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This week I thought I go with quantity and quality for Link Drop Contextd and leave the commentary short and sweet and let the site titles speak for themselves. Considering how much I enjoy football and that it’s the super bowl this weekend, I’m surprised that I didn’t come across that many related links. I’m also surprised that I didn’t mention one related link about Twitter. Till next week or blog post, ciao…
QuickPost 2: Super Bowl Ad Live-Blog.
Interesting concept, kind of interested to read the commentary once things get to the fourth quarter and many beers have been drank. Too bad it’s not open to anyone commenting…
Haven’t had a chance to read all of this info, but it looks like a great reference none the less
I got tired of staring at my white blog so I decided to make a slight tweak to it. How it came about is kind of interesting. I’ve always found it hard to read Adam Greenfield’s blog Speedbird. Not b/c of the content, but b/c it’s white type reversed on black. I used to be cool with such things, but now I find it a bit troublesome. Last week I had seen him speak and I was motivated again to see what he was talking about on his blog. I just didn’t have the patience to read the white type so I took a screen shot of it and inverted the colours in photoshop. The black turned to a light gray which I kind of liked. So I took that light gray and made it the background colour for DesignNotes. If you’ve been following DesignNotes for a while, or perhaps if you’re new – do you find the light gray background easier on the eyes, does it help make it more readable? That kind of feedback is valuable. The next thing on the punch list is to make my headlines slightly more distinct. They’re fading into the tag’s and I think there’s a hierarchy issue. The css is a bit of a bitch but I’ll hopefully have that worked out soon enough. OK, title modifications have been made – confusion over what’s the title should be over ( :
As I’m focusing more on quality vs quantity it’s interesting to see how smaller patterns emerge after a weeks worth of filtering. This week seemed to be a combo of ux, tech and ideas – not a huge departure from most of my Link Drop Contextd’s I realize. What is different again is the format. Still tweaking it a bit. Aside from the size of images and format the colour is also slightly different. I’ll be posting about that later today. Until then happy Friday clicking.
Flowing Data put together a visualization of tweets around the time of Obama’s inauguration. Really fascinating to watch the spikes leading up to and after 12 noon on the 20th of January 2009.
I really like the idea behind the modules of Bug Labs, this post is a good starting point to click off a bunch of links that look at opening up the user experience as they move forward.
I was underwhelmed by the options at the last Triennial at the Cooper-Hewitt among many other things (like no cameras to photograph design stuff – it’s not art after all). I’m not sure how the vetting process happened last time, this time they’ve opened up the nominations which makes me very happy. If you think something should be nominated you now have the opportunity. You can also view what has already been nominated and by who. Great transparency, let’s just hope when the open the exhibition a person can take photos for their own private use…
I’ve walked through this exhibition at the MoMA a couple times though I haven’t paid that much attention to it aside from photographing it. Next time I’ll be taking a closer look.
I’m not a huge fan of micro sites (or flash), this one maybe shouldn’t even be categorized as such anyways – but, it’s a really informative site on what to pair cheese with. Next time I buy some cheese I’ll be keeping this site in mind with what I want to drink with it.
I liked how they broke down how forum discussions tend to flow. But the better info they present is in the form of a question about how to follow a twitter discussion.
I was kind of skeptical if people would even submit photos to cnn to have them stitched together. Looks like some people are and the visuals is kind of cool. I think the ui is slightly jittery but as a first attempt it’s pretty cool.
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 www.sportsbabel.net as it’s got a lot more posts and info about sportocracy…
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?
For the past month I’ve been adding sites (and commentary) to Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals under the name MST. I have to admit that I did feel a bit of pressure to submit as their audience is pretty big and discerning. I tried to keep the same mantra that I use for my own Link Drops which is to present stuff that I find interesting that’s just slightly outside the norm for a design blog. The only difference being for Fresh Signals was that I put out a reason d’etre with each link so it had some context. While posting there I decided to leave those links out of my own Link Drop so I could do this post which collected them all. As always I was curious to see how the links would fit together organically afterwards. And as I mentioned with my final link, thank you Steve and Coudal Partners for the opportunity of dropping some stuff.
Wednesday December 3rd
How hard could it be to recount ballots? Apparently not as easy as it sounds as Minnesota Public radio has shown with examples. Plus you can vote for what you think the voter’s intent was. Via Graphpaper.
There’s at least 25 ways to blog, and to think I thought there was only one way.
Thursday December 4th
It’s not the first greatest hits of 2008 list and it definitely won’t be the last, but here’s a review of Last.fm’s ‘Best of 2008’.
Monday December 8th
From one of the most iconic photos of the Great Depression (Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange), one of the children reminisces about how her Mom felt about having the image taken. Via design:related
Pirates vs. Ninjas: Who would win? Google has figured it out.
Wanting to take a look back so I can figure out how to proceed with 2009, I grabbed a bunch of notable posts that I thought were worth spending a bit more time with. Below each image I’ve made a note now that I’ve had some time away from each of the original posts. Here’s to the new year and thanks for visiting, and linking and commenting and…
This seemed like a great idea at the time, trade my shuffle with someone else and hear some new music. I ended up trading but due to my own business it took way too long to trade back with her. I learned my lesson – anyone else want to try trading?
I wanted to combine some of my photography with a listing of location. Another idea with good intentions, problem was it took a lot of time to map it out and I had no way of exporting the data offline if I wanted to. So after a while I stopped posting to that map.
This was before things really took off with Obama, I had seen the Hope graphic floating around the web but this was the first image I saw of it actually on the streets. A while after that post someone mailed me a couple of the posters. That was a very good day.
There was an interesting discussion after I posted this – unfortunately when I installed Disqus after the fact that comment stayed in the old database of comments. In effect the person was objecting to the commercialization of the idea of the Ghost Bike. At the time I was pretty much on the opposite side thinking that a company shouldn’t have to worry about worry such things. As I’ve walked a lot through the city and seen those white bikes out there, that person may have been correct with their objections.
