28 September 2009

[LOL] Hungry Otter Is On Yr Line, Stealin Yr Fishy

2215.Once again, KGW's Live@7 Twitterer at http://twitter.com/TheSquare has put the onus upon me to come up with a LOLOtter.

I joyfully rise to the challenge. As does the Otter.

Follow the most Twitter-savvy Portland TV crew @The Square. Follow me @SJKPDX.

KThx, Bai!

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27 September 2009

[logo] Another Reason Why Helvetica Is Cool

2214.It resolved a logo design impasse – and the sum was immediately, obviously, greater than the parts:

I was working for Quiksilver as a tee shirt designer.” Said Dean Bradley. “In the building late one night I began to hand-write the company name. Unfortunately in the script I liked most the letters “ver” were horrible. So I went to the font that never let’s me down (Helvetica Neue) and used it at the end, creating a syllable-tempo logo. Quik, Sil, Ver with the “ver” set in type, and the rest in hand.

Some are a little too quick to hate on Helvetica/Helvetica Neue as a font so overused that it's lost all character. I find that a little too dismissive. As anyone can see above, the addition of bland, unexciting old Helvetica Neue kicks this little number up to a new level of edgy.

Just because Helvetica has been "overused" doesn't mean there aren't appropriate places to use it.

And sometimes they come up serendipitously, in the place you have no way to expect.

Via Logo Design Love.

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[pdx] The Interstate Bridges From See Level

2213.Take a walk with Cyclotram's atul666:

And read all about it here. A very close and needful look at a very historic structure.

It's easy to forget how important to the mid-20th Century Portland-Vancouver population a way to get across the river was.

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24 September 2009

[IP] You're In The Band - But Who Owns The Act?

2212.Music makes the world go 'round.

That's the way I think of it anyway.

But musical acts are, in essence, not just a group of guys or gals or guys-n-gals getting together to play, get famous, and collect scads of fans – they're more than that. They're businesses, too – some very successful, the vast majority, not so.

Bear in mind that, through this subsequent narrative, I am not a lawyer of any kind, but simply am fascinated by these changes and think they have lessons to teach anybody who creates and collaborates.

I've found that, one of my side interests being intellectual property, the story of who owns the act – the band name, the right to call themselves by the distinctive brand – is usually quite interesting and very instructive. For instance, the soft-rock titans of the 70s and 80s, the Little River Band, are playing a casino up in Washington very soon. When you go to see them, though, given the band has made numerous personnel changes, are you seeing LRB, LRB 2.0, 3.0, or whatever?

Here are three stories I find interesting.

1. The Electric Light Orchestra. ELO is a band that, I hope, needs little introduction. Setting the standard for art-rock-for-the-masses during the 1970s and 80s, the album Out Of The Blue is still one of the signature albums of the late 20th Century, and Jeff Lynne, one of the founders of the band, has gone on to become a legend in his own right – as one of the Travelling Wilburys, producing for George Harrison and Tom Petty.

The history of ELO goes back to the late 60s. Lynne was a comer in the Birmingham UK music scene, fronting a popular local band called The Idle Race, which was on the verge of going national. In 1970 Jeff Lynne became a member of The Move, one of the most famous and notable British bands of the time, and he joined just in time to collaborate with the Move's frontman, Roy Wood, on a project that employed classical instruments to play rock and roll riffs – a project that became the Electric Light Orchestra, whose original members were Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne, and Bev Bevan (the drummer, who would remain with ELO throughout its glory years and into the 80s)

Roy Wood, however, left the group after the release of its first album (The Electric Light Orchestra, released in the USA as No Answer, an interesting story per se but for another time), leaving the continued survival of the act to Lynne and Bevan and whomever else they felt they could employ. The rest, as they say, is history, which ELO made up until the release of the album Balance of Power in 1986, when the band faded into retirement.

