October 2010 Archives

just lying there

By Michael Mulvey on October 31, 2010 7:39 PM

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noting and flipping

By Michael Mulvey on October 31, 2010 5:32 PM

My wife bought me a Kindle when it first came out. While I'm an early adopter of new technologies, gadgets and services (or at the very least, keeping a close eye on the more intriguing ones), I wasn't anxious to get one. I had the same beef with DRM on books as I did with music. Information wants to be free, etc, etc... you know the deal. I thought it looked like a well thought out product (and product ecosystem), but it wasn't for me.

It would be another year before Apple would announce an end to copy-protection on their music, but it had also been a year since Steve Jobs posted his Thoughts On Music on Apple.com. So I was mentally primed for a DRM-free (music) future.

Then the Kindle comes along with their copy-protected media and we're back to square one. I wasn't naive to think they'd use open file formats, but I was still bummed.

Now let's fast forward 2 years to today. I still have my first gen Kindle and I still use it somewhat often although I usually prefer to use the Kindle app on my iPhone, especially during my day-to-day commuting on the Manhattan subway.

But my Kindle still can't do two things that are important when I read - scribbling down notes and flipping pages. These actions were important while I read the new book by Steve Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From.

On Noting

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Some might look disapprovingly at image above, with all those crude lines and chicken scratch writing, but for me, being able to underline chunks of text, scribble notes and circle words I want to look up later opens up a deeper level of comprehension into the book I'm reading. Of course this method can be adapted with an e-reader by simply pairing it with a physical notebook, but it's a little more effort and not well-spent effort.

I'm not a psychologist but something about physically interacting with a book takes reading beyond simple consumption. It becomes a form of creation. By the time you reach the end of your book you're not left with the same pages you started with. No, no ... these are my pages now. Sure, the author is making his points, but I'm deciding which ones are important.

Once I've read through and made sufficient notes I can begin the fun game of flipping back and reading over the passages I marked up.

On Flipping

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This might seem like a minor point, but the fact that I can't easily flip between pages on a Kindle is a huge frustration. No, this doesn't mean I'm not able to remember what I've read, but sometimes I want to reread passages. Great books, like great movies, are meant to be read over and over (unless you're satisfied watching a Kubrick movie once). I'm completely confident this technological limitation of e-books will be resolved but until then, my thumbs rule.

On Flying

This is more my beef with the airline industry than with e-books, but it's relevant to this post. If we're going to live comfortably/efficiently/normally in the 21st century, we need to start adapting our procedures to technologies and devices our generation is creating. Gadgets like iPods, iPads and Kindles are useless if I'm not allowed to use them during takeoff and landing.

I'm waiting to hear of a plane that went down because 5 or 20 or 50 Kindles or iPhones were on during takeoff. It's very likely many people never turn off their devices when they're instructed anyway (not me of course).

So to recap, I'm not giving up on technology. I love technology. I love tinkering, hacking and experimenting with new gadgets, but I encourage everyone to grab a printed version of the next great book you read. Don't be afraid to get dirty and really make it yours.

Jack and Danny

By Michael Mulvey on October 30, 2010 9:19 PM

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If we don't, remember me. (via Twitter via BITM)

Editing The Dead

By Michael Mulvey on October 30, 2010 6:57 PM

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Editing The Dead (via Analogue)

but our princess is in another castle ...

By Michael Mulvey on October 30, 2010 6:48 PM

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I love details.

a remote, suburban cul-de-sac

By Michael Mulvey on October 29, 2010 10:55 AM

Khoi Vihn on the tools Adobe is providing to create iPad magazine apps:

In my personal opinion, Adobe is doing a tremendous disservice to the publishing industry by encouraging these ineptly literal translations of print publications into iPad apps. They've fostered a preoccupation with the sort of monolithic, overbearing apps represented by The New Yorker, Wired and Popular Science. Meanwhile, what publishers should really be focusing on is clever, nimble, entertaining apps like EW's Must List or Gourmet Live. Neither of those are perfect, but both actively understand that they must translate their print editions into a utilitarian complement to their users' content consumption habits.