This project is still going on for a couple weeks, but the number of people that saw it and contacted me after this post was quite amazing. Not sure where this project will end up but up until now it’s been interesting to watch it grow.
There was three events that were sort of art, sort of design that I really enjoyed seeing. One was MoMA’s Design and Elastic Mind Exhibition, Murakami at the Brooklyn Museum and Buckminster Fuller at the Whitney. I would have luved to have blogged more about the last two exhibitions but since they don’t allow photography inside I’ll just mention that it’s a stupid policy that will hurt them more than what it will help. Banksy’s installations would be up there too in really good things to have seen now that I think about it.
Just like the Frietag instruction booklet I mentioned above, Camper’s shoes are a product that other designers should want to strive for. They are perfect for the weather of NYC and never wear out. There’s only two brands of shoes that I buy, Camper and Giraudon.
There’s a lot of really smart stuff in this book. In my top 3 of things to read, and more interestingly I don’t think this book will date itself as much as some of the others along the same genre that came out this year.
For all the chatter of sites that tagged brands, I think Dear Adobe changed the game more so than any other UGC site. If I was wanting to study site concepts for company’s, this is where I would start. And no, Adobe didn’t design the site.
With one day left till Xmas I thought it was a good time to say thanks to all of you that took the time to read one of my posts, made a comment (even the not so nice ones, those keep me on my toes), posted a link from a different site back to DesignNotes or just passed on my site to someone else. I kind of feel I’ve been on a bit of a roll the last couple of months which has made this tough year a lot easier to experience. Hopefully things weren’t too crazy for you and everything that you want in 2009 will happen.
I’d be surprised if you didn’t know about Coudal Partners’ Fresh Signals so I’ll save you the time explaining what it is. What I would like to mention though is that I’m helping out for the month of December as a guest editor (code name: mst). Their list of past guest editors is quite impressive so I’m happy to be in such company. I’m also happy to help out a site that’s sent a lot of link luv my way in the past. I’m not sure how this will affect my Link Drop this Friday, I guess I’ll have to figure that out at some point…
While I don’t think the above quote “Print is never messy. The city and blogs are.” is 100% accurate, it does make me feel a bit better about the nature of the publishing machine that is the blog. Last night I was having a couple drinks w/ a friend when we started talking about magazines and blogs. She mentioned that one of the blessings and curses of magazines is that they take months to develop so there’s actual time to construct out a well thought argument, where as for me I wake up, have some coffee, hit some keys mentioning something and then press the publish button – all in about an hour. And then I move on to the next thing in a timely manner. With magazines it’s really hard now to be cutting edge. What’s interesting now is not what was interesting when the issue first was being conceived.
I found the above quote from the email newsletter of www.tropolism.com. They make an interesting argument talking about the NYT’s review of Frank Gehry’s addition/reorganization of the Art Gallery of Ontario is not really being served well w/ the photos accompanying the review. In the article it mentions how the building is integrated in the surrounding urban environment, however none of the photos show that suggests Tropolism. Part of the problem was that some images were supplied by the architect while others were taken before the article had been fully developed. Why not have the writer or photographer go back to fill in the areas where the images can actually illustrate what he’s talking about? In the end online editions of the old print medium will constrain themselves b/c they’re not messy, like the city and the blogs out there.
It doesn’t look like tropolism has a link to that text that was in the email, however if it does go online I’ll include the link…
Photo came from Jody Sugrue’s iphone in Toronto, type set over image by moi…
If you follow design online and have a Facebook account chances are pretty decent that you might have joined the Design Observer Facebook group. A majority of the Facebook groups that I’ve joined in the past haven’t been revisited that many times afterwards. However if something newsworthy was coming from a group I’d get an email to keep me in the loop which was fairly unobtrusive. But if you have a website it makes sense to have a Facebook group – I would never had thought this was a good idea, but from my experience w/ Ten15am has changed that. The Ten15am Facebook group has sent a decent amount of traffic to the regular site plus again it allows some informal communication. I’ll be honest that my opinion changed somewhat of Design Observer when they did start a group – it felt like they were trying to open up, being more inclusive. Maybe they were loosening up a bit.
I can’t think of another design site that is so polarizing as Design Observer – there’s the haters, the moderates and the suck up’s. One scenario is that no matter what Design Observer does, some will hate it and be happy to say so. Then there are those on the complete flip side that seem to have lost any sense of constructive rationality and would rather do nothing more than kiss some Design Observer arse. And then there are those that find themselves somewhere in between that – they find the site annoying some days and other days kind of interesting. I bring this all up b/c if you have a Facebook account and were a member of of the Design Observer Group you were getting a lot of urgent emails asking to vote for Design Observer for People’s Design Award yesterday. When I woke up yesterday morning to see the number of emails I got from them I was pretty pissed off. I don’t mind getting one or two messages asking for my vote (sorry but I had voted for twitter already), but it wasn’t intrusive. But when it got to five or six I thought wtf, they’re either ramming it down my throat that I should vote for them (which actually brings up another issue about online votes – can it really be democratic or whoever has the biggest email list wins) or there was some sort of error with it being sent out a lot. When it comes to online rage from designer’s the first thing to go is a sense of perspective.
At first I tried ignoring all the emails, but they kept coming. I had to put a stop to it so I sent an email asking what was up – I wanted to know if this was on purpose or not. The obvious thing would have been to go to the actual Design Observer Facebook page but I didn’t. I sent my email and left it at that, and then I got more emails which pushed me to actually going to the site to see what the hell was going on. Apparently I wasn’t the only one that was having some issues getting the mass spam. Part of me wanted to just quit that group and perhaps delete Design Observer from my bookmarks. But I didn’t b/c I wanted to see how the situation was going to be handled. If I quit the group I wouldn’t have been able to see how this wrong was going to be righted. To Bill’s credit he did return my email in a timely manner and I was satisfied w/ his response about the error. He also did mention what had happened a couple times to the wall of the group. If I’m reading the reasoning correctly, the mass of emails being sent was due to an error of the send button – Facebook couldn’t handle the scale so when the send button kept being hit it was returning as an error – which wasn’t true b/c the email did send. If you send an email to someone and it doesn’t work what do you do? You hit send again. What surprises me is that in this case Facebook failed big time. There was no recourse for the user which for this situation was Design Observer until people started screaming pretty loudly.
