retroactive records of fridays #05 / by Mikhail Kim

This post records dispatches from February 2015 through June 2015.

february 6, 2015 - "nice pattern friday"

Sometimes I just want to see a nice pattern out there.

february 13, 2015 - "designing trust on fridays"

Quick show of hands, how many of you still actively use facebook? … I can’t see your hands, but my point is that most of us are probably at least semi-active users (the really young kids these days are another question though), and by most of us I mean 1.3 billion people of this planet. That’s 1.3 billion people occupying the same giant social space. Someone has to mediate all of us so that we play nice with each other.  Someone gets to design that experience through popup menus, checkboxes, choices/options, etc. They’re guiding us through this space and giving/withholding avenues of actions to follow.

So facebook has engineers whose highly provocative, self appointed unofficial title and job of “trust engineers” raises some really interesting social science questions. These usually arise from simple seemingly benign tasks and problems, some of which are described in this week’s super-interesting episode from Radiolab (a podcast with about 30min of audio). The first half of the podcast chronicles the issue of reporting inappropriate photos, however it is the second half that gets really interesting and opens up the conversation. One thing that’s a little mind-boggling is how much agency this platform has. It’s only a platform, a shell, or a framework for interaction, or perhaps a super-giant-super-flex-warehouse space, and yet it has the power to know and toprogram behavior and emotion.

february 20, 2015 - "mobility data friday"

Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (or the much cooler sounding CMAP) recently launched a new website on regional mobility and it’s infrastructural/infographic porn (not entirely.. but it’s pretty, got some cool data, got some cool maps). Its message is to make apparent to citizens the bigger picture, or the scale, importance, and - most importantly – the needs of the aging mobility infrastructure. The website is more than just infographic porn and attempts to simultaneously educate about issues and distill otherwise dense information into presentable and digestible packages. It’s actually pretty good, go take a drive.

The site was created by a Dutch design agency Clever°Franke whose motto is “Design for Complexity”. I imagine they do pretty good business these days (ignoring that this was likely not much of a business at all a few years ago).


february 27, 2015 - "PS friday"

Last week a little known program celebrated itsbirthday. Photoshop turned 25. There are undoubtedly innumerable digital tons of work spanning a full range of imagination out there that have been made possible by Photoshop. It even has its own verb! Pretty good run for being so young. And since there aren’t enough Fridays in the world to link to so much stuff, I’ll just pick Erik Johansson. He is a Swedish photographer whose work often borders somewhere between being Escher-esque and the-edge-of-reality’s-fabric. He is also gracious enough to have posted some behind the scenes videos for a few of his pieces. HBD PS!

You may now resume your regularly scheduled photoshopping.

march 6, 2015 - "do you get any work done on fridays?"

I’m not saying that I wouldn’t like catered breakfast and lunch everyday, and free beer and wine on tap, and a napping corner!!! but this is a little ridiculous.

…On the other hand, what is it really like to work like that? What’s the culture like?

march 13, 2015 - "earth to space and back friday"

SATELLITEN is a drawing machine. It tracks the ethereal (satellites) and records its tracks in the tangible terrestrial (paper maps of earth). So cool!

march 20, 2015 - "ageing friday"

As Manhattan ages, so do its buildings while new ones spring up. “Urban Layers” (must use Chrome or Firefox) is an interactive map that charts and maps this process of age/renewal/replacement through some fancy use of NYC’s pluto and building footprints data, javascript, and webGL. Don’t know what all those things do? Neither do I… I must be showing my age, but they apparently offer some online courses that will teach all us old school dogs how to make one of our own fancy maps.


march 31, 2015 - "getaway makeup not friday"

I skipped a Friday this past week. Things got away from me, but to make up for it, I asked Google for some help and they were so awesome as to make a pac-man maps for today. Just go to google maps on your computer and you can play pac-man on any map you want! (as long as there is enough street density in your area)

Just don’t let the rest of your day get away from you while you’re getting away from the ghosts.

You’re welcome.

april 3, 2015 - "being a designer friday"

This is a 4 minute clip of Michael Bierut of Pentagram speaking about some stuff. Two things actually, but it is the first one that got me. His opening statement about what it means to be a designer is pretty powerful and well put.

april 10, 2015 - "history & iconography friday"

Airports and skyscrapers are both pretty iconic spaces and structures. Both building types are hovering around being a century (or a bit more) old and came about thanks to our fascination with verticality (for skyscrapers, I refer to modern skyscrapers since tall buildings have clearly  been around for a while). We have to thank the elevator and the airplane for allowing us to go vertical with speed and style. At the same time it seems that their iconographies present themselves differently. 

Skyscrapers are developed for maximum height efficiency and are tall (duh!), monumental, and permanent. They derive their impact from these attributes, which are all external. Skyscrapers are perceived and remembered from the outside; they are typically straight arrows pointing up, and the lot can be easily lined up for various comparisons and historical overviews such as this great side-scrolling History of Height (kudos to Dan Dickson for the tip!).

