Thought / 5 ways to improve your design and user experience skills

  1. Work harder
  2. Work harder
  3. Work harder
  4. Learn from the masters
  5. Stop reading “5 ways to…” articles

Thought / The Future of Reading (according to me)

The future of digital reading will be marked by the convenience of having books when and where you need them. These three scenarios might help you get an idea of it:

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Paul wakes up early in the morning, given that his commuting trip to Manhattan is rather long, about an hour and twenty minutes. Groomed and dressed, he goes for a quick stop at the corner cafe, where he gets his usual cappuccino and the book he’s reading currently: On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

The book is a simple digital-ink book from the DBook service, pages made of that plastic resine that feels like papyrus in your hand. Cover is monotone with the book title delicately composed, giving it that dignifying air of an old book On The Road deserves after all these years. Coffe and book in hand, he waits for the train, and while en route, enjoys chapter 12 and the smooth java cup.

After one chapter and a half, two changes and finally the arrival at his subway station, he crosses and locates the DBook vending machine, where he deposits it, so as not to have to carry it around in the day. Later in the evening he’ll pick up another copy of the same book to entertain him on his trip back home, leaving it at the supermarket DBook box just in time for getting some exquisite pret-a-porter gourmet lamb chops for a simple and succulent dinner.

Paul is subscribed to DBooks by the month, allowing him to exchange as many DBooks as he wants and keeping up to six of them per month for his library.

——

Since his operation, Björn spends large amounts of time at his home in the outskirts of Reykjavyk, mostly alone with Perro, his black labrador. Thankfully he’s an avid reader, so he gives his mail subscription to DBook all the use he can. Reading a book in three or four days and mailing it back to receive the next one in his online list has become his favourite pastime.

He has long thought of buying the DBook Typesetter, that little device which will allow him to connect any DBook and download new book’s content to it (which adapts to the number of pages by modifying the layout, spacing and font while keeping the style of the book’s design), thus reducing the waiting time to a minimum, but Björn is so affectionate to receiving the short but passionately waited book in the mail, he is subscribed to 2 books at a time, and just can’t wait to check his mailbox every morning a book should be arriving!

He also enjoys the casual exchange of a book with the regular friend and odd faculty colleague that comes now and then to check on him and see how well he’s doing. Knowing he does not have to read the whole book, or even read it gives him an openness to try literature casually, a behaviour that has opened him many unknown doors to pieces and authors he wouldn’t have wondered into before. Now he feels he finally can try all the books in the world, “as long as they’re the good ones, of course!” he says, wittily.

——

Akio lives a fast paced life since he was relocated to his company’s Paris office. In order to catch up with the local culture and manners, he has subscribed to the pay-per-keep version of the DBook service. Now he can order any book he wants, have it ready the next minute downstairs in his favourite café and pick it up just after that stroll around Saint Germaine he longs to do every Saturday morning.

Just after arriving home, and with a hurried feeling, he settles in his comfortable sofa and attacks vehemently his new ‘possible’ acquisition; after a couple of chapters (even paragraphs in some cases) he knows if the book’s a keeper, but being anew to french literature and French language itself, those two chapters/paragraphs can take the best hours of that bucolic Saturday afternoon, so he has become very selective with the books he finish, and keeps, as his father taught him how to carefully groom a decent and beloved personal library. The ones that capture his fancy he’ll read, finish and archive in his bookshelves, letting the DBook service to know he’s keeping by sweeping the book in the buying scanner that is attached to the shelf, after what his account is deducted of the book’s price.

Knowing he can return any book he does not want to keep makes the all discovering experience the most pleasing, just like when he used to take out books form his local Public Library in Tokio. After all, French and his french tenure are no small task for him, but DBook helps in making it a joyous, relaxed experience.

——

As you can see, I envision the future of digital reading as a simple, flexible, social, ubiquitous service that will allow books to become more and more part of our lives, no matter at what pace we stroll or bolt around it, while letting the reading to adapt to our lives, conveniently and convincingly, bringing the joy of discovering new worlds in the books we read into anyone’s life.

Thought / Growing Up With Processing

Long long time ago, I was but an architect so attracted to the Interaction Design world I got a shot helping a research project at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea along mastermind Michael Kislinger.

I was in charge of designing an interface for a Java mobile service called Fluidtime (www.fluidtime.com). I did so and while in the makings I was proposed to explore the possibility of using a project, from then IDII faculty member Casey Reas, called Proce55ing (www.processing.org) to deliver a working prototype.

I said ‘Yes!’, and embarked on a journey of Java-programming learning, that at the beginning, fearfully daunted but enticed me. As I had some knowledge of the already obsolete-driven Macromedia Director’s Lingo, this was a proper programming language challenge, and I decidedly took it.

Some months after, I was, to my utter astonishment, able to fulfill the creation of a working version of what later will become a java developer’s proper version of a Fluidtime mobile java applet. It came to life from my tiny prototype, which could humbly run on a desktop and let you be aware of the bus traffic around your location in lovely Torino, Italy.

I can still look back to those days where, thanks to proce55ing (later Processing) I was empowered to create what has became my first Java working application, and the starting point to years of indulgent, delightful programming, the very hands-on base to my Interaction Design passion.

Thanks to Ben Fry and Casey Reas for letting me envision and produce what my designer’s mind created, and for letting me know that I could be part of that previously elusive world of Software Programming that Processing so easily put into my naïve designer’s hands.

Thought / Twenty things Sagmeister has learned so far

  1. Helping other people helps me
  2. Having guts always works out for me
  3. Thinking that life will be better in the future is stupid. I have to live now
  4. Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy
  5. Being not truthful always works against me
  6. Everything I do always comes back to me
  7. Assuming is stifling
  8. Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on
  9. Over time I get used to everything and start taking for granted
  10. Money does not make me happy
  11. My dreams have no meaning
  12. Keeping a diary supports personal development
  13. Trying to look good limits my life
  14. Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses
  15. Worrying solves nothing
  16. Complaining is silly. Either act or forget
  17. Everybody thinks they are right
  18. If I want to explore a new direction professionally, it is helpful to try it out for myself first
  19. Low expectations are a good strategy
  20. Everybody who is honest is interesting

I guess it is a good place from where to start, stealing other people’s methods and implement them religiously. Eventually I’l find my own, like painters trained by copying the masters, or Jamal Wallace copying that first two paragraphs to then continue with his own words.

Thought / Mediated content (Part 3)

Fred Oliveira, from webreakstuff, suggested in this article to stop reading your rss feeds. An intriguing idea that I’ve been forced to follow for the last 6+ months, I replied:

Afraid of the increasing number of unread posts, I have been postponing catching up with RSS for so long, it is 6+ months already, so there it goes.

One not-so-obvious reason is that RSS feeds forces us to read all the articles on a writer’s mind, while twitter and other social networks mediate by decanting and broadcasting the best articles, so you just get la crème de la crème. It is similar to getting CDs, which force you to have all the songs, compared to just buying the songs you like from iTunes.

Next step would be to delete RSS links from our blogs.