i disagree with everything you just said.

Friday, December 31, 2004

bleeding and cupcakes.

august stringberg and helium. can't... stop... watching. so pink and happy. start from the left.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

this so-called 20th century of angst, neurosis, and panic.

why just tell you what i'm doing with my life when i can also meddle in yours? recently experienced by me and highly recommended for you:
  • movie: bright young things, stephen fry, 2004. adapted from evelyn waugh's vile bodies. decadent, decadence, decadently. wallow in it. great parties, beautiful costumes, shallow people. the movie suffers once world war ii hits and they get all moral ("here come the buffalo!"), but fortunately that's just the last 10 minutes.

  • book: boob jubilee: the mad cultural politics of the new economy, thomas frank and the baffler crew, 2003. the somewhat flowery and overwrought writing style that them bafflers have perfected over the years is very appealing &mdash yes, the culture is collapsing, but when written about so wittily it doesn't hurt quite as much on the way down. section titles like "interns built the pyramids" and "cyclorama of the great debauch" make me feel both much better and much worse about myself. pair it with "bright young things" and make f. scott proud.

  • storage space: city storage. support local business and get rid of all the crap. our small city apartment has never felt more open, and city storage has a much better deal than the national chains without forcing you to drive all the way out to oakland. plus, surprisingly attractive building, for a storage space.

it may not be obvious to you, but all three are thematically related.

measure once, cut twice.

every year i say i'll do three things. and every year, i get one, maybe two of them accomplished, so the rule is always: one of those three things has to be something i said i'd do last time around, and one of them from the previous year has to get permanently retired, because let's face it, it ain't ever gonna happen. herewith, my three things for '05:
  1. learn to cook, sort of. not much, just three dishes beyond the one thing i currently make. because suddenly courtney's life is as busy as mine has been, and there's no letting up anytime soon; and because she loves to cook but doesn't have as much time for it anymore; and because everybody deserves variety in their life.

  2. make something, something big. i miss making things. so i'm getting back on that horse. i've got some ideas. i'll keep you posted.

  3. 2 week canoe or kayaking trip, at least 2 weeks. i used to be an outtripper up in canada, and we would go 4 weeks, 250 miles, and i miss it. summer's coming, eventually, and i live in california, so there's just no excuse. i'd also happily go hiking, but that has to be at least 3 weeks. anybody want to come along?

not as exciting as it used to be, but then, my life has settled down somewhat (not that i'm complaining.) retired from last year: become a dj. what's the point? in this town, throw a rock, hit a dj. in 2005 i'll just hire them.

oh, look, a list of lists.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

up next: japan.

hey, kids — hong kong was a roaring success, so let's try another asian country. courtney and i will be in tokyo from january 6 to 16 this new year, and if you're around, we should really get together. and even if you're not there, maybe you still have suggestions for places to go and things to see...?

the concept of genre also jumps mediums nicely.

i love that web service api-based apps like mappr have become the online version of the hollywood calling card.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

taboo stops development.

t-s-d, a dutch collective. one-note design, but the note lingers on sweetly. highly recommended but unlinkable (damn you, flash!): products --> ming, and products --> fish-n. and while we're on the subject, courtney wants you to check out the stamp cups.

sadly, the thorsten van elten site is one of the best boutique product design web sites, and it still sucks. why is it so hard to browse multiple products? this is a problem begging to be solved. and don't even get me started on the state of furniture design web sites. just awful.

better fun than friendster.

nadav hits the nail on the head with his explanation for the success of flickr. flickr, at its core, is fun, and the fun is deep, deep down in the app, baked in at every level. hell, they even make xml fun. look! little yellow bars i can click and change!

all that other stuff — social networking, social capital, self-presentation — are part of what makes flickr fly, but they all feed the real reason, which is play. in the context of the app, each has its part, but they're instruments to a larger purpose, not ends unto themselves. which makes them better, because they come about (for lack of a better term) naturally. they serve the higher goal.

the flickrfolk embrace the bigger picture. effects, not tools. people, not technology. god bless 'em.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


highly recommended: the "roy lichtenstein: all about art" retrospective up at sfmoma through february 22. courtney and i went over this afternoon to check out "glamour: fashion, industrial design, architecture" [1] and the retrospective occupied the other half of the fourth floor, so in we went.

mad propz to joshua shirkey, the curator, for doing such an amazing job with the show's narrative. the works are organized chronologically, but the individual rooms are well-themed, and shirkey does a fine job bringing out the progression of lichtenstein's technique and explaining the evolution of it. roy was clearly driven, and the curation really nails that.

most satisfyingly, the exhibit ends well [2], aided by the fact that lichtenstein had a very strong sense of himself, the thread of his style, and the place he has come to occupy in the history of american art. the four canvases in the last room, painted in 1997, the year he died, are stunning; without removing himself from the legacy of his earlier work, his well-documented benday dot stylings, or his arch critique of the mass-produced image, it's a final summary of his form, and an exploration of what remains to be done after he's gone. his final works are incredibly beautiful, incredibly calming, incredibly moving — and clever, to boot.

