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Archive of the category 'Design'

Form Follows Information, by Eduardo Navas

Image source: Mashable

In January of 2009 I wrote two brief entries, “On Content and Form: 2009 Forecast” and “Further Reflections on Content and Form in 2009,” which evaluated the difficulty that developers are encountering with the constant change of delivery devices.  Since then, there appears to be more interest in having constant access to information than on the devices themselves. I also noted the possibility that consumers may develop fetishes for hybrid devices like the iPhone.

Yet, as we move on to the second half of 2009, the actual subject of analysis is becoming more apparent: the screen.  It is the aesthetics of the screen, a vessel of simulation, of make believe, of simulacra proper that is turning out to be the recurring device in all media.  From the early days of film on to television, and currently the computer and its supplementary devices, including GPS systems, text readers such as the kindle, portable DVD players, and of course the iPhone, the screen has played a defining role in the ongoing expansion of global communication.

The screen’s never-ending evolution, then, is what needs to be considered carefully in order to understand how media is changing with the growth of network culture.  The challenge in this acknowledgment is that our familiar window for entertainment and communication, while always a comfortable rectangular format of malleable dimensions, has no actual stable material form; it keeps shifting at an ever increasing speed; and because of media’s dependency on the screen, developers need to change their approach to product development.  This also means that content providers need to rethink their relation to media delivery, whether this be print, or online.

Convergence Aesthetics: Design for Mobile Attention, by Eduardo Navas

Image source: paidcontent.org

The pervasiveness of the screen in mobile media is pushing convergence development in two particular ways worth noting.  The first, how image and text are increasingly treated the same by users, is actually a stepping stone to the second, which is how the convergence (combination) of all media is designed not only to provide the greatest access to as much information as possible, but also to negotiate which material is likely to be noticed first.

In relation to this, NPR recently released an iPhone widget that enables users to download a podcast or listen to live streaming.  This particular widget is designed to complement multitasking, as NPR’s Digital SVP & GM Kinsey Wilson explains to Paid Content:

This is the first app that is both for reading and for listening; our feeling is that people want to do one or another. There are times when reading a story is simply the quickest and most efficient way to get the news you want. There are other times, particularly when you’re engaged in other activities, that listening makes more sense. Where we have both, we’ll certainly present both.

The small television in the kitchen comes to mind when reading Wilson’s explanation: people for the most part listen to the news while getting ready to leave for work in the early morning, or in the evening while preparing dinner.   From time to time, when something of interest comes up, people are likely to look up and pay attention to the screen.  In this case, the television is used as a radio with visual options.  However, as it is obvious, the Television was not initially designed for this function.


Reblog: 26 Places to Find Free Multimedia for Your Blog, by Barb Dybwab

Image and text source: Mashable

Note: Here is an interesting list of resources for remixing already produced material for personal blogs and websites.

Nothing makes a blog post more eye-catching than a great header image, but not all publishers have artistic talent. And even accomplished digital creatives often crave some found material to start from or work with in a project. Luckily for all of the above, sources abound for finding a compelling photo to grab your readers’ eyes and draw them in, or to locate fresh multimedia to remix.

Read the entire list at Mashable.

Che: Recontextualization of an [a]historical Figure, by Eduardo Navas

“The Warhol Che,” artist and year unknown, an example of the image’s ubiquity.

Image source: NYTimes

Che Guevara got some attention at the beginning of 2009 with Steven Soderberg’s film Che, starring Benicio del Toro. More recently, Che is the subject of a book titled, Che’s Afterlife, by Michael Casey. The book is reviewed by the New York Times as a detailed account of Che’s famous image taken by Alberto Díaz Gutiérrez, known professionally as Korda. The story goes that Korda took the photograph during a funeral in Cuba. Korda’s creativity was not only in knowing when to take the photograph, which is for what most photographers are praised, but also in knowing how to crop it. To quote directly from the New York Times:

“By radically cropping the shot, snipping out a palm tree and the profile of another man, Korda gave the portrait an ageless quality, divorced from the specifics of time and place.”

This divorce is what Walter Benjamin noted in the first half of the twenty century in his well-known essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” An essay that many cultural critics have cited and will probably cite, because Benjamin foresaw many of the elements that today inform media culture in all areas of reproduction. (more…)

Busy weekend: Kindle and Facebook beatings, by Dan Farber

Image source: scifi.com

Text source:  ZDnet

Published: November 25th, 2007

Robert Scoble spent the last week giving his new Amazon Kindle ebook reader a test drive, reading a couple of books and declaring the progeny of Jeff Bezos a failure. He thinks the usability and user interface suck and it lack features such as a touch screen, social networking and the capability to send electronic goods to others. He wants version 3.0 of the device.
David Pogue of the New York Times is far kinder to the Kindle.

So if the Kindle isn’t a home run, it’s at least an exciting triple. It gets the important things right: the reading experience, the ruggedness, the super-simple software setup. And that wireless instant download — wow.

Even though most people will prefer the feel, the cost and the simplicity of a paper book, the Kindle is by far the most successful stab yet at taking reading material into the digital age.