And:

In a media world that looks increasingly like the busy downtown heart of a city -- with innumerable activities, events and alternative sources of distraction around you -- these apps demand that you confine yourself to a remote, suburban cul-de-sac.

inspiration is for amateurs

By Michael Mulvey on October 25, 2010 9:23 AM

The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who'll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you're sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and somthing else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that's almost never the case.

-Chuck Close (via We Are The Digital Kids)

air traffic control to Google TV, you're going to crash

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2010 9:56 PM

Buzzfeed's Jon Steinberg on Google TV:

I tried Google TV yesterday. Flying a Cessna is easier and has fewer controls than the Sony remote

Niiiiiiiiiice.

Way to go there Google, with yer engineers, engineering up some complicated shit for non-techie consumers.

Heard of design thinking?

via Gizmodo

people, music, computers

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2010 9:46 PM

Radiohead's Colin Greenwood reflecting on In Rainbows, ahead of the release of their upcoming album:

With In Rainbows, we were able to be the first people to digitally release our record, directly to people's personal computers, at 7.30am GMT on 10 October 2007. I was having breakfast, and watched as the file appeared in my email, and the album streamed onto my desktop. I spent the next day and night monitoring people's reactions online, both to the music and the means of delivery. Journalists in America had stayed up overnight to write the first review as they received the music - again, in the pre-digital age they would have had advance copies up to three weeks before. On the torrent site bulletin boards, people were arguing over whether they should be downloading and paying for the record from our site, rather than the free torrents. Various online pundits and pamphleteers were pronouncing the end of the record business, or of Radiohead, or of both.

Hey marketing and brand *gurus*, you taking note of his fan-centric infused campaign of real-time value launchpad content?

People, feelings, stories, and things.

Chris Bangle

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2010 9:09 PM

BMWBlog has a segment from an Inframe.tv documentary on former Head of Design at BMW Group Chris Bangle (via PSFK).

Man, does he get it:

I came from studios in General Motors and in Fiat, where they believed in high segregation. Their idea was if you want to treat things equally you keep them separate. If you want to make design unique and fresh you isolate it. I got the job at BMW when I was 35. So I said, let's get rid of the walls. No doors between Rolls Royce and BMW, no doors between BMW and MINI, no doors between motorcycles and cars.

And I love this quote:

The markets guys, these guys you have to keep a little bit at bay, because their first reaction is no. No, no, no, no. You can't create life under an atmosphere of no.

Have a watch, there's a lot of great ideas to absorb from this guy.

Design might seem like this lofty, hippie idea, but when you see guys like this making it happen at one of the most prestigious car makers in the world, you know it's possible.

*be sure to watch the 4 outtakes on Bangle too

people, feelings, stories, and things

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2010 8:57 PM

Paul Bennett at Bloomberg BusinessWeek keeps it real with his plee to brand and marketing gurus to drop the bullshit jardon:

The hardest thing that marketers and brand managers have to do right now is simplify. Marketing and branding need to get back to first principles -- people, feelings, stories, and things. Tangible things. Not weird words. And for all of us agencies out there, we need to feel more confident that actually the best thing we can do is to tell it simply, both to the organization we're working for and ultimately to the consumer.

Thanks Jory

credit where it's due?

By Michael Mulvey on October 24, 2010 10:41 AM

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I've noticed more people, whether in blog posts, trade publications or comment threads, being vocal with their frustration that Apple is taking/getting credit for inventing products and technologies. What's important to understand is many (most?) of Apple's products and technologies they've turned into innovations are bases on the inventions of others.

Last week Apple announced the new MacBook Air, the first refresh in the line since the Air introduction in 2008. Then I find stories like this one at ZDNet pointing out Sony had a wafer thin laptop back in 2004 first.

The author, Brook Crothers, breaks down what separates Apple's and Sony's models:

When the Sony Vaio X505 came out, it was about $3,000. And that's probably where Apple's new Air breaks the most ground. The ultrasvelte, 2.3-pound Air--which I would argue is the most impressive Apple MacBook design--can be had for $999.

