Web Standardistas - HTML and CSS Web Standards Solutions

June 2011 Archives

What's the harm…?

AIGA [Extreme Detail]

AIGA have long fought the good fight against crowdsourcing, clearly articulating the very real issues that plague the ‘winner takes all’ (‘and the losers don’t get paid’) approach to sourcing design by subcontracting it to the masses, whereby countless hours of needless, generic work are wasted.

Richard Grefe’s recent article for the Institute, What’s the harm in crowdsourcing?, continues this theme and it’s well worth reading (if only to awaken yourself to the fact that government agencies the world over – in many cases the very same agencies that promise the creative industries will save us – have unsurprisingly opted, in the face of relentless economic constraint, to pitch for the lowest common design denominator).

Grefe states:

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s use of crowdsourcing to design a logo … is simply the most recent highly visible example of a practice that we can expect to see more and more often. While those against crowdsourcing believe it undermines the value designers can provide a client through a thoughtful engagement, those who embrace it consider it an effective new marketplace.

Grefe’s analysis is a worryingly accurate assessment and one can almost hear the enthusiastic chorus of agency commissioners: “This, truly, is an effective new marketplace!”

Few would doubt Grefe’s conclusion that the crowdsourcing phenomenon is one we can expect to see more and more often as we embark down a road of long term road of economic uncertainty.

The challenge we face as designers is to articulate the value of a meaningful exchange between the client, expressing their needs, and the designer, understanding those needs and – critically – interpreting those needs (and, occasionally, identifying alternative, better-informed needs the client may never have even considered).

This exchange – one that is intensely personal and one that is fundamentally based upon a close working relationship between the client and designer – is critical, if the design process is to deliver more than simply an end product, devoid of strategic thinking.

Identifying design outcomes can, more often than not, stem from relationships developed between client and designer, where a designer grows from a position of understanding to deliver a campaign that reflects the clients’, often vaguely defined, needs.

The result? Both client and designer are happy.

The journey, when embarked upon with an open mind (on both sides), can often deliver far more than the initial brief dictated. The designer grows, but equally, the client grows. The result is often a team. A commisioner and realiser who, when working together and growing a partnership, can achieve a great deal. Much more than the simple, short-term, lowest common denominator form of transaction that crowdwsourcing suggests.

Where great design works the client and designer form a close bond, with a clear understanding and mutual respect emerging. As Grefe adeptly summarises:

For the designer, crowdsourcing demonstrates a lack of respect for the value of design’s full potential and places the lowest, rather than the highest, value on design services. However, it is important for designers to understand that it is not the practice of design that is being treated as a commodity but the design artifact, because most of those utilising crowdsourcing have no idea about the process of design or its potential contribution to positioning and strategy.

The emphasis on process is critical if we are to persuade clients – who let’s face it, are pressed in economically challenging times – to understand the real benefits of design.

When a partnership between client and designer works it’s about much more that simply, “I need X designed.” It often involves the designer offering strategic direction and giving guidance, based upon their accumulated experience and specialist knowledge.

The problem with crowdsourcing - and it’s a problem we need to articulate as designers - is that it reduces what is, in reality a complex relationship, to one that is fundamentally simplistic and focused only on the outcome. The reality is that design is much more complex and is less easily compartmentalised. When a partnership between client and designer works, its boundaries are often blurred, with the designer delivering much, much more than what was initially asked for.

At its most valuable, design is a process, not an end result. Where crowdsourcing is fundamentally flawed is in the perception it conjures that the design is an end product only. As designers, with much, much more to offer when working with clients, it’s our responsibility to articulate this clearly.

Focusing on telling that story will, in all likelihood, go some way towards dispelling the myth that crowdsourcing is the low cost panacea it’s often portrayed as being.



1309441320 · Web Standardistas · Follow Us on Twitter

Make Awesomeness

Make Awesomeness [Extreme Detail]

Building on her role as a noted web design educator, Leslie Jensen-Inman has developed a range of cleverly conceived sketchbooks - or ‘layer books’ - as the first in a line of products from a new Make Awesomeness range.