What’s worse – send out one more email explaining the mistake or just posting something on the wall trying to explain what had happened. Going back to my experience of being irritated and not bothering at first to go to the group I think one more email explaining what had happened might have helped. Online reputation is a huge thing that I think about, not so much personally but from a business perspective. There are so many things vying for my attention that if you don’t make a sign up useful or start abusing trust people just don’t come back. If you’ve had a bad experience people don’t forget – while it’s too soon I think Facebook really burned Design Observer quite badly. It also opens up a lot of questions about online voting that I mentioned above and why they were sending out. One friend wrote through email to me that they have “no shortage of work, no shortage of visibility, no shortage of opportunity, no shortage of awards.” While I can’t speak for that person I wonder if those issues would have been brought up if Design Observer had only sent one email during the whole campaign.
There’s a couple lessons that I take away from this whole Facebook spamming blow up. It’s best to have two mailing lists – one that has real email addresses and the other that is from Facebook accounts. When sending out a message it should be understood that people might be getting the same message twice – realize this and make sure you recognize somehow in the content that you realize that you might be giving the same message out twice. If you’re group is a couple thousand people and an error happens, maybe don’t keep hitting the send button. Give it a couple hours (if possible) before hitting the send button again. If you piss someone off and they send you an email about the spam issue – respond within a reasonable amount of time about what happened. If something really bad does happen, try to make it up somehow.
One of the topics that came up while I was having lunch last week w/ Swissmiss was our systems for checking stuff out on the web. For me one of the ways of getting around using an rss feed reader which I deplore is to use tabs. For me I bookmark blogs and place them in folders in Firefox that then become tabs that I can open. What that means is that within a couple minutes I can open between 35 – 60 blogs and sites. In the past on DesignNotes I’ve gone over why I don’t like rss feed readers so I won’t bore you with the explanation aside from the fact that rss feed readers make reading blogs seem like a never ending chore. My tab method is as follows. I’ve named them M1, M1B, M2 etc… the M1 is a bunch of blogs that I check out quite often during the day and as the folder numbers progress the less I check them out. The last folder (M5) is for new blogs and sites that I’m checking out. It’s a test phase to see whether after a couple weeks if they’ll make the cut to be placed in one of the other folders.
Why bother reading blogs anyways? There’s a couple reasons for me, first off I want to learn what other people are observing and how they’re thinking – after all I want to take those ideas, make them better and implement them somehow soon. It’s also for content for Link Drop that I’ve been working on for the past couple of months. As the diagram notes, there’s a systematic flow to how I find sites for Link Drop and what I do with the other sites.
The main sources outside of my own tabs is from people mentioning stuff on twitter and from the occasional friend via IM. What has changed from a year or two is that I don’t find that much new stuff on flickr. One guess is that a lot of that content has migrated to FFFFFFFFFFFFound. Inside my tabs there’s very few sites that come from FFFFFFFFFFFFound and believe it or not – tumblr. While I don’t ignore some of the people that use those sites I try to stay from it as a crowd. They’re kind of like business marketing books – everyone is looking at them so the chances of finding something that is unique is diminished by the mass popularity of the services.
Do you have a different method of finding great stuff on the web that isn’t via rss feed readers?
When it comes to the topic of Jill Greenberg on her action w/ the Atlantic Monthly I have no idea what to link to. There are so many posts and comments that it would take me a month to read everything and post the relevant stuff. Up until now it’s been pretty easy for me to find something about a topic and link back to a “source”. With her actions there’s been so much commentary about it that it’s not easy to figure out one encompassing site. If you’ve been following her actions what would you have linked to?
Where did August go, it seems like only a week or two ago it was July and I was complaining about how I wasn’t doing too well under the NYC humidity. I’m now back from vacation, walking to work and didn’t feel any effects of the summer weather I’m still trying to get used to. Not sure if it was subconscious or not but there’s a lot of architecture influenced stuff that caught my attention this week w/ the Link Drop. Advertising and tech play supporting roles. I think summer unofficially comes to a close after this weekend, so make the most of it as you chill.
“We need a daily dose of typography. Typography that speaks, reminds, connects and dwells in our lives. They are looking for a place to live in your life.”
The One Train
“Daniella Zalcman is an insufferable shutterbug who can always be found carrying at least one and sometimes as many as four cameras simultaneously, depending on her spirits. Sometimes, she thinks she sees the world more clearly through a lens than she does through her own eyes, which are terribly nearsighted and not very useful anyway.”
Our Fave 20 Design Blogs
[east coast Architecture review] EXCERPT: “Earlier this year we set out to promote our favorite Top 10 Urbanism Blogs that we feature in our sidebars. In the spirit of our first review, our second centers on Design blogs. So what where our metrics for selection? The blogs are ranked in the order in which our editor finds them to be most relevant to design, their visual appeal, and by the frequency in which they are updated. In the event of a tie, we selected our favorite reads first. Some of the blogs will be easily recognizable, while others may be a bit more obscure but well worth your exploration. Of course, this is a highly subjective list and we welcome any comments or suggestions for blogs that are not featured here or elsewhere on our site.”
[Bunnehmunches] EXCERPT: “Nice concept of a designer’s workstation from International Designer’s Workstation Competition 2008. I actually like work tables minimal and wide like this.”
How Ethical is Ethical?
