Sometimes I feel as if I’m a part of this.
In case you haven’t heard, let me glady announce the arrival of Apple’s iTunes Music Store, which launched today. It’s kind of amazing, that finally a reasonable company has focused on a way to download music for a fee in an interface that is friendly, elegant, and, mostly smart (see the new iTunes 4).
Now, I doubt that this is going to hurt most people trading MP3s, but for me, who finds trading in MP3s boring, unoriginal, and wholesomely illegal, this is a perfect service. I’m not pro-recording industry, who pay most of their artists a pittance; however, this seems to be a start of something very beautiful.
What with a lot of work, SARS scaring the heck out of me, and nothing of real interest to communicate, I have not been a good correpondent. I will now smack the knuckles of my left hand with a wooden rule (very gently).
In other news, I seemed to have run out of office space. Well, not exactly office space, per se, but paper space. I no longer have room for the papers, books, magazines (see previous post), pantone guides, business cards, correspondence, bills, contracts, invoices, files, folders, and brochures that I have been provided over the past many years. What to do? I honestly do not know.
These are not winning New York Lottery numbers, but they are the ones that the computer picked for me yesterday in a bid for fortune. It should be noted that I came closer yesterday to winning than I have in quite a while, as the numbers 38 and 40 were winning numbers and if I had only had the computer pick 2, 10, 18, or 25, I’d have won a dollar.
Now that bitmapped fonts (or fonts that use tiny little square dots to make up the typeface) are starting to really gain their mass appeal on Flash sites and other funkier sites, out comes the.. awkWerd Type Concern .., which has produced some really interesting, largish bitmapped fonts, like Lucky, Fignuts, and Galore!. These fonts are a fascinating combination of 1970s kitsch, 1990s cool, and 2003 groove (which is just a combination of 1970s kitsch and 1990s cool, anyway).
Although I haven’t read this piece through yet, everyone seems to be talking of late about Seth Godin’s forthcoming book Purple Cow, which is excerpted here at Fast Company. It’s an inexpensive read for what it purports (to ask you to create something outstanding and exemplary and completely unique) and one that I’m very much looking forward to having on my desk come May 8.
A little over a month ago, the magazine Red Herring, which focused on venture investments in technologies and new products, closed (on March 3, 2003 to be exact). While I was never a subscriber to the magazine, I am slightly saddened by its death, only in that it was a remarkable publishing artifact from a time when money and ideas met in strange ways.
There are plenty of magazines out there, however, and I’m certainly not hurting for good daily, weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly publications. I made a list of all the magazines that regularly come into our home. There are a lot of them, but I’ve always adored magazines, which are simultaneously useful and useless, timeless and time-sensitive, shallow and sure. Some are free, most are paid subscriptions. Some are excellent, others are worth a perusal. Some are sublimely produced; others are barely worth the postage. But here they are, like a barrel of herring:
Brown Alumni Monthly
Graphic Design USA
The New Republic
The New Yorker
Emigre, the 20-year old type design company, has just released its latest magazine/book, called, of all things, Rant. It’s a pretty important issue, in my humble opine, as it lays out what is at stake in the future of graphic design. With a number of strong contributors, from Andrew Blauvelt to Shawn Wolfe, the issue re-focuses its attention on the critica issues related to design. Rudy VanderLans, owner of Emigre, says in the introduction that the return to Helvetica usage and what I call the “plain-ification” of design has meant the dumbing down of graphics and graphic artists.
For me, simple and simplified design is extremely difficult — and is worth attaining at all costs, but not at the true expense of meaning, beauty, or discovery. The plain-ification that so many artists and designers are employing right now is partly the fault of folks like Jacob Nielsen, who asks of us to make sure that form is always over function. But it’s also designers who have caught the unfortunate vanilla virus whose DNA reads A, B, C, D, A, B, C, D, A, B. Anyway, Rant does a better job of ranting than I do. Importantly, it asks where the analytical voices of design currently exist. I think they’re surely around but perhaps no one really cares to hear them in this crazy market.
Salon recently featured a piece on a hactivist network’s siteRe-Code.com : Re-Code Your Own Price for food, electronics, software, movies, music, and more!. The admittedly critical hacking idea is simple: punch in any UPC code into their website, push a button, and out comes a brand new barcode that you can use to set your own price. Just paste the new code over the old one at the store, ring it up, and pay a dollar instead of five. The site looks and feels like Priceline.com and is clearly stated as being satirical. Yet, the site does ask us to think about how prices are set, how stores raise and lower prices with coupons, giveaways, and sales, and what role brands have in the maintenance and administration of product pricepoints.
It was exactly three years go to the day that the Nasdaq fell in a large way (well, it essentially crashed) and I embarked on a new career at a company called OVEN Digital. It was at this time that Barnes & Noble was launching barnesandnoble.com, spinning off its online from its “offline” and profitable business. The .com portion was going public, and the expected feeding frenzy on the stock was mammoth. We were all very excitable. What saddens me about that day three years ago is that many, many idealistic and thoughtful and smart ideas went away with the collapse of the dot-com frenzy, and I do miss those days of sheer possibility.
Today, the best part of barnesandnoble.com is its shortened web address. And the best part of being three years away from the Nasdaq’s collapse is that I’m much happier working with the Internet than in the Internet “industry.”