To be minimalist …

I believe we have to get away from the idea of minimalism as a style and instead understand it as a way of thinking about space: its proportions, its surfaces, and the fall of light. The vision is comprehensive and seamless, a quality of space rather than forms; places, not things.

Minimalism is not an architecture of self-denial, deprivation or absence: it is defined not by what is not there, but by the rightness of what is there and by the richness with which this is experienced.

…the glory lies not in the act of removal, but in the experience of what is left. Profound – and pleasurable – experience is located in ordinary experience: in the taking of a shower or the preparation of food.

For me, comfort is synonymous with a state of total clarity where the eye, the mind and the physical body are at ease, where nothing jars or distracts. This emphasis on a quality of experience is important. Some people seem to have an idea that the only role the individual has in such spaces is the capacity to contaminate. In the sort of work that interests me, the antithesis is true: the individual is always at its heart.
John Pawson


Fujian “Soundart”

I returned to China yesterday after a 3 month absence. There is much to write about the past 3 months and my return to working here, but I think the above video might be a good start. This was what I was greeted with at 5:55am today. Still suffering from the worst jet lag I’ve ever experienced I was up at 3am anyway, but only here would they be allowed to produce such soul destroying noise this early in the day (and it’s been going non-stop for 8 months). This may be a contributing factor as why most of my colleagues are now spending there time away from this campus.


The Story of the Chinese Farmer

Once upon a time, there was a Chinese farmer who lost a horse. Ran away. And all the neighbors came ‘round that evening and said, “that’s too bad.”

And he said, “maybe.”

The next day, the horse came back and brought seven wild horses with it. And all the neighbors came around and said, “that’s great, isn’t it?”

And he said, “maybe.”

The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad, because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune. Or you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.


Because every person knows what he likes, every person thinks he is an expert on user interfaces.
Paul Heckel


Good creators don’t talk shit about their fellow creators. They champion the work of those around them. They know how hard this stuff is. They accept that stumbles are part of what we do. And they treat one another with respect—because we all deserve that. Eric Karjaluoto

From Don’t Be a Crehater


A Tale of Two Cities

I prefer the number on the right.

I think Spring in Prince Edward Island has been cancelled this year and we might just slip into summer, if we are lucky. Meanwhile, it’s almost time to turn on the air conditioner in Hsinchu.

My wife laments the heat and mosquitos while running. I wonder if it’s possible to get frost bite (actually it’s too cold for me to run outside and I opt for a treadmill).


Amidst all the attention given to the sciences as to how they can lead to the cure of all diseases and daily problems of mankind, I believe that the biggest breakthrough will be the realization that the arts, which are considered “useless,” will be recognized as the whole reason why we ever try to live longer or live more prosperously. The arts are the science of enjoying life.
John Maeda


Trends in UI, Interaction, & Experience Design


Back when Nokia was publishing research I looked forward to listening to Younghee Jung’s thoughts on design. Nice to see her as a part of this video.

The 18 minute “Connecting” documentary is an exploration of the future of Interaction Design and User Experience from some of the industry’s thought leaders. As the role of software is catapulting forward, Interaction Design is seen to be not only increasing in importance dramatically, but also expected to play a leading role in shaping the coming “Internet of things.” Ultimately, when the digital and physical worlds become one, humans along with technology are potentially on the path to becoming a “super organism” capable of influencing and enabling a broad spectrum of new behaviors in the world.


Training in PEI

Judging by the number of people running throughout the time I have been home here on the Island, I’m likely in the minority in thinking that training here is an exercise in frustration. Perhaps the years I have spent overseas have weakened my ability to withstand the cold.

The weather today called for high temperatures around 15C with the ever-present cloudy skies. As I step outside the door to go for a long run it’s raining and only 4.

The locals know that weather reports are at best entertainment, something to be talked about, but certainly nothing to count on. Hence the CBC weather man.

I came here 7 weeks ago for family reasons but hoped to keep my training schedule for a race in June. Running helps me concentrate, think and maintain focus. It’s helped me physically too, but I have problems with that scrawny runner body. After running there is little time for a weight room, little energy either.

Initially instead of opting for expensive running gear, and the risks in running in the near constant snow storms this past 7 weeks, I joined a gym for a month. Running in a gym takes most of the joy out of running, so I bought a couple articles of clothing, thinking that the weather is breaking. I didn’t buy rain gear. Getting wet in Taiwan is no fun on long runs either, in China my clothes might melt.

So I sit here looking at this blog and fuming that I have to spend a couple hours on a treadmill, while being forced to watch CNN or the food network on a screen right in front of me, while listening to some ugly loud music blaring from the overhead speakers. If we move back here, an investment in a treadmill will be necessary for all but a few months a year.


An Information Architecture Process

I found this process amongst a category of old files – it dates from about 2002 when I was working with librarians to rearchitect various corporate web systems at the time. I’m sure I must have written this outline as a way to communicate next steps – we loved the waterfall process back then.
  • Take all the content and features apart (analysis)
  • Then put it all back together again (synthesis)

Analysis

  1. Create a complete listing of all content: Forget how content is produced, Political structures
  2. From the content audit, identify broad types of content
  3. Create core content attributes
    • All content is intended:
      • For someone (an audience)
      • Who is trying to do something (a task)
    • Identify intrinsic attributes of each content type
    • Start with some simple questions:
      • What is it? (White paper? Product review?)
      • Who made it? (Author)
      • When was it made? (Date Published)
      • Where was it made? (Location/Company Published)
      • What is it about?
      • What type of media?
  4. Subject Attributes
    • All content has a subject
    • Subjects exist independent of content
    • Subject attributes are highly specific to that subject
  5. Attribute Relevance
    • Prioritization based on persona(s)

Synthesis

  1. Taxonomy
    • Look for commonalities among attributes
    • Group like attributes into categories
    • Organize categories into hierarchies
  2. Primary and Secondary Structures
    • Multiple overlapping taxonomies are very common
    • Prioritize taxonomies by relevance
    • Make less relevant taxonomies secondary
  3. Final Relevance (to target) and labeling
  4. Verify with testing