Can one’s inner life be made easier by technology?
Tay, Boaty McBoatface, New Zealand, emoji, and the madness of crowds
Music by the Numbers
Listening in the Digital Age
Exposure: Reem-B Robot by Vincent Fournier
The mental life of a machine
Exposure: Luigi Russolo’s Noise Machines
Sonic conjurors of experimental music
The Music Video, Rebooted
How digital-era aesthetics are making music videos worth watching again
Exposure: Viktoria Modesta by Nadav Kander
Changing perceptions of impairment
When Tech In Care Is Evil
I spent the last two weeks in-and-around a care home in England that looks after people with dementia and terminal illness, and their families – including, this time, mine.
Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Typewriter
Typewriters are making a comeback and, as a wide-ranging new survey book shows, so is typewriter art.
A Security Camera Worth Looking At
The Compulsively Visual World of Pinterest
I have always liked Pinterest’s exclusively visual focus and unlimited boards structure. A week ago I joined.
Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.
Mona Lisa Selfies
Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.
Scenes from the Crowdcrit Revolution
Assessing the crowdcrit revolution of the past decade, and what it could mean for serious thinking about design.
Art Center Launches LEAP Symposium Website
LEAP participants (at Art Center September 19-21) bring a variety of experience across the Private, Social and Public Sectors and Social Enterprise. A webside for the Symposium was launched September 3, 2013.
John Maeda on Loops
This episode of Insights Per Minute features John Maeda on loops.
Rob Walker on Seeing
This Insight Per Minute features Rob Walker on seeing.
A World of Paste and Paper
Soft Machine’s Dysfunctional Mechanism
An alternative cover for the French release of The Soft Machine’s first album alludes to the history of the machine in 20th-century art.
Interaction of Color
Brenda Danilowitz, Chief Curator at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation and Potion principal Philip Tiongson discuss the new Interaction of Color app.
Eyes on the Sky: Weather Visualized
Jed Carter's new book of watercolors, Eyes on the Sky, is a process-based investigation into generative design and the weather.
Staring Back at Security Cameras
Why the ubiquitous security deserves as much scrutiny as it gives.
Design Observer on Apple
A quick Design Observer cameo in the MacBook Pro video.
My 3-D Life
Meanwhile, what’s to stop me from printing some caviar, or an Oscar? A pony? Or a Porsche? Musings on what to print on your home 3-D printer.
When Google Earth Goes Wrong
Clement Valla is an artist in Brooklyn, New York who discovers and collects ‘anomalies’ within the Google Earth system in his ongoing series entitled Postcards from Google Earth.
The Sweethome, where Consumer Reports and Amazon product reviews meet.
The Hyperdocumented Sunset Strip
Using Google Street View Hyperlapse to revisit Ruscha’ Sunset Strip.
Finding The Story
Big, Hairy, and Agile
Digital strategist and author Amy Webb on how she gamed online dating to find her husband.
Google Image Search Results, Abstracted and Animated
Rob Walker has created a video of his image abstraction Tumblr.
After the Museum: The Tumblr
Clement Mok on the early days of Apple computer, the joys of working for Steve Jobs and starting his successful businesses.
What Are You Looking At?
System As Photographer
System as photographer, and photographer as system.
Observational Instruments, Observed
Introducing Strelka Press
On Strelka Press, a new "digital first" publisher of longform architecture and design criticism.
On My Shelf: A History of the Machine
The Infrastructure of the Cloud
Where We Work
The Elements – Molecules, Atoms and Quarks – of Style
The cipher shared by great poets and the best brand namers is essentially that the littlest things mean the most.
City of Shoes: Is Urbanism Scalable?
Can Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh scale his online shoe business into a city?
John McHale and the Expendable Ikon
Round Thermostats and Crystal Lanterns, Revisited
Old designs, new tricks: updates on lawsuits filed against the new Nest thermometer, and on behalf of midcentury masterpiece Manufacturers Hanover.
Designers Leap, Users Lag
Trying to meet the challenges designers and engineers set for us is pretty much hopeless, though we can have a lot of fun trying.