Airports on the other hand have developed to be flat double-layer pancakes that spread out like amoebas to maximize airplane gate efficiency and this quality makes them more difficult to grasp as a whole. They are arguably less about the object and more about the experience. Since airports are more amorphous in their physicality I would say their iconography comes from their name, or more specifically their IATA code. Think SFO, JFK, BOS, BCN, NRT... ring any bells? And on that note let's go off on a tangent andwonder where those codes came from.

april 17, 2015 - "unseen seen friday"

Sometimes we can’t see things with just our own two eyes. But when we see them they’re pretty cool. So we recruit the help of technological aids. This is the case with infrared photography, (nothing new in itself) which is cool for its ability to expose wavelengths that are unseen to us simpletons, this is pretty dramatically expressed by photographer Ed Thompson. Some other unseen things can only be seen with the help of a space station, gps, precision driving, a sob story, and a bunch of marketing muscle such as this handwritten note transposed onto a desert with tire tracks at a scale of 1.5 central parks.

april 24, 2015 - "framed friday"

Serjios’ Instagram feed is full of nice compositions of building elevations with a person (yes, just one person, but sometimes 3).

Pair that with an illustrated taxonomy of the Windows of New York.

And you hopefully get a nicely framed Friday.

may 1, 2015 - "big patterns friday"

Systems on systems in systems = big patterns. Marcus Lyon explores this in his photographic series “Timeout”… brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Amazon fulfillment center. 

(thanks to Dan Dickson for the Marcus Lyon link!)

may 8, 2015 - "it's all for the people friday"

Hey architects, you need to put some more people in that rendering. You know, for scale and sense of place and to make it sellable. But make sure they look like unhappy hipsters whose exclusive and elusive (or maybe not so elusive) secret live we will get to glimpse thanks to your rendering.

(thanks to Jesse Wetzel for the link link)

may 15, 2015 - "old school systems friday"

Systems these days have a much more expanded meaning from just a few decades ago. However if we focus our collective distracted attention spans to defining a “system” as a holistically designed and tightly integrated product then we get Dieter Rams’ and Braun’s designs. These were recently subjects of an exhibit titled as such. Contemporary graphic designers were also invited to provide interpretations through posters, which are appropriately representative (and sometimes somewhat exposing of the narrow boundaries) of the work.

may 22, 2015 - "blownminded friday"

Crowdsourced timelapse photography?!/..\!?

Mind blown.

june 5, 2015 - "belated memorial/slightly downer but still interesting friday"

Yes it’s way past Memorial Day, but I was on vacation last week where no emails can reach (a.k.a. pre-21stcentury land). I wasn’t time traveling this time, but I did come across this project that graphically reflects upon the casualty statistics of World War II. It’s about a 15min video that breaks down the big picture pretty well (a.k.a. 70 million overall casualties big). That’s to say if you were to put that number against the current US population, it would be about 1 out of every 4.5 people. Staggering. It certainly makes me wonder how a place like Arlington National Cemetery can accommodate so many fallen. They’ve had to expand, they can do that because there is space and the result is a certain other kind of landscape. However, a country like Japan doesn’t quite have the luxury of expanding horizontally, which is why they compact, densify and build up with buildings like robotic garages, capsule hotels, and also ‘cemeteries’(thanks to Connie Cortes for the BBC link)

. These can be sensitive grounds, but they have strong spatial implications and design considerations.

june 12, 2015 - "negating the negaters friday"

I don’t know how many of you still remember any of your school studio reviews, or maybe you took the first chance you could to forget those experiences. If your memory has been wiped clean, ask your summer intern. But in case you still remember something, did you have an attitude towards the review? Was it a dreaded 15-30 minutes of your heart and soul being on the chopping block? Or was it a chance to speculate and get into an argument with a critic? Or were you in such a drunken sleep-deprived stupor that frankly you didn’t give a damn about what anyone said about your project?   

“NEGATERS GONNA NEGATE” by Mark Stanley (of the Woodbury School of Architecture and StudioMars) is an astute critique of the critique if you will. It frames the whole setup quite well, looks at it critically by means of smartass commentary, and ultimately speaks about a productive way to approach the whole performance.

june 19, 2015 - "ethereal threads and deep connections friday"

A deep subject line for just a pair of visualizations, one for US flight patterns and the other for theLondon Underground.

This is the depth of the space we live in.

june 26, 2015 - "MMMMMMM friday"

I may/may not have mentioned before my mild fascination with subways. It’s a piece of infrastructure that has an image while many others don’t. You may identify a city with its metro system or its station designs, or how clean/dirty it is, or what kind of voice makes the announcements. There is a sense of familiarity with it, a certain notion of belonging and ownership. Knowing the best spot to stand on the platform to make the fastest transfer. Trusting it to carry you home in your super-inebriated state, and then carry back home again after you miss your stop. That kind of familiarity.

So in that spirit CityLab published a nice dissection about how the different Metro systems around the world design their “M”. How many do you recognize?