Waiting to be explored

The New York Times has a great article in this Sunday’s paper about urban exploration, Children of Darkness. Seeing photos of decaying historic artifacts and hidden landmarks reminds you of the layered history of New York. We don’t have any Stone Henge’s, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fascinating, layered story beneath the surface of the five boroughs.
photo: Bandit’s Roost in Manhattan’s Five Points

JACOB RIIS, Photo of Bandit’s Roost in Manhattan’s Five Points, 1888

I was never interested in history, of any type, until a few years ago, after seeing Martin Scorcese’s film, Gangs of New York. My interest stemmed from the fact that my father is from Queens, NY and his father’s family came to the United States from Ireland at the turn of the 19th century. I remember walking out of the movie theatre on 11th Street and 3rd Avenue, realized all that had taken place on this very ground over 100 years ago. I literally got chills.
Since then, I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy history. Though learning about New York’s past, I’ve obviously learned more about the history of all sorts of other countries, filling in the Big Picture better in my brain. It’s all connected.
I recently picked up The Five Points, by Tyler Anbinder, which is great as well as New York, Then and Now, by Edward B. Watson.

A flywheel lamp. I love you.

These lamps are from another world. You want to talk about design? Suck on these works of genius by Campbell Levy Designs. Seeing car parts in this context is both beautiful and alien at the same time. It makes me think of Picasso’s Tete de Toro (Bull’s Head), or Baboon & Young.

I think Campbell Levy should send me a sample of one of these lamps.

Hell, I AM The Combustion Chamber.

screengrab: Campbell Levy Designs

Campbell Levy Designs

Picasso: Bull's Head
PICASSO, Tete de Toro (Bull’s Head), 1943

Picasso: Baboon and Young
PICASSO, Baboon & Young, 1951

Links For Today 7.26.2007

US Senators call for universal Internet filtering – I don’t like the sound of this at all. At all.
Oscar the Cat Predicts Patients’ Deaths

Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.

Blasting the Myth of the Fold (via Design View)
New Global Study From MTV, Nickelodeon and Microsoft Challenges Assumptions About Relationship Between Kids, Youth & Digital Technology
Mastodon Linoleum Knife – Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie Intro
Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself – even when you don’t feel like it.
He then revealed a unique calendar system he was using pressure himself to write.
Here’s how it worked.

Postmodern Video

I love the pop culture obsessed world we live in. Any time a celebrity buys a cookie or picks their nose, the media has to report on it.
Well, CNN was not able to be in the crowd for a Beyonce concert when she took a spill on the stage. What they were able to do was make a video of a YouTube video of the occurrence .
I like how mainstream, “professional” news organizations feel the need to recycle shitty, meaningless news on pop culture taken by 13 year olds in the audience of a lip synced concert.
I think I’ll pull out my camera and make a video of the CNN video of the YouTube video. It can be like a big mixed-media art project. Then I’ll upload it to Brightcove and embed it on my blog. Yeah! BEAT THAT!
On a sidenote, I noticed that this video was removed from YouTube. So how does CNN come into the picture regarding copyright violations, if any? Is their video-of-a-video in violation?
Do I really care about any of this?

Hearing, Not Listening

Hey Samsung, something is missing from this shitty iPhone imitation you’re launching.
…a shot of the software it runs.
Samsung SGH-P520
Samsung, Motorola, Nokia – you all know how to make a beautiful looking phone. Now you need to take a step back. You need to start thinking about design in other areas of your business. You need to start giving the phone’s interface as much TLC as you do to the outer shell.
This will probably be a painful process for some companies, but without struggle, we don’t get any progress. Some of you will have to partner with companies who do know software, others will take the risk and dive into the software development themselves.
The problem is, none of this is happening. Apple’s competitors are taking 2 wrong directions.
They are:
A. trying to out-feature Apple’s products
B. trying to approximate the design of Apple’s products

Regarding A

Unless your offering a product as easy and fun to use as a competitor, offering dozens of more bells and whistles is not going to get you anywhere. Proof of this idea surfaces every time I ask someone in my office how they feel about their iPhone, two weeks after purchasing.
10 times out of 10 I get this response:

I wish the iPhone had x, y and z features, but its still the best phone I’ve ever used.

So everyone I talk to is well aware of the iPhone’s shortcomings, but they still love it. Keep this in mind if you decide to develop a phone with GPS, 10 megapixel camera, waterproof shell, flashlight, nail file, and an *AM/FM tuner.

Regarding B

The idea here is to be cool by association. To use the iPod as an example and to get a little extreme, Apple’s competitors have reacted as if the iPod was the ideal digital music player (DMP), in the tradition of *Plato’s ideal forms. If you look at the majority of DMP’s out there since 2001, they approximate the style of the iPod in some way or another.
Microsoft tried something similar when they launched Vista. They tried to copy the the shiny GUI of OS X, but they merely copied the style, not the design. They forgot to make Vista usable. When you get down to it, Vista is XP with some sugar coating. Microsoft essentially put lipstick on a pig.


Heed to design. Weave it into every aspect of your projects, from the inside out. If you design a sexy looking car, but the interior and dashboard controls are impossible to use, you still have a shitty product. You’ve dropped the ball.
If you want to steal something from a company like Apple, how about you steal their passion for great design?

*Speaking of which, can someone please tell me why having a radio tuner in your digital music player is a feature? Have you listened to FM radio in the last 20 years? I can’t understand why someone with thousands of songs and videos on their iPod would want to listen to the drivel they play on the radio.

*If you’re not familiar with this, Plato believed there was a heavenly, ‘ideal’ form for objects in the world from which everything else is based on. For instance, there exists somewhere, an ideal, perfect chair, from which all other chairs get their chairness.

It’s Not a Salad Bar

Let’s get something straight people. You can be religious OR you can be superstitious. You cannot be both. They are mutually exclusive of each other.
*This also applies to people who claim to be religious that also follow their horoscope, uh, religiously. Pick one.

The Touch

If you’re a nerd like me, tell me if something similar has ever happened to you:
My wife was just having problems connecting to the internet on her Apple Powerbook. I asked her if I could see the laptop. She gave it to me. I quit out of Firefox, restarted Firefox and got onto CNN.com fine.
“I did exactly what you did but it didn’t work. I don’t get it – why is it when you do something on my computer it works?”