Some people just can't let a good act go, however. From the late 1980s through the early 1990s (approximately), Bevan who, as half of the original founding membership of the band had half-ownership in the ELO name, wanted to make another ELO album or reform the band in some way. Lynne, having tired of ELO, was not in the mood, but nor was he in the mood to allow Bevan and whatever band he gathered to record and tour as ELO. After obligatory legal negotiations, a solution was reached, and it was called Electric Light Orchestra Part II, Later simply ELO Part II. This band began with only Bevan and Louis Clark (the original string arragner for ELO) but eventually added old  ELO hands such as Mik Kaminski and the late Kelly Groucutt (who had a history of his own legal outs with the original ELO band). This arrangement survived until 2000, when Bevan disbanded ELO Part II, the remaining players reorganzing into a band called The Orkestra, which still tours and plays today.

Meanwhile, back on Lynne Street, in the year 2000 Bevan also resolved the question of ELO ownership by accepting a payment for his rights to the name ELO. Thus unencumbered, Jeff Lynne released the album Zoom in 2001 as an Electric Light Orchestra album.

2. Alice Cooper. While I am an admirer of the genius and daring that is Vincent Furnier I've never been a fan of metal. I am a big fan of brilliant, though, and his work as Alice Cooper deserves respect if only because of his passion for the form and his stunning genius in redefining metal music in terms of show and in terms of how it can wow its audience.

I was rather surprised to find out that the Alice Cooper name started out as the name of his band, however, not as the nom de guerre of the performer. It kind of evolved that way, apparently, based on his stage persona and show, people assumed that he actually went by the name Alice Cooper. Eventually he started to bill himself as Alice.

The problem here became that even though he wanted to bill himself as such, the name started out as the name of the band itself – therefore, the members who were in the band at the time had, as such, a share in the ownership of the success of the brand.

This was simply solved by the payment of royalties by the individual performer to all those who have rights to the name. While the amount is not a matter of record, Wikipedia's article on Cooper claims that it's enough for each lucky winner to live comfortably.

3. The Little River Band. The oringial Little River Band was based in Melbourne, Australia, and started out as a band calling itself "Mississippi". The legend has it, as told by one of the founding members or LRB, Beeb Birtles:

In the beginning, we were known as Mississippi, and already had a following from the three years we played all over Australia. Some of our avid fans objected to us being an Australian band with an American name so we decided to find a new name for ourselves. We tossed around a few different options but it wasn't until Glenn Shorrock and I, sitting in the back seat of a car while being driven to one of our first gigs in Geelong, Victoria that we passed the Little River signpost. Glenn turned to me and said, "Little River--that would make a good song title," but within a split second he said, "hey, what about  Little River Band?". When we mentioned it to the rest of the guys, they all agreed that it would be a perfect name for us.

The original lineup of LRB included musician/songwriters Graeham Goble, Beeb Birtles, and vocalist/songwriter Glenn Shorrock, three men whom, judging by the songs that got famous through the release of their breakthrough album Diamantina Cocktail, seemed to be the creative core of the group.

It wasn't long until personnel changes began to affect the complexion of the band. By the time Diamantina Cocktail had been released, the bass and lead guitar positions had each changed at least once. By the time of the release of Time Exposure in 1980, the last of the golden-age LRB albums, the bass player had been replaced again with American Wayne Nelson (who remains with the band until this day). During that time, Glenn Shorrock had left the band due to creative differences, Beeb Birtles left in 1983, Graeham Goble in 1992, Shorrock returned in 1987 only to leave again in 1996. The reasons were numerous – creative differences, touring schedules, the usual stuff you year about in the music press. Each original member left behind his rights to use the name through one legal avenue or another and a variety of circumstances (a few of which I'm not qualified to understand) when he left the band organization.

Eventually it fell out that guitarist Stephen Housden, who joined the band in 1981, was the sole survivor after original drummer Derek Pelliici left for good in 1998, leaving the rights to the band name with him, and the obligation of continuing the act with the talent he deemed acceptable. In 1999, after a three-year absence, bassist Wayne Nelson returned.

Moving up to the year 2001, Birtles, Shorrock, and Goble were seated together at a table at an Australian musical award program and they realized that, musically, they had a great deal in common and that they had to do and say, and set about forming an evolution of the original band with many of the founding members, which at first they'd hoped to call The Original Little River Band. This soon ran into trouble, as the various legal agreements – however they were arrived at and whomever approved or were involved – came home to roost. The band's brand and trademarks, owned by Stephen Housden, were closed to them; judging by my reading, they were apparently enjoined from mentioning, except in a very limited way, that they were founders of the LRB; the original release of 2005's Full Circle by the band (calling themselves simpley Birtles Shorrock Goble), notably had question marks in the marquee where the LRB's name would appear in the sentence ORIGINAL VOICES OF LITTLE RIVER BAND (see the illustration right, linked to from Wikipedia).