[Weatherpattern] EXCERPT: “Even though I haven’t posted much recently (sorry for that, especially when I got some nice links, Thanks Noah. Frontstudio.) I have been thinking a lot about the ethics of design. One post from Rob Walker’s murketing blog that has kept with me, which I’m finally able to post. Walker mentions luggage companies trying to design an airport security friendly laptop bag. Anyone who travels with a laptop knows the pain of having to take out the computer to be x-rayed. What was most interesting was an aside he made:”
Top 10 Architects who are not Architects
[(incli)NATION] EXCERPT: “Got this email this morning; ‘Arthur Erickson…Canada’s most famous architect and the first to put Canadian architecture on the world map.’ is no longer allowed to call himself an architect because he will not take the 18 required hours of continuing ed. every year to certify him as such. Hilarious, if it wasn’t so absurd and it made me think of all the influential ‘architects’ in modern history who had no formal architectural training. Here is my first-pass at a top ten list. I’m sure I missed many more so shout-out your favorite non-architects and we’ll get a top 100 list going…”
80 percent of Facebook users still using old site design
[Valleywag] EXCERPT: “Four out of five Facebook users have yet to move to a redesigned version of the site which launched earlier this summer. It’s an overwhelming rejection of a project that was said to be Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “baby.” A Facebook flack tried to put a positive spin on the stat: “Around 20 percent of our users have now migrated to the new platform and it has been received well after people get used to it.””
Buckminster Fuller Symposium
Visionary designer, philosopher, poet, inventor, engineer, and advocate of sustainability, Buckminster Fuller was one of the great transdisciplinary thinkers of the last century with a legacy that extends to nearly every field of the arts and sciences. This symposium takes its cue from Fuller’s dictum, “I always say to myself, what is the most important thing we can think about at this extraordinary moment,” and explores the diverse ways in which contemporary scholars and practitioners are pushing Fuller’s ideas and projects into the 21st century.
‘Gossip’ Guy Hates Snotty Billboards
[New York Magazine] EXCERPT: “The CW has been promoting the second season of Gossip Girl, which begins on September 1, with irony-laden ads quoting outraged reviews of the show. (“‘Very bad for you’ —The San Diego Union-Tribune”; “‘Mind-blowingly inappropriate’ —Parents Television Council.”) But the show’s creator, Josh Schwartz, doesn’t like how the ads come across, “using other people’s displeasure as a compliment.” In fact, it makes him feel “weird.””
AMC Asks Twitter to Remove ‘Mad Men’ Accounts
[Adrants] EXCERPT: “AMC didn’t take too kindly to the onslaught of Mad Men characters appearing on Twitter and sent a Digital Millenium Copyright Act take down notice asking Twitter to remove @Don_Draper and @PeggyOlsen. The accounts are currently suspended. There are other accounts on Twitter for the Mad Men characters Roger Sterling, Pete Campbell, Joan Holloway, Paul Kinsey, Sal Romano, Bertram Cooper and Bobbie Barrett. Many are still active though @joan_halloway has recently been suspended as well.”
Around The Twitterverse: The Irony of The Mad Men Tweet Scandal
[three minds organic] EXCERPT: “The Twitterverse was a-twitter yesterday due to AMC issuing take down notices to a series of fan-created accounts for the characters of their hit series Mad Men. When the accounts went up a few months ago, the characters were embraced by Twitter users, who probably skew on the side of an advertising/marketing/consulting tech-savvy audience. They didn’t care whether they represented AMC or not. No, this was a new and exciting form of fan-fiction.”
An Architect Unshackled by Limits of the Real World
[NYT] EXCERPT: “These are lonely times for Lebbeus Woods. In the early 1990s this irreverent New York architect produced a series of dark and moody renderings that made him a cult figure among students and academics. Foreboding images of bombed-out cities populated by strange, parasitic structures, they seemed to portray a world in a perpetual state of war, one in which the architect’s task was to create safe houses for society’s outcasts.”
“Opentape is a free, open-source package that lets you make and host your own mixtapes on the web. Upload songs (via web or FTP), reorder, rename, customize the style, and share what you like on other sites with an embeddable player.”
Density, via the Weaire-Phelan structure, the Holbæk Kasba and the Monaco House
[City of Sound] EXCERPT: “Many of you will have enjoyed the work of the Bjarke Ingels Group aka BIG, and their indefatigable leader, Bjarke Ingels. On a recent trip to Melbourne, for the International Design Festival, Ingels was interviewed on Triple R’s The Architects recently and was a breath of fresh Danish air.”
FROM GRAPHIC SUBJECT TO GRAPHIC OBJECT
“This exhibition shows contemporary practices of graphic design around a common theme, object. When graphic design is released by the command and starts evolving by itself, the issue is the relationship they have with private space (at home) and public space (at everyone). The graphical object is not a design object. It doesn’t serve a purpose but offers multiple uses.”
Writing Without Words
“Writing Without Words is a project that explores methods of visually representing text and visualises the differences in writing styles of various authors.”
The Myth of the Undecided Voter
[The Frontal Cortex] EXCERPT: “I’ve often suspected (based on a highly unsystematic series of conversations with classic New Hampshire independents) that most undecided voters are really just low-information voters, who have actually made a decision but don’t quite know how to explain their decision. If you prod, you’ll typically find that they’re “leaning” in one direction or another, or that they “like” one candidate a little bit more, but they can’t articulate the reasons behind their choice. As a result, the bias remains mostly subterranean: they don’t know what they really believe.”
David Byrne Bike Racks Go From Sketch to Reality
[Gothamist] EXCERPT: “Is there anything this city won’t do for renaissance man David Byrne? The former Talking Head has been helping out with the DOT’s search for new bike rack designs, and recently got inspired to sketch some imaginary bike racks named for New York neighborhoods and locations. Then, voila; David’s dream is manifest, as he explains on his blog: “To my surprise, [the DOT] responded by saying, ‘If you make these we’ll put them up.’ Holy Moses! I was over the moon — what happened to the legendary red tape and years of bureaucratic haggling I was supposed to go through?””
