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Pixels vs. Manhattan



But seriously, is this real?

via Spatial Robots.

Practice Makes Passable: Resumes and Work Samples #3

This is the third in a series of posts documenting my evolution as a designer through the lens of resumes and work samples. If you missed the first two, you can find them here and here.

RESUME 5 - FOR WORK:


This one got me several interviews and my first real job out of college. As you can see, the resume hasn't changed much, but the work samples are almost completely different. The only thing that I didn't change was the idea of featuring one type of work on each page.

Page One: I Like Books
I've always struggled with professionalism and adult etiquette — don't talk politics and all that. I'm not good at being professional in the traditional sense. I think that work, especially design work, is or should be personal. I loved studio culture at school and I really hoped to find a firm with a similar working atmosphere. The book page was almost meant to be a litmus test for potential employers: if they saw the books and found the page interesting or compelling, then there was a good chance I would find them and their work interesting and compelling, right? And of course, on the flip-side, if they didn't like it or get it, then they probably weren't the kind of people I was looking for. This is one of the few things that I've produced that I'm not ashamed of yet. I don't necessarily think it's the best way to present myself to potential employers, but I do like it a lot. And coincidentally, when I was interviewing for my first job out of college, the interviewer had me walk him through each of the titles. Either he was humoring me, or he was interested/compelled, so I guess it worked.

Page Two: Architecture Models
As in my first work samples, this page is dedicated entirely to my best/favorite models. I thought it very clever at the time to have as little text as possible. The idea was that work samples should stand alone and communicate 80% of their message at a quick glance.

The best thing about this set of work samples is that somewhere between this one and the one before, I must have discovered that there's no need to reinvent the wheel every time you do something. When in doubt, use a simple grid system. Don't struggle and fight with images and type in pursuit of the perfect layout or composition. Just communicate as simply as possible and walk away. The painful irony is that I probably worked a lot harder on the terrible one.

Also, I'm pretty proud of these images. I still use them.

Page Three: Urban Design
On this one, I strayed from the formula. This one lacks the simplicity and clarity of my books and models. The text is hard to read, the images are too small to be descriptive, and its confusing: what's with the grid of faded images in the background? I don't know.

Page Four: Thesis
Again, too complicated. Text is hard to read and the images are too small. I think I was falling into the old trap of working too much on the computer screen and not printing enough. On a computer, 8.5 x 11 can seem infinite, but it's not. A single sheet of paper should only hold so much information, and this is way too much. Also, my thesis wasn't attractive enough or compelling enough to justify its own work sample page.

RESUME 6 - FOR WORK:


When I got laid off last year, I spent a lot of time generating a new portfolio and fresh new resumes and work samples. This is where I landed. With these, I chose to format the work samples to be consistent with my resume, an approach that I think is very appropriate. The layouts are simple, the hierarchies are clear, and I guess I think these are pretty good.

I sent these out all over the city, and I've actually received a lot of really good feedback (apocalyptic recession notwithstanding). A detail of note is that instead of communicating personality through a full page of books that I liked, this one uses more subtle cues. My favorite one is that I specify 1983-Present beside my name. It's not a loud joke, but I think it's kind of funny. And it's consistent with the formatting, so why not? I'm sure that not many people notice, and that even of those that notice only a very few give it a second thought, but I recently got the following email from a firm I'd contacted:

"Michael:

We got your resume some time ago and while I don't have any good news for you, I wanted to email you anyway to say that I appreciate you sending it to us. Of the many we're getting these days, yours stands out for several reasons:

1. You're an Auburn guy... War Eagle!
2. Your work is very nice. I like the hand drawn elevations on the last 2 projects.
3. The 1983-Present by your name is hilarious. My partner and I laughed and laughed and wondered what we would do with the resume if it said 1983-2010. We hoped you were trying to be funny about it... if not, I feel a little ridiculous now.

Sorry about the job market these days. I'm afraid it will be like this for a while. There are few firms that seem to still be working - you may want to check with the [...] (I see job ads for them every once in a while). There may be some others - just keep on trying.

Please stay in touch. Who knows what the future will bring..."


So I haven't heard from him since, but he got the joke, and he liked it. So now he's on my list of people in the city that I'll follow from now on. I want to work with people that are ready and willing to laugh. People that won't laugh aren't funny.

Craig Mod on Books in the Age of the iPad

Excellent and thoughtful consideration of the relationship between content and its container (books, periodicals, digital devices, etc.) and the future of ink and paper books in light of new technology. This post is a bit old now, but I was reviewing some old bookmark links (via Instapaper, which I love) and I remembered my favorite part about this article. Not only am I a bit of a book junkie - like him, I love what he calls the "sexy-as-hell tactility of those little ink and paper bricks" - I'm also a designer, and in the realm of brick and mortar. At the end of his article, he predicts the future of book making, and I was struck by the strong correlation between his views on books and my views on buildings and cities. His words:

"I propose the following to be considered whenever we think of printing a book:

The Books We Make embrace their physicality — working in concert with the content to illuminate the narrative.
The Books We Make are confident in form and usage of material.
The Books We Make exploit the advantages of print.
The Books We Make are built to last. (Fig. 9a, 9b)

The result of this is:

The Books We Make will feel whole and solid in the hands.
The Books We Make will smell like now forgotten, far away libraries.
The Books We Make will be something of which even our children — who have fully embraced all things digital — will understand the worth.
The Books We Make will always remind people that the printed book can be a sculpture for thoughts and ideas.

