8 Dec 2010 12 pm eastern

NYC Must-See

People who are coming to New York for the first time always ask me what they should see. So I’ve made a little list. Here are eighteen of my favorite places in New York City.

Filed under: architecture, art, arts, cities, New York City, Parks, Travel, Urbanism

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13 Oct 2010 3 pm eastern

Making of a Star Wars classic

12 Nov 2009 11 am eastern

Kickstart Sundman’s Creation

John Sundman is looking for your financial support so he can finish writing and publish his new novel, Creation Science, “a technothriller about scary science—like designer DNA, brain hacking & mind control, computer viruses and biological viruses.”

Sundman is the author of three previous novels: Acts of the Apostles, Cheap Complex Devices, and The Pains.

Apostles is a personal favorite of mine: a thriller only a geek could write (Sundman has decades of experience in computer programming), with real characters, frenetic action and suspense, salty dialog, and serious ideas behind the hot cyber action. If Dan Brown read Sundman, he would understand that thrillers about ideas don’t have to be claustrophobic, one-dimensional, and absurd. If he took Sundman to heart, he would write better books, although they would sell fewer copies.

Which brings it back to you. Sundman is a brilliant author who, for political, intellectual, or other reasons shuns mainstream publishing and success. If we are to keep enjoying his works, we need to help him realize them. I was proud to contribute to Designing Obama and equally delighted to do likewise by Creation Science. If you enjoy good writing and modern independent fiction, I urge you to support this book.

Short URL: zeldman.com/?P=2886

Filed under: arts, books, development, Fiction, writing

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10 Apr 2009 3 pm eastern

Meshes of the Afternoon

Some of my favorite images from Flickr; part of a series.

Favorites of the afternoon of April 10, 2009. Part of this complete breakfast.

[tags]flickr, favorites, art, photography, images, image, collections[/tags]

Filed under: art, arts, creativity, Design, flickr, Ideas, Images, Layout, links, photography, work

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31 Dec 2008 10 am eastern

Time Warner Cable canceling Noggin?

I have a full day’s work to do, but I’m home watching my four-year-old. Thus, this morning, Noggin was on.

“Daddy, what’s that black?” my daughter asked, pointing to the TV.

A black crawl eating 20% of the screen announced that Time Warner Cable, New York City’s virtual monopoly cable provider, will stop broadcasting Noggin at midnight tonight.

Comedy Central (home of Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show), MTV, and other Viacom-owned channels will also be lost, the crawl said. But as the parent of a child under five, you’re asleep before The Daily Show comes on, and you haven’t cared about MTV since Run DMC walked this way with Aerosmith.

Time Warner Cable can do what it likes where your personal entertainment needs are concerned. But if they stop broadcasting Noggin, your four-year-old won’t shrug it off. It will be like when great grandma died.

Your mission is clear. You have to save Noggin.

The crawl and the websites of the soon-to-be-cancelled channels list a toll-free 800 number where customers can demand that Time Warner Cable keep Noggin on.

When you call the number, Time Warner announces that it cannot take your call due to “technical difficulties” and hangs up on you.

In its way, it’s kind of brilliant. By not answering their customer feedback number, Time Warner can claim not to have heard from their customers.

Although I subscribe to their overpriced service, I’m no fan. Since I described my frustrations with their fast, high-speed access, Time Warner Cable’s RoadRunner Turbo has continued to pile on the incompetence. This month they sent me a new modem and told me I needed to manually replace my old one. Beside the fact that nothing’s wrong with my old one, the new one isn’t compatible with my set-up, which is wireless.

Time Warner set up the wireless network using their wireless modem, and charges a monthly surcharge for the wireless activity they provide. But they sent me a non-wireless modem as a replacement. A two-man shop in Kazakhstan’s smallest town would not send a non-wireless modem to replace a wireless one. But Time Warner Cable does, because they are a monopoly and under no pressure to offer competent service.

