comment spam, memory lane edition :

I recently discovered Grant McCraken’s blog at the “intersection of anthropology and economics”.

In response to a post about memory in the digital photo era, I recalled that:

At my grandmother’s funeral recently, we had all the photo albums that my grandfather (who passed several years before) on hand. My grandfather was obsessively organized. Each photo album was broken down into 10 year spans, and each photo was labeled with “who” and “when” and “where.”

It was a fantastic process for all of us to look through those albums. My grandfather wasn’t particularly sentimental, though, so there was no cataloguing of "why." The photo captions had all the emotion of a booking photo. I found this fascinating.

I also found it fascinating about what my grandfather had thought to keep. He had spent his entire working life in sales for Pontiac Motors, so in addition to the family/holiday photos there were also photos of the things like the parts room in a Pontiac dealership in Duluth, MN.

If I ever go back and get my MA, I think I'd most like to study some form of visual anthropology. I think that not only the way that we frame our subjects, but also the subjects we choose to frame says enormous amounts about our individual and social cultures. Our photographic history is as important as an oral or written history for understanding our ways of seeing and thus who we are.


comment spam, patriarchy edition :

Not this debate still. We haven’t moved beyond talking about gender, because we keep forgetting the problems still exist.

To Speak-Up I said:

How does this “just happen?”

I think it goes like this, men were planning this conference and have decided what is “cool.” Tokion is about as boy-design crazy as I can imagine a magazine to be: it's all b-boy and j-pop and boy indie rock and graffiti — an aesthetic of urban tastes that has been consistently defined by its male participants.

So the organizers (male) went looking for women that fit their aesthetic criteria (their male sense of cool) and the only came up with a handful. I can bet you know that those women have already adopted the swagger of the patriarchy in order to fit into the urban cool aesthetic. And that list apparently was small because the club of urban cool has men as its gatekeepers.

And they didn’t at any point decide that “hey, we don't have a broad enough perspective here lets talk to some of the people outside our bubble about recruiting more women — lets talk to Ellen Lupton or the Wooster Collective or Lorainne Wild or Louise Sandhaus or whomever about filling in the gabs in our boy-dominated perception of the world.”

So of course it was a circle jerk, you don’t invite chicks to one of those. It would defeat the purpose — creating a conference to reinforce our patriarchy.

That's how it “happens.”


international airport montello :

Airports are small cities. (The parallels are endless and thanks to Tom Hanks, we know you can live in one should you be forced to because of international strife.)

International Airport Montello takes a small city and turns it into an airport in an on-going installation project. The desert is amazing setting and the quirkiness of desert dwellers works in tandem with this project. The “let’s put on a show” - slash - elementary school make-believe aesthetic bring humor to something that would otherwise be over analyzed for all types of conceptual-art meaning.

Link via w-m-m-n-a.


new urbanism’s state of flux :

DC has changed considerably in 6 years I spent on the West Coast (1998-2004). And not always for the better. Some of that can be blamed on the rise of big government Republicanism — add thousands of Texas lobbyists and the 20 y.o. interns that blow work for them and see what your city turns into.

But there is something else at play here: the quaintness of new urbanism. See StrangeHarvest.com.

Or read the money quote:

This lightweight urbanism is driven by private money on a mission to create an individual dream. Curiously, these individual dreams add up to a collective vision. It undoubtedly harnesses the most powerful force in urbanism – desire, aspiration, identity, community all bound together. This period has had an ironic effect as the qualities once associated with metropolitan living have vanished: diversity, opportunity. Instead, the centre has becomes a wickerbasket wielding village fantasy full of specialty cheese shops.


this is how you fight crime :

DC’s mayor Anthony Williams sees ugly crime happening in good neighborhoods and declares a mockable “crime emergency.” And ushers in a hole boatload of get tough police state programs and proposals: curfews, CCTV in residential neighborhoods and thousands of extra cops.

Oakland, California, has also seen an upsurge in crime this summer. Their response?

Police and city officials Thursday unveiled their latest plan to get a handle on Oakland's surging crime rate, one that would offer the city's 100 worst criminals a chance to turn their lives around — or else.

