home ....interface design .... web development .... movie reviews .... travel .... about peterme
petermeme Archives

June 01 - June 09, 2001
May 01 - May 31, 2001
April 01 - April 30, 2001
March 01 - March 31, 2001
February 01 - February 28, 2001
January 01 - January 31, 2001
December 01 - December 31, 2000
November 01 - November 30, 2000
October 01 - October 31, 2000
September 01 - September 30, 2000
August 01 - August 30, 2000
July 01 - July 27, 2000
June 01 - June 30, 2000
May 24 - May 31, 2000
May 1 - May 23, 2000
April 1 - April 30, 2000
March 1 - March 31, 2000
February 1 - February 29, 2000
January 1 - January 31, 2000
December 1 - December 31, 1999
November 1 - November 30, 1999
October 16 - October 31, 1999
October 1 - October 15, 1999
September 8 - September 30, 1999
August 29 - September 7, 1999
August 13 - August 27, 1999
August 6 - August 12, 1999
July 25 - August 5, 1999
July 17 - July 24, 1999

July 11 - July 16, 1999
July 01 - July 10 1999
June 09 - June 30 1999
June 01 - June 08 1999

May 1999

April 1999
March 1999
February 1999
January 1999
All of 1998

  past petermemes

October 15, 1999
Worth a trip to the slammer.
Illuminatrix waxes poetic about Bonny Doon Vineyards, and I must agree. I'm a big fan of their Ca' Del Solo Big House Red (removed from frames context), a beefy tasty table wine, great with pastas and red meat. My cup will soon runneth over, as I found the delightful vino at Webvan.

Constructive deconstruction. Lou Rosenfeld and I share our thoughts on the design of Yahoo! Stores for Internet World. Check out the print version for the revealing picture of me.

Cause your own Sensation. You an artist struggling to get seen? Well, 300 of feet of wall space at a Los Angeles gallery is up for bid on eBay.

What is the world coming to? Actually humorous ad banners.

October 13, 1999
People read best what they read most. That phrase is an article of faith with the folks at Emigre. Care of the nubbin we bring you this link to a paper titled "Readability Of Websites With Various Foreground/Background Color Combinations, Font Types And Word Styles," an attempt to measure what people read best on a screen. The answer? Essentially, "it depends."

Studying the Place of No Place. Sarah is preparing an ethnographic essay on web communities, and her evolving notebook offers up charged phrases such as

we send our words out on the waves, radiate them across the distance in between people--a distance that snaps with static and synaptic flashing.

October 12, 1999
As of October 18, I will be the Creative Director at Epinions.com. It's official. I signed the contract today. I will be responsible for the site's design, from information architecture to look-and-feel to copy. I will oversee the development of the company's identity, and work on integrating it into their marketing messages. I will get very adamant about practicing user-centered design, and will jump up and down lots to enforce my points.

I'd be lying if I said the responsibilities don't make me nervous. They're pretty big. Actually, they're simply big. But damned exciting.

Epinions won me over in a number of ways. They realized that they needed an information design focused Creative Director, not a visual design one. More than anything else, the site is a massive and increasingly complex database, and making it understandable to the end-user is the challenge--not simply making it look good.

Their CTO is R. Guha, a brilliant architect of the W3C's recommendation for metadata, the Resource Description Framework, and his explanation of the "marketplace for content" and the "scalable many-to-many communications" hooked me.

All the folks I've dealt with there are smart and enthusiastic. They want to have fun and make something important. They take their users very seriously, and see their roles as to serve them. Without the users' epinions, the site has nothing. These folks are receptive to the process of design I follow to ensure that the audience's needs are met.

A big part of my responsibility will be overseeing a kick-ass team of brilliant creative people who will make Epinions.com a site where people will want to return, and who are excited about designing the human interface to an exceedingly complex information respository. Right now, though, there is no team. I need to build one. Want a job? We're looking for the best in visual design, information design, and writing. Send your resume and a note (all ASCII, in the body of the email) to jobs@epinions.com, and make it clear you're responding to this site (they get hundreds of resumes and if your explicitness helps the HR folks sort them, it's better for everyone).