As she puts it, they’re designed to enable you to, “Sketch like you design - in laters.” Bringing the flexibility of digital layers to paper, they allow you to sketch and think in layers, right at the start of the creative process. Get ‘em before they go.

1309440000 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Google Yawn

Google Yawn

Dave Winer, in a piece titled Google Yawn, writes on Google’s latest foray, Google+:

Here’s how products like this are conceived: We need to kill Facebook. What will we do? If you’re Microsoft in 1999, you bake it into Windows. If you’re Google in 2011, you bake it into search.

An interesting point of view from a gentleman who knows his stuff 1, it’s well worth a read.

1309439100 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

While We Were Sleeping

Sign In [Detail]

While we were sleeping, the elves at Google were hard at work Evolving the Google Design Experience. As the elves put it:

You might begin noticing that things look a little different across Google’s products. We’re working on a project to bring you a new and improved Google experience, and over the next few months, you’ll continue to see more updates to our look and feel. Even our classic homepage is getting a bit of a makeover.

The familiar home page is, indeed, cleaner and sporting a new, tighter look and feel. Apparently it’s all part of a new Google experience that the elves have begun working toward, that is founded on three key design principles: focus, elasticity and effortlessness.

Nice work elves.

1309386420 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Shit in Style

Poo [Detail]

Carry your dog’s shit in style with Junge Schachtel’s Shit Happens - Designer Dog Poo Bags. Completely unrelated to our typical content, but we hope you’ll indulge us this, one link (which also leads to a Flash site, sorry).

Thank you.

1309317540 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Anatomy of a Computer Virus

Stuxnet – Anatomy of a Computer Virus [Detail]

Written by Scott Mitchell and directed by Patrick Clair, Stuxnet – Anatomy of a Computer Virus is a short, but very informative infographic, dissecting the history and implications of Stuxnet, widely agreed to be the first weapon fashioned entirely out of code.

Commissioned by Australia’s ABC1 programme Hungry Beast and produced by the fantastically named Zapruder’s Other Films, it’s well worth setting aside 3’21” to watch. If only to find out about some of the imminent threats we face in the brave, new, connected world we all now inhabit.

Happy viewing.

1309316880 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Japonizer

Japonizer [Detail]

With an extensive range of base patterns to choose from and a near infinite variety of user-definable elements, Japonizer - a traditional Japanese background generator - has you covered for all your Japanese background pattern needs. Truly a nice piece of work.

[Via Mr Friedman.]

1309315980 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

#TfN

TfN Icons [Detail]

Generous to a fault, the kind folks at Twitter have published #TfN – that’s ‘Twitter for Newsrooms’ in full - in an effort to assist journalists maximise the return on their Twitter time investment. #TfN states:

We want to make our tools easier to use so you can focus on your job: finding sources, verifying facts, publishing stories, promoting your work and yourself – and doing all of it faster and faster all the time.

Developed by the Twitter Media team the guide contains four, appropriately hashtagged, sections – #report, #engage, #publish and #extra – offering advice, examples, tools and links, designed to help journalists develop more considered social reporting strategies.

You don’t need to be a journalist to benefit from the resource, however. Anyone involved in content distribution or brand management (or indeed, anyone that actively uses Twitter) would benefit from setting aside some time, fetching a cup of tea, and reading through the what looks set to be a very useful resource indeed, and one which Twitter promises will be a “living document”.

Thanks Twitter.

1309262160 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

No Panacea

Interview: Financial Times' Grimshaw: 'App Stores Are Not A Panacea' [Detail]

In an interesting piece, published earlier in June on mocoNews, Rob Grimshaw, the Financial Times’ Online Managing Director, reflects on the FT’s decision to move towards HTML5 in light of Apple’s revised App Store terms, stating:

We started off not knowing what could be achieved (in HTML), but, one by one, we found that all the things that could be done in a native app actually could be done in an HTML5 app – and we haven’t had to compromise on anything, though we were expecting to.

