Inkscape Logo

Inkscape Logo

Does the trend for simple design mean that Inkscape will go back to their first logo? I personally think that the 2009 refresh is the ugliest by far.

Specialised services and the ambient workspace

Screenshot of a Windows Live Space

Somebody’s Windows Live Space (not mine)

Abstract: I think that our contemporary web services are doing fewer things, and doing them better, and our platforms are consolidating more information, more usefully.

The rise of the central service

Years ago I had a Windows Live Space. This was a weird blogging service slash Myspace clone, and an all-round fumbled gambit into the hastily developing world of social networking, by the ever-lovable Microsoft. Thing is, not all of my friends were on Windows Live, despite it being their first choice for email and chatting. This bugged me. Some kids had LJ, some had Xanga, and the lion’s share were on Myspace, of course. I thought, “I don’t want to sign up for all these different things and manage a million accounts, there should be some way that they can all be consolidated.”

Or, more accurately, “Everyone should decide to use the service I’m using.”

Then there was Facebook. It had photos that were taggable and statuses and chat and these new app things and games and best of all, everyone you knew was on it, something that happened practically overnight.

The fall of the central service

Now I’m going to make the bold claim that this utopian vision of togetherness is backwards, and that we are abandoning it without realising. Facebook has the world’s largest collection of photogtraphs, but more and more of the photos posted in timelines are coming from other services such as Instagram. Facebook has recently tweaked interface prompts to increase engagement, and — anecdotally — I have seen a lot of friends joining and engaging with twitter, and hearing that they log into Facebook but don’t create as much content as before. That’s interesting, and that’s bad for Facebook.

I’d posit two reasons for this:

  1. Specialised services are better at what they do (see Unix Principle)
  2. The devices we’re running these things on are getting better at giving us information ambiently.

Ambient workspaces

Let’s leave point 1 for the moment, and look at point 2, because I made a graphic. Click to enlarge.

Diagram showing traditional dekstop versus ambient workspace

Even if we’re not all using KDE or Windows 8 (yet), maybe you have a sidebar application for Twitter. Maybe eBay integrates into your mobile phone’s messaging system so you can see new bids alongside your SMSs and emails at a glance.

I strongly believe that this is a paradigm we are working towards, because the fewer clicks or keypresses you need to get to your subject of interest, the better. Why should we waste screen estate on wallpaper and icons, when the icon itself tell you what you need to know?

I’ve overlooked and glazed over a lot of points, but start a discussion in the comments if the fancy takes you.

Mobile media and more Tron

Quorra Blackberry backgroundI got the opportunity to see Tron: Legacy again, this time in 2D. Seeing the beginning again gives you a much wider view of the cyclical aspects of the film, including the neat little parallels drawn between Kevin Flynn and Clu (“In/out there, is our destiny!”)

I received the soundtrack recently, which is brilliant. coordinated with this delivery was that of an 8GB micro SD for the phone; having a phone for a fixed term of 2 years enforces me into making it a serviceable multi-use device. Combined with my new headphones, the sound quality is, even in my mother’s words: “Flippin’ amazing!” (Note: I played her a bit of Chic, not Daft Punk). I also discovered that I have, like 6GB of music, legitimately(!).

My snow photos are no longer justifiable background images, so today I designed a little phone background to help tide my decelerating need for Tron stuff. The resolution is 320×240, and it is downloadable to the right.

If I find the inclination, I’ll post about a little PHP project that I have on the boil at the moment. Check out my twitter @SteGriff if you think I’m an OK guy.


Minecraft Island Renovation

I wrote previously about my dealings in Minecraft; 90% of the web design I do is Minecraft related, and as such, I need a neat portal to keep everything.

My hastily done previous effort was this:
Minecraft Island, before

So I spent an hour or so, slaving over a hot Inkscape and Photoshop (because, let’s face it: the layout and styling required is minimal) and now, I have this:

Minecraft Island, after

…I really am in love with border: 3px double grey for my sinister Web 1.1 dealings!

As a note, the background took a lot more effort than you might think. I went into Minecraft creative single player, changed the fog colour to the same as the sky (using Cheat Engine), waited until there was a nice cloudscape, took the screenshot, and then rebuilt the sea in Photoshop, also recolouring the clouds to offset the fog.

Making things look Web 2.0 is so much hard work, and who cares about the output? I’m not trying to be the next twitter. I think if you don’t try to make a site look amazing, because you value content, there’s no problem. When I try to make something look vaguely modern, and fail, that kind of sucks.