Just got passed on a great site of some type people that I haven’t come across before (though that’s not saying a lot.) Darden Studio has a lot of great work and blog to look at, they’re also passing on the wealth w/ one free typeface called Birra Stout. Download Birra Stout at www.dardenstudio.com/typefaces/birra_stout and their site at www.dardenstudio.com
I also thought that parts of their colophon were worth repeating here: The soundtrack has always played a role in our design process. During development, we listened to a lot of NPR, and the energetic offerings of Ella Fitzgerald, the Magnetic Fields, ‘N Sync, Def Leppard, Jellyfish, Paul Anka, Ryan Paris, Future Bible Heroes, Regina Spektor, Neil Finn, Christina Aguilera, Johnny Cash, Suroît, Ragan Fox, Elvis Presley, Elliot Smith, ABBA, Eartha Kitt, Fannypack, the Black Eyed Peas, Tom Thumb and the Latter Day Saints, and The Misfits significantly aided the shaping of this website.
Our tools: Our toolbox contains Apple computers, Hewlett-Packard printers, Fontographer, FontLab, Python, Yojimbo, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, TextWrangler, MetricsMachine, Superpolator, and SubEthaEdit; our desk drawers are always stocked with Staedtler Mars erasers, Pilot v5 pens, Sanford 2B drafting pencils, and lots of Post-Its.
It’s been a while since the last time I took a step back to think about why I blog, but more importantly considered what I’m learning from it and hopefully figure out where I want to take it next. While I’ve been considering those questions for a while it wasn’t until I meet Amrita Chandra of Tinku Gallery yesterday over drinks that I thought it might make a relevant post for today. In terms of learning one skill that isn’t hard to understand yet not always considered at first is how to read your blog stats. Let me preface that by mentioning that if you only care about the blogs that send you a lot of traffic vs. those that might only send you a couple hits you’re making an error. You should consider the idea of the long tail, but more importantly those couple hits are sending you traffic b/c they value your content. I also find it intriguing on how people are getting to my site, what is being clicked, the search keywords and a guesstimate of who they are. I’d like to think that having those answers don’t influence my content that much and it’s just cerebral value for me.
Let’s face it, a lot of blogs aren’t that pretty to read yet hold our attention b/c of the content. The template I’ve been using has ben tweaked on a weekly basis b/c I’m not yet happy with it. Most of it is subtle stuff, but I’m always curious to see how things change click wise after I change something. Probably the most visable example is my Friday Link Drop. Every week the content has been displayed slightly different to make it better. I’m almost happy with how it’s being displayed – now I just wish there was a faster way to code it. It’s a fairly time consuming process to hand code the Link Drop. But the payoff is that my design for some of the other sections of the blog are going to change from what I’ve learned with updating the Link Drop week after week. While the tendency to have everything perfect when a blog starts is noble – I think it has the potential to make things tight, overly designed and in the end not as fluid as it could be. If you can’t experiment on a blog – where can you? I also find that I lot of these little experiments find their way into the real design work that I do – just implemented by code people that know what they’re doing with a crazy amount of databases.
Another concept that is super obvious about blogs yet kind of is taking for granted is data flow. I’m talking about the summation’s of posts of the blog. Try not to gag when I mention synergy, but each blog posts is good but when combined with all other posts it makes a really compelling reflection on what’s going on. That concept is really hard to grasp outside of the microsites that will never update their content. It also interesting to be able to understand the difference between a post page and the home page of a blog. By far the biggest frustration I have w/ my blog is the post page. I hate it, there’s so much I want to do w/ it around creating relations to other designNotes pages and the tagging is a little screwed up visually. When I actually find the right person to help me w/ creating a wp template from the ground up, the drive to fix those irratations is what’s going to make the design.
Up until know I’ve just been blabbing about the technical stuff – never mind the actual content. There is no possible way that you can’t improve as a writer or person that wants to think about stuff more by living it everyday. While I always enjoy the comments I sometimes hope to get more dissenters. Not b/c I’m looking for a fight but if I throw some ideas out there and it’s all I know and someone can offer me another perspective I’ve just gained some insight that I otherwise would never have had. I also think it’s a mistake to see blogs as just a digital thing. By the time I leave from my vacation from Toronto I will have meet a handful of people that I would never have known if it wasn’t for the blog. While my trip still would have been enjoyable for other reasons I would hate to think of the missed connections if I had never started this thing. I’m also getting to the point where something kind of interesting is happening a couple times a week b/c of the blog. While I wouldn’t classify them so much as opportunities, I do feel like the conversations that happen outside DesignNotes with me is very intriguing. Again that’s stuff that would never would have happened if I hadn’t started things a couple years ago.
I’m sill thinking about what I want to do next here. It’s a pretty open opportunity to do what ever I want w/ out anyone saying no you can’t do that. Let me end this convo like I usually do when I mention my own blog, start a blog and start it today. You can only gain from the experience.
When I came across the above quote “I really appreciate that they create original photographs to accompany each of their posts, rather than simply copying images from elsewhere” from the blog Uppercase a couple days ago, it put something into words that I had been thinking about for a while. A lot of design blogs are kind of the same in part b/c people are 1. talking about the same stuff, but 2. using the same images. Some of those design blog issues I’ve mentioned before at DesignNotes but within the context of blogs and photos it’s worth exploring more. For the most part I agree with the Uppercase quote – I try to do the same thing here. Whenever I can take the opportunity to make my own image I will. But it’s not a black and white issue. Any time I do a Friday Link Drop I try to always give a screen capture of what someone is going to see if they click on the link. It wouldn’t be appropriate otherwise. Other times it just makes sense to show what is already out there. The other big issue for me is where to host the images I use for a post – whether I’ve taken it or not. A couple years ago I just uploaded the files via the blog upload tool – but one day I accidentally deleted that folder and my images were gone. If you go deep into the DesignNotes archives and see an image missing – that’s why. Soon after that to safeguard a mass delete I started hosting all my images on flickr. It’s a tricky balancing act b/c I want to make clear what I’ve taken and what is someone else’s work, and in almost every case I’m using that image to send it to the said person’s site. If anything, I would encourage people to shoot their own images if they can which in turn will make their blog more about their own POV as opposed to a coming off as a pr memo. Any thoughts?
