This looks so great. I’m glad to see Vignelli is in the documentary as well. He (and the infamous Helvetica documentary) were huge inspirations to me in high school. May he forever rest in peace.
I’m also a huge rail-nerd. So seeing Vignelli critique the 1969 CN logo is going to be mind-blowing for me. You can read more about the Allan Fleming re-branding here, and more about CN’s history, here.
If you write code (for a living or otherwise), add Martian Chronicles to your feed. They're writing some amazing stuff.
Well, they're at it again. Only this time, they wrote about nothing other than… scrolling on the web. Probably the single most overlooked, ubiquitous and neglected piece of any user experience. So much so that, Apple decided we no longer needed one.
The quiet death of a scrollbar was never mourned by Apple folk. Users, grown accustomed to the way scrolling is done on iPhones and iPads, have quickly embraced the change and most of developers and designers have thought “Good riddance!” Accounting for a scrollbar width had always been a chore.
The Martians researched the topic very thoroughly. I was particularly intrigued with this killer smooth-scroll solution:
<!-- HTML -->
But the browser support for options is still quite limited and it is still a script. And extra scripts should be avoided whenever possible.Luckily, there is a brand new CSS property (still in working draft) that can change the scroll behavior of the whole page with a single line of code:
/* CSS */
Way more efficient this way. You can do smooth-scrolling with JS or jQuery all by itself, as noted by this much-frequented CSS-Tricks article. But, I much prefer the lightweight solution Evil Martians cooked up. I should add, that the scroll-behavior CSS property is only supported on Chrome and Firefox as of writing. That being said, there is thankfully a polyfill for unsupported browsers, if you're into that sort of thing.
A rad typeface, inspired by the 70’s and 80’s pastiche.
My girlfriend and long-time Stephen King superfan is a collector of vintage horror novels and memorabilia. My favorite past-time while she's rummaging through used bookstores is spotting all the old typography and the incestuous pastiche these book designers employed.
We later found out that the typeface used in this advertisement, shown above, was some version of Perpetua Super — which lead us to GT Super’s name. The 1960s & 70s saw many such titling serifs created for the then-new phototype technology, and oftentimes quite different designs were marketed under the same name. Some of our favorite typefaces of that time are all the different versions of Perpetua, Trooper Roman, and Times Modern.
As alluring as the expressiveness of these high-contrast, titling serif typefaces is — these very qualities limit their utility for text usage. Additionally, most typefaces of the genre were designed in only a single weight. Our goal with GT Super was to expand on the unique traits of those designs while building a consistent typographic system. The Display styles, with their fine details, work best when used large, while the Text styles focus on body copy performance.
GT Super includes a text family and a displayfamily, so it's use is pretty versatile. Between the alternates for descender characters and troublesome characters — this is a beautiful serif to play with.
I love the alternate descenders. The g's look like they're drawn straight from a quill nib. Very lovely. I prefer the italics in the display family over the text, but overall I think they're really neat.
Phaidon has an incredible collection of design books, and they run a wonderful blog too.Atlas Obscura got their hands on a copy of Phaidon's newest design reference, Designed in the USSR: 1950-1989. This is a pretty sweet book. I'd love to see all the space-race inspired gadgetry and appliances. My favorite is this macaroni box:
“There were ‘sample product rooms,’ where Western examples of industrial products were displayed, often serving as prototypes for their Soviet equivalents,” writes Alexandra Sankova in the book’s introduction. Sankova is the director of the Moscow Design Museum, which first displayed these items in an exhibition in 2012. For her, the Soviet era from the 1950s onwards was an important period of design history, “when function and utility were the driving forces behind ideas but remarkable examples of innovation and creativity still flourished.”
If you haven't been following, WordPress is undertaking a potentially calamitous (okay that's a bit dramatic) update to the TinyMCE composer. It's been relatively untouched since nearly a decade ago, and oddly enough — the composer is pretty much at the core of web publishing. So some people are going to have some opinions. Go figure.
Tammie Lister of Automattic authored a comprehensive guide on the basic design principles of the blocks of Gutenberg. In her introduction:
Have you ever wondered what something is called within Gutenberg? This guide is meant to help by giving the names and the expected behaviour of some of the basic design elements. If you want to build blocks and extend Gutenberg, knowing what to use or not is important. This is meant as a starting point, not a full description of all design elements.
Mark my words. The days of drag-and-drop, shortcode, bloat-inducing layout builder plugins will be coming to an end.
Layout builders (such as Divi or Elementor) originally cropped up in response to WordPress plainly lacking proper layout solutions for the common laymen (imagine tools like Wix or SquareSpace).
Many of them have unique and effective layout/templating solutions. But, boy do they produce bloat. WordPress users that use these tools inherit so much technical debt. I don't think the updates coming to Gutenberg (and Customizer for that matter) will solve all of the issues users have, but I certainly believe it will address a lot of them. I for one, am excited to see what comes out of this.
