Archive for the ‘publication design’ Category

Netprotozo Grid Generator at #4

Monday, June 1st, 2009

netprotozo1

Web Design Booth has a rundown of 15 Extremely Useful Grid Generators, and collaborator, co-conspiritor and partner, Netprotozo’s Grid Generator comes in at #4 (though it’s not clear if they are ranked in order of usefulness)! Rock on, Karl! Encore!!

(IMHO, we’ve tried many of these grid generators, and while they all have excellent qualities, the Netprotozo grid generator has many intrinsic advantages, namely the flexibility and robustness that comes from having been empoyed in many real-world projects. Karl’s really done a great job of incorporating some critical elements which allow things like inter-column padding, and an underlying base unit which is an incredibly powerful concept not present in many other CSS grid systems.)

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Kisses

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Kiss Me I'm Polish

Kiss Me I’m Polish has just relaunched their spiffy new site — and it sure is a beaut! We’ve collaborated on many projects over the years (still are) and hopefully more to come! Gratulacje, Agnieszka!

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Why I don’t read on my iPhone

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

stanza

Stanza‘s great. So’s Instapaper and the Kindle iPhone app. But let’s be honest here. If I look at my real app usage (this is my own personal reckoning, since I don’t have RescueTime or Google Trends for my iPhone) here’s my top 5 in terms of actual usage:

  1. Drop7
  2. Facebook
  3. Mail
  4. Twitterific
  5. NYTimes

One game, a social networking app, email, microblogging, and the news. Do you see an actual reading app here anywhere?

But what about the news, you ask? That’s reading, no?

No. Well, let’s be more specific. It’s short reading, browsing, scanning. News stories are generally around 600 words or less. Anything longer and I’m going to be worrying about my battery life or waiting to get to my computer. I’m going to generalize here and say that my app usage is for short, bite-sized activities. Small, just like the iPhone’s screen.

Now, I’m sure there are people out there who actually do slog through long reads on their iPhones (using the aforementioned apps). For some, I’m sure it’s a point of nerdy pride (“Look! I can read a free sci-fi eBook on my handheld device!”) and for others it is an occasional convenience (“Bored. Stuck here without any reading material. Oh yeah, I can use my iPhone to read that article I saved to instapaper 3 weeks ago!”).

But let’s be honest: reading on the iPhone is sub-optimal at best.

Why? Because reading, the long, focused trance of real reading is, and should be, a pleasure, not a convenience. To be able to sink into a well-wrought text requires an environment relatively free of distraction — and that includes the reading surface itself — because following complex thoughts and detailed verbal description is like walking a tightrope. Any little lapse in concentration — an inconsistent scrolling of the text, finding the pagination, targeting the next page button, waiting more than a second for it to load, an accidental tap or swipe that jogs the interface, a new message — breaks the spell, and the words go back to being mere words and the world your imagination has been constructing burns away like a fog.

It’s the difference between watching a movie on YouTube versus going into a dark theater with comfortable seats, immense screen, and surround sound. People will continue to pay (the price of a paperback) for that experience, just as they will continue to pay for well-set, well-edited books on good paper.

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What’s in a name?

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

The Other Like

That which Facebook calls “like” by any other name would be called “disgust”, or “approval”. Ay, there’s the rub. (Apologies to dear Bill.)

Ever since Facebook started pushing activity of people/organizations you are “fans” of into your news feed, it has become clear that their nomenclature for certain events/actions needs some work. Just as “friending” is a meh blanket term for a bi-directional affinity relationship, “becoming a fan of” is an expression of uni-directional affinity, what we need is some kind uni-directional gesture of recognition or attention. Maybe it’s as simple as “I am paying attention to this” or “I have paid some attention to this”.  The question is whether we need a multi-faceted metric here, because you can pay attention because you think it’s cool, witty, funny, or smart, or something can catch your eye because it’s horrific, crazy, sad, or sick.

At the end of the day, I am pretty sure Facebook’s intention behind introducing this feature (rather hastily) is because it wants some kind of simple way to measure influence (ie, how many people [insert term here] your stuff/thoughts/updates) or attention.

Paging Mr. Goldstein…

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Post-Print

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I happened to pick up a complete issue of the New York Times paper edition yesterday and I had a strange, disconcerting experience. I suppose you could call it déjà vu, but I think it’s slightly different, slightly more explicable than that…

I had given up my daily subscription to the Times two years ago, subsisting now as a “Weekender” and the truth is, I am paying $3.45 a week for the New York Times Magazine, since that’s the only section I really read. The rest, as they say, is “fish wrap.”

All other days, and even weekends, therefore, my daily experience with the Times is through its superb digital online product. So there I was, waiting in the hallway of my office, waiting for Ryan to come in since I had left my keys inside in my rush to leave the day before, and, bored, I picked up the newspaper someone had left for recycling, fully intact. After scanning the front page for a second, I realized that I had seen each of these headlines the day before online.

I hadn’t read each article, of course, but as I flipped further, I thought to myself, “So that’s where they put that article, and oh, I didn’t realize that one got the entire front page of the business section!” It was like someone had come in and re-arranged all of the furniture in my apartment, with different priorities and a different sense of order.

And one of the beauties of this post-digital encounter was that I stumbled on a fascinating article which hadn’t been on the “most e-mailed” list and it was a blip in the parade of articles on the homepage that day. But there it was, front and center on the business section:

googlepaper

Google in the paper

Google, the online giant, had been sued in federal court by a large group of authors and publishers who claimed that its plan to scan all the books in the world violated their copyrights.

As part of the class-action settlement, Google will pay $125 million to create a system under which customers will be charged for reading a copyrighted book, with the copyright holder and Google both taking percentages; copyright holders will also receive a flat fee for the initial scanning, and can opt out of the whole system if they wish.

But first they must be found.

The article was about Google’s campaign to satisfy the terms of this class-action settlement, payback, if you will, for attempting to scan and offer digitally every book in the universe, to compensate the authors and copyright holders for this use of their “property”. The irony was that, in order to achieve this, Google was taking out half page ads in newspapers all over the world, an undertaking only Google could pull off.

Fancy, that: Google having to use paper to distribute information.

It just goes to show: print is going to recalibrate itself from what it used to do (everything from phone books to news to long texts to novels) to focus on what it does really well in a digital, networked world (not hyper-fresh news, not phone books, on-demand magazines and books, and information distribution off the grid).

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