Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

"Decisions, Decisions" composed by me!

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Download now or listen on posterous

Decisions, Decisions (pizzicato).aif (23178 KB)

An old girlfriend of mine used to perform Poulenc’s “Trois Mouvements Perpetuels” on the piano and I wrote this to see if I could mimic its style. It’s one of my first compositions, dating from around 1992/93 (I’m self-taught so forgive me!) Originally it was intended to be performed by a wind quartet and sound like it had come straight out of a French art house movie. The version here is for pizzicato strings.
The title, “Decisions, Decisions” comes from a long email exchange I had with a student about five or six years ago.
She kept changing her mind about her dissertation topic and kept coming back to the same idea, which is really how this piece works. Up until then it had the title “Happy Dance” which I’d always meant to translate into French or something to make it sound a bit more pretentious (“Danse Heureuse” I suppose).
Incidentally, Poulenc is a strange composer – his music is very rhythmic and uses odd intervals, timings and discords, but it’s often very exciting and beautiful. Listen to the Domine Deus from his “Gloria” for example:

The whole piece is worth a listen if you can get hold of a good recording. I took part in a performance of that piece at York University conducted by the composer John Rutter. Blimey, he was a bad tempered guy that day… Went right off him.

White Noise – Love Without Sound

Saturday, May 2nd, 2009

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01 Love Without Sound.m4a (3055 KB)

Great track from the 1969 album An Electric Storm

It’s not funny! You shouldn’t laugh…

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Scary times for recruitment. What should designers do when supply outweighs demand?

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Some freelance design is still being commissioned, though everyone is being asked to reduce their fees, and there is less work around – about 30 per cent in our experience.
Full-time work agency side is really hard to come by – very few studios are recruiting.
Many brands, especially some of the high-end fashion brands we work with, are bringing their graphic design / branding / digital work in-house, to cut agency costs. Our in-house vacancies have increased by 50 per cent, and with many brands developing brilliant studios, designers are increasingly likely to consider taking a role in what was once regarded as a less creative environment.

Supply still outweighs demand – we are finding that the designers who are getting work are not only very creative but, perhaps more importantly, have the right attitude.

Design recruitment consultant Mike Radcliffe on the downturn in the design market.

A room with a view

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

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Tayport sunset – 01, originally uploaded by artistry.

I hadn’t planned on moving house but, after two years in my flat and just as I finally got round to unpacking the last box, my landlady decided she wanted to move back in and so I was out on my ear.
She gave me three months’ notice, though, but as I hate the whole process of moving I decided to get looking.

The first few flats I saw were pretty awful and then this one came up, right on the harbour. I snapped it up and even though I’m still lacking in furniture (a bed would be nice) the view from the front window is more than paying for itself – this photo is one of a number I took recently. At the height of summer it doesn’t get dark here until after 11pm and this is a month before midsummer’s night.

I also have some resident swans who come by every now and then.

A great find – knowing my luck the landlady will sell it before I’ve even put the bed together…

Students aren’t passionate about their subjects any more, say lecturers

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

‘I honestly don’t feel I have learned much. It’s too much theory and not enough practice. I’m learning about out-of-date technologies.’
John, 22, loathes his degree, a BSc in network computing. He says his main reason for applying to do the course was that it would lead to a good job.

Tom, 22, wasn’t thinking about jobs when he decided on a BA in 3D design and materials at Brighton University. ‘It’s the best course ever,’ he says. ‘I think about it all the time. I came to university not to get a piece of paper that proved I had a degree, but because my subject seemed like the right thing for me to do.’

Which student is more typical of undergraduates today – the one who chooses their degree for the love of it or the one who’s thinking about job prospects? It’s the latter, vice-chancellors and lecturers told Education Guardian this week.

They say undergraduates these days do not necessarily expect to love their subject the way they did a decade or more ago.

Professor Patricia Broadfoot, head of Gloucestershire University, and Professor Michael Thorne, head of Anglia Ruskin University, admit their evidence comes from talking to students, not hard data.

They give three main reasons why student attitudes have changed:

· Students have taken on board the government’s message that a degree is a passport to the world of work;

· A ceaseless concentration on exams and coursework in school stops pupils cultivating a love for a subject;

· Tuition fees have led some students to think exclusively about the financial return on the cost of their degree.

Of course, a lot of students do feel passionate about their degree subjects, as Tom does, the vice-chancellors say. ‘Many do PhDs, and that is proof of real love for a subject,’ says Thorne. ‘But the majority are now there to work within the confines of the course, and aren’t prepared to go outside them.

‘Students arrive at university focusing on jobs; that is the most important thing to them. We are seeing more and more of an attitude of ‘if it’s not in the exam or coursework, I’m not doing it’. You can’t expect students to read around a subject for the love of it any more.’

(Via Read the rest….)

