Saturday, December 02, 2006

Design v. Business (Or Desiginess)

Day 38

Business is blending into Design, and Design is blending into Business. This trend has been continuing over the past couple years and is really beginning to take shape. Listening to the Businessweek Podcast entitled Design Means Business, I heard a phrase that I believe sums up the relationship between the Design industry and the Business sector.

"One can't do it without the other."

The podcast was covering the AIGA Gain conference in New York. The speaker was someone who has always been a blend of Business and Design, Tom Kelley of IDEO, who was discussing the JetBlue terminal design at JFK. I think this phrase stuck out because it shows that neither Design or Business is more powerful than the other. Their true power is found when combined in equal parts. This is a great notion and something that both designers and business people should learn from.

I am reminded of the OCAD Rotman's partnership program happening at my school. It combines 2 OCAD designers and 5 Rotman's students together in collaborative projects. I think this partnership is missing one thing: equality. It is my hope that in the future we will see less of this one sided view, and more of an balanced partnership that weighs both sides equally. This will release the true potential of Business and Design.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mp3, Photo & Presentation

Day 32

State of the Music Industry

Digitization has advanced how music is created; however it has negatively impacted how music is commodified. Unfortunately, because the industry’s business wasn’t designed for this environment, artists and labels are unable to reap the benefits from these changes. The result is an industry that is not fairly compensating its most vital participants: creators.

The rapid changes of the last few years have empowered the artist. It is key to find a solution to their problems and fulfil their needs; without them there is no music. The democratization of the industry has taken the power away from the labels and needs to be made accessible to artists. We need to allow the artists to maintain control and ownership of their creations, empowering them to craft and control their own careers.

However, the labels still hold some power when it comes to commodifying music. Their strengths lie in the business, financial and marketing aspects. The label of the future is about providing these necessary services to artists, facilitating the relationship between the artist and the listener. This new approach will allow them to maintain their business and profit without drastically altering their business.

The listeners need music delivered to them the way they want. Just like the artists, they too have been empowered by technology and will no longer play by anyone else’s rules. They want to find great music and create rich experiences around it. They want to have music delivered to them on their terms, at the right price and without any restrictions. The demand exists; it is up to the industry to fulfil it.

To fulfil these needs it is essential to start embracing new technology and business innovations. The industry must accept this new technology and use it to its full capabilities. These innovations offer immense opportunities to enrich the musical experience and in turn, create profit.

The industry has the ability to benefit from the technology they are currently ignoring. Many mavericks have abandoned the past and have been greatly rewarded. The old system was designed to profit from music, the new one will nurture music and benefit from it. Artists and listeners have the ability to ignore businesses that don’t meet their needs, but they can also greatly benefit from ones that do.

From these perspectives it is clear that we need to empower the artist-listener relationship. The labels need to realize their core competencies. Artists need tools that empower them to reach the listener and make a living, and listeners want a rich music experience. The relationship is reciprocal; the artists have music and want revenue and the listeners want music and have revenue. Connecting the two is my goal.

This has led me to conclude that the music industry is in need of an effective way to commodify music that is designed to fit into the digital landscape. This will specifically focus on a system that provides artists with tools to effectively distribute their music and profit. The service will provide new artists with the tools they need to break into music, while also allowing established artists to continue their careers. It would also connect listeners and artists and nurture their relationships.

Simultaneously, this system will provide listeners with a product that fits their needs to effectively close the commodification loop. The act of buying music extends beyond the transaction. The music industry is a business, but to the artists and listeners it is all about the music. This service needs to facilitate this and provide music not as a product, but an experience.

To conclude, my goal is to create a system that distributes music in a way that meets the needs of artists and listeners in our digitized world, reinvigorating the music industry with a sustainable business model. This would enable artists to keep making the music we love.

Example of some great music: The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations

Monday, November 20, 2006

How Long 'Til This Is On Letterman

First was Will It Float, now its Will It Blend

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Gate Closed

Gate 2 is over! My presentation went pretty good, I stumbled a bit, but overall it went well. H

I also started back on the photoblog and tonight is my parent's Taste of the World Gourmet diner party. It will feature food from all the continents and should be pretty good, my dad has been making pesto all day, so I expect the rest of the dishes to be very good too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Day 50!!!

Day 50

I did it!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Gate 2 & 50 Photos

Don't Jump
So blogging isn’t at the top of my list right now, as you can tell from the long absence. This week is our Gate 2 presentation, so I will be prepping my document and presentation all this week.

Check out my daily project at because tomorrow is Day 50, hope I find something good!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Another Reason To Love Front Design

One of my favourite design groups. They always impress! This is their most recent example of why!

For more check them out Online

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Cool Shit

Amazing light graffiti via Coudal

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Attention Musicians, Music Industry Insiders, Music Fans or Anyone Who Knows Any of These People

So after a little hiccup in my thesis project I am know back on track and am currently undertaking the interview process to create personas. I have created a set of questions for Musicians, Music Insiders and Music Listeners. So if you fit into one of these categories or know someone who would qualify please let me know. Leave a comment or email me at nlarcher at Your input would be greatly appreciated.

Top 10

After reading the multiplicity of coverage on David Armano’s recent presentation in NY I realized that what I am passionate about right now is… my schoolwork. It may sound somewhat odd, but I have to occupy my time with something, right?

So I thought I would share my “Top 10” a recent presentation I gave. I chose based on what I view as the current shift in design in today’s landscape, as well as to show my classmates the stuff that has inspired me.

The Brief
What are you seeing that is interesting? What work is important to you? Who is doing good work?

All Photos from authors and nickf

Fuck Blogger!!!!