“Every cop in Oakland will know who these guys are,” Mayor Jerry Brown said. “These are the people who have been wreaking havoc on our neighborhoods.”

Police Chief Wayne Tucker acknowledged it seems contradictory to crack down on crime by giving people who cause trouble another chance, with offers of job training, substance abuse treatment and other help.

“But it works,” he said, citing the success of similar programs in Chicago and Boston.

Instead of fronting like some right-wing thug, Oakland’s Jerry Brown takes the responsible compassionate way out. And this from a guy who is running for statewide office as Attorney General.

If ever there was a time to suck up to California’s right wing, it would be now.

What’s Anthony Williams’ excuse? He’s not running for anything.

Man, I miss California.


copywriting gone wrong :

From a new development in DC:

It is a fortunate contradiction that a building so stately and sophisticated can offer its residents an undeniably warm and inviting ambiance.

Fortunate? Maybe you mean unfortunate. Or not. I’m not actually sure at all what you mean. But that’s definitely no way to begin.

Oh but wait. It gets worse:

Much like the grand southern mansions of bygone days, The Columbia is both majestic and wonderfully welcoming.

Those “grand southern mansions” by which you don’t mean plantations? Of the “bygone days” of slavery?

Welcoming indeed.


comment spam, smart and dcx edition :

If this vanity project here at DC1974 is at some level about collecting my thoughts. I need to save my comment made at Jalopnik about DCX and Smart:

The only way that Smart is going to work is if DCX pulls a Saturn. Only with a twist. They are going to have to be a network of heavily branded urban dealerships where the shopping experience mirrors the name. And there is pretty much no association with other manufacturers in DCX family. The dealerships should sort of be like Starbucks but with cars -- small, hip, located within major upscale shopping districts: think North Michigan in Chicago or Friendship Heights/Chevy Chase in DC. Smart is going to have to bring on someone like Crispin Porter or Modernista to do some viral marketing and branding away from traditional auto sales. Jerry-rigging these into Dodge dealerships in suburban auto malls is not the right way to position this brand. In my not so humble opinion.

It actually sounds like I know what I’m talking about. Kinda.


what michael said to bruce, or spec work smackdown :

I’ve been sitting on this post (which basically means that I write about it in my head) for a little bit too long, but it keeps coming up.

Bruce Nussbaum detailed the development of the Business Weeks’ innovation quarterly, INside Innovation. Among other things, he detailed a concepting process that involved design firms helping with the brainstorming process.

This has been met with strong reactions.

Of the blogs that I read regularly, Michael Beirut gave this process the firmest tongue lashing. Labelling the process, “spec work”, he suggested in no uncertain terms that this was the beginning of the end (or “the road to hell”).

There also have been some angry words about the imagined horror that is “spec work” at Be A Design group. In a response to a post on gig posters no less.

I think everyone on the graphic design side of this is wrong.

Graphic designers have a very quaint notion of their work as the product only. That their intellectual property is only the printed piece, the programmed web site, the package, logo or what have you.

And if we, as designers, start churning that out gratis before we even have a signed contract that we have basically become whores. (Or sluts, I suppose, as the saying goes: you’re not a whore if you do it for free.)

Industrial designers, and architects before them realized, that their intellectual property goes beyond the final mechanicals, or starts before it, with the process.

Any chance to engage the audience in the design and development process —fast prototyping (as IDEO calls it) or an architectural charette —is a chance to refine theat process, develop collaboration skills and put on a little bit of a promotional show.

In the end, whatever is produced is just a result of the process. And the process is what you own. And what, should a client decide to go forward, you own and for which you charge. The pieces developed in a public brainstorm are merely byproducts. In fact, the pieces you develop with a client are also byproducts. Your intellectual capital, your process, your way of seeing that’s what people will pay for. Dangling preposition and all.

No one would claim that industrial designers or architects have less status now then they did several years ago. And yet, increasingly they have moved more and more of their development into the public realm. And each and every time they do this: they refine that which they actually own and for which they make money — their process.