Design skills need to be expanded

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

The Logic+Emotion blog has an interesting analysis of Nike’s online strategy which is well worth reading especially if you are interested in social networking. Towards the end of the article, it reiterates what a lot of people have been saying for quite some time (since the early days of the web, in fact, if memory serves): being a designer isn’t just about creating the look or the structure, but about much more besides, and companies like Nike or the agencies that work for them need to be investing in different design skills:

In 2008—if you think this is a direction you want to invest in, here are a handful of skills/people you may want to look for.  Keep in mind, these are not actual titles, they are more skill sets.

Digital Information Designers

Not all designers know how to design lots of content in the online space.  One you get into scrolling pages with lots of content, multimedia and features—you need people who know understand the art and science of information design.  More specifically, you need good digital information designers—there’s a difference.

Content Analysts/Architects

Content-rich sites require content analysts who can organize and categorize large amounts of content in their sleep. While flashy micro-sites relied heavily on talented flash designers—content sites rely on content analysts putting some deep thought into the best ways to display, distribute and serve up content (think multiple devices, feeds etc.).  These individuals will also understand how to integrate and aggregate content that may be coming from the ‘outside’ also known as ‘user generated content’.

Community Facilitators/Curators

People who understand the nuances, cultures and social etiquettes of online communities will be in high demand.  Those who can moderate, facilitate, create and maintain conversations will be critical to adding life to site experiences like this.  In addition, people with skills in this area understand how to reach out to existing communities and can help extend brands into this space without being too heavy handed or contrived. 

Niche Editors

Going up against content-rich providers on the internet such as Web MD is probably a waste of time, however the internet thrives on highly specialized niche content.  People who understand how to edit and serve up this specialized content—making it both valuable and convenient will be in demand.

There’s a vast range of skills here but in summary the article is saying interactive media design needs people who understand society and culture, who are able to tap in to diverse networks (often outside their own areas of interest that they will need to respect), know where the experts are (a key journalistic skill), and the information organisational skills of a librarian.

In other words, more than just what I think most people think a ‘designer’ needs to be taught.

There is of course another argument – that projects like socially-based websites need to stop relying on jack-of-all-trades designers (and expecting courses to produce them) and instead start recruiting journalists, subject specialists and librarians. But to do that we have to stop building little fences around ‘design’ and start attracting people from other professions and disciplines in to the field.

This has to start with truly interdisciplinary courses – in education we have to stop using ‘the portfolio’ as the entrance requirement (especially at postgraduate level) because that will stop the scientists, medics, athletes, lawyers, accountants and so on studying design. We also have to reassess what we consider to be ‘core’ skills for a designer.
I think there’s a fear that opening up our gene pool to others will produce unpredictable mutants, and that there’ll be a loss of the ‘traditional’ designer.

That’s actually the point.

(Via Logic+Emotion.)

WTF Mac Store

Monday, August 27th, 2007

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WTF Mac Store, originally uploaded by Jeff Carlson.

This neon sign is actually saying “The Mac Store”…


Saturday, August 25th, 2007

From BBC News ‘Have Your Say’:

Jeremy Paxman has criticised the BBC and the TV industry as a whole at a lecture in Edinburgh. He said there was too much focus on audience reaction. Do you agree?

How ironic can you get?

Critiquing design for sustainability

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

I like the philosophy here – that design which only contributes towards offsetting its own environmental impact is not ‘good’ for the environment, simply not as bad as it could have been.

Perhaps this needs to be considered more widely. The last time I flew I offset the carbon. It only cost £1. Well why not pay £2 and offset the carbon of the person next to me, just in case he hasn’t? Or even if he has? Why do we think in terms of ofsetting our personal impact when it would be far more cost-effective and probably easier to jump right in and think more socially.

Would this encourage others not to do it, thinking that do-gooders like me will do it for them? Well not if you subscribe to Richard Dawkin’s ideas of altruism in The Selfish Gene where he explains why strangers risk life and limb to save the lives of other people’s kids. Because we know that if we do we encourage a society that will look after our own kids when we’re not able to.

Unless a ‘green’ building actively remediates its local environment – for instance, scrubbing toxins from the air or absorbing carbon dioxide – that building is not ‘good’ for the environment. It’s simply not as bad as it could have been.

Buildings aren’t (yet) like huge Brita filters that you can install in a city somewhere and thus deliver pure water, cleaner air, better topsoil, or increased biodiversity to the local population.

I hope buildings will do all of that someday – and some architects are already proposing such structures – but, for the most part, today’s ‘green’ buildings are simply not as bad as they could have been.

A high-rise that off-sets some of its power use through the installation of rooftop wind turbines is great: it looks cool, magazine readers go crazy for it, and the building’s future tenants save loads of money on electricity bills. But once you factor in these savings, something like the new Castle House eco-skyscraper still ends up being a net drain on the system.

It’s not good for the environment; it’s just not as bad as it could have been.

(Read the whole thing at BLDGBLOG: Architectural Sustainability.)