debbie millman

Monday, January 29, 2007

As If "Thinking or Non-Thinking?" Should Be The Question

From the heroine of this film:

"The first part is in my "native language," and then the second part provides a translation, or at least an explanation. This is not a look-at-the-autie gawking freakshow as much as it is a statement about what gets considered thought, intelligence, personhood, language, and communication, and what does not."



via Kottke, with more info via his site here:

More about the video on MetaFilter, including a comment from the video's creator.

The heroine's personal website is here.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Design Matters Today with Joyce Kaye, Michela Abrams, Laetitia Wolff and Barbara deWilde

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters are four incredible women: Joyce Rutter Kaye, Editor-in-Chief of Print; Michela Abrams, Publisher of Dwell; Barbara deWilde, Design Director of House Beautiful and Laetitia Wolff, Editorial Director of Surface.

Joyce Rutter Kaye has been the editor-in-chief of Print since 2003, after five years as managing editor. As editor-in-chief, she has overseen a complete redesign of the 67-year-old magazine and its website, launched Print’s annual conferences, and created a minor ruckus for publishing a special issue on sex and design. Since Kaye joined Print, the magazine has won two National Magazine Awards for General Excellence and a number of additional ASME nominations. Previously Kaye was managing editor of U&lc, a reporter for Advertising Age/Creativity, and a freelance writer covering design and consumer culture. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two sons.

Michela O’Connor Abrams is the President and Publisher of Dwell, the award-winning design and lifestyle media company. In 2006, Dwell hit the coveted Adweek Hot List as well as the Advertising Age A-List, and was a Cappell's Circulation Top Ten Performer for the second consecutive year. In 2005, O'Connor Abrams helped see Dwell to its first major award when the magazine won General Excellence at the National Magazine Awards. She was also honored in 2005 by Media Industry News as Sales Leader of the Year. Prior to Dwell, O'Connor Abrams was the President of Imagine Media’s Business Division, including the flagship publication Business 2.0. She has over 20 years of experience in publishing, trade show management, online branding strategies, and strategic business development. She has also held executive positions at IDG, Ziff-Davis, and McGraw-Hill.

Laetitia Wolff is currently the Editorial Director at Surface magazine, a design and lifestyle bi-monthly, where she is not only spearheading the overall content of the magazine but also leading out-of-the book special projects, such as the Surface Conversation Series. She has been a contributing writer for such prestigious design publications as Abitare, Etapes, Intramuros, [dizajn] and Intérieurs. As founding director of futureflair, inc., a cultural marketing consultancy, Wolff brings extensive experience in the design field and a discerning eye for talent. Focused on a rigorous and creative understanding of design’s cultural implications, she engages in image management, curatorial and editorial development. She is also the editor of Real Photo Postcards published by Princeton Architectural Press. Wolff was the exhibition director and editor of the New York-based Art Directors Club. In addition, Ms. Wolff's experience includes managing the New York studio of renowned Italian designer Gaetano Pesce. She has also worked at the Museum of Modern Art and at Lee H. Skolnick Architects as an exhibition coordinator.

Barbara deWilde is currently the Design Director at House Beautiful Magazine where she has spent the last year redesigning the 100+ year old magazine. She is also runs her own firm, where she creates award-winning work in the music and book publishing industries. Formerly deWilde was the Design Director at Martha Stewart Living magazine. After the successful launch of Martha Stewart Baby and Martha Stewart Holiday, she began working with Hoefler Type Foundry to develop two new fonts for MSL for the re-design of the magazine. Her work for the Knopf Publishing Group, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, HarperCollins and Little, Brown has been published in Eye, Print, Time, Vanity Fair and I.D. magazines, and selected for display by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, AIGA, Art Directors Club and Society of Publication Designers.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 77 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

She's In To Win: Go Hillary Go

Friday, January 19, 2007

Six Degrees of Navigation

I often say that there are only three things that I know. I know what I know: I know that I am a woman; that I am left handed, and that I am clumsy. I also know what I don’t know: I know I can’t speak a foreign language, I will never be a brain surgeon and I know I will never play piano like Glenn Gould. But what keeps me up at night and gives me reason to fret is this: I don’t know what I don’t know. This makes me very uncomfortable.

