Sunday, September 13, 2009

Participation = Destruction #4: 50 things that are being killed by the internet

A list compiled by the Telegraph UK: 50 things that are being killed by the internet. The big one I think they missed is the value of trivia knowledge. Here a just a few of my favorites from the list:

1. The art of polite disagreement

11. Music stores

13) Memory

16. Hoaxes and conspiracy theories
The internet is often dismissed as awash with cranks, but it has proved far more potent at debunking conspiracy theories than perpetuating them. The excellent continues to deliver the final, sober, word on urban legends.

32. Chuck Norris's reputation

34. Mainstream media

50. Your lunchbreak

Previous essays in this series:

Participation = Destruction (1 Billion Internet Users, The Tyranny of the Masses and the Death of Digital Culture)

Let's Play Lord of the Flies! (Participation = Destruction #3)

Creative Surplus & Virtual Unemployment (Participation = Destruction)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

God's Special Creatures: Ranked by Human Fatalities

An amusing little list I found on BlurtIt: The 10 most dangerous animals in the world based on the number of fatalities per year. I love the range and spread on this list. Starting with bears and a meager 5-10 kills a year. Sharks and Crocodiles are to be expected but the number of kills for crocs is a little surprising. Taking the number one spot, Mosquitoes, trouncing the competition with 2-3 million fatalities a year. Edward Deming, one of the few human beings that deserves to be described as a "management guru" once said that most organizations are destroyed by things that people don't even recognize. Such is life. Inserted into the list are links to a few relevant pieces from The Foundation.

10. Bears: 5-10 fatalities per year
Read my essay: On Anthropomorphism: Bears

9. Sharks: About 100 fatalities per year

8. Jellyfish: About 100 fatalities per year

7. Hippopotamus: 100-150 fatalities per year

6. Elephants: 300-500 fatalities per year

5. Crocodiles: 600-800 fatalities per year
Read: An excerpt from my memoirs: Tears of a Crocodile Clown: Sick Days (early bouts with megalomania).

Read: Words, Crocodiles and My Red Man-Whore Belf

Read: Mother Nature, Bloody Bitch: Gustave (the giant crocodile) Burundi's "Man Removal Machine".

4. Big Cats: About 800 fatalities per year

3. Scorpions: 800-2000 fatalities per year

2. Venomous Snakes: 50,000-125,000 fatalities per year

1. Mosquitoes: 2-3 million fatalities per year

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ikea Ignites Typographic Outrage Among Graphic Designers

Graphic designer's can be very pissy, but that's the nature of their calling. For the finest practitioners of the craft, sweating the tiniest of minutia and detail is at the core of their vocation. The latest company to ignite pissy designer outrage is Ikea. I just read in the Guardian: (Verdana: Ikea's flat-pack font) that they've changed the font used in their catalog from a customized version of Futura to Verdana.

I went to the Ikea site to take a look at the online version of the catalog, and must admit that I did recoil a bit. It's obvious that the decision must have been one made on the basis of economic efficiencies. Verdana was designed for Microsoft as a default system font in 1983. It was created specifically as a free and widely distributed font that would look good at reading sizes of the relatively low resolution of computer screens. And it does. It was created by one of the greatest modern typographers alive, Matthew Carter, who also designed such modern classics as Meta and Myriad. Where I cringe a bit is the way it looks used at large sizes. This is a screenshot of a spread from the new catalog's online PDF version:

Although originally trained as a graphic designer, I believe these situations should be framed in a way that is broader than simple aesthetics. The role of aesthetics in design is to create resonant meaning. Most people don't care what font Ikea uses because it affects them in ways that are too subtle to break perceptual threshold and cause notice. That said, these things do matter because they creates different meanings and different experiences.

Although much of it is quite cool, quirky and well "designed" the furniture Ikea makes can at times border on being junk (from a quality perspective). In his novel Generation X, Douglas Coupland referred to it as "semi-disposable Swedish furniture". What design and the brand do is augment this fact and create an experiential value that compensates (and perhaps masks) this reality. The customized version of Futura that Ikea used (called Ikea Sans) has a quirkiness and history that is not only tied to the brand's history but to European design history as well. The switch to Verdana, becuase it is modern and has strong computer and utilitarian connotations undermines this function of design for the brand (and it does look gross when used at large sizes on those spreads).

An Ikea catalog from the mid 60's.

Related links:
Now Public: IKEA Font: Futura to Verdana, What Changed and Why?

The Guardian: Verdana: Ikea's flat-pack font.

Business Card Design: Billionaire Stewart Rahr

"The front of the mock billion-dollar bill shows a picture of Rahr golfing with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, and bears the slogan, "If I don't tell you how great I am, who will?" The back includes a picture of his $45 million Hamptons home, where he hosts charity benefits." (New York magazine: Introducing Stewie Rah Rah, Bearer of Awesome Business Card)

You're a total cock, but a funny one. I applaud you Stewart, well done!