In April, 2011, the Google co-founder Larry Page took over as C.E.O. Besides moving to streamline Google’s increasingly sprawling scope as a company, he immediately launched Project Kennedy, an initiative to give all of Google’s products a more consistent look, so everything would be easier to use.
Nearly a year later, the crisp design cues of Google Now and the Kennedy Project have swept across Google, and cards are set to become one of the dominant ways in which Google presents certain types of information to users. In other words, a card will be the atomic unit of information display across all of Google. In addition to Now and Google’s Glass wearable computer—where all information is displayed as a card—they have started appearing across a multitude of Google's services and applications, like the Play Store, Gmail on iOS, and mobile search and Plus, to name a few. And today, cards are invading two of Google’s most important products outside of search, with a dramatic design overhaul of both Maps and its Plus social network. That change might seem minor in some ways, but there are profound implications in the proliferation of cards, given that they will become the way that billions of people consume and digest bits of information they’re seeking from Google over the next few years.
"I worry that too many of us . . . are certain that if only we can get 1993 to come back again, we'll clean up. That if we hold our breath and close our eyes and guard the gates with bigger and more dangerous weapons, time will turn backwards and it will be yesterday again. And we all knew what the rules were yesterday. The rules of publishing were simple. Authors, agents, books, incredibly long lunches--that was publishing. Not any more."
I've been an avid reader my whole life. Growing up in Puerto Rico my parents used to say that I was a "come libros," literally a book eater. The only thing I would consume more was music. You could see me with headphones from a brand new walkman or a book in hand, sometimes foolishly reading while walking. While my schoolmates grumbled at having to read Cervantes, Quijote was my hero.
Nothing has changed, I still devour books and music. Sometimes listening to music while simultaneously reading on the same device. Well, something has changed, I now have a deep understanding of what it takes to both write and produce a book.
And then there is digital. I've spent most of the past month tumbling through the wild frontier of editing, programming and packaging digital books in EPUB format. I find all of it challenging, frustrating and terribly exhilarating. I feel that to honor all those books I've read and that in many ways have consumed me, that I too have to do my part in figuring out the future of books.
The internet has given birth to yet another new medium: webcomics. Moving beyond the restrictions of print, webcomic artists interact directly with audiences who share their own unique worldview, and create stories that are often embedded in innovative formats only possible online. Sometimes funny, sometimes personal, and almost always weird, web comic creators have taken the comic strip form to new, mature, and artistic heights.
Much attention has been paid to 3D Printing lately, with new companies developing cheaper and more efficient consumer models that have wowed the tech community. They herald 3D Printing as a revolutionary and disruptive technology, but how will these printers truly affect our society? Beyond an initial novelty, 3D Printing could have a game-changing impact on consumer culture, copyright and patent law, and even the very concept of scarcity on which our economy is based. From at-home repairs to new businesses, from medical to ecological developments, 3D Printing has an undeniably wide range of possibilities which could profoundly change our world.
Illustrators articulate what a photograph cannot. Using an array of techniques and styles, illustrators evoke stories and meaning in a variety of mediums, from editorial illustration in magazines and newspapers, to comics books, to activist media. And as their tasks over the years have become less informational and more expressive, their individual voice as artists becomes all the more critical and beautiful, revealing an exciting and awe-inspiring age of illustration.
As games have increased in sophistication, they have become a stage for ever higher displays of human skill and brilliance. The result is a tier of the gaming world filled with startling disciplined, talented, and highly competitive players. Born out of arcade tournaments and LAN parties, the world of competitive gaming is now entering a mature phase, featuring major global events attended by thousands and watched by millions online. With valuable sponsorship and prize money of increasing value, competitive gaming is claiming a space similar to that of traditional sports. This new industry is still in its early stages, developing broadcasting models and negotiating the culture of its widening audience. But whether it's fighting games or MOBAs, the players and spectators are passionate, and individuals and leagues are working hard to elevate e-sports into the highest echelons of human achievement.
PBS Idea Channel recently celebrated their one year anniversary. One year of provocative and funny questions to view the world from a new perspective. I am a big fan of the Idea Channel from PBS Digital Studios. In honor of their anniversary, over the next couple of days I'll be sharing some of their recent work, catching up with some and introducing new ones.
If you're like us, you LOVE Game of Thrones. But if you're also like us, you may not, technically, have... cable. So how are we seeing this amazing show on HBO, which is stuck behind a pay wall? A huge amount of viewers (not us of course, no no no) are downloading the show illegally. But despite being the most pirated show of 2012, the Game of Thrones DVDs are top sellers, breaking HBO's own sales records! Could it be that piracy is actually HELPING the show?
Living in the consumer culture that we do, we've learned that specific brands can carry very different meanings and values. We're willing to pay hundreds or thousands more for a specific brand name item, but sometimes it can be tempting to go the way of the knock-off for a fraction of the price. The counterfeit industry is huge and isn't going anywhere, and companies spend huge amounts to dissuade people from buying "fakes". But are knock-offs REALLY a negative for the brand?
