27 November 2006

Thanks… and I miss you.

Having relocated to a major metropolitan area, we (myself and K, plus the cats) have few close friends with which to share our holidays right now. We are thankful to be in a growing prospering economy, an area with a lot of history (from an American perspective), plenty of places to see and things to do within a few hours drive, and a lot friends that miss us. We are very, very thankful to be here now.

But, we miss a lot as well. We miss our family and friends. The folks I could call at a moments notice and go on a long run or ride. Also, Sunday mornings in the woods with the boys. Huge campfires, Sunflower bike shop, margaritas at La Parilla, beers at Freestate, Yellow Sub, Papa Kenos, the world’s greatest dentist and optometrist, Kansas Basketball, and most of all my daughter Meg.

Contribute more value & use less [CMV&CL]

Look for a series of rants, criticisms and projections regarding our individual contributions to the planet, society and the human race. This will definitely include some thoughts on consuming and waste. Should be fun (for me at least.)

Web 2.o – what do it are?

I keep reading articles that attempt to sum the entirety of the whole 2.0 thing. I have a tendency to discount, if not disregard the seven-word summation… web 2.0, long tail, experience… you get the drift. Half of those I hear talk of 2.0 as the point at which the web delivered real interactive applications as opposed to corporate brochures and catalogs. Yet others see it more from an economics and commerce perspective. That being the second wave of added value and monetization of the internet. I think both are right, and both are wrong. It will likely prove to be the second of a series of overvalued and optimistic eras regarding the future worth of companies promising to deliver via the web.

22 November 2006

Belief, and the courage to speak up.

When I had the opportunity to lecture I stole a very compelling tool from my friend, and mentor Professor Richard Branham. Richard would frequently charge his students, and me, with one simple question, “What do you believe?” Richard’s point was that action, even wrong, is better than no action. Designers must think, and have convictions.

When I started my second design firm (d3), a groundbreaking effort that pioneered much of what is still being discovered about the web, interaction and design thinking. You won’t read about us like IDEO because we were in the agricultural Midwest, but our work and methods are something I am very proud of.

Our first “official” employee was a young man straight out of college named Tyler Galloway. Tyler worked tirelessly. He produced exceptional work and was always committed to whatever project he was handed… even when he had issues with the some of our clients. Tyler was more conscientious than most designers. Tyler knew what he believed and was not afraid to live, breathe and make personal sacrifices for those beliefs. Tyler eventually left the company because he felt that designing for some corporations was a compromising his beliefs. I admire that. Tyler and I continue to agree to disagree on the virtues of capitalism.

While as a young man I very much wanted to attend the Art Institute of Kansas City. I had aunts and uncles that studied there and it had its appeal. I later learned that, like most art institutes it was a place for rich spoiled kids to ‘not’ study, but attend a school. In ten plus years we never once interviewed a graduate of the art institute worth hiring. So when Tyler announced that he was going to teach there, I had my doubts. I new the school would benefit from Tyler, but worried for him.

What Tyler has done at that school is noting short of amazing. Sure, he teaches many of the expected courses like typography, web design, basic graphic design, but he is forging a new curriculum that only someone with his conviction and courage would pursue. He is teaching the altruistic and powerful potential of design beyond being the hired gun of a company. He is teaching of the political, social impact – and the responsibility one must take in even the smallest contribution to a questionable effort. In typical fashion Tyler credits someone else (Katherine McCoy) for allowing him to teach a class called “Visual Advocacy.” He is currently teaching a class called “persuasive ecology and design.” Tyler is talking about and teaching topics that designers typically do not. Tyler deserves credit and acknowledgment for his ground breaking and courageous approach. Tyler is a person that I greatly admire and seek to be more like.

You can find Tyler’s blog at www.thenewprogramme.net.

I greatly dislike web mail

In an effort to clean up my vocabulary and be more positive, I am attempting to avoid the use of the word “hate”. It is not working so well… but I keep trying. I am by nature a positive person, but there is much in this world that can be improved.

With the variety of email addresses – I suppose most of us now have – web mail becomes far from convenient. I love working with the Mac mail application. It is flexible as I want it and yet as simple as I at times want it. It just works so well for so many people with such a wide variety of needs.

My job now constrains the way I access my mail. I try and keep work mail, freelance mail, personal correspondence all in separate accounts neatly organized. But at work I am not able to mail out from the mail client. Firewalls and such… and I guess I am just too lazy to re configure the mail server settings to work there.

Enter the new client for mail at Mac.com. Thank you Apple. As gratuitous as this sounds my life is now back much closer to normal where email is concerned. Not an exact duplication of the mail application, it does any fan of 2.0 web aps proud. It is an excellent implementation of the interface and functionality. There are few minor things that can be improved – but I am one happy web mail camper at the moment.