Price is the only ground that matters once something has been innovated upon - that's what innovation is.

An invention gets released ...it's iterated ...and iterated ...and iterated and then it reaches a tipping point, the price drops and it's adopted by the masses.

I've also heard people complain how Apple's taking credit for inventing video calling with FaceTime. It takes a perfect storm for innovations like FaceTime.

Apple is able to make FaceTime work in the marketplace because:

A) It's already selling millions of iPhone 4's with it preinstalled
B) the protocols and networking logic have matured over the last 20 years
and C) high speed mobile connects have been adopted by millions across world

There's a great video of frog's recent design mind Salon in Amsterdam, where Microsoft researcher and computer scientist Bill Buxton talks about this essential gap between invention and innovation. He calls it the 'Long Nose':

To go from invention, when the first idea appears, to the point where it meets maturity, that maturity I define as reaching a [one] billion dollar industry takes a minimum of 20 years ... and notice, this is the most important implication, that anything that is going to become a billion dollar industry within the next 10 years, is already 10 years old.

This is not new, people.

The automobile, not invented by Henry Ford as many think, but Karl Benz (yes, that Benz) in 1886. Well, sort of. He patented the gas-fueled car, but there's a dozen or more who all should get credit for helping invent the automobile. Ford was able to make cars innovative in large part because of the assembly line techique of mass production.

The cassette tape. Nope, not invented by Sony. The magnetic tape was invented in Germany in the 1920's. Hell, Sony didn't even invent the cassette player. They were standing on the shoulders of giants when they miniaturized the existing technology and created the Walkman, which, as I wrote about the other day is now being retired after 30 years.

The light bulb. Not Thomas Edison. As Wikipedia notes, Edison invented the entire ecosystem in which the light bulb must live in order for it to be a successful innovation and that's plenty to be proud of.

We humans have a need to label and tag things with names and credits, but it's important to understand that the reality is rarely that simple.

We all exist on a continuum.

Stanley Chow

By Michael Mulvey on October 23, 2010 7:06 PM

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I'm looking forward to buying some of these amazing posters by Stanley Chow.

physical media?

By Michael Mulvey on October 23, 2010 5:47 PM

TechCrunch reports Sony is stopping production of the (cassette) Walkman after 30 years.

While they're at it, Sony should stop making Blu-ray players too. Love it or hate it, but physical media is over. The signs are everywhere - Netflx is prepping for streaming-only in the US, and Apple is expanding it's optical-driveless MacBook Air line of laptops, not to mention their keeping DVD drives on their standard MacBooks.

cosmic fish

By Michael Mulvey on October 23, 2010 9:58 AM

Look closely and comprehensively at these pictures. Integrate your reactions with all your spontaneous recalls of the other experiential information of your life as well as of other lives as reported to you. Think and think some more. From time to time, humans are endowed with the capability to discover just a little more regarding the significance of their role in the cosmic scenario. You too might catch of these 'cosmic fish'.

-R Buckminster Fuller

what you make

By Michael Mulvey on October 23, 2010 9:56 AM

Experience is not what happens to you, it is what you make of what happens to you.

-Aldous Huxley

her name is Mathilda

By Michael Mulvey on October 23, 2010 9:27 AM

There's spoilers in this piece by Adam Kruspe, but if you haven't seen The Professional yet, well, shame on you.

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If beautifully remixed and carefully edited film-trailer-montage-music-pieces are your thing, check out Adam's other work. My favorite is Movie Action Reversal (He used Radiohead too, cheater).

Found via Analogue

Rise Of The Machines

By Michael Mulvey on October 22, 2010 3:14 PM

Good Magazine has a scary/sad/inevitable piece on how Robots Are Replacing Middle Class Jobs.

The culprit, in other words, is technology. The hard truth--and you don't see it addressed in news reports--is that the middle class is disappearing in large part because technology is rendering middle-class skills obsolete.

And:

We may be heading toward a future with plentiful high-end jobs and plentiful low-end jobs, and not much in the middle. What if only doctors, lawyers, engineers, and managers can live a decent life, buy a house or apartment, and pay for their children to get specialized degrees? What if a liberal-arts degree on its own prepares you for little more than work as a security guard? What if the skills that prepare one for a job with decent pay get increasingly hard to attain?

