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Jason Santa Maria



The ramblings of one Jason Santa Maria.



Published: 2017-07-27T16:58:28+00:00

 



Fundamentals of Web Typography on Skillshare

2017-07-27T16:58:28+00:00

There’s too much to know, so why bother. I’m not creative. I can’t tell the difference between them. I just want something that looks good. I’ll just use whatever is on my computer.

I’ve listened to more than a few people lament that typographic knowledge feels impenetrable. Too many pitfalls, foundries, considerations, and the sheer number of typefaces! It’s true, typography goes long. And the pace of new work can be kind of staggering.

But learning enough to make a few good choices can lift that fog. Just like learning a couple steps might help you get on the dance floor, or learning how to select ripe produce might get you cooking—learning a few things about type will help you choose fonts and use them with confidence.

Well, I’ve got your back! I made a Skillshare class called How to Look at Type: Fundamentals of Web Typography to help you get up to speed. In a breezy 50 minutes you’ll learn all about how to evaluate and choose good typefaces, use typography to evoke a mood, and set your type with ease.

And if you signup now, you’ll get your first two months free. Which is handy because there are amazing classes from the likes of Paula Scher, Aaron Draplin, Ellen Lupton, and Mary Kate McDevitt.

In less than an hour you can get over the hump and up your typography game. Check out the introduction video today!

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Saved

2015-02-13T15:47:34+00:00

In his article “Ordinary Plenty” Jeremy Keith looks at the value of the all digital stuff we make, and their ability to last or not.

Preservation is a topic dear to my heart, and one I have a lot of feelings about that I often have trouble putting to words. Thankfully, Jeremy thinks, writes, and talks a lot about this stuff, so I can usually just read along and nod.

As I was reading his article yesterday, something finally clicked for me. One of the arguments I often hear for why preservation isn’t that pressing is that “important things will get saved.” That and “who cares about saving status updates.”

And there is some truth to that. Sometimes things are culturally significant in the moment and have an immediate effect. An important artwork or statement, a technical or scientific achievement, and countless other things. These make the news and get documented. Things that don’t, fade away.

But do they make up the bulk of history? How much of the story of us and what we make do they cover? Many of the artists we consider relevant and influential today were never appreciated during their lifetime. And certainly not on a mass scale. Much of the art (in the broad sense) that rises to a larger cultural role does so only in retrospect. Once we’ve had time to see the influence and connective tissue fully grow.

Collectors of the world save things because they have a personal connection to them. They preserve what they love, and in time, likely pass those things down to another caretaker; sometimes another person or institution. But what about things we’ve lost? There is art out there we will never see because the timing was off. Hell, sometimes it’s just the rapid progress of formats and technical progress that makes us shortsighted.

I’m not saying that all creative works would rise to significance. But, I am saying that I feel too close to things in the moment to know what will or will not. Perhaps it’s not our job to decide what’s important right now. Instead, we’re the ones who save everything for those after us to sift through. Those future people, with their knowledge and context we can’t foresee, are the ones who trace the paths back to us.

So, yes, important things will get saved. But that doesn’t feel like a solid argument for how preservation happens.

Maybe those things weren’t saved because they were important. Maybe they were important because they were saved.

In order to write a history, you need evidence of what happened. When we talk about preserving the stuff we make on the web, it isn’t because we think a Facebook status update, or those GeoCities sites have such significance now. It’s because we can’t know.

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All the Domains

2014-12-29T18:20:53+00:00

I register a lot of domain names. Chances are if you’re reading this, you probably have at least a few yourself. Only a handful of mine are in active use. All the others represent a good intention I had to make an awesome website.

The domains all start innocently enough: it could be a funny turn of phrase I hear while out with some friends; an overheard quip from a television in background; a little burning ember of an idea that keeps coming back to me. There was the one where I would interview people about their most prized possession, or the single-serving site about alternatives to using Helvetica. The list goes on and on.