And yet, although Time Warner Cable’s uncountable levels of existential suckage could induce vomiting in a giraffe, reality is never as clear-cut as a crawl on Noggin.

It is obvious that Time Warner Cable and Viacom are playing hardball in a price negotiation. Time Warner wants the Viacom channels cheaper than Viacom wants to sell them. Instead of working out a deal like mensches, the companies are taking their impasse to the public, and playing on the anxieties of parents with young children. Indeed, Viacom appears the guiltier company, since it is Viacom that is running crawls on its channels and popups on its websites, using the kind of language and typography more properly reserved for fake terror threat alerts.

Although Time Warner doesn’t answer its customer feedback number, some of the company’s phone numbers still work, and if you loop your way through a sufficient number of audio menus, you soon hear the company’s claim to be negotiating with Viacom.

If it were only about me, both companies could stuff it.

Will no one think of the children?

[tags]Viacom, Time Warner Cable, Noggin, high-speed access[/tags]

Filed under: arts, glamorous, New York City, parenting, tv, work

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2 May 2008 10 am eastern

An e-mail from Chip Kidd

I’ll never forget the day Chip Kidd sent me an e-mail. Chip Kidd, author of The Cheese Monkeys, the book that does for design school what Nathaniel West’s Day of the Locust did for Hollywood.

I wrote about Chip Kidd’s work and he sent me a polite e-mail in response. He called me “Mr Zeldman.” Him. He. That Chip Kidd.

Chip Kidd, my all-time-favorite, hall-of-fame book cover designer. Fabricator of the jackets on at least half the modern novels I’ve bought “on impulse”—that impulse triggered and exquisitely controlled by Kidd, who approaches the problem of book design the way a director approaches montage in film. Not a crude film director, but a sly one. One who attacks at tangents, combining images to create compelling narratives that strangely illuminate but never crassly illustrate each book’s contents.

Let me tell you about Chip Kidd. I stare at his work, trying to figure out how he does it. Looking for flaws, like you do when someone is that good. Chip Kidd, you might say, is a design hero of mine. He is likely a design hero of yours, too.

Now he works for us.

The Deck, the premier network for reaching creative, web and design professionals, is proud to welcome Chip Kidd, Dean Allen, Ze Frank, and the crew behind Aviary as the newest members of our network.

  • Chip Kidd: See above.
  • Dean Allen: One of the finest writers ever to grace the web with wit, insight, and a distinctively detached charm. Also a heck of a book designer, although of a very different school from Chip Kidd. Also a software developer, and not a bad hand at web design. I chose Dean Allen to redesign The Web Standards Project when I was ready to leave the august institution. (It has since been redesigned by Andy Clarke. Not a bad progression.)
  • Ze Frank: A man who needs no introduction. The original bad boy of look-at-me, the-web-is-TV. Artist, illustrator, satirist, programmer, and on-screen personality. The Jon Stewart of confessional web video. The Laurie Anderson of pop. The boy Lonely Girl only dreams of becoming. Too big for TV, too big for your iPhone. Coming soon to a conference near you.
  • Aviary: makers of rich internet applications geared for artists of all genres. From image editing to typography to music to 3D to video, they have a tool for everything.

The Deck delivered 20,121,412 ad impressions during April. Limited opportunities are now available through the Third Quarter of 2008.

[tags]Chip Kidd, Dean Allen, Aviary, Deck, The Deck, advertising[/tags]

Filed under: Advertising, Amazon, arts, Deck, the, Design, The, writing, zeldman.com

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1 May 2008 9 am eastern

Stick out your tongue

While employed at a famous New York advertising agency twenty years ago, a partner and I created a TV commercial touting an over-the-counter medicine client’s revolutionary new cold and flu remedy for young children.

Only when the shooting and shouting was over did we learn that the product did not, in fact, exist.

The commercial whose every creative detail we’d had to fight for was never going to run.

The client—the marketing side of a product development group—had a budget of $60,000 to spend. So they spent it, even though the R&D side of the product development group had not been able to deliver the product.

