A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Smart Energy Advisor

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KJ recently passed her exam so is now a certified Sustainable Building Advisor. To celebrate her success, we started a new blog called Smart Energy Advisor. We think of it as “fun with sustainable building.” It’s all that, plus our dream-home wish list and more.

We hope you’ll check it out, leave comments and suggests topics for us to post about. Or, as with Puck, submit an article or photo yourself!

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Written by Brian

September 2nd, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Logos to Barf About

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I keep meaning to mention that fact that I love Your Logo Makes Me Barf.

A logo from today’s update doesn’t make me barf, though; it makes me wonder if the pilots flying in and out of this airport really have to crash into the mountain in order to land and take off. Or is their logo just barfy?

barfy logo for Pocatello Airport

We're all gonna die! Barfy logo for Pocatello Airport

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Written by Brian

August 18th, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Posted in design

Cool Stuff for Social Media Workshop Attendees

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Thanks to all who attended the social media workshop at the WSU Puyallup R&E Center on July 31. This post’s for you! However, a disclaimer: the opinions on this site are my own, so proceed beyond this post at your own risk.

Basically, this is a (fairly random) collection of links to stuff I’ve found intriguing in the past couple of months.

Facebook is for photos of the kids, Twitter for blurting out pearls of marketing wisdom to his 613 followers, Linkedin for electronic schmoozing with potential business partners, Myspace for teenagers and rock bands.
– Winston Ross on examiner.com – via his blog

Designing a social media strategy – this is something I’ve tried to empashize as critically important in our workshop. For more information about designing media strategies, check out this article in the Harvard Business blog by David Armano. Armano is something of a visual thinking and business design guru. He write about social media, among other things, on his blog.

Your PC is a Web server? A Flickr server? Your own private YouTube? Outrageous! But possible with the new version of Opera. It’s called Unite and could change the way we think about running servers. I mean, do we really need expensive IT people telling us what we need? Then again, Unite might not anything at all for the simple reason that most people don’t even know there’s an alternative to Microsoft’s browser (there is! and it’s great!), much less an even cooler alternative called Opera.

Social bookmarking – I wonder if you’ve ever been in the jam I used to get myself into. I’m on the road with my personal laptop, and a site I really want to check out is bookmarked on my work machine. If only I could remember the URL…. Or, better, if only there were a way to save my bookmarks in a way that I could get at them from anywhere. This is old news, but there’s lots of cool, Web-based tools (free ones, at that) at your disposal for just such organizational tasks. I use delicious to keep my bookmarks organized, accessible from anywhere – and in a place where I can also share them with others. (In case you’re wondering, yes you can tag bookmarks as private with delicious, as you can with any other social bookmarking tool.)

Presentation design tools – my friend and colleague Jayme Jacobson, a smart and creative user of all sorts of social media, recently sent me this event invitation. I really like this piece, as it uses both marketing savvy and the technological medium of its intended audience to create an interactive piece that is as much fun as it is engaging and though provoking. The tool Jayme uses here is called Prezi – and you can use it, too, as it is a free, Web-based, social media presentation builder. I also like animoto, a free tool for making music videos from still images. Here’s a short piece I made in about five minutes, just so I could show you what animoto can do. I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t at least mention Flickr, pretty much the benchmark of photo sharing sites. Here’s mine and Karen’s photostream.

Multimedia storytelling – this is something I hear from folks in Extension all the time: I want to tell my story (“promote my program”) with video, with podcasts, with all these cool things. Help me, Brian! OK! Read this piece first, though, OK? The client-to-creative pro relationship demands a lot of both parties. That, I think, is contrary to a widespread belief which holds that the client can simply sit there and say, Not that…. until she’s satusfied. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way! Active engagement is needed from both parties, so check out the above link for a quick run down of what it takes to create a cool online experience using social media tools.  And then let’s talk!