Around this time of year a bunch of my domain names come up for renewal—likely registered after nights out with friends around the holidays. When they came up for renewal this time, I had to stop and think for a minute. What the hell am I doing? Why do I keep renewing these domains when I will probably never get around to doing anything with them.

This is a domain affliction. It feels encoded in any of us working on the web; we register domains at the drop of a hat. Not because we’re looking for a future pay day, but because we’re in constant conflict with the evil domain squatters.

In recent years, the internet has self-corrected the domain squatter problem. There are many viable TLDs available beyond the workhorse .com, from .co, .io, .is, .me, and so many more. But the big change here is that URLs just aren’t that important anymore. It’s still nice to have a short and memorable domain, but the means to get to a site is more important than ever: links. It doesn’t matter how long or weird your URL is, just link someone to it.

Maybe it’s time I got rid of those extra domains.

Years ago I mused that it would be fun to hold a poker game and use domains as the chips. Though, that could actually mean walking away with more domains than you arrived with. Ugh!

More recently I thought it could be fun to have a site (hey, I could get another domain!) where people could list domains for others to claim. But with a catch to keep the domain from just languishing on someone else’s shelf: they’d have a month or so to make a site that uses the domain before it would be transferred to them.

But that seems silly too. Almost like instead of collecting domains I’m collecting ideas to offload domains. Honestly, if I haven’t followed through on the idea behind a domain by now, I’m just wasting money on them. Money that could be going to a charity or at the very least, not down the drain. And some non-domain-squatter might have a better idea for that domain anyway.

I think as my unused domains come up for renewal I’m just going to let them go, or offer them to folks who might use them. There was a time when a domain represented a placeholder for an idea to me. And worse yet, buying the domain gave me a feeling of accomplishment that took the pressure off of having to finish anything more. Now they’ve just become a neglected to-do list (and I have some of those too).

If all those domains went away tomorrow, I would still have the ideas. Those creative impulses can be just a list or a scribble in a sketchbook, until they actually need to be something more. There will be plenty of domains.

This piece originally appeared on The Pastry Box Project.

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The Sweatpants of Typefaces

2014-12-22T20:48:37+00:00

I’m a little late to the game, but The Last Word on Helvetica by John Boardley is spot on. It’s well worth a read if you are plagued by the notion of Helvetica being a neutral typeface, or are wondering why some might consider it “the sweatpants of typefaces.” (I do too)

Ostensibly, my only gripe with Helvetica (designed by Max Miedinger & Eduard Hoffmann) is not the typeface itself, but how — and how often — it is pressed into service.

At the real heart of the matter is not only how often Helvetica is used, but how often it’s used as a thoughtless default.

What’s your favorite tool? Hammer? screwdriver? chainsaw? The choice of typeface is decided only when one knows the nature of the job. It does not precede it. And sometimes, Helvetica will be one of the tools adequate for the job. Further narrowing down the field: Claw hammer? ball pein? cross and straight pein? club hammer? sledge hammer? soft-face hammer? But never, when it comes to typefaces, can we narrow the field to a single typeface — your typographic soul-mate does not exist in any one typeface. The final selection is a subjective choice made from a field of worthy and appropriate contenders. Never, ever, ever, by a process of elimination, do we arrive at Helvetica. But we might arrive at, say, a typeface with neo-grotesk or grotesk attributes, of which Helvetica is but one example.

I’ll stop there before I just quote the whole article, but a big thank you to John for putting words and reason to this.