Reflecting on the rapidly fragmenting nature of mobile platforms running multiple operating systems, and the challenge these pose to content providers, Grimshaw states:

We started to look at HTML when we realised how complicated it would be to develop applications for all these different platforms.

HTML5 now makes it easy for the FT to quickly repackage the core as apps for multiple new platforms, like Android Honeycomb, which would only require a light wrapper app around the web content.

It’s a salient and timely point, and great to see the native web, once again, proving it can sit squarely at the centre of a strategic approach to content distribution.

1309258920 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Best

George Best [Detail]

Zoran Lucic’s extensive Sucker for Soccer series on football legends is very nice indeed, regardless of whether you’re a fan of the beautiful game or not. Great work and a pleasure to see George Best, our local hero, top of the list; coupled with a typically Georgie quote:

In 1969 I gave up women and alcohol – it was the worst 20 minutes of my life.

20 tough minutes indeed.

1309257300 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Sprite Cow

Sprite Cow [Detail]

Speaking of JavaScript and Canvas, it’s not all fun and games. More and more occasionally, something really useful is created using the tools now at our disposal.

Jake Archibald, a developer at UK based company The Team, developed Sprite Cow as a side project:

Sprite Cow helps you get the background-position, width and height of sprites within a spritesheet as a nice bit of copyable css. Automated spritesheet generators are pretty cool, but I prefer the control over optimisation and compression you get by making them manually. However, copying all the positions and sizes from graphics apps wasted a ton of my time, so I made this!

The code is, no surprise, available on GitHub. We’re often guilty of taking projects like this for granted, but making great things and sharing the results freely with the world is an amazing thing.

Let’s not forget that.

1309230780 · Nicklas Persson · Follow Us on Twitter

Link's Awakening

Zelda [Detail]

Back in 1993, Nintendo released the 4th instalment in the Legend of Zelda franchise, Link’s Awakening. Being released on the GameBoy, it was the first outing for Link on a handheld console. 5 years later, a colour version – Link’s Awakening DX – was released.

1993 was also the year Grant Galitz was born. 19 years later, having nurtured some mad JavaScript skills, the Floridian prodigy releases an emulated HTML5 version of Link’s Awakening, available in a standards-compliant browser near you. Using the wonders of HTML5, Local Storage and Canvas, the game is built on his home-rolled GameBoy Color Emulator, available to Fork on GitHub.

A fantastic and nostalgic (if you’re old enough) experiment showing the promise of these new-fangled technologies.

1309228860 · Nicklas Persson · Follow Us on Twitter

While we were drinking beer…

Set in Droid Sans [Detail]

While we were drinking beer on Friday evening 1, Elliot Jay Stocks was hard at work in his studio, conjuring up a little something to save everyone a great deal of time. (Truly, he’s a gentleman, indeed.)

The results of his labours is a free set of finely crafted files that allow you to road test both a project’s typeface and colour palette options, with a minimum of fuss and bother. As Mr Stocks puts it:

I [recently] found myself creating some simple markup and styles to present a client with options for a project’s typeface and colour palette. On the assumption that I’ll probably re-use this code again, and in the hopes that someone else might find it useful, I thought I’d put it up here for people to download.

As we said, just a few lines previously, he’s truly a gentleman, indeed.

The layout is minimal, but effective: four floating, and responsive, divs containing text. The type is equally minimal, but equally effective: four blocks of dummy content set in different typefaces, served via Google Web Fonts. However, as Mr Stocks notes:

You could easily use any font delivery network. In the actual client project, I was using a combination of Typekit and Fontdeck to display the potential typeface choices.

The result is a very useful - and easily customisable - page that allows you to put a series of typefaces and colour palettes to the test without having to worry about building a framework to show the aforementioned elements to their fullest potential.

This is what the web is all about and one of the joys of working in this medium. Thank you Mr Stocks, you’re truly a gentleman, indeed.

1309224180 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

How to Draw a Penguin

How to Draw a Penguin [Detail]

Oliver Jeffers (a graduate of ours and a gentleman to boot) has provided you with everything you need to know to draw a penguin. Step 1: Borrow a penguin….

