A sophisticated sense.

Sound is one of the most sophisticated senses we have since we regularly experiment and create innovative displays specifically for our ears. (I don’t believe that you can base this argument on the fact that since we create great work for a specific sense we can assume automatically make this assumption.) From the time we are very small, our entire world is filled with sounds targeted at stimulating or affecting our behaviour. We grow to expect pleasure or annoyance at surprising new sounds as well as established ones.
Sound comes in a variety of forms — whether voice, music, sound effects or other forms of communication — and they can be incredibly complex, rich, and often subtle. It is the primary way most of us receive data, information, and knowledge. While we encounter encounter much of these through reading, still, and increasingly, the majority of our understanding comes from hearing. Even visual media, such as television and movies, deliver the majority of emotions through music. This isn’t to say that there aren’t compelling visuals to stimulate our emotions or convey information. However, try turning off the sound on the television and interpret what is happening. You’ll most likely find it’s more difficult than simply turning off the picture and keeping the sound ( excerpt from experience design, Nathan Shederoff).

Graduate School Survival Guide.

Graduate School Survival Guide.“This guide provides concise suggestions for: getting the most out of the relationship with your reseach advisor or boss, getting the most out of what you read, making continual progress on your research, finding a thesis topic or formulating a research plan, characteristics to look for in a good advisor, mentor, boss, or committee member, and avoiding the research blues.”

Crucial to understanding.

“It is not enough to insist upon the necessity of experience, nor even of activity in experience. Everything depends on the quality of the experience which is had ….
Just as no man lives or dies to itself, so no experience lives or dies to itself. Wholly independent of desire or intent, every experience lives on in further experiences. Hence the central problem of an education based upon experience is to select the kind of experiences that live fruitfully and creatively in subsequent experiences.”
— John Dewey, Experience and Education

You know you’ve been in Taiwan too long when

Apparently this list has been circulating on the internet since Kane met Able and despite the risk of pissing some people off I thought I might repost it here. Some of it is slightly funny and some too close to my own experience. Anyway, you know you’ve been in Taiwan too long when…
1. You can order the entire McDonald’s menu in Chinese.
2. You decide it makes more sense to drive a motorcycle instead of a car.
3. More than one garment has been ruined by betel-nut spit.
4. More than one garment has been ruined by salty sweat stains.
5. More than one garment has been ruined by food grease.
6. Someone doesn’t stare at you and you wonder why.

Read more

Mac OS X 10.3.3 Update: Hallelujah!!

Finally they have fixed the ill functioning network browser – with the Panther update you lost the ability to store network passwords and browsing remote servers was a pain at best.
“Specific changes in Mac OS X v10.3.3 include the ability to see network volumes both in the Finder sidebar and on the Desktop; improved filesharing and directory services for Mac (through AFP), Unix (through NFS) and PC (through SMB/CIFS) networks; improved PostScript and USB-based printing; updated Disk Utility, DVD Player, Image Capture, Mail and Safari applications; additional support for FireWire and USB devices; improved compatibility with third-party applications; and the incorporation of previous standalone security updates and Bluetooth Update 1.5, if you’ve not already updated your system.” [Maccentral]
Mac OS X 10.3.3 Update

Ideas! A closer look at creativity

“In communication design – we are not translators. Our role is to find the symbols that are part of the cultural psyche. Mind you, these symbols are (almost) universal and talks across (almost) all cultures. Symbols are inherently simple and yet may contain complex nuances depending on the context. So our role is best described as transliterators. A word by word transposition of the message around which we build a concept. That is why using tools like thesaurus and etymology dictionaries will open the door to expanding your understanding of a word. Meaning is conducive to finding symbols and symbols underline strong ideas.”

Byrdhouse: Printing Basics for Web Developers

How to get a business card printed for Web design dummies …
“I’m writing this for the web designers out there; the ones who can immediately tell if a site is css, but stare blankly at the question, “Do you want that full-bleed?” The following are some tips for you, my brave web developer. For brevity’s sake, I’ve left out a bunch of stuff like, “Call your mom when you get the proof.” This is a fly-by after all.”
Read:The Fine Print

Dey Alexander: The five Es of usability

  • Effective
    • Completeness – was the task fully completed? Were the user’s goals met?
    • Accuracy – was the task completed successfully? Did the user get the right or correct result? How well was the work done?
  • Efficient
    • Speed – was the user able to complete the task quickly?
    • Effort – was the user able to complete the task without undue cognitive effort?
  • Engaging
    • Pleasant – did the user have a pleasant experience when working on the task?
    • Satisfying – was the user satisfied by the way in which the application supported her work?
  • Error tolerant
    • Error prevention – did the user interface help users avoid making errors? Were errors minor rather than major?
    • Error recovery – if the user made an error, did the interface assist them in making a successful recovery?
  • Easy to learn
    • Predictability – was the user able to work with some certainty because the user interface built on her previous knowledge?
    • Consistency – was the interface consistent, so that once a user learnt how to use part of the application, they were able to easily learn how to use another part?

Size doesn’t kill large organisations

Clement Mok has been an influential design leader on the American scene for years. His self titled web site’s career section is an interesting presentation for an impressive career but it’s his thoughts on his time as founder of studio archetype which seems quite poignant to me now. I have included most of it here:
“… One often assumes size kills creative organization and that nothing good ever comes out of a large organization. I think this is more a myth of practitioners’ own making than the truth.
… One can experience great personal satisfaction in a large design firm just as one can easily be miserable in a small firm doing lousy work. I’ve learned that size is not the enemy; it’s the lack of vision that drains the life blood out of a design organization. The difference between a great or a lousy organization has to do with the rigor the core values of design are reinforced and the opportunity one has to do impactful and challenging work. More importantly, it’s about having trust in the leadership to do the right thing.
The explosive growth Studio Archetype experienced in the three short year of its existence was just such a place. Great people, great clients, great projects and long, long, long hours. It was not without its flaws and challenges but it was a place where one was asked to stretch and take on responsibilities.”