Graphic designers increasingly struggle with irrelevance and I think this is part do to trying to hide the mechanics of the process. And to focus on the product as the thing that we are actually selling. (Or the only thing.)


the trouble with Washington via Anna Wintour :

She’s talking about England. But she might as well be saying DC:

‘Washington is frightened of fashion. I think the British government has the same ... People in political office tend to get extremely nervous about fashion because they feel it's frivolous. And they don't want to look too elitist or too silly or whatever it may be. And, frankly, it makes me extremely angry, because it's such a huge industry for Britain and for every country, and I feel that politicians should embrace it, rather than step away from it. And I wish the British government would get more involved in fashion and turn up at some of the shows or have people to Downing Street. I know that Blair did that at the beginning and, I think, got criticised for having some people there who weren't considered serious, and I feel that is so insulting to the industry, because it does so much for Britain. There are all these huge talents coming out of the country; they ought to be celebrating it.’

Now imagine, if unlike London, the city’s raison d’etre was ONLY politics. And that, my friends, is DC. And pretty much why it sucks to be interested in or work in the arts and design and live in Washington.


homoerotic image of the day :

Naval Academy freshmen grapple with a 21-foot obelisk greased with lard. The first to the top will be the first class member to become an admiral, tradition holds.

A Slippery Climb From Freshman to 1st Admiral.


a moment of silence :

1974 has been quiet lately, I’ve been working on my portfolio site and updating both my resume and my CV. I have been sitting on a post about making art museums more accessible. And will have that up before too long.

In the meantime, I just read at Kottke that Jane Jacobs has passed to that great city in the sky.

Death and Life of Great American Cities is one of the most dog-eared books I own. It took me months to read it, just because each paragraph was revelatory. Although she spent her final years in Canada, she was as American as can be: a self taught sage.

May she rest in peace.


hiding :

Um. So I’m not dead. Yet.

Amongst other things: grandma died (eulogy post TK), crazy busy at work and updates to my personal site.

Check it out. Per an earlier suggestion the CMYK values link to various (TK) portions of the website. Right now that includes one video. Plus, the copy is cheekier. Since, if I stay in advertising I’t want to be in B2B and B2G forever. The consumer side likes cheeky, right? Right!? One video up, too, from a gerund piece (this one is Counting) perhaps I can at least do some art again.

More updates soon, I promise.


now this is a speaker line-up :

Jonathan Ive, Jeff Goodby, Claudia Kotchka, Isaac Mizrahi? If you are near Pasadena, go to this conference.

UPDATE: Jesus, somehow I missed the other bold faced names: Dan Neil, Stefan Sagmeister, Jimmy Wales, Dave Eggers. It’s like the guest list for the dinner party of my dreams.

Dammit. Perhaps Davey G. is right, I do need to be in L.A.


stock photos, looking classy :

Thanks to Core77 for pointing me in the direction of these stock photos of the latest in technology circa the Bay of Pigs.

Having spent the last few weeks doing in this order: 1.) looking at stock photos of people with servers for an AT&T campaign and 2.) spending a weekend looking through my family's bountiful collection of photo albums including my grandfather at auto shows in the 1960s — its nice to see these two worlds come crashing together in the best way possible.

(The worst way possible would have been a bountiful collection of stock photos of auto parts. Or something.)


comment spam, america is art edition :

Almost did it again. Got. To. Remember. To. Post. Comments. On. My. Blog. (Note to self.)

DCist writes about the America is Art project by “two graduate students from an art school in San Francisco”. Thinking perhaps it was my alma mater or the other equally well thought of school. I followed the link. Turns out it’s two graduate students at the Academy of Art University.

So what say me?

Let’s be clear. The Academy of Art is a for-profit insitution that is more than a little hacky. Its full of a lot of foreign kids who don’t understand the American system of higher education. And who saw “San Francisco” and “art” in the back of a magazine and thought “hey that would be cool”. It’s got as much cred as business school at Devry. Don’t expect to walk your way into that creative director job at a Fallon or Pentagram from their.

Just sayin’.

forget kids, this is a great idea for adult filmmakers :

I’ve always struggled with the virtual world of organizing information, especially when working with sound or digital video. My (admittedly inelegant) solutions have always, thusly, left something to be desired. I’ve taken to cutting up audio transcripts and moving them around. Attempted to use PowerPoint slides. And of course, writing scene descriptions on Post-Its or index cards.

