Arcade Fire: Neon Bible
I’m surprised that this album hasn’t been featured on more of people’s lists, though the trend it seems that albums released in the second half of the year have a better chance b/c they’re still on people’s minds. Neon Bible was out in January I think, perfect timing for a tour, just not for a list. But each song is pretty strong – kind of sad I missed them live.

8. Maps: We Can Create
A consistent moody album.

9. Chromeo: Fancy Footwork
Very fancy indeed – a nice album to listen to if you’re feeling bit down b/c I doubt you’ll be in that mood when you’re done hearing it.

10. Sea Wolf: Leaves In the River
I’m still undecided if I’ll like this album a year from now, but for the time being it’s got a good vibe.

11. Alicia Keys: As I Am
This is probably not an album that I would go out of my way to tell people to buy, but it’s very tight as a package. Every element has been considered and considered very well.

12. Pela: Anytown Graffiti
Nice but not great album, maybe trying to hard.

13. Lupe Fiasco: Lupe Fiasco’s the Cool
The biggest difference between this album and Cam’ron’s is that this feels like a hip hop studio album vs a guy that’s pissed off enough that he’s got some stuff to get of his chest. Both are appropriate, but it also looses something when you have too many people telling you what to do which is what this album starts to feel like.

14. Justice: Cross
I don’t think there’s a better album to power walk to with in NYC in small doses. After a while it feels repetitive and predictable.

15. Peter Bjorn And John: Writer’s Block
There’s nothing really bad about this album though it seems like half the album has been featured in tv commercials. The difference between Feist and them, I didn’t want to hear the song after I saw it pushing something.

16. VHS Or BETA: Bring On the Comets
This another album that I’m not sure if I’m going to like a year from now.

17. Project Pat: Walkin’ Bank Roll
This is the only album on iTunes that you can buy through singles only – I hope more artists don’t start doing this cause it gets expensive. I like the rawness of the flow through out.

18. Radiohead: In Rainbows
I seriously hate the hype that Radiohead is getting for their business model so this album almost automatically gets thrown to the bottom of my list. I also noticed that I rarely listened to an entire track.

19. Architecture In Helsinki: Places Like This
I’m not sure why this is so far down on my list.

20. Of Montreal: Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
I don’t listen to this album a lot, though I suspect if I did I would have placed it higher on the list.

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