That Apple magnetic power plug is one superfluous contraption

My Thinkpad has an ordinary plug, and yet it comes off whenever I trip over the cable. Which happens quite a few times.




machen wir uns stark

If you're Austrian (or not), please consider supporting machen wir uns stark, a new grassroots progressive initiative.

Wir lassen uns nicht spalten. Alle leben wir in diesem Land und alle können wir es mitgestalten. Grundrechte gelten ohne Ausnahme. Es gibt immer unterschiedliche Meinungen. Aber wir wollen vernünftig miteinander reden. Wir bauen nicht auf Sündenböcke. Wir bauen auf die Zukunft.

Anil Dash: "Defending the Indefensible"



Et tu, John Gruber?

I don't know how it happened, but John Gruber has become a sort of spokesman for the Applephiles.

Where I see the problem is that the Apple Inc. John Gruber is so in love with has nothing or very little to do with the original Apple Computer, Inc.

Apple Computer, Inc. was about freedom (if not in actual motivation, at least in words and deeds, and that's important, too, as Zizek tells us). Apple Inc. is about freedom fries.

Maybe it's just me, but Gruber seems to be apologetic about whatever Apple does. He's like their minister of propaganda. I don't like that. It's not good for Apple, and not good for his readers.

What Apple really needs is a kick in the backside. If anything, they are wasting their potential for insane greatness. Yes, they may do great stuff today, but they don't do insanely great no more. And we would need that. My blood still flows in six colors, and that's why this blog will fly the original Apple Computer, Inc. logo reversed, until Apple gets its act together again.

(Sorry, had to get this out of my system for a long time.)



Dave just coined a great new term — twitwork.

Now, I think it's great on two levels. First, it invokes the image of a federated network of microcontent feeds. Second, the image of a bunch of twits who pretend to be working, when they're actually glued to their screens polling for status updates.


The failure of general hypermedia visualization

Around 2001 I was deeply fascinated by the potential of graphs and their visualization to save the world, etc.

It seemed to me that if you just found the right layout algorithm, all our visualization problems would be solved.

A couple of months ago I read (can't remember where) a cry "No more force-directed graph visualizations please!" and I immediately thought, yes please.

Today, I found an article by hypertext maven Mark Bernstein, that includes the following screenshot:

Really, that doesn't look useful, not even a little bit.

(I'm worried that I come across as an anti-progress apologist, like John Gruber. I'm not. I really like new stuff, and think it's important to push the state of the art, but in this case, I think we have failed.)

Maybe the whole premise is flawed. Maybe hypermedia thrives on invisibility, the fact that you never know where the next link will take you.

And maybe, the desire for general graph visualization is a desire for a deus ex machina, that can never be fulfilled. Looks this way to me.


an absolution exchange

Monica Narula & Joshua Schachter:
markets are how societies feel about concrete things. what if they were about abstract things?


Google's dead angle

Google's dead angle is large and obvious: the company is only about analysis, not synthesis. Google is about taking already created information, and trying to make sense of it.

In fact, the messier the information is created and structured, the better for Google, because it is better than its competitors at making sense of it.

What this means is that Google actually has an economic and systemic disincentive against making information structuring/synthesis/creation work better.

Big + Extreme

There seems to be a certain quality ("without a name") in design today, that is only achievable through an aura of "bigness". (It's no coincidence that that's a term coined by polemic extraordinaire Rem Koolhaas.)

To make this more concrete, consider this Dubai-themed design by Wolff Olins:

This is so extreme, that if a freshman graphic designer showed this to you, you'd probably be most concerned about his mental health.

But, in the hands of a pre-established, auratized (Byung-Chul Han) context of brand (WO in this case) bigness, you can pull it off.

(I'm sorry if I'm getting too deleuze&guattari here.)

Do we, in this modern world, have to blow up our meagre ideas and concepts to Koolhaasian galactic and causality-changing proportions in order to make them heard, or even intelligible?