The official version of the Little River Band still tours, and is still fronted by Wayne Nelson who, presumably, holds ownership rights to the name (Wikipedia's page on LRB notes that Housden has left but has not updated any other information). Founder Graeham Goble released a song in 2006, "Someone's Taken Our History", which suggests how one of the founders feel about it:


From the POV of the fan, there's always the question; who is it you're watching? When ELO's Zoom came out in 2001, it was, legally-speaking, an ELO album, and it was a very good album (which I think is an incredibly underrated album) – but as thing, some critics have noted that it's more of a Jeff Lynne solo album in which a great many of his friends and collaborators paid visits to (Richard Tandy and Mik Kaminski, from the original ELO, made an appearance each, but the band that toured only had Lynne as the remaining original member). Similarly, Little River Band have created more albums since the departure of the founding members, but can a fan say that it's really LRB without BSG?

That sort of thing is really something for the fan to decide for themselves. I adore Jeff Lynne, and he can call himself anything he wants as long as he creates music. On the other hand, I'd probably be more inclined to see a BSG show than I would a modern LRB show.

It's a personal decision that can be, on the fan's level, more important than any legal agreement.

Can anyone, outside of brand name considerations, actually own an act?

I know I didn't answer the question – but then, I don't know if anyone really can.

The bottom-line lesson – it's a crap shoot, but get it in writing, if you can.

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22 September 2009

[type] The Oregonian, Promoting Perfect Penmanship

2211.I am an advocate for great penmanship.

Penmanship, as a subject, has been demoted to, at best, highly unnecessary. Some blame the internet, some blame laziness in schools; just like any trend, it has many fathers and mothers.

I prefer, as the authors of an amazing sidebar article on page O7 in the O! section of The Sunday Oregonian write, to lay the blame of illegibility and tedium on modern cursive handrwriting:

As we begin the school year, we state the obvious: American handwriting is in a woeful state. Schools' insistence on teaching looped cursive handwriting has left a generation of Americans with script they dislike or is often illegible.

The Palmer method and subsequent 20th Century methods were based on an ornate style that was difficult to learn and broke down under pressure. The loops and curlicues of Palmer and other methods obscure legibility. For good reason, one rarely finds looped cursive in print media or computer fonts. We have become a "Please Print" nation. Even worse, we've failed to find a replacement.

I could not have said it better. From the first, Palmer method was a bear for me, because I knew I could write beautifully but it was as though Palmer, with its insistence on curves, loops, and large parts of letters which served no discernable purpose like the big back bows on the R's, for instance) and severely unpretty letters (what the hell was up with that capital G? The fact that the capital Q looked like a big number "2" was adorable, but it didn't make up for the sheer ugliness of the rest of it) wanted to make me take the scenic route with every letter I drew.

And, mind you, I like the scenic route. There are some times, though, you do not want to take it. If I wanted to learn Copperplate script, then I'd learn Copperplate.

The Palmer method is no longer with us, but intellectual descendants, such as D'Nealian, still plague us. D'Nealian is a decided improvement on Palmer, but the cursive style still pleases me not.

I suppose part of the problem is that, as first- and second-graders, we're taught manuscript printing, big block capitals and smalls that – while they do teach you how to write, don't provide the skill set that translates neatly into the supposedly-superior cursive mode. Even D'Nealian provides for a "Manuscript" style (complete with little 'monkey tails' that are presumably intendend to help the learner evolve into a cursive writer).

Along with the authors of the piece in The Sunday O, Inga Dubay and Barbara Getty, I feel the way to legibility is the italic hand. Italics are more than just the slanty-script you see in print to denote ship names and book titles, but it's the hand developed by Italian scribes during the Renaissance – hence the name Italic (which I 'italicize' here in the name of irony as much as description).