Amazon Pitches a Wireless IPod for Books, by Saul Hansell

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, introduces its new e-book, called Kindle (Mark Lennihan /Associated Press)

Image and text source NYTimes.com 

November 19, 2007

Amazon.com introduced its electronic book reader today at a packed event in New York. Unlike other products in this area, Amazon’s $399 Kindle is designed to be used without ever connecting to a computer. Instead it has a wireless Internet connection that lets users browse Amazon’s online store on the device and download a book in less than a minute.

Amazon is trying to do for books what Apple has done for music. It has linked its device tightly to its own online bookstore, just as the iTunes music store is tied into the iPod. Amazon has 90,000 titles for sale at launch, including books from all major publishers.

Best sellers and new releases will cost $9.99. That represents a substantial savings off of Amazon’s already discounted prices. Amazon is currently selling hardcover bestsellers for roughly $13 to $20 and trade paperbacks for $8 to $11.

Read the entire article at NYTimes.com 

Graphic Design Is Immaterial, by Matt Soar

Image source: Amazon.com

Text source: AIGA

Originally published: September 06, 2006

From a short talk presented at the AIGA FutureHistory conference (Chicago, October 16-17, 2004).

If we were to take a snapshot of writing and thinking about graphic design in North America right now—and here I mean the kind of graphic design “criticism,” “journalism” or “history” that we find in a wealth of books, journals, magazines, edited collections, conference papers, discussions and weblogs—I think we would find that there are several recurrent themes that can, in some senses, be considered as characteristic (if not quite definitive) of this outpouring; this “discourse.” [1]

When designers and invested observers pause to reflect on the state of this profession—or “practice,” as some would have it—the kind of hand-wringing that ensues has much to do with an abiding sense that: (a) graphic design is important, goddamn it; (b) as hard as “they” try, “they” don’t understand who we are and what we do; and (c) if only our importance was recognized by the wider world—for the right reasons, of course—then everyone would somehow be better off. Alas, this insularity is not so much imposed as self-inflicted.


Early custom Kraftwerk vocoder on the auction block, by Ryan Block

Image and text soure: Engadget

Jun 29th 2006

You wax faux-nostalgic about the heyday of early robo-Kraut-rock, your early signed pressing of Radio-Activity is rivaled only by your original Neu! Super / Neuschnee 7-inch, and you got a belly laugh at that one scene about the record the nihilists once cut in The Big Lebowski. Kraftwerk fans, today is your lucky day. The original one-of-a-kind prototype vocoder Kraftwerk pictured on the rear cover art of and used to record “Ananas Symphonie” and “Kristallo” on their 1973 release Ralf & Florian. As of the time of this writing it’s already up to five grand, so if you want yourself an extremely expensive piece of history for electronics and electronic music, you’d better get a move on, schnell.

Note: the above text was a comment on the following post from Music Thing:

Lots of people say things like ‘RARE legendary’ in eBay auctions for DX7s and Casio VL-Tones, but eBay item #300001522431 doesn’t go for hype, just saying “prototype VOCODER of german 70´s Electronic Pioneers”. What’s on offer is Ralf & Florian’s vocoder, built to order by a local electronics company, and later used on the intro to ‘Autobahn’. No bids so far at $3,800, with ten days to go. (Thanks, Kaden)
UPDATE: It went for $12,500!

Soft Modernism: The World of the Post-Theoretical Designer, by Mike Grimshaw

Le Corbusier
1947, Photogram
Image source: http://www.govettbrewster.com/

Text source: Ctheory


“Architecture is either the prophecy of an unfinished society or the tomb of a finished one.”
— Lewis Mumford, 1934. [1]

Of all the varying impacts of postmodernity (whatever we can or cannot agree that to mean) one of the most ubiquitous has been the preponderance of Lifestyle as ‘a life of style’ — the “Wallpaper*ization”[2] of the proposed environment we are meant to inhabit. The stylist, the designer, the imitator has sought to create a modernism within postmodern eclecticism. Yet this is a modernism that only embraces the totalitarianism internal to a mis-read Nietzschean-derived will to power and order.

While it could be argued that postmodernism was the triumph of theory over substance, it was a reversal of a Marxist derived modernism: now all that melts becomes solid in the air. Like melting substances, disorder became the form of representation. Like a melting substance, that which seemed ephemeral became attached, sometimes organic, sometimes as collage but always, and this is crucial, as a form of ornamentation.

Read the entire text at Ctheory

Rival Manufacturers Chasing the iPhone, By Martin Fackler

Image and text source: NY Times

July 2, 2007

SEOUL, South Korea, June 29 — While Americans have been blitzed with news about the iPhone’s debut, many in South Korea’s and Japan’s technology industries initially greeted Apple’s flashy new handset with yawns.

Pantech’s design center in Seoul, South Korea. An executive at the company says that riding on Apple’s coattails may turn out to be the best business strategy.

Cellphones in these technology-saturated countries can already play digital songs and video games and receive satellite television. But now that analysts and industry executives are getting their first good look at the iPhone, many here are concerned that Asian manufacturers may have underestimated the Apple threat.

Read the entire article at NY Times

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