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!