Booths & Bodies: The life and work of Anthony Vizzari on Vimeo

We all wonder if we have a “twin” out in the world somewhere. Well, I think I just might have found my “artist twin”. If I ever decide to stop my day job, I imagine my life would be something like this – artistic pursuits using objects from photography, cameras and the like. I’m fascinated by how cameras have changed our 20th century lives and how we save moments through the lens.

“Typography Insight” iPad App Is Type Design 101

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“Typography Insight” iPad App Is Type Design 101, For Just $1.99

Now you can geek out over descenders and spans with your type geek friends, for one low, low price.

I waxed ecstatic last week about a type-design program that had the courtesy to show beginners the ropes while they used it. Now comes Typography Insight, an even better (and at $1.99 in the iTunes App Store, much realer) iPad app that makes design literacy just about as fun and easy as it can possibly be without free ice cream thrown in.

It’s more like an exquisite museum exhibit than a musty textbook.

Typography Insight, as its name implies, is a pure teaching tool — you can’t build your own fonts with it. But for many type-curious amateurs, that would be too intimidating anyway; this app is for the bookworms out there who are happy just to learn about the history of typefaces (the app has all the greats, from Baskerville and Garamond to Futura and Helvetica) and also recognize details like slab serifs, ascenders, and ligatures. The app covers everything: even measurements and typesetting best practices are offered up in simple, go-at-your-own-pace interactive lessons. In a truly ingenious touch, the app includes a feature where you can lay two letterforms over each other in semi-transparency to compare and contrast all the little details that make them different.

But before you think this all sounds like homework more than playful exploration, rest assured that Typography Insight falls squarely in the latter category. Its designer, Dong Yoon Park, has savvily maximized the interactive, tactile elements of the iPad and downplayed the borderline-anal technicalities of his subject to create an experience that’s more like an exquisitely designed museum exhibit than a musty textbook. He’s thought about user experience, interface design, and all the other goodies that make an app actually fun in very, very exhaustive detail. Park aimed his app at fellow typography students (he developed it as his thesis project at Parsons), but anyone who loves books, words, history, or fine art — even in the slightest bit — will find Typography Insight as intoxicating as Wikipedia and as fun as a video game.

[Buy it here | via The Atlantic]

Your Digital Portrait, by ‘Personas’ at MIT

With every blog post and web page, you leave online trails of information for search engines to follow later. What does the sum of this trail say about you? Is this an accurate picture or just random data?

The Sociable Media Group at MIT Media Lab wanted to explore an answer to that question with a digital exhibit using “sophisticated natural language processing and the Internet to create a data portrait of one’s aggregated online identity.”

Translated, this Personas project shows how the Internet sees you. It’s easy enough to use, just type in your name.

Of course curiosity got the best of me and I had to try it. Just watching the program work is rather interesting – it’s a little transparent in the sense that you see the text being processed so it’s not so much of a data black box.

While interesting, it doesn’t seem totally accurate, at least to my eyes. I am certainly reminded that information without context is just data.

Since I am at an AIGA retreat this week, I thought it would be interesting to see what the system did with a little cheat, so instead of a name I typed in “AIGA the professional association for design” and this popped up:

At a minimum, I think I’m going to hang on to this colored bar and use the “dna strip” in a personal project somewhere. That alone should make for a good story!

Faux-cohol for the New Year?

Consider this as you get ready for your New Year’s celebration tonight… What if you could drink all you want, then pop a pill to become sober?

Apparently, there are some researchers working on just the very thing: an alcohol substitute that gives you a buzz, but comes with an “antidote” that sobers you up and prevents a hangover.

At first glance, this sounds like a great advancement for society. Think of the possible benefits… a reduction in drunk driving accidents… less public rowdiness… no more pesky sunglasses after a night of binge drinking…

I sit here, though, and wonder if this doesn’t bring about a whole new set of health questions:

  • What if you get so drunk that you pass out before you can take your “sober pill”?
  • Can you get faux-alcohol poisoning by consuming more than your body can take?

and money questions:

  • How much more would you be charged for this than a drink with regular alcohol?
  • What about fraud? (I mean, how would you know until later if you had real or faux alcohol)

and moral questions:

  • Would drinking at lunch (or even worse, on the job) now be considered socially acceptable?
  • What if an alcoholic switched to faux-cohol to hide his/her problem?

Regardless, sounds like such a world is a far way off. According to the article, this idea is still without corporate backing, and it’s unclear if this could even be regulated or approved. So, in the meantime, you will just have to consume your alcohol in moderation (except for maybe tonight!)
Happy New Year :)

Vegas is like a box of chocolates…

Last week we spent a little time in Vegas (which is actually a beautiful place to visit during the holidays – it’s a spectacle!)

One of the places we looked at last week was Aria, the new hotel and casino at City Center. There were tons of tourists milling around since it just opened about a week earlier. I was struck, though, by the décor: dark, hip, contemporary. It’s very much indicative of what I’d call the “new, new Vegas”.

No longer are these new casinos going for the overly-themed buildings. Decadence here used to be the mimicry of Paris, Italy, New York, or some tropical destination. For a while, that was the “new Vegas”. I do think of this like the box of chocolates that you see stuffing the shelves near Valentine’s. Most of those boxes are trying to imitate something with their package: be it looking like silk or satin, embossing what appears to be a glossy bow, or adding foil or metallic accents to give it an expensive touch. The new, new Vegas is still glossy, but in a different way.

I guess the distinction is:
New, new Vegas is like artisanal chocolate: an expensive treat cradled in a luxe little package that makes you feel rich for ten minutes as you savor it.

New Vegas is like a typical Valentine’s box of chocolates – Overdone, trying to be something it’s not, but fun once in a while.

Old Vegas is like a bargain box of chocolates: kinda retro (you like it for the nostalgia), and a little cheaper (in look and impact on the wallet).

Ooooh, can’t wait to go back!

Vampires, not just the Twilight kind, are turning red into green

First, I suppose I should mentioned that I already bought my Twilight: New Moon tickets a couple of days ago, and will be kicking back at the Alamo Drafthouse tonight watching the movie. So before you read the text below, you should know that I’m not bashing the movie.

Vampires are everywhere now. In the movies… on TV. HBO has found new subscribers just because of their True Blood programming. Their advertising (which I think is really effective) has created the “buzz” it sought. I also love this quote attributed to the director of New Moon: “It’s kind of the only growth industry in America, that I can tell.”

What feels different this time is how advertisers have responded. Vampires are now deemed cool enough to sell just about anything. Today, I saw a Bing commercial with a vampire in it. It’s no longer enough to put attractive people in your ads. They have to be attractive and a vampire on top of that. Sets the bar a little high for the rest of us human folks.

So, what other vampire-themed ads have you seen recently? And when will it stop? I’m predicting after the third Twilight movie, but before the fourth. :0