I find that the only way to find out what I don’t know is for someone to tell me or teach me or show me and then open my eyes to this bit of information that I (sadly) never before considered. Afterward, I find something odd happens. I find that what I have learned is suddenly everywhere: on billboards or in the newspaper or smack! right in front of me. I can’t help but shake my head and speculate as to how and why I never saw this particular thing before. And I begin to wonder if I would be any different or any smarter or any more interesting if I discovered it when everyone else in the world first found out about this particularly obvious thing.

Paris Hilton is a good example of this. One day, some years ago, someone asked me what I thought of the Paris Hilton situation. I assumed they meant THE Paris Hilton, aka the Hilton Hotel in Paris. At the time, I was embarrassed that I had no idea what was going on, as it seemed so urgent. So I pretended that I did. “Oh yes, the Paris Hilton situation,” I lied. “Wow! Can you believe it?” I thought maybe the Paris Hilton hotel was on fire. I went to CNN.com to inquire and found nothing. Then I did a Google on “Paris Hilton” and discovered a strange blonde woman with a weirdly droopy eyes featured in a bizarre sex video and from that day on, she has tormented me. She is everywhere. Serves me right for lying.

I have been thinking a lot about these first discoveries and also chance encounters: those elusive mysteries that often lead to defining moments in our lives. But what if one of those defining experiences never occurred? What if something wonderful, something that we have come to depend on, that serendipitous bit of luck that provided us with a big break or a big deal or the big time, what if it never happened? One of those, “if I hadn’t been eating a gigantic McDonalds breakfast on the 7am flight to Vancouver in the middle seat, I wouldn’t have apologized to the beautiful, elegant woman sitting next to me on the plane and we wouldn’t have started talking and I wouldn’t have found out she was an important editor of a cool design magazine and we wouldn’t have become friends and so on and so on” type of moment. I call this “six degrees of navigation.” The quintessential experience of “if that didn’t happen, then that wouldn’t have happened, and then that wouldn’t have happened, and we wouldn’t have ended up right here, right now, in this way.

On the other hand, what if we could turn back time and eliminate the bad haircut, the bad interview, the bad fight, the bad boy? Would we simply do what Freud suggested and inevitably recreate the previous traumatic experience in a fruitless effort to symbolically alter the original course? A, “well it didn’t work in Vietnam, but hell, why not try it in Iraq” sort of thing? Would we end up with the same anguished longing as Clementine and Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? I am not sure.

I think the reason we recreate experiences in an attempt to symbolically alter an original course is because we regret what that experience did to us. That particular defining moment was not as fortuitous as, say, sitting next to a cool editor on an airplane. It is more of a, “well if I wasn’t treated badly then, then I wouldn’t feel so worthless now and I wouldn’t be broke and unemployed and hopeless.” It becomes wish to counter history, to counter how we’ve ended up.

Ben Franklin said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I fundamentally disagree with him. I think that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of hope. We might keep making mistakes, but the struggle gives us a sense of empathy and connectivity we would not experience otherwise. I believe this empathy improves the ability to see the unseen, and to better know the unknown.

Lives are made by chance encounters and discovering things we don’t know that we don’t know. The arc of a life is a circuitous one. You never know who you may sit next to on a plane. In the grand scheme of things, everything we do is an experiment, the outcome of which is unknown. You never know when a typical life will be anything but, and you won’t know if you are rewriting history or rewriting the future until the writing is complete. This...just this, I am comfortable not knowing.

Design Matters Today with Ze Frank



Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters with Debbie Millman is Ze Frank.

Ze Frank is an online performance artist, composer, humorist and public speaker. In 2001, Frank created an online birthday invitation called How To Dance Properly and sent it to seventeen of his closest friends. Forwarded wildly, the invitation soon generated millions of hits and over 100 gigabytes of daily web traffic to Frank's personal Web site. His site has grown to include interactive group projects, short films, animations, and video games, many Flash-based, including children's educational videos featuring handy tips such as "Don't vacuum your face.” Frank won a 2002 Webby Award for Best Personal Website and was featured in Time Magazine's "50 Coolest Websites" in 2005. Frank debuted onstage at the Gel Conference in 2003, and later spoke at the TED Conference in 2004 and 2005. In March of 2006, Frank launched a daily video blog known simply as the show with zefrank. Each tightly-edited, three-to-five minute episode combined Daily Show-style commentary on world events with songs, observations, and occasional games or challenges for his viewers to participate in. the show has quickly became the most popular portion of his site. Frank has also served as an Adjunct Professor at New York University, Parsons School of Design and SUNY Purchase.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. Last week the show was Number 73 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Stephen Colbert on redesigning the Cingular logo



via Design Observer by way of Eric Baker.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Favorite New Website: emdashes

emdash by house of pretty

Emily Gordon is a writer and an editor at PRINT magazine. She also edits emdashes, a site dedicated to The New Yorker and (more or less) related subjects, from movies to semicolons to Ricky Gervais.

