Victoria Solan
Love, Optimized
Can one’s inner life be made easier by technology?

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Crowd Control
Tay, Boaty McBoatface, New Zealand, emoji, and the madness of crowds

Adrian Shaughnessy
Music by the Numbers
Listening in the Digital Age

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Reem-B Robot by Vincent Fournier
The mental life of a machine

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Luigi Russolo’s Noise Machines
Sonic conjurors of experimental music

Rob Walker
The Music Video, Rebooted
How digital-era aesthetics are making music videos worth watching again

Rick Poynor
Exposure: Viktoria Modesta by Nadav Kander
Changing perceptions of impairment

John Thackara
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.

Adam Harrison Levy
Geek Stories
Adam Harrison Levy attended Kill Screen’s Two5Six conference on video gaming. His intention, as someone who cares about visual culture, but knows nothing about gaming, was to see what he could divine from this emerging form. 

Rick Poynor
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.

Adam Harrison Levy
Data Loss
Adam Harrison Levy on losing everything he had stored on his phone for three years.

Debbie Millman
Jonathan Harris
Jonathan Harris on his web and database art projects, his relationship to time and memory, and the sexuality of the internet.

Rob Walker
A Security Camera Worth Looking At
A thoughtful take on what security cameras should look like, and why.

Rick Poynor
The Compulsively Visual World of Pinterest
I have always liked Pinterest’s exclusively visual focus and unlimited boards structure. A week ago I joined.

Alexandra Lange
Year of the Women
A year-end wrap-up of my favorite stories. The common theme? Women and the making of design.

Rob Walker
Mona Lisa Selfies
Inevitably, the famous Mona Lisa has crossed paths with the selfie — and the results are charming.

Alexandra Lange
Where We Work
A Kickstarter for co-working space Makeshift Society points to the light, space and tools creative freelancers need to be productive.

Rob Walker
Scenes from the Crowdcrit Revolution
Assessing the crowdcrit revolution of the past decade, and what  it could mean for serious thinking about design.

John Maeda
John Maeda on Loops
John Maeda is the president of Rhode Island School of Design.

Rob Walker
Rob Walker on Seeing
Rob Walker is a technology/culture columnist for Yahoo News. He is the former Consumed columnist for The New York Times Magazine, and has contributed to many publications.

Alexandra Lange
A World of Paste and Paper
Today's obsession with digital renderings sparked two exhibitions that suggest a handmade, but far from quaint, corrective.

Rick Poynor
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.

Debbie Millman
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.

Rob Walker
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.

Alexandra Lange
Home Improvement
The Sweethome, where Consumer Reports and Amazon product reviews meet.

Rob Walker
The Hyperdocumented Sunset Strip
Using Google Street View Hyperlapse to revisit Ruscha’ Sunset Strip.

Rob Walker
Finding The Story
Emily Spivack's exhibition of unexpectedly interesting stories from eBay.

John Thackara
Big, Hairy, and Agile
The UK government’s digital services platform,, has won the Design of the Year award.

Debbie Millman
Amy Webb
Digital strategist and author Amy Webb on how she gamed online dating to find her husband.

Rob Walker
Google Image Search Results, Abstracted and Animated
Rob Walker has created a video of his image abstraction Tumblr.

Alexandra Lange
After the Museum: The Tumblr
To create, a multi-museum, multi-curator Tumblr @MADMuseum, I saw it as a kind of curatorial game: Show Me What You’ve Got.

Debbie Millman
Clement Mok
Clement Mok on the early days of Apple computer, the joys of working for Steve Jobs and starting his successful businesses.

Rob Walker
What Are You Looking At?
The maps of the future will tell you what to look at. Sometimes, you should look elsewhere.

Rob Walker
System As Photographer
System as photographer, and photographer as system.

Rob Walker
Card Tricks
The digital doesn't annihilate the analog, and business card creativity proves it.

Rob Walker
Observational Instruments, Observed
Peeping at the Venue project's delightful gear, and Google's Seussian Trekker

Alexandra Lange
Introducing Strelka Press
On Strelka Press, a new "digital first" publisher of longform architecture and design criticism.

