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Recent entries and links

Taking flight: a new Twitter logo

I wrote a post for the Twitter blog today on Twitter’s new bird:

Whether soaring high above the earth to take in a broad view, or flocking with other birds to achieve a common purpose, a bird in flight is the ultimate representation of freedom, hope and limitless possibility.

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Testing tweet embeds

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Cranking (by Merlin Mann)

Merlin writes so beautifully.

“And, although I’m confident that I will always think my daughter is The Greatest Thing in the Universe, I’m also all too aware that this feeling will not always be reciprocated in quite that same way or with quite that same enthusiasm that we both enjoy right now.

She won’t always run to my bed in footie jammies.

I’ll only get that particularly noisy and personalized wake-up call for a little while. And, I only get a shot at it once a day. At almost exactly 6:00 AM Pacific Time.

Then one day? I won’t get it any more. It will be gone.”

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Simple is not easy

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30-Second Rule for App Success

Those of you who saw my talks at either Future of Web Design in NYC, or at Webstock in Wellington may remember a segment where I urged delivering value as quickly as possible. In that segment, I compared the act of taking and sharing a photo with Hipstamatic, and the same in Instagram. I posited that one of the biggest reasons for Instagram’s runaway success is how quickly you can snap a photo, apply a filter, and share it with the world. It delivers value in three short steps, and it’s fun.

Here is Instagram’s founder and CEO, Kevin Systrom, validating this deliver-value-quickly notion as a key to Instagram’s success:

“Products can introduce more complexity over time, but as far as launching and introducing a new product in to the market, it’s a marketing problem,” Systrom tells Fast Company. “You have to explain everything you do, and people have to understand it, within seconds.”

“In the mobile context, you need to explain what you do in 30 seconds or less because people move on to the next shiny object. There are so many apps and people are vying for your attention on the go. It’s the one context in which you’ve got lots and lots of other stuff going on. You’re not sitting in front of a computer; you’re at a bus stop or in a meeting.”

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First Autistic Presidential Appointee Speaks Out

Go, Ari.

In December, he [Ari Ne’eman] was nominated by President Obama to the National Council on Disability (NCD), a panel that advises the President and Congress on ways of reforming health care, schools, support services and employment policy to make society more equitable for people with all forms of disability.

And Ari’s open call to those of us who work in technology:

If we put one-tenth of the money currently spent on looking for causes and cures into developing technologies that enable autistic people with speech challenges to communicate more easily — so-called augmentative and alternative communication [AAC] — we’d have a vast improvement in the quality of life for autistic people and their family members.

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Avoiding the Uncanny Valley of Interface Design

From Francisco Inchauste, on the topic of UI that imitates realism:

It is so easy to love a certain effect and want to use that everywhere. Not all projects need to have the selections sitting on a perfectly lit wooden bookshelf. On one hand we want to be creative and make something that is appealing and can sell the product. On the other side we have to question the cost of that approach on the experience itself and balance style and function with purpose.

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The Future of Self-service Banking

Spotted this link to an intriguing ATM prototype experiment by BBVA in the comments on Khoi Vihn’s post on ATM design

ATMs were first introduced over 40 years ago and since then many features have been incrementally added to the machines, in order to fulfill the dream of a truly “automated teller”. Modern ATMs offer a wide range of banking transactions; nevertheless the actual interaction has remained largely untouched.

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My Measures & Dimensions

I just discovered an iPhone app named My Measures & Dimensions that lets you take any photo and quickly draw dimensions on top of objects or spaces in the photo. Typically, I use a piece of scrap paper for this, and end up forgetting to bring it with me when I need it. After photos are marked up with measurements, they can be emailed to anyone, or added to the iPhone’s photo library.

So far, this app seems incredibly useful for several purposes. I’m using it to quickly record the measurements of rooms in our house. It’s also handy to note the dimensions of some bookshelves in our daughter’s room, so we’ll know what can fit inside. I can easily imagine several other uses too. Here’s a direct link to My Measures in the iTunes Store.