Scary shit to say the least.

Do you really need an app for that?

By Michael Mulvey on October 22, 2010 2:37 PM

Zeldman: iPad as the new Flash

I'm not against the iPad. I love my iPad. It's great for storing and reading books, for browsing websites, for listening to music and watching films, for editing texts, presentations, and spreadsheets, for displaying family photos, and on and on. It's nearly all the stuff I love about my Mac plus a great ePub reader slipped into a little glass notebook I play like a Theremin.

But:

I'm just not sold on what the magazines are doing. Masturbatory novelty is not a business strategy.

I've thought the same thing for a while now. There's many iPhone and iPad apps that are adding negligible value to their website-viewable counterparts.

Heed to Design

By Michael Mulvey on October 22, 2010 12:47 PM

The designer must see the periphery as well as the core, the immediate and the ultimate, at least in the biological sense. He must anchor his special job in the complex whole. The designer must be trained not only in the use of materials and various skills, but also in appreciation of organic functions and planning. He must know that design is indivisible, that the internal and external characteristics of a dish, a chair, a table, a machine, painting, sculpture are not to be separated...
There is design in organization of emotional experiences, in family life, in labor relations, in city planning, in working together as civilized human beings. Ultimately all problems of design merge into one great problem: 'design for life'.

-Lazlo Maholy-Nagy, from the book Vision in Motion (via 37Signals)

designers is getting all growns up

By Michael Mulvey on October 22, 2010 12:00 PM

Great post by Jon Kolko over at frog on the maturation of the discipline of design.

He starts out with the observation:

It would appear that we've arrived: design has emerged as the discrete discipline of problem solving and cultural change, and the designerly ability described by Nigel Cross in 1995 as "a distinct form of intelligence" is now considered with some degree of respect in disciplines such as the sciences or the liberal arts.

But is also hesitant to apply design thinking to everything:

Simply, as important as the core ideas of "cultural immersion", "rapid prototyping", and "abductive reasoning" are, a cure for poverty this does not make. Teams need to execute and follow-through, and that execution takes the care familiar to most designers who were trained in (not ironically) the above type, composition, color, and two and three dimensional design activities. This is the iterative, careful, methodical, and articulate approach that designers inherited from movements of arts and crafts. It's hard, and it takes time, patience, and experience. And while you may learn about it in business school or in the Harvard Business Review, it will take a lot more than some articles from some truly incredible thinkers to become capable of actually executing successfully.

One thing is for certain - design, in all it's meanings and interpretations, is becoming more and more important. You see it in the categories of national magazines like HBR, BusinessWeek, Fast Company to the dashboards of new cars to new approaches in healthcare.

Google's tax rate

By Michael Mulvey on October 22, 2010 9:20 AM

Gizmodo: Google's Shady Tax Evasion Practices Screw the Government (and You) Out of $3.1 Billion

Google's startlingly low rate--how much do you pay every year?--goes back to a deal brokered with the IRS itself. The feds let Google license its search and ad tech to a subsidiary in Ireland--Google Ireland Holdings--which begins a long, international cash siphon that ends in Bermuda. Licensing tech from Google racks up expenses, which allow Google's dummy company to duck Irish tax law. The money generated in Ireland is shuttled to the Netherlands, which, because of EU law, further keeps government hands out of Google's earnings. From here, revenue is paid to another subsidiary in Bermuda, where it becomes virtually invisible--under Irish law, this tropical tail end of this money snake isn't required to disclose any financial documents.

How awesomely not evil.

old media

By Michael Mulvey on October 22, 2010 8:31 AM

The future of media is unclear. Things are very volatile. New revenue models are needed where 'traditional' (I hate that word) models are still in place, getting old and crusty.

Yesterday, news broke that Google TV is being blocked by TV studios ABC and CBS over piracy concerns. Maybe the heads of the TV studios should spend some some with Larry and Sergey at Burning Man next year so they can open their minds man, and like, understand that information wants to be free? K? They need to understand the Google will never be satisfied. It has serious dependency issues on all zeros and ones.