[1] ten word review: it's a good idea, but there's not enough there there.
[2] a lot of curators blow this part, and i've never understood why. you have a beginning and a middle; you need an end.

flickr is the exception, because it's all about the pictures.

social networking as a thing unto itself is vastly overrated, by the same set of emerging technocrats who always think the tool is the thing that matters, not the changes the tool makes manifest. it's terrific that we've found a set of conventions that allow us to take advantage of, and actively enhance, the minutiae of human connection. but at the same time, it's just a design thing, a pattern expressed, in the same way that the cart made online shopping and tabs gave us a common frame for navigation. the network is the plumbing, and long-term, about as interesting (which is to say, very, but in the background, and for other reasons.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

my role in all this: sanding. hours and hours of sanding.

in case you haven't seen them already, courtney's hard at work on a chair and a chandelier, both made of plywood. more pictures once they're all finished up.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

who knew harvard knew anything about good business practices?

on the recommendation of a coworker, i recently read an article in the october issue of the harvard business review: "seven surprises for new ceos." mentioned here not because i plan on becoming a ceo anytime soon — there's a thankless job — but because it's a primer on how to be an effective manager at any level, since the ceo is the ultimate manager in any org.

the main takeaway, as the bizskool kids would say, is this: the best managers are those who can enthusiastically endorse whatever gets put in front of them. successful management being about trust and guidance, as opposed to command and control. simple as that. the worst are those who confuse assertion with authority: they get involved in every decision, interfering because they think that's what managers do. whereas the best hire people they believe in, communicate strategy and goals to them, and make themselves available for advice and input when required.

doing more by doing less. fascinating, and obvious on the face of it — who hasn't had that awful experience working under a micromanager?

myself, it's been a long time since i've been managed. it's the reason i always give for starting companies: "i don't like working for other people." but it turns out i just don't like being badly managed. this kind of management, that's something i can live with, and something to aspire to.

headed out west.

i'll be in hong kong this weekend, staying at a hotel in causeway bay. any suggestions for on-site activities much appreciated. i've already ridden the escalators.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

rivers and tides.

speaking of amanda, she and i were lucky enough while in dc to see andy goldsworthy installing 900 tons of flat rock into overlapping circles at the national gallery, as part of a giant indoor/outdoor installation that's opening next february. we wanted to say hello — he walked right by us — but he was carrying one of the aforementioned rocks and the timing just didn't feel right. new plan is to rent rivers and tides and do a call and response thing instead.

metrosexual, with beer belly.

five of the six hours of my flight back from dc yesterday were spent watching television, because the week was one of massive overwork, and my head was too tired to even read a magazine [1]. yay jetblue. four of those five hours were spent on the learning channel: two episodes of the "survivor" of lifestyle shows, trading spaces; one episode of clean sweep, a show that introduces you to just how intricately disorganized the interior lives of most americans actually are; and one episode of my new favorite show on tv, in a fix.

basic premise is that somebody shreds the structure of their house in the name of home improvement. weary of the mess, a hapless housemate calls the "in a fix" team, who spend three days helping the homewrecker make the place liveable again while the housemate runs off to get pampered at the spa or whatever.

that is the premise, but it is not the point. the point has nothing to do with renovation. the point is humiliation. the point is testosterone. apparently, tlc cottoned to the fact that a lot of guys were watching home decorating shows and getting shit from their friends for it [2], so they created a new show that's all about guys that care about design, but not as much as they care about beer, women, fire, and kicking your ass!

each episode is predicated on making a complete fool of the person who fucked up the job in the first place, starting with the "it's all my fault" t-shirt s/he's forced to wear. everybody's in on it — the hot chick designer, the four burly construction guys who can't take their eyes of the hot chick designer, the snarky host, the producers, the cameraman, the editors — they're all looking to make the guy who screwed up the house look like a pansy. or trying to find ways to harsh on each other. or looking for something else to demolish. or waxing poetic about a particular shade of cerulean blue, and