Crash on me once, shame on you. Crash on me twice, shame on you still!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Depletist {de-plE-tist}

1. An individual or group demonstrating apparent negligent or reckless disregard for the environmental consequences of their actions.

2. An individual or group that exhausts non-renewable resources and rejects positive environmental strategies.

I thought I would give a brief update on the fourth year think tank project I mentioned previously. We moved beyond using the school as a test bed for our ideas and have now created a word to try and affect change through language. We noticed that the word environmentalist was reserved only for those who acted above the norm. It was our goal to change this. So we created a word to make environmentalism the norm. Depletist is used in the same tone as racist or sexist and meant to label anti-environmental behaviour. We are currently spreading the word (literally) and would love some help. If you know of a way to help, please let me know, otherwise just start using it!

Depletism Online
Canadian Design Resource

Photo: kk

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Ze Frank Knows Me? (Do I Know Ze Frank)

After watching this video of Ze Frank’s The Show I was just amazed by how much he knows his audience. Not only does he usually deliver great content but also manages to articulate the very thoughts that a viewer would have while watching. Ze is what I feel the future of media should be. He knows his audience enough to encourage them to form a true relationship with the content and the creator. Thinking about this, I think that this is what makes the best content work so well.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hey Check This Out!

Day 15

We all have those friends who love to show other people stuff they think is cool. Whether it’s a funny video or a cool ad, they love spreading the word via email or in person. In today’s media landscape these people are a marketer’s dream and the reason ”viral” advertising works. However I have come to the conclusion that they only embody this now and once we figure out new ways of tracking web activity they will no longer be son coveted.

I always have people showing me new things online and most of the time they are uninteresting to me. When our friends and family recommend something new to us we usually pay attention because we feel that they know our likes and dislikes. However somehow it never is as good as when we find it ourselves.

When we are online we can find others with similar tastes. The immense size of the web means that we can connect with any one of the million users online and gives us a better pool to draw from than our immediate connections. Online, we can find people with near identical tastes and it is these people who we really form a trust with. The difference between this and real world recommendations is that in reality others give suggestions based on their perceived knowledge of us, whereas online we are filtering the recommendations ourselves. In effect we are finding our own referrers and this is far more effective. Because, in the end,

who knows you, better than you?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Bruce Sterling Visits OCAD (Why We Have to Find Our Own Modernity)

Photo: nickf

After class today I went to talk with Bruce Sterling, he is definitely a person to watch. I would probably be described as a futurist however he stated later in the day that he isn't. However I would definitely check out his book, Shaping Things.

So in the morning, he discussed among other things, Raisinettes, Eastern Europe and Capitalism. Very engaging guy that seems to have an opinion or knowledge on everything.

What was kind of strange was that although I regard Bruce as being a celebrity, he was so cool and down to earth that is was hard to keep up that illusion in his presence. I had no difficulty asking him his thoughts on where the future of music was. However his response was a little disheartening. His answer was simply that he was worried because he believes that music as we know it will die. Copyright restrictions will hurt music so much that people will stop caring and eventually will rebel in the form of user generated content that is aggregated via something like Flickr. By denying the user's needs we will natural resort to crowd sourcing to fill the void.

On a bit of a tangent he stated that in the future we will see information warfare, where one country will blatantly disregard their enemies copyrights. Keep in mind he is a Science Fiction writer, but interesting idea.

However this has given me some motivation... I hope!

Also, check out the Day x Day Project over at I'm already on day 14 !!!

Day 14
Here are my notes from Bruce Sterling's evening lecture...

Writers have audience, designers, futurists have clients
Designers value to companies is to bring information from outside of the box. In this case the value is from not being involved
Dematerialization is in the creation of services, interaction and experiences.
Futurist = Filter
Pew report = sensibility that is just a grinding process not blue sky/ demise

futurists don't tell the future, their tool and trade is the scenario the alternative possibility of the future.
No single future can exist, the future is alterable subject to change
Scenarios let you demonstrate people's untapped capacity to change through role playing
"Finding the three" selecting the proper ideas from a brainstorm or filtering out the important changes in environment
ideas develop and derive value from context
After brainstorming, it is key to let them "sleep"
Quadrant is the futurist's sketch
4 futures to represent multiple directions or tones of futures
tool to engage client
Greed > Fear, Familiar > weird (4 axis points)
Weird the one they never thought of
Each team is assigned to one scenario to compete on making theirs the most real
Sorting out brainstorming ideas into quadrants one or all
People naturally drawn into the cross hairs
The hit is the MAYA, allows the future to meet the needs

Design plus futurism??
futurists insist that designers have sell by date
designers know futurists are old fashioned
design has future, ironically futurism doesn't
products services are as fragile as we are, temporary and impermanent
We cannot gain insight by studying history and future, we personify time.
people demand an tangible future to make themselves happy and digest it accordingly
we can always think about the future scenarios, however all we have to do is wait
the future can only be predicted in the terms and conditions of todaysustainability is the only model that works
to get there we act and learn over and over
sustainability is dull, posterity and uninteresting un futuristic
sustainability needs to mean the same thing as modernist, without an future looking stance there cannot be a future.
green is mournful, to live is to consumer the most sustainable are those who do don't live
we see history as a nightmare we are trapped in
we need to use time to our advantage, it is all we can really depend on
we need to leave the future with options and the capacity to make fresh mistake, freeing them from history

1. Make everything monumentally - to make all things last forever. Traps descendants in our time for as long as possible. don't feasible
2. Make all bio-degradable - junk just disappears. great idea just not feasible right now
3. SPIMES - We digitally catalogue all objects, all our knowledge on the web, actual become the new virtual. a paradigm ship that meshes the dichotomy. Junk is easy to label once we know about it.