You can't have a television relationship with someone with data dependencies, but at the same time TV needs to figure shit out, unless they want their breakfast, lunch and dinner eaten by iTunes like the music industry. It's all-around unhealthy. The TV studios are hoarding, grumpy, old recluses who won't leave their houses, while crack-fiend Google is knocking on all their doors for a hit.

Then we got News Corp. dropping it's aggregated news content delivery platform, aka - Alesia. Rupert, like the TV studios, doesn't want to disrupt current revenue streams.

Old media can't get in the race with a chain wrapped around their axle.

Innovation doesn't have a safety net to catch you with.

So that's where they come from

By Michael Mulvey on October 18, 2010 9:02 AM

I'm thoroughly enjoying Steve Johnson's new book, Where Good Ideas Come From (I was originally introduced to Johnson by my friend Victor with the book Ghost Map).

I'm about a third of the way through the book, and it's been a constant process of reading and underlining, reading and underlining.

I'm not going to quote the whole book, but there's one nugget I found very interesting because it's something I've done for years with my sketchbooks and now something I (and many others) do with this blog:

Darwin's notebooks lie at the tail end of a long and fruitful tradition that peaked in the Enlightenment-era Europe, particularly in England: the practice of maintaining "commonplace" book. Scholars, amateur scientists, aspiring men of letters--just about anyone with intellectual ambition in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was likely to keep a commonplace book. The great minds of the period--Milton, Bacon, Locke--were zealous believers in the memory-enhancing powers of the commonplace book. In its most customary form, "commonplacing," as it was called, involved transcribing interesting or inspirational passages from one's reading, assembling a personalized encyclopedia of quotations.

Wow. A commonplace entry about commonplacing. How meta.

prohibiting the cleaner fuel

By Michael Mulvey on October 18, 2010 12:08 AM

It took 25 % of the fuel market in the midwest.. it was made from corn, it was basically white lightning.

John D. Rockefeller, founder and head of the Standard Oil Company didn't appreciate Ford cutting into his oil profits, and started funding the ammendment we know as Prohibition.

Because if the constitutional ammendment cut off all alcohol production, all of Fords ethanol alcohol automotive fuel would be wiped out of business, and Standard Oil would increase profits immediately by 25% or more (due to increased growth in car sales) .

Ford continued to make Ethanol compatible vehicles for 12 of the 13 years of prohibition, and then he gave up.

Right after prohibition was over President Teddy Roosevelt broke up the Standard Oil company due to its monopoly of the energy market and interference in Government.

The two parts recombined 88 years later, and now Exxon Mobil have bigger profits than any other company, corporation, or business in the world... consecutively, year after year.

source: documentary "Fuel" by Josh Tickell (via Just A Car Guy)

being found

By Michael Mulvey on October 17, 2010 11:16 PM

SEO And The Long Tail - How Jon Hamm Keeps Bringing New Visitors To My Site

But what this does show is how the Long Tail works for search and SEO. While most people will concentrate on clear search terms and take the first results that Google delivers up to them, others will search with what makes sense to themselves alone. And because of that, they find themselves here. That means that those who optimize their search term for a vary narrow search are missing out. People are searching in the oddest ways and using their own ways of thinking and writing. The only way you'll get to your desired audience would be to publish really good content as frequently as possible. Publish no less frequently than once a week and ideally, five days a week or more.

I've had similar discoveries on my site. The first of which was when I found how popular my Hand & Arrow Icons post was in Google Image searches for "hand cursor icon". The post ended up achieving my intended goal which was great. Then it got picked up by some big design blogs almost a year after I posted it and I got a huge surge in traffic.

The internet is fun. Anything is possible.

great software, heard of it?

By Michael Mulvey on October 17, 2010 11:11 PM

Ars Technica: HP Slate video shows all that's wrong with Windows 7 on tablets

Engadget has posted a YouTube video purporting to show HP's forthcoming Slate--the Intel-powered, Windows 7 PC in an iPad-like form factor. What the video really shows is a smart piece of hardware that's let down by the software running on it.

