Technology

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
Episode 92: Polite Sociopaths
The Design of Business | The Business of Design conference, Apple CarPlay and talking cars, HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Justin Timberlake, dogs watching TV, Visual Capitalist


Jason Tselentis
The Annals of Smart Speaker Advertising: Overused Advertising Copy
Amazon, Google, and Apple promise that each of their smart speakers will do what you want and get what you need. And they all promise it using the same language.


Ken Gordon
AI + Designers = ?
AI is a tool, a really powerful one, for designers to use; not an alternative to designers.


Alexandra Lange
The Critical Olympics
What the best sports commentary does is just like criticism: it makes you care about the previously abstract.


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Briana Como
“We make an effort to be aware of and remove bias by focusing on behaviors instead of demographics when creating distinct personas.”


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Sarah Doody
“With anything we create, the first step in the design process must be to understand. This happens through research.”


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Richard Ting
Richard Ting, Global Chief Experience Officer at R/GA, continues our Chain Letters interview series.


Michael Bierut
Vladimir Nabokov: Father of Hypertext?
The innovative narrative technique developed by Vladimir Nabokov for his 1962 novel Pale Fire—essentially a single epic poem with footnotes and commentary—anticipated hypertext, the internet, and the interconnected world of blogs.


Lilly Smith
Chain Letters: Jessica Gaddis
This interview is part of a new Design Observer series, Chain Letters, in which we ask leading design minds a few burning questions—and so do their peers, for a year-long conversation about the state of the industry.


Brian LaRossa
Fail Fast, Hasten Slowly: Reconciling Print and Digital Product Development Cultures
Print and digital product development strategies are historically described as opposing forces, but they aren’t wholly at odds.


Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand
S3E1: Giorgia Lupi
Giorgia Lupi is the co-founder and design director of Accurat, a data-driven studio, and an artist whose work is at MoMA.


Helen Armstrong, Maddie Bone
Virtual Reality. No One Can Tell You, You Are Doing It Wrong. Yet.
For better or worse, we know how to interact with web and mobile. We understand how to design for screens. What we don’t yet know is how to engage with VR.


KT Meaney
Greening the Grocery Store
It turns out that the "recycling symbol" at the bottom of my yogurt container had nothing to do with its recyclability. So why was it there? My curiosity led to findings around which I built a design class.


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


Alice Twemlow
Dodging, Dazzling, and Divulging
Design Responses to Mass Surveillance


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


Debbie Millman
Lynda Weinman
On this episode of Design Matters, Debbie talks to lynda.com’s Lynda Weinman about how the internet is challenging the traditional classroom model.


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



Observed
Announcing the New Places Journal
Our longtime partners have launched a strong new website


Jason Santa Maria
On Web Typography: Smart Quotes
Punctuation is a system.


Observed
Redesiging the Parking Sign
Nikki Sylianteng was sick of getting parking tickets. Her solution: redesign the signs.



Rob Walker
Object of Interest: The Yellow Card
An appreciation of a great World Cup object: the yellow card.



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.


Debbie Millman
Brian Singer
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie talks to Brian Singer, Communication Design team leader at Facebook,.


Alex Knowlton
Miami Nice
Alex Knowlton reviews this year's ADC Festival of Art + Craft in Advertising and Design in Miami Beach.


Debbie Millman
Maria Giudice
Maria Giudice talks with Debbie Milliman about the early days of design on the internet, and what it's like to work for Facebook.



Observed
Mysteries of the Vernacular
Mysteries of Vernacular is a video series from Myriapod Productions that contains 26 etymological installments, one for each letter of the alphabet.



Observed
Shape: A Film About Design
Shape is a short film that is part of MakeShapeChange , a project aimed at young people to get them thinking about how the world is made around them and where design fits in.


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


Debbie Millman
Joe Marianek
Joe Marianek talks about decisions that shaped his career and about the process of getting hired at Apple.


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.


Chappell Ellison
You’ll Never Guess the Amazing Ways Online Design Writing and Criticism Has Changed
A call to support better desgn journalism.


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


Alexandra Lange
Premature Demolition
The Folk Art Museum, David Adjaye's market hall, and the first addition to the Morgan Library. If three makes a trend, then premature demolition qualifies.