Instead of making the decision now leave it to the future when they are able to make a better choice.
Cataloguing objects makes time an industrial asset and resource

The past is the basis for the future
future is history that hasn't happened yet
find your own modernity

Thanks Bruce!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Movie Recommendation (Or How to Occupy Your Time As You Procrastonate)

Film is a captivating and inspiring medium when done well. I watched two great examples this weekend and thought I would spread the word.

1) The first was small indie film called "Hard Candy". This film is a truly unique film which I guarantee is different from any film you have ever seen. The movie starts normally enough and transcends into an intriguing dialogue between the two characters who remain the only characters for the majority of the film. Smart and snappy dialogue is paired with beautiful images. Worthwhile checking out.

2) The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a very interesting and captivating documentary on the fore-mentioned Johnston. This film is a very unique look at the creative process and the role of madness. Throughout his career Johnston has made amazing steps towards fame and seemingly simultaneously sabotaged his success. Very good film, highly recommended.

Photo by: Sanand Om

Saturday, September 23, 2006

my world almost ended today!

My life was not in danger, nor were there guns but rather by blog list folder was deleted. I find it amazing how dependent on technology we are today. A collection of blogs almost ruined my day! Luckily i have my history from the past week and will be sorting through this to find all my favourite ones.

Go check out day 4 of the Day by Day project that i will be posting later today!

{EDIT: On sunday I discovered I had actually just moved the folder into another folder my mistake.}

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Day by Day Project

I have just started my project for Think Tank on daily activities. the assignment is to document something once a day for the duration of the semester. My project is photographing places that I have never been to in Toronto. So everyday I will be going to somewhere new and outside my daily routine and uploading the image to a blog. Let me know where you think I should go.

This was a sight that I came across today. Totally bizarre.

OCAD is Thinking in a Tank

Photo Thanks to Lollie-Pop

The third cycle of classes for this semester is just beginning and in our Think Tank Class with Lewis Nicholson we are just getting into gear. The class is aimed at promoting social issues using the power of design. Currently we are brainstorming ways of promoting sustainable practices.

We have determined that OCAD isn't living up to its mandate of being a school for "Design & Humanity" and will be using the school as a test case for documenting how small changes can have a big impact.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Even Ted gets it!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Ready, Set.....

Pulse at The Big Bop

consider this the beginning for real. I have completed the first week of school and I'm really pumped about thesis. Although I am definitely second guessing myself, I am continuing on.

I have narrowed down my thesis topic to Music and more specifically to solving the music piracy problem that was enabled by digital technologies. Right now I'm trying to figure out what it is am am solving. The problem is that I really want to re-design the music distribution system, however the whole point of thesis is not to know the outcome. I'm worried that by abstracting the problem and solving that that I won't be solving any real problem. We'll see! Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Media is You

Renetto asks, who is watching youtube?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Attention and Design

When I finished reading the Attention Economy article by Michael H. Goldhaber the first thing that I wondered was, “where does industrial design fit into this new economy?”

At first I thought that it would obviously result in the free-lancing of designers to engage the public directly but what would the service be? The direction is clear for areas such as writing that translate well into this economy, however what is design’s role. In a world that no longer puts value on material goods where does this leave us?

Pay Attention

Read this...

The Attention Economy and The Net By: Michael H. Goldhaber

Friday, August 25, 2006

Why Design Companies Should Be More Like Advertising Agencies

I got the idea for this after reading the “Innovate or Die” post @ Logic+Emotion. It is a really interesting post and demonstrates the new perspective on ad agencies that has been created over the past few years.

One part about ad agencies that I find intriguing is that they have so many individualized positions. What I mean by this is that you have account planners, directors, copywriters, art directors, etc. However unless you happen to be IDEO or another big name design firm, than you only have designers. I find this weird because most design practise is highly specialized and designers usually have a niche that they work in. It would make more sense to have design firms that were comprised of experts in there field like IDEO, but I don’t see evidence of this Now, maybe because I have never worked in the industry I am off base with this, but it strikes me funny. Do design specialists exist? From my perspective I think design needs to take a page from advertising and rethink how to build a firm.

photo credit to n0nick

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 cultural analysis

Hopefully this is the beginning of the blog as a full time thing. I completed my essay on the cultural analysis of and thought I would share it. In abstract it deconstructs what social activities Digg makes possible and basically why is Digg so compelling to its users. Hope you digg it

Digg: Social News

From distributing information to the masses to passing along information through word of mouth, news has always been an essential part of human society. Throughout its history news has co-evolved with technology to aid in mediating our social life. It has evolved from primitive visual communication to more literate forms, thanks to the printing press. The newest incarnation of this relationship is a website titled This next evolution of news uses the latest technology to capture and enhance the primal characteristics of news. The site gives its users freedom and independence, while simultaneously fostering competition and above all, returning news to its social roots.

Web entrepreneurs Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson started Digg in 2004 with the intention of creating democratic news. The website harnesses the collective wisdom of its community and presents the news their way. The site’s users scour the web and find interesting articles, websites, blogs or anything of interest and submit it to the site. They include a brief description with the link and let it loose to the Digg community of users. All the items are placed in a queue, where users can vote for an item or in their words: “Digg” it. Each Digg adds a vote to the item and based on the amount of interest, the item can make it to the site’s illustrious homepage. This page is regularly updated to keep users abreast of what is popular. You can view what is popular in the whole community or narrow your scope to any number of sub-sections. For example if you are interested in politics you can view just the political stories that have been voted most interesting or see the new political stories that have just been submitted. The beauty of the site is that the news is being brought to the people, by the people, in their own way.

