- [from steve_portigal] The WhatWasThere Project – [It's exciting to see these sort of audacious projects start to emerge and to actually believe that they are possible. There's already a wealth of similar data on Flickr and presumably on Facebook as well; is there a way to tap into the existing data ethically?] The WhatWasThere project was inspired by the realization that we could leverage technology and the connections it facilitates to provide a new human experience of time and space – a virtual time machine of sorts that allows users to navigate familiar streets as they appeared in the past. The premise is simple: provide a platform where anyone can easily upload a photograph with two straightforward tags to provide context: Location and Year. If enough people upload enough photographs in enough places, together we will weave together a photographic history of the world (or at least any place covered by Google Maps). So wherever you are in the world, take a moment to upload a photograph and contribute to history!
- [from steve_portigal] Side View Mirror Project – [Love Erik Dahl's deep dive on the ordinary to find ot the extraordinary, as he has spent years taking pictures of side view mirrors. He discovers some great themes and patterns although he acknowledges he didn't know where it was going to go when he started.] Taking these pictures changed the way I drive. I used to be very end-state oriented when I would drive. When I started taking pictures for this project I stopped thinking about where I was going, and started watching mirrors and looking for red lights. As designers, its important to remember that the goal and orientation of the user dramatically impacts their experiences.
- [from steve_portigal] Two years after buying Pure Digital, Cisco ditches the Flip [Ars Technica] – [I always thought this was about driving a consumer-facing innovation culture into the org. Let's hope that this persists even without the specific line of products.] Cisco is killing off the line of pocketable video cameras in order to refocus the company around home networking and video. The news was a surprise to even Flip critics, leaving everyone wondering why Cisco bothered to buy Pure Digital (the Flip's former parent company) for $590 million just 2 years ago. The marriage never fully made sense, but we accepted itmost assumed that Cisco was making its own attempt to compete in the handheld market by simply gobbling up one of the hottest little gadget startups at the time. Two years later, Cisco's feelings about the acquisition have changed. Cisco announced that it's expanding the Consumer Business Group, but that the Flip business will no longer be part of it. There was no formal explanation given as to why Cisco chose to shut the group down instead of selling it.
- [from steve_portigal] Geoffrey Crawley, 83, Dies; Gently Deflated a Fairy Hoax [NYTimes.com] – [The lasting power of popular mythologies, especially when tied to a new technology. It reads quaint now, but do we have any current analogs?] Were there really fairies at the bottom of the garden, or was it merely a childhood prank gone strangely and lastingly awry? That, for six decades, was the central question behind the Cottingley fairies mystery, the story of two English schoolgirls who claimed to have taken five pictures of fairy folk in the 1910s and afterward. Set awhirl by the international news media, the girls’ account won the support of many powerful people, including one of the most famous literary men in Britain. From the start, there were doubters. But there was no conclusive proof of deception until the 1980s, when a series of articles by the English photographic scientist Geoffrey Crawley helped reveal the story for what it was: one of the most enduring, if inadvertent, photographic hoaxes of the 20th century.
- [from steve_portigal] ThatsMyFace.com – [Technology continues to trickle down, where image processing and digital printing previously associated with movie special effects and commercial printing now enable little businesses to crop up, offering fairly unique types of products] Gifts with personalized faces, including custom action figures, celebrity action figures, 3D portraits, masks, jewelry, papercraft, and ornamental heads.
- [from steve_portigal] How to Have an Idea [Frank Chimero] – [A little comic that amuses as it inspires and teaches, suggesting that creativity is tied to doing, not just thinking or (gulp) talking. Manifests so adroitly while we believe user research really comes alive when you use it to start generating concepts for things to make and do] No one crumples a blank sheet of paper.
- [from steve_portigal] The Medium – E-Readers Collective [NYTimes.com] – [A Kindle feature takes advantage of the inherently digital nature of the medium, but has consequences for the experience] But many writers don’t write aphoristically, and many readers don’t read for aphorisms. In a popularly highlighted world, we all may begin to. The dotted line, like the distinctive hue or underscore that signals a word is clickable on the Web, may be a new kind of punctuation that affects contemporary style. (Amazon's most heavily highlighted books include Gladwell’s “Outliers” and Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture”) Readers coming to e-books freshly purchased from Amazon might be taken aback to find them already marked up. Stumbling on a passage that other people care about, framed as though you should care about it too, can seem like a violation of virgin text. It’s bad enough that vandals have gotten to your “new” edition before you have and added emphases unendorsed by author or publisher. What’s worse is that they invariably choose the most Polonius-like passages.