Paraphrasing Alan Perlis:
Think of all the psychic energy expended in seeking a fundamental distinction between "microblogging" and "macroblogging".
Fun! Just when everybody is getting started to use MapReduce, Google announces it leaves this obsolete batch processing model behind, and apparently moves to the correct interactive model.

Dear Google, I'm waiting for new paperz!


Matthew Yglesias:
Do readers think it would be possible to arrange some more condescending emails from people who’ve spent more time in China than I have pointing out that ten days on a semi-official junket can only give you a superficial understanding of a very large country? I’m actually a complete idiot, who doesn’t understand this at all. Also the underlying premise of my blog is in no way that a smart person who writes quickly can entertain and inform with non-expert commentary and aggregation on a wide array of subject.

The professional service firm: threat or menace?

The Competitive Threat of Public Clouds by Rodrigo Flores describes the pressure internal departments face to live up to the standards set by outside, public service firms:

IT operations groups are going to be increasingly evaluated against the service and customer satisfaction levels provided by public clouds. One day soon, the CFO may walk into the data center and ask, “What is the cost per hour for internal infrastructure, how do IT operations costs compare to public clouds, and which service levels do IT operations provide?” That day will happen this year.

Tom "Re-Imagine!" Peters is calling these agile and toughened departments professional service firms (PSFs), and encourages the right-out provision of standardized services not only to other internal departments, but – in the ideal, and arguably radical, case – to the outside world, too.

Of course, such opening up to external competition can lead to a real improvement in service quality – comparable with open source software. Like crowdsourcing and open source software, though, I imagine that this will also drive down the revenues achievable by (some) workers – comparable to how operating systems and compilers are today often gratis.

The professional service firm model seems somewhat unavoidable, yet I still ask myself whether its clear benefits for (internal as well as external) customers outweigh its potential drawbacks for workers. Maybe the PSF proletariat needs a new Das Kapital.


Real vs Virtual Bodies: A paradigm shift?

This looks shopped. I can tell from some of the pixels and from seeing quite a few shops in my time.

Nothing about this picture of Monica Bellucci makes sense. The face is not a face, the clothes aren't clothes, the shadows aren't shadows, and we don't even have to mention human anatomy in this context.

Of course, we always took liberties in depicting bodies, but at least before Photoshop those people actually knew something about anatomy. Painters practised drawing bones, muscles, and skin for years. Today, any agency bozo is given free reign to deform bodies whatever way his cocaine-shaky mouse-arm veers.

But, there may be some kind of paradigm shift in the works. Apparently, Britney Spears demanded that for her next campaign, both the before and after pictures be shown.

(Again, that bozo has absolutely NO SKILL whatsoever. Just look at the legs. That ain't legs, you idiot!)

So, what's going on here? Are our celebrities getting stressed out by having to live up to the images created in their image by back-office bozos?

It's interesting what hiphop powerhouse Roots Manuva does in the following video. The video contains both standard "screen-style" shots of him, but also "normal-guy" shots. I think this is a good way. After all, we want our celebrities to look "god-like", but on the other hand it's also nice to see that they're just normal people, too.

So, maybe the future is to mix shops for image-building and adoration with real pix for a measure of reality.

Our strange design decade

This is a design submitted for India's ID card by Saffron, Wally Olins' branding company.

Now, they say it has something to do with the "sign of democracy", the index finger dot, which has become a kind of fetish in the media, for example:

"Your democracy makes us hot."

The logo is arguably strange. I mean, I used to balk at the guy in class who said he could paint like Picasso (every class has that guy, right?), but in this case it's true. Anybody could do that logo.

Saffron knows that of course, and I bet it's part of the deal. But I still can't put my finger on what's going on here exactly, design-wise.

What will people learn about our fridge-nuking and shark-jumping decade of the Uh-Ohs in 50 years when they look at that logo?