Johnson Banks:

“If it’s ‘out there’, don’t we own it?”
Well, it depends. To claim a ‘level of distinctiveness’, it’s usually down to time, and the rule of thumb is seven years. Use a logo for that amount of time, consistently, that people can see and recognise and you begin to establish some ownership of that idea. There are certain ways around this, usually for global brands that can establish a new ‘look’ quite fast. British TV channel, Channel Four, were initially faced with issues because on paper, ‘channel four’ is a generic name, so inherently hard to register. But they were granted an exemption because they were quickly able to demonstrate ownership.

Seth Godin:

It’s probably easier to create heavily adorned mash-up than it is to produce a Field Notes notebook. Stripping away the artifice doesn’t always leave something pure. It often creates banality, the simple commodity that’s easy to buy cheaper one click away. […]

If Nike announced that they were opening a hotel, you’d have a pretty good guess about what it would be like. But if Hyatt announced that they were going to start making shoes, you would have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER what those shoes would be like. That’s because Nike owns a brand and Hyatt simply owns real estate.

Casper (the mattress company) announced a new product, a light which looks a bit like an HomePod and a Muji aroma diffuser.

Good app to simulate colour blindness on your Mac. There’s also an iOS counterpart, to see the world in front of you as a colour blind person.

Since we’re on the subject, I recommend Contrast to quickly access WCAG contrast ratios from the menu bar.


In its first era of popularity, it was all pop and pulp, but now it seems reserved for the task of adding just the slightest bit of a smirk to extremely straight-faced endeavors: elegant magazines, important books, experimental theater, and $80 ceramic pipes.

I didn’t realise how popular this typeface was until I stumbled across this article and started noticing it in bookshops or books I myself own (Mark Grief’s Against Everything).

It was used on the first cover of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and for the credits of Friends. Quite a weird mix.

(Here’s a good reimagining of Lydia by the Colophon Foundry)

Speaking of how the model of reality which a technology proposes can end up influencing and changing reality itself, here’s George Dyson:

Their models are no longer models. The search engine is no longer a model of human knowledge, it /is/ human knowledge. What began as a mapping of human meaning now defines human meaning, and has begun to control, rather than simply catalog or index, human thought. No one is at the controls. If enough drivers subscribe to a real-time map, traffic is controlled, with no central model except the traffic itself. The successful social network is no longer a model of the social graph, it is the social graph. This is why it is a winner-take-all game. Governments, with an allegiance to antiquated models and control systems, are being left behind.

Maps make for a good example here. We’re all aware that the mercator projection is an inaccurate model of reality, one which distorts the true size of countries and is skewed in favour of Europe, nonetheless that’s what we use to describe the world, it’s what we think of when we think of a map — it’s the default, almost natural, choice.

The risk here is for a model to become so ingrained that we end up forgetting about the other options we had — or that what we’re using is, in fact, just a model.

Patricia Marx, The New Yorker:

The moment is equivalent, perhaps, to the juncture when fish crawled out of the sea and onto land. At the reception desk of a robot-staffed hotel in Japan, sharp-fanged, hairy-chested dinosaurs wearing bellhop hats and bow ties poise their talons at the keyboard; at a pizza restaurant in Multan, Pakistan, bosomy figures on wheels, accessorized with scarves around their necks, deliver food to your table; at a gentlemen’s club in Las Vegas, androids in garters perform pole dances.

The difficult part is not to teach humans to trust robots, but to teach them not to blindly accept them.

The truth is that what the algorithm says, we will do. Once it’s clear that something is convenient for us, we drop any initial resistance. And so software design choices end up becoming our default choices — the places that a map decides to emphasise, the suggested route, the results at the top of the search, the related items, and so on.

These suggestions might even help us — they are, often, convenient. Nonetheless, it’s important to ask why they’re there, to notice which details were tuned down or ignored to favour the default.

Molte delle gesture introdotte da Apple sull’iPhone X — che poi sono la novità principale e ciò che più stupisce: quanto sia fluido e immediato spostarsi da un’app all’altra e interagire con iOS — vengono da webOS, l’OS del 2010 di Palm (purtroppo fallito). Si può ritrovare pure la barra orizzontale che sta in basso allo schermo.

Un documentario sulle persone dietro alle applicazioni, e la cura e dedizione che ci mettono. Qui c’è il trailer, mentre nel video in apertura Neven Mrgan di Panic parla di skeumorfismo.

L’altro giorno il team che si occupa del design di Airbnb ha pubblicato un articolo su un tool sviluppato internamente che trasforma i wireframes in interfacce fatte e finite. Utilizzando la style guide interna, il tool è in grado di riconosce le forme che il designer ha disegnato su carta, e di associarle a uno dei componenti esistenti.

Nel video d’apertura un simile esperimento, di un tool che funziona uguale, ma che risale a vent’anni fa.

Max Rudberg propone diversi accorgimenti per gestirlo al meglio, e farsene una ragione. Perché, del resto, Apple non vuole che lo si nasconda:

Apple writes in the HIG: “Don’t attempt to hide the device’s rounded corners, sensor housing, or indicator for accessing the Home screen by placing black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.

In the Designing for iPhone X video, posted by Apple after the X’s announcement, Mike Stern says: “Your app or game should always fill the display that it runs on. Placing black bars at the top or bottom of the screen makes your app feel small, cramped, and inconsistent with other apps on iPhone X”.

Technology Review ricorda che non tutti hanno connessioni iper veloci e dati illimitati:

Ma’Niyah has a special-education plan for math; to help her, she’s been assigned problems to do online through Khan Academy. But her mother says she cannot afford broadband from Time Warner Cable, which would begin at around $50 a month, even for an entry-level offering, plus modem and taxes (and the price would rise significantly after the 12-month teaser rate expired). The family has a smartphone, but it’s harder for Ma’Niyah to use the small screen, and Marcella watches her data caps closely; just a few hours of Khan Academy videos would blow past monthly limits. Fast Internet access is available in a library a few blocks away, but “it’s so bad down here that it’s not really safe to walk outside,” Marcella Larry says. […]

A survey by Pew Research shows that fully one-third of American adults do not subscribe to any Internet access faster than dial-up at their home.

La questione sembra venire ignorata presso gli sviluppatori web che conosco, abituati a disegnare su schermi retina e a testare il loro lavoro da connessioni su fibra ottica. La performance di un’app o un sito, per molti, viene dopo la convenienza dello sviluppatore.

La pubblicità è un problema non perché sia brutta da vedere o dia fastidio, ma perché sta rovinando una tecnologia (il web) attribuendogli difetti che in realtà sono dovuti a cattive pratiche. Questa situazione ci ha portato tecnologie e soluzioni completamente futili (per dirne due: Google AMP, Instant Articles) che mettono una pezza a un problema che ci siamo creati da soli. Bloccare la pubblicità — quelle istanze di pubblicità che rovinano il web — è giusto e direi anzi doveroso: si può fare di meglio, ed é giusto penalizzare chi ricorre a behavioural tracking e cattive pratiche senza un minimo ritegno per l’utente finale.

Un sito più veloce è conveniente anche per il business. WPO Stats è un buon sito che raccoglie statistiche e dati che lo dimostrano: se non siete ancora riusciti a convincere il vostro capo, indirizzatelo lì.

(via Ethan Marcotte)