Anything less than this will be stepped over and promptly forgotten in the digital march forward.

Goodbye disposable books.

Hello new canvases."


Think about real places versus digital places. This same battle is raging everywhere you look. Think Barnes & Noble vs. Amazon, CD Warehouse (remember?) vs. iTunes, Blockbuster vs. Netflix, etc. The list is long (SEE ALSO). In light of new technology, brick and mortar places seem to have a diminishing value. When everyone is highly mobile and communication to anywhere in the world is effortless and instant, it leaves little incentive to invest in an actual place, whether it's a city, town, or neighborhood.

I respect what Mr. Mod is saying about books: when we no longer need to make them, we will choose to make them and their design will communicate their value. In the same way, in an age in which we no longer need to build great cities or great buildings, I hope that when the rare opportunity to make a great place or to build something that will last comes along we'll be able as a society to rally around the cause and pour in the money and talent and great energy required to do so.

I would love to be able to say "Goodbye disposable buildings" or, even better, "Goodbye disposable cities" but I don't know if or when it's going to happen.

SEE ALSO: All through college I wrote papers about extreme cases of digitized experiences nullifying the need for real spaces. One of the best examples I found was a drive-thru viewing before a funeral in California. Mourners had to wait in line, not to see the body of their dearly departed, but to see a live video feed of the dearly departed, and all from the detached comfort of their car. Who needs a funeral home, right? Who needs a space crafted to offer comfort and solace and warmth and shelter to the grieving? I suppose the only people who need such spaces are probably too busy to ignore the time saving advantages of a drive through.

You should probably look at all of Craig Mod’s stuff. It’s all good, and this especially is beautiful to read and to look at.

Apple’s Core Value

"But Apple's about something more than that. Apple at the core, its core value is that we believe that people with passion can change the world for the better."

Steve Jobs via 9-bits.

The New iPhone Prototype Debacle

John Gruber's thoughts on Gizmodo, the tech website that broke the story complete with photos, videos, and internal component breakdown. Click through and read the whole thing. Gruber nails it. On being dumb or playing dumb:

"I'm fascinated by their apparently cavalier attitude regarding the legal implications of their actions. I'm not offended by their decision to obtain this unit and publish everything they were able to ascertain regarding it. It simply boggles my mind the stakes they have effectively wagered that Apple will not pursue this legally.


Seriously. I'm not surprised they broke the story either, but what does surprise me is how stupidly they've behaved and how oblivious they seem to be about the likely consequences.

I was shocked to read some of Gizmodo's responses to it all. Editor Jason Chen on the possibility of Apple suing Gizmodo:

"Probably not [...] The only reason they would press charges is to deter people from doing this in the future. Besides, right now, the cat's out of the bag, so there's no point to sue us."


This seems like terrible logic to me. First of all, deterrence is a great reason to sue. Secondly, thanks to Gruber's analysis, I'm confident Apple would have little difficulty winning — it's obvious what Gizmodo and the "finder" have done here.

And more craziness: editorial director Brian Lam quipped about "warm, fuzzy, huggy feelings of legal compliance" after receiving a formal request from Apple's legal representation. How pissed would you be if you were Apple and you had to read this crap? I'd sue them just for spite.

So, am I the only one who thinks Gizmodo's people are acting like a bunch of children? This is what children do when they get caught — they giggle and play nice and claim they didn't know they weren't supposed to do that, and this after a week of analysis, documentation, and planning to break the story. Every image I've seen of the new iPhone has "GIZMODO EXCLUSIVE" plastered on it. These guys knew exactly what they were doing and now they're playing dumb.

If they're really as nonchalant about all of this as they seem, then I think they're very, very foolish.

via Daring Fireball

Skinput vs. Sixth Sense



Skinput:
Seems silly to define inputs based on the sound and vibrations caused by tapping specific parts of your arm. People are fat, skinny, muscular, flabby, and so on; it seems like the variety would quickly overwhelm this system, or at least severely limit it. And from a usability standpoint, it would be extra frustrating if a button didn't give you the desired result and you knew it was your fault because you made the wrong noise with your chubby arm.



Sixth Sense:
Some of the usage examples are kind of silly, but wow. I'm not too excited about all of the new augmented reality stuff happening, but sometimes I'll see something that I think might look like the future. I love TED.

Skinput via Spatial Robots

Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts

I watched this the other day. I'm not crazy about his work, but he's certainly interesting, and this movie is excellent. Watch it. My favorites quotes from the film are below.

On waking in the middle of the night with sudden inspiration:

"It's happened. I try to resist it. I resent it, actually. I'd rather it came in the morning when I'm ready to go to work. But there have been times when I'll say "Oookay..." and I'll go downstairs and I write it down but I do it rarely."


On critics, self-validation, and his creative breakthrough:


"I had the ability to write music that was so radical that I could be mistaken for an idiot. And I was often at first, and I still am to this day. And yet it absolutely didn't bother me."


A quote from the director of Koyaanisqatsi. He would talk like this (on Philip Glass):


"He has created a musical language that is the acoustic door to the unknown, something possessed of an enormous complexity in its simplicity like an ever ascending score that never reached to the heavens."


Then he quotes someone called "Eisenstein".


When I watched this, I only knew Philip Glass as the composer for Koyaanisqatsi. Turns out, I've heard and appreciated his work in The Truman Show, The Illusionist, Secret Window, and Undertow. Also, "Einstein on the Beach" isn't just a Counting Crows song (check it). Who knew?