The Daily Dwagd, an inspiration bot.
This article was written in 2015. It might or it might not be outdated. And it could be that the layout breaks. If that’s the case please let me know.
Last week I finally bought the incredible Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design. It is a box filled with 500 sheets of paper, each with a description and a few images of one masterpiece from the history of graphic design. It is a fantastic resource for graphic designers, lecturers and students. The only problem I have with it is that it is a physical box with papers in it. You can not click through it, and you can not link to the works. I thought about digitising the whole thing, so I could create a webpage that shows you one random work every time you open it. It turns out you’re not really allowed to digitise books.
But this idea of a random work is still a good one. So after a bit of duckduckgoing I found a fantastic API at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. With this API it is pretty easy to create a bot that tweets one random item from the complete collection. And of course such a bot already exists. So I decided to create a different bot.
The Daily Dwagd generates two random colours every day. It then looks for 100 works that use one of these colours in the database of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Out of these 100 works it picks one. It publishes it on the homepage of the Daily Dwagd, it creates an entry about the work, and it tweets a link on the Daily Dwagd Twitter account.
I like the fact that my bots create webpages. The It was 13:37 project is turning into a wonderful repetitive composition. Just like the Daily End Of Time, which already starts to show several unexpected patterns. And the Daily Synonym will eventually grow into this wonderful long chain of similar words. I think this Daily Dwagd page will look wonderful as well in a few months time.
I decided to use two different ways to generate colours for this project, in the hope that this will result in a more diverse list of works. Sometimes it uses the HSL function to create these colours, which results in more light, more dark and more unsaturated colours. Sometimes it uses RGB, which usually results in much more bright ones. They both have a different mood, so to speak.
What about the Phaidon Archive
The Daily Dwagd turned into a completely different bot than I intended to make when I first looked into the Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design. It turned into an inspirational bot, instead of an educational one. The content in the Cooper Hewitt database is usually inspiring, but the metadata and the descriptions are mostly minimal. I really hope Phaidon will one day decide that their wonderful curated archive would be much more useful as an API, than in its current form of a paper box. It could even grow over time. And people could do stuff with it that nobody can imagine yet. But until then I’ll simply enjoy this daily dose of design.