Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Solve for Awesome*

Nice piece from Smashing Magazine: "The Personality Layer," updates the human hierarchy of needs for interactive experiences.

Shorter: Awesome = ("the personality layer") + (functional + reliable + usable).

* See also, @fakegrimlock on "MVP: Minimum Viable Personality," the #becauseawesome guest post @fredwilson published.

@fakegrimlock original art for the "Minimum Viable Personality" post on

The High Line and the Empire State Building

What I love about this Google street view photo is what I love about New York City: So much texture, so much to see, so much history, so much everything, everywhere, with the Empire State Building just barely there, in the corner of your eye.

Google Maps: High Line Park
Built as a better solution to the 19th-century menace of railroad traffic on city streets than urban cowboys leading locomotives, the High Line opened to trains in 1934 -- four years after the groundbreaking for the Empire State Building.

Death defying "West Side Cowboy" leads a train through city streets.
The High Line handled freight trains until 1980, the year that its old friend, the Empire State Building, received its own zip code.

After years of arguments for preservation vs. demolition, hard work by community advocates, the eventual support of the city, and a design competition, the High Line park opened in 2009.

A gorgeous and amazing photo gallery on the High Line site charts its history, from construction, through dereliction and abandonment, to its glorious present rebirth.

And always, in the corner of your eye, the High Line's old friend, the Empire State Building is there.

From the High Line's photo gallery: A locomotive, and the ESB.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

100 years of air conditioning

Media gave a lot of play this week to a smart PR piece: the centennial, give or take a decade, of air conditioning. Hot, hot, hot!

100 years ago, electricity was still a new thing, whose uses were barely established:

-- Make things light
-- Make things move

Uses soon added:

-- Make things hot
-- Make things cold
-- Make sounds
-- Send messages 
-- Make moving images

And then came now, when you can hold all the media ever made in a sandwich of metal and glass.

Wikipedia has the air-conditioning facts:

In Buffalo, New York, on July 17, 1902, in response to a quality problem experienced at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company of Brooklyn, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became recognized as the world's first modern air conditioning system. The 1902 installation marked the birth of air conditioning because of the addition of humidity control, which led to the recognition by authorities in the field that air conditioning must perform four basic functions:

1.) control temperature;
2.) control humidity;
3.) control air circulation and ventilation;
4.) cleanse the air.

On December 3, 1911, Carrier presented the most significant and epochal document ever prepared on air conditioning – his "Rational Psychrometric Formulae" – at the annual meeting of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. It became known as the "Magna Carta of Psychrometrics." This document tied together the concepts of relative humidity, absolute humidity, and dew-point temperature, thus making it possible to design air-conditioning systems to precisely fit the requirements at hand.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back where I come from

Counting down to showing my critter more slices of NYC so it is in her bones like it is in mine :: what everything else measures against.

#Dead x #Slain :: Cary Grant in an Insetta

#fainting_of_awesome #dead_of_awesome #slain #hurr_hurr

"While women are most often used to sell cars, men have also played the role of human hood ornament. Here, screen legend Cary Grant poses in a 1955 BMW Isetta in Munich, West Germany. The tiny car had one door -- in the front -- and three wheels."

Monday, July 16, 2012

"Cell Phone Tower Hill"

Back when electricity, steel and steam first made it possible to send messages faster than a person could walk or a horse could run, naming a place "Telegraph Hill" was a way to embrace the future.

Telegraphy's dots and dashes created the means of production for mass media, and advertising was the revenue model. Wire stories and their accompanying photos went from anywhere to everyhwere, blurring content strategies from local to national. Press barons built empires on top of monopoly rents, and high barriers to entry ensured that freedom of the press belonged to those who owned one.

That model lasted about a century.

Today, the internet, mobile, and streaming are disintermediating everything -- and anyone can be a channel. The technology is as unremarked upon as air, as ordinary as breathing; nobody's city councils are passing resolutions in honor of  "Cell Phone Tower Hill."

And while the future beeps and buzzes along, and print reverts to its pre-Gutenberg specialized luxury status, the antique brass, wood, and Bakelite artifacts of telegraphy and steam trade in online marketplaces at a premium.

Collectible telegraphy

Child's play: circa 1950s

#Wireframes :: How do I work this?

A wireframe is an invitation to a conversation:
  • What do you think about this, here?
  • That, there?
  • What if it shimmied?
  • What if it shook?
  • What if it wiggled? 
  • What if it waggled?
Wireframes can be created in a vacuum and delivered over the transom to a creative team down the hall, a dev team overseas, or a client who has been excluded from the thinking that went into making them: when that happens, the project and all the people involved, from the sales team to the end user, are doomed to a bad experience.

But when wireframes are used as  a conversation starter -- to push and pull and iterate with project partners -- for working through how a mobile app or a web thing can work, that's doing it right.

One of my favorite presentation devices when I work with a new team is to wave a deck of wireframes, stop, hold it up, and tear it in half.

Wireframes are iterative.

Let's go.