Rick Poynor
Why Tatlin Can Never Go Home Again
Raoul Hausmann’s photomontage Tatlin at Home is much pinned on Pinterest, but what has become of the original?


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.



Rob Walker
Seeing The Problem
How a graphic communication campaign could help us address a real electoral map crisis: Gerrymandering 2.0.


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.


Alexandra Lange
Learning New Tricks
Harvard doesn't have any design courses, but I've found new friends in "material culture." What it's like for a critic to go back to school.





John Maeda
John Maeda on Loops
We’re in the same loop. Culture lags. Art and design have to pick up the slack.


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.


Observed
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.


Observed
Iron Man 3 Titles
An interesting look at the design process for the Iron Man 3 title screens.


Rob Walker
Staring Back at Security Cameras
Why the ubiquitous security deserves as much scrutiny as it gives.



Observed
Design Observer on Apple
A quick Design Observer cameo in the MacBook Pro video.



Observed
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.



Observed
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
That Personal Touch
In the age of the digital signature, what does script mean?



Rob Walker
Object Lessons
Object Lessons is a new project that concerns itself with “the hidden lives of ordinary things.”


Alexandra Lange
Praise the Partner(s)
Salute Denise Scott Brown because she deserves it, but let's not forget the other partners.


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.


Alexandra Lange
Anxiety, Culture and Commerce
Is the museum store a distraction or an enticement?



Observed
Saul Bass Google Doodle
Google celebreates Saul Bass with a Doodle.



Observed
Modern Pictograms
Modern Pictograms is an icon typeface for interface designers by John Caserta, a project of The Design Office.


Alexandra Lange
Architecture Without Signs
If you can't find the entrance, there's a problem with the architecture.


John Thackara
Big, Hairy, and Agile
The UK government’s digital services platform, gov.uk, 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.



Debbie Millman
ON! at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati
In this special Design Matters video episode, Debbie Millman gives you on a preview the new exhibit ON! at the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati.


Alexandra Lange
Instagramming Around Australia
Lessons from contemporary Australian architecture, plus what I saw on Instagram.


Rob Walker
The Panic Option
A rental car's key fob design emphasizes "Panic" over all other options. Is that really a good idea?


Alexandra Lange
After the Museum: The Tumblr
To create metamuseum.tumblr.com, 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
Overshareability
Evernote's introvert focus raises a question: Has digital design become overly obsessed with extroverted behavior?


Rob Walker
Branding By Numbers
Emblemetric backs its assessment of the American Airlines logo with "the data." Of course, that's open to interpretation.


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


Michael Bierut
Graphic Design Criticism as a Spectator Sport
Michael Bierut on logo redesign outrages, what they mean, and why we should demand more.


Rob Walker
Tracking War Drones
Online projects that seek to make the drone war comprehensible.


Alexandra Lange, and Mark Lamster
Lunch With The Critics: Third-Annual Year-End Awards
Idiosyncratic awards bestowed on architecture, design and media.


Alexandra Lange
3rd Annual Holiday Card Review
Holiday card designs for 2012 reveal the social media preoccupations of their buyers, whether it is Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram or old-fashioned (perhaps Downton Abbey-inspired?) stationery.


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


Alexandra Lange
Shopping With Sandro, and Other Tumblr Delights
Digitizing the Miller House Collection, and other museum and corporate visual archives on Tumblr.


Rob Walker
Crowdcrit vs. Apple Maps
An instant Tumblr responds to Apple's maps app, and demonstrates the art of the creative takedown.


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


Jessica Helfand
Bill Moggridge 1943-2012
Jessica Helfand remebers Bill Moggridge.



Alexandra Lange
Critics Critical Criticism
Meta-criticism all over the blogosphere (but why only about books?)


Rob Walker
Interface Runes
Revisiting the Palm Pilot's uncanny interaction-design alphabet.


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


Alexandra Lange
The Charismatic Megafauna of Design
Identifying the "charismatic megafauna" of design and the critical uses of their popularity.


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.



Observed
Women, Equity, Architecture
Parlour, a new Australian site with the tagline"Women, Equity, Architecture", has a dual project: creating a forum for discussion of and opportunities for women in architecture, and reporting on research, scholarship and the history of the same.


