Entries Tagged as 'Technology'

LIVE(ish) – Fluid Web Typography at SXSWi 2010

I was poking around the SXSW site, and realized that the recording of my session on Web typography is finally available. I had to pick through the code a bit, but finally found the file I needed to embed. For reference, I’m also embedding the slide share version of the presentation slides. It’ll almost be like being there!

View more presentations from Jason CranfordTeague.

One Week to Next10

Next10 in Berlin next week

Next10 in Berlin next week

Just a little less than a week until I’ll be in Berlin, spreading the good word about Web typography, and I’m finding I had to really rework my presentation for this audience. SXSW was full of techno and design geeks, who wanted to here the “how to’s.” I suspect the audience for Next10 are going to care a lot more about the “why’s and what for’s.” So, I’m skipping all of the code and just including an overview of what’s possible now in Web typography—web safe fonts and web font bureaus—then concentrating on what the different services offer, why Web typography is important for brand differentiation, and what to look for in good fonts.

This has been a great exercise, as it’s gotten me to think about Web fonts from a less technical and more tactical point of view, focusing on how to choose the best fonts. Also, since I only have 45 minutes to present, so had to radically cut down on my material, which I hope will have the overall effect of making this a much leaner and more focused presentation.  This is even more important since I just found out I only have 30 minutes to present at Voices That Matter in June (more on that later).

In addition to Web typography, I’m also going to be giving a brief presentation about Marriott.com, the work we did to create a “Game Changer” (the theme of next 10) for Hotel Web sites. I’ve been struggling a bit to find my focus and value add for this session. It may only be 10 minutes long, but that means I have to stay even more focused. I think I had a break through today, though. I’ll see if I still feel the same way tomorrow morning.

The Evolution of HTML & CSS

I’m hard at work on my new book, CSS3 Visual Quickstart Guide, and I’m looking to get some feedback from you, my viewing audience. As part of chapter 1, I’ll be quickly tracing the evolution of both CSS and HTML, and I put together this timeline to help to show their relative development over the last 20 years (wow, has it really been that long). The bars in this timeline are based partially on the publication of each of the standards, but also on their relative effect on the Web. For example, although CSS1 was published in 1997, it took several years to catch on. Also, obviously, as one version of a standard grew in popularity, it’s predecessor would decline, but not always evenly.

This is not to meant to be an empirically exact chart, but to give viewers a general overview of when each of the standards was in it’s prime.

To help me out, either post a comment below or send me a message and let me know what you might add, subtract, change or improve, and thanks in advance for any help.

The Evolution of HTML & CSS Since 1991

The Evolution of HTML & CSS Since 1991

How I changed my mind about iPhone Dev

From time to time, I have been called on to design iPhone apps, both native and Web apps. If you don’t know the difference, it’s simple: native apps are written in a computer code called Objective C (hard) while Web apps are created using the core Web technologies of CSS, JavaScript, and HTML (easy). I’ve always assumed that if you really wanted to do something cool with your iPhone apps, the best solution was native apps because, although they are harder to create, they have a lot more power.

I saw both of these presentations at SXSW, and they literally changed the way I was thinkning about developing apps for iPhones and other mobile devices. The first helped me better understand the User Interface principles particular to the iPhone (remember: 44px). The second convinced me that, contrary to what I thought coming into the room, iPhone Web apps are not only easier to create, but can be just as powerful.

Heading to Berlin to Speak at Next10

I’m heading off to Berlin in mid-May to speak at Next10. The event includes over 100 high profile tech insiders speaking and is expected to draw over 1500 participants. The topic this year is “Game Changers,” and I have not one, but two, great game changers to talk about:

Marriott.com 2.0: Building the Next Generation Online Hotel Lobby

In August 2009 I took over as the Interactive Design Manager at Marriott.com. My first assignment was to launch Marriott’s new Web 2.0 face of Marriott; a game changer in the way that hotels present their front door to the world. When I started, the design was already finished and development was well under way. All I had to do was make sure it launched on time in November.  However, what I found was a product that would not work as designed. In this session, I will walk through the issues I encountered and how I worked with the designers and developers to solve them, showing how a few minor design tweaks not only allowed the site to be deployed on time, but also made it faster and more versatile.

2010: The Year of Web Typography

Fresh on the heels of my successful Web typography presentation in March at SXSW, I’m updating and expanding that work to help the thinkers at Next10. In this hour long session, I will not only show how modern Web typography works from a technical standpoint, but emphasize how businesses can use the new capabilities to help differentiate their online brand.

Use my promotional code to get a 20% discount on tickets: SpeakersFriends2010.

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.

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 »

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!)

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.

The Spirit is Just a Plain Fun Movie

The Spirit Movie

The Spirit Movie

The holiday break was crazy busy for me, but I spent as much time with my family as possible, as evidenced by the fact that I saw a movie about a midievil talking mouse rather than a dead guy with a red tie. I went snow tubing with the kids, which I had never done before–it was a blas–and I’m still icing my thumb from playing too much Batman Lego on the Wii with the wife.

But tonight I finally did get to see Frank Miller’s The Spirit (the aforementioned dead guy with the red tie) and loved it. Yes, I’ve seen the negative reviews, and even the disappointed comments from my friends, so, maybe I went in with low expectations. But like the pulp comic that spawned it, this movie was something ridiculously fun, with the emphasis on ridiculous.

If you are going to see it, don’t expect Batman: The Dark Night or even the Tim Burton Batman. This is not X-Men or Iron Man or like any other comic book hero brought to the silver screen. The closest comparison is Miller’s own Sin City, but, even though he uses a similar styles, The Spirit goes for wry humor over angsty violence.

There are laugh-out loud moments, smirking moments and even some great groan moments. If you look at The Spirit as a movie to have fun with watching, it’s a fun movie to watch.

Catching Up With JCT: Yuri’s Night

Another busy, busy week. I’ve been teaching CSS to Web editors yesterday and today, and will be heading to NYC to teach more Web editors Thursday and Friday. In addition, I’ve been getting  people on board for my SXSW Online Comics panel. So far I have Richard Bruning of DC Comics, Ron Richards of iFanboy.com, and artist Lee Marrs, plus I’ve got a few possible surprise guests. We’ll see.

Now for the project update.

Yuri’s Night Site and 2009 Party Site

Yuri's Night is getting a permenant home.

The new Yuri's Night Web site design (click to see full size version).

If you’ve been following me for a while,  you know that I’ve been doing the Web site for Yuri’s Night: The World Space Party for the last 4 years. The 2008 Web site was a huge success, but took a lot of time to build and maintain.

This year I have some big plans for the site, including using WordPress as my CMS, adding more community and social-networking features, using Zazzle.com for products, and a bunch of other features. The good news is that most of these features are off the shelf, so the site should be, if anything, easier to build and maintain.

The biggest change, though, will be that I’m setting up a permanant year round Yuri’s Night Web presence, and a separate party specific site for 2009. This will let us put all the evergreen and management content in one place, and have the party Web site really focus just on the parties.

The design for the main site is done, I’ve installed WordPress and cut the chrome. Now I just have to find the time to build the pages this week! Then, to work on the 2009 party site which will be up and running for the new year.

Wanna’ help? I’m looking for designers, filmmakers, and musicians willing to give their time to help build illustrations and downloads for the sites including desktop wallpapers, buddy icons, site badges, site widgets, posters, signs, flyers, music, videos and anything else your creative little minds can think of for the site.

If you are interested in helping, contact me at jason at brighteyemedia•com.