Entries Tagged as 'Culture'

Vote For Me to Speak @SxSW

I want to spread the good word of Web typography again to the fine folks attending South By South West (SxSW) at the 2011 event, but I need your help. The first round of selection is (literarily) a popularity contest based on a thumbs up or down by the public at large.

I’m proposing a session on Web typography (surprise, surprise), recapping the basic technologies, but then examining directions those new technologies are taking us. Here’s a bit from the intro:

As the dust settles from these changes, a new style of Web typography is emerging, one that reflects print origins, but is also experimenting with the unique strengths of online communication. This session begins by recapping recent advances in technology and then focuses on case studies at the borders of online typography. Designers will see how they can use the new Web typography to set their work apart from the rest of the herd.

All you have to do to help me out is give my session on Web typography the thumbs up. You will have to register (don’t worry, it’s painless) and that’s it! And if you could leave a comment at the bottom of the ballot, I would be ever so grateful.

While you are there, I can also recommend a few other great panels to vote for:

Voting ends 11:59 CDT on Friday, August 27.

So, run, don’t walk to the SxSW Panel Picker and choose the best.

Win a ticket to the CSS Summit!


It’s been a crazy busy few weeks for me as I finish up my new book CSS3 Visual Quickstart for Peachpit, but I’m really excited that in just over a week I’ll be presenting at the online event of the year for CSS: The CSS Summit. The summit is an online only event lasting from 9am–5pm Central Time (10am–6pm EST) brining together some of the best minds writing about CSS today to give you the inside scoop on Web design.

In addition to my own teachings on fluid web typography, you can hear:

  • The wonderful Stephanie (Sullivan) Rewis teaching the gospel of CSS and progressive enhancement.
  • My buddy David McFarland talking about CSS Animations.
  • The energetic Zoe Gillenwater helping you get effective and efficient design with CSS.
  • My sister from another mother, Desnise Jacobs helping you troubleshoot your CSS.

All of this for the low, low price of $149, and, if you act now, you can get a 10% (~$15) discount using the code CSSCRANFORDTEAGUE. You can also use the discount to get a meeting room ticket, getting 10% off the $449 price (~$45).

Wanna’ go? Of course you do, and I have two tickets to give away to two lucky readers.

How to Enter to Win Tickets

There are three ways to enter to win one of the two tickets.

  1. Follow @jasonspeaking on twitter and then tweet “I want to go to the #CSSsummit to hear @jasonspeaking» http://ow.ly/2cxRd” .
  2. Follow @fluidwebtype on twitter and then tweet “I want to go to the #CSSsummit to learn @fluidwebtype» http://ow.ly/2cxRd” .
  3. Add a comment at the bottom of this post with a link to a Web site that is using Webfonts (not using Flash or images) to create particularly inspiring typography.

Three ways to enter, and yes, you can enter all three ways once a day to improve your chances to win. The more you enter, the better your chances.

RULES: The contest starts at 12:00 PM EST, Friday, July 16th and runs through 12:00 PM EST, Tuesday July 20th. Winners will be announced later that same day. You have to be following @jasonspeaking or @fluidwebtype when the winners are announced OR have left a comment. This is the only way I will have to contact you. Only one entry per channel per day will be accepted. The judges decisions (mine) are final.


What Kind of Conductor are You?

I’m back from my whilrwind tour of Berlin and London, and still trying to process the great big bolus of knowledge I aquired during my travels. My own sessions went well, and I’ll be sharing more about those later. For now, you can view some of the photos I took , including more panoramic shots I’ve been taking on my iPhone with the remarkable application Pano.

I’ll be posting more in the coming weeks about Next10, but I had to start with what was surly the most remarkable and inspirational session I saw while there. A Noted conductor Maestro Itay Talgam spoke about what might seem like a non-sequitur at a tech conference—music conductors and their conducting styles. To be honest, I was very surprised how wonderful and useful this information was. I had not planned on attending this keynote, but after watching a few minutes of the live feed on my laptop in the main hall, realized I needed to see the rest in person. I’m glad a I did!. It starts a bit slowly, but what Itay has to say about the different methods conductors have to work with their symphonies, and by implication how good managers can best work with their team, should be required viewing for all managers. Here is his talk from Next10 in it’s entirety. There are two problems with this video. First, the audio is out of synch and second is they do not show the video examples he is using to illustrate his points—which does cut down on its effectiveness—but I think you will get the point.