I'm also looking forward to your feedback on the site. It's gotten a strong response from the blog community, and I'd love to know what you think could be done to improve it.

Hot damn, this is exciting. The mind reels. Well, mine does.

October 11, 1999
I am so desiring of these Eames Storage Units. It's the cheapest I've found them, and they're still quite pricey. Any help? Actually, if you've got any suggestions where I can find affordable modern design on the Web, particularly shelving/storage, it would be much appreciated. I'm familiar with Blu Dot.

Filet mignon with a side of financial projections. I ate at Foreign Cinema last night, and poking around their site this afternoon, found they offer up their entire business plan for public consumption.

Logo-rific! Alice has updated her splendiferous gallery of swoosh logos, which proves that there's no design like copied design.

Ow. Yesterday, as I rounded second and headed for third, I realized the only way I could reach the base was by sliding. Still, I ended up tagged out, with torn shorts and a still-smarting scrape up my right backside. The punchline? I was playing kickball.

October 9, 1999
Construct this!
In response to yesterday's petermeme, Vanessa pointed me to Lev Manovich, a UCSD professor revelling in cinema and digital and interface and new media. Beware of his site's rather odd pseudo-constructivist design, and his annoying predilection towards posting essays as Word documents instead of HTML. Some digging around turned up this list of readings for his Language of New Media course, including chapters from his upcoming book published by MIT Press.

October 8, 1999
Lights. Camera. Click!
Nina Franklyn wrote me:

"I am about to start my dissertation for a BSc Hons degree in applied psychology and computing. I need to find out about the cinematographic metaphor - in interface design - but there seems to be very little around. Do you know anywhere/anybody, please?"

Well, I knew of nothing directly offhand, but I think there is much that interaction designers can learn from filmmakers. The serendipity of the question amused me, as I've been reading Narration in the Fiction Film, though more for its discussion of narrative and storytelling than for film technique. The book is really only for film theory wonks--it's pretty dense and rhetorical.

Among other points, the book discusses the seemingly obvious notion of how it's crucial for a narrative set-up to trigger in people an interest in what will follow. And it got me thinking--what web sites succeed at truly seducing users to explore inside? What hooks people, makes them willing to set aside time to engage? The first example that popped into my head is The Onion, whose headlines and introductory blurbs entice the reader and get them clicking for more. What sites seduce you?

To get back to Nina's original question (you were waiting for that, weren't you?), I poked around on the Web a bit, and found some interesting leads.

AMODEUS is a treasure trove of HCI goodies, as it "seeks to develop interdisciplinary approaches to studying interactions between users and systems and to establish routes through which such approaches might best be transferred to, and applied by, interface designers."

AMODEUS features a tantalizing pointer to "Cinematography and Interface Design," but you have to email the authors (Phil Barnard and Jon May, both of whom have home pages to explore further) to get a copy.

Catriana Macaulay's thesis "Cinematography and Interface Design: Lessons in the Use of Sound" pursues the nonvisual aspects of filmmaking.

I also suggest to Nina to pick up Brenda Laurel's Computers As Theatre, while not about film, is an essential discourse on the "theatric" metaphor in interface design.

October 7, 1999
Peterme's Guyde.
Get it? It's a guide to guys. Guyde. Whoo-ee!

Anyway, this is spurred by discussions I've had with women about male behavior.

All men are stupid. This thoughtful essay delves into specific instances of male stupidity. Science has shown this. (I must say, I love that scientific finding. It's so perfect. So true.)

Being stupid, men don't "read between the lines" that well. We take things at face value. If we're dating someone, and we're told, "I don't think this is working out," we do not understand this to mean the relationship is over. We understand this to mean that you don't think this is working out. Which means it could work out, if things changed. Particularly since this is just what you "think."

If you want to stop dating a man, you ought to say, "I do not want to see you any more." If you want to continue being friends, you can say, "I will not date you anymore. I would like to be friends." Clarity and precision are required.

Banana Republic ads are a good thing because they teach us how to dress.

All women are crazy. Or, as W.C. Fields said, "No doubt exists that all women are crazy; it's only a question of degree."