It was not a liquid medicine that needed to be measured. It was not a pill that needed to be chewed or swallowed. It was a pill that dissolved instantly on the tongue. Or would have been, if the engineers had been able to create it.

During weeks of presentation, the client rejected campaigns that would have caught the attention of the nation’s parents. The client bought a safe campaign that called less attention to itself, then set about systematically softening its edges. My partner and I wanted to cast like Fellini or Woody Allen. We brought in amazing children of various backgrounds, their faces rich in character. But the client picked cute blonde girls instead.

And so on. Every decision, however small, required approval. Everything was a fight. A ladies-and-gentlemanly fight. A fight that sounded like polite, mutually respectful discussion. A fight with invisible knives.

We won some and we lost some. For all the back-and-forth with the client, the resulting commercial wasn’t bad at all. The first few times anyone—even the guy delivering sandwiches—saw it, they laughed. Afterwards, they smiled. It could have been okay. It could have gotten my partner and me out of that agency and to a better one.

After the shoot was completed, the client told our account executive that the product did not exist and the commercial was never going to run.

The client had known this going in. So why didn’t they let us win more creative battles? Because they wanted something soft and safe to show the boss who had the power of life and death over their budget.

Why did the boss give them $60,000 to produce a commercial for a product that didn’t exist? Because that’s how corporations work. If they didn’t spend advertising dollars in 1988, they wouldn’t get ad dollars in 1989, when (in theory) they would finally have a product to advertise.

Governments, at least the ones I know of, work the same way. Since last night, the city of New York has been paving 34th Street in places it doesn’t need to be paved. Why do they do this? To justify the budget. In a better world, money set aside to pave streets that don’t need paving would be reassigned to something the city actually needs—like affordable housing, or medical care for poor or homeless people. But cities are corporations—that Mike Bloomberg is New York’s mayor merely confirms this—and few corporations are agile enough to rethink budgetary distributions on the basis of changing needs.

Last week, in an airport, on one of the inescapable widescreen TVs set to CNN (and always set to the wrong resolution) I saw a commercial for a revolutionary children’s medicine product that melts instantly on the tongue.

I guess they finally made it.

[tags]advertising, design, artdirection, writing, copywriting, TV, production, commercials, adverts, wisdom, work, experience, budgets, business, waste, government, medicine, OTC, overthecounter, newyork, nyc[/tags]

Filed under: Advertising, arts, business, client services, creativity, Design, film, tv, wisdom, work, Zeldman

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18 Jul 2007 10 am eastern

Link ‘n Park

Travel day. While I’m singin’ in the rain between New York and Philadelphia, here are some nice, dry links for your pleasure.

Cover Browser
Jackpot link! Recall every lost issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Identify with Betty or Veronica. Discover the Mad Magazine you never knew. Cover Browser intends to catalog the cover of every comic book (not to mention every book, game, DVD, magazine…) ever printed. With 77,000 entries, they are just getting started. Via Veer.
Things on Things
If basking in the nostaliga of Cover Browser (above) makes you feel like everything that can be digital is becoming so—and if that thought (however inaccurate it may actually be) makes you wonder if widespread digitization is changing the way we perceive and value reality—you’re not alone. But you may not be as articulate about it as the pseudonymous author of the untitled essay posted yesterday at Things Magazine. Read it. Bookmark it. Share it. Via Coudal.
Learning from the Facebook Mini-Feed Disaster
The great Jared Spool on lessons to be drawn when a hot new feature fails to please the public for whom it was ostensibly created.
Multi-touch on the desktop
Hockenberry on interface design. Some people who love the iPhone can’t wait for multi-touch to come to the desktop. Hockenberry explains why it won’t.
Radio Telepathy
Eclectic music podcast.
Design Interviews: ROB WEYCHERT of Happy Cog Studios
Web designer, artist and writer Rob Weychert on typography, humor, haiku, neurotically meticulous attention to detail, and the bearded cult.
iTrapped
A photoset on Flickr (and a new meme). Fun!
There is no “first blogger”
Scott Rosenberg, co-founder of Salon corrects the breathless coverage of The Wall Street Journal, beginning with its fallacious assertion that “It’s been 10 years since the blog was born.” There are journalists who get this stuff right, but not nearly enough.
Icon Archive
Over 12,500 desktop icons, organized in sets, for Windows, Macintosh and Linux Systems. Non-commerical use is allowed in most cases. The site’s offerings are culled from other sites (e.g., Star Wars 2, by Talos, comes from Iconfactory); original authors are credited and linked.
No Compassion
Artist Jiri David’s manipulated photos of Bush, Putin, Berlusconi, and Chirac.
Hope is Emo, Chapter 9
Hope gets emotionally damaged at a family wedding. (Video.)