We are in the middle of a profound cultural sea change. In 2017, eighty percent of consumers participated in the sharing economy; by 2020 nearly half of the American workforce will work independently. Increasingly free of institutions, these consumers are seeking new and innovative ways to care for themselves and others; work and cultivate talent; and infuse their lives with beautiful design and wellness.
What about work? The vast majority of millennials overwork, and yet they care so little about their jobs that most would quit in a hot second if something better came along. Life shouldn’t be this way. We see more than a chance for change. We see an imperative.
We invest in companies focused on sustainable well-being
We invest in companies that help both workers and entrepreneurs cultivate talent
We invest in companies that help people design more fulfilling and ecstatic realities
We invest in brands focused on consumers identifying with passions and purpose
We look for the experiences that bind us together and the tastes that set us apart
This trail, of passion and purpose, is one we are proud to walk.
What an incredibly healthy refrain from the hyper-growth expectations many VC's have. And, talk about giving a shit.Trailmix's current investment batch includes some really interesting startups:
Excited to share my all-time favorite thing to do on the subway, or other public transportation. It’s also one of the best empathy exercises I’ve thought of and really helps to remind me to feel the moments of love and pain we all go through. It’s a really great way to remember how much we all deserve happy, whole, peaceful lives. If you’re not a public transportation rider, I’d recommend this exercise in any public area (coffee shops and airports are great!).
She goes on to describe her 4-step meditation process in full here. It's absolutely brilliant — thoughtful and effective. From time to time, when life gets you down, or your anxiety is throttling your life-force, you're forced to just wait it out in agony. These sorts of episodes always happen at the worse times too don't they? Right before a meeting, on your commute to work, in a busy store, or a crowded subway car.
They're frustrating to deal with to say the least. While public meditation can be a difficult discipline to master, it seems Meg has discovered a great meditation technique that has certainly helped me, and I hope it helps you too. Bonus, it will help you empathize with those around you, and it feels like we need that more than ever.
Sidenote: Meg hosts branding and logo design workshops, and I think they're totally worth the coin. Check them out here.
Time for another roundup of links! This month we have sinkholes in West Texas, a misinformation satire site called Scarfolk, a Tetris game that berates you, cool stuff from IBM and a few other goodies.
It turns out that the data leak from Cambridge Analytica isn’t 5 million, it isn’t 87 million, but affects a whopping 2 billion users. Major bummer. This quote about sums up how I feel about it:
What the journalist Walter Lippmann said in 1959 of “free” TV is also true of “free” social media: It is ultimately “the creature, the servant and indeed the prostitute of merchandizing.” But social media itself isn’t going away. It has worked its way into our lives and has come to help satistify the basic human need to connect and catch up. Facebook, in fact, claims lofty goals, saying it seeks to “bring us closer together” and “build a global community.” Those are indeed noble purposes that social media can serve. But if they were Facebook’s true goals, we would not be here.
Advertising makes the world go round. No doubt about it. But let’s not beat around the bush, Facebook makes money. Connecting people is secondary to their primary goal — leveraging user data for advertisers.
A Mac-exclusive bid to create the most vexing Tetris possible. It will lie, cheat, taunt you about your play (“Nice slide!”), give you preposterously unusable pieces, and find a creative “new way to screw you” on every level. While it never saw its intended commercial publication, a leaked development copy became an underground sensation.
This version only refers to itself as Tetris by Randall Cook, but it picked up many other names as it spread: New Tetris, Obnoxious Tetris, Attitude Problem Tetris, Wise-Ass Tetris, Asshole Tetris and most famously Wesleyan Tetrisafter the author’s university. Recently, Cook announced plans to release the source code under the name Original Supertris.
I discovered this one from Josh and Chuck at Stuff You Should Know. They’re a goofy bunch and easily my favorite podcast. Scarfolk is a misinformation-satire, specifically occupying the graphic design aesthetic of 1970’s PSA campaigns. From the Scarfolk masthead:
Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. “Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay.” For more information please reread.
A new study from two SMU scientists finds that oil and gas activity has made the ground unstable over a 4,000-square-mile swath of West Texas.
Growing up in Texas, I can tell you — earthquakes are not common at all. Most of Texas sits upon several massive shale structures. As this oil and gas activity continues, there could be dire consequences.
SMU geophysics and researcher Jin-Woo Kim later says:
If these shifts continue, they could lead to increased seismic activity in the area as well as the formation of new sinkholes, which would pose a danger to “residents, roads, railroads, levees, dams, and oil and gas pipelines,” according to Lu. Pipelines in particular are vulnerable to these shifts, and there are many of them in the area. “West Texas has one of the densest networks of oil and gas pipelines in the U.S.,” the scientists noted. Ground water could also be polluted as a result.
I came across CW&T (Che-Wei Wang & Taylor Levy) after HAWRAF (a design and tech studio in Flatiron) shared the photo on Instagram. CW&T is maker studio, seemingly focusing on solving unique problems at the intersection of art and design. The Key Wrangler is a rugged, solid piece of CNC’d titanium (or brass). I love the passion and grit CW&T puts into their work.