Alexandra Lange
Against Kickstarter Urbanism
You can Kickstart an edible spoon, but not a city.


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?


Nancy Levinson
Design Indaba 2012
Design Indaba 2012 gathered creative people from graphic and product design, architecture and landscape, film and video, not to mention Danish gastronomy and Bollywood movies.


John Foster
Accidental Mysteries
Welcome to Accidental Mysteries, a weekly cabinet of visual curiosities set aside for your perusal and enlightenment. This week's focus is charts and diagrams.


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.


Rick Poynor
This Post has Been Declared a Link-free Zone
Links can greatly enrich an online text, but are they also a counterproductive distraction from reading?



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.



Julie Lasky
Media Design Matters
Art Center offers a new graduate track in social design that combines communications and technologies strategies with field work.



Rob Walker
An Interview with Kevin Slavin
A conversation between Rob Walker and co-founder of the game development company Area/Code, Kevin Slavin.


Alexandra Lange
Thinking in Tumblr
Don't write a book, make a Tumblr.


Alexandra Lange
Stop That: Minimalist Posters
Make a minimalist poster, see your work travel the digital world.


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?


Alexandra Lange
Announcing LetsGetCritical.org
My new blog collects the best arts & culture criticism, essays and reviews.



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.



Jane Margolies
My Block NYC
My Block NYC, a new video-mapping website, invites residents, tourists and videographers to upload clips they’ve taken on the streets of New York.


Rick Poynor
The House That Design Journalism Built
Printed design magazines continue to fail and close. Where does that leave design writing and criticism?



Phil Patton
Boosting the Urban IQ
Summary of National Building Museum's "Intelligent Cities" symposium


Alexandra Lange
Would You Like Words With That?
A meditation on how we shop, organize and get rid of stuff online.


Rick Poynor
The Dictionary as Art Concept
A new Magritte exhibition catalogue is not the first to take the form of a dictionary. How important is originality when it comes to book design?


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
Dedigitization
“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.


Alexandra Lange
An Atlas of Possibility
The Institute for Urban Design's By the City/For the City project provokes crowd-sourced possibilities for New York's future.



Maria Popova
A Voice for LGBTQ in the Middle East
Interview with Esra'a Al Shafei, founder of Ahwaa, a portal for LGBTQ issues in the Middle East


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.


Alexandra Lange
Vicarious Thrifting, via Twitter
On the lively, effective and erudite thrifting community on Twitter.



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


Rick Poynor
Paul Stiff, the Reader’s Champion
For the late Paul Stiff, design educator, writer, editor and skeptic, typography must never neglect to serve the reader.



Alexandra Lange
All That Glitters (and Swoops)
What reviews of aberrant design and Van Cleef diamonds have in common: the death of the design show.



Josh Wallaert
Google Maps, Give Us Our River Names
No map in history has made us feel more powerful or more present. But there's a little thing missing: the Mississippi River.



Julie Lasky
Design Indaba 2011
Review of Design Indaba 2011 conference in Cape Town, South Africa



Alexandra Lange
Reading Out Loud
The disappearing physical on-ramps to reading.


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


Alexandra Lange
Neat Freaks
Organizing things neatly = what IBM, Ray Eames, Herbert Matter and Tumblr have in common.


Alexandra Lange
I Was an Unhappy Hipster
In a renovation by an architect, for a critic, the bookshelves can be a battleground.


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.



Jonathan Schultz
Give a Minute
Report on Local Projects' Give a Minute initiative to improve urban life.



Mark Lamster
Gerd Arntz: Design Icon
Gerd Arntz: A design icon who designed icons.



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.


Alexandra Lange
Shopping D/R at Etsy
Want to recreate D/R this Christmas? Etsy provides the goods.




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.


Alexandra Lange
Networks Before the Internet
A new exhibit at the Noguchi Museum shows how small and intertwined were the worlds of mid-century art, design and architecture.


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



Rob Walker
Inside the Wild, Wacky, Profitable World of Boing Boing
How four people who do exactly what they want run one of the most popular blogs on the planet.



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


Alexandra Lange
Criticism Kerfuffle 2010
There are people trying to write their way to a future of architecture criticism. But it isn't just the writing that's the problem.