Arriving in Europe

One thing I was dreading about this trip was the Jet lag. In my past visits to Europe, one of the most agonizing miseries I remember all three times was the unbearable fatigue I felt the first few days as my body got used to the lack of sleep. This generally followed a sleepless 8 hour trans-atlantic trip. This is my fourth trans-atlantic trip (averaging one a decade) and the first I actually got some sleep on. So I’m awakening, if not fresh and bright eyed, at least with the psychological sense that the night has passed and a new day has dawned.

Of course this also means that I didn’t get any work done on my Marriott 2.0 presentation, but, although I’m not done with it, I’m at least comfortable with the direction that’s taking. After watching several TED presentations I’ve decided that given the short format, it’s most important to tell a story, so that’s how I’m approaching this, and I think it will make a good one. The trick now is to integrate the why of the Marriott 2.0—which I think is what most of my audience will be primarily concerned with but makes a less interesting story—with the how—which can get more technical but will make a better story. I’ll let you know how the balance goes.

One thing I was dreading about this trip was the Jet lag. In my past visits to Europe, one of the most agonizing miseries I remember all three times wasa sleepless 8 hour trans-atlantic trip followed bythe unbearable fatigue I felt the first few days as my body got used to the lack of sleep. This is my fourth trans-atlantic trip (averaging one a decade) and the first I actually got some sleep on. So I’m awakening, if not fresh and bright eyed, at least with the psychological sense that the night has passed and a new day has dawned.

Of course this also means that I didn’t get any work done on my Marriott 2.0 presentation, but, although I’m not done with it, I’m at least comfortable with the direction that’s taking. After watching several TED presentations I’ve decided that given the short format, it’s most important to tell a story, so that’s how I’m approaching this, and I think it will make a good one. The trick now is to integrate the why of the Marriott 2.0—which I think is what most of my audience will be primarily concerned with but makes a less interesting story—with the how—which can get more technical but will make a better story. I’ll let you know how the balance goes.

DEVO Focus Group Testing the Future at SXSW

I was privileged to participated in the DEVO Live focus group at SXSW this year, where I learned a lot about the rigorous of user research testing. If you look closly, I’m at the edge of the frame when the camera pans all the way to the left, wearing my Yuri’s Night T-shirt and standing next to my buddy Phil Djwa.

They also showed us this little movie explaing what DEVO is up to with it’s re-branding:

via DEVO – Focus Group Testing the Future – #3 .

Shame on You Apple: A Musical Odyssey

Most of my friends think of me as an unabashed Apple fanboy who drools over Steve Jobs’ every word. Truth-to-tell—although I’m a great fan of Apple’s products and design philosophy—many of their policies leave me chilled or outraged.

I was reminded of this recently while I stood watching the band Stricken City at the British Music Embassy that was a part of the SXSW festivities. I was really digging the band, who had shades of Siouxsie and The Banshees and the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs. As they started into their last song of the set, the lead singer gave out the obligatory URL and told the crowd that they could download this next song for free from their Web site.

You can't download music files directly from a Web site to your iPhone. Why not?

You can't download music files directly from a Web site to your iPhone. Why not?

Great, I’m thinking as I pull out my iPhone and navigate to the correct URL with my
“revolutionary Internet device.” I click the link to download the album, and an alert pops up telling me that due to restrictions by Apple, I cannot download the song with my iPhone. I will need to go to a computer if I want it for free or use the iTunes store to purchase it. I later choose the free option, sending the band a contribution for it’s hard work, but was miffed that I cold not grab the song and go.

There are no good technical, security, or legal reasons why I can’t download this freely available music file to my iPhone. The only possible reason for this “feature” of the iPhone is that Apple wants to be the single gateway for all information in and out of their devices. I can sympathize with this to a certain point. Apple wants to keep a quality and consistent experience for their customers. But not allowing me to download a music file and have it install in iTunes is going too far. This not only stifles competition, it also stifles innovation.

Take one of the most important apps on the iPhone: Mail. Mail has not undergone a significant improvement since it was first released with early model iPhones. It gets the job done, but there are some very basic and obvious features missing, most notably the ability to flag a particular message and view multiple accounts in a single list. Yet Apple obviously will not permit any competing products for this service. Yes, you can get some Web app based mail programs, but that’s not what I need.

I still think my iPhone is the best device I’ve ever owned, bringing me the promise of  40 years of sci-fi tech into my palm. But I would rather Apple not take page from the Microsoft playbook and establish itself as a monopoly.

Come on Apple, open up a little: you can still make the best products, gobs of cash, and keep that whole “Think Different” philosphy alive.