One of the key aspects of Digg is that it gives users freedom and guidance. Digg doesn’t always cover the same stories like traditional media outlets; it is always changing depending on the mentality of the community. Because the users are in control, there is a sense that if something is important or interesting enough it will surface. In this way it allows us to see new things that we wouldn’t typically see. Similarly, it allows us to view many perspectives leading to a better understanding of the world. By using the people of society to filter the news we are instantly given the zeitgeist of the moment. This allows users to put trust into the community and gives guidance in an otherwise confusing world. As Kevin Rose describes it, you can, “drill down among your set of friends or the masses and see their opinions." The role of news is to connect us to society and the world; Digg is an extremely effective example of this. Our understanding of the world is developed through combining our own experiences and those from media. As James Britton wrote, “ we greatly affect each other’s representation so that much of what we build is in common” . This emphasizes the importance of news on how we live our lives and make sense of the world. In this sense, Digg peeks into the mindset and values of society.

The lack of editorial staff means that the site is user driven and gives users a feeling of ownership derived from contributing. When users submit their items to the site they are associating themselves with the item. By sharing an item with the community, they are demonstrating the sacrifices they are willing to make for the greater good. This empowers users, giving them social purpose and meaning. They share a sense of belonging and membership; in a sense Digg is its own society. When members join, they contribute to the site with their own items and promote those of others. Many are also compelled to police the site for unwanted spam and moderating comments on the items. Although not all share this feeling of obligation to the site, the control and power that each individual member shares, allows them to determine their own role. The non-hierarchical user structure gives equal power to all. Every vote counts equally and therefore the users voices are equally heard. This sense of belonging and equality is something other incarnations of news have lost over time. Digg restores what is so naturally compelling about news: participation.

Because Digg combines diverse users and news sources, it naturally breeds competitiveness. On one hand, it creates competition between traditional media and newer forms. This democratization of the news takes the power away from those with more money and power and gives importance to that which is truly the best. The voice of the few can be heard because the Internet has made it possible for individuals to have true equality in their freedom of speech. Digg exemplifies this over-aching trend; “ The digital revolution is turning ordinary people into both creators of content and arbiters of the process that decides what gets published and how it is rated.” Digg takes the power away from editors and places in the hands of the community. A story is deemed news worthy when the user base has unilaterally decided it to be. In this sense, the site gives the users their version of the news. The down side to this is that is could result in a very one-sided view, limiting the range of viewpoints.

Additionally, the combination of different people and interests also creates user competition. This is clearly evident on Digg and possibly re-enforced by the primitive hunting and gathering practices that the site emphasises. The overwhelming male to female ratio may further explain this behaviour. Users are always trying to be the first to submit an item and beat others from claiming their glory. This results in feelings of superiority and mastery when a user’s item makes the homepage. The re-enforcement from their peers encourages them and fuels their desire to stay ahead of the curve. In our information society, being the first to know is extremely powerful. Competitiveness is further promoted by ranking Digg’s most active users on the site. These users contribute a large percentage of the items submitted and others quickly aspire to dethrone them. The top users have immense notoriety and influence; as a result they are rewarded with supremacy and authority within the community. Nonetheless, the downside to any competition is that the strong always survive and in the case of Digg, this may prevent less competitive users from submitting valuable items to the site, hurting the overall purpose. Although harmless competition may be off-putting to some, the natural appeal of it draws others deeper and fuels their participation. By encouraging participation and competition, Digg has made news interesting again. Users are beginning to care about the news and take the role of active participants.

The communal nature of Digg separates it from other forms of media. The interaction and engagement that Digg encourages turns users into citizens of its society. The democratic nature of the site taps into James Surowiecki’s idea of the wisdom of crowds. He believes that under certain circumstance, the collective power of a group outweighs that of an individual. Digg uses this principle to full affect by equally distributing power to each user by not relying on central editors. Founder, Jay Adelson explains this very phenomenon, “The larger the critical mass of users and the collective wisdom applied to Digg, the better and more relevant the stories get.” By harnessing the information from the community, Digg allows its users to stay connected because of the communal role they share.

As the wisdom of crowds demonstrates the human element is vital to Digg. In a world full of technology and artificial intelligence, the popularity of Digg may be a reaction to a loss of human connection. Digg allows people to connect with others through the use of technology. To some this may seem cold, but when compared with other forms of technology there is something deeply human about the desire to connect with others. The rarity of this human-to-human connection separates Digg from other websites and media outlets that employ cold and mechanical methods of delivering news. The unpredictability of the items makes Digg a refreshing change from the everyday. You never know what you will learn when you visit the site, and this is part of its appeal. In a world full of routine, Digg offers a change of pace and an element of surprise. The dialogue and interaction between the creators and the consumers is another unique feature that has only been fully realized by new technology. By combining opinions with facts, Digg creates debate about the news through the sharing of ideas and opinions. The instantaneous nature of the Internet makes it a far more effective method of interaction than traditional media.

The social self-empowerment of Digg results from the shared sense of duty and responsibility of the users. By being a member of Digg you are signing an unwritten contract to be a citizen of its society. From contributing stories or comments, to making sure the sites standards are met; Digg fulfils a need for belonging and a sense of community. However, by these same observations communities can also have negative effects when users don’t share the same opinions or beliefs. This may result in isolating others by creating a mob mentality. On the whole, Digg has returned news to its social beginnings by enhancing its collective nature.