Rick Poynor
Adventures in the Image World
This is a blog about visual culture. It reflects my interests, enthusiasms, concerns and bêtes noires across the spectrum of visual phenomena.


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.



Jonathan Schultz
Solo Kota Kita
Report on a design-oriented sysem for providing information about community resources in Indonesia as an aid for budgeting.


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.


Michael Bierut
Mr. Vignelli’s Map
Vignelli Celebration: Massimo Vignelli's 1972 New York City subway map is a beautiful example of information design that was ultimately rejected by its users.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Publishing in the Age of the Internet
Design/Research, published by Unit Editions, are collectable "papers" which, focus on design and visual communication, from the past, by placing it in a future context.



Photo by Pieter Hugo
Permanent Error
Photo by Pieter Hugo of Ghana's Agbogbloshie slum.



William Underhill
Map Kibera
Report on the Map Kibera project to provide navigation and information on Nairobi's massive informal settlement.



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.






Alexandra Lange
The Anti-Enthusiasts
Design Blogs: The Vacuum of Enthusiasm, my Design Observer manifesto on what the world of design on the internet needs, lives on in the comments.



Alexandra Lange
The Naive Tumblr
The recent changes on Tumblr are brilliant and not intuitive.



Kaomi Goetz
Austin Center for Design
Interactive designer Jon Kolko launches a school to help designers build economically viable careers working for social betterment.









Alexandra Lange
Playground Apps
I wonder if the young, male inventors of foursquare haven’t missed a big market: moms.



Kaomi Goetz
Kopernik
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.





Mark Lamster
Observing Design
I'm pleased to announce that I've joined the distinguished slate of contributing editors to Design Observer, what I consider to be the premier site on the web for writing on design in its many disciplines.



Karrie Jacobs
A President and His Dog, Part 2
Karrie Jacobs analyzes the Obama administration's website.



Jonathan Schultz
EyeWriter
Report on the EyeWriter software system, which allows a graffiti artist suffering from ALS to continue working merely by moving his eyes.



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.



Alexandra Lange
Nothing Runs Like A...
A note about Deere & Company’s foray into the consumer market.



Alexandra Lange
Just Looking
My new favorite source of procrastination is Reference Library.



Alexandra Lange
Healthy Home
My project involving vintage paper placements was featured on Ohdeedoh.



Alexandra Lange
Grounded
Alexandra Jacobs's feature on Zappos didn't address my burning question: Why is Zappos so ugly?



Inkahoots
Australians All Let Us Text
"New Anthems" art project by Inkahoots for Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane, Australia.



Allison Arieff
Emergence
Emergence, a new massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) fosters diplomatic skills.



Teddy Blanks
Teddy Blanks on Figurines
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. This story by Teddy Blanks is recorded as an MP3...



Rachel Berger
Significant Objects: #1 Mom Hooks
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The third of five stories is by Rachel Berger...



Teddy Blanks
Significant Objects: Porcelain Scooter
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The fourth of five stories is by Teddy Blanks...



Jessica Helfand
Significant Objects: Elvis Chocolate Tin
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The fifth of five stories is by Jessica Helfand...



Adam Harrison Levy
Significant Objects: Star of David Plate
Significant Objects is a much-discussed experiment conducted by Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker. The first of five stories is by Adam Harrison Levy...



Alexandra Lange
Shelf Life
Lizzie Skurnick's Shelf Discovery is a new book about rereading classic teen novels with an adult eye.



Alec Appelbaum
FLAP Bag
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.



The Editors
Desperate Times/Desperate Measures
Invitation for social activists to participate in viral marketing campaign for Ford Fiesta. Unedited email as received at Winterhouse...



The Editors
On Comments
Reader comments are an important part of our site, with many visitors enjoying them as much as the original articles. So keeping the discussion as interesting as possible is to everyone's advantage. Here are the rules for comments at Design Observer.



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



Alexandra Lange
Why This blog?
I am starting a blog, because some opinions are too hot for casual conversation.



The Editors
Design Observer Audience Survey




Debbie Millman
Allan Chochinov
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, Debbie speaks with Allan Chochinov, editor-in-chief of Core77.com, the widely read design website.