Nick Lepard

By Michael Mulvey on October 17, 2010 10:58 PM

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Nick Lepard (via New York Magazine)

Pauly D rocks.

By Michael Mulvey on October 17, 2010 10:45 PM

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Ashton should tweet this.

By Michael Mulvey on October 16, 2010 11:21 AM

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Always Ballmer. Always Awkward.

By Michael Mulvey on October 15, 2010 11:21 PM

Just watch the whole 4 minutes and 45 seconds of it. You're feel a lot better about yourself (I hope).

...wait for the 4:20 mark so you can once again see that the man running Microsoft has no fucking idea how any of the company's technology works.

"GEE, some of ya even like technical stuff."

What the hell does that even mean?

He's talking to the computer science department of the University of Washington, of course they like the technical stuff!

What computers can I drive?

By Michael Mulvey on October 15, 2010 10:23 PM

In the world of automobiles, we have all sorts of choices:

Ferrari. Lamborghini, Porsche, Maserati, BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Aston Martin...and that's just the high end. There's cars for ever price, speed, mileage and capacity.

What about consumer computers?

Apple OS X. Microsoft Windows. (Linux has had more the enough time to be consumer-friendly, their priority is obviously dominating the world's servers).

When we get to mobile OS's there are a *few* more to choose from, but not many:

Apple iOS. Google Android. RIM's Blackberry OS. And, until recently, the wonderful (I thought) webOS by Palm. And soon, Windows Phone 7 (I'll count Symbian like I count the Ford Pinto as a viable choice for a car in the late 70's).

When we get down to it, RIM doesn't understand consumer products (yet?), Android is just getting around to getting more user-friendly and webOS was doing well until they got derailed by HP's acquisition of Palm. I'm interested to see how Windows Phone 7 does. The problem is Microsoft, like RIM, doesn't understand consumer products. Windows Phone 7 looks interesting, but too progressive for the average consumer.

We have Apple as the only true contender for the easiest, most holistic consumer computers, computer operating system and mobile operating system.

Where are the other contenders?

Who else understands design?

connecting with people

By Michael Mulvey on October 15, 2010 2:28 PM

Ze Frank's web playroom

On the web, a new "Friend" may be just a click away, but true connection is harder to find and express. Ze Frank presents a medley of zany Internet toys that require deep participation -- and reward it with something more nourishing. You're invited, if you promise you'll share.

vice versa

By Michael Mulvey on October 15, 2010 12:46 PM

"We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us."

-Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (via Thinking For A Living)

The Game

By Michael Mulvey on October 15, 2010 12:39 PM

"Behind every great fortune there is a crime."

-Honore de Balzac

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resistance to being bent

By Michael Mulvey on October 14, 2010 12:37 PM

AutoBlog: Mazda Shinari Concept debuts new face of the brand in style

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The Shinari concept, which roughly translates to "resistance to being bent," will serve as a the basis for Mazda's new design language, and many of the styling cues will make it to future production vehicles. That means that the Shinari will essentially affect the design of every vehicle coming from the Japanese automaker for the next several years.

And

The Shinari Concept represents the first styling concept under his new design theme, KODO, which replaces the controversial Nagare them from the past several years. While the Nagare-styled cars were represented by wavy, flowing lines, a trait that looked great on concepts but was tough to implement on production cars (see Mazda3), KODO is more of an organic style that still takes cues from the natural world, but in a much more solidified and powerful sense. Maeda describes KODO as form with a soul, or bringing form to life, with the three key terms defining the theme being speed, tension and alluring. "There are few products of industrial design that can be compared to living entities which convey energetic motion and which invite affection," he says. "It is this intrinsically emotional appeal of the car that I wish to express when creating Mazda cars."

Telsa, make something great

By Michael Mulvey on October 14, 2010 12:21 PM

GigaOm: How Tesla Will Try to Keep Its Stock Up

Tesla's debut on the Nasdaq yesterday was met with a shockingly hearty embrace. The electric car maker started the day at $19 on Tuesday, above its estimated range of $14 to $16, and as of the middle of the day on Wednesday traded as high as $30.42. That's despite the fact that as columnist Drew Voros put it: "Like the emperor with no clothes, Tesla is a company with no financial fundamentals that warrant it being a public security, much less one that pops on its first day of trading."

