In case you're interested, I started a new photo blog. I started it because I love blogging my iPhone photos but needed a quick way to do it from my iPhone. I tried via the Typepad app, but the photos aren't uploaded in their original size and I didn't like how they looked in my Typepad grid. The WordPress app wasn't that great, either. Too cumbersome. So, I settled on Tumblr. It's great. A very quick, easy interface. I was using Flickr before, but I really don't like using Flickr as a blogging tool....
I'll still post photos here sometimes, too. But mostly, I want to use this venue for longer form writing.
On the steps of the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC. This taken with my Holga (I think), on one of my lunches. My gym is right across the street. Lately, I've been thinking about cities and use cases....
I've also been intrigued by this new social media service called Gowalla. Have you heard of it? An interesting integration of interaction design with the urban space. What it basically amounts to is the human equivalent of a dog's pissing on a tree to let other dogs know he's been there and to mark his territory.
This is outside a market on Spruce Street in Philadelphia. I took Michaela and her new boyfriend there for her birthday. We had a great time.
Having just finished Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities, it was great to be able to see the parts of Philly that she talked about. Namely, Washington Square Park and Rittenhouse Square. We also found a Buffalo Exchange. SCORE!
Browsing through nymag.com yielded this fascinating slideshow: Lindsay Lohan does Marilyn. I remember hearing about it when it first came out, but it just now really caught my interest.
It's fascinating to see variations of the female form. As design objects, each element of a woman's body can take on different forms: the curvature of the breast, size and shape of nipples, shape and roundness (or lack thereof) of the buttocks. The musculature of the abdomen, the placement of the navel.
The ideal human form, as we learn in figure drawing/design classes, is based on proportions of the golden ratio. Which makes me wonder, do plastic surgeons study this mathematical formula and apply it in their work?
In contrast, looking at photos of Marilyn, it's obvious that she was definitely a better designed product; classical lines, elegant, proportionate forms, a golden ratio masterpiece.
Not that Lindsay's unnattractive, but it's amazing how subtle changes in geometry can make the difference between a great beauty like Marilyn and just-another-pretty-face one, like Lindsay. Her breasts are huge, but she has no hips. her lips are odd (maybe too many injections?). Her proportions are off. She's too asymmetrical. From the waist down, she looks like an adolescent male, minus the penis. IMHO, of course. And from a strictly formal, design standpoint.
If you're into photography, notably photojournalism, you should definitely check out the New York Times new blog, Lens. I love it.
NPR also has a photo blog, too, and they post some really interesting slideshows. But to me, it's just not as pleasurable a user experience. And you know why? Because it's poorly designed. Which isn't our multimedia team's fault. They're dealing with a very old, antiquated, inflexible infrastructure (the current NPR.org design is six years old – SIX YEARS !!), one that we're overhauling as part of the NPR.org redesign.
It's a hard thing sometimes at NPR, what with its roots in audio presentation. Visual design is pretty new to the organization and sometimes, getting buy in/appreciation for great visual design is a struggle. In contrast, the New York Times has always presented its news visually. Good typography, grid systems, and beautiful photography are things they know and handle very well. Someone at the top of that organization is a strong advocate for good design. The designers there have really good taste and it shows.
NPR's getting there, I think. But it's a slow process. And sometimes a painful one for the likes of hyper-visual, anal designers like myself. Hopefully, though, our transition into this visual space will be successful. Honestly, I think it has to be in order for NPR to continue to be successful. With the death of newspapers, other news organizations are moving into the multimedia and audio space with a much better handle on design. As journalism evolves, I think design will be one of the differentiating factors. My career challenge at this point is to help our design/multimedia teams bring good visual taste to NPR.
Will and I went to breakfast a couple of weekends ago at our favorite restaurant in Baltimore so far, Golden West. It's in Hampden, a really cool Baltimore neighborhood about four miles from our house. Kind of like a mix between Seattle's Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods, with a little U-District thrown in. Anyway, we were in this quirky gift shop (if there's one word I would use to describe Baltimore, "quirky" would be it) when I happened upon a row of greeting cards.
I was instantly captivated by the photographic images of A. Aubrey Bodine. A photojournalist for the Baltimore Sun during the mid-20th century, he gained renown via his portraiture of Baltimore and to a lesser extent, the state of Maryland. He is also a MICA alum.
Needless to say, I am very inspired. I'm planning on doing a joint photo shoot with Kevin Wong, a former colleague in Seattle and will be thinking about Bodine as I shoot. We're both going to shoot on the waterfront at the golden hour, he in Seattle, me here in Baltimore, and then display our best shots together. I find that although Seattle is a more polished city than Baltimore, as urban personalities, they have a lot in common. I'm really looking forward to this!
There's a part of me that really likes Baltimore. But I'll tell you one thing: if you ever hear me speaking with a Baltimore accent, POINT ME TO A GOOD SPEECH THERAPIST. I prefer my west coast linguistic neutrality, thanks.
"A development which spoils ten square miles of countryside will be the work of a few people neither particularly sinful nor malevolent. They may be called Derek or Malcolm, Hubert or Shigeru, they may love golf and animals, and yet, in a few weeks, they can put in motion plans which will substantially ruin a landscape for 300 years or more.
The same kind of banal thinking which in literature produces nothing worse than incoherent books and tedious plays can, when applied to architecture, leave wounds which will be visible from outerspace. Bad architecture is writ large.
We owe it to the fields that our houses will not be the inferiors of the of the virgin land they have replaced. We owe it to the worms and the trees that the buildings we cover them with will stand as promises of the highest and most intelligent kinds of happiness."by Alain de Botton in The Architecture of Happiness
I just finished this book on the train this morning and found these two passages especially noteworthy. They bring to mind Will's and my decision to buy another house here in the walkable, sustainable city rather than building something on his mother's property which would force us to drive a lot more than we want to, not to mention the cost of hiring a really good architect to help us honor the land.
The second quote also makes me think about the differences between my old neighborhood in Seattle (Queen Anne) and my new one here (Bolton Hill). The architecture immediately surrounding our house here is much more honorable of the land it's replaced, I think. For while the initial settlers of Queen Anne did produce some beautiful buildings there, I'm reminded mostly of all the butchered bungalows on Queen Anne, with additions sprouting like malignant tumors out of the roofs and back porches. There is a lot less of that here in Bolton Hill. I really like this neighborhood.