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



Jessica Helfand
My Facebook, My Self
But as projections of ourselves, one’s Facebook identity, made visible through one’s photo albums, inhabits a public trajectory that goes way beyond who and what we are.



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.



Debbie Millman
Jessica Helfand
Jessica Helfand discusses growing up in a family of collectors, her love of visual biography and why history should be more important to designers than it seems to be.



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.



Gong Szeto
Interview with Brian Oakes
It’s not often that graphs and numbers take center stage in a popular film, but in the brilliant hands of graphic designer Brian Oakes, information design is not a backdrop but a main character in the recently released documentary I.O.U.S.A. Interview by Gong Szeto.



Tom Vanderbilt
Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do




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?



Steven Heller
What's In A Name?
In only a few short years, blogs have significantly evolved. And if blogs, and the people who engage with them, are to be respected, then we should all know who everyone is, and everyone — whoever and whatever they have to say — should not hide behind the digital veil.



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.



Adrian Shaughnessy
The 2012 Olympic Logo Ate My Hamster
Designers often bemoan the lack of coverage given to graphic design in mainstream media. Yet when design catches the attention of journalists and commentators it usually results in a vicious mugging rather than hearty praise.



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.”



Debbie Millman
Jakob Trollback
On this episode of Design Matters with Debbie Millman, an interview with designer and filmmaker Jakob Trollback — who is also a DJ.



Michael Erard
Word Made Flesh
The forgotten discipline of sentence diagramming forces the structure of language to wear the clothes of images. A sentence diagram is less a map than a portrait, and in this vaudeville language is painted, corsetted and trussed.



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.



William Drenttel
What Ever Happened to Half.com, Oregon?
But back in 1999, in its Netflix-like heyday, Half.com was hot. And it did something quite remarkable. As a publicity stunt, it bought a town and renamed it. Someplace in Oregon. I wondered what ever happened to Half.com, Oregon — the first dot com city in the world?



Dmitri Siegel
World 6.0: Same as the Old World?
Edward Castronova's recent book Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games sheds some light on the increasingly tangled relationship between MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games) and the game of life.



William Drenttel
Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS)
How do we measure the danger level from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus? What we lack is that one Tom Ridge-like bit of inspiration that would lend clarity to these confusing times. We took our cue from a certain John James Audubon. Herewith, one option for Homeland Security. Yes, we know: it's for the birds.



Adrian Shaughnessy
Living Without The Internet
The "community" that I find on the internet is the communality of shared enthusiasms for marginalised subjects.



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.



Jessica Helfand
Disaster Relief 101: No Door Hanger Left Behind
Door hangers seem the perfect metaphor for FEMA's failure: they're one-dimensional, unnecessarily complicated, and basically useless.



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.



Debbie Millman
Carin Goldberg
Carin Goldberg was a staff designer at CBS Records and Atlantic Records before establishing her own firm, Carin Goldberg Design, in 1982.



Debbie Millman
Hillman Curtis
Hillman Curtis has designed motion graphic spots for clients such as MTV, Rolling Stone and Adobe and his innovative design solutions have garnered him numerous awards all over the world.



Rick Poynor
Emigre: An Ending
Issue 69 of Emigre will be the last. In its heyday, it was the most consistently interesting design publication produced by anyone, anywhere. By 1990, it was one of those magazines you simply had to get hold of and read straight away.



Michael Bierut
The Great Non-Amber-Colored Hope
A student design for a prescription pill bottle takes a metoric rise to mass production and becomes an instant icon in the world of graphic design.



Jessica Helfand
New Models for Design Efficiency: Introducing Otto




Rick Poynor
We Are All Editors Now. Or Are We?
Many designers aspire to be editors. But being an editor is not simply about choosing some things you like and throwing them together. Editing is about deep engagement with content and the construction of meaning.






Debbie Millman
Design Blogs: The Good, the Bad and the Nasty
Rick Poynor, Armin Vit, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Jen Beckman, Adrian Hanft and Bennett Holzworth discuss the finer points of design blogging.