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Responsive Responsibility

2014-12-05T15:51:14+00:00

Just over four years ago Ethan Marcotte penned the article “Responsive Web Design”, and a year later we published his book by the same name at A Book Apart. It’s no stretch to say that both have gone on to shape the very way we design websites now. I think Ethan and his work are brilliant. He’s also as gracious and humble as they come, so he’s the first to highlight the ideas and work that influenced him, notably John Allsopp’s A Dao of Web Design. And this is how the web works best; Ethan builds upon John’s ideas, and then shares with us so that we can build on top of his, and on and on. And build we did! Responsive design feels like an accepted practice most everywhere you look. With that comes the need to make sure we are doing our best to design responsibly so that our sites are available for every person and every device. Now, building on Ethan’s book, comes Scott Jehl with a new book, Responsible Responsive Design. Scott’s book comes from the heaps of experience found in his work at Filament Group, and serves as a tactical field guide to making responsive design truly perform. From the book description: Responsive design has immeasurably improved multi-device, multi-browser visual layout—but it’s only the first step in building responsively. Learn how to turn a critical eye on your designs as you develop for new contexts (what does mobile really mean?) and screen features, speedy and lagging networks, and truly global audiences. Serve the right content across platforms, and tune for performance. Scott Jehl tackles those topics and more, ensuring that the sites and apps you build today last far into the future. It’s already landed a spot on my desk for frequent reference. And as an added treat, Ethan’s book is now out in a fresh second edition! From an A List Apart interview with Ethan about the new edition: What changes will readers see in the second edition? The second edition’s changed quite a bit from the first, but the table of contents hasn’t: as in the first edition, the chapters revolve around the three “ingredients” of a responsive design—fluid grids, flexible images, and media queries—and how they work in concert to produce a responsive design. But if you look past the chapter headings, you’ll see a slew of changes. As ALA’s readers probably know, tons of people have written about how to work responsively—whenever possible, tips and resources have been pulled in. (I mean, heck: we now have a responsive images specification, which gets a brief but important mention.) On top of all of that, errors were corrected; broken links fixed; figures updated; questions I’ve received from readers over the years have, whenever possible, been incorporated. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have those edits in—it feels like it’s the book it should’ve been. Wow! Both Responsible Responsive Design and the second edition of Responsive Web Design are both well worth your time. I’m excited to be working in such a consistently fertile environment for design, and to be able to benefit from the work of smart people like Scott and Ethan, as well as all the fine folks influenced by them. I hope we never stop pushing things forward and sharing with one another.[...]



Alien: Typeset in the Future

2014-12-04T23:31:30+00:00

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Dave Addey is at it again with another well documented and thoroughly enjoyable piece on the typography from Alien. Typography, sci-fi, film… this touches on all my favorite things.

In her final recorded message before hypersleep, Ripley notes that she is the sole survivor of the Nostromo. What she forgets to mention is that she has not once in the past two hours encountered any Eurostile Bold Extended.

Also, don’t miss Dave’s previous entries on Eurostile, Moon, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. All are highly recommended.

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Piles of Ideas

2014-11-19T17:16:20+00:00

I often talk about how sketching is an important step in making something. Whether with pencil and paper, or a keyboard, generating ideas is essential. I struggled with this early on in my career because I felt like putting something down on paper gave it a permanence greater than its value. I thought that by recording something, I was accepting ownership and responsibility for ideas I wasn’t sure of.

Over time, I came to realize that the only way to get to the good ideas was to trudge through all the obvious and bad ones first. Don’t get me wrong: flashes of inspiration happen, but ideas rarely pop out of your head fully formed and ready to go to work. More times that not, ideas are ugly, raw, embarrassing things that you want to slink away from. Most of my ideas never leave this stage.

I want a big sprawling mass of ugly ideas because it helps get past the most obvious ones, and improves the chance for something really interesting to reveal itself. Because the real shape of an idea isn’t an explosion, but evolution. In order for an idea to become something valuable, it needs to be nurtured. It must be molded and fortified into the best version of itself. And that refinement is where our creativity shines. Our ability to combine and link ideas to make them stronger. One small idea opens the door to another. And once you can see that new pathway, it too opens the door to another idea that wasn’t visible from the start.

This piece originally appeared on The Pastry Box Project.

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Landing on a Comet

2014-11-12T15:22:37+00:00

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Photograph © E.S.A./Rosetta

Humankind is attempting to land a washing-machine-sized bit of science equipment named Philae onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko today. Think about how awesome that is!

I love space exploration, and this makes me so happy. Not only because we are doing it, but because of how many unknowns there are to do it. You can watch the landing attempt LIVE, view some of the breathtaking photos of the comet beamed back by the Rosetta orbiter, and read all about the mission. Godspeed, Philae!


