Which company has established a successful design language based on simple rectangular forms with rounded edges, finished in white and monochrome color schemes, with exceptions made for style-oriented portable products that come in multiple colors? I'm talking of course about...Nintendo.
Have you heard of virb? If you haven't, then let me be another voice in the growing clamor of the buzzmachine. Virb comes from unborn, the makers of purevolume. Virb is a social networking site with a decidedly musical slant, offering band-specific pages and last.fm-like integration with iTunes to help you tune in to music you may enjoy.
Some are claiming that virb will be a myspace killer and some are scoffing at the obvious hyperbole of such statements. Virb has two points of comparison with myspace: it is a social network that is centered around music. Most say the music aspect of virb is far superior to that of myspace, but that really isn't much of an achievement and may not even be relevant anymore since myspace is large enough that it could probably drop its music support altogether and still chug on.
I received my invite to virb today and I must say that it sure is pretty but I don't know what I'm going to do with it. My social networking workflow usually goes something like this: sign up, search for my friends, add friends, click around at my profile, leave. A quick survey of my various social networking sites shows they are all the same. My friends are the same, my profile is the same, all of them are woefully under-utilized.
When do we hit the saturation point on social networks? Has it already happened? Virb is pretty, it's customizable if you're a web geek and understand CSS, and is incredibly usable. But is it compelling? Maybe. Last year at The Future of Web Apps in San Francisco, dogster CEO Ted Rheingold gave a presentation on what he is calling passion-centric communities. The basic theory is that myspace has a stranglehold on the "social network without any discernible purpose" market, but there is room for other players if they cater to a specific need, ala flickr. If virb can stay focused on serving the passionate (and large) musical community, it will undoubtedly succeed. If it tries to kill myspace, it will be come JASN (just another social network).
This post can't ever live up to that over-hyped title. When blogging it is always important to get people excited by the title and then let them down when they get to the actual post. But I did create a 3D carousel of all of the new CS3 icons that identifies nearly all of them. You can click on the image below to check it out. There are still a couple of mystery icons that haven't been deciphered yet. (You may need to disable your popup blocker)
The digital age breeds its very own (chronic) diseases.
(Pictures from Engadget)
Burger King has released some of the weirdest and most disturbing commercials that I have ever seen. They have joined the ranks of Jack in the Box and Carl's Jr by creating commercials that often have little to do with the actual food itself. Some of the commercials feature a life-size chicken performing motocross stunts set to a soundtrack of "Big hucking chicken. You are big, you are chicken." By far the creepiest commercial features the Burger King "King" mascot who wakes up in bed next to some unsuspecting victim.
Burger King has raised the level of weirdness however by offering Xbox 360 games featuring the "King" for only $3.99. The only catch is that you have to purchase a combo value meal. Seeing as though most Xbox 360 games sell in the neighborhood of $60 each, this is definitely something that caught the eye of a lot of people. I had to see how cheesy the games were so I took the plunge. I usually steer clear of Burger King because of an article I once read in Maxim magazine. They tested the beef quality of all the various fast food joints and Burger King landed dead last. They even found bug carcasses on the beef. But for a $3.99 Xbox game, I'll eat a carcass or two.
There are 3 games to choose from, but I chose "Big Bumpin" in which you play as the King in a series of bumper car games. The graphics were actually really good and the game play was somewhat enjoyable. The best one is where you and an opponent can play ice hockey with your bumper cars.
Like it or not, Burger King is coming up with some original ways to get people to come and eat their bug-ridden hamburger patties.
John Hagel has a terrific post on "The Economics of Attention," a must-read for anyone who's interested in the genesis of this concept. Hagel revisits the seminal thinkers, starting with Nobel prize winner Herbert Simon, who in an 1971 article was the first to grasp the economical implications of "attention," long before "attention economy" became such a buzzword.