Rick Poynor
On My Shelf: A History of the Machine
Erik Nitsche’s New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention is a landmark of modern, low-cost, mass-market, educational book design.

Rob Walker
The Infrastructure of the Cloud
On the material structures we depend on to deliver us the immaterial digital world.

Rob Walker
Where We Work
The computer-screen desktop, considered as a category of work space.

Michael Erard
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.

Alexandra Lange
City of Shoes: Is Urbanism Scalable?
Can Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh scale his online shoe business into a city?

Rick Poynor
John McHale and the Expendable Ikon
Artist, graphic designer, information theorist, architectural critic, sociologist, futurist: it’s time to rediscover John McHale.

Alexandra Lange
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.

Owen Edwards
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.

John Thackara
Virtual Boring Agent
The Virtual Boarding Agent Orly Airport in Paris. It's spooky, clever and very well executed — and most people seem to ignore it after a first casual glance.

John Thackara
A Reading List for Mr. Monti
When the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, gave his acceptance speech to the Italian Senate before Christmas, he used the word "growth" 28 times and the word "energy" — well, zero times.

Michael Erard
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.

John Thackara
Turn-Key Food Hives
There's almost no contact between the health apps crowd and the food system crowd.

Owen Edwards
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.

Rick Poynor
Chris Foss and the Technological Sublime
Is cult science fiction artist Chris Foss’s work just highly effective illustration, or can it be seen as a visionary form of art?

Tom Vanderbilt
Interface Time
Review of "Talk to Me" at Museum of Modern Art

Jean W. Rosenthal
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.

John Thackara
Geeked-out Gardening
A “computer that runs your garden” also known as an Automated Garden Facility (AGF), also known as Garduino.

Rob Walker
“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.

Rick Poynor
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.

Ernest Beck
Project Mwana
A new effort to diagnosis and treat infant HIV/AIDS in remote African regions.

Alexandra Lange
ISO The Digital Sidewalk Critic
Why is it so hard to say, "I hate my iPad"?

John Thackara
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.

Alexandra Lange
Is No the Answer?
Bag bans, yes. But why is no plastic the answer?

Rob Walker
Ghosts in the Machine
Everyday we are busy producing fresh masses of life-affirming digital stuff. What happens to this “stuff” when we die?

Rob Walker
Global Entertainment
Entertainment via web-based geography.

Carl Schoonover
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.

John Thackara
Jellyfish Farm
Scientists warn that most natural seafood could disappear by 2048.

John Thackara
In the Air of Madrid
Our world is awash in eco information, but starved of meaning.

Rick Poynor
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.

John Thackara
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?

Debbie Millman
Bill Moggridge
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
Permanent Error
Photo by Pieter Hugo of Ghana's Agbogbloshie slum.

Rob Walker
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.

Kaomi Goetz
Report on Kopernik, a new website for funding technology to assist populations in the developing world.

Julie Lasky
Sweating the Small Stuff
Review of TED 2010 conference, "What the World Needs Now," Long Beach, California, February 9–13.

Meena Kadri
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.

Jane Withers
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.

Alec Appelbaum
Report on the FLAP bag, a multipurpose messenger bag for developing-world populations.

Juliette LaMontagne
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.

Julia Galef
Question Box

The Question Box project puts the developing-world poor just a phone call away from an internet search.

Julie Lasky
When Worlds Collide
Report on TEDGlobal 2009, held July 21–24 in Oxford, England.

John Thackara
The Internet of Things
Should we be sprinkling technological devices across the planet like dust?

Steven Heller
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.

Jessica Helfand
What's The Story?
And what becomes of all those dead tweets, anyway — all those long-expired, evaporated updates?

Mark Lamster
Would you believe it's those shifty Canucks, and not the spooks at the NSA, who have the Lamster phonelines tapped? Outrageous but true.

Gabrielle Esperdy
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!”