Since the arrival of mass media, news has been slowly placed into the hands of a select few who determine what the masses will see, hear and read. Society is beginning to resist this in favour of a truly free press. By giving users the freedom to control their news and forming a community around interaction and competition, Digg has managed capture this sentiment. Although it only has 300,000 users it is rapidly growing and holds enormous potential. It is clear that the experiences and social practises Digg makes possible are evident in other forms of news but Digg further enhances them to create a more enriching experience that has the power change the way we use news in society.


Britton, James. Language and Learning. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972.

Heilemann, John. “How is democratizing the news.” Business 2.0 Magazine 27 Mar. 2006:

“How digg Uncovers the News.” Business Week Online 21 Nov. 2005:

Johnson, Steve. “They can Digg it: Sites let people decide news.” Chicago Tribune 14 Jul. 2006:,1,5095598.column?ctrack=1&cset=true

Keegan, Victor. “Can a crowd really edit our daily paper?” The Guardian 13 Jul. 2006:,,1819296,00.html

Layton, Julia. “ How Digg Works.” How Stuff Works 2006:

Surowiecki, James. The Wisdom of Crowds. New York: Doubleday, 2004.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Recently I have been reading Noah Brier’s blog (a really insightful blog with unique content). He posted a link recently to another blog called chartreuse (beta). This is the first that I have seen or heard of this blog but it appears to be a big hit.

The blogger known as chartreuse is being hyped as a mysterious man who is intent on capturing rock star notoriety for his blogging. He is affiliated with another company called 1938 media (new media talent agency), which is hyping him like mad. This is a really bizarre thing and I can’t quite put my finger on what the deal is with this guy, but my first suspicion is that it is an Internet publicity stunt and the guy in this video, Loren Feldman is the so called chartreuse. See for yourself!

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Joy of Spontaneity

After a long absence I am returning to the blog. I have had some time to re-organize my thoughts and will hopefully be starting to blog on my thesis very soon. I just have to finish this damn essay on Digg.

This is also my first post using the new Flock, which I am really liking more then the previous version.

The reason I am posting is because I have realized that no matter how much planning and thinking about something you do, tere is something so satisfying about something spontaneous. Just last night I listened to a 1.5 hour lecture from Stanford jsut because it happened to be on my iTunes playlist. I never usually do this but somehting was just so unexpected about this that I had to.

I am really going to try and just let things happen from now on. The best things in life cannot be plannned.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, May 29, 2006

new look

As you can see I changed the blog template. It is still a work in progress as I try to modify the current layout to fit the custom needs of this blog. So stay tuned!

I am actually just trying to add a header and change the font colours. If you know how leave a comment!I am also going to be adding links to the side so if you have any suggestions let me know

OCAD is starting to piss me off!

That is right the school that I was always a supporter of: The Ontario College of Art and Design, is beginning to piss the hell out of me! The reason why I am having this sudden change of heart is because of something I stumbled on.

I was stumbled across a mention of Hambly &Woolley in Rotman magazine. They are the designers behind the OCAD logo and other fine logos. It always bugged me that OCAD chose a professional firm over their own stellar students for this task, but I just assumed they wanted it to go flawlessly or something. However as I browsed through H&W’s website I found that they designed the OCAD grad show posters. What kind of message does it send when a school uses a professional firm to design the poster for the very show that is meant to show off the grad’s work? It makes me wonder if they are truly trying to change their ways.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Goodbye Times

In recent news...

I just found an article on digg that proclaims that the new version of the world’s most popular word-processor will no longer use Times New Roman as the default font.

Although I don’t think that this is massive news, it does show the way in which one font managed to take over the printed word. The new font, Calibri will debut in the 2007 edition of Word and will soon take over the Times role. I kinda wonder whether the average word user will accept this. They might switch make to times out of familiarity or maybe this will be the second awakening of type in the mainstream?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Summer Studies

On Wednesday I started my first session of Material Culture and Consumer Society at school. It seems like it should be a really good class and I thought I would discuss the class and post some notes.

So the class deals with a few key topics…

The impact on the environment and economy
What objects tell us about our society
The motivations behind consumption
The politics and history of consumption

In the first class we discuss how cultures are represented within their objects. Culture is the human response to problems in its world; taking the form of many good and bad solutions that can be used for good and bad purposes.

When we discussed the definition of consumption in the mass lexicon as the fetishizing of objects as if they had magical powers. This thought made me think that if this is true that most objects we buy are purely meant to appeal to us on this level. Most objects are not purely functional things that we cannot live without, but instead elaborate ways to achieve simple things. While there also exists objects that are functional yet are embellished to appeal to consumers on this magical level (the computer comes to mind: a functional object that can do some things well and promises to be the solution to all your problems).

Another interesting point was the differentiation between consumer and citizen. Where a consumer simply takes for there own benefit, the citizen takes to give. The prof related this to JFK’s famous “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” I found this idea to be very similar to the interaction in the media that we are seeing today in things like Web 2.0. The new consumer is a citizen, a member of a tribe.

Finally before we watched The Red Violin (which I had never seen and highly recommend it) we touched on what the course’s focus was: the analysis of material culture. In this definition the prof pointed out that analysis is understanding, not simply condemning or condoning. I think this holds true in today’s society and is definitely a view that we should take into consideration. Without understanding we cannot see the true culture.

Identity: Do We Know Who We Are?

Update: I not only got a job this week but I also trained and completed my first day. This rapid succession of events just shows the rapid pace of today’s world. So through a scheduling mix-up I was able to take today off. So to fill the day I had made plans to do something I wanted to do, instead of just aimlessly scroll the web. Although it has value there is very little satisfaction in it.