- [from steve_portigal] At The Movies, A String Of Futures Passed [All Things Considered - NPR] – No matter how accurate they may be, all fictional futures — especially alarmist ones — lose urgency as the concerns that fueled them fade. The Cold War paranoia of 1984 and 2001 now feel distant, even if the tech-boom fears in Blade Runner may be a bit more current. This decade, we're uptight about the environment and our increasing decrepitude, so we get Wall-E. In the flower-power era, we were skeptical about social conformity, so we got A Clockwork Orange.
- [from steve_portigal] Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words [Steve McCurry's Blog[ - [Photjournalist assembles series of images of people reading, across the planet]
- [from steve_portigal] Coca Cola Village Like Facebook [The Inspiration Room] – [The ability to "post things" to Facebook or similar from far away (online or offline) is provocative but perhaps limiting, when the feedback loop - I post and I see what I post appear- is broken as badly as here] Coca Cola Village in Israel is a summer holiday resort designed for teenagers finishing their school years. For its third year experiential marketing agency Promarket provided residents with RFID bracelets (Radio Frequency Identification) to help them share their experiences on Facebook. Teens were able to put a digital ‘like’ on their choice of forty facilities in the camp, from the pool, the spa, to the extreme activities and sport section. If photographed by one of the official photographers, the RFID technology would automatically tag everyone in the photo and upload it to the relevant Facebook profiles…Real world Liking resulted in up to 35,000 posts per cycle…On average each visitor was posting 54 pieces of Coke branded content to their Facebook profile.
- [from julienorvaisas] America: Land of Loners? [The Wilson Quarterly] – [Thoughtful commentary on the notion of "friends," a watered-down word these days, thanks to Facebook.] Friendship, like baseball, always seems to send intellectuals off the deep end. Yet there is more biological justification for our predecessors’ paeans to friendship than for our modern-day tepidity. Friendship exists in all the world’s cultures, likely as a result of natural selection. People have always needed allies to help out in times of trouble, raise their status, and join with them against their enemies. It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to conclude that a talent for making friends would bestow an evolutionary advantage by corralling others into the project of promoting and protecting one’s kids—and thereby ensuring the survival of one’s genes.
- [from julienorvaisas] Ewwwwwwwww! [The Boston Globe] – [Scientists are working on unpacking the psychology of physical disgust and it's role in moral decisions, which are obviously also based in powerful socio-cultural factors. Food for thought on just how layered the decision-making process is.] Just as our teeth and tongue first evolved to process food, then were enlisted for complex communication, disgust first arose as an emotional response to ensure that our ancestors steered clear of rancid meat and contagion. But over time, that response was co-opted by the social brain to help police the boundaries of acceptable behavior. Today, some psychologists argue, we recoil at the wrong just as we do at the rancid, and when someone says that a politician’s chronic dishonesty makes her sick, she is feeling the same revulsion she might get from a brimming plate of cockroaches.
- [from steve_portigal] iPad/Kindle combo proving deadly to rest of e-reader market [ars technica] – The show floor of January's Consumer Electronics Show was swamped with E-Ink-based e-readers of all shapes and sizes, to the point that it seemed that a tsunami of Kindle knock-offs was going to hit the US market in the first quarter of 2010. But in hindsight, it turns out that the wave actually crested at CES, and has now almost entirely subsided. The problem for these products is that the e-reader market appears to consist almost exclusively of people who want to use the devices to read, which means that they don't really care about being able to bend or flex the e-reader a little bit, nor are they willing to pay the huge premium that a touchscreen commands. Neither of these features enhances the basic reading experience that's at the core of why people pick an E-Ink device over a reader with an LCD screen. For those who just want to read, the Kindle is now very cheap. And if you're going to pay for a touchscreen, you might as well spend a bit extra get an iPad.