A couple days ago my site (DesignNotes) went down for a day. I could tell what time things went down b/c my stats stopped bringing in numbers. For the first couple hours I wasn’t that irritated b/c from time to time isp’s go down and there’s a lag. With that said by mid afternoon my irritation scaled. By the evening when things still weren’t back to normal I started going through some of the regular channels of digital communication. I was complaining via twitter (when their site was actually working) via my status in facebook. I considered posting a pic on flickr but had to actually use my time more wisely. In the end things got fixed and I’m happy again.
There’s a couple reasons why I put the quote above up. While designNotes was down, I had most of the data backed up though I’m not sure if I could figure out myself how to re instate it on another blog. I have an active imagination – part of me during the evening when things were down thought about some of the what ifs. What if my url designnotes.info wasn’t going to work anymore, what if all my blog posts were gone forever, what if i wake up tomorrow and figure out how I’m going to post? Some of the questions were a bigger deal than others, but still they were all important to me.
The biggest of the issues was the what if I had lost all my blog post content. I consoled myself by watching a lot of Top Chef, something that I only recently started watching. What made me feel slightly better is seeing myself as a chef. You create something and then it’s gone. All that is left is the experience. You use your skills, put something out there and at the end of the meal you hope the person is better off than before. The food can’t be save indefinitely. Not being a chef but assuming that of you are one you don’t feel a huge sense of loss at the end of the day when people have eaten your food and realize that the exact same thing might not be replicated the exact same way again. You have confidence that you can re create what you’ve done tomorrow and the next day. While I will try to keep all my posts together for a long time, if something horrible happens I know when I wake up the day after that I start again.
That brings me to my second point. If designNotes.info has stayed down I had a number of options to start creating new content. The quick and dirty way would have been to throw something up on to tumblr, post a link on twitter, facebook, put on image on flickr and if the content of the post was really important send out an email to the people I think should see the post.
I also considered that for the stuff that I’ve written and has been reblogged elsewhere, the content wasn’t lost. I could go search for those posts and bring it back to my next site. It would also be an interesting way to reedit my content. Only the best stuff that others took would be the site…
Why this all connects to the quote is that it’s really important to have all the content that you care about in a number of places. If it can not be duplicated you better trust the source holder. If you don’t make sure you have backups. Of course backups can also copied and distributed elsewhere, but I think that issue is best left for another post.
Well it’s been almost a week without me mentioning anything about my New York City Colour Study so today is the perfect time to mention another unexpected result of starting the project. I’ve become friends w/ some amazing people, tried things I wouldn’t have considered previously and started other groups that will lead to new opportunities. Todays unexpected connection came via the eat/drink/design blog Kitsune Noir. Bobby took a number of my sky images and connected it to the Yo La Tengo song Today Is the Day. I was thrilled to read and see something that I started and changed to fit the needs of someone else. Check out his post and the music at http://kitsunenoir.com/blog/2008/05/14/today-is-the-day/
I’ve noticed a small but noticeable trend in some of the blogs I’m drifting towards. The thing is that I’m not always reading them though they look fascinating. For these blogs deal w/ design though I’m not sure what the text is saying. Those blogs are coming from other languages that I really have no idea how to read. But honestly they more then make up for the language difference w/ the way they display their content and show really cool things that I’m not likely to see in design blogs from North America. I’ve taken screen captures of three such blogs that have been making my visual environment on the design blogosphere better.
There’s still a couple bugs and other css issues to work out in the next week, but for the most part I’m happy with the updated template that I’m now going to use for DesignNotes. I wanted to open it up from the previous design that I was using. I’ll also be doing a lot of sidebar work in the upcoming months and wanted it to be white as I do that. The biggest issue that I could see as a problem currently is how someone is to comment. To do that you have to click on the title of the post – so I might try to fix that. If there’s anything that looks really weird or makes your reading experience not as good as it once was – please email me or post a comment about it. Regular blog posts will follow…
After being reminded of NYT’s article Putting Your Best Cyberface Forward, reading Ad Age’s My Own Personal Branding Problem and realizing that I haven’t changed my digital avatar in a long, long time I thought it might be an appropriate time. It was also mentioned to me that I have my image everywhere which I had never really considered in terms of different social networks out there. Last night a fluke event happened where a co-worker was playing w/ my camera so I got out of character and asked him to shoot – it was going to be all or nothing. I wasn’t going to ask him to take five, ten or twenty shots to find the “one”. In the end it was ok enough to start as a replacement avatar. After opening a lot of different applications it became slightly daunting when I looked at all the different sizes and formats. Interested for comparisons sake I started collecting all the sizes this morning. I’m not sure what the above image is supposed to suggest, but from a branding perspective it takes more time then I thought to rebrand just one image.
At first I wasn’t too sure how to take the post from Slant Six Creative’s blog post stop taking advice. In the post it suggests that reading too many blogs will drive you crazy, and within that context DesignNotes is mentioned along with a couple others. There’s one maxim where no press is bad press, but I also was wondering after reading it if that means that there’s one less person about to read about my observations. So I deferred to a friend to find out what she thought. Thankfully she thought it was actually quite a good post. The thing that surprised me about the original post was the premise that I’m giving advice. When I started this blog many years ago it was in reaction to what Neal was actually writing about. I was tired of reading about others giving advice and it was just a chance to get my thoughts out for me to learn from. So it’s a bit of a surprise to come full circle to some degree. While it is extremely flattering to be seen in that way, what I would agree with is to “Spend some time instead developing your own ways of solving problems. Get out there without really knowing what you’re doing and start making mistakes.” The quick and dirty way is to start a blog, or to take some photos or to write consistently. That way you have something to use as a benchmark for progress as you move forward.
Recently I was passed on a link from electricArtists who were mentioning the launch of the Awearness Blog, a project that they did for Kenneth Cole Productions. A couple days before that I discovered Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Blog that’s published on the Los Angeles Times site. It’s interesting to compare the two sites on the basis of the names behind the two sites and to consider the motivation for the blogs. The Awearness Blog has the advantage of a number of contributers while Kareem’s blog is essentially written by one person.
