- OneMillionGiraffes.com – fascinating to look at how a simple exercise can be tackled in so many different ways – My friend, Jørgen, doesn't believe I can collect one million giraffes by 2011. I'm gonna prove him wrong, but I need your help. So far I've got 76.870 giraffes, so I need 923.130 more! And I have 503 days left to get them.
- See my giraffe – Will it be one in a million?
- Hallmark Cards to feature licensed audio content from NBC Universal – NBC Universal has sealed a new licensing deal with Hallmark Cards that includes the use of the company's film and TV content. Sound cards from Universal films such as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Sixteen Candles" and "Jaws" will be included as well. Ditto "The Office," "30 Rock" and "Battlestar," as well as NBC News archives. Beyond cards, the deal includes "a wide range of social expression products."
- Escapism in Minutiae of Daily Life – nice NYT review of Sims 3 – It is almost impossible to avoid the temptation to make a Sim version of yourself, either as you really are or as you wish to be. In that sense the game presents basic but important questions: What kind of person am I? What kind of person would I like to become? How do I treat the people around me? What is important to me in life? What are my core values?
Children usually form their tentative answers to these questions without considering them explicitly. Adults, by contrast, often confront such issues, even tangentially, only in the context of intense emotional involvement, some sort of crisis or high-priced psychotherapy.
Most video games exist to allow the player to forget completely about the real world. The Sims accomplishes the rare feat of entertaining while also provoking intellectual and emotional engagement with some of life’s fundamental questions. I love aliens and zombies, but a little reality in my gaming once in a while is not a horrible thing.
- Miro Adoption Center: Adopt of a Line of Code – This is a clever adaptation of a familiar community funding approach (i.e., highways) to open-source software:
"Adopt a line of source code for just $4 a month, and together we can keep Miro alive and growing! You’ll receive a customized page and widgets that display your line of code. Even a little photo of your new buddy, and its personalized name!"
- The McGangBang: a McChicken Sandwich Inside a Double Cheeseburger – (via Kottke) Another awesome example of customers co-opting (or trying to) the corporation. It's a user-generated menu item and people are trying to order it by its (rather unpalatable) name and then documenting the results. Like the obscene Skittle comments on Twitter, this is people taking a brand (and an experience) and playing with it. And then using the Internet to bring energy to that small piece of celebratory rebellion. If we ever needed another example of the brand being created by the customers not the producers, this would be it.
- Chinese Internet meme about Grass-Mud Horse is a form of social protest – An online phenomena features a mythical character is built on the name – in Chinese – sounding close to an obscenity, but presented as an innocent song (with some fable-like plot twists) that the censors (so far) can't/won't remove. “Its underlying tone is: I know you do not allow me to say certain things. See, I am completely cooperative, right?” the Beijing Film Academy professor and social critic Cui Weiping wrote in her own blog. “I am singing a cute children’s song — I am a grass-mud horse! Even though it is heard by the entire world, you can’t say I’ve broken the law.”
The Diamond Dave soundboard is getting a lot of heat in the blogosphere lately. Taken from a recently unearthed isolated vocal track of David Lee Roth singing “Runnin’ With the Devil” in the studio, this website provides clickable buttons that trigger various DLR vocal stylings. If you listen to morning radio (and hey, who doesn’t) and hear DJs making prank phone calls to pizza joints using clips from Rocky movies, this is the type of thing they are using – a soundboard.
I really love how the interface takes a fresh, honest (and hilarious) approach to foreshadowing, i.e., giving an indication of what’s going to happen (you might also think about this as feedforward, the complement to feedback). What will happen when you press a button that says “Whoo!”? The first time you try it, you learn very quickly what happens. Once you grasp the basic model (which takes one risk-free moment), the button label descriptions accurately (if cryptically) indicate what the result will be.
I love the idea of a UI with the following controls:
and of course my favorite
Sure, it’ll take more learning to distinguish between AHHH HAAAA and AHHHHHHH YEEEEEEAAAHHH and maybe the buttons should be clustered rather than alphabetical, with HHAAAAAYAAAAAAHAAAAH and the similar-sounding AHHHHYAAAAHH near each other. So it’s not perfect, and I doubt there will be a dot-one release to improve the UI along those lines, it’s still a fascinating example of breaking some rules (i.e., number of letters on a button) in order to deliver a better experience, in this case, one that stays very true to the brand promise.
Originally uploaded by blackbeltjones.
Last night we attended an IxDA-SF presentation of Matt Jones on “Playfulness in Design”. No full summary to share (although maybe Matt will post the slides eventually) but one great line was the statement that “Mundane is the new fun” which refers to the little interventions of joy that are being added to everyday life, providing a new veneer of experience on top of behaviors that were once only necessary for survival.
This was one of the themes of Virginia Postrel’s Substance of Style (with its legendary discussions of the broad range of choice now available for toilet brushes). It’s also something that I’ve seen a lot of in Japan. Here’s one quick example:
This vacuum cleaner is fun: it is presented like a futuristic robot, available in at least 3 novel colors, and is styled in a notable way. This isn’t about making the chore of vacuuming fun, but about acknowledging fun as an ingredient can always be fun, from the purchase moment to the instant the vacuum is grabbed and turned on. Check out this elephant-robot for urinal cleaning as another example of fun. As a one-off, this is taking drudgery and distracting you with cuteness, but put together across so many product categories, brands, signage, TV advertisements and beyond, the notion of the constant layer of fun is so visible in Japan.
Matt is right at calling out the trend, and you can look to the Japanese as lead users of this trend.