The logo and site was designed by non other than uber-fabulous House of Pretty.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Fray

Sometimes I think if we knew how the world was really created, I mean really, truly—from the beginning of time, then there wouldn’t be any wars. How much easier would it be if we knew we were created by an intelligent, magical entity or if we evolved from single cell paramecium after a very big bang, or if we were simply part of some indescribable technological matrix? This knowledge would make our lives so much less complicated. No one, not one person on this planet, knows empirically how or why we are here. That uncertainty has given rise to incredibly elaborate theories we have come to believe so certainly that we fight to the death to convince others that our elaborately constructed ideologies are somehow superior. All of this comes from our elusive and mysterious origins. If only we knew how we got here. But, right now, in this particular time in our universe, the answer eludes us. So we battle on, weary and restless, anxiously waiting for proof and convincing ourselves that if we win this one last battle or send more people into the fray, that all will be won and justice, finally, will be had.

If only it were that easy.

Walking home from work yesterday I imagined what the legacy of our generation will be one hundred years from now. Maybe, if we are lucky, 1% of the people living today will still be alive, albeit very old. I wondered what will be remembered and how history will judge our actions. I realized that much of what we think of as news or entertainment will be long forgotten; no one will know of or remember Britney Spears or Angelina Jolie or Donald Trump; they will barely be footnotes in the annals of how we distracted ourselves at the turn of the 21st century.

But these are our times. In many ways, this is all we have. I think we forget about that. We use all sorts of elaborate rues in order to create a sense of security about who we are and what our purpose is, when in fact, there is no way of really knowing. Personally, I am very guilty of this; I use all sorts of things to convince myself that I am secure. I will readily admit that I try to convince myself that I feel more secure when I have an abundance of paper goods in my home: when I have an ample amount of paper towels, toilet paper, tissues and napkins. I convince myself that I feel more secure when I have enough cat and dog food to feed my pets for a month and enough water to drink for a year and packs of batteries and bath soap and clean sheets and light bulbs and coffee and good salt and Diet Dr. Pepper. I know that somehow I feel like I ever so slightly fit in if I have the brand new iPod and pretty clothes and snazzy shoes and an “it” handbag. But this collection of things, this loopy safety net is not really keeping me safe at all. I know it is the illusion that I enjoy, in order to convince myself that if anything bad happens, I will still be able to go on and take care of the people and the pets that I love. But these things aren’t enough, and they never will be enough, really, because in the same way we are searching for scientific certainty, philosophical certainty is just as elusive and mysterious.

I think that this ongoing quest has resulted in the undue responsibility we have placed upon these things—these brands--that we collect. We all know that we “use” these things to fit in and express choice and create community. But I also think the consistency and stability and tenacity of these brands allows us to feel safer and more secure in an often hostile and volatile world.

This past Monday, I was walking home from work and stopped at an ATM to withdraw some cash. When I got to the entrance of the bank, a homeless man opened the door for me. He was holding a paper cup containing a few coins and a single dollar bill. I thanked him for opening the door and went over to a machine to extract some cash. A few moments later, the homeless man opened the door for somebody else, and another homeless man walked into the bank, also carrying a cup. They looked at each other for a moment and then the first homeless man told the second homeless man, “This is my spot.” He continued by telling the man that he understood it was cold out, but he had gotten here first and it wasn’t fair for him to move onto his territory. The second man was quiet for a second and he looked around. Then he nodded and said he’d only stay for a minute or two, until he warmed up. The first man said thanks and then suggested he go to a bank on 23rd Street; that it was a good place to stay. The second man nodded again and said okay.

I hadn’t really thought about the inner politics of homelessness before. Inasmuch as I see homeless people everyday, I hadn’t really thought about the relationship that they have with each other and the machinations of living in a world where you are competing for nothing with people that also have nothing. I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the exchange between the two men, and once again, chastised myself for imaging that I don’t have enough.

We are all connected in this universe. We are connected by the things that we have, by the things that we don’t have, by our uncertainty and by our strength. Though today I am no more certain of things than I was yesterday or the day before, today I am grateful that I don’t sleep in a bank and that I have enough paper towels in my apartment to last me a few months.

