Over at ilovetypography.com, Laurie Frear has assembled an interesting post on “optotypes” and the history of their use in testing vision from the 1830’s to the present.
The New York Times looks at how Apple promulgates is own design philosophies within the company.
How a I wish for narrower columns of text and borderless illustrations when reading articles on Wikipedia.
But the final result shows how difficult it is to approach design with fiercely democratic ideals. It’s relatively easy for Wikipedia to train great fact checkers (facts are objective—they’re facts after all!). It’s a lot harder to train a great designer. Good visual design is a mix of rules, risk, and taste. There is no one right answer that a community can agree on.
I love this kind of attention to detail …
Lastly, I need to talk about words. I’m a writer and a speaker, so words are my trade. But words are important, and possibly dangerous, for everyone. A fancy word I want to share is the word reification. Reification is the confusion between the word for something and the thing itself. The word innovation is not itself an innovation. Words are cheap. You can put the word innovation on the back of a box, or in an advertisement, or even in the name of your company, but that does not make it so. Words like radical, game-changing, breakthrough, and disruptive are similarly used to suggest something in lieu of actually being it. You can say innovative as many times as you want, but it won’t make you an innovator, nor make inventions, patents or profits magically appear in your hands.
Margaret and Michael with me backstage at Adobe MAX earlier this month. (Thanks to Pix Productions for sharing one of the few images taken of me working.)
So it turns out serif font legibility is a myth. I’ve wondered for a while whether font legibility might not be related most to what we are used to reading.
Marco Arment’s wonderfully illustrated explanation of how rules don’t solve problems of behavior. (Via Gruber at Daring Fireball.)
In his New York Times blog David Pogue writes about about low tech solutions to the problem of keeping track of his Keynote slides when they are being run by someone else backstage rather than by him from his own laptop onstage. This bit made me smile…
Anyway, every now and then, though, this system goes off the tracks. A few months ago, I showed up for the technical setup and met the projection tech. “O.K., I’ll go ahead and take your laptop backstage,” he said. “We’ll be running the slides from there.”
“Oh,” I responded. It was a new talk. “I was sort of hoping to be able to control the slides from the podium myself.”
“You will,” he said. “I’m going to give you a clicker. It’s like a remote control. When you press the button, the slide advances.”
“Ah,” I said. “So it’s a USB transmitter?”
“Uh, no,” he said sheepishly. “The clicker just makes a light go on backstage. My buddy will advance the slide manually when he sees the light go on.”
I couldn’t believe that that was the arrangement he had in mind. So much for split-second timing. The bigger problem, though, was the slide previews and notes that I wouldn’t be able to see.
I’m often the “buddy” backstage advancing the slides manually. The solutions he mentions are ones we often use. It’s also possible to have the remote transmitters directly operate the presentation, which for a presenter like Mr. Pogue makes perfect sense.
Google’s new Twenty Things I Learned About the Internet is both a great illustrated reference of how the Internet works, and also a good example of how to build beautiful documents that live online. Delightfully illustrated by Christoph Nieman.