The beauty of the italic hand is, if you know how to print, you already know about half of what you need to get started. Give the standard manuscript style an attractive slant, and you're on your way. Of course, like any civilized talent, you need to practice, but the beauty of the article in The Sunday O is that the practice is reduced to maybe just a few minutes a day. This is something anyone can do.

There are other italic references out there – they may be a bit hard to find. My very favorite is a book by Fred Eager, The Italic Way To Beautiful Handwriting, ISBN 0-02-07990-X, and my copy was published by MacMillan's Collier Books imprint in 1974. If you can find this book anywhere, get it, and copy off the pages from the inside to practice on. Alibris seems to be able to locate it for you. Barnes'n'Noble has some copies available too apparently. If you search "Fred Eager" on Amazon.com you may or may not find this partcular work but you'll find other italic instruction texts by Eager.

Italic hand, once learned, can be made your own and still look lovely and legible. I tell you no lie here: I began developing my own style, inspired by typewritten and italic forms, in junior high. This was back when some teachers still tried, half-heartedly, to teach penmanship; I held fast to my own style, and eventually began refining it. I've still got diaries I wrote back in the 80s and 90s, and it's become more fluid, more natural, but has been busy refining itself. It's almost as though it's aware of itself sometimes. And, more: once you master the basics of italic hand, you can enjoy writing in it as-is, or take it into full-blown calligraphy, and this is a great skill: strangely, even in this day where you think that nobody likes beautiful writing anymore, you'll find yourself admired for having writing that's not only clear to read, but beautiful to look at. I have, at work, had people bring me something to write out again for them just because my handwriting is accomplished and nice to look at.

That may sound like bragging, but it's not. And I could take up a reasonably competent calligraphy practice at any time.

But, back to earth … if you tire of your own 'hen scratching' and am tired of also making excuses for it, then check out italic hand. I think it's the answer. You'll be glad you did it.

The article – which you ought to save and print out for practice – is at The New York Times here. Save it and practice. I hope they keep this publicly available for a while.

Here's the URL for your bookmarking pleasure: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/09/04/opinion/20090908_opart.html

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18 September 2009

[branding] Three Iconic Brand Names You Might Have Thought Were Fictional Characters, But Aren't

2211.Most people are by now well-familiar with the legend of Betty Crocker. The General Mills Corporation created her in the 1920s and nurtured and grew her through the years to become an iconic representation of an American housewife/homemaker – a gentle, caring, knowledgeable American everywoman, wife, and mother, the personification of the nurturing mother figure who also knew how to make some wicked great food.

I opine that this is neither good nor bad, but just the quintessential tool of marketing – the power of a brand. One look at Betty's face on a package and the buyer (which these days could be male as well as female and possibly in a familial lifestyle that the creators of Betty could hardly have forseen) knows they're buying a mix and a process that will, when followed to the letter, result in something comforting and good. Betty's done the hard work for you; you can trust her; thus, Betty ministers home-style comfort to all comers regardless of creed, color, sexual orientation, marital status, or any number of demographic variables.

Whoever you are, if you want to be brilliant in the kitchen on short notice, Betty has your back.

This is the power of a brand.

But knowing this, and combining it with the cynicism of the modern American shopper, it's tempting, I've found, to believe that every iconic name began with a brand calculation. It's not, of course, true, and to demonstrate, I've found three very interesting examples, which also have something to say about the power of a brand.

1. Famous Amos Cookies.

Wally Amos (b. 1939, Tallahassee FL, USA), was a USAF veteran who, in the 1980s, worked as an agent with the William Morris Agency. One of his signature ways to try to seal the deal was to bake and deliver boxes of his trademark chocolate-chip cookies to prospective clients. He excelled as an agent, representing Diana Ross as well as Simon & Garfunkel, but it was his cookies made history. Opening a store in Los Angeles in 1975 his cookies soon became so popular that expansion to supermarket shelves became a foregone conclusion.

The cookies traded on the ebullient and quirky personality of "Famous" Amos himself, with his picture appearing on the package of his cookies through the 1990s (subsequent to many changes of ownership) and, reportedly, again since 2000 or so. Wally Amos himself is known as a motivational speaker and writer. He promotes happiness in life, which is appropriate, since only the most hard-hearted amongst us can't be cheered up at least just a little by an excellent cookie.