So I went to my local library to find some new and interesting books to read. In my search I was unable to find a single one I had wanted. However I did stumble upon a book called; On McLuan: Forward Through The Rearview mirror. Although I was after some of Marshall McLuan’s original books this one seemed like a good survey.

What first amazed me about this book is just the amazing thoughts and ideas that McLuan created before most people could even begin to understand them. Now we take his ideas as common knowledge. So I am half way through the book and have seen a pattern in his ideas (very similar to the patterns he saw in culture and society) of identity.

In today’s society most people feel they have a very unique identity. They can blog their life, represent themselves with an avatar and have access to any film, music or picture instantaneously. In essence we all live in the “Global Village”. However McLuan points out that instead of increasing our sense of identity , technology suppresses it and hinders it to a point where we no longer know who we are.

“When thing’s come at you very fast, naturally you lose touch with yourself. Anybody moving into a new world loses identity. … But everybody at the speed of light tends to become a nobody. This is what’s called the masked man. The masked man has no identity. He is so deeply involved in other people that he doesn’t have any personal identity.”

He explains that because of this, modern society acts out in an attempt to rediscover their true identity.

“I first began to explain…that pornography and violence are by-products of societies in which private identity has been scrubbed or destroyed by sudden environmental change, or unexpected confrontations that disrupt the image the individual or the group entertains of itself. Any loss of identity prompts people to seek reassurance and rediscovery of themselves by testing, and even by violence. Today, the electric revolution, the wired planet, and the information environment involve everybody in everybody to the point of individual extinction.”

I can’t help but see parallels in today’s environment of violence and sex. Sure they both are a part of our natural lives but may this explain the recent rise of them. Especially when we look at America. Is the war in Iraq a natural response to a fledgling nation that is seeking its identity? McLuan thinks it might…

“The American bureaucracy, political and educational, was set up for very slow speeds of the printed word and railways. At electric speeds, nothing in the USA makes sense.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Reading Along

Last night I finished reading The Tipping Point By Malcolm Gladwell. For the past few months I have been an avid fan of his blog and read a few of his articles online. I am not one to really enjoy reading; however the casual and knowledgeable voice he possesses is very easy and fun to read. I would recommend this book to anyone who as a general interest in human behaviour or social interactions. As Gladwell decomposes the intricate way in which epidemics and ideas reach a Tipping Point. From a design perspective, the book is very good at changing the way you look at an idea and how you approach it. I think it has changed my outlook on life and will definitely be an influence on thesis project and all of my future work. Ohhh, and yes Gladwell may generalize on some things however as he says in the book, an Interpreter is essential. Gladwell may have very well been the reason this book tipped for me.

Read it, and tell me what you think. Next up I will be finishing The History of Hip by John Leland, which I have been reading for over a year now!!! Hopefully I’ll finish it now.

Ohh and for all you Dataspace fans out there…. Here is an interesting article on how Google maps may turn into its own version of Second Life.

And I also haven’t read the Kevin Kelly – Scan This Book, article that every one is raving about. Hopefully you have time…

Monday, May 15, 2006

Summer is Here...

Although it isn’t technically summer, I sure feels like it. I am not talking about the weather; as anyone living in Toronto knows it is never truly summer until it reaches 39 degrees plus the humidex. What I’m referring to is the end of school. Last week was my final regular year requirement: the scholarship show. Once a year OCAD makes us print our work (strange, I know) and then some profs judge whether we are worthy of a scholarship. This year was definitely my strongest to date and I think I put together a pretty good presentation. Time will tell whether the judges thought so. However what I do know is that I can finally stop worrying about all things OCAD and concentrate on my two summer duties: finding a job and preparing for thesis.

The first is easier said than done. I keep running into the same old job postings of “entry level position must have 5 years experience”. Is there actually a real job out there that is given to someone getting into an industry? I have come to think that maybe that is why so many designers find themselves starting their own company. The freedom and availability that comes with making your own job is something that most designers want. However it is really hard to do this for only 3 months. So I have given up on any substantial design job and instead set my sights on a plain old retail/service job. I have a few lined up and they seem promising so I will have to see how they turn out.

But I have decided that I shouldn’t stop designing, I’m itching to do something. So I wrote this post with the intention of outlining what I hope to accomplish this summer. Hopefully any reader’s from OCAD will hold me to it!

1. Produce Physical Objects – As I outlined in my previous post, I want to make things. I have thought about this for the past month and really want to make some interesting things. I have some ideas in the works and will soon post some updates and show you my progress.

2. Choose a Thesis Topic – I am a really bad decision maker and I can already tell that this choice will be a very hard one to make.

3. Make Some $$$$ - Hopefully one of the jobs I applied for will work out and I’ll make some $$$. For my projects as well as next year and the possibilities that lie ahead.

4. Think of more things to do – As I said….

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Palms & Making Stuff

Well I just returned from Palm Springs for my cousin’s wedding. The weather there was really great and a welcome change from the erratic temperatures of TO. Besides the obligatory US shopping that we did we also went to Joshua Tree National Park which is a remarkably stunning place. The general area near Palm Springs is pretty much a desert sandwiched between two mountain ranges. The terrain there is pretty dry and arid. However this didn’t stop the inhabitant of the area from laying sod everywhere they could. The entire area is filled with lush tropical greens and Golf courses for as far as the eye can see. Oh, and since it rains once a year, they have sprinklers running 24/7.

On the day we drove up to Joshua Tree we passed the amazing fields of windmills, turning at random and the scenery quickly transitions into the natural desert. Then, once you cross the gate to the park, all signs of human intervention disappear. As we drove along the only road through the park I couldn’t help but think of what the planet has gone through since human existence. The scenery here is truly unspoiled and the nature random order of it all is breathtaking and leaves you with a sense of amazement. It was so real it looked fake.

