Frank Chimero: Horizontalism and Readability

Illustrator/Designer Frank Chimero chal­lenges the “ver­ti­cal scroll”:

We take scrolling for granted today. It’s like run­ning water or Friends reruns: they’ve always been there and they always will be there. And we like them well enough. But, it is an inter­est­ing men­tal exer­cise to actu­ally con­sider scrolling as part of a con­tin­uum of solu­tions in solv­ing the same problem.

This dove­tails nicely with Rex’s think­ing in his Medi­aite design. But the real game changer is the arrival of the iPad. As we move away from the mouse pointer and scroll wheel, design­ers should revisit old assump­tions, and embrace the horizontal.

Life Below ‘The Fold’

Irish designer Paddy Don­nelly, in a nicely-designed arti­cle, attempts to sub­vert the accepted wis­dom of the page fold:

The fold is one of those guide­lines that has been thrown about so much that it’s now become a ‘rule’ of web design (or maybe more appro­pri­ately a ‘ball and chain’ of web design) with web design­ers blindly obey­ing with­out question…

If every­thing of excep­tional qual­ity is pushed upon the reader at the begin­ning, once they start explor­ing and the rest of the site isn’t of the same cal­i­bre, they’re going to be let down.

I agree—scroll below the fold on most large-scale web sites, and the qual­ity dimin­ishes as you move down the page. I don’t know if that’s because too much atten­tion is paid to ‘the fold’ myth, or because most web sites have a ver­ti­cal up-and-down ‘rail’ struc­ture… or, if we’re just bad designers.

Peo­ple scroll. Peo­ple read left-to-right. We should design for these rules.

Actual Objects

Actual Objects pro­vides ele­gant royalty-free (and rea­son­ably priced) design and illus­tra­tion assets by Matt Owens and the Ath­let­ics crew, here in Brooklyn.

Royalty-Free Illustration from actualobjects.com

Screen shot on Flickr

My tal­ented col­league Jason Bishop worked together with Matt on the eco­nomic bailout col­lec­tion, seen above, and two other sets. The two have pre­vi­ously col­lab­o­rated for some of the great info­graph­ics in GOOD Mag­a­zine.

New Capndesign.com

I love Matt Jacob’s just launched redesign. Bright and fresh, with cool jquery charts, archives that mashup pho­tos and posts, and some Type­kit.

New Capndesign.com

Screen shot

Con­grats, Matt! If only things didn’t look so stale around here.

Packer & Bilton, on Twitter

It’s been fun fol­low­ing the debate between the Times Bits blog­ger Nick Bil­ton, and New Yorker staff writer George Packer, on whether Twit­ter is a god­send, or a har­bin­ger of doom.

Packer opened with a dec­la­ra­tion that he’s old school:

I don’t have a Black­Berry, or an iPhone, or a Google phone, and I don’t intend to get an iPad. I’ve been care­ful not to men­tion this to sources in Wash­ing­ton, where con­ver­sa­tion con­sists of two peo­ple occa­sion­ally glanc­ing up from their Black­Ber­ries and say­ing, ‘I’m listening.’

After point­ing out recent news sto­ries that Twit­ter had a hand in breaking—Iran, Haiti, Obama’s Elec­tion—Bil­ton fires back:

…when trains were a new tech­nol­ogy 150 years ago, some jour­nal­ists and intel­lec­tu­als wor­ried about the destruc­tion that the rail­roads would bring to society…

I won­der if, 150 years ago, Mr. Packer would be rid­ing the train at all, or if he would have stayed home, afraid to engage in an evolv­ing soci­ety and demand­ing that the trains be stopped.

Ouch. One gets the sense that there is some kind of gen­er­a­tional clash going on here. Packer tries again:

If a Lud­dite is some­one who fears and hates all tech­no­log­i­cal change, a Bil­tonite is some­one who cel­e­brates all tech­no­log­i­cal change: because we can, we must.

