What else might the eBook be?

Peter Jones Information Ecology, Wu Wei

Since our University of Toronto eBooks User Experience study has been completed, its time to share what we found. But first, I’d like to compare some current progress between different eBook and future book research initiatives. I’m tracking projects such as OCAD’s SmartBook, the Institute for the Future of the Book, Dave Gray’s “unbook” collaborative, and the JISC eBook study. In the AIGA website Andrea Marks writes about her maiden publishing project, and the possibilities fo authoring an eBook rather than a printed publication. As a graphic design professor, the printed artifact appears significantly preferable, laden with possibility for design and expression. When offered the opportunity to write for an eBook, she had mixed feelings. As excited as I am about new technology and all it has to offer, I had a hard time mustering enthusiasm for an electronic book. Perhaps my reticence had to do with the clunky e-books I had seen to date, some nothing more than a scanned print book, with little or no interactivity. And call me old fashioned, but I really love the sensation of …

Who really killed the American Car?

Peter Jones Transformation Design, Wu Wei

Perhaps it isn’t all about the product. Adam Hanft makes the point that clumsy marketing and mediocre corporate culture with no sense of its own creative force led to “a marketing failure, probably the biggest one in history. It takes years of monumental incompetence to squander the biggest, deepest love affair the American consumer has ever had.” “Car companies have so many levels of creative approval that even a crash dummy would have trouble surviving the process.” Hanft suggests a couple of transformational ideas, that may sound obvious, but they hint at the most basic transforming precepts. 1. If what you’re doing (advertising) is not working, first stop. Then do something else. 2. Be honest about your weaknesses, and turn them into benefits. Authenticity works. “Detroit should have sought the best, talent in the world. They needed to open up to smaller, independent agencies that are the idea factories for the industry. And they should have commissioned film directors, not car hacks, to direct their spots. It happens in Europe all the time. Turn Judd Apatow, Spike Lee, Spike Jonze …

All Design is Redesign

Peter Jones Wu Wei

So now also says Bruno Latour, in a keynote lecture given at History of Design Society, Falmouth, September 2008 “A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design.” The fourth advantage I see in the word “design” (in addition to its modesty, its attention to detail and the semiotic skills it always carries with it), is that it is never a process that begins from scratch: to design is always to redesign. There is always something that exists first as a given, as an issue, as a problem. Design is a task that follows to make that something more lively, more commercial, more usable, more user’s friendly, more acceptable, more sustainable, and so on, depending on the various constraints to which the project has to answer. In other words, there is always something remedial in design. I would add, there is nothing perfect in such an approach toward design or redesign. We move together toward a shared image that appears to others as a “progression” of designs. We muddle through, we bricolage, we construct multiple variations until one …

OFF + ON

Peter Jones Innovation, Wu Wei

UK’s Trendwatching gives us OFF=ON. Everything offline takes on characteristics of the online (esp Web 2.0) world. Indeed this is a trend many of us have pushed with clients overly investing their brands in one medium/world or the other, but not both effectively. The primary vector in their article is mapping online features, design, and interaction modes to the built and ID product world. Extending consumer products with an interdependent web identity. Some of this can be meaningful – looking at the Letterman list of 10 ways though, much of it is also Web 2.0 add-on (my comments in red): It doesn’t take marketing genius to apply OFF=ON and ON=OFF to your own brand. Here’s what you can set in motion today: Incorporate online symbols into one of your next designs. (Great, add Digg icons to print? But a Flickr link might add value to a print advert.) Have customers design something from scratch online, then bring it into the real world. (Customized Webkinz?) Add any kind of online functionality or access feature to existing physical products. Study and then …