2. Marie Callender

When Don Callender (1928-2009) began a pie wholesale business in Long Beach California, he named his concern after his mother, Marie. While the company history, which traces the company's founding to the notional pie-making and delivery business started by his mother Marie is somewhat at odds with the independent researchers at Wikipedia who note the founding story's strong similarity to the 1941 movie Mildred Pierce, sentimentally, it matters not much, because the story it calls forth is one of sentimental American values and the damn good pies and home made food Mom always made.

Marie Callender's, which started in California in 1948 and has spread across the US west with 130 locations at last count, has made its success with a reliance on those signature pies as well as good, standard American restaurant fare.

3. Duncan Hines

I saved the best for last, because this is the story that really impresses me the most. I assumed that, given its middle-American sound and feel, Duncan Hines was another creation similar to Betty Crocker. Not true. As a matter of fact, Duncan Hines (b. Bowling Green, KY, 1880-1959) was the seminal American travel-guide writer. Every Mobil guide you crack open owes its debt to him.

In the 1930s, Duncan Hines was a Chicago-based traveling print salesman. This was before a dependable national road network existed – the network was there, but it was still growing. As long as you stayed close to the cities, you knew you were going to find adequate food, but when you went out into the hinterlands, you were on your own, pretty much.

In the mid 1930s, Hines and his wife began compiling a list of notes of the restaurants they'd visited and the experiences they'd had. In 1935 this as published as a paperback, Adventures in Good Eating, that highlighted the best. It became sort of the American version of the Michelin guide, it spread far and wide with success; the book was apparently updated yearly, and if any listed restaurant was heard of as slipping below standards, it was dropped. Eventually, designated restaurants were allowed to display a "Recommended by Duncan Hines" sign, trading on the trustworthiness of Duncan Hines's book to generate steady and repeat business – also, presumably, explaining why earlier versions of the Duncan Hines logo appeared to resemble a colonial-design signboard (also, presumably, influenced by the gracious colonial style popular in bluegrass country).

In the 1950s, Hines began licensing his name to food manufacturers. The rights to the brand eventually passed to Nebraska Consolidated Mills, the company who for years produced and marketed Duncan Hines bake mixes. The brand currently is under the Pinnacle Foods umbrella, and Bowling Green, KY, has a highway named in his honor.

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17 September 2009

[type] Georgia And Arial Are Finally Getting That Print Polish

2210.Verdana and Georgia are two fonts everyone has seen. They're all over the web, literally; MSFT dubbed them part of the set of core fonts for the web, and every computer with a commercially-produced OS likely haz them. They tend to occasionally – well, more than occasionally – find their way into print.

Most notably (and somewhat hilariously), the chain IKEA caused a stir – mostly amongst us typeophiles and graphic designers – when they decided to ditch their long-time variant on Futura, sometimes called IKEA Sans, for Verdana. To most designers, this is like showing up for an important client meeting in one of those suits that come in a wrapper. Declasse? You bet. Might as well just use Comic Sans up in there (which, maybe not coincidentally, is also a core font for the web).

The primary objection to using Georgia and Verdana for anything other than Web design is just that – they were intended for the web. Designing something to be visible on-screen, by its very term, means that you're disregarding any consideration that would make it appropriate for print:

To make the fonts look good at small screen sizes, they were designed with large x-heights, open counters, high bold contrast, extra spacing, and exaggerated features to help distinguish commonly confused letterforms (like the number 1, the lowercase L and the uppercase I)—which is why the text starts to feel awkward at large sizes.

This is apparently in the act of being rectified now:

The Ascender, Carter & Cone and Font Bureau project intends to optimize the Verdana and Georgia fonts for many new applications, including extended text formatting on websites and in print. The Georgia/Verdana project will provide a variety of enhancements to these fonts including:
  • New weights and widths beyond the original four fonts in each family
  • Extensions to the character sets
  • Extensions to the kerning
  • OpenType typographic features for enhanced typography
“Verdana and Georgia were commissioned by Microsoft to provide the basic necessities of type on screen: sanserif and serif, in regular and bold weights with italics, designed for maximum legibility.” said Matthew Carter of Carter & Cone Type Inc. “The new additions to the font families are a natural and timely progression; they offer a wider range of typographic versatility, both on screen and in print, while remaining consistent with the originals.”