George is ask­ing the right ques­tions, but it’s hard to dis­agree with Bilton’s point—by refus­ing to par­tic­i­pate in social media, he’s miss­ing part of the story… you can’t bury your head in the sand and expect to keep up.

Mother’s History of Birds

My col­league and friend Elliott Malkin just fin­ished his short sub­ject doc­u­men­tary, Mother’s His­tory of Birds, the third film in his fam­ily tril­ogy. In it, he tells the story of his mother through her pet birds. (I love Roberta’s taste in eyewear.)

Also, if you haven’t seen it, check out his home movie recon­struc­tions.

The Bold Italic

Jason Kot­tke just linked to an inter­est­ing design tid­bit – the launch of a web mag­a­zine in San Fran­cisco called The Bold Italic. (No, not that bold italic…)

We’ve seen some small-scale exam­ples of art direc­tion on the web, but this seems to me to be some­thing in the ‘medium’-scale range – I really love this stuff, hope­fully they can keep it fresh.

Also, I can’t wait for the day when ad bud­gets and tools are at the point where design­ers can art direct on the article-level, as opposed to just design­ing tem­plates and frame­works. Maybe this gets us an inch closer to that goal.

Fringe Politics Meet Art History

Steven Heller on another Glenn beck gem:

In a recent broad­cast, the res­i­dent pro­pa­gan­dist at Fox News takes Rock­e­feller Center’s vin­tage pub­lic art and archi­tec­ture to task for pro­mot­ing Com­mu­nism and Fas­cism through murals, friezes, and engrav­ings bear­ing sym­bols that sub­lim­i­nally project vile values.

Pol­i­tics aside, just watch­ing the video, what is Beck’s point? That oil money funds com­mu­nist rev­o­lu­tion? That he is as good a pro­pa­gan­dist as the communists?

The mind reels at his delusions.

European Vacation ’09

…or, what I’ve been up to this summer…

I’ve been neglect­ing the blog lately, though I am ten­ta­tively sketch­ing out big plans for its future… some day, (prob­a­bly in the fall), I’ll get back to this.

But, in way of an update, Lisa finally posted all of her pho­tos from our lit­tle Euro­pean adven­ture a cou­ple of weeks ago, see below. 10 days with Jason and Cristen in Paris, Ams­ter­dam, the Rhineland, Bavaria and Berlin.

Berlin is an amaz­ingly weird place — I feel like we only scratched the sur­face, I must go back.

My iPhone-only pho­tos are on flickr »

Buttermilk’ Font, From Jessica Hische

‘Buttermilk’ Font, From Jessica Hische

‘But­ter­milk’, from Jes­sica Hische.

Illustrator/Designer Jes­sica His­che released her first type­face today, and it looks gor­geous. But­ter­milk is a “bold script that would be just per­fect for mag­a­zine head­lines, book title type, hol­i­day cards, ini­tial caps, you name it.”

The numer­als are espe­cially beau­ti­ful, and she promises a “huge array of lig­a­tures to help you set it beau­ti­fully and easily.”

I worked with Jes­sica last fall on a nice retro logo for the Pogue-o-matic. Be sure to check out Jessica’s work, (I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of her let­ter­press stuff.)

Mediaite Launch

Rex Sor­gatz on the design of Medi­aite, Dan Abrams’s new media website:

…‘hor­i­zon­tal sites’ build a new kind of impor­tance hier­ar­chy. Design­ers don’t real­ize it, but unaligned ver­ti­cal stacks are a rem­nant of the way that news­pa­pers were designed—in columns, up and down. These new lay­outs are more like movie screens and wide mon­i­tors, with action mov­ing left and right.

A very sim­ple, but poten­tially evo­lu­tion­ary step in our under­stand­ing of how read­ers can best scan and make sense of content.

Ghost in the Machine: The Clash

Ghost in the Machine: The Clash

Lon­don Call­ing, cas­sette tape on can­vas, 2009 — By Erika Iris Simmons

Two things that I really love about this illus­tra­tion by Erika Iris Sim­mons:

  1. It’s the iconic image from the cover of The Clash’s mas­ter­piece Lon­don Call­ing.
  2. It’s ren­dered with casette tape!