All in the hopes of creating something more 3D. Something that I could hold in my hand and move around and not worry about waiting for my computer to save something. Or creating several different versions of a file all with different version numbers. Sketching works nice, but then you get involved with dealing with how detailed the sketches should be and other roadblocks.

The best named blog ever, we make money not art, has found a simpler solution from two Japanese media artists (of course).

It’s for kids. Allegedly. But since when does toy-and-cartoon-obsessed Japan worry about what is age-appropriate?

comment spam, moco county edition :

So instead of, you know, updating this site regularly, I’m always leaving comments out there at other people’s sites. Like, all the time.

Well, no more.

Today, starts a new “feature” wherein I take what would have been a comment somewhere else and leave it here. It’s not like I was going to engage in the lengthy discussions at Washington Monthly or DCist anyway.

In today’s Morning Roundup DCist links to a story about how Montgomery County (MoCo) is banning MySpace access from school.

In the Comments someone called “Reid” says this:

It's funny that MoCo is getting accused of invading someone's privacy for BLOCKING MySpace. That generation is growing up without a clue what privacy even means ("Like, OMG, check out how boring my social security number is..."). If anything MoCo is trying to teach them something about privacy.

Couldn't they ban it just on the good old fashion "ban any trend" trick they used to pull when I was a kid with flash in the pan trends like yo-yos or those snap bracelet things.

What say me? How about:

What if losing our fixation on privacy might be a good thing.

Right now there is a lot of money to be made in keeping things private and revealing the private things that people don’t want made public. I’m looking at you gossip rags and newspaper columns. And at you data security firms and political advocates that use ’right to privacy’ as nothing more than a fundraising tool. Scaring the base about everything from Universal Healthcare to the Right to Abortion. Perhaps, we spend a little bit too much effort and time on separating the personal and the public.

Just sayin’.


and the bonus is he’s cute :

Nussbaum tipped me (and his readers, I am not as of yet, in his address book) to the fact that Malcolm Gladwell (of The Tipping Point, Blink fame) is blogging.

The bonus is he’s cute. In that geeky New Yorker way. (Jew ‘fro and all!)



whiter whites, brighter brights :

So Partner of 1974 has a thing for the phrase “bleached out” to mean, basically, bourgeois. Being the aryan one of the duo, this has previously bothered me. It seemed, well, a little prejudiced against us of the fairer skin. Like all us honkey’s were all bleached out mofo’s or something. (And yes, that is possibly the most bleached out string of words I could come up with. You should have heard me actually say it.)

Then this morning I saw this in the Post. And I began to understand why bleached out is the only phrase that will do.


again, Dan Savage hero-worship :

I love this man.

And if I were his type, I’d totally move to Seattle and throw myself at his feet. (Sorry, Partner of 1974.)

From a recent column:

This is not really a question about sex, but I couldn't think of any other gay person who could give me a reasonable answer: Am I a homophobe if I make certain jokes regarding gayness? For instance, if I say, "The Olympics are gay," or ask, "Why are you so gay?" I don't feel as though I'm a homophobe. I know and like gay people, and I'm for gay civil rights and gay marriage. Also, if I hear somebody call a homosexual person names in an angry or blatantly derogatory manner, I get upset. So can I call my buddy gay if he tells me he uploaded a Phil Collins CD onto his computer, or should I just call him a dumbshit instead? —Fine With Fags, Really

“Officially, FWFR? It's so not okay to use "gay" as a synonym for lame. When you use "gay" like that, you're reinforcing a cultural prejudice against gay people—I mean duh, right? You may not be a homophobe, but using that expression is homophobic, and when you use it, you're helping to sustain the prejudice that deprives your gay friends of their civil rights and marriage rights.

“Unofficially, FWFR? I don't care what you do. Most of the gay people I know use "that's so gay" the same way you do, and the few times I've overheard strangers using the expression, people who may or may not have been gay, I had to concede the point: The thing they were tagging as so gay was, in fact, so gay.

“Finally, FWFR, a buddy who uploads a Phil Collins CD onto his computer isn't a dumbshit, he's a douchebag. Please make a note of it.”