1309207860 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Stoyn Ice Cream

Blueberry and Licorise [Detail]

Available in a range of flavours, including Darth Vader (Blueberry and Licorise), Che Guevara (Mate and Rum), and Mario (Tequila Sunrise), Stoyn Ice Cream looks tasty indeed. Yum.

[Via Quipsologies.]

1309198680 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

UTF-8

UTF-8 [Detail]

Of course, as an alternative to the aforementioned HTML Entity Character Lookup, you could just encode your HTML using UTF-8.

If you’ve a little time on your hands and a little light reading doesn’t intimidate you, you might like to check out HTML Purifier’s excellent, and comprehensive, UTF-8: The Secret of Character Encoding.

1309140960 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

The Elements of F*cking Style

The Elements of F*cking Style [Detail]

A lot has happened since 1918 when The Elements of Style was first published. For those of you who find consulting a 100-year old tract on the finer details of grammar, Chris Baker and Jacob Hansen have brought a ‘helpful parody’ to the table:

The Elements of F*cking Style drags English grammar out of the ivory tower and into the gutter, injecting a dull subject with a much-needed dose of color.

We applaud anyone attempting to raise the standard of the written word. As the authors aptly put it:

One glance at your friend’s blog should tell you everything you need to know about the sorry state of the English language. This book gives you the tools you need to stop looking like an idiot on message boards and in interoffice memos. Grammar has never before been so much fucking fun.

In-fucking-deedy.

1309138920 · Nicklas Persson · Follow Us on Twitter

HTML Entity Character Lookup

— [Detail]

Left Logic’s HTML Entity Character Lookup tool allows you to quickly find the right HTML entity code with a minimum of fuss and bother. Even better it also allows you to find an entity based on how it looks. Enter ‘c’ for example and it returns: ¢ (¢); © (©); ç (ç); and a host of other, more arcane, alternatives.

Left Logic state:

There’s no clever logic behind this, only the most powerful computer known to man - man’s own brain.

Each entity has had a list of ‘like’ matches added to them by hand and eye. This is stored in a local dictionary file and loaded in during start-up (since it’s so small there’s no point in using an AJAX like solution).

Also available as an OS X Dashboard widget it will, we’re sure, save you a great deal of time when creating valid markup is the name of the game. Nice.

[Via Mr Friedman.]

1309137180 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

CROWS NEST

CROWS NEST [Detail]

For the attention deficit challenged, CROWS NEST offers ‘10 Links From Twitter’ pulled dynamically from a cross section of Tweeters. Updated every 15 minutes, it’s a useful discovery engine (and it’s very nicely designed too).

1309107540 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Kind of Sued

Andy Baio: 'Original photo © Jay Maisel. Low-resolution images used for critical commentary qualifies as fair use. (Usually! Sometimes!)' [Detail]

In 2009, Andy Baio - a writer and entrepreneur who helped build Kickstarter - ate his own dog food and launched a Kickstarter project called Kind of Bloop. The idea was elegant, and one we immediately fell in love with. As Mr Baio put it:

What would the pioneers of jazz sound like on a Nintendo Entertainment System? Coltrane on a C-64? Mingus on Amiga? For years, I’ve wondered what ‘chiptune jazz’ would sound like, but there are only a tiny handful of jazz covers ever made.

To satisfy my curiosity – and commemorate the 50th anniversary of Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue’ – I’ve asked five brilliant chiptune musicians to collaborate and reinvent the entire album in the 8-bit sound.

The resulting album - which we backed at the time - was worth every penny cent. Baio commissioned five chiptune musicians to collaborate and reinvent the entire album in 8-Bit sound, resulting in an oddly perfect blend of the old and the new, fifties melodies meets eighties sound cards.