The other trip out of Palm Springs was to La Jolla, a small coastal town just north of San Diego. The town was very small and all the roads curved up and down on the step cliffs. The town had some amazing sights and we ate at a great restaurant.

Overall the trip was great. The best part was that because of the lack of distractions I was able to read. I am now half way through Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, which is so far a really intriguing read. It describes the nuances of trends, epidemics and all things that tip. From a design perspective I am really enjoying the case studies and the information Gladwell covers is really inspirational and hopefully will be of help one day when I finally start producing products and ideas for the market.

In combination with Gladwell’s book I just finished listening to all the Design*Sponge podcasts which are very good. They are very inspiring and make me want to make! The more I think about it I feel I need to physically produce things. Although OCAD is targeted at developing strategies and principles for integrating design thinking into business practises, I flip through portfolios and notice how they differ from mine. They have physical objects and I don’t. Although I have built a few prototypes along the way, I question whether potential employers can actually hire someone based on hypothetical designs which are essentially just in the concept phase. So as I am moving towards my thesis I plan on fully realizing products to really grasp the process of transforming, conceptualizing into implementation.

Here is to making!

Friday, April 21, 2006

What Next?

Almost one month of absence have returned. In the past month I finished school (yeah!) however I am going to take some summer courses so I won’t miss OCAD that much. Besides being to busy to type words into blogger I have sorted through my computer, bedroom and mind. Every year after school ends I seem to clean up everything after months of neglect. By busting hard drive had a good 150 GB of crap on it. Although this left me with a refreshed feeling It has led to more things to do. After going through all my stuff I have realized I have a bookmark list, folder of articles and a large stack of books that are all MUST READS. This is really starting to stress me out. I thought that the hard work was over, but it seams it has just begun.

One great example of this is my struggle to start researching my thesis. My old habit of not being able to make decisions has crept back into my head. What subject will I choose? Well I have realized the importance of this project and the way in which it will define my life for a year and my work for a good 5 years afterwards. The pressure is building, but I just shrug it off.

In the past week of my “Unofficial Vacation” I have been scouring the web and have found sooooo much great stuff. One of which was this video that I found only a few minutes ago. At first it looked like another webcam disaster however just watch it. This is truly MUST READ (or must see).

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Stephan Sagmeister

Bruce Hinds, a professor at OCAD was looking for some names of people that the students would like to hear speak. So I started a list with some friends. We all thought of some similar big name thinkers: your Malcolm Gladwells, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. However one name that I insisted go on the list was Stephan Sagmeister.

Although I only have a very basic knowledge of Graphic Design, Stephan has been a huge influence on my thinking. His process and ideas are so unique, which is probably why he has become so well known. Hearing him speak is so intriguing and entertaining. The first time I discovered Stephan’s work was through the designer videos on Hillman Curtis’s website. His passion is so evident and captured me even though he is a Graphic Designer. He is truly an individual and does what he believes in. I write this mainly because I thought more people should know about him.

Stephan Sagmeister
I love his website not only for its design but also the student section which gives advice to students. This understanding is something more designers and design firms should get.

Here are some more links with Stephan.
AIGA – Happiness & Design
Type Radio - Interview

Shouldn't all designers be happy?

Friday, March 24, 2006

The True Cost of Water

I recently finished a research project on bottled water. I was looking into the truecost of the product and found some very shocking facts. I also made an ad to illustrate my findings. It was very fun to get make into some graphic stuff. I'll share a bit of the information that i found.

Worldwide, $100 Billion are spent on bottled water each year. From 1999 to 2004 worldwide consumption rose to 154 billion litres from 98 billion: a 57 percent increase! Overall, these trends have turned bottled water into a $35 billion industry.

Although consumers are spending more on bottled water, are they getting what they pay for? The average price of bottled water exceeds that of gas in industrialized countries and cost up to 10,000 times more than tap water. Consumers are buying based on the assumption that bottled water is cleaner than tap water, however research shows this to be false.

A 1997 United Nations report and 2001 World Wildlife Fund study found that in Europe, Canada and the United States, “there are more regulations governing the quality of tap water than bottled water.” While in a 1997 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, bottled water was found to contain no greater nutritional value than tap water. In fact, a Co-op America study found, “as much as 40 percent of bottled water is actually bottled tap water, sometimes with additional treatment, sometimes not.”

In addition to not being better than tap water, bottled water leaves a greater footprint on the earth. Nearly one quarter of all bottled water is transported across national borders. This means that immense cost is put into transporting it using fuel rather than using existing infrastructure.

Additional environmental damage is created from the mass quantities of natural ground water that is pumped to create bottled water. Because of the time it takes to replenish these sources, this water is considered a non-renewable resource.

This is only the tip of the iceberg because this water is then packaged in harmful polymer bottles for transportation. Worldwide, 2.7 trillion barrels of oil are used in the manufacturing of water bottles. Although PET (the plastic used in the process) is recyclable, 90% of bottles are thrown into regular trash streams to be incinerated. This process emits chlorine gas and heavy metal ash which are both toxic chemicals linked to human and animals health problems. If it isn’t incinerated it is placed in dumps where it takes over 1,00 years to decompose. Some bottles (40% of the US’s consumption) are shipped to foreign countries to be incinerated where pollution laws are more lax.

The bottle itself also leaches harmful chemicals into the water it is meant to protect. Additional studies found many bottled waters to contain numerous dangerous chemicals in high concentration.