The Core Fonts for the Web initiative is actually a thing of the past now; Verdana and Georgia are very widely distributed however, and if people are going to use them for print as well as Web, we may as well have good clean versions of them for that.

I'll still choose Myriad over Verdana, though. Nothing personal, Verdana.

(via idsgn)

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15 September 2009

[type] Max And Les Kerning Are At It Again …

2209.Suitcase Fusion, Extensis's signature software product, have been pleasing Mac typophiles and designers for years now.

Well, they're now available for Windows. (via Manage This at blog.extensis.com)

Click to the above link if the video is hard to access via here. YouTube has been real rude and foogy to me lately.

Thanks to reader "amanda" for the tip.

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11 September 2009

[sf] Help Jeanne Robinson Fight Cancer - Win Dinner With Harlan and Susan Ellison!

2208.SF Fans, time to help: Most of you have heard of Spider Robinson, the creator (amongst other nifty things) Callahan's Crosstime Saloon. He's a legendary writer. His wife and co-conspirator, Jeanne, is a magnificent artist and sage in her own right, a dancer, and a writer.

Jeanne is afflicted with a rare and aggressive form of bile duct cancer, and, as such illnesses are wont to do, the Robinson family's finances are very nearly depleted. If Spider's fiction has delighted you or if anything Jeanne has done, then you can help out. There are several links that can connect you, full of information about what they're going through and how you can do a little something:
But here's the big bit of news: Harlan Ellison has offered a most amazing thing: Dinner, at Ellison Wonderland, otherwise known as The Lost Incan Temple of Mars, in beautiful LA, with both Susan and Harlan Ellison. This will be auctioned off starting this Sunday, at the Ebay site for Jeanne's auctions.

The bidding will start at $1000 and the winner will be responsible for providing their own transportation to LA, but you know what? If I could afford that sort of money, you bet your sweet ass I would! Just to see the inside of that amazing house once in my life and shake Harlan and Susan's hands would be a hell of a hoot!

Imagine what you could do … maybe you could finally get the address of that idea Service in Schenectady that Harlan uses (well, I mean, you might … ). But if Spider and Jeanne's works have made you happy, here's a way you can give back.

If you can, you ought to.

More detail can be had at this BoingBoing article here.

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10 September 2009

[design] Paul Rand: "Don't Try To Be Original, Just Try To Be Good"

2207.Words of inestimable wisdom from the late Paul Rand, via Logo Design Love, in a nifty 3-and-a-half minute animated video:

Here's a link to the YouTube page because there's just a white rectangle when I try to load the blog, and I never know whether it's me or everybody this is a problem with.

Video speaks for itself. Any commentary from me would by surly in comparison.

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08 September 2009

[design] PortlandOnline Design Contest Throws Light On The Poison Of "Spec Work"

2206.The recent retracking of the PortlandOnline.com "Refresh" web design contest into a banner-design only contest (thanks to local creative professionals standing up along with AIGA to remind the city that good design work comes from committed professionals, and not from a cattle-call) is welcome news, and gives us a chance to see what "spec-work" really means to the graphic design profession – as well as, maybe a profession near you.

Spec-work – speculative work – is something that happens when one is expected to do a job for free in hopes to get a plum (or any) assignment.

How would you feel if, say, you worked in a fast-food restaurant, any shift, and there was a new plan of compensation: there was an amazingly big paycheck at the end of the night – but only one person was going to get it, and the winner was the person who worked the entire shift and not only did their job better than anyone else, but also won the popularity contest amongst the customers?

Manifestly unfair, isn't it? I don't think anyone would argue that if you work in such an occupation, you deserve to be paid – however much you have a right to expect to be paid – for your work if you delivered a skillful performance.

There are sites out there, most notably 99designs.com and crowdSPRING.com, that work under just such this principle. Contests are fielded for designs for logos, websites, anything a graphic or digital designer could be expected to do, and prizes are awarded for the best designs. Customers expect everyone to bring their A game, but if they don't like your design – well, that's the breaks, kiddos. You've done a complete job, you've invested time, sweat, and skin, but sorry. You lost.