Needless to say, this fine ensemble, needed to be packaged in an appropriate manner, and - attentive to detail as ever - Baio commissioned some wonderful cover art, crafted pixel-by-painstaking-pixel by pixel- and rough-taco lover SnackAdmiral. Every step of the way, Baio worked hard to ensure everything was above board and legal, as he puts it:

I went out of my way to make sure the entire project was above board, licensing all the cover songs from Miles Davis’s publisher and giving the total profits from the Kickstarter fundraiser to the five musicians that participated.

However, the one thing that Baio overlooked, which he never thought would be an issue, was the cover art… Fast forward to 2010, Baio was threatened with a lawsuit over the pixel art cover.

In February 2010, Baio was contacted by lawyers representing Jay Maisel, the noted New York photographer who took the original photograph 1 that inspired SnackAdmiral’s pixel art version 2. In their demand letter, they alleged that Baio had infringed Maisel’s copyright.

As compensation they sought: “Either statutory damages up to $150,000 for each infringement at the jury’s discretion and reasonable attorneys fees; or actual damages and all profits attributed to the unlicensed use of his photograph, and $25,000 for Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violations.”

Ouch.

Seven, doubtless nerve-wracking, months later, Baio chose to settle out of court. A creative project, for which he had raised just $8,647 (considerably above his Kickstarter goal of $2,000) in the end cost him $32,500 of his family’s hard-earned savings.

Despite his firm belief that he was in the right - which he articulates at length in a reasoned piece titled Kind of Screwed - he was forced to reach an out of court settlement to draw the proceedings (and, no doubt, a great deal of heartache and uncertainty) to a close. As he puts it: “This ordeal was very nerve-wracking for me and my family, and I’ve had trouble writing about it publicly until now.”

Baio is at pains to point out that his settlement is not an admission of guilt, stating: “The fact that I settled is not an admission of guilt. My lawyers and I firmly believe that the pixel art is ‘fair use’ and Maisel and his counsel firmly disagree. I settled for one reason: this was the least expensive option available.”

It’s a disappointing outcome to what – at the start – was a labour of love. One wonders what Maisel, who has been hounded so much since Baio published his piece that he has been forced to take down his Facebook page, thinks of the matter.

There’s no doubt the original image he took is iconic. As the cover of the word’s best-selling jazz album of all time it has doubtless been seen by millions. However, Maisel remains at heart a creative. An artist. This action - whether prompted by Maisel or his lawyers - sends a chilling shockwave through the creative community and one wonders how he might have felt, much earlier in his creative career, had he been threatened in an equivalent manner.

Baio states:

It breaks my heart that a project I did for fun, on the side, and out of pure love and dedication to the source material ended up costing me so much – emotionally and financially. For me, the chilling effect is palpably real. I’ve felt irrationally skittish about publishing almost anything since this happened. But the right to discuss the case publicly was one concession I demanded, and I felt obligated to use it. I wish more people did the same – maybe we wouldn’t all feel so alone.

Surely this isn’t what copyright law is about? To be used as a blunt stick to stifle creativity. One wonders why a hugely respected photographer, who lives in a 72-Room New York Dream House valued at $35 million would feel the need to stifle a younger artist’s creativity in such a manner. Not least given the fact that Maisel’s biography celebrates his ‘giving’ nature, stating: “Since he stopped taking on commercial work in the late 90s, Maisel has focused on his personal work and developed a reputation as a giving and inspiring teacher….”

Giving. Taking.

We live in a remix culture. The web - in some of its finest moments - celebrates the re-imagining of the old in new ways. This culture, which lies aggressively at the heart of how we see ourselves in society today, should be encouraged, not stifled.

When Andy Baio embarked on his ‘Kind of Bloop’ project, it was to celebrate the music of one of the undisputed giants of twentieth century jazz, to bring his music to a wider audience and to celebrate creativity. It seems a pity that this celebration of creativity couldn’t extend equally towards the visual aspects of the project.

At the end of the day, the fact remains, Mr Baio has a $32,500 bill to pay. We can all do our part to preserve the realm of creative endeavour by supporting him. ‘Kind of Bloop’ is still available, albeit minus the cover art, and at just $5 it’s a steal. A mere 6,500 people who value culture and are prepared to pay a little to support it, will wipe the slate clean. We’d urge you to support Mr Baio by picking up a copy, you won’t regret it.