Another advantage that the Awearness blog has is that it’s specifically designed for four categories (Hard Times, Political Landscape, Social Rights, Well Being) while Kareem’s blog has to deal with a fairly strict LAT template – his categories (Black History, Books, Education, Football, Music, On the Rebound, physical fitness, Politics, Skyhook, Sports) were at the bottom of the right page was a bit tough to find. Aside from the problem of finding all the categories it does have one advantage – if Awearness wants to add another category it’s not going to fit on the top of the banner.
There’s as many reasons to have a blog as there are blogs out there and they all measure success differently. I haven’t read every post from either blog so it’s unfair to compare the content post for post. Most blogs tend to last if they can make it past the hundred day mark. If they still have something relevant to say after that point readers are more likely to keep up with it. Both blogs are fairly new so it will be interesting to see how time shapes the content.
Since the new year I’ve started a couple personal projects to keep my eyes active. Now that I work in SoHo I walk to that area almost everyday from my apartment that’s in the garment/midtown area. I walk by a lot of cool looking stickers – it’s hard not to look at for the sake of interest. I started to collect these stickers by shooting them with my iPhone and sending them to my tumblr site called Copywronged at http://copywronged.tumblr.com. After a couple of days of that I thought it would be interesting to map out the locations of where these stickers were at. It’s an incredibly easy thing to do and gives me a chance to play as a mobile blogger. But with a lot of these online projects they have unexpected bursts of exploration/learning.
The above diagram illustrates one such case. I had taken the motobus sticker one morning after being stopped by this little character on the sidewalk. What the original photo didn’t show was that the sticker was framed by a hugs circular tube in metal. The contrast in scale was quite jarring. Along with sending my sticker photos to Copywronged I also store them on flickr so I can tag them. It wasn’t until a flickr contact had mentioned the name of the sticker in the comment area that I was able to tag it appropriately.
The blog look, party people! is run by the person behind the sticker motobus and uses the blog as place to keep track of the sticker in it’s various forms from different cities and the responses they elicit. One way this person finds the sticker taken by other people is through tags on flickr. That’s how the person found my photo of the sticker and ended up checking out Copywronged. They then went to DesignNotes in which has my contact information. So long story short the person contacted me about some photo information. It was a fairly simple communication’s loop though would never had happened if for not a couple of chance events that I mentioned above. The person also relies on word of mouth, little cards she’s made with the blog address, and chance encounters. What’s the lesson to be learned here? Take some pictures and tag’em and do something with it!
I started a new mobile blog called Copywronged yesterday to capture some of the more interesting phrases that are out there that I see as I walk by. You can check it out at www.copywronged.tumblr.com I’m not sure what this blog will lead to, but it should be fun to document how people try to get people’s attention.
Suggesting that the last year has been quite the ride would be an understatement. I like using the time between Christmas and New Year’s as a chance to look back over the last year and set some goals for the new one. Around this time last year there was no way to predict the ups and downs that would follow for me. Somehow I survived everything and I can’t wait to see what happens next. It really is crazy how fast a year can go. Part of the reason why DesignNotes exists for me is to capture those things that keep me interested and a chance to look back at it as an archive. What I didn’t expect was how much I would learn from others that spent time on DesignNotes and posted a comment or sent me an email about a particular topic or idea. In the new year I might slow down a bit with posting everyday and spend more time discussing points that people make over here. The one thing that bothered me was that I didn’t talk more to what people commented on. On a different note I’d also like to mention how cool it was to see DesignNotes placed on a lot of new blogrolls this year. Thanks so much. I hope that I can pay back the favour with updating my list in the new year. So with today being the last day of 2007 I hope that you make the most of the next one. Please keep me updated, after all we’re not a bunch of bots but people interested in what’s going on.
The image above is the typical view that I have in the morning as I jot down things for DesignNotes in NYC…
Comparing how I integrated blogging with other websites only a couple months ago to what I’m doing now with my iPhone – it’s evolved more then I would have first thought. There’s a number of reasons for this. Part of it has to do with me using more platforms to tell my story. Previously it was just flickr and delicious that I would use to integrate content that I created. A number of new sites have come into the fold for me now; facebook, virb (you’ll notice that friends in facebook and virb are quite different – maybe that’s worth a post in itself…), twitter and Tumblr. I use each of those other sites differently and for different period of times of course. What has me most excited is the quick mobile posts that I can now do with Tumblr via my iPhone.
To this point I haven’t really posted anything that noteworthy to Tumblr. Just simple observations when I’m away from my computer. It’s as simple as taking a picture with my iPhone and emailing it to my Tumblr address with the body of the content written in the subject line. It’s the immediacy plus the simple idea that a message noteworthy enough can be typed in a subject line. I do plan at some point to have my Tumblr feed be readable at DesignNotes as a side bar column – but that’s a little ways off.
The other thing that I noticed about my new diagram is how all the different platforms can feed into each other. My blog posts from DesignNotes and my flickr photos can feed into Virb, twitter can be read in facebook, and with a simple rss I can send feeds anywhere else that I want to. It makes a crazy loop that makes my content very universal. People that wouldn’t normally see my photos from flickr might catch them on Virb or Facebook as an example. What this manages to do is build a base of curious people that have their own way of finding content.
I’ve been trying a difficult dance between sending images from my iPhone to flickr that would then find their way on to DesignNotes as a post. For whatever reason flickr and wordpress are not talking to each other from my site when I press flickr’s blog button. But now looking back at it, wordpress is probably not the best platform for when I want to do a quick mobile post. That’s where Tumblr comes into play. It’s another tool to post info on to the web. For almost a week I’ve been experimenting with sending images and a quick message from my iPone to a brother site of DesignNotes – called DesignNotes Part Deux. I like it a lot. It’s simple, the back end is as editable as my tech skills allow it to be and it gives me a different voice from some of the other platforms that I use.
To the point of different platforms I drew a map of all the different ways I’m connecting information. I’ll be going more in depth about what that all means to me, but the quick synopsis is that each of those platform points gives me a slightly different voice as pieces but helps me explore a lot of venues for communication (which is a big part of design). In the short term DesignNotes and DesignNotes Part Deux will be seperate. In the not so distant future I will be sending a feed to each other that will create an interesting feedback loop of information. I also plan to post to each while not at the expense of the other.
