Outside reading. Visual and textual fun for boys and girls.
May Day, May Day
Every year or two a fresh crop of internet blowhards decides design doesn’t matter. Indeed, they proclaim that bad design is good. Not merely is it good, it is the secret to internet wealth and success, they tell us. Whereas, they assure us, user-friendly, brand-appropriate, professional graphic design — or even mere competence — is the royal road to Failureville.
I don’t understand the siren song of this demonstrably idiotic claim. I don’t know why it seduces a new crop of assh*les each year. I only know it does. And then, just as predictably, all the year’s hot young new media designers get in a huff defending design against the fools who attacked it.
Seems to me it might be better to let the anti-design dummies rant themselves out and roll along their happy ignorant path in search of new things to attack. Such as air. Or babies.
Maybe I am jaded. Or maybe it’s hard to get exercised over inanity you’ve seen recur so many times. The assertion that “bad design is good internet” has been made by one set of dorks after another since at least 1995. One prominent consultant aside, nobody can remember who these blowhards were. They charged full bore into obscurity, as dolts generally do.
So to this year’s hot (under the collar) web designers, remember: next year, you will still be designing beautiful websites. And the people who claim that bad design is good? If they’re lucky, they will be selling apples on the street corner.
It’s May Day. A day that honors worker’s rights. So it is only fitting that May Day was also the day of the Canadian Union of Public Employees website reboot. Happy May Day! Happy workers! Happy Canadians! Happy Cog redesigned this site.
Baseball weather has come to NYC. And a baseball stadium is where we’ll hold An Event Apart Atlanta in just a few days’ time. If global warming worked the other way — if the winters were getting colder each year — the world’s governments would have already worked together to reverse global warming. But when winter grows milder and spring arrives sooner, it feels so good it’s hard to realize how bad it is. But I digress.
We’re busy prepping for Atlanta, so here are some links:
A former ad client, at one time the 3rd largest camera maker in the world, can’t compete against digital.
“Would you write your life story in pencil?” was an ad I tried to sell them for their Maxxum line of high quality, 35mm point-and-shoot SLRs. (Instead they bought “More Maxxum Magic!”, a line I did not write for them.) Even so, it’s sad to see them go.
Mac OS X dashboard widget embeds social networking in your desktop: “Watch websites scroll across as they are bookmarked by ma.gnolia.com members. Spend less time scrolling through pages of text and find those eye-catching sites now!”
“…total access to original tracks with remix and sampling… Download all the multitracks on two of the songs. Through … Creative Commons licenses, you are free to edit, remix, sample and mutilate these tracks however you like. Add them to your own song or create a new one. Visitors are welcome to post their mixes or songs that incorporate these audio files on the site for others to hear and rate.”
A new study released by the Economic Strategy Institute explains why U.S. companies can’t compete in key new business sectors, and offers a variety of regulatory and investment prescriptions (via Thomas L. Friedman).
“Washington was about one horseman short of an apocalypse yesterday.”
Ma.gnolia’s linkroll feature rules, but, like a list of “last 10 blog posts,” it is forever sending interesting content into the offscreen past. So here, frozen in time, and in some cases with expanded blurbage, are some of the latest bookmarks to appear in—and soon disappear from—the zeldman.com sidebar:
What do Boeing, General Motors, and a small bag-clip company have in common? They are all blogging about their business. It’s time for a practical book about business blogging: a book that offers concrete advice, no-nonsense research, warnings about common pitfalls, and real-world examples of business-blog successes and failures. A conversation with your market is stronger and more meaningful with a blog. When you’re ready to bridge the gap between blogging theory and business reality, this book will get you talking, easily and professionally.
The Open Letter to America Online is a vehicle for the entire internet community to express its “serious concern [about] AOL’s adoption of Goodmail’s CertifiedEmail, which is a threat to the free and open Internet.” The group explains:
In February 2006, AOL announced that it would accept payment for incoming emails. For these certified emails, it would skip its usual anti-spam filters and guarantee delivery for cash. Our coalition believes that the free passage of email between Internet users is a vital part of what makes the Internet work. When ISPs demand a cut of “pay-to-send” email, they’re raising tollbooths on the open Net, interfering with the passage of data by demanding protection money at the gates of their customers’ computers.
It lives! Eric Meyer’s classic on CSS layout as intepreted by Gecko—core of Firefox, Mozilla, Camino, and Netscape—finds a new (and hopefully permanent) home at developer.mozilla.org. Rumor has it all the old Meyer writings are or will be available here.
New York Magazine discovers blogs. I usually ignore this kind of coverage by this kind of source, but I’m linking because this is actually a good article of its kind—and of course because it includes A List Apart in its coverage (albeit with blurbage that suggests that the author doesn’t really know what he thinks he knows).
Jason Kottke at kottke.org: “In 2002, Dave Winer of Scripting News and Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times made a Long Bet about the authority of weblogs versus that of [The] NY Times in Google…. I decided to see how well each side is doing by checking the results for the top news stories of 2005.”
