Things Unblogged

Or, it’s better to half do something than to not do it at all.

Designers should be allowed to use six typefaces, ever. Once a year you can pick a new one, but it’s a one in, one out system. Only six at any given time. Given the coming font revolution on the internet, this would probably be a good thing for common decency.

Is there a rough limit on sizes and distances that humans can comprehend? The scale of the solar system is impossible for me to really understand, as is the size of an atom. The simplest way to explain these things is by some comparative illustration (if you laid all the blood vessels in your body end to end they would reach a quarter of the way to the moon!) but really there is a delta of size that humans can understand, and it’s relative in either direction, big and small, to the size of a human body. Even when you constantly look out the window in a plane taking off, at some point you lose perspective on how high you are and the view just becomes a picture.

Someone please make this for me: An RSS reader that allows you to click through the original permalinked posts taken directly from the source website. It could be a toolbar along the top of the page that shows an iFrame of the latest updated post (preloading three ahead so that you can just click through without any latency). I want to see what websites look like again.

Holding a short intake of breath is the biggest indicator in conversation that you’ve got something to say. If you do this, the other people talking will usually give you a chance to speak next. Videoconferences should listen for this sound, and superimpose an icon over the head of the person on the screen (like in The Sims) until they give up waiting and breathe again.

Imagine what it will be like when your child is the age you are now, and they’re reading your blog archive. Or, if you like, imagine reading your parent’s blog from when they were your age. Wild.

If you cloned Mozart and gave him music lessons from an early age, would the clone be a musical prodigy? In other words, is creative genius something that is genetically encoded? The question is specific to areas of creativity (which would seem to be the realm of the mind) rather than just smartness (which I can understand as being somewhat related to the physical makeup of the brain). This seems like something that might have an actual answer, so please leave a comment if you know.

UI testing is a bit like unit testing. You do the initial creative part, and then you test it initially to see if you were right, and continually to see if you’re still right for some time after (or if changing context causes your rightness to lapse). It’s also like test screenings of films (cf. the death of the artist), and as such faces the danger of having the same effect on creativity as any kind of design by committee. Lando died in the original test screenings of Return of the Jedi, you know. There’s probably a good reason stuff like this doesn’t make it into a full post.

Google Images == internet ethnography. A chilling glimpse into the vernacular underbelly of the web.

There’s this awesome video showing what Earth would look like if it had rings like Saturn, but it shows images of the rings sweeping over the Eiffel Tower and the statue of Christ at Rio de Janeiro. This ignores that if Earth had rings, nearly everything on it’s surface would be different. Large parts of the globe would regularly be under dark shadow, so many of our cities might not even exist. Religion, culture and architecture on our Earth have all been influenced by the fact that early humans were amazed by the sun, moon and stars; surely a great big band across the sky would have skewed their ideas in an entirely different direction.

Minimalism or retro, faux-naive restraint in consumer packaging is now a way of standing out on the supermarket shelf. This is the simple design principle of negative space being attractive to the eye in effect, and clever design that considers its context. What would a decades-long time-lapse movie of the same supermarket shelf look like? A lot of packaging is now as loud as possible while remaining within the realm of static visuals. What will supermarkets be like when every bottle of detergent can make noise and play video? People in Switzerland have to pay for their waste disposal, so you often see bins overflowing with packaging right outside a supermarket exit; people got rid of the cardboard boxes rather than taking them home with them. What if a supermarket had one display package and many minimally-packaged versions of the same item that people could buy?

Design meeting I’d like to have been in, for a few reasons: How Long Should We Make The MacBook Power Cord?

— 05 Dec 2009