1309027500 · Web Standardistas · Follow Us on Twitter

DinPattern

Dark Sqquare + Invaders [Detail]

If you’re on the lookout for beautifully crafted – and free – seamless patterns, DinPattern has you covered. Blueprint, Waves and Pomegranate are particularly nice.

1308932160 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

N SKY C

Grey [Detail]

Some might argue that seeing a pixel-average of the New York City sky rendered and updated in a browser every five minutes is a complete waste of time. We, on the other hand, might argue that – inevitable greyness aside – the exercise renders some lovely, if inherently uncontrollable, results.

Great work Mr Bodge.

1308879540 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Omniversity

Omniversity [Extreme Detail]

If you’re interested in learning how to build standards compliant web sites – the right way – using future-proof methods, good news… Everyone’s favourite gentleman of the web, Chris Mills, is offering beginner’s web design courses for Omniversity, in Manchester.

Mr Mills works for ‘general geek haven’ Opera and his knowledge is prodigious. A past speaker at one of our Standaristas’ Presents… events (and an invited speaker at numerous other events worldwide), we can attest to the fact that not only is he one of the most knowledgeable gentleman you’ll have the pleasure of meeting, but is also a hugely inspiring teacher to boot.

As he puts it:

I believe that the web is the most important communication and expression mechanism the world has ever known. It allows anyone to communicate with others, regardless of locale, ability or any other personal considerations. That is, if it is populated by web sites that are built properly, according to best practices and guidelines.

No need to tell you that we 100% concur with that sentiment.

If you’re interested in learning how to ‘Build Your Own Place on the Web’, we’d strongly recommend you sign up for his Web Design Foundations Series. A four part, flexible course – appropriate to all levels – we can guarantee you’ll not only learn the fundamentals, but have a great deal of fun along the way.

1308876420 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Web Fonts for Designers Survey

Web Fonts for Designers Survey [Extreme Detail]

Using web fonts? Why not help out Messrs Boms, Warren and Dorny who are undertaking a Web Fonts for Designers Survey in advance of their web fonts presentation at TypeCon 2011. They need to know what’s important to you to help craft their presentation and your help in this matter will be greatly appreciated. Consider completing the survey karma banked.

1308874860 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

GitHub for Mac

GitHub for Mac [Detail]

One of the problems with Git, and version control in general, is that it requires a reasonable degree of nerdery to get your head around. If you’re coming from a design background, and had no reason to open Terminal before, even mastering the basic concepts seems like an insurmountable obstacle. For those who persevere, however, working on any project without the safety net of a version control system becomes completely unthinkable.

GitHub has always been the most well-designed online repository, and with the launch of GitHub for Mac it’s also positioning itself to be the most designer-friendly. A lot less scary than a command line interface, less complicated than Tower - and free of charge, this user-friendly Mac application might just herald the switch of a large number of previously unconverted to the wonderful world of version control.

1308848280 · Nicklas Persson · Follow Us on Twitter

-41%

$297 [Detail]

We featured Joey Roth’s luxurious Ceramic Speakers what seems like an eternity ago. If the $500 price tag put you off, have no fear, Fab have them on offer for a limited time. They’re now just $500 $297. A bargain. (Or so you’re sure to keep telling yourself.)

If you’re easily tempted, put away your plastic now.

(If you’re not a member of Fab and the thought of heavily discounted daily design deals appeals to you – as it does, unsurprisingly, to us – you might like to sign up now. Membership is by invitation only, but the aforementioned link, should be just what you need to slip to the front of the queue.)

1308780180 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Byliner

Byliner [Detail]

Part clearing house for longform journalism available via the web, part social reading tool, part discovery engine for narrative non-fiction, Byliner, as its team puts it, “helps you discover and discuss great stories and great writers.” The Byliner promise is simple:

We’ll find you something good to read.