Virtual Boring Agent
A Reading List for Mr. Monti
What I Didn’t Write About When I Wrote About Quitting Facebook
The author writes about the genre you could call the Social Media Exile essay.
Turn-Key Food Hives
A Demanding Man: Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was more like a great architect than a corporate CEO. Yet, there are those who ask, "Isn't the ultimate measure of a human being the way they treat other people?" In the case of Steve Jobs, this requires some reflection.
Chris Foss and the Technological Sublime
Review of "Talk to Me" at Museum of Modern Art
Project Masiluleke: Texting and Testing to Fight HIV/AIDS in South Africa
Summary of Project Masiluleke case study describing design process for fighting HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
“Digital goods” are increasingly seen as having real value. Increasingly, though, things from the digital world are crossing over into physical manifestations that can be bought and sold.
A Dream World Made by Machines
Adam Curtis’s All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace is a complex, demanding, audacious piece of television.
A new effort to diagnosis and treat infant HIV/AIDS in remote African regions.
ISO The Digital Sidewalk Critic
If It’s Not the Destination and It’s Not the Journey...
A team at Rutgers University, uses ultrasonic sensors, GPS receivers and cellular networks to find empty parking spaces. While technically impressive, this is an absurdly over-complicated answer to the wrong question.
Is No the Answer?
Bag bans, yes. But why is no plastic the answer?
Ghosts in the Machine
Everyday we are busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff. What happens to this “stuff” when we die?
Entertainment via web-based geography.
Portraits of the Mind
The book, Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century (Abrams) documents this overlooked dimension over two millennia of obsession with the brain.
Scientists warn that most natural seafood could disappear by 2048.
In the Air of Madrid
Our world is awash in eco information, but starved of meaning.
An App for the Self-Replacing Book
British artist Tom Phillips’A Humument, must be one of the most successful artist’s books ever published. Now, in an entirely logical development, comes The Humument app for the iPad.
From Easter Island to Three Mile Island
You don't need to know how a combustion engine works to drive your car to work. Why should you need to know anything about the programming behind the pixels just to get around the web?
In this podcast with Debbie Millman, Bill Moggridge discusses the future of the laptop, human-centered design and the future of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
Photo by Pieter Hugo of Ghana's Agbogbloshie slum.
The Song Decoders
Pandora, is convinced it can guide you, to music that you like. The premise is that your favorite songs can be stripped to parts and reverse-engineered.
Report on Kopernik, a new website for funding technology to assist populations in the developing world.
Sweating the Small Stuff
Review of TED 2010 conference, "What the World Needs Now," Long Beach, California, February 9–13.
Finding Innovation in Every Corner
Interview with management expert Anil Gupta, who seeks to reduce poverty by finding, broadcasting and nurturing examples of innovation among India's poor.
In Praise of Shadows
Essay adapted from "In Praise of Shadows: New European Lighting Design," presented at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, September 19–October 18, 2009.
Report on the FLAP bag, a multipurpose messenger bag for developing-world populations.
Please Turn on Your Cell Phone
In response to the New York City Department of Education's ban on cell phones in schools, an educator argues for their continued use — as mini computers that help students learn.
The Question Box project puts the developing-world poor just a phone call away from an internet search.
When Worlds Collide
Report on TEDGlobal 2009, held July 21–24 in Oxford, England.
The Internet of Things
Should we be sprinkling technological devices across the planet like dust?
Father of Shrek, Grandfather of Tweet
William Steig was the father of vanity license plate abbreviations and the grandfather of the Instant Messenger, SMS, iChat, and Twitter shorthand.
What's The Story?
And what becomes of all those dead tweets, anyway — all those long-expired, evaporated updates?
Would you believe it's those shifty Canucks, and not the spooks at the NSA, who have the Lamster phonelines tapped? Outrageous but true.
Less Is More Again — A Manifesto
We have amazing electronic tools at our disposal; culture has modernized at staggering, computer processed speeds. But the tools are abused and cultural change is stupefying. Things are over-designed because new tools must be exploited; here, design says “look what I can do!”