Update: SCIENCE

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Learning to Run

2014-10-16T14:25:30+00:00

After 36 years of life, I finally get why people run. I mean, I always understood why people were running in the park or down the street, but this understanding was coupled with internal mockery. “That seems like a painful way to spend time.”

My mockery was probably more jealousy than malice. I grew up as a short and scrawny kid, and I loved to run. I was always running—but only for short distances. I only wanted to get from point A to point B quickly, and only if point A and point B weren’t too far from one another. Even when I ran track in school, I was built for sprinting, but distances eluded me.

Something changed recently. One day I woke up and decided to go run in the park like all those other people. I wouldn’t go to the gym that day, I would enjoy the outdoors and run.

I ran a lap around the park, walked a half lap, and repeated a few times. This equalled out to about three miles total. I felt like absolute death. I was panting and gasping, and long dormant muscles screamed out in pain. I got home and didn’t work out for the rest of the week because it hurt to move my legs.

But here’s the thing. The next day, even as I was groaning in pain, all I could think about was the next time I would be able to run again. And I totally did it again. The next time it didn’t hurt so much. And the time after that it didn’t hurt at all and I ran even farther.

I know this story isn’t going to come as a surprise to any runners out there. But this was huge for me. I love the outdoors, and I love any kind of exercise that doesn’t have me looking at a digital distance counter every two seconds so I can mentally determine when I’m allowed to stop moving.

I’ve been running regularly for well over a month now. I wouldn’t say that any fraction of a marathon is in my future, but somehow distances don’t feel as unsurmountable as they used to.

Maybe I found out how to make running work for me, or maybe I just never really gave it a good honest try. Whatever the case, I absolutely love the times I get to run in our park. I love feeling the little aches in my muscles for the rest of the day, and knowing that my body is alive. It took me over three decades, but I get it now. I get why we run.

This piece originally appeared on The Pastry Box Project.

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Vintage Halloween Masks

2014-10-14T15:36:49+00:00

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A fantastic photo set of vintage Halloween masks and costumes on Flickr. I could look at these all day. Via Coudal.

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Pendleton Ward Quits Adventure Time?

2014-10-06T20:37:17+00:00

Well, sorta. After three years, Pendleton Ward is stepping back to simply be “one of the show’s writers and storyboard artists”. I adore Adventure Time, but also can empathize with him. This is a great interview about what it means to make something and how it can affect you. Reading this left me nodding my head, as I know how I’ve felt from time to time over the last couple of years. Ward’s words certainly ring true:

Dealing with people every day wears on you…

And:

To spend that extra energy and time you don’t have, to make something that’s worth making, to make it awesome, wears you out…

Lastly:

“Whatever the next thing is, I just want my brain to be happy doing it,” he says. “My state of mind is superimportant. I’m so fried, so I have to sort of work within the confines of what my brain can handle.”

He sighs and looks down at his stomach. “It’s nice to just be sleepy and make stuff,” he says. “That’s the root of what I like doing. Make stuff on my own and fall asleep.”

Charming as hell. Whatever comes next, I’m happy for this approach, and that he was able to be so open about it.

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Paul Lukas: The Street’s Secret Code

2014-10-06T20:17:41+00:00

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Image © Paul Lukas

When I first moved to New York, I remember seeing these little poker chip things in the street and wondering just what the heck they were. At the time, I thought they were some sort of street art, like Toynbee tiles. It turns out they are pieces of a larger communication system, as Paul Lukas writes in “The Street’s Secret Code”:

These markers are called A-tags (short for asphalt tags). They’re more commonly used in other municipalities as “Call Before You Dig” warning markers, but in New York they’ve been adapted to create a recordkeeping and accountability system. When a utility or contractor is issued a permit to excavate a hole or trench in the roadway — something that happens about 280,000 times a year in New York — the asphalt patch that’s applied at the end of the job must include an embedded A-tag. Each tag has three anchor legs, which, along with a bit of epoxy, help keep the tag in place. The number at the center of the tag indicates the year of the job (“12” for 2012, “14” for 2014, etc.), each broad contracting category has its own color, and each individual contractor or utility is identified either by name or by a unique five-digit number.

