New Keyboard Has Just 53 Keys

New Keyboard Has Just 53 Keys: “Enigma5O writes to tell us The Tech Zone is reporting on a new style of keyboard with just 53 keys. Departing from the normal QWERTY keyboard setup the ‘New Standard Keyboard’ designed by John Parkinson measures just 12.5 inches wide x 5 inches deep x 1 inch thick and is arranged in alphabetical order. The keyboard has been designed with ergonomics in mind keeping all keys within easy reach of the home position. The only question is, will everyone be willing to relearn how to type?

Netlash logo…

As you might have read in a previous post I’m working on a new logo for Netlash. Perhaps it’s a good idea to have a look at the basics in logo design. Wikipedia has the following to say about the subject:

A good logo:

  • is unique, and not subject to confusion with other logos among customers
  • is functional and can be used in many different contexts while retaining its integrity
    • should remain effective reproduced small or large
    • can work in “full-color”, but also in two color presentation (black and white), spot color, or halftone.
    • may be able to maintain it’s integrity printed on various fabrics or materials (where the shape of the product may distort the logo)
  • abides by basic design principles of space, color, form, consistency, and clarity
  • represents the brand/company appropriately

I like simple sets of rules.

Netlash changes.

I’ve been thinking, sketching & experimenting for a while now with a new logo for Netlash. I’m at the stage in the design process where I quickly jot down a couple of ideas in my sketchbook & at the same time think quite a lot about the underlying ideas which have to be expressed by the logo. We’re moving office next month & we thought that would be the perfect opportunity of streamlining our visual identity

Well, the above paragraph is actually just another way of saying: “I’m trying to do something interesting with that darn logo.”

The present situation.

Below is a representation of the current logo. Plain & simple, set in Helvetica Neue with a vertical dash between the two parts of the name. Almost too simple.

First thought I had was to get rid of the vertical dash. It divides too much. The two different font weights also don’t help to create any unity between the first and last part of the name. That Helvetica typeface will have to go too.

This design is 3 years old. We were all quite happy with the design but now we do realize it’s time to move on…

I found this very interesting read at A List Apart: Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign. Although I don’t agree completely with the writer’s point of view, he does present some challenging thoughts in the article. But I’ll return to that in a future post.

Thoughts for the next design.

I made up a resume of ideas & thoughts that somehow will have to find a place in the new design. This list is in no way final, though, it’s more of a “wishlist”. I always try to compile a list like this to keep track of what I’m actually doing:

  • visual reference to the web (Internet) in general (that’s the core business here at Netlash)
  • a visual element which indicates “focus” on an individual website, or “channel” to an individual website would be nice
  • the design has to make clear what the last part of the name actually stands for (it’s derived from whiplash)
  • Netlash is quite serious about it’s business, but is always careful to maintain a human touch

I’ll be happy to get at least 3 of these “wishes” into the design.

Realtimebookdesign

Today I stumbled across this fascinating project: Realtimebookdesign. And when I say stumble, I do actually mean it.

I was trying to find out if there was any further evolution in both the n-gen application by Movedesign (Flash warning) and the Auto-illustrator application by Signwave. 2 applications which aim to automate the design & creation process (auto generated designs). Pity there is no evolution to report on that front.

So I was immediately interested when the Google search results returned the Realtimebookdesign website.

From the Realtimebookdesign website:

The goal of the project was to investigate the position of the (graphic) designer in a world in which the information that is traditionally designed and unlocked by the graphic designer has increased dramatically in scale. The development of information technology gave birth to enormous data structures (databases), that hold the equivalent of many libraries in information. Project Gutenberg / Realtime bookdesign is an installation which exists of six computer screens. Four screens display the entire catalogue of Project Gutenberg. The background of each column of the catalogue has a flowing color, that gives you the feeling the catalogue is dynamic / alive. You can browse though the catalogue and pick a book, you’re interested in. When you select it, more information is given on the book, and the you can choose to “generate” the book.

