Hoodiez Launch!

My colleague and friend David Fiorito’s toy company (DreamLand Toyworks) is having an official launch party for a line of excellent collectible toys called Hoodiez, designed by Carl Jones, the artist behind Boondocks.

Check out the site, but if you’re in town, definitely go by the gallery, because even after the party Jones’ work will be on display until sometime in May.

Launch Party Poster

Lethem's "Ecstasy of Influence"

I’m a huge fan of Jonathan Lethem. And I hadn’t gotten round to reading all of his essay in Harper’s until just lately. Here’s a slice. And yes, the writing is this sharp and elegant all the way through:

“The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism” by Jonathan Lethem (Harper’s Magazine)

For substantially all ideas are secondhand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily used by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral caliber and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. Old and new make the warp and woof of every moment. There is no thread that is not a twist of these two strands. By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. Neurological study has lately shown that memory, imagination, and consciousness itself is stitched, quilted, pastiched. If we cut-and-paste our selves, might we not forgive it of our artworks?

It strikes me that his argument about art and influence is applicable to communities of practice as well. That we all borrow and re-contextualize our tools, ideas, methods.

It also strikes me that language itself works this way. What if, at some point early in civilized human development, as soon as one primitive came up with a name for something, nobody else was allowed to use that very name for that thing, without paying a fee of some kind? The very reason we have a rich language is that it can be fluid — it can grow, morph, and brawl its way through history — and because of that, we have civilization itself.

New Graphic Novel: Light Children

light children

The incredibly talented Kyle Webster is doing the art for a new graphic novel called Light Children. The story sounds fascinating: creepy orphans with special powers, a macabre carnival of some kind, and lots of mysterious intrigue. I can’t wait to see it come to life.

From the site:

The first chapter of the book will be released on this site at no charge in a few months; this is a never-before-seen online method of introducing an illustrated novel to the public before the first page is even printed. Enjoy the ride as we invite you into the epic story of the Orphans of Westover Lake. If you would like to be notified when the first chapter is online, please sign up for news and updates on the homepage. People who sign up will also receive exclusive Light Children content, such as behind-the-scenes news, concept art, and some story teasers.

So what are you waiting for? Go click!

YouTube – Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

This video is amazing. I’m not sure how to describe it. Cory Doctorow on BoingBoing said this about it:

“Web 2.0… the Machine is Us/ing Us,” is deeply moving and incredibly smart. The creator is Michael Wesch, an assistant Cultural Anthropology Prof at Kansas State U, and he has strung together a bunch of animations, text, and screenshots in order to tell the story of “Web 2.0” — and why it matters, and how it’s changing the world. This is as starry-eyed as techno-optimism gets, and it might just choke you up a little, if you care about this stuff.

YouTube – Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us

Scully on memorials, and the impact of organizing information for humans

At the IA Summit this year, there was a lot of talk about whether or not individuals organizing information was still relevant (which is an absurd question on one level, but I suppose it’s important to work through this identity crisis together as a community).

There are some things that a designer’s understanding of context can do with information that a hive mind or a universal standard simply cannot.

It hit me with a thud as I read this interview: A Monumental Discussion with Vincent Scully | Metropolis Magazine.

Scully explains one of the design features of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC:

The other brilliant move was her determination that the names on the memorial reflect the chronology of their deaths. The authorities wanted very much to make it alphabetical. But I’ve heard people standing in front of that wall, pointing up to a cluster of names, and saying: ‘They were all killed by the same burst.’ The memorial is very close to the sequence of how people died. So it’s the whole story of the war. And in a way, symbolically, it starts out with the first casualty, and then it goes in the depths of the war, where the casualties were massive, and then it goes to the last.

There’s the human story. And there’s how stories get told and resonated with how we shape information. It happens every day, in many contexts much more mundane than this … but all of them are meaningful, all of them change us.