Sketchnotes for FWT

Thanks to Mike Rohde for making these great “sketchnotes” of my lecture at SXSW and the Web Typography dinner afterward at the Athenian Grill . For more of Mike’s great SXSW sketchnotes, visit his SXSW Interactive 2010 Flickr pages.

Sketchnotes from Fluid Web Typography.

Sketchnotes from Fluid Web Typography.

Sketchnotes from Web Typography Dinner

Sketchnotes from Web Typography Dinner

Meeting Bruce

I was watching Andrew Keen speak at SXSW Sunday. He’s the author of The Cult of the Amateur—a book that could be subtitled “everything Jason does is evil and destroying the fabric of American culture,” so I was not exactly an unbiased audience member. It was a surprisingly small room for someone as renowned as Keen, but then again, no one at SXSW was likely to be too hip to his message.

I arrived late, and slid into a seat in the back. In front of me were a couple watching intently as Keen blathered on in black and white terms about the evils of the modern Internet and how we were all doomed.

Keen kept referring to “Bruce has said…” and “In Bruce’s article, he writes that…” At one point the woman in front of me leaned over to her companion and whispered “Bruce” in what I took to be a questioning tone of voice. The man shrugged his shoulders, attention still fixed on Keen. Now, being the helpful kitty that I am, and thinking that they did not know who Keen meant, I leaned forward and whispered that Keen was referring to Bruce Sterling. Bruce Sterling turned around and told me that he knew who Keen meant.

Andrew Keen in the middle. Bruce Sterlings head is in the bottom right corner.

Andrew Keen in the middle. Bruce Sterling's head is in the bottom right corner.

If you don’t know, Bruce Sterling is one of the most famous and influential Sci-fi authors alive today. Bruce was one of the major voices in the cyberpunk sub-genre which predicted much of the culture you are experiencing today. If you haven’t read his books, I highly recommend you do. I’m a fan and have seen him speak on several occasions, so, when I saw his face, I recognized him immediately.

I was mortified, mumbled an apology, shook his hand, and told him it was a great honor. Fortunately,  I didn’t also say “I’m not worthy.”

After the session, I left post-haste, but it was like when you buy a new car: suddenly you start seeing that car everywhere you go. We passed in the hall within feet of each other three times that day. The next night, I’m at a totally random party, and who should walk past me but Bruce.

Now, I’m not saying Bruce Sterling was stalking me, I’m just saying that guy really gets around.

Q&A with Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice

Eyetracking and Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice

Few Web pundits stir-up as much debate as Jakob Nielsen. His theories on Web usability are sacrosanct to some and anathema to others. For my own part, I’ve at times had to strongly criticize his conclusions at one moment while vociferously defending his theories the next. Indeed, my first book on Web design, published in 1996, was entitled Programming HTML Frames, a technology that Mr. Nielsen more or less killed with an article he wrote entitled “Why Frames Suck (Most of the Time).” Yet, when I teach Web design classes, his book on Web usability is required reading.

I recently interviewed Jakob Nielsen and Kara Pernice about their new book Eyetracking Web Usability (New Riders). I asked them about perceptions and use of eyetracking data, especially by Web designers, but it was his answer to my question about shoveling ads onto pages, something I was forced to do again and again when I was designing for AOL. Nielsen’s argument is one I often tried to use with my managers:

The question is really long-term vs. short-term business goals. If you stuff a page with ads, you may be able to make money today from clueless marketers who don’t recognize that they’re paying to be displayed but not to be seen. In the long run, a page with too many ads means two things:

  • Poor performance of each ad, as they visually compete with too many other ads. Sooner or later, even the most clueless advertising manager will realize that the money is wasted, and they will stop doing business with you.
  • Poor user experience because the clutter makes it harder for users to locate the content they care about. Initially, page views won’t drop, because visitors only get annoyed after loading your pages. But sooner or later they will stop visiting, because each visit is so dissatisfying.

If you think the site won’t be around next year, then sure, go ahead and smother it under too many ads. But beware that this easily turns into a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Read the Full Interview with Jakob and Kara on Peachpit.com »

Glorious Dawn

Web 3.0 at the Library of Congress

Tuesday I’m speaking at the Library of Congress in DC for the Fedlink meeting. They want to know about how they can improve online community aspects of their Web site, so I’ll be talking about Designing for Credibility and Web 3.0.

U.S. Library of Congress

U.S. Library of Congress

What is Web 3.0 (besides a marketing term)? Everyone has different Ideas. To me, Web 2.0 was about taking content out of the static Web page and spreading it around—RSS feeds, ajax, widgets, and the things that made online communities more viable. Web 3.0 is about taking the Web out of the browser (Web enabled stuff like Adobe Air, iPhone apps, Tweetie and Twitterific) and turning the browser into a desktop (like Google Chrome). It’s all part of the convergence of the Web into a ubiquitous place we “are” and is always with us rather than a place we “go.”