View it at the largest size to see the detail.

Fever° From Shaun Inman

Shaun Inman launched Fever today, a re-imagined feed reader. The big dif­fer­ence between Fever and other prod­ucts like Google Reader, is that it is designed to help float impor­tant or trend­ing links and dis­cus­sions to the top. So rather than read­ing through hun­dreds of posts to find what’s hot, Fever ana­lyzes all of your feeds, and looks for re-linking and repeat references.

I haven’t yet sprung for a license, (mostly because there isn’t any offline caching so that I can read on the sub­way). But, there is a lovely look­ing iPhone-optimized site, and it looks as thought­fully and lov­ingly designed as his web ana­lyt­ics prod­uct, Mint.

Be sure to watch the video demo, and note that Fever is not a hosted service—you have to install it on your own server.

Reunited Blur Perform First Gig in Nearly 10 Years

Oh man, I’m so excited for the Blur reunion this sum­mer, even though it seems lim­ited to the UK for now. The first of these new gigs hap­pened on June 13th at the site of their first gig, and from the looks of a few YouTube videos, they sound fantastic.

From NY Mag’s Vul­ture Blog:

On Sat­ur­day, before an audi­ence of 150, Blur played its first con­cert as a four-piece in a decade, at Essex, England’s East Anglian Rail­way Museum (it’s where they per­formed one of their ear­li­est gigs) — and some won­der­ful per­son has uploaded video of prac­ti­cally the entire show.

Video of Blur per­form­ing ‘There’s no Other Way’ on June 13th.

More Cov­er­age:

[Via Hal­fAlien]

Introducing Typekit

Jeff Veen announced Type­kit today, a hosted solu­tion for embed­ding fonts on the web:

We’ve been work­ing with foundries to develop a con­sis­tent web-only font link­ing license. We’ve built a tech­nol­ogy plat­form that lets us to host both free and com­mer­cial fonts in a way that is incred­i­bly fast, smoothes out dif­fer­ences in how browsers han­dle type, and offers the level of pro­tec­tion that type design­ers need with­out resort­ing to annoy­ing and inef­fec­tive DRM.

Soon enough, @font-face CSS at-rule sup­port will come to all major browsers, so use of non-traditional web fonts will increase. If this catches on, the web in 2010 might look a lot dif­fer­ent than it does now—I won­der who will be the first major online con­tent provider to use it?

The New New Times Square

The New New Times Square

Look­ing north at 42nd Street, in Times Square.

A few col­leagues and I walked over to Times Square at lunch to check out the new Broadway—now shut off to cars, it’s another attempt by the city and the Bloomberg admin­is­tra­tion to reclaim the streets for pedestrians.

The Times archi­tec­ture critic Nico­lai Ourous­soff says:

Now, stand­ing in the mid­dle of Broad­way, you have the sense of being in a big pub­lic room, the tow­er­ing bill­boards and dig­i­tal screens press­ing in on all sides.

This adds to the inti­macy of the plaza itself, which, how­ever unde­fined, can now func­tion as a gen­uine social space: peo­ple can mill around, ogle one another and gaze up at the city around them with­out the fear of being caught under the wheels of a cab.

There’s a cou­ple of great slideshows, too. And, don’t miss Michael Crowley’s New York Mag­a­zine pro­file of the woman behind it all, NYC Trans­porta­tion Com­mis­sioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Al Shaw on Redesigning the Front Page of Talking Points Memo

On Redesign­ing the Front Page of Talk­ing Points Memo »
Al Shaw talks about some of the design con­sid­er­a­tions and tech­ni­cal wiz­ardry that went into the face lift of the Liberal-leaning pol­i­tics blog. Be sure to watch the video demo of the ajaxy front page CMS editor.