- [from steve_portigal] Persona [a set on Flickr] – [An ongoing series of photographs of people, and the stuff they are carrying with them. This sort of raw documentationism is without explicit analysis or articulated insight but of course the act of creation and the act of editing/selecting introduces a curatorial voice and implicit point of view on the world. It's just up to us to figure out what that is]
- [from steve_portigal] 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre: WORST. NAME. EVER. [TampaBay.com] – Live Nation's announcement that they were renaming the Ford Amphitheatre the 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre is the ugliest naming rights agreement of the past 20 years. It's worse than the PapaJohns.com Bowl. It's worse than the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. It's worse than University of Phoenix Stadium. It's worse than the Comfort Dental Amphitheatre. By now, everyone has to understand that naming rights and sponsorship deals are an immutable aspect of society. Corporate sponsorships make possible many things that consumers take for granted.Ford's naming rights deal is over, and the Amphitheatre needed a new title sponsor. The Florida-based lawyer referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY was willing to pony up the cash, and for good reason — the next time Toby Keith or Kings of Leon or Aerosmith launches a summer tour that inclues Tampa, the announcement will include the phone number "1-800-ASK-GARY." But … but … Aesthetically. Thematically. Visually. It's awful.
- [from steve_portigal] frogMob – frogdesign using social networking to gather data (or insights, they don’t seem sure which is which) – [If I get past the horrifyingly shortsighted copy "All photos and insights due back within one week"; "trend scrape"; "anyone can be an ethnographer for an hour" I think this is pretty fun and interesting and of course framed as an "experiment"] frogMob is based on the idea that anyone can be an ethnographer for an hour, just by paying a little more attention to the world around them. A frogMob is a trend scrape that gathers a quick visual pulse on behaviors, trends and artifacts globally. We publish the call to action on a select topic and gather original photography and stories that describe how products are used globally. The methodology and spirit of frogMob lend themselves to open collaboration. frogMob builds on the trend of using social media to run research studies, and the ability of these tools to conduct research remotely. This is where the experiment really begins.
- [from steve_portigal] How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Flow [Nieman Storyboard] – [Via @kottke. While many decry the loss of personal connection that our devices lead to; here's a theory that says the opposite, that it creates feelings of greater connectness] I was traveling with friends, and one of them took a call. Suddenly, instead of feeling less connected to the people I was with, I felt more connected, both to them and to their friends on the other end of the line (whom I did not know). My perspective had shifted from seeing the call as an interruption to seeing it as an expansion. And I realized that the story I had been telling myself about who I was had widened to include additional narratives, some not “mine,” but which could be felt, at least potentially and in part, personally. A small piece of the global had become, for the moment, local. And once that has happened, it can happen again. The end of the world as we know it? No — it’s the end of the world as I know it, the end of the world as YOU know it — but the beginning of the world as WE know it.
- [from steve_portigal] The Acceleration of Addictiveness [Paul Graham] – [Via @waxpancake. He describes how slowing down by taking hikes gives him a mental and creative freedom that his addictions have rendered otherwise inaccessible] Most if not all the things we describe as addictive are. And the scary thing is, the process that created them is accelerating. We wouldn't want to stop it. It's the same process that cures diseases: technological progress. Technological progress means making things do more of what we want. When the thing we want is something we want to want, we consider technological progress good. If some new technique makes solar cells x% more efficient, that seems strictly better. When progress concentrates something we don't want to want—when it transforms opium into heroin—it seems bad. But it's the same process at work. No one doubts this process is accelerating, which means increasing numbers of things we like will be transformed into things we like too much.
- [from steve_portigal] Exactitudes® – [Thanks @MicheleMarut! Pattern-matching is a fabulous way to develop observational skills] Rotterdam-based photographer Ari Versluis and profiler Ellie Uyttenbroek have worked together since October 1994. Inspired by a shared interest in the striking dress codes of various social groups, they have systematically documented numerous identities over the last 14 years. They call their series Exactitudes: a contraction of exact and attitude. By registering their subjects in an identical framework, with similar poses and a strictly observed dress code, Versluis and Uyttenbroek provide an almost scientific, anthropological record of people’s attempts to distinguish themselves from others by assuming a group identity. The apparent contradiction between individuality and uniformity is, however, taken to such extremes in their arresting objective-looking photographic viewpoint and stylistic analysis that the artistic aspect clearly dominates the purely documentary element.
