Critical Reading

Yesterday I followed a course in critical reading. It’s a method for not just reading texts with a critical mindset, but it helps you placing the text in a wider context. It’s about analysing a text to find out what it says, what it does, and what it means. At the beginning of the course I thought this was something I always do. During class I found out that this is not really true.

Explain

My research visualised

Last week I tried to publish an overview of my research as an interactive outline. This does not work as well as it should. To be honest, it’s almost impossible to use: It’s hard to see connections, it’s hard to spot the complex areas, it’s hard to see patterns. Hanneke Briër, one of my teachers rightly asked me to make a visual version of this map.

What does it look like?

Striping or

Yesterday Niko Spelbrink explained to me why people want to create award winning stuff that’s not necessarily useful. There’s even a name for this kind of design: it’s called striping. It stands for the extra stripes on your BMW.

Do we still have stripes?

New insights

This week I gained some very interesting new insights into accessibility. I learned two things I didn’t know yet. The first one is incredible: It turns out that (some) blind people can see. They have no eyes, yet they can see well enough to ride a bike. And according to these people, the reason why blind people can’t see has a cultural reason. They can’t see because we’re over protective, and because we won’t let them use echo location. It’s the most incredible podcast I’ve heard in a long time.

What’s the other thing?

A podcast with Stephen Hay

Last week I finally recorded a podcast with my friend Stephen Hay. Like all my podcasts so far, this one’s about quality as well. Unlike most of the other episodes, this one’s in English though. So if you don’t know Dutch, and if you want to listen to the smart things Stephen has to say, you’re in luck.

No need to learn Dutch

The trails of my research

To get my research going I started working on a visual overview of my research area. A technique we use right now is creating so called trails. If I understand the concept correctly, these trails can be seen as the different relevant directions of a mind map. Here’s a link to the complete interactive outline of this mind map. This outline is a living document, it will be updated. So far I’ve found four trails that I want to further explore:

One, two, three, four!

I’m starting a collection and I can use your help

A few months ago I invited two designers to give a guest lecture for my web design students. The first guest, Johan Huijkman, a creative technologist at Q42, gave a brilliant talk about designing accessible websites. The second talk by a former colleague of mine, wasn’t that good. He basically showed a series of images of things he had worked on in the past. During his talk a student interrupted him and asked if he had ever thought about colourblind people. He had noticed that the contrast of almost all the designs was very low. A thing Johan had pointed out before. The second speaker had to admit he hadn’t.

And that’s a terrible shame

The need to use things vs the urge to make things

I’m trying to define the research area for my master. As far as I understand it right now, it’s going to be about the quality of the urge to make things versus the quality of the need to use things. There are people who create stuff, for whatever reason, and the things they make are not always usable for the people who have to use them. I want to find out why.

Ok, but how?

I am a student

A nice eclectic mix of designers, my fellow students. A designer of covers for classical music CDs who believes there is no future in classical music CDs, but who knows there’s a lot of interesting stuff to do with in classical music. An animator who wants to work on huge films, but who doesn’t really want to cooperate. People interested in solving environmental issues, people interested in smart cities. We all have completely different fields of interest. The thing we have in common is the fact that we’re all back to school again.

That’s nice

How do I fix this CSS alignment issue?

I have a CSS alignment issue. I don’t know how to fix this myself. Either my CSS skills are getting rusty, or CSS is still rusty itself. Your help would be very much appreciated. Let me try to describe my problem.

Here it is

The right kind of transcripts

I asked on my blog what kind of transcripts I should use for my podcast: wordly transcripts that leave out certain expletives but don’t correct grammatical errors, literal transcripts that write down every word, including uhms and errrs, or a summary in which grammatical errors are corrected. Most reactions were from people who don’t really need a transcript, but who like them. Some of these people didn’t like the wordly transcripts. They find them confusing. After a bit of thinking I decided to ignore these people because of the fantastic Priority of Constituencies principle, which in this particular case would be:

What?

Accessibility of audio files

One of the first reactions to my new series of podcasts about the definition of quality in digital design was very nice, but I can’t hear it because I’m deaf. And since accessibility is right there in my own definition of quality I decided to transcribe every episode. The first episode is published, and the transcript is done. But now after reading it I have a question about how detailed a transcript should be, especially for the people who really need it.

Questions about details

The Good, The Bad, and The Interesting

I teach at CMD Amsterdam, a digital, interactive design school. My students become digital, interactive designers when they’re done. Indeed, that’s quite a vague job description. We teach all of our students the basics of interaction design, visual interface design and frontend development. Later on they can specialise in all kinds of directions if they want to, but we think it’s necessary for any specialist to know at least the basics of the other specialists they have to work with.

So far so good

Please do use the snippet (but it’s not mine)

I love viewport relative units. And I promote them whenever I have the chance to. I write blogposts about them, I tweet about them, and whenever I have the chance to speak at a conference about CSS, I will talk about them. But alas, I am not clever enough to come up with very clever viewport relative solutions myself, unlike some people might think. I am smart enough to copy them though.

And so should you