Design Matters Today with Seth Godin

mr. seth godin

Joining me on todays broadcast of Design Matters with Debbie Millman is author and entrepreneur Seth Godin.

Seth Godin is a bestselling an entrepreneur and the author of seven books that have not only been worldwide bestsellers, they have changed the way people think about marketing, change and business. His first book, Permission Marketing was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller for a year, a Fortune Best Business Book and it spent four months on the Business Week bestseller list. It also appeared on the New York Times business book bestseller list. His other books include Unleashing the Ideavirus, which is an eBook about how ideas spread, and is the most popular ebook ever written (with more than 1,000,000 downloads to date). Other books of his include The Big Red Fez, which is Godin's take on web design; and Survival is Not Enough, which Tom Peters called a "landmark." More recently Godin has written four New York Times Bestsellers in a row: Purple Cow, a book about how companies can transform themselves as well as Free Prize Inside, All Marketers are Liars and Small is the New Big. Godin was a contributing editor to Fast Company magazine, was recently chosen as one of 21 Speakers for the Next Century, and was called "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. This week the show was Number 73 in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select "Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Public Surveillance?

This article was originally published on Speak Up.

It is possible that one could argue that the YouTube generation didn’t really begin in February of 2005 (the month the site was launched), or even in 2003 (the year in which William Gibson deftly outlined the basic framework of a similar site in his novel Pattern Recognition). One could easily make a case that the YouTube generation was born on March 3, 1991. This is the day that Rodney King was brutally beaten by several Los Angeles policemen and the day that George Holliday, a private citizen who happened to be looking out of his window when the beating occurred, captured the entire episode on videotape. And while some might suggest that YouTube's crowning achievement is the appointment of YOU as Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year, history may suggest that the defining moment for the toddler brand was the moment the uncensored, unedited cell phone footage of the hanging of Saddam Hussein was posted to the site.

In analyzing the videotape of the Rodney King beating, one could assess it as a serendipitous recording of a tragic event. But when the 35-second film was released to the public, it sent shockwaves and horror throughout the nation. It quickly became a defining moment both in the politics of law enforcement and in domestic race relations.

The video was an example of inverse surveillance, (citizens watching police) and the filming of real-life events by “real people” has quickly become one of the leading indicators of cultural trends. The way in which the general public has utilized the mass availability of video footage for cultural discourse is now highly measurable. Michael Richard’s captured racist diatribe and U.S. Republican Senator George Allen's recorded racial slurs are two recent examples of how the impact of instantaneous access can severely damage a career or ruin a political campaign. According to Ed Driscoll: "In an era of demassified individual publishing, the safety net that the liberal mass media provided its favorite sons no longer exists.”

In what seemed like moments after the execution (which had been rumored to be officially photographed), the recorded cell-phone footage of Saddam Hussein falling through the trap door of primitive wooden gallows spread like wildfire on the Internet and not surprisingly, on YouTube. The recorded footage is gruesome and features a moment-by-moment record of the noose being put around Saddam Hussein's neck, the executioners taunting him, and most horrifically, what he looked like when the trap door was thrown open and he fell to his death.

No doubt the video was taken to prove that Saddam Hussein was indeed executed. For those that may be skeptical of this motivation, please consider the various conspiracy theories that abound about the deaths of Adolph Hitler, President John F. Kennedy and even Kenneth Lay.

The Saddam Hussein footage is horrifying. But it is also informative. Now we definitively know the truth and can attribute this knowledge to the public online viewing of smuggled footage taken from a cell phone. What we can now call, for lack of a better term, public surveillance.

But at what price, this public information? What does it say about our humanity that we are witnessing this event in this way? Is it acceptable behavior to be documenting an event like this, or does that even matter when an event like this actually occurs? London Times journalist Rosemary Behan believes it is. "Even more chilling," she wrote in an article published last week, "is the thought that without the escape of this amateur video we would still be in the dark about what really happened, and about the true and apparently now official nature of the sectarian forces driving Iraq. In that we must be thankful for the truth, however sordid it is."

I have seen the video and it is indeed sordid. Of this, I am quite sure. But should the graphic details have been posted for the entire world to see and celebrate? Of this, I am not so sure.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Courtney Love on the cover design of the album "Live Through This"

Friday, January 05, 2007

Really

winter peonies

As a native New Yorker, I have spent a lot of time roaming the streets of Manhattan. And over the years, I have developed a relationship with places and monuments and landmarks and street signs. Certain sites are clichéd or understandable: admiring the sadness and the fury of the skyline or basking in the glow of the brilliant lights enveloping the Empire State Building.