So simple and useful. What’s more, they’re an iteration of a previous attempt at the same:

“Before the A-tags, we used painted marks,” says Joseph Yacca, Director of Operations for the New York City Department of Transportation, who helped initiate New York’s A-tag program in 2006. “But the painted marks were just color-coded — they didn’t identify the individual user. For example, every plumber was green, so if you found a green marker, you knew you were looking for a plumber, but you didn’t know who. So we used to have to pull all the old permits and so on. Now we can pinpoint it much faster.”

I love how small ideas like this can organize huge systems such as a city like New York.

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You’re My Favorite Client

2014-10-01T17:29:13+00:00

Mike Monteiro drops the other shoe and follows up his amazing book Design Is a Job with something for that special client in your life, You’re My Favorite Client:

Whether you’re a designer or not, you make design decisions every day.

Successful design projects require equal participation from both the client and the design team. Yet, for most people who buy design, the process remains a mystery.

In his follow-up to Design Is a Job, Mike Monteiro demystifies the design process and helps you prepare for your role. Ensure you’re asking the right questions, giving effective feedback, and hiring designers who will challenge you to make your product the best it can be.

It’s a spectacular read, not only for anyone employing the services of a designer, but for us designers too. You can check out an excerpt from Chapter 2 over at A List Apart, and a great interview Khoi Vinh conducted with Mike:

I’ve been doing the primary research for this book for 20 years. I deal with clients every day and I see what works and doesn’t work and I’ve screwed up more times than I’d like to think about. But every lesson in that book is field tested. This book has zero percent theory in it. It was written on a factory floor.

Yes, I know I quoted the same stuff as Kottke did, but I wrote this yesterday and the information is still damn good anyway. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of You’re My Favorite Client today!

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Correspondence with an Ex-Designer

2014-09-23T20:51:58+00:00

This month I want to share a letter I received from ex-designer, now sheep farmer, Ruth, in reply to my post from a few months back where I wondered what comes next after being a designer. Ruth kindly shared where her life led, and what the other side might look like. I was moved by what she wrote, not only because of her direct experience, but just to hear that I wasn’t alone with my own fears about exhuastion and nourishment. One letter happily turned into numerous replies back and forth. Ruth graciously gave me permission to share our correspondence, in the hopes that it might also provide comfort and insight for others. Hello Jason, I just completed reading your article “What’s next”. Just to let you know — there is life, beyond design, though you never quite let it go 100%. When I went to college to learn design and print, I learned hand setting, then on to Linotype / Monotype machines. My first job, out of college and they were introducing film set typography (Berthold machines) — learning curve again. A number of years later and I was running my own design business and along came… computers and that was an exceptionally steep, self taught learning curve. In order to keep up with the ever changing technology you do have to learn and that takes motivation and desire from an individual point of view. I enjoyed that “learning” — but what did it for me in the end — “repetitiveness” — my ability to “train” my client became a drain — each client seemed to require, at some point, the same explanations of what was and was not possible with the technology available at the time. It became so draining I called it a day. I am now a sheep farmer in the northern Highlands of Scotland — and this has also been a challenge of a very different kind — man against nature — but, I have enthusiasm, motivation and a desire to learn something new, something “different”. But — yes, I keep learning about design — web design, which was in its infancy as I was leaving the design field 15 years ago. What’s next — all depends on you, what motivates you and what makes you happy — there will always be new challenges, but that is what life is all about, isn’t it. Kind regards Ruth (now 60 years old — lol) Ruth’s note warmed me, and after some exchanges, we got onto the topic of exhaustion. I replied back with my personal thoughts on the matter: Hi Ruth, The main things I keep coming back to are primarily about exhaustion. I used to think I was working too hard, but even as I found ways to work less, I realized it was something else. I think my exhaustion comes from the industry often taking more from us than it gives, and I’ve only found this to be escalating with how disconnected we’ve become, even in the midst of things like Twitter. Everything feels just a bit thinner than it used to, or at least a bit less nourishing. But when I throw myself in another direction, whether reading, or teaching, or other crafts, I feel nourished again. I’m still working through my own thoughts, and don’t mean to sound so dour about the practice of design, but I think just being aware of what feels good for my mind versus what doesn’t, makes me feel better. Regards, Jason Ruth’s reply was spot on again. Particularly insightful to me, and something I try to continually remind myself of, the expectations of others are their own, and I don’t need to share them: Hi Jason, Ah — yes — exhaustion — equates to my being “tired” of the industry — I fully understand where you are coming from. I found the move to computers a difficult one — I was so familiar / used to working at a drawing board and creating with my own h[...]