Dumb and Dumber 2.0
American consumers have long shown an “exceptional willingness” to buy, for instance, technology products before their utility is clear.
Design by Numbers
Dmitri Siegel discusses Stephen Baker's new book The Numerati and how data-mining and personalized content may impact design.
Reflections on The Ephemeral World, Part One: Ink
An elegy to the makeready — those sheets of paper, re-fed into a press to get the ink balances up to speed, leaving a series of often random, palimpsest-like, multiple impressions on a single surface — in the digital age.
The Cuckoo Bird and the Keyboard
Designers are famously nauseated by novices' use of neutral quotes — or dumb quoes — in place of true quotes. Why do we care so much? Should we?
From MySpace to Fake Space
Traveling without moving has become an economic and environmental imperative. Matter is more expensive than energy; energy than information; it is cheaper to move information, than people or things. So what is to stop us moving less and and telecommunicating more?
Look and Feel / Nip and Tuck
If clients are happy to refer to the output of graphic designers as
look and feel,where's the harm?
Is Apple Soft on Crime?
Here's the real question: could a climbing crime rate and the rise of the iPod be related? Has the iPod's design increased its likelihood of theft, and if so, what role could Apple's designers play in developing solutions?
Off the Grid
When you abandon most of the rules, how do you define a mistake? How to art direct a newspaper from the middle of the muddy Glastonbury music festival.
What If Apple Is Bad for Design?
Every commentary on the ubiquity of the iPod, or on the divertingly near prospect of the Apple iPhone, seems to emphasize that what distinguishes Apple is something called "Design." Design, or a particular understanding of it, has been good for Apple. But is Apple good for design? What if the answer is no?
Back to Basics Egg & Muffin Toaster
In a recent issue of The M.I.T. Sloan Management Review, Michael Schrage, a business writer and an M.I.T. researcher, challenged what Bruce Greenwald, has said about the fate of all innovative technologies: “In the long run, everything is a toaster.”
The G Word
Google has launched an effort to keep people from using their name as an all-purpose verb. Don't want to be evil? Then don't act as if you can win if you constrain the creative productivity of language.
Eight-and-a-Half by Eleven
An installation of over 10,000 tiled pieces 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper redeems what has often been dismissed as a banal graphic format.
Google and the Tyranny of Good Design
The Google logo that scrap of oddball typography is perhaps the most famous piece of graphic design in the world today. In its own small way, it's a little beacon of insurrection, in a world where graphic designers have become the agents of conformity.
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto
The Adventures of Cynic Boy and Design Mom in 3D
Brainwashed I may be, but I distinctly noted an homage to Salvador Dalí with perhaps a gentle nod to René Magritte last night while sitting through Robert Rodriguez's ludicrous, yet oddly luscious new movie, The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D.
Eduardo Paolozzi, 20th Century Image-Maker
If a visual artist created more concentrated, exhilarating images of science, technology and the media realm during the mid-20th century than British artist Eduardo Paolozzi, then I would like to see them. Paolozzi, who died on 22 April aged 81, was first of all a sculptor, but the screenprints he produced in the 1960s rank as masterpieces of the medium.
Paper Spends More Time With Its Family
I remember the first time I noticed paper coming back as a sort of small, particularised, opaque digital ghost of itself. It was in 1996. There was much talk, at the time, of "the paperless office". People were beginning to refer to paper mail derisively as "snail mail". But computers, as if they felt sorry for the displaced and humiliated paper, began to find other roles for the stuff. More ornamental, decorative, playful roles...
The New Paper Chase: Cyberspace on The Auction Block
On February 23, Christies in New York will auction more than 1,000 items dating as far back as the early 17th century, all of it tracing the history of cyberspace.
The Guts of a New Machine
The iPod, a digital music player, it weighing just 6.5 ounces and holding about 1,000 songs.
Digital Tools for Making Brilliant Mistakes
The many options for digitally antiquing your 21st-century self-expression.