Previously: Dan Savage is my hero



What is often derisively referred to as the “Super-sizing of America” (because we Americans are also stupid and can’t remember our cultural references or how to pronounce fancy words) should actually be derisively referred to as the “embiggening of America”.

Since as an American, I am stupid and can’t remember how to spell, I had to look this word up. Which led me to possibly the best Google find I’ve made since at least yesterday: The List of neologisms on the The Simpsons at Wikipedia.

Check it out yourself. And revel in car holes and 40 rods to the hogshead.


he’s so best :

The septuagenarian Edgar S. Woolard Jr., a former board-member at Apple, explains how Steve Jobs works and how he won’t change much at Disney.

And sounds a little like a 14-year-old valley girl.

The best example from the “old-money, patrician” and former CEO of DuPont:

So the comparison is so nonvalid.

Oh my god, Steve Jobs is the best CEO ever!!! Ah, how the patrician have fallen.

portfolio updates :

I’ve been working on updating my online portfolio (and generally thinking about what I want from a career and how I want my work to be presented).

The first round of changes are is viewable here. I haven’t yet added some of my most recent work, yet, nor have I figured out if I want to include some of my writing and video pieces.

UPDATE: Verb agreement. Who knew.


separated at birth :

This post at Jalopnik got me thinking that I haven’t done a separated at birth, well, since I started getting plagiarized by Autoblog.

As for the Chevy Malibu Maxx, well inspiration comes from odd places, but an Austin Ambassador? No wonder GM is in trouble.


the SUV, officially over :

Forget high gas prices and rollover rates. Or even crossovers.

The new release of Hoover’s new Sport Utility Vacuum marks the official end of the of the SUV.

From the official PR statement:

“This new addition answers the call of consumers looking for seamless cleaning without interruption,” said Dave Baker, vice president and general manager, Hoover. “The Hoover Z bagless upright allows users to move from cleaning hard floors to carpet, and then vacuum draperies and extend to the top of a flight of stairs, all without the need to switch to different vacuums or stop the cleaning process . . .”

Wow, that's more off-roading than the Hoover owner gets in his/her Jeep Commander.


happy pills indeed :

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gilead Sciences today announced that a once-a-day pill could be ready soon. They have been working to combine the most popular AIDS (or Aids, if your British) drugs into a single pill. These are the very drugs that I am on. I recently switched to Gilead’s Viread and Emtriva combination pill (which cut my co-pay by $30 a month). The other drug in combination therapy was Brisol-Myers’ Sustiva (oh, you of the fabulous dreams). That will be ready soon. This will cut my co-payments to $240 a year total from $480. SInce I’m scrounging around now to pay for this months’ pills, the thought of saving $20 a month is very happy one indeed.


safari feeds :

I haven’t yet explored combining my two blogs and looking at a different host. I don’t even feel like I’ve even finished my Christmas holiday.

As a space holder: my thoughts on RSS feed integration in Apple’s Safari web browser.

At home, I use NetNewsWire Lite to aggregate the sites with RSS feeds that I regularly check for updates. For something different, and to keep from installing unauthorized software at work, I thought I’d give the feed integration in Safari a spin.

(I’m not all that honest an employee. Afterall, I’m writing this quote on work time. Oh, and I recently embezzled $3M. j/k.)

So far, I’m impressed.

I especially like the ability to expand views in multiple ways: just a headline or a whole paragraph; one day, one week or one month; etc. And to sort by title, source, or new.

My one quibble is bookmarking. I have to either have a separate folder for all my RSS feeds, or keep the RSS feeds in the same folders as the main sites.

This means that, for instance, in the toolbar folder entitled “Mac/Design News” I have a list that includes two listings for Core77.com, two for Design Observer, two for NussbaumOnDesign, two for Kottke, etc.

If I don’t want to look at the RSS feed I now I have to sort through a menu that is almost twice as long.

Since Safari automatically detects a syndicate feed when visiting an HTML site. It seems like Safari should be able to do the same from the bookmarks. Or otherwise combine them.

This would allow both the web browser to be truly integrated with RSS reader.

As it stands right now, it just makes a mess.