They’ve also done some cool projects in the past too. Such as this rad music project, 365 Days of OP-1. Very impressive. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything 365 days in a row except for maybe eating. 😬
From the introduction:
Since the beginning of this year, I decided I would write more. So far, ditching Facebook and cutting back on Twitter has really helped me achieve that. I don't know if it will be effective for you, but that's my ten centers. I really enjoy logging my links, drafting posts and hitting that publish button. — I gotta say, it feels good to share again.
Why not start by making something you give a shit about?
The ugly truth about much of the content produced online is that it’s being measured on superficial metrics by unmotivated parties. If you’re in the business of making your audience take action then you’re gonna need to make something they give a shit about.
Sound advice if you ask me. Wether you're a blogger, a designer or an engineer. Make something you believe in. We don't need any more cruft in our lives.
Give his blog and his Twitter a follow. You won't regret it.
Danny Crichton makes some excellent points in this Techcrunch piece. RSS and Podcasts share very similar product design problems. The problems are are two-fold:
Discovery is almost always word-of-mouth (the exception however is advertising on Overcast, which is a stellar podcasting experience to say the least).
Curating your feed is currently topic-orientated, when it should be people-orientated. That’s the secret-sauce of Twitter Moments and Reddit. Or, to go deeper into the problem engagement is the signal these algorithms look for. Therefor a revival in RSS hinges on a product leveraging those signals, otherwise you’re just subscribing to hundreds — if not thousands of noisy RSS sources to jam up your unread feed.
Next, RSS readers need to get a lot smarter about marketing and on-boarding. They need to actively guide users to find where the best content is, and help them curate their feeds with algorithms (with some settings so that users like me can turn it off). These apps could be written in such a way that the feeds are built using local machine learning models, to maximize privacy.
“Differential privacy is a research topic in the areas of statistics and data analytics that uses hashing, subsampling and noise injection to enable…crowdsourced learning while keeping the data of individual users completely private. Apple has been doing some super-important work in this area to enable differential privacy to be deployed at scale.”
In light of the recent Facebook personal-data implosion — I for one, hope RSS makes a comeback.
It’s no secret that I love DigitalOcean. I host this site on a DO Droplet. Hell, I host most of my web projects with DigitalOcean. Pretty much ever since 2012. They have a great product, that has never really disappointed me.
Another reason I love DigitalOcean? They host events for all walks of life. They host Hacktoberfest, an annual hack-a-thon. They get everyone amped about closing open issues, unit testing and it’s a nice way to get a bunch of nice people together to support open-source.
What started as a side-project for some of the good people at Crew (which is now Dribbble), has turned into something of an internet sensation for internet publishers. Unsplash, is a photography platform for sharing photos. This isn’t like Instagram though, Unsplash wrote a very specific license for Unsplashers.
All photos published on Unsplash can be used for free. You can use them for commercial and noncommercial purposes. You do not need to ask permission from or provide credit to the photographer or Unsplash, although it is appreciated when possible
More precisely, Unsplash grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive copyright license to download, copy, modify, distribute, perform, and use photos from Unsplash for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the photographer or Unsplash. This license does not include the right to compile photos from Unsplash to replicate a similar or competing service.
It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of Instagram, nor does it have user profiles. It’s pretty dead simple (for now). Sometimes it’s good to move slow. I can tell you one thing, it’s a fun way to find and download some really nice photos for your next project. Wether that’s for your blog, you iOS wallpaper library, or the powerpoint presentation you’re supposed to be working on right now — Unsplash has made an impressive impact on the web. 👏
Apple has hired Google’s chief of search and artificial intelligence, John Giannandrea, a major coup in its bid to catch up to the artificial intelligence technology of its rivals.
Apple said on Tuesday that Mr. Giannandrea will run Apple’s “machine learning and A.I. strategy,” and become one of 16 executives who report directly to Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook.
The hire is a victory for Apple, which many Silicon Valley executives and analysts view as lagging its peers in artificial intelligence, an increasingly crucial technology for companies that enable computers to handle more complex tasks, like understanding voice commands or identifying people in images.
Wow. This is really something else. For a base price of $600/month, you can essentially lease a Volvo XC40 — a crossover class. But, this is really a subscription service. You can subscribe through the app on your iPhone with Apple Pay too. It has all sorts of perks:
Upgrade to a new vehicle after 12 months
Park assist, and other Volvo car features
Zero money down
Not shabby, considering insurance premiums on new vehicles can often break the bank. And let’s not forget how expensive car maintenance can be.
As always, though, there are caveats. To qualify for Care by Volvo, you have to fit within certain insurance and credit parameters, as determined by Liberty Mutual. So if you have good credit but you have a few points on your driving record that put you outside what an underwriter finds acceptable, you’re out of luck. There’s no $650-per-month option for a bit higher insurance or to cover your bad credit. It’s all or nothing.