That's the problem right there. Instead of focusing on making their product great, they're focusing on profitability. It's going to cloud their vision, because if they're (hypotheticallly) willing to do anything to keep their stock up, that (potentially) includes degrading their product.

Rome is Falling

By Michael Mulvey on October 14, 2010 12:05 PM

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TwinCities.com: Microsoft to do direct battle with Apple at Mall of America

A Microsoft retail store is coming to the Mall of America and -- get this -- it's directly across from one of Apple's famed retail stores.

Microsoft is a notorious imitator of all things Apple, and it's doing it again by opening copycat stores across the country (four are open so far). The Mall of America store, with 8,600 total square feet and 5,200 public square feet, opens Nov. 6.

Ah Microsoft, desperate times call for desperate measures. I understand.

But do YOU understand where most of your revenue comes from?

*spoiler - it's not from consumer stuff.

Stop with the innovations, because they're not.

By Michael Mulvey on October 14, 2010 9:50 AM

Wow, how great is this 2008 post from Scott Berkun (via Bobulate):

From all my travels and speaking gigs in 2007, I'm most confident about the following advice: Stop using the word innovation in 2008. Just stop. Right now. Commit to never saying the word again. Einstein, Ford, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, and Edison rarely said the word and neither should you. Every crowd I've said this to laughed and agreed. The I-word is killing us.

So, so, so true. This word has been beaten to death and sometimes by people who are in every other respect very intelligent. I came across two posts recently who are guilty:

DesignADay: Four Approaches to Innovative Solutions - A great post, just a bad title. The class Moffett is teaching should be called Solving Problems, because that's what design is.

asymco: NYT blames yet another culprit: Nokia's Culture of Complacency - First off, Horace Dediu is a super-sharp guy. Where his post needs adjusting is in his noting of Nokia's 'innovation firsts'. Innovations can be firsts but they aren't always.

I quoted Professor Jan Fagerberg in July of 2009, and I'll quote him again:

Invention is the first occurrence of an idea for a new product or process. Innovation is the first commercialization of the idea.

To not make this distinction between invention and innovation is to completely dilute any power and meaning behind innovation. Thomas Edison has hundreds of patents on his inventions, a fraction of which became innovations within the the marketplace.

As Berkun advised, our best bet is to stop using the word entirely.

He's asked me whether should we do advertising at all.

By Michael Mulvey on October 14, 2010 9:39 AM

AdAge: Why Chipotle Ditched Ad Agencies (via Kottke)

Mr. Crumpacker points out that the chain hasn't added a menu item in 17 years and it also does not have a regular cadence of pricing promotions. For those reasons, he said, agencies' experience with other fast food chains is irrelevant.

Why didn't he talk to Don Draper? Coupons are HUGE with housewives.

And:

Last November, Chipotle made the decision to go it alone and bring advertising in-house. After spending at least six months selecting Butler Shine from a group of 27 agencies, Mr. Crumpacker said it didn't make sense to take the time to pick another agency. "By the time we picked one and got them up to speed it would have been a year," he said. "The only reasonable thing to do was to do it ourselves."

Tron: Legacy concept art

By Michael Mulvey on October 14, 2010 9:16 AM

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Good lord, this stuff is beautiful. (via Just A Car Guy)

honesty, that's a new approach

By Michael Mulvey on October 11, 2010 5:55 PM

So Microsoft dropped their new phone/phone OS today. Their press release has a fair share of bullshit biz-speak, but it also has some honest words.

For one, it's one of first times they acknowledge Android and iPhone by name, but the clincher is the last sentence of the last paragraph (my emphasis):

Microsoft is so committed to the new phone that it has arranged for every full-time employee worldwide to be able to switch to the new phone as soon as it launches in their market. And while executives say they are thrilled with the final product, they also acknowledge there is a lot more to be done. When the phone is released, they plan to enjoy the moment - but not for long. "There's so much more of Microsoft we've got to bring out in the phone," says Myerson. "We've got a lot of work to do."