William Drenttel
Maps of Cyberspace
It is the internet that has changed our perception of space, precisely because the sheer volume of interconnectivity is beyond our imagination, whether it be language-based, data-based, or community-based. Add black holes and photographs of asteroidal moons around Jupiter, and our world seems increasingly expansive. Yet, if we cannot map it, how can we understand it?



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.



Michael Bierut
Me and My Pyramid
The redesign of the United States Department of Agriculture's Food Pyramid is neither satisfying nor nourishing from an information design point of view.



Debbie Millman
Marian Bantjes, Alexander Gelman + Michael Surtees
An interview with Marian Bantjes, Alexander Gelman and Michael Surtees of DesignNotes.



Momus
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...



Debbie Millman
Bad Boys of Design
Designers Michael Ian Kaye, Mark Kingsley, Petter Ringbom, James Victore and Armin Vit.



Jessica Helfand
My Friend Flickr
Flickr is a digital photo sharing website and web services suite that was developed by Ludicorp, a Vancouver, Canada company founded in 2002. It's a utopian oddity — a culture enabled by a technology that in turn enables a culture — and it's a brilliant example of socially networked software because it's free, its easy, and it makes sense.



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.



The Editors
Understanding and Action




Jessica Helfand
Time, Space and The Microsoft Colonialists
If Microsoft displayed its marketing genius by introducing "Spaces" three weeks before Christmas, its failure as a compelling editorial product — as evidenced by its restrictive format, its templated narrowcasting, its uninspired design parameters — illuminates its ultimate weakness: these spaces have nothing to do with space, in all its rich, fascinating and deeply human complexity.



Jessica Helfand
Am I Blue
Bumper stickers and lawn posters aside, Americans showed their concern on election day 2004 by standing in epic lines at polling centers around the nation, but also in certain subtle, discreetly visual ways. From dressing in all blue (or red) to wearing "I voted today" buttons, there has been a kind of silent visual communication effort steadily in play for the last 36 hours.



Jessica Helfand
Gentlemen Prefer Blogs
Watching Annie Duke beat out a half-dozen male competitors in the World Poker Tournament this week, I experienced an odd case of déjà vu.



William Drenttel
Font Forensics, Or Whether George W. Bush Is Hiding Something




William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician III




Michael Bierut
The Idealistic Corporation
American corporations in the mid-twentieth century, such as IBM, Container Corporation, and General Dynamics, worked with designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Herbert Bayer and Erik Nitsche in the conviction that design was not only a tool for business, but an potent instrument for making the world a better place.



William Drenttel
Learning from Las Vegas: The Book That (Still) Takes My Breath Away




Jessica Helfand
One Person, One Vote, One MRI?




Michael Bierut
Information Design and the Placebo Effect
It turns out that New York City is filled with buttons for pedestrians to activitate "Walk" signals at busy intersections that have never worked. Does pressing these useless buttons provide us with a sense that at least we're doing something?



William Drenttel
Call for Entries: Periodic Table of the Elements
Jessica Helfand and I are building a collection of Periodic Tables and hope to publish a book on their scientific, visual and cultural history.



William Drenttel
Uut, Uup and Away
What happens when we discover new elements, especially ones on the outer fringes of the periodic table? Where did Uut and Uup come from?



Jessica Helfand
Mind the Light, Light the Mind
As I began to describe Quaker Meeting for Worship — where one sits in silence for some period of time, in a large room with any number of other congregants, and where one stands to speak, on virtually any topic, when moved to do so — I realized that this presented a compelling metaphor for blogging.



Michael Bierut
Errol Morris Blows Up Spreadsheet, Thousands Killed
Errol Morris's documentary "The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert McNamara" demonstrates his mastery of information design as a poetic narrative device.



William Drenttel
Design URLs
As a service to our readers over the holidays, here is a list of the twenty URLs we found to be available, and more interestingly, the close to one hundred URLs we found to be taken.



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.



Michael Bierut
Mark Lombardi and the Ecstasy of Conspiracy
Artist Mark Lombardi's intricate handdrawn diagrams describing the relationships behind contemporary political and financial scandals are both beautiful objects and extraordinary feats of information design.



Jessica Helfand
Implausible Fictions
At what point does the designer's interpretation threaten to skew, or misrepresent or somehow implausibly amplify information in a manner that might be considered irresponsible?