If you've watched past episodes of Idea Channel, you know we're huge fans of Minecraft. This totally amazing video game allows you to build your own world from scratch, what's not to like? But it may be good for more than just fun and games. Some experts have brought Minecraft into the classroom, allowing teachers to customize lessons and students to engage with concepts in new ways. And while educational games aren't new, Minecraft has some unique advantages that could usher in a new direction in education. In the future, students across the world may spend their class time punching trees.
A meteorite crashed into earth! This wasn't the first time and it won't be the last, but it is the first time such an event was captured by SO MANY CAMERAS! The incredible number of views and angles filmed was made possible by Russia's bizarre driving culture and the MILLIONS of car dash cams installed all over the country. But besides providing the world with some hilarious, frightening, and amazing footage, the dash cams also make us think about surveillance, and what role it will play in the future.
If you've ever played Team Fortress 2, you know how valuable hats are. To those who haven't: yes, HATS! If a community agrees on the value of something, then that thing can become a currency, to exchange for other goods. Just like american dollar bills (or euros, yen, or any other currency), or... bitcoins. Bitcoins are an online currency worth over $200,000,000, and though they are just 1s and 0s, some think that this is the future of money. On the other hand... mo bitcoins mo problems.
Transhumanism is a scientific philosophy that says technology will solve all our human biological constraints and that immortality is right around the corner (well not RIGHT around the corner, but WAY closer). They envision a world of endlessly euphoric robo-humans that represent the next step in evolution. And while this sounds super awesome, we had to ask, will this really make us happy? If you watch Futurama, than you know that the answer is probably NO. While not an exact illustration of transhumanism, Futurama does show a future of vast technological ability, where today's everyday problems are rendered moot, and yet the characters on the show still seem to find themselves in some very non-euphoric emotional states. Does this disprove what transhumanists expect for our future?
If you've ever talked to a vinyl purist (or are one yourself) you know that people can be pretty passionate about what format is king when it comes to music. And based on how much people like to brag about what band they saw live and how many times, we clearly value the authenticity of the live performance above all else. But when we see a performer live, we're judging them based on what we know from the mp3 or record that we've already listened to 1000 times. . . because what is a song SUPPOSED to sound like anyway? As music has evolved from solely performance into "media", the issue of what the most authentic even IS has become increasingly complicated. So which is the most authentic?
Powerful Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour is expanding her role at Condé Nast. Today, the publisher announced that Wintour—who is also the editorial director of Teen Vogue—was named artistic director of Condé Nast. In the newly created role, Wintour will be responsible for "curating and cultivating the creative vision" for the company, according to a statement.
In an interview with The New York Times, Condé Nast CEO Chuck Townsend said that Wintour would be assuming some of the responsibilities left open by Si Newhouse, the 85-year-old chairman of Condé Nast parent Advance Publications, when he scaled back his role, including oversight of Condé Nast's editorial division, last fall. "Si Newhouse leaves a void, inevitably," Townsend told the Times. "Anna, without even having to think twice about it, is the most qualified person to pick up that torch and carry it into the future."
Townsend added that the role of artistic director had been created, in part, to keep Wintour at Condé Nast, telling the Times that he "would go to great distances to avoid losing Anna, particularly in the prime of her career." Wintour had been rumored last year to be a possible Obama administration appointee to the U.K. ambassadorship, but she maintained that she had no plans outside of Condé Nast.
I find Wintour to be truly fascinating. While everyone is discussing the death of publishing as we know it she secures herself an even bigger position of leadership at Condé Nast. At this moment it's not clear what this new position really means for publications like Wired, Epicurious or The New Yorker and I can not help but find myself very curious to see how her obvious influence will extend beyond the world of fashion.
In conversations I often compare Wintour to Steve Jobs. Most of us were willing to dismiss his most demanding character traits while acknowledging that he was a visionary genius, and yet similar behavior and success from Wintour results in her being branded a Prada-wearing devil.
I gained a better understanding of who Wintour is from a film, not that one, the other one. The R.J. Cutler directed documentary The September Issue (available for streaming in the usual places.) Cutler spent eight months following Wintour and filming over three hundred hours of footage.
While making The September Issue, I observed Anna Wintour day-in and day-out as she single-handedly commanded the $300-billion global fashion industry. In a business where last week's fashion shows are already old news, she has been at the top of her field (and the top of her game) for two decades and counting. Shortly after we began filming, I observed to a friend who asked what it was like to watch Anna work, "Well, you can make a film in Hollywood without Steven Spielberg's blessing, and you can publish software in Silicon Valley without Bill Gates' blessing, but it's pretty clear to me that you can't succeed in the fashion industry without Anna Wintour's blessing."
Cutler even learned four lessons in management by watching Wintour work.
Another reason to watch the documentary is to discover Grace Coddington. Every influential public figure always has a behind-the-scenes person who is equally, if quietly, influential to the work.
Watch the above trailer for the documentary. At around the 2:00 mark there is a moment that resonated with me when I watched the film and that I confess I've stolen. In many meetings over the past few years I've been known to paraphrase her and demand "where is the quality?, where is the elegance?, where is the follow through? Come on, elevate it."
If God is in the details, so is the Devil and she is an Artistic Director.