The Times Wins 5 Pulitzer Prizes

NY Times newsroom, Pulitzer announcement

Photo by Soraya.

The New York Times, my employer, won 5 Pulitzer Prizes today, “for work on sub­jects as var­ied as America’s wars in Asia, the sud­den down­fall of a polit­i­cal titan, art from ancient to mod­ern, and a history-making pres­i­den­tial campaign.”

The inter­est­ing one, from my point of view, is the award for break­ing the Gov. Eliot Spitzer pros­ti­tu­tion scan­dal. No, not because it’s sala­cious or bawdy, but because the exclu­sive wasn’t held for the next morning’s paper – it was put up online, on NYTimes.com, in the mid­dle of the day. I think that this will be an impor­tant mile­stone in the evo­lu­tion of qual­ity journalism.

The Nie­man Lab points to a funny anec­dote that ran in the NY Observer last year:

Back in the day — you know, five years ago — when a big news story had been writ­ten, edited, fact-checked, vet­ted, proof­read, and anguished over one last time, an adrenaline-pumped edi­tor would cry out, “Run it!” As in, the presses.

When The New York Times was ready to report that Eliot Spitzer, then gov­er­nor of New York, had been impli­cated in a pros­ti­tu­tion ring, man­ag­ing edi­tor Jill Abram­son yelled 20 feet across the news­room, “O.K., hit it!” As in, the but­ton to pub­lish the story on NYTimes.com.

I love that. Con­grats to my col­leagues in the news room, and let’s keep it up!

Camera Obscura & DJ Victoria Bergsman, at the Bell House

Victoria Bergsman

Vic­to­ria Bergs­man, DJing at The Bell House in Brooklyn.

Ned­ward: Vic­to­ria Bergs­man (for­merly of The Con­cretes) is DJing at The Bell House, much to my delight. Wait­ing for Cam­era Obscura!

As big a fan of Cam­era Obscura as I am, the more inter­est­ing bit Tues­day night was a spe­cial guest DJ, Vic­to­ria Bergs­man. A lot of peo­ple know her voice as the female coun­ter­point in Young Folks, the Peter Bjorn and John sing-along hit from a cou­ple of years ago. But she was also the singer in one of my favorite bands, The Con­cretes. (Cam­era Obscura fans should check out their epony­mous debut album.) She has since left the band, and formed a solo project under the name Taken By Trees, (also a great debut).

Any­how, I might have been the only per­son in the crowd that had any idea who she was – or cared – so Lisa encour­aged me to say hello. But, I’m just not one of those peo­ple who walks up to a famous per­son, and just gushes in their face. Call it shy­ness, call it fear of dis­ap­point­ment… the bot­tom line is that I chick­ened out.

To make mat­ters worse, Lisa went over to the DJ booth with­out me, and told Ms. Bergs­man that “her friend was a big fan,” but that he “didn’t want to bother her.” Nice. So now I’m shy, and embarrassed.

I don’t really regret it that much, but I would’ve liked to show off some dance moves from The Con­cretes’ On The Radio video. I’d like to think that she would’ve laughed.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘Cam­era Obscura & DJ Vic­to­ria Bergs­man, at the Bell House’

David Letterman Got Married

Wow: David Let­ter­man got married!

A New MoMA.org

Ned­ward is dig­ging into the new MoMA.org… so far, very intrigu­ing. Fixed nav bars are the new hottness.

I just sent the tweet above a few min­utes ago, but wanted to post some more con­text about it here. MoMA launched a revamped web site today, with a lot of hook-ins to social net­work­ing sites like Flickr, Twit­ter, YouTube, Face­book, etc. But, one of the more com­pelling changes is the addi­tion of a Facebook-style fixed nav bar, at the bottom:

new MoMA.org

The new MoMA.org, with its fixed nav­i­ga­tion bar.

Con­tinue read­ing ‘A New MoMA.org’

President Obama Unveils New Stimulus Logos

The stim­u­lus pack­age is now law, so there are going to be a lot of pub­lic works projects in need of a logo, right?

