"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." - William Morris

The Technicals of Pixar

Posted: January 26th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , | No Comments »

People often talk about the ‘art of Pixar’, with their wonderful ability to breath life into computer animation. Now you can find out, in brain bursting detail, the technical innovations of Pixar – in their online animation rendering library.

Today’s Design Sites: Dysturb + Atypk

Posted: August 11th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: | No Comments »

Today’s design sites that caught my eye are Dysturb.net and Atypyk, both fun spellings with great selections of design related info. Atypyk is more humourous, Dysturb is more informative. Make sure you check out Atypyk’s re-designed ideas such as Coke bottle sugar dispensers or cut up soft toys – clever enough for me to forgive them for using popups in their site design. Ug.

Six Degrees of Lovin’

Posted: May 3rd, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Andrew Weinreich, creator of SixDegrees and so one of the forefathers of social networking, is blogging about his latest startup meetMoi. MeetMoi is a mobile dating service that wants to get you an instantaneous hookup when you’re out and about in town. Now whether this service will replace turning up to any bar and getting drunk enough till someone near to you becomes dateable is the big challenge Andrew faces and good luck to him, but in the meantime his posts give great insight into the process of starting a business. For example you can read about how he initiated sixDegrees at the start of his entrepreneurial life.

Laser Graffiti

Posted: February 21st, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , | No Comments »

Graffiti. The ‘scourge’ of modern society, and of my spell-checker. Well society need fear no more, with this amazing laser guided graffiti projector. Beautiful in its simplicity – you just point the project at a building, callibrate it and then ‘draw’ directly onto the building with your laser pointer. Genius. [Thanks to Boing Boing]

Social Flow

Posted: February 20th, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration, Interaction Design | Tags: , , | No Comments »

I’ve been re-reading the excellent Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience again and I highly recommend you all do too. In it, author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes his research into how people get into ‘flow’ states, that is states of enjoyable activity where you immerse yourself completely in what you are doing and stay deeply focussed. We’ve all done it at some point, missed our train stop when reading a book, sat down to do something then looked up and it’s the middle of the night and we forgot to eat and so on.

Mihaly argues that modern western society is full of flow destroying activities ripe with passive pleasure, such as television, rather than engaged enjoyment, for example knitting. These activities, while fun at first, lead to a longer term malaise as they do not involve us actively setting our own goals and following them through, which is core to the flow experience. Sports on the other hand are rife with flow, as they exist in their own world with strongly defined goals and excellent feedback to tell you that you’re there and getting better. Experts in the art and music world start to look for more complex experiences, moving from rock bands to classical or jazz, and then setting their own goals to analyse the music and deeply immerse themselves into that world.

What’s amazing about this concept is it works on a many different levels, you can even feel good about your day simply by writing a list of small tasks that need doing (goals) and ticking them off (feedback). Longer lasting, sustainable flow happiness comes from creating more complex experiences within overall goals, for example when you start taking photos you’re proud to create something that’s in focus, but as you spend more time immersed in the subject that is no longer sufficient – more complex internal goals must be met such as composition, lighting and the story being told.

So let’s look at something like mySpace in this light; you can start by signing up (most likely because your friends are there), you fill in your profile and you’re ready to go. This is a simple goal, easily achieved, and now you can start finding your friends – another simple goal. As you look around you realise that your page s pretty dull, so you go away and learn how to customize your page to make it your own (or steal someone else’s page you like). Eventually you have your ideal web home, and are confident to tweak it when you like. Now your personality is represented, you and your friends can comment/message each other as much as you like, and you can work out whether or not to go on a date with that kid with the cool but weird photos who messaged you (my advice is no, unless one of your meat-space friends knows them well and they’re cool). So almost all of mySpace’s activities allow you to set your own goals, or choose from social goals already set, and get rapid feedback from your friends and yourself on how you’re doing – a great flow experience. No wonder everyone spends so much time on there.

My next personal goal: how to engender flow into the next site I build. Sounds like an interesting challenge, with plenty of good feedback.