The bottled water trend may seem like the “healthy option” however when you realize the real damage it does to the earth you may think twice. The amount of pollution created from transportation, disposal and the mass amount of ground water being pumped from the earth to make this product, bottled water is actually hurting us more than helping us.

For more check out...
Bottled Water: Nectar of the Frauds?
Message in a Bottle
Sierra Club - Corporate Water Privatization Committee
NRDC - Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

When I'm 64(0)?

Well after a weekend of procrastination I finally accomplished something (or at least felt like I did). Today I met with Ben and Brad to discuss our project in “Flow” class. We are working on developing new lighting for the city of Toronto to save energy and prevent the orb of light that covers our city (light pollution). We developed some interesting ideas on layering light and creating light that is in a constant state of change. It was a definite step in the right direction. However we are spending more time producing presentations and maps for our Profs than actually producing meaningful work. It is getting frustrating. Hopefully we can produce some great results despite the situation. The project is really a great step in the right direction towards realizing a sustainable and efficient system.

Then as I was flipping through my RSS feeds (I’m totally addicted to information), I found an interesting link. The BBC article discusses a new theory by a Cambridge geneticist Aubrey de Grey. Although he looks like a wacko (who am I to judge) he speculates that not only will people be able to live to be 1000 but that this person may exist today and could possibly already be in their 60’s! This idea is fascinating to me. Here we are just going about our lives like there is an end but is there really? As I discussed in my last post we are consuming continually and without any guilt (at least not the majority). So what will happen when we actually are affected by the consequences of our actions?

Maybe then people will wake up!

Listening To: Silence!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What is the point?

Recently I have been giving a lot of thought to the final year of school: my thesis. The subject of this project is extremely important, as I will have to stick with it for a whole year.

When I first got interested in Industrial Design back in 2001, I thought I would be designing furniture and house wares. My dream was to design chairs and clocks. I imagined this as the role of the designer. Looking back it is funny to see how far I have strayed from that idea (you can’t blame me I was 15).

Today I no longer see much value in this kind of design. Now don’t get me wrong I love well-designed furniture as much as the next guy but there comes a point when you realize that the world may have enough chairs. I don’t that these things aren’t “saying” anything; designers are simply using their talents to promote style for style’s sake. A well-designed object has the power to influence and move its owner/viewer, the same way great art does. This is an opportunity that should be respected.

This got me thinking about recent writings on the new age of product design and the concept of intangible design. The world is filled with objects that are just occupying space and harming the planet in the process. A new age of planned obsolescence has been created and consumers are all too willing to participate. So what is the point of another object? If a problem can be solved without physically manufacturing a product aren’t we better off?

This brings me back to my thesis project. I have been toying with the idea of trying to solve problems using virtual means or others that wouldn’t necessitate a product. I still have no clue which subject this will cover but it was just where my mind was.

Listening to: Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Portfolio Shoot

Well, all weekend I have been hard at work on my new portfolio. I wasn’t too happy with the one I made last year so I decided to change formats.

Last year I made a simple PDF that showcased my top eight projects with a picture and small description for each. It was definitely a learning process and I didn’t even realize how much effort went into presenting my work. In the end I was proud of what I did but a year later it isn’t as impressive. This year I tried to top the previous but I may have been a little too ambitious. I thought that the best way to present in a new and creative way would be a film. However I have realized that this might not be the most effective way. The problems associated with using text on film has been just one of the many roadblocks I have encountered.

I made the film using small cutouts of my work and me. I then shot them using my digital camera to be put into a stop-motion animation. I had done this kind of presentation before but never at such a precise level.

I am planning on finishing it by the end of the week along with a PDF of all the projects and a new resume. I have to start setting personal deadlines otherwise it will carry-on forever.

After all the time and effort spent I started to question my work and then realized that my work, although all very current, isn’t really an accurate representation of my design ideas or me. As the design world changes I feel that there will be a seismic shift in the idea of the portfolio. In the future will what I do actually be able to be distilled into a picture book with descriptions? As I thought about my book this year can you really understand my thinking through a visual representation and brief description? Is design not more complex? Eventually we will have to find an answer to allow our work to be represented in a transparent and vivid way.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Tim Flannery Article

I read an article in the Globe and Mail today by Author Tim Flannery who just released a book The Weather Makers: How We Are Changing The Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth. It puts some things into my mind that I thought I would share. The article states that we are at the brink of destruction and without a massive shift in mentality we will not really exist much longer. He offers solution to this problem that I think seem extreme now but will be common practice in a few years. He believes that each individual consumer has the power to start this change because industry and government will only act to please the people.

The point that caught me most was that if green technologies are put in the hands of the majority of the population that change can happen. By creating demand prices will only drop and the technology will only spread further. I couldn’t help but see the parallels between the green technologies and those involved in the IOT. One point Flannery points out is that not only is the environment at a tipping point but the economy is as well. He compares the near future state of the energy sector to that of the Internet. By dispersing the technology the power is in the hands of the user and big businesses and energy suppliers will be cut out of the loop. This is very much similar to what Alex was discussing on the de-centralized grid communication possibilities. I wonder what role will these companies play in the future? If you have seen the Enron documentary you know how much power these energy business hold. Are they able to shift? Who will be the new “big business” when the people are empowered?

Friday, March 03, 2006

The First Post!

Well, here goes. This is my fifth blog this year and I am beginning to hate writing the first post.

Every time you begin a new blog you want it to be just right, the perfect actualization of your vision. However I have finally realized that this post is never read. I have never read the first post on a single blog before and I don’t why anyone would. Just to be safe I’ll introduce myself. My name is Nate Archer and I am a student at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. I am in the Industrial Design program and have started this blog as a way to articulate my thoughts and showcase my work.

More to come soon