I also get enormous pleasure viewing things I think of as “mine”— a ‘70s style rainbow decal in the window of a townhouse on West 13th Street, a wooden owl on the awning of a building on East 29th Street, a windmill on Hudson Street I used to think was a vertical helicopter, and the old Economy Foam sign on Allen Street in the East Village. These things, of course, are not really mine, but somehow I imagine I have a secret relationship with them. To me, they are not really “things,” they all have private lives and little souls. To me, they are real.

My favorite thing to behold in all of Manhattan was actually on the street that I live. It was a big bush of white peonies. It lived in a small messy garden in front of an apartment building that was once rumored to be a crack house. But every year, in the depths of March, little buds would poke up through the thawing earth, and every day I would watch the drama of these peonies unfurl. First came the fringy black stems, then the leaves would turn green, then they would spurt forth tiny, perfectly round buds, then, seemingly overnight, the buds would turn white and voila! They would burst open in the most fantastically glamorous way. It was magical and mysterious and it made me very, very happy. Watching it year after year, I often wondered how the bush got there. Who planted it? Did it self-sow? I desperately wanted to know.

One day some years ago, while walking my dogs, I bumped into my neighbor Kathy, who has lived on our block for 40 years. She has a dog my dogs love. As our pups frolicked together on the sidewalk, I realized we were in front of the house with the peonies. I asked Kathy, “Do you know who planted these flowers?” She told me she did, and recalled a story about a little girl who was selling seeds to raise money for her grade school and how someone in the crack building bought a package of seeds and planted the entire pack in front of the house. The little girl wasn’t a little girl anymore and she had moved away sometime ago, as did the person who had planted the seeds. Together we nodded, admired their long lasting handiwork and went our separate ways.

Late last summer, walking home from work in the pink and purple August twilight, I realized that the peony bush was no longer there. It was gone. There wasn’t a hole where the plant had been; there wasn’t a splattering of dirt or debris. The bush simply disappeared. It was as if it had never been there at all, as if it hadn’t been real. I was devastated.

The nature of “what is real” is a confounding concept. Philosophers and scientists alike have attempted to define what is real, along with the nature of the consciousness that defines what is real.

Plato maintained that two distinct levels of reality exist: the visible world of sights and sounds which we live in, and the intelligible world he referred to as “forms” which stands above the visible world and gives it meaning. Plato believed that the “idea of things” is the only true reality, and that “actual things” are only the appearance of reality. He believed that in our everyday experiences we suffer from the illusion that the things and objects around us constitute the ultimate reality. Furthermore, he believed that our ideas not only reveal our subjective inner states, but the true nature of reality itself.

So I had to wonder. Where were the peonies? How could they have disappeared without a trace? Could someone have been so cruel as to steal the bush and clean up after the theft? My mind raced. Could I put up a “Missing Peonies” poster? Were other people missing the flowers? And I couldn’t help but ponder in sadness: were the peonies ever real?

The last couple of months the world has been witness to events that have shaken me to the core and disgusted and frightened me. Seeing the private parts of Britney Spears was sadly bewildering. But all through the experience I remained skeptical. This couldn’t be happening, this couldn’t be real! But as the pictures kept coming and Britney herself admitted to the authenticity of the photos, I had to accept the fact that, yes indeed, this were real.

Then, on the other end of the reality spectrum, was the broadcasted cell phone footage of the hanging of Saddam Hussein. It was with a combination of revulsion and curiosity that I clicked on the link from Viral Videos and watched a man who looked like the former dictator fall through the primitive wooden gallows to a gruesome death. Again, I was skeptical. This couldn’t be happening, this couldn’t possibly be real! How could we be witnessing capital punishment via footage from a cell phone? But as both the Iraqi and US governments admitted to the authenticity of the video, I had to accept the fact that, yes indeed, this too was real.

Privacies of every sort are now inscribes with an impression on our culture. Things once thought free from this, even opposed to it: clandestine body parts, intimate sexual behavior, moments of life and death, find it ever more difficult to retain autonomy in the face of things such as reality television, YouTube and MySpace. Things we now romantically and proudly call “real” or “user generated.” But we have become sensitized to this as well. Because, now, at the very same time, smaller and smaller temporal and physical crevices are being packed with the messages of this so-called reality, or what we believe is real.

