Last week I bought a hanging chair. It’s not as beautiful as the one that Nanna Ditzel designed in 1957 though. And it’s definitely not as beautiful as the fantastic Bench for Two and her amazing Butterfly chair. But my chair is just perfect for reading. For instance, about women designers of the 20th century. Make sure not to miss the exhibition about Women in Danish Furniture Design when you’re in Denmark — but beware when you click that link, that site looks like it was created in 1957, not by a talented product designer like Nanna Ditzel, but by an unmotivated .net novice.
I’ve always enjoyed working with print stylesheets. A long time ago I liked to create jokes with them that nobody would ever see, and today I create websites with them that can be ordered as books.
Cool multimedia scroll stories often look terrible on non-desktop browsers — if they work at all. One of the bigger issues for these kinds of webpages is that there is no autoplay for video on most mobile devices. Hay Kranen worked on a cool multimedia scroll story recently and shares his solutions and ideas for the autoplay problem.
Two new articles were published recently in the excellent series about women designers of the 20th century. The first one if about Aino Aalto, the brilliant, award winning designer. The other one is about Mimi Vandermolen, which I found very fascinating since I never really thought about interior design for cars before.
There was a discussion while I was on a holiday between people who think we should stop adding features to the web for a while, and those who think that if we do so, the web will lose. Even if this discussion doesn’t really interest you, it’s an interesting read: many new features you may not have heard of yet are mentioned.
Johan Huijkman answers the question if accessibility is that easy, then why doesn’t everybody do it? by breaking the WCAG checklist down to four points: keyboard, semantics, screenreader and colour. If you make sure those are fine, your app is much more accessible.
There are some brilliant quotes in the article Design Machines, how to survive the digital apocalypse. And many, many painful truths. I was nodding all the time with a sad smile on my face while reading it. That Travis Gertz certainly knows.
The last few years I couldn’t help but think that all the real exciting things — when it comes to connected devices — have already happened. The first iPhone and Android phones were really exciting. All next versions were small improvements. I thought tablets were pretty exciting as well, but fewer people agreed with me. And I find all the other stuff that’s been released recently — glasses, watches — to be minor improvements; at most.
What about software?
I just came back from a wonderful three week holiday. While I was enjoying the sun, the sea, and the food with my family, my server generated 231 new works of art:
That’s a lot
Lang geleden heb ik eens voor een klant gewerkt die er op stond dat de white papers die ze aanboden alleen gedownload konden worden in ruil voor een e-mailadres. Ik heb heel erg mijn best gedaan om ze ervan te overtuigen dat een blog toch echt een veel prettigere manier is om kennis te delen. Tevergeefs. Het bedrijf vond dat het niet hoefde na te denken over gebruiksvriendelijkheid, want ze hadden namelijk een monopoly. Ik had die klant stante pede moeten ontslaan. Voor zulke klanten kún je geen goede producten maken. Maar helaas, ik was niet de baas. En niet veel later begon mijn eigen bedrijf zelf ook white papers in ruil voor een e-mailadres aan te bieden. Gelukkig vond ik niet lang daarna een nieuwe, veel betere baan.
There is this company that creates sunglasses that let some colourblind people see actual colours. Here’s a wonderful video of somebody who gets to try a pair of these glasses. He freaks out! Everything is so beautiful! If you don’t know what the movie is about you would think he was tripping.
But he’s not
Jenny Judge and Julia Powles argue that we need to look at the internet of things in a smarter way. In a similar way like Bauhaus used to look at things: when you look at it, it should be obvious what it does. It should be obvious what data is collected and where it goes, just like the Centre Pompidou in Paris. If we don’t start creating things in this manner, our basements will end up filled with huge piles of silly — but connected — crap. Or we end up in a world where all the things we use are owned by data hungry marketers and lawyers.
We don’t want that
Digital product designers should not only think about the products they create, but also about what influence this software had on the world. If designers were the people who decided stuff, we would only have wonderful stuff and a site like Dark Patterns would cease to exist. But unfortunately we are not the (only) people who get to decide what’s been created, as we can see by all the evil cruft out there.
But what can we do?
Yesterday I linked to this thought provoking article by Cennydd Bowles. I my description I only focused on dark patterns, but the article is about much more than that. It’s about the fact that we, the people who create digital stuff, stuff that everybody in the world might use, have an obligation to think about what our creations do to this world. In his excellent collection of links, Jeremy Keith mentioned this article with a similar topic that compares software to medicine and drugs. Definitely worth your time.