The Benefits of “No”

2014-09-23T20:43:05+00:00

Liz Danzico on discovering the fringe benefits of saying “no”:

When I say no (e.g., conference talk invites, “pick my brain” invitations, jury solicitations), I immediately add my regret to the No List. I nurture this growing list of no-things, adding category data like dates events would have happened, themes, and date turned down.

Suddenly, I’m making list of cities not seen, airplanes not embarked, and time saved, rather than time taken away. Several months later, I have a made a substantial something. It’s how I’ve marked time.

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Ed Emberley

2014-09-18T14:48:20+00:00

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I’m very excited about this upcoming monograph on Ed Emberley from Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon. I grew up reading and learning from Emberley’s books and his casual approach to systematic drawing. I still marvel at how simple and powerful his books are, and continue to give them as gifts to friends.

These simple and straightforward books, first published in the 1970s, have encouraged a generation of kids to take the drawing process step by step. Contemporary working artists today often cite Ed Emberley as a beloved early inspiration in their development as artists. By encouraging kids to draw using just a few simple shapes, Emberley has made drawing and creating accessible to everyone. As Emberley likes to say, “Not everyone needs to be an artist, but everyone needs to feel good about themselves.”

This definitive monograph on the wide repertoire of Emberley’s life’s work has been beautifully put together by Todd Oldham and Caleb Neelon. Highlighting work spanning more than five decades, this gorgeous and comprehensive book celebrates the talented and prolific life of Ed Emberley.

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Why You Want a Code of Conduct

2014-09-16T17:56:46+00:00

Erin Kissane expertly outlines why our gatherings need a code of conduct. If you are a member of the web community, or really any community, this is required reading. And if you are a conference organizer, you really shouldn’t be without a strong code of conduct, full stop.

I’m writing this in the late summer of 2014, and the last few weeks have been rough ones where I live. From the tech world’s routine accounts of casual harassment to the grind of violence and systemic unfairness that defines some part of every human society, we are surrounded on all sides by news that is alternately heartbreaking and enraging. And most of the time, in the face of these wrongs, we are helpless. Some of us can vote, some can investigate and expose. That’s often as far as it goes.

But to define a code of conduct is to formally state that your community—your event or organization or project—does not permit intimidation or harassment or any of the other terrible things that we can’t seem to prevent in the rest of the world. It’s to express and nurture healthy community norms. In a small, limited way, it’s to offer sanctuary to the vulnerable: to stake out a space you can touch, put it under your protection, and make it a welcoming home for all who act with respect.

And I think that’s what’s going to win. Enough of us clearly stating that in our spaces, this fuckery will not pass. And continuing to do it—one home, school, workplace, and community at a time—until the ground we cover with a mandate of mutual respect is larger than the gaps in between. Not out of any special benevolence, but because that’s what the world should be.