If you're like me, you and everyone you know, you can't get that time and effort back.

But it's making bank for the proprietors of crowdsourcing sites, and others are noticing there's big money to be made off desperation. Some purveyors are offering turnkey site kits that allow you to set up your own design contest site in no time. Spec work poisons the profession by encouraging the perception of the professional designer as someone who will do anything for the chance at a couple of bucks, which drives down the amount of money designers can expect to get for their hard work, which undermines professionals, and makes easier for beginners to get in the profession and actually become professionals themselves, a negative feedback loop; also, the quality of the work tends to go down, because you can't get professional work from people you don't treat as professionals.

If you've chosen to become a professional, to really commit to creating, then you deserve to be paid, not to hope for a chance at getting paid. Designing is more than just getting a hot computer and a copy of Photoshop. It requires training, and any designer that respects themselves and their work will tell you that design, like any other creative work, is hard work.

The greatest logo designer of the 20th Century was the great Paul Rand. A modern-day Paul Rand wouldn't stand a chance in today's crowdsourcing environment.

So, Portland's decision to recast the web design competition was welcome, if not 100% perfect; I appreciate the creative professionals in this town and the local AIGA for standing up for people who believe that a profession should be treated as one, and the best way to get a professional job is to contact with one.

You pay a professional, you get a professional job.

You cut corners with crowdsourcing, you get what you get. Hope that works out for you.

No!Spec is essential for anyone who wants to understand why crowdsourcing is poison to the design profession. You can visit them at http://no-spec.com.

SpecWatch is a Twitterer who provides an ongoing look at what a sordid web crowdsourcing sites can become. Visit their stream at http://twitter.com/specwatch.

Respect your profession. Respect your work. Respect yourself. Avoid crowdsourcing and spec work contests.

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03 September 2009

[design] Fantasy and Science Fiction Themes in TV Since Star Trek – Amazing Graphic Treat

2205.io9.com's Stephanie Fox is someone I am now a fan of. Her genius here is the chart, and her production goes to show how an aptly-designed chart can give you a distilled view of trends that you can get your brain around.

Starting the year after Star Trek's cancellation and last broadcast, the left hand column gives you an at-a-glance display of what TV shows were running, when, and how long. Looking right, you have tabulated the number of shows in which each one of a number of common themes (such as Magic, Robots, Space Travel, and Aliens). Connecting the dots gives a view of what goes popular over time, what seems t stay popular, and what was popular when televised SF and F was really big which, as it turns out, the top half of the 90s.

Here's the chart. Clicking on it should provide some biggenation; if that doesn't work, just go here: http://picasaweb.google.com/samuel.klein/BlogSupport#5377428635350131762:

Discussion and other biggenation can be had at this thread on io9.com: http://io9.com/5347631/at-last-a-graph-that-explains-scifi-tv-after-star-trek. Chart was used with permission (thanks, Stephanie!).

About the only way that I can think that this would be niftier is to add a timeline of world news and events. I'm of the opinion that SF and F television either reflects what we're trying to deal with as a society, or inverts that – in some way, SF and F portrays worlds that invert our fears and fantasies (taking us from powerless to powerful, from worried to confident), and this is because I've always felt that well-done SF really holds a mirror up to our present and compels us to question it.

But that's just me being a dilettante, maybe.

It is a nifty chart, though, and don't question me on this!

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[liff] LOL Otter Can't Hear You!

2204.Thanks to the KGW's Live@7 Twitter pilot @TheSquare for the basis to this picture:

What can I say, I needed a cheer-up. This is kind of a PDX Unicorn Chaser. It's a simple equation really: TheSquare finds an otter, and I LOLize it.

Thanks, Live@7 Twitterpilot! I feel better!

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02 September 2009

[media] C'mon, Academy … Do It For The Flavens

2203.New York Observer cartoonist Drew Friedman makes an excellent case for giving a lifetime achievment Oscar™ to Jerry Lewis.

Jerry liked it so much, he invited Drew to appear on the upcoming MDA Telethon, so, hey, he's got that workin' for him.

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