Yes­ter­day, the pres­i­dent unveiled 2 such logos – designed by Mode, Aaron Draplin and Chris Glass. The logos will be stamped on pub­lic works funded by the eco­nomic stim­u­lus pack­age, FDR style. Pres­i­dent Obama said that its intent was to remind Amer­i­cans that:

When you see them on projects that your tax dol­lars made pos­si­ble, let it be a reminder that our gov­ern­ment – your gov­ern­ment – is doing its part to put the econ­omy back on the road of recovery.

One won­ders if the Obama team is going to rebrand the entire Fed­eral gov­ern­ment, one agency at a time.

U2 on Letterman, $4 Album Download

U2 kicked-off their his­toric 5-night res­i­dency on David Letterman’s Late Show last night, with a per­for­mance of Breathe. They even par­tic­i­pated in a lit­tle sketch, where Dave had them out­side on 53rd Street, shov­el­ing snow.

The res­i­dency is to cel­e­brate the release this week of their twelfth stu­dio record, No Line On The Hori­zon. And it just so hap­pens that you can grab a copy of it in non-DRM MP3 for­mat for $4 from Ama­zon. I don’t reg­u­larly lis­ten to U2 much any more, but this is a great thing for a major-label artist to do, and I’m more than happy to give it a few lis­tens for that price and format.

UPDATE 3/5: Night two, the boys played Mag­nif­i­cent, which sounds like a clas­sic U2 song. Bono needs to treat his voice with more care, though.

The Times on Brooklyn Food, Frank Bruni on Buttermilk Channel

Today’s Times Din­ing sec­tion has some great cov­er­age of Brook­lyn food. First, there is a great arti­cle on food pro­duc­ers through­out the borough:

These Brook­lynites, most in their 20s and 30s, are hand-making pick­les, cheeses and choco­lates the way oth­ers form bands and artists’ col­lec­tives. They have a sense of com­mu­nity and an appre­ci­a­tion for tra­di­tional meth­ods and fla­vors. They also share an aes­thetic that’s equal parts 19th and 21st cen­tury, with a taste for bold graph­ics, sal­vaged wood and, for the men, scruffy beards.

Make sure to check out the inter­ac­tive map, too.

Also, Frank Bruni reviews one of my favorite new restau­rants near our home in Brook­lyn, But­ter­milk Chan­nel, along with an audio slideshow:

But­ter­milk Chan­nel [is] a restau­rant of real stan­dards, note­wor­thy ambi­tion and uncom­mon slav­ish­ness to trends. It’s laud­able and pre­dictable in equal mea­sures. And it was packed every time I went…

The look of the restau­rant, whose cor­ner loca­tion affords it pretty win­dows on two sides, is on the pol­ished side of homey. There’s nicely buffed wood, a spi­dery brass light­ing fix­ture and a hon­eyed glow from it and hand­some sconces along the walls.

There’s also ample space between tables: the owner, Doug Crow­ell, isn’t try­ing just to jam in as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble. But he does ask you to trade some com­fort and con­ve­nience for the refresh­ingly low prices.

These few blocks on Court Street are start­ing to fill with inter­est­ing and tasty culi­nary oper­a­tions: But­ter­milk Chan­nel, Frankie’s Spuntino, and the newly opened and not-yet-visited soon to open Prime Meats.

UPDATE: The Times posted a Q & A between read­ers and sub­jects of the Brook­lynite food pro­duc­ers piece.

Gondry’s Flight of the Conchords

The first four episodes of sea­son two of Flight of the Con­chords were unin­spired and for­get­table, but that all changed with episode five. Directed by Michel Gondry, the Con­chords return to the top with two great songs – the Sausage­fest anthem Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor, and an ode to Jemaine’s ex-girlfriends titled Carol Brown.

I’m just catch­ing up on this sea­son now, but episode six has Kris­ten Wiig from SNL… omgz!