What is the appropriate blog response once a person has published a post? It’s something I think about everyday. For quite a while I really didn’t have to think about such dilemmas, the comments weren’t that steady. But now there’s a couple new things to think about each day and I feel bad that I don’t say more about any particular issue in public. Part of the problem is that I don’t want to come off as saying the same “thanks” for responding to my post comment after each person, though I feel as though if someone has taken the time to say something, I should probably come back with something else. The thing is, that there’s hardly enough time to just put up a post that I want to mention, never mind responding. From time to time I’ll send an email out to the person that has written, but now I feel as though I’m taking the easy way out by not responding. I’m still about a week behind in my emails, and I don’t want to discourage people from mentioning things – I just hope that my silence isn’t seen as not an action of reading what else is being said…
Ask a designer about their opinion on just about anything and they’ll have a response. Ask a simple aesthetic question to a civilian about whether they like something or not, you’ll no doubt get an answer. The thing is though, almost everyone forgets after the design has been executed that there was an original brief, usually a process of give and take with the client, and then there’s also the x factor that all influence the outcome. Everyone has an opinion on the new taxis in NYC, but there’s a lot of elements and questions that kind of make it an interesting exercise to talk about. I’m actually surprised it’s taken a couple weeks for the opinions of the NYC Taxi to take off. I don’t think the talk really got off the ground until the NYT blog post http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/nyc-taxi-logo/ There’s even a template to design your own taxi logo.
One of the first questions is does there even need to be a Taxi logo? UPS is brown, a taxi is yellow – why not leave it at that? This is just a guess, but I’m assuming the Taxi logo will also be used on websites, paper documentation and other peripheral materials. Having a stripe of yellow isn’t probably going to work. So even if everyone recognizes the yellowness of the taxi there still needs to be an identifying mark. I don’t know the history of the the elements “NYC” and Taxi are. The “NYC” part of the mark started making an appearance earlier this year on banners like this.
The one thing that really stood out to me about the NYC part of the logo was how my eye identifies the shape from the bottom up, not the other way around. A simple type exercise is that if you cut the bottom half of a word horizontally, typically there’s enough strokes from the word to be able to read it. You read from top to bottom. But as I mention for whatever reason, whenever a taxi has passed me by, I’m reading from bottom to top.
I can honestly say that I’ve never read the Taxi fare chart. The old one is fairly confusing while the new one is much easier to understand – but is it even necessary to have on the door? Once the door is closed and the taxi takes off, it’s going to cost what it’s going to cost. The chart on the door isn’t going to make me decide to take a Taxi or not. If I could use that space for information I would suggest placing tips on how to talk to a taxi driver about directions – know your street, then mention the cross avenues… And if the taxi driver starts talking, he’s probably not talking to you but someone on a cell phone. That info would make things a lot easier for everyone including the driver and tourists alike.
Another exercise is to notice how the old and new side of a Taxi looks as it’s speeding down the street. Which one is easier to identify (pretend for a moment that you don’t notice that it’s a yellow vehicle)? In this context the new logo works really well, even blurred you know that it’s a NYC Taxi.
But the one element of the Taxi that I wished had been redesigned was the sign on the top of the vehicle. You tell a tourist that if the light’s on, that means that they’re available. That is of course true except when it’s off duty, but the lights are still on and I’m sure there’s a bit of confusion. Why bother mentioning off duty, if the taxi isn’t available – just keep the light off. Or devise a better system. Take away the numbers – perhaps just colours: green for available, red for no, or why not a yes/no system. The sign says yes when they can pick up passengers, no if not.
In my last post mentioning Newsweek’s website, and more to the point about how there’s so much info in their site that I wished that I could hear everything by someone reading the info while I’m working on my laptop. An author has already done that in a smaller version about his new book Print is Dead, Jeff Gomez also runs the blog of the same name Print is Dead. At the website http://printisdeadbook.com/ Jeff in his own words has given away about a third of the book to be read online and on top of that he’s read the intro that you can listen too. In upcoming days he’ll have more audio of the book.
So the real question is will I buy the book? Probably, though thankfully it’s not out just yet b/c I have a lot of books (both print and audio) on the go at the moment. Between now and when it’s published I might forget about the book, so hopefully every once in a while I’ll go back to the Print is Dead blog and be reminded of the book that I blogged about.
On a side note, I’m halfway through a book Swissmiss recommended to me over coffee last week called Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger. I can not tell you how much I’m enjoying the disorder to the classification system that the web is doing today. If you’re reading it, or looking for a book to read – this might be it. But my question is this – would you be interested in discussing it? I’ve never done the book club thing before, but this one might be a good one to start with. If there’s any takers let me know.
I came across another great podcast from the CBC. This one is called Search Engine and you should check out the blog at www.cbc.ca/searchengine. Don’t be fooled by the name, it’s not about straight up technology but more about contemporary culture and news that is being influenced by the internet. I started with the latest episode and worked my way back, at twenty eight minutes a broadcast you’ll be caught up in no time. Their description is that Search Engine is a collaborative public radio show, which means among other things that every story that they bring to you is first posted to the blog at www.cbc.ca/searchengine, we invite you to come have a read and maybe share your thoughts. By getting a vigorous conversation started before we go to broadcast we’re able to learn more about our stories upfront and that helps us make better radio, of course we welcome your comments after we’ve gone on air and from time to time read feedback on the show. I really like this strategy of throwing something up information wise, get some angles you might not otherwise have had from others, help that shape the show, and then close the loop with more conversation afterwards. It really makes the story last a lot longer then it otherwise would have had.
I’m not sure where Food for Design has been hiding, but I’m sure happy to have discovered it this morning. With sections like molecular gastronomy, physics, and shape this blog combines design with food in a way that I just haven’t seen too many places before (if any). An instant bookmark.
For bonous points – their flickr site is worth visiting, though probably not just before lunch…