Rob Walker
Dumb and Dumber 2.0
American consumers have long shown an “exceptional willingness” to buy, for instance, technology products before their utility is clear.

Dmitri Siegel
Design by Numbers
Dmitri Siegel discusses Stephen Baker's new book The Numerati and how data-mining and personalized content may impact design.

Jessica Helfand
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.

Matthew Peterson
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?

John Thackara
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?

Adrian Shaughnessy
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?

Cheryl Towler Weese
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?

Richard Turley
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.

Thomas de Monchaux
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?

Rob Walker
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.”

Michael Erard
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.

Michael Bierut
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.

Adrian Shaughnessy
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.

Jessica Helfand
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto

Rick Poynor
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...

Jessica Helfand
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.

Rob Walker
The Guts of a New Machine
The iPod, a digital music player, it weighing just 6.5 ounces and holding about 1,000 songs.

Rob Walker
Digital Tools for Making Brilliant Mistakes
The many options for digitally antiquing your 21st-century self-expression.

Observed | October 28

The enigmatic life of a Hebrew graphic design pioneer. [JH]

Observed | October 27

At the turn of the century, cartoonist Herbert Crowley was rated with Winsor McCay and exhibited with Pablo Picasso. Virtually unknown for years, today he is on the brink of rediscovery. [MB]

The Baltimore Sun films our favorite Ellen, talking about some of the things she loves. [JH]

Live! Onstage! It’s … three people designing a poster! [JH]

John Maeda on inclusive design as the secret weapon in business and Alissa Walker on inclusive design as an urban paradigm. [JH]

The original set of 176 12 x 12 pixel emojis, developed by Shigetaka Kurita for cell phones in 1999, has been acquired for the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art. [MB]

Will Hudson from “It’s Nice That” introduces “Lecture in Progress”—an educational resource hoping to help next generation of creative people make better career decisions. [JH]

Observed | October 26

Sabrina Fossi’s new watch actually helps you see what time is is. Support her Kickstarter campaign here. [JH]

India’s Prime Minister speaks out in public on design’s importance in industry, economics, and more. [JH]

Google’s head of self-driving-car design (and it’s a woman!) talks about her strategy and why it matters. [JH]

Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin discusses his complicated relationship with Donald Trump. [MB]

Design Week : Mexico! [JH]

Think Wrong, the long-awaited book from the first guest on our new podcast, John Bielenberg, is out. Order here. [MB]

Observed | October 25

An economist explains why you should embrace a disorderly desk. [MB]

British Rail Corporate Identity, 1965–1994. [MB]

House of Wax is a new bar in New York that revives the Victorian art of the Panopticum—in wax. [JH]

Observed | October 24

In Estonia, a one-day design summit stresses the importance of indiscipinarity, teams—and trust. [JH]

“Don’t think that the world of design belongs to designers.” Opening comments from Mark Wigley at the third Istanbul Design Biennial. [JH]

No assigned desks in this new open-plan office created by Clive Wilkinson for the New York office of Publicis. [MB]

“Good design means your phone doesn’t explode.” The New Yorker’s Om Malik weighs in on the Apple Samsung case. [JH]

An entertaining website to launch GT America, a new typeface from Grilli Type. [MB]

Observed | October 21

More on ballot design and its many problems. [JH]

Design is the new currency. [JH]

If Hillary is elected, “’re going to have taco trucks on every corner”, warned Latinos for Trump’s Marco Gutierrez. Lana Rigby designs a citywide fleet of taco trucks that double as voter registration booths. [JH]

“Design is the art and science of improving the interface between human beings and their environment.” A new design incubator at MIT. [JH]

Observed | October 20

“Ignore the fads and go back to the typographic principles of print — keep your type black,” says Kevin Marks. More from Cory Doctorow on the web’s “plague” of grey type. [JH]

The Wall Street Journal on design books as eye candy. [JH]

The New Yorker on urban housing, inequality, density, democracy—and Le Corbusier. [JH]

Observed | October 18

Could bad buildings damage your mental health? [MB]

Dutch Design Week! Here’s the program. [JH]

Jobs | October 28