Greg Storey in Airbag: “I am loving Google’s new search service based in China. It’s faster and brings up only the most relevant results without having to be some kind of search engine algorithm enthusiast.”
Lou Rosenfeld, co-creator of information architecture, is looking for people who like to read. Specifically, he is looking for people who like to read about design and user experience. Are you one of them? Then here is your chance to sound off. What vital topics aren’t being covered (or aren’t being covered well) in the design and user experience books you buy? Where are publishers falling down? What are you dying to read? Let Lou know what you think.
Even more to the point, Technorati is looking for a smart web person who is tired of big-company bureaucracy, secrecy, and in-fighting, and seeks greater emotional and professional fulfillment—in other words, Technorati is looking for a web person who wants to make a difference. Yes, they really do write job descriptions that way, and not only in San Francisco, where Technorati is based. (Tags: technorati, jobs, webdevelopment.)
FREIGHT (available from Phil’s Fonts) is a superbly detailed font family created by Brooklyn type designer Joshua Darden. Optimized for screen display, Freight is ideal for web interface design. You can also use it as a default font for such daily computing tasks as reading and writing email—makes a tasty break from Verdana and Georgia. Recent Darden fonts include Meta Headline (created at the behest of Erik Spiekermann and Christian Schwartz) and lovely, funky Omnes.
In Calcutta’s red light district, over 7,000 women and girls work as prostitutes. Only one group has a lower standing: their children. Zana Briski became involved in the lives of these children in 1998 when she first began photographing prostitutes in Calcutta. Living in the brothels for months at a time, she quickly developed a relationship with many of the kids who, often terrorized and abused, were drawn to the rare human companionship she offered.
Zana held weekly photography workshops between 2000 and 2003. There the children learned camera basics, lighting, composition, the development of point-of-view, editing, and sequencing for narrative. To Zana’s delight, equipped with inexpensive point-and-shoot 35mm cameras, the children produced incredible work. Their images are explosions of color: self-portraits, family pictures, street scenes, stunning tableaus of Bengali life.
Audio interviews with David Heinemeier Hansson, who invented Rails and manages it as an open source movement, plus Ruby on Rails heavyweights and pioneers including Dave Thomas, Chad Fowler, Rick Olson, and A List Apart’s Dan Benjamin.
First we had Flash embedding the automated way. It worked in all browsers but it didn’t validate. Then came Flash Satay and UFO, FlashObject and Hixie’s nested objects. Which techniques are most accessible and most reliable? Macromedia accessibility expert and occasional A List Apart author Andrew Kirkpatrick checked them all out and drew conclusions worth reading.
In the U.S. a mobile phone is a cell phone for making phone calls. In the rest of the world it’s a rich two-way media device. Starting a year ago, renowned designer Kelly Goto began travelling the world researching how handhelds are used today and discovering the emerging principles of ubiquitous computing. Kelly, who is here lecturing at Web Design World, maintains this mobile usability and user experience blog, to which she posts from her handheld camera/phone/whatever.
This beautiful and well-written periodical explores the changing role of science in our global culture. New York’s own Mike Pick and Tim Murtaugh created the clean, elegant, and playful site design (check out the little colored seedlings at the top left).
Got big files to share? Files so big you can’t email them? Files too big even for Basecamp hosting and posting? DropSend has you covered. This fresh-off-the-vine web application by Ryan Carson takes ease of use to a new level, working well and simply as advertised. I use it. Try it, you’ll like it.
In this New York Times Magazine feature, Daniel H. Pink explains folksonomies to the non-digerati. As most people reading this page know, “folksonomy” is IA Thomas Vander Wal’s 2004 coinage for the tag-powered, communal taxonomies that are not merely changing how websites and web products are structured but how information is perceived and categorized all over.
Plazes (beta) is a spanking new web app offering a “grassroot approach to location-aware interaction, using the local network you are connected to as location reference. Plazes allows you to share you location with the people you know and to discover people and plazes around you. It’s the navigation system for your social life and it’s absolutely free.” I’m using it right now and it is cool.
Tomorrow his family and your humble narrator fly away for seven days in beautiful Gijón, Asturias, Spain, where it will apparently rain all week and where your present host will address the W3C on the subject of standards-based design.
The Department of Special Collections at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) Davidson Library recently placed online, with free access, over 5,000 sound recordings as part of its Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. The recordings date from the 1890s to the 1920s and were transferred from Edison cylinders using state-of-the-art equipment. Besides MP3 and streaming audio, the raw transfers are also available for DIYers to try their own hand at audio restoration.
Each year May 1st Reboot invites designers around the world to rethink, re-skin, and rekindle their websites. The 2006 Reboot is now accepting sign-ups. As he did last year, creative director Paul A. Szypula is organizing the global digital event. Shake your Rebooty!