Hrm. In digging around, I've found that though I arrived at the thought "All men are stupid; all women are crazy," all on my own, it's quite a popular notion. A quote attributed to Matt Groening: "Love is doomed to fail because men are stupid and women are crazy." The title of the seventh track on this CD "Men are Stupid (Women are Crazy)." You get the picture.

Blog tasty! Back in the headier days of my blogging youth, I sought out a fair amount of design candy sites, often with the help of Perfect or Atlas Namedroppings. That fell by the wayside, but fear no more. The Pixelpimp blog, run by Pete Hoang, offers scrumptious links to fattening design experiences. Actually, considering that anyone can add to Pixelpimp, it's treading on Atlas' hallowed territory...

October 6, 1999
Just plain funny
. Is "Tom the Dancing Bug." It's probably the best comic "strip" out today. Successfully uses wry irony (and not hip detached irony) to illuminate modern foibles. You can catch the latest at Salon, and archives here.

Even more about the form of the book. The latest issue (October 4) of The New Yorker features John Updike's review of The Book on the Bookshelf, Henry Petroski's latest tract on the design of objects. Updike imparts some interesting facts about the history of the book, where it's been and where it's going. He ends with a discussion of MIT's work on electronic ink and paper, where a single sheet can be infinitely rewritten.

Who is to say, at the end of the century that brought us the movies, radio, radar, and the desktop ink-jet printer, that this cannot be? But the concept feels less than bookish. Our notion of a book is of a physical object, precious even if no longer hand-copied on sheepskin by carrel-bound monks, which we can hold, enter at random, shelve for future references and enjoy as a palpable piece of our environment, a material souvenir of the immaterial experience it gave us. That books endure suggests that we endure, our inner tale not write in the water of an Overbook's e-ink.

The notion of "material souvenir" is the best I've heard for the affinity of the physical book. More thoughts? Voice them on Jen's "future of the book" discussion.

October 5, 1999
A pretty good interview with Haruki Murakami.

"I love the works of Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver. I learned how to write through them. I think I could figure out how they wrote through translation. I disassembled the works and reassembled them again, like clocks."

"I interviewed 63 of the victims who were on the subway train that day. If I’d been on that train, I’d probably have hated them. But when I listened to their stories, I loved them. They’re very hard-working, and they love their families. They’re not happy when they’re commuting on that packed train and going to the company and working so hard, but they think that’s what they have to do. But at the same time, I feel that if they went to war — for instance, to China — they would kill many Chinese people because they are very, very organized, you know. They work so hard."

October 4, 1999
Merholz movie reviews.
Both on Epinions. First, I chime in about "The Minus Man" (wherein I'm WUI--writing under the influence), and my dad offers his wise, witty, and plot-revealing take on "The Sixth Sense."

October 2, 1999
It's, like, the future!
Strange Brew is compiling a gallery of "swoosh" logos. Having worked at Studio Archetype, which developed brand identities, I saw many such marks created. Not to fault Archetype's designers--they were an immensely creative bunch who produced all manner of work. It's just that the clients insisted on the swoosh. In fact, it was the subspecies "ball-and-swoosh." (Yes, Archetype did that logo.) Considering how alike the logos were, it became a joke around the office that the designers would get replaced by some Kai Power Tool.

Is it just me? At Epinions I slag Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I don't get it.

Lemon curry? October 5 marks the 30th anniversary of the first broadcast of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Being a proper geek, I know far too much about the show. Still, I found this retrospective at the BBC online notable for some insightful pre-history of Python.

October 1, 1999
For you codex-huffing freaks.
Last week I received the Powell's Books newsletter by email, and you know what? It's quite good! Like, it's store propaganda, but clever! It's the kind of corporate communication these guys keep wanting to see more of. [And why are all the Cluetrain guys, um, guys? And white ones, at that! Middle-aged white guys (who probably live in the suburbs!) are so New Economy, so on the freakin' bleeding edge. Taking on Big Corporations is so forefront! Excuse me while I prostrate before your rebelliousness! You guys get styled for your Fast Company photo shoot yet? SEXIST RACIST PIGS! I SMELL DISCRIMINATION!]

[Actually, I don't. I'm just feeling a little silly. Hi!]

Fresh new page. So many possibilities!