We don’t need no stinking professionals! Just in case I’ve empowered you so much that you feel you can take on anything, have a look at a these sites. They’re good reminders that creative professionals do indeed earn their money – and these sites are a hill o’ fun, too. Your Logo Makes Me Barf – I laugh every time I visit this site because, of course, we see stuff like this all the time. We also see Web site that suck pretty much everyday, too. And just to keep myself humble, here’s a site about Thomas Edison, clearly designed by pros, that really sux – it looks great, but is totally unusable.

I’ve been pretty hard on Twitter today, so last but not least, here is a blog post that collects some really creative things people have done with Twitter. Note that none of these things is really very Twitter like! And because I’m going to marry a gardner, here’s an application that let’s your plants send you a tweet when they need water. Go figure….

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Written by Brian

July 30th, 2009 at 3:04 pm

Eclectons, chapter 2 – The Arranged Marriage

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The Eclecton saga continues. We learn how Wand Baneesh’s father got rich by teaching his circus performers to fly. Wand feels trapped by the marriage arranged for her to the witless Deem. If Wand thinks marriage is hard, though, wait until she’s actually married to the guy!

More marvelous recycling sculpture by Jayme Jacobson and witty writing by Ken O’Donnel.

And in case you missed chapter one, it’s here around here someplace.

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Written by Brian

July 27th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Reading on the Web

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readingI just read a great piece by Mandy Brown about reading. While most designers, PR and marketing people and others are pushing site design toward those who scan and search, Brown is thinking about how to make space for readers.

As a reader, I love that. As a designer and PR person pushing pixels around in favor of scanners and searchers, I’m given pause and something to think about.

Despite the ubiquity of reading on the web, readers remain a neglected audience. Much of our talk about web design revolves around a sense of movement: users are thought to be finding, searching, skimming, looking. We measure how frequently they click but not how long they stay on the page. We concern ourselves with their travel and participation—how they move from page to page, who they talk to when they get there—but forget the needs of those whose purpose is to be still. Readers flourish when they have space—some distance from the hubbub of the crowds—and as web designers, there is yet much we can do to help them carve out that space.

Puck says, check it out here. And check out Mandy Brown’s site, this is a working library, too.

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Written by Brian

February 18th, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Virginia Lee Burton – A Sense of Place

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Virginia Lee Burton a sense of place DVD coverThe multi-talented Virginia Lee Burton is best remembered for her pioneering work as a children’s picture book writer and illustrator. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel remains a steady seller for its publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, since it was first published in 1939. She was first and foremost a graphic designer who, in her home of Folley Cove, Massachusetts, taught the locals how to design and block print fabric.

From a photographic point of view, Rawn Fulton’s film Virginia Lee Burton: A Sense of Place is boring: for all Burton’s geometries, the drama of angularity that plays throughout her illustrations in her books and the print designs that Folley Cove Designers still sells, the camera simply pans across pages and fabrics with plain-Jane horizontals and verticals, penetrating the material with slow zooms, the old in-and-out. It works, but it’s dull. Continue reading on Curled Up with a Good DVD…

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Written by Brian

January 5th, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Tim Fowler’s Sculpture Haven


A gable on Tim Fowler's home in SeattleOut walking with my friend Nisi Shawl recently in Seattle, she took me by the home of Tim Fowler somewhere on East Howell Street. I was immediately gob-smacked by what I saw: a building that was more work of art than conventional dwelling.

“I saw Tim’s work well before I met him,” Nisi told me later. “I moved to this neighborhood the same year I moved to Seattle, 1996 or so. The Central District is one of the city’s ‘historically black’ areas. People had warned me against moving here, and yes there were crack hovels and mattresses on the lawn but also BBQ restaurants and beauty parlors and other signs–for me–of home.”

Tim was home, we saw, and Nisi called out, “Hi, Tim! Is it all right if my friend takes some pictures?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

July 22nd, 2008 at 6:42 pm