Just launched, and currently in beta, the site certainly delivers on this promise. If you enjoy reading, the beautifully designed site and its content are guaranteed to appeal to you, and it looks set to be a go to destination for anyone interested in consuming wonderfully crafted words and ideas. As Lois Beckett at Nieman Journalism Lab puts it:

It’s a non-fiction nerd’s fantasy: a database of nearly 30,000 feature stories, meticulously organised, sleekly presented, and fully searchable – by author, by publication, by topic.

With the growth in popularity of the iPad and Amazon’s Kindle (not to mention other, competing, tablets), the audience for Byliner is certainly established. What’s surprising is the site’s business model. Byliner CEO John Tayman has no plans to charge either readers for using the service, or authors for establishing profile pages. It’s all free.

As Tayman puts it, one of the goals of the site is to cultivate communities of readers, readers which might also be interested in purchasing the company’s growing selection of Byliner Originals, tablet-friendly works of narrative non-fiction, a strategy that already appears to be paying off.

The platform’s first paid publication, Jon Krakauer’s excellent Three Cups of Deceit, has already sold over 70,000 copies in just its first week. A blistering piece of investigative journalism into the less than sentimental (and financially suspect) truth behind Greg Mortenston’s acclaimed book Three Cups of Tea, it’s a great read and neatly encapsulates the type of content perfectly suited to the medium.

We might be exceptions to the rule, but speaking from just 24 hours’ experience, we’re already in for some paid content and the habit looks set if anything to increase. (Now all we need are a couple of Kindles… tempting, indeed.)

Reading is, thankfully, back on the rise.

1308777960 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Halftone Def

Halftone Def Business Cards

FPO feature a very nicely designed and “unapologetically playful” set of letterpress business cards for Halftone Def Studios. Very nice indeed and proof, if it were needed, that’s there’s life in the medium of paper yet.

1308770340 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Tower Bridge Erased From History

Tower Bridge [Detail]

A few days ago Tom Armitage realised that the little Twitter bot he’d built years ago - which mashed up some public data to tweet every time the iconic London landmark was raised for a vessel to pass through - suddenly was gone.

The account had been suspended, with little warning from the Twitter overlords, reminding us once again that we don’t own either the data nor the usernames we think of as ours.

Andy Budd, commenting on the débâcle:

First and foremost it brings into stark relief the fact that we don’t own our online identities or the content we produce. We have few if any rights, and the companies behind these services can remove our accounts at will.

And further:

So the fact that they can delete accounts at will is rather unsettling. It basically sends the message that you’d better play nicely or we’ll expunge you from history.

Which summarises the situation, neatly and comprehensively.

1308025380 · Nicklas Persson · Follow Us on Twitter

What's the Worst Design Ever?

Worst Design [Detail]

Interesting question on Quora: What is the worst piece of design ever done?

Entries include the Reliant Robin, Packaged Bananas, The Hindenburg, useit.com and our favourite, the Bat Bomb. What’s yours?

1307076360 · Nicklas Persson · Follow Us on Twitter

Perch is Two

Perch [Detail]

If you need a really little content management system, you could do worse than looking at Perch, a Content Management System that gives you full control of your front-end markup, whilst offering a simple interface for clients to add and manage content.

The pages app, completely rewritten for the latest release, looks like a powerful feature. With a bit of configuration and setup, it allows easy addition of pages in specified sections of the site. The best feature however is that the default editor, rather than being a WYSIWYG atrocity of some flavour, is using Markdown - a firm favourite of ours. Nice.

If you’re in the need of a bespoke CMS to power a smallish site you’re designing, do check it out.

1307075760 · Nicklas Persson · Follow Us on Twitter

-1

+1 [Detail]

As if we didn’t have enough ‘Like’ buttons already, Google has announced that the +1 button is set to roll out across the whole web. Mr Gruber nails it best:

Thank goodness. There weren’t enough shitty little buttons (Arial, Google? really) on every post on web sites like Mashable and TechCrunch.

-1.