You're over 3 years late to the smartphone game, damn straight you have a lot of work to do.

most people

By Michael Mulvey on October 1, 2010 4:38 PM

Most people are reasonable, that's why they only do reasonably well.
--Paul Arden, Whatever You Think, Think The Opposite

the shape of a camera

By Michael Mulvey on October 1, 2010 3:33 PM

how_to_load_a_camera.jpg

Finally we're getting around to rethinking the shape of cameras.

If you're still using film cameras, great. Some of my friends still do and the results are awesome.

But if you're using a digital camera, there's no film, so the camera can be any shape you want.

Canon's 4K concept camera is pretty interesting (via Gizmodo):

canon_4k.jpg

gritty. worn. authentic. vintage. manly.

By Michael Mulvey on October 1, 2010 2:55 PM

I've been noticing a trend, or should I say, a resurgence in both actual and virtual products that are gritty, worn, vintage, retro and authentic. It's always been around, but much more pronounced these days.

Perhaps I'm more in tune with this than other people because I've always been attracted to the aesthetic. My personal brand, The Combustion Chamber - and by extenstion, Daily Exhaust, are both inspired by vintage cars, car parts, manuals and ads. We are all programmed to perceive the world through pattern recognition. It's like when you buy a car, you start to see that model everywhere you go. It doesn't matter if it's popular or rare, you're now *tuned* to see it more because it's more important to you.

Even acknowledging my weakness for said aesthetic, I still think this renewed interest in things that look and are analogue is real and it's bubbling up into popular culture. I see it in everything from clothing, to TV shows, to web design, to advertising to mobile application design.

Is it not expected, though? We're at a point in history where the United States doesn't make anything anymore. We import goods from China and export our jobs to India. Fewer things are real these days. People break up with their partners via text message. We have hundreds of Facebook 'friends' but few real ones. We've tossed aside the pencil and paper for an iPad 'Notes' app - complete with virtual yellow lined background.

People long for things that have history.

They reminisce of the days when things where real and made by hand.

Below are examples, some big names, some unknown to most, but all have passed through my radar:

Mad Men

authentic_DonDraper.jpg

Obvious, but can't be overlooked. Mad Men has renewed interest in everything that made 1960's New York what it was - The Old Fashioned, men who wore suits, women who wore dresses (and had the curves to fill them) and simple, purposeful product design. Matthew Weiner's attention to detail is incredible.

Levi's - We Are All Workers

authentic_weAreAllWorkers.jpg

Levi's kicked off a campaign in 2009 entitled 'Go Forth' that featured a 1800's inspired typographic style that tried to appeal to that good ol' American spirit. They transformed this campaign into 'We Are All Workers' for 2010.

From their press release:

Amid today's widespread need for revitalization and recovery, a new generation of "real workers" has emerged, those who see challenges around them and are inspired to drive positive, meaningful change. This fall, with the introduction of Go Forth 'Ready to Work', the Levi's® brand will empower and inspire workers everywhere through Levi's® crafted product and stories of the new American worker.

*also see Coolhunting: Levi's Workwear x Billy Reid

Gilt Manual

authentic_giltManual.jpg

The popular 'flash' sale retailer launched this site recently with the aim to be 'The Daily Guide to Permanent Style'. As of this writing (1 Oct 2010) headlines include: Broken in Denim You Bought Raw and How to Stock You Bar for Fall.

*also of note:
Barking Irons on the Bowery
AllSaints Spitalfields
Cool Hunting: Levi's Workwear
Hostem (via Cool Hunting)
Put This On

Modern Anthology

authentic_modernAnthology.jpg

From their about page:

Modern Anthology is a creative studio and retail store specializing in original deign, one story at a time.

The DUMBO outpost of Modern Anthology hosts a retail store that curates a unique selection of vintage furniture, home and personal accessories and well-crafted clothing that reflects an experienced and masculine lifestyle.

found via FastCoDesign

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