Last Sunday I was last minute holiday shopping, my arms loaded with big bags of holiday presents and wrapping paper. As I was making my way home, I passed the spot where my beloved peonies once resided. And I stopped short. In a spot near to where the peonies once regaled was a new bush of blooming white peonies. I couldn’t believe it. I approached the plant with care, and once again, I was skeptical. This couldn’t be happening, this couldn’t possibly be real! As I neared the bush, I put down my bags and took off my gloves. I reached out to touch the peonies and suddenly realized: they weren’t real. Someone had put a plastic peony plant near where the real bush had once lived. One imaginative neighbor was remembering the missing peonies and this was their memorial. I smiled and suddenly felt hopeful that a fake peony bush could indeed be a very real testament to what is most real in our hearts and in our minds.

Design Matters Season Four Premiere Today with authors Malcolm Gladwell and Joyce Gladwell

mr. gladwell

Joining me on the Season Four premiere of Design Matters with Debbie Millman are authors Malcolm Gladwell and Joyce Gladwell.

Joyce Gladwell was born in Jamaica, and graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Anthropology from University College London in 1956. Her book Brown Face, Big Master was first published in 1969, by Inter Varsity Press in London. Since 1969, Joyce has lived in Canada with her husband Graham, a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo. Joyce was a Marriage and Family Therapist for twenty years and has three children and two grandchildren. Her youngest son is writer Malcolm Gladwell.

Malcolm Gladwell graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. He was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York City. From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business, science, and then served as the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. He has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. He has won a National Magazine Award, and in 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He is the author of two bestselling books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking.

VoiceAmerica is now the industry leader in Internet talk radio, and Design Matters has over 150,000 listeners. We were also voted a "favorite podcast" on IF's Marketing Podcast survey at www.if.psfk.com, and the show is available as Podcasts on iTunes, where over 45,000 people download the show every month. The show is also regularly in the Top 100 Business podcasts on iTunes as well as a featured podcast on the site.

Design Matters is from 3-4PM EST and you can view the VoiceAmerica Business site and listen to the show from a myriad of locations:

You can go here, through the Sterling link:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/ListenLive.html

Or you can go here, through the Voice America link:
http://www.modavox.com/VoiceAmericaBusiness/

Or you can go here, through the Designers Who Blog link:
http://www.designers-who-blog.com

Please note that you will need Windows Media Player or the equivalent program to listen in, but you can download the technology for free here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/download/default.asp

Or finally, you can listen to this show, or any of our previous shows, as a Podcast on iTunes, for free. To listen to the Podcasts, you can do either of the following:

Subscribe manually, by going to the iTunes advanced menu, then select
"Subscribe to Podcast," then enter the following:
http://www.sterlingbrands.com/DesignMatters/rss.xml as the feed.

Or simply do a search on the iTunes music store Podcast directory for “Design Matters.”

Everyone is welcome to call in live and toll free--the number is 1.866.472.5790.

MANY THANKS TO ADOBE FOR THEIR SUPPORT OF DESIGN MATTERS
Thanks so much for your love and support...and for listening.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Poetry Tuesday Returns: New Year on Dartmoor

New Year on Dartmoor
by Sylvia Plath

This is newness: every little tawdry
Obstacle glass-wrapped and peculiar,
Glinting and clinking in a saint's falsetto. Only you
Don't know what to make of the sudden slippiness,
The blind, white, awful, inaccessible slant.
There's no getting up it by the words you know.
No getting up by elephant or wheel or shoe.
We have only come to look. You are too new
To want the world in a glass hat.
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Location: new york city, United States

Debbie Millman has worked in the design business for over 25 years. She is President of the design division at Sterling Brands. She has been there for nearly 15 years and in that time she has worked on the redesign of global brands for Pepsi, Procter & Gamble, Campbell’s, Colgate, Nestle and Hasbro. Prior to Sterling, she was a Senior Vice President at Interbrand and a Marketing Director at Frankfurt Balkind. Debbie is President of the AIGA, the largest professional association for design. She is a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com and Brand New and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly radio talk show about design on the Internet. The show is titled “Design Matters with Debbie Millman” and it is now featured on DesignObserver.com. In addition to “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design,” (HOW Books, 2009, she is the author of "How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer" (Allworth Press, 2007) and “The Essential Principles of Graphic Design” (Rotovision, 2008).

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