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Very Recent History: 16-Feb-11

Very Recent History — some of things I’ve been reading recently.

It’s always great to see transparency in the design process, so it was nice to find, via the fantastic Gym Class Magazine, the openness of Esquire Magazine’s design team. Their creative director, Richard Turley, has a Tumbler blog, and their art department’s got a Flickr feed. They’re great collections of design inspiration, and it’s very brave to show their unused cover design explorations. I wish more interactive/interface designers did the same. (Once, on a project I was working on, we tried to make the design process public. Some of that is still online. But maybe I’ll save that story for another post.)

My friend Terry posted a nice review of things that need to be in a traditional creative brief. But it was the future of the creative brief that was discussed in three great posts (1, 2, 3) by Ed Cotton, in what he called “The Creative Brief Project.” The posts are the core of a great discussion that shows how hard the agency world is trying to reinvent themselves, understand the world, and to question all aspects of what they do — despite the legacy structures within ad-agencies. Very smart.

After thoroughly embarrassing myself by trying a Kinect dance game in a Best Buy (people were gathering around to watch!), I was hooked and bought a Kinect. The games, despite some usability concerns, are pretty fun. (And interacting without any physical controllers is a really interesting experience). The blog Interactive Multimedia Technology has a nice comparison of the Wii and Kinect dance games. (If I could figure out how to get the pics Dance Central takes of me out of the Xbox, I’d threaten to post them here.)

I’ve known about Amazon’s Mechanical Turk for years, but never got around to actually using it. But when I found myself with a 30 minute recording of an interview I’d done and needed to get it transcribed, I found a great description on how I could use the Turk to get the audio transcribed. The process of getting the tasks set-up was a hassle (things like splitting up the audio into smaller, translatable, chunks) — but the results were quick… I uploaded the audio in the evening, and by the time I woke up it was done! There were some errors (nothing as visible, or as interesting, as Clement Valla’s Seed Drawings ) — but it was so cool I’m eager to try something more ambitious.

Ben Terrert posted this great video of Pentagram’s Michael Bierut talking about the “joy of clients.” It’s a fantastic reminder of how, as designers, we should engage with clients as friends, and to work with them at a human level — not a corporate one.

Want some candy? Despite the HTML5, anti-Flash, mood these days, a nice Flash site is still nice. And, even though I can’t quite understand what it’s trying to do, Uniqlo’s Heat Tech site is pretty cool (although if it’s a site from Uniqlo it’s pretty much guaranteed to be interesting). With full-sized video, dark mood, great audio, and playful scrolling, it’s a nicely mellow experience. It was designed by Mount.

Oh – and be sure to take a look at Pasta&Vinegar’s Fingerprints on touch interface as interaction pattern post. A great look at the touch identities of several iPad apps — the finger-equivalent of eye-tracking.

And this shocking post, in the wake of the recent Nokia+Microsoft announcement, that Nokia’s engineers don’t get the value of UI. “…they don’t understand that if you can’t find the button to use the camera on the phone, it doesn’t matter how many megapixels it is.” Wow.