All the eating, yelling, and gift giving isÂ officially over in my family. This year, my mother's dog (Oliver)Â received an ipodÂ for Christmas. Why? I'm not really sure. I am still a little stunned. During the holidays, some people like to hide out in the living room to watch football;Â I'm ducking out in the kitchen and checking flickr for dogs with ipods.Â
What do theseÂ dogs listen to anyway?
Adobe has released a graphic showing all of the icons for their new CS3 suite. These icons are nothing like the flowery illustrations that we have gotten used to over the past couple of releases. They simply consist of a gradient background and the application's initials. They obviously are fashioned after the Periodic Table of Elements. The image below shows all of the icons arranged around a color wheel.
Have any of you seen Shaun Inman's recent redesign? How about David Shea's? It's ok if you don't know who these people are, but they are A-listers in the web-design/development world. Both of these gentlemen have recently re-designed their personal sites and both are trying hard to buck convention. The goal is to associate time and context to articles instead of simply applying the latest and greatest look and feel to their archives and erasing the memory of past designs.
Inman refers to his design as "The Heap." The concept is that as the posts age, the stylesheet is slightly altered so that the colors fade over time. You can read more about it in his words. In this manner he is alluding to the physical deterioration of documents over time.
Shea is calling his redesign "The Fountain." Don't ask me whey these guys do this, I've never named a design before (but I've never named a car either). Shea's take is a bit different, with groups of articles being published under unique mastheads and borrowing color schemes from a primary photograph. The assumption is that this makes a group of articles published under a single "theme" more relevant in context with one another and more like a magazine. This experiment is more about information organization, but is undoubtedly unique. Again, check out his much better, more detailed explanation.
Overall, I like the approach. As more and more of our documentation and knowledge is digitized, a sense of time and history will be removed from the record. On the one hand, it is not good that certain documents are rare because it tends to keep them out of the public domain. We can all agree that access to knowledge is good and the more we can hep to disseminate that, the better. However, as with my previous post about RSS, I believe that the medium upon which the words are delivered can tell a story of their own. (I'm purposefully ignoring the fact that I know nothing of the longevity of current printed materials). Are people going to project important digital documents onto giant screens so people can come and see them, touch them, and take in their history?
Take for example, this article on music from NYTimes.com. This article was written ten years ago, but is set in the current NYTimes.com design. Reading this article should be an opportunity to work through the old NYTimes, as though looking at microfilm or flipping through an archive of old papers. Yes, the current design is probably more user-friendly, user-centric, multi-device enabled, semantically correct, valid XHTML, and all that. But it's ten years newer than its content. What are we missing? I have no idea, because it's missing.
It will be interesting to see if Mr. Shea's and Mr. Inman's ideas take hold, but one would be hard pressed to argue they are uninteresting.
For me, RSS is a mixed bag. As a technologist I love being able to work with RSS feeds to enrich the applications that I'm working on. As an individual interested in the goings on of the great interweb, I pretty much ignore RSS. While there are many out there who claim that on the web "CONTENT IS KING," the web is also a medium for design, both visual and architectural. Taking the content out of the context of the design can remove some of its relevance or meaning.
As a design-oriented technologist, I appreciate the work that goes into crafting a site and I want to read the content within the framework put together by the author (this is of course referring to sites that are not built using WordPress templates). Abstracting the advice of a designer into a feed reader is not as fulfulling as reading his words within the frame of his actual work. By reading it there I am given fresh insight into the design chioices that were made on the very page I am looking at. It's all very meta.
There are also some out there who posit that major corporations are moving away from RSS for various reasons. Mostly, the growing consensus is that RSS does not generate the revenue that traditional sites do because advertising within feeds is still a very polarizing topic among the technorati. A quick glance and some major news outlets found the RSS link buried in the footer or near the bottom of the page.
There can be no doubt, that RSS is here to stay. However, it may be hurting the web as a visually creative medium and could be put aside by major corporations if advertising revenue cannot be recognized soon.