William Drenttel
Information Archaeology
Russ Kick is "a self-described 'information archaeologist...'" The revealing of state secrets through deconstructing a PDF.



William Drenttel
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician II
More on Edward Tufte and his critique of PowerPoint.



Jessica Helfand
Edward Tufte: The Dispassionate Statistician I




Observed | November 15

Juan Ángel Cotta’s work, especially a collection of hardback books he illustrated in 1960, is one of the missing links between South American publishing and the European modernist traditions. —Steven Heller. [BV]

Need some inspiration? 25 reasons to keep on making stuff “in this time of rampant assholery.” [BV]


Observed | November 13

Are we confusing readability with literary value? The case for difficult books. [BV]

Big Mike Takes Lunch” by filmmaker Nicolas Heller, is a documentary that captures a day in the life of Michael Saviello, manager for 40 years of the iconic East Village barber shop, Astor Place Hairstylists, who paints on his lunch break. [BV]


Observed | November 12

Artificial Intelligence is mapping the Pacific ocean’s secret soundscape in hopes of building the most comprehensive dataset of its kind – an enormous “sound postcard of the ocean.” [BV]

Metal band accused of quitting a tour because their logo was too small on the flyer responds with a tiny logo t-shirt. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | November 09

Brilliant Maps is “making sense of the world, one map at a time” and includes maps of “Countries Which Have At Some Point Claimed To Be Rome’s Successor” and “A Map of Superheroes in NYC & The Areas They Protect”. [BV]

Bob Neill’s Book of Typewriter Art” from 1982 contains instructions for creating a likeness of Queen Elizabeth, Elvis Presley, numerous cats, and a mystery picture all in ascii. (via Blake Eskin) [BV]


Observed | November 08

Should I delete my social media? Five artists + writers weigh in. [BV]

Fabulous 1970s stock photo model shots: these were the archetypal 1970s faces and fashions. [BV]

What do our oldest books say about us? On the ineffable magic of four little manuscripts of Old English poetry. [BV]


Observed | November 07

The epic rise and fall of the name Heather. [BV]

Sixty-four extreme human emotions visualized, long before the emoji. [BV]


Observed | November 05

Almost published a number of times over the last 30 years, Julius Scott’s manuscript about slaves and sailors in the Caribbean has been an underground sensation and is finally being published. [BV]

While rumors of humans wiping out 60% of animal species been widely mischaracterized, the actual news is still grim. [BV]


Observed | October 31

“I see each commission as a challenge: write a piece of music which lasts between fifteen and twenty minutes, for an orchestra comprising the following 65 instruments, and we’d like it by this date.” Nico Muhly on designing music. [BV]

Boo! The spooky evolution of text message-based horror stories. [BV]


Observed | October 30

In case you need a distraction: A database of paper airplanes with easy to follow folding instructions. [BV]

The singular, cultlike status of the Kit Kat bar in Japan. [BV]


Observed | October 29

The use of skulls as design elements in American logos quintupled as the US went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | October 26

The question of whether time moves in a loop or a line has occupied human minds for millennia. Has physics found the answer? [BV]

Apple’s radical approach to news curation: have humans make selections rather than machines. [BV]


Observed | October 25

“What you do is you contribute these little background moments to people’s lives, and if you can do it in a way that brings a little beauty or pleasure along the way, it’s a home run.” Michael Bierut on his career as a designer. [BV]

The New York Times was one of the last American daily newspapers to add color to its news pages. Here’s why. (via Steven Heller) [BV]

Why are we still arguing for the business value of design? [BV]


Observed | October 24

Social media is not literature, and tweeting is not writing. Imagining Herzog as status updates. (via Arts and Letters Daily) [BV]

So. Is “hipster design” really a thing? [BV]


Observed | October 23

“Even after the word disruption lost its meaning from overuse, it still suffused our understanding of why the ground beneath our feet felt so shaky.” An alternative history of Silicon Valley disruption. [BV]

US political campaigns seem to be moving away from the traditional red, white, and blue color palette. (via James I. Bowie) [BV]


Observed | October 22

Brutally Honest is a new book out from Emily Ruth Cohen with advice, insights, and best practice business strategies. [BV]



Jobs | November 18