Lost Turtle, El Granada, CA
Beanie Baby Puppy, Santa Cruz, CA
Sometimes, even things that move very slowly – or not at all – can get away from us…
- [from Dan_Soltzberg] Book review: In the Loop – Knitting Now [we make money not art] – [Another form of handheld diversion - knitting. No chargers or connections necessary. Check out Mark Newport's wonderful superhero pix halfway down the page.] In the Loop shows the different aspects of contemporary knitting practice and transforms our understanding of knitting away from retro hobby to mainstream craft and artform.
- [from steve_portigal] An Evolution In The Data Collected By Economists [ABC News] – [Recalling the adage "You manage what you measure"] The US is deluged with economic data, yet figures cannot conclusively answer even the most fundamental questions. A handful of data-loving economists are pushing for alternative measures to provide a clearer picture of how well the economy is working. No one is talking about jettisoning the GDP, the broadest measure of the nation's economic output. By combining that information with deeper understanding of how people live, work and feel, officials hope to identify economic trouble spots more quickly and make better policy decisions. Two new sets of statistics are due to be launched next year. The Labor Department is working on an enhanced time use study to track what Americans do all day and how they feel about those activities, a project that draws on Krueger's academic research. The Commerce Department is planning a new poverty metric it hopes will provide a more up-to-date measure of which groups are struggling to meet basic needs.
Photographer Michael Schmidt, from the exhibit Grey as Colour
at the Haus der Kunst in Munich.
I once described myself as a dead-end photographer, meaning that I always wander into a dead end and find no way out. I then accept this condition and at some point I am back out. This means that failure is an integral part of my work process.
Old Time Portraits, Vancouver, May 2010
I liked the list of stereotypes that Vancouver-visiting tourists (or locals out for a Real Good Time) might want to be photographed as
- Roaring 20′s – Mobsters & Molls
- Western Guys
- Saloon Gals
- Seafaring Folk
- 1st Nations
- Early R.C.M.P.
While these sort of shops are common, the choice of archetypes is an amusing reflection of the local culture.
Objects share our environments, interacting not only with us but with the other things around them. Some pictures of these inanimate conversations from a project we did on home charging and energy use with REACH Global Design Research Network.
Teapot and Apple power brick
Nokia and wicker chair
Scarves, belts, charger cables
- Zach Gage’s Antagonistic Books – A set of two books and instructions for how to build them. ANTAGONISTIC BOOKS turns the emotions and actions surrounding the banning of books into physical objects that undermine the user.
Danger reenacts what has historically been done to dangerous literature, self-immolating when opened.
Curiosity represents the notion that many book-banners feel, that the true danger of literature is that once you've opened a book you have been forever changed and can never go back. Emulating this notion, Curiosity can never be closed. Once opened, it is locked in an open position forever.
- Netflix agrees to delay in renting out Warner movies [latimes.com] – "This deal uniquely works for Netflix because our subscribers are desensitized to street dates and more interested in being matched to the perfect movie," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix's chief content officer, who handles studio relationships. "Some subscribers will so passionately want to see it in the first 28 days they may go out and buy it, just as some people want to see 'Avatar' so badly they pay to watch it in 3-D." [Snort! Guffaw!]
- Book Industry Study Group – BISG is the leading U.S. book trade association for supply chain standards, research, and best practices. For over 30 years, BISG has been working on behalf of its diverse membership of publishers, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, librarians and others involved in both print and digital publishing to create a more informed, empowered and efficient book industry supply chain for both physical and digital products.
In seeking support from and representing every sector of the book industry, BISG affirms its belief in the interdependence of all industry segments. BISG understands that success in business is often easier to achieve through joint effort and that common problems are best solved together.
- How to create new reading experiences profitably [booksahead.com] – Books have served well as containers for moving textual and visual information between places and across generations. [digita] books need to be conceived with an eye on the interactions that text/content will inspire. Those interactions happen between the author and work, the reader and the work, the author and reader, among readers and between the work and various services, none of which exist today in e-books, that connect works to one another and readers in the community of one book with those in other book-worlds….Publishing is only one of many industries battling the complex strategic challenge of just-in-time composition of information or products for delivery to an empowered individual customer. This isn’t to say that it is any harder, nor any easier, to be a publisher today compared to say, a consumer electronics manufacturer or auto maker, only that the discipline to recognize what creates wonderful engaging experience is growing more important by the day.
- New York, 2009 [Flickr] – My photos from my recent trip to New York City. Art, street art, strange signs, people watching, and other observations. Check it out!