At this point the book is being extracted from the Project Gutenberg database, and downloaded to the local computer. From here a design is created for this book, based on a large number of graphic rules. The system gathers information about the book; the number of pages, the kind and number of words used in the title and metadata from the database, such as the original date of publishing, the category the book is in, and so on…

These rules, applied, make up a design for a cover, and a lay-out for the text. After a few seconds, the result shows on a fifth display. You can now browse though his custom designed book, and – since crop marks are generated with it – print it.

A sixth display shows a compilation of books that have been generated before.

Within this project the book has made a journey, from it’s original (physical) publication, maybe some hundred years ago, through the digitization and archiving of Project Gutenberg, it regains it’s physical state after it has been “generated” and printed with the Realtime Bookdesign installation.

Basically the essence of this project is to create a system for the automated, user-centric creation of a graphic design for a text.

Is this the future for the graphic designer? Will the graphic designer become a sort of programmer who makes up a rule set (or system) which will allow a customer to create a custom lay-out for the text he or she just bought? Interesting thought this is.

As the amount of available information multiplies at an alarming and ever increasing rate (including customer- or user generated content), it will eventually be impossible to lay-out all of it by hand. Which leaves us with two options: templates or design automation, of which automation is by far the more desirable option, because if we all start using templates everything will look the same in the end. Which would be a pity, I think.

The automation of the process also gives a user of such a system more control over the design. It could allow for input of the actual consumer of the text. A process which is now completely controlled by author / publisher / designer. And, by consequence, the consumer could end up with a better and more individual product.

Interesting stuff, I think. I’ll be following these kinds of projects more closely from now on.

Striking & The Internet

This morning, as I was driving to the Netlash office, listening to the radio, an interesting thought struck me. The newsreader was talking about the national strike going on here in Belgium, a number of unions are protesting against the “Generation Pact” proposed by the Belgian Government, and casually announced after finishing his report that because of the strike there would be a replacement programme on the radio. The radio stations would just play non-stop music.

I thought: “Ok, so alternative content on the media, but what about the websites? What are the TV and radio stations going to do with their websites? If they are making a replacement programme on TV and radio, why not do the same thing online?

So when I arrived at the office, first thing I did was check all of the websites of the media. All of them were in perfect order. Of course articles were published dealing with the national action and such, but not one of them seized the opportunity to actually “put their website on strike”.

I really think this is a missed opportunity.

It would be a relativly easy thing to do: just replace the frontpage with a simple message, something along the lines of: “Due to the National Action, this website is unavailable.” Just to take it offline for one day would be a very strong signal to visitors.

Again: a missed opportunity.

However, don’t take all of this too seriously. This is just my opinion.

Apple & Intel

Well, I’m back again. Sorry for the absence. I was working on other interesting stuff & really had NO time left for this blog.

What to think of the latest & hottest news? Cringely sure has some interesting stuff to say about Apple switching to Intel processors. Same goes for this article on Computer Business Review Online.

Not to mention the dispelling of the “Megahertz Myth“. Anyone remember that one? Apple machines will now ALWAYS be just as fast as the generic PC. How odd. I thought I was brainwashed to think differently? I thought megahertz didn’t matter? Hmmmm.

Anyway, who cares what’s at the heart of a machine, as long as it can run Mac OS X?

Is Apple The New Microsoft?

Now, listen up, folks. It is my own strong personal belief that there are no stupid questions. This question, however is testing that belief to it’s limits.

Is Apple the new Microsoft? Of course it is. Just as Microsoft is the new IBM. And “insert smaller ‘cool’ company” is the new “insert bigger ‘uncool’ company”.

Has Apple made a mistake? Of course they have. Can they rectify it? Of course. Will they rectify it? Certainly not. This is just a minor hiccup in the ongoing struggle of a company with a changing media landscape. Remember: the Internet is the most democratic medium of all. Think different about that fact for a while.