1307056200 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

The Art of the Sleeve

Russell Mills [Detail]

As if an evening with Cennydd Bowles weren’t enough, we’re also delighted to announce that celebrated sleeve designer Russell Mills will also be making a guest appearance in Belfast at the Ulster Festival of Art and Design on Wednesday, 8 June, 2011.

Audiophiles should need no introduction to Mr Mills, who has visually interpreted the music of a veritable cornucopia of artists throughout his prolific career. Mills’ artwork has adorned the covers of, amongst others: Miles Davis, Brian Eno, The Cocteau Twins, Nine Inch Nails, and Talking Heads (and that’s barely scratching the surface).

His distinctive style, characterised by densely worked collages, have evolved from the use of analogue media to embrace digital tools, resulting in rich illustrations, sumptuous in their detail; a style that has seen Mills in constant demand throughout his career. Mills is also a musician, having released two albums and soundtracked numerous exhibits.

Collaboration is often a central feature of Mills’ work and he will focus on this aspect of his work in his presentation. Mills is currently a Visiting Professor at Glasgow School of Art and Visiting Tutor at The Royal College of Art. This is his first visit to the Art College, Belfast and represents a great opportunity to hear him speak.

Book your ticket to hear Mr Mills now.

1307050320 · Christopher Murphy · Follow Us on Twitter

Brioche

tasty Ampersand [Detail]

Brioche is a highly enriched French pastry, whose high egg and butter content give it a rich and tender crumb a fun revival typeface ready for all of your fancy needs.

Designed by Jessica Hische, it’s a versatile roman, modeled after a cornucopia of 19th century samples with the inclusion of, as Ms Hische puts it, “Some special swashy characters!” It’s perfect for (again borrowing from Ms Hische), “Weddings, snobby cocktail menus and anything remotely old-fashioned.”

Needless to say, it’s tasty indeed.

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Hello Futura

FUTURA [Detail]

Type purists rejoice; FuturaTypekit’s, “most oft-requested font,” – is now available via Typekit. What’s more, as Typekit type connoisseur (and Typekit Type Manager) Tim Brown puts it:

ParaType’s Futura PT has been manually TrueType hinted … and meticulously prepared to render well on screen, even in Windows, with font smoothing disabled altogether.

Very few web fonts have been given this amount of care – the result is a completely reliable, strikingly legible typeface that feels like a native part of every browser and operating system.

Irrepressibly modern, and instantly recognisable, Futura PT is available in a range of five weights, from Light to Extra Bold, each with an italic (and extensive language support); in short, a comprehensive and flexible family, perfect for echoing the geometric shapes that epitomised the Bauhaus style so elegantly encapsulated in 1927 by Paul Renner.

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Designing the Wider Web

Cennydd Bowles [Detail]

We’re delighted to announce a further installment in our ongoing series of Standardistas’ Presents… events, ‘Designing the Wider Web’ on Friday, 10 June, 2011.

Run in conjunction with the Ulster Festival of Art and Design, ‘Designing the Wider Web’ features internationally renowned user experience designer, author and speaker Cennydd Bowles, speaking in Ireland for the first time.

Mr Bowles is co-author of the excellent book Undercover User Experience Design, published by New Riders, and he is currently hard at work on his second book, soon to be published by the fine gentlemen at Five Simple Steps, called ‘Designing the Wider Web’ (which, unsurprisingly given the titles’ similarity, forms the basis of his presentation in Belfast).

A noted interaction designer, Bowles worked for a number of years for Clearleft, before recently going solo to focus on freelance work and writing. His presentation will look at how the web has become wider, now that the dominance of the desktop browser is over. As he puts it: “After so long painting in a tiny corner of the canvas, it’s time to broaden our approach.”

We’re looking forward to what we’re sure will be an entertaining and informative evening. We’ll kick off, as usual, at 7.00 pm in the Conor Lecture Theatre at the Art College before doubtless decamping to a local watering hole for some lively post-presentation discussion. We very much look forward to seeing you there.

Book your ticket for ‘Designing the Wider Web’ now.

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