Get up in my grill. View all my bookmarks on Ma.gnolia.

[tags]comics, cover art, digitization, UI design, rob weychert, jared spool, facebook, multi-touch, icons, manipulated images, hope is emo, wallstreetjournal, salon, blogs, blogging, first blogger, radiotelepathy, itrapped [/tags]

Filed under: art, arts, Blogs and Blogging, Design, Happy Cog™, links, Memes, people, Philadelphia, writing

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6 Apr 2007 4 pm eastern

Ambient Informatics at Cooper Union

If you live in NYC, or if you’re visiting next week, don’t miss urban futurist Adam Greenfield’s free lecture in the Great Hall of the Cooper Union, “The City Is Here For You To Use: Urban Form and Experience in the Age of Ambient Informatics.”

Monday April 9, 2007 6:30pm
The Great Hall of the Cooper Union
7 East 7th Street, betw. 3rd & 4th Aves, NYC
Free to the public

The Cooper Union School of Art is the only private, full-scholarship college in the United States dedicated exclusively to preparing students for the professions of art, architecture and engineering. The Great Hall is where Abraham Lincoln, with a single speech, transformed himself from an obscure candidate with no chance of becoming president to the hope of a nation. The space itself merits a visit. And it is the perfect setting for Greenfield’s talk on the collaboration between architecture and computing:

Over the past few years the “computer” has begun to disappear into the fabric of everyday life, its power to collect, store, process and represent information diffusing into the objects and surfaces around us. Things as ordinary and seemingly familiar as running shoes, elevators and lampposts have been reimagined as networked devices, invested with unexpected new abilities. Meanwhile, the phones we carry have become ever more powerful “remote controls for our lives.”

Proponents and enthusiasts argue that no domain of human behavior will be untouched by this transformation, but relatively little thought has been given to specifically how these changes might unfold at the scale of the city. How will the advent of a truly ubiquitous computing change our urban places—both the way they’re built, and the way we live them? In this new talk, everyware author Adam Greenfield tries to wrap his head around this dynamic set of conditions, to clarify what’s at stake and to offer some potential frameworks for building humane and livable cities in the age of ambient informatics.

Adam Greenfield is a writer, consultant, and instructor in Urban Computing at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunication Program. His 2006 book everyware: The dawning age of ubiquitous computing, has been acclaimed as “groundbreaking,” “elegant,” and “soulful” by Bruce Sterling, and “gracefully written, fascinating, and deeply wise” by Wired’s Steve Silberman. Before plunging entirely into futurist consulting and writing, Adam was lead information architect at Happy Cog.

Adam’s Cooper Union presentation will be followed by a panel discussion exploring these issues, with participants whose work lives at the very edge of this change: Glowlab’s Christina Ray; Soo-In Yang and David Benjamin of New York architectural practice The Living, and area/code principal Kevin Slavin.

The talk is hosted by The Cooper Union School of Art and The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography, and organized by Mike Essl, Assistant Professor, School of Art and Emily Roz Saskia Bos, Dean, School of Art.

[tags]adamgreenfield, ambientinformatics, cooperunion, art, architecture, computing[/tags]

Filed under: architecture, arts, Design, events

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