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Ode to a Table

2014-09-15T13:52:06+00:00

A large kitchen in your average New York apartment is like a mythical beast. You may muse about their existence from time to time, but chances run high that they aren’t real things. Many kitchens in one-bedroom apartments here are little more than the wall of a non-kitchen room that happens to have some appliances leaning against it. Your living room is usually reserved first for a couch, and space permitting, a table or closet (closets are a whole other thing). Having a dining table in New York is a luxury. My first apartment here was big enough to hold a small table which I could sit at comfortably, and another person could join me at uncomfortably. A few years later, I moved to another apartment that was the same size, but differently laid out. This apartment had a huge kitchen with space for many people to occupy simultaneously. This new kitchen of mine took up nearly a third of the apartment’s footage and was big enough for a proper table. I knew right off I wanted a big farm table — something solid and uncomplicated. After looking around for a long time trying to find the right balance of form vs price, I became discouraged because big tables are pretty expensive everywhere (who knew?), and settled on one I found on eBay. I say “settled” because I thought “I’ll get this table now, but then buy a really nice one when I can afford it.” The table was made of unfinished pine from an Amish furniture maker in Pennsylvania and an irregular castoff he was selling at a discount. I couldn’t detect any problematic irregularities from the pictures — these tables should probably have some rough edges anyway—so I bought it. For the first year I owned the table, I casually regarded it as a thing I planned to replace, so I didn’t put much work into it. It’s a hulk of a thing, with corners that come justthisclose to achieving right angles. I tried sanding its rough legs a few times and was rewarded with some of the biggest splinters I’ve ever encountered in my life. I didn’t take the table makers’ advice to oil the wood, so on cool nights I was sometimes woken by terrifyingly loud pops that I later discovered were the table boards splitting. I chalked all that up to the table having some character. Later my partner Megan moved in, who sensibly got us to wax and oil the table. Gone were the pale boards and in their place stood a downright healthy looking table, albeit prematurely weathered due to negligence. We have guests over for a meal most every week, and every week we’d gather around that table. Sometimes the gatherings are jovial events that stretch long into the night. Sometimes they are somber times shared over quiet dinners. Amid broken glasses, spilled drinks, dirt, and countless food items, that stubborn table has stood strong. I used to think about the table I would get to replace this one. I would often tell people it was a temporary occupant. But now I look at that table and all I can see are the times we’ve spent gathered around it. All the meals and wine, the conversations and laughter, the tears and embraces. This table is full of memories and times spent together. It’s imbued with so much personal history that it’s a part of the family now. I don’t see its surface faults anymore, I just see myself and my loved ones. I wouldn’t trade this table for anything now. This piece originally appeared on The Pastry Box Project.[...]



Ditching Twitter

2014-09-15T13:42:21+00:00

Erin Kissane on ditching Twitter:

I called it my rosary, the thing I reached for when I felt anxious, after Metafilter stopped serving that purpose. As Twitter expanded and my own little slice of it grew as well, I called it my front porch and defended its quirks and downsides. But now the magic has turned, in ways that have felt irrevocable. I’m not angry at Twitter for changing, but I’ve been sad to feel that something so oddly entwined with my intellectual and emotional life is now beyond my use.

I’ve felt very much the same lately. Friends being flammed and trolled by the worst people. Colleagues fighting colleagues in a space ill-equipped for even civilized discussion, let alone knee-jerked quipping. I don’t know what to do with Twitter anymore. Like it takes away so much more than it gives. Like the conversations are often more impersonal and inflammatory than they used to be. Like the experience is more toxic than nourishing.

I’ve recently tried just using Twitter less, not engaging as often or as deeply to see if I could somehow keep it around. But not participating feels weird too. I’m thinking I need a combination of less and some of the tactics Erin outlines in her article about curating stronger lists, or even spinning up a quieter public account. One thing is clear, something has to change.

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NYCTA Graphics Standards Manual Reissue

2014-09-10T15:16:32+00:00

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Hot damn! Unimark’s 1970 NYC Transit Authority Graphics Standards Manual is being reissued as a full-size book through an exclusive license from the MTA.

In 1967 the New York City Transit Authority hired Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda of the design firm Unimark International to design a signage and wayfinding system that would solve the problem underground.

The work they delivered, the 1970 New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual, succeeded in that goal and, perhaps unintentionally, the Standards Manual became one of the world’s classic examples of modern design.

This is likely a one-time-only thing, so don’t miss out on some design history!

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