As Far As I Can Tell

Being thankful in Michigan

In a couple of hours I’m picking my brother up from the airport and heading to Michigan for Thanksgiving. It just started snowing so hopefully that won’t turn nasty while we’re driving. I’ll be in Kalamazoo for a little bit and would love to hang out with everyone who I haven’t seen in a while. I’ll be at the Rocket Star from 12 until 2 on Friday, stop in an say hello if you can.

I wish that Meredith wasn’t sitting alone in her French apartment during these fake-Turkey festivities. Everyone should drop her a line and say hello tomorrow. This year, I’m thankful for Skype.



thanks again for being my book mule! The bus ride was long. very. long. look forward to seeing you again in kzoo. I think I’m going to send Meredith some fake turkey and cranberry sauce through the mail. that sounds like a very good idea.

Posted by: emily on November 23, 2005 3:34 PM

dude, i’m still dating my sweetheart in korea, so i hear ya on the being thankful for skype.

Posted by: jim on November 27, 2005 12:45 AM

hey simon, this is brett from the moped army branch in maine i saw that link to the Bravia commercial you posted a couple weeks ago, it reminded me of a performance i did for school last April i thought you might want to see it take it easy brett

Posted by: brett on December 8, 2005 3:26 PM

iTunes Remembers

I’ve recently switched from using Winamp to iTunes, mainly because I got an iPod Nano a couple of months ago. I know that there are plugins to make syncing work with Winamp but I thought I’d be a good opportunity to try out something new. I’ve been satisfied but not overly impressed until today. I was listening to a podcast of NPR’s On the Media on my way home from campus. Once at home I plugged the iPod into my computer, iTunes launched, and I was able to continue right from where I left off. Nice.



It’s so tough because iTunes is exactly what I don’t like in software: bloated, slow, and idiot-proof. Here’s the problem: it works so well. I’ve tried to go over to Winamp but things like podcasting, ipod integration, and organization keep on bringing me back to the most resource hogging music player on earth.

Posted by: jake on November 15, 2005 11:14 PM

i love iTunes. thought this might be interesting to you: though, i can’t remember if you are running a mac or not.

Posted by: jim on November 17, 2005 1:28 PM

Ben Fry: Computational Information Design

I went to a lecture tonight by Ben Fry, a designer from the MIT Media Lab and former graduate of CMU. He’s currently working on visualizing information gathered by the genome project, mapping mind-boggling amounts of DNA data in a way that scientists can make sense of it. He spoke about his work and his view of a unified field of computational information design. Currently the necessarily skills are split between graphic designers, computer scientists, statisticians, and HCI. It’s true that an integrated approach would be valuable, though I think it’s hard to find people who are actually good at all the necessary levels.

Earlier in the day he stopped by the grad studio to have lunch with us for well over an hour. I got to ask him a bit about Processing, which he co-created with his Media Lab colleague Casey Reas. There’s a book in the works and I’m glad to hear that more print output features are being considered. Using Processing as an way to computationally generate PDFs for print really changes my perspective of the tool. It moves from an interactive applet creator to a more general purpose computational design tool. You could quickly lay out 1000s of elements in a manner that would be virtually impossible in Illustrator.

He calls for increased programming education early in design curriculum, partially due to of the lack of diversity in the design software world. Adobe has a stranglehold on the market and their pending assimilation of Macromedia eliminates any competition that might have existed. Designers are stuck creating only what these programs will allows us to. Knowing how to talk more directly to the computer and write our own programs can help us break free from this corporate software homogeny.



I was really interested in using processing for use in print design, but I didn’t find any informaiton about how to easily output at a high resolution. I saw the photographs for Metropop Denim at over the summer and was really impressed. has a brief story about it under exhibitions, but no details on specifics. I’ve been curious ever since, and I’m glad to hear that there are plans to include output features.

Posted by: chall on December 1, 2005 3:48 PM

Crisp and Calming

There’s something about the Fall or maybe just cooler weather that sharpens my observations, making me more sensitive to the things around me. A half eaten apple in the parking lot, the music seeping out of car windows, the taste of everything. It’s as if the crispness in the air awakens my brain, draws me outside, and points at things. I’ve always loved walking at night when the weather gets arguably too cold to do so. It’s quieter, slower, sharper.

I slept for 13 hours last night, falling asleep on the couch during Rivers and Tides, a splendid documentary about Andy Goldsworthy. I needed that rest to make up for what I haven’t been getting and for once I didn’t spoil the sleep with regret. This weekend is my first chance for a “day off” in the last three weeks.

Two weekends ago I was in Chicago attending the About, With, and For conference (photos) and visiting Ivo (photos). I had a lot of fun but traveling is rarely relaxing and it made my schedule the following week that much more hectic. Last weekend I only left the house once, my laptop and I at the kitchen table all day as I tried to remember how to write a decent paper. Luckily I was rescued by my brilliant and lovely personal editor who got me back on track. I don’t actually have this weekend off but I’m trying to restore a work-life balance, if only for a few days.



I’ll edit anything for you as long as you will design anything for me. We should make books…oh wait we did.

Posted by: meredith on November 12, 2005 2:15 PM

Hey Simon, This is Rit Mishra, i read your post about IDI+DA and your final decision of gong to CMU. I had also applied at IDII and got the news of the merger of DA+IDI. I am finally going to Milan in January 2006 and pretty excited about the same. I hope the program will not disappiont me as the current students told me that all the faculties are there and the entire ivrea institute has been moved to DA premises without loosing their work philosophy. I think this was encouraging enought for me to opt for the DA+IDI. Do let me know about your program at CMU and how is it going. What about creating a group of interaction designers from institutes like CMU+RCA+DA+IDI etc… do let me know on my e-mail: your blog is great !! keep going.

Posted by: Rit Mishra on November 29, 2005 3:12 AM

Good luck in Milan, that’s very exicting. I’m trying to keep up with what’s happening there as best as I can, let me know your impressions and experiences if you have the time. I’m interested in getting to know interaction design students from other schools. Were you thinking a mailing list of some sort or something more?

Posted by: Simon on November 29, 2005 9:59 PM

As far as who can tell?

Chicago, IL

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