I’ll post after that and let everyone know how it went (as well as posting my slides!)

Signifier and Signified as One!

I love it when the the signified (the thing being represnted) has multiple signifiers (things that represent it). Thus, plush toy animals I found at Target that also spell out what they are. Double simulacrum. How very PoMo.

Heading to #WebVisions

I’m sitting on the Tarmac waiting for my flight to leave, headed for the WebVisions conference, where I’ll be giving a presentation called “Children of the Revolution: Reaching the Cybernetic Teen”. It’s an update to talk I gave a couple of years ago at Macworld, but is taking on increased significance as the world of social media grows.

(Ok, I’m in the air now. I have to say that JetBlue is not bad, but can’t hold a candlestick to Virgin America, at the same price (where does the expresssion “can’t hold a candlestick” come from anyway?).)

So, anyway, cybernetic teens. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on how, by internalizng technology–both metephorically and literally on some cases– is changing the way we think and communicate. “COTR”, brings together those thoughts, focusing on the generation where electronic communication became mrs than a way to extend our voices, but our entire nervous systems.

I know, I know: it all sounds pretty blue sky, but I bring it down to earth by placing it in the context of my theroies of the Trusted Filter, and how we see the need to find credibility in the online arena played out all around us. Teen, who are at the fore front of this change are a great litmus test for how these new technologies will be adopted and how they will adapt to our needs.

(Now sitting in Long Beach Airport, which appears to be less of an “airport” and more of a trailer-park where jets land.)

The theme of trusted filters is something I see hinted at all the time in news media that deal with any form of computer mediated communication. It’s not enough just to be talking about a lack of trust online. We have to explore how the qualaties of trust are changing and how we are adapting.

(Back on a plane. Headed to Portland… Ummm, no observations)

Speaking In Styles is about done. I finished the major writing yesterday with chapter 10 (there are 12 chapters, but I skipped around some). Right now I’m deep in the woods editing. Look for the book out later this summer.

Trusted Filters at Voices That Matter

In a little over a week I’ll be heading cross-country to the City by the Bay for the Voices That Matter conference to talk about trust in design. The ideas I have researched and will discuss center around one central idea that I argue is the most important yet most over looked aspect of successful Web design: trust. Trust, sincerity, credibility. These seem to be ideals that we assume are the natural result from our designs, but are in fact considerations that go hand-in-hand with audience analysis and defining site objectives.

Designing with sincerity is not a one size fits all solution, but something that should become a guiding principal within your design process. At VTM I’ll be discussing this process and how to play skeptic to your own designs in order to gain and keep your visitors trust.

Jason Reads from SiS at SXSW 09

At my SXSW Book Signing

At my SXSW Book Signing. I don't usually look this menacing.

At SXSW last week, I read Chapter 3, “The Myths of CSS”, from my forthcoming book Speaking In Styles, and then did a book signing for CSS, DHTML, & Ajax at the Barnes & Noble booth. It was an interesting session, where I talked to several nice people, and even signed copy of my book for someone from Microsoft (hopefully he won’t be returning it).

SXSW posted an audio recording of my reading on their site and I am happy to re-present it here.

Speaking in Styles: A CSS Primer for Web Designers

Interview with New Riders at SXSW 09

I had a great time at SXSW 2009. Met a lot of great people, heard a lot of great ideas, and ate a lot of great food. While I was there, I did a quick interview with Gary-Paul of New Riders about my upcoming book, Speaking In Styles, although it was not the most flattering of angles:

What is an “Online Comic”?

It’s a little over a week until I’m at SxSW to talk about Online Comics with Richard Bruning (DC Comics), Ron Richards (iFanboy.com), and comic artist Rivkah. Richard is providing an industry perspective, Ron a reader’s perspective, Rivkah an artists perspective, and me? Besides moderating, I’ll be providing a technical perspective on what is possible with User Interface design.

In advance of the panel, I wanted to get down some of my ideas about User Interface design and online comics for feedback from interested readers.

Based on user interface design, I separate online comics into three basic categories:

Page Mimics

Balance & Grace Online Comic

Balance & Grace Online Comic Mimics a Page turning Metephor

Use the page metaphor with the linear “panel” concept for sequential story telling, either using fade, slide, or even simulated page flipping to transition between virtual-pages. Often these online comics are simply scans of print comics, so they keep the same vertical aspect, which is not optimal for the generally more horizontal computer screen.