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Hovers (and power users) still have a healthy future

Ryan Singer on the power of hover states and non-tablet computers:

But to the geeky or trained, the desktop is a fount of power and speed. Documents are side by side, text flies from here to there, IMs are answered and dismissed, mockups reloaded, batches processed, all with tiny movements of the fingers. For those of us who work all day on computers, touch interfaces are not an impending disruption.

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Better Screen, Same Typography

Khoi Vinh on Apple’s lack of full commitment to excellent typography, despite creating oft-superior devices seemingly capable of perfection:

Steve Jobs’ vision for Apple, repeated in yesterday’s keynote address, posits that the company operates at the intersection between technology and the liberal arts. I think it’s reasonable to regard fine typography as falling within that mandate, but unfortunately, they are falling short of that promise. Building a great display for typography without building great typographic tools is a dereliction of duty.

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The Death of Depth: Less and Less of More and More

Good article on attention spans and what’s affecting them.

As any experienced meditator knows, the mind has a mind of its own. Left free to wander, that’s just what it will do. When we manage the infinite demands on our attention by trying to juggle them all, we literally weaken our capacity for absorbed focus.

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SFpark

Concept sounds good. But I’m concerned about more people checking their phones while driving in the city.

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Ball Pool

Love what creative minds are producing, no Flash required.

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Responsive Web Design

Ethan’s “Responsive Web Design” is an eloquently worded, logical evolution of modern, responsible web design.

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An Inconvenient Drop Shadow – Brand New

Brand New notes the new Google logo. This change was years in the making. We proposed similar changes in 2007.

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A Book Apart, Home

Started reading an advance copy of HTML5 for Web Designers. As with previous works by @adactio, it’s clear and concise.

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Theme files for my WP tweet archive

Last month, I posted a short little write-up about how I created my own tweet archive. It was a quick hack, pulled together one Saturday afternoon, and fairly incomplete, at best. But the archive serves its simple purpose every now and then. I intended to update the archive, add some features, and modify the theme files to better prep them for distribution. But I’m realizing I probably won’t get around to that any time soon.

I’m seeing lots of other folks building out their own archive. And lots of them are using the WordPress solution I wrote about. So in the interest of providing a rough starting point, I’m making the WP theme files for my tweet archive available here (under a CC license) for anyone who wants them as a base. Download tweets.zip (39 KB).

One followup note… Andy Graulund (@graulund) is building a similar tweet archive that is much more robust and more awesome than my original. His is a PHP-based solution (no WordPress required) with embedded media, permalinks back to Twitter, graphs showing tweet activity, and more. I believe he’s planning on releasing his source soon. Keep an eye out for that.

WordPress-based browsable, searchable archive of tweets by Douglas Bowman is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

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Hello, Twitter, one year later

A year ago, today, I joined a small startup with a penchant for brevity. Many of my friends were using it. My mom had only heard mentions of it. I noted some risk, but saw greater reward. Variables were undefined. The product was still in its infancy. But potential was everywhere.

One year later, I’m just as eager and excited to head into work today as I was then. More so. Because I know even more about this growing company, the amazing people who work for it, the humbling principles under which it operates, and the myriad of purpose it serves. I’m thrilled with what we’ve accomplished in Design, and with the designers we’ve hired to do the accomplishing. We’ve pushed out some “good” and a fair amount of “awesome” so far. But we still have much work to do.

It’s cliché, but still true. Time flies when you’re having fun. And what fun we’ve been having. Here’s to looking back at a fantastic year, and forward to another that puts last year to shame.

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A browsable, searchable archive of tweets

In the past, I’ve wanted to browse or search through my own tweets. Viewing my Twitter profile is one way to do that. But if I want to browse back through history, it’s a chore to go back very far. And forget about searching through my own tweets on Twitter since Twitter Search currently only goes back about a seven days.

I know there are a few apps or scripts that create backups and much more for you. But I wanted a database and simple UI completely within my own control. One that wouldn’t go away if the developer abandoned it. So one Saturday a few weeks ago, in a little over an hour, I had my own, free, browsable, searchable tweet archive. Now I can easily browse back to my very first tweet, or search for those quotes by Paul Rand I tweeted last year. This isn’t anything entirely new. I’m just writing it up what works for me in case it helps fit some pieces together. read more

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