Examples include:

Motion Comics


Sparks Motion Comic

Sparks Motion Comic

Although easily mistaken for a cartoon, these comics take existing sequential art and use a “tweening” process to create pseudo-animation. The story is still linear in nature, but becomes a more passive experience than static comics, which engage the reader to imagine the motion themselves. That said, motion comics are better suited than static images for the screen and Internet, but are still a young medium that I hope will become increasingly interactive.

Examples include:

Experimental UI

Experimental Comic "Shadows Never Sleep"

Experimental Comic “Shadows Never Sleep”

These are still comics in that they use static and/or sequential art, but presented in ways that break with other comic conventions in ways only possible in the online world. For example, “Shadows Never Sleep” allows the user to zoom in and out of the story, exploring the art and narrative at will. “ZoomQuilt II” breaks with the traditional horizontal nature of comics, instead allowing users to zoom vertically down the narrative.

Examples include:

I’m On (peachpit) TV!

Pontificating about the future.

Pontificating about the future.

Last year, I was a speaker at the New Riders Voices That Matter conference in Nashville, TN. While there, I was interviewed by Nikki McDonald, with whom I discussed everything from getting blackballed by gGogle, to how to protect yourself online, to the future of communication. Check out the interview on the Peachpit Web site: How to Protect Yourself in the Future with Jason Cranford Teague.

(Notice the clever  Yuri’s Night product placement on my T-shirt.)

WATCHMEN: Now With Motion!

Watchmen on the iPhone

So, it looks as if the legal bru-ha-ha between Fox and Warner Brothers is finally over, and the long awaited Watchmen movie will make it to the big screen on time (March 6th) with Fox much the richer for it. But this is not the first time the Watchmen will have been brought to life in motion.  In conjunction with the Movie, DC comics is releasing “Motion Comics” of the 12 issues of Watchmen, taking the original panel art and adding simple animation, a music score and a single narrator reading all of the parts. 

Currently, episodes are available up to issue 10, each lasting a little under half an hour and selling for $1.99 each through the iTunes and Amazon.com. 

The Interactive Watchmen iPhone App

Although I’m sure the author, Alan Moore,  would disagree, the overall effect is quite good, and makes for a great way to enjoy the story on the go. The art is well preserved and the animation is smooth, although not nearly as complex as it might be if it had been fully animated. Still, it’s miles better the Clutch Cargo.

The single narration voice is not completely to my liking, they could have at least splurged and gotten a female narrator for female characters. Silk Specter may smoke, but the narrators gravely voice is about as sexy as a lime green polyester pants suite.

What intrigues me most about the Watchmen Motion Comic, though, was how seemingly easy it was to take the static images of the comic page, which require a more active role for the reader to animate the action in their minds, and turn it into the more passive video format. Although this is far from the atrocity that colorizing old black and white movies was in the 1980’s, it does give me some pause for thought.

Moore commented in a recent interview with the LA Times that, “There are three or four companies now that exist for the sole purpose of creating not comics, but storyboards for films.” In fact, It looks as if they don’t even need to make the film, but simply take the storyboards and animate them. But why is this a problem? It does take a dimension out of the hands of the reader, placing it back into the creator (or a creator’s) control, but is that necessarily a bad thing?

This is one of the important questions I’m hoping that my panel at SXSW will be addressing next month in Austin. If you have any thoughts or will be at the panel and have suggestions, leave a comment her or email me.

Check out the Watchmen Chapter 1 Teaser, and let me know what you think.

Heavy Liquid: Cyberpunk in the cyber age.

Heavy Liquid: Cyberpunk in the cyber-age.

Heavy Liquid: Cyberpunk in the cyber-age.

At its best, a good Cyberpunk story will drag you through a gritty future reality while simultaneously taking you to see a world beyond that reality. The graphic novel Heavy Liquid, starts strong along that path, promising even to be an inspired addition to the genre, but eventually becomes too bogged down in secondary charchters and sub-plots to warrant its epiphanal ending.

Although Heavy Liquid starts to touch on political themes and the individual’s role within an monolithic World government and ubiquitous technology, like other themes in the book, it feels as if the author has picked it up to do something meaningful, and then gets distracted trying to push the story forward, forgetting where he left the theme. And that’s a shame, because it feels as if he has a lot to say on this, but never arrives, pushing the reader to think, but not really taking them anywhere.

Still, this was an enjoyable read with a realistic look at one possible future as we head into the singularity. I’m wondering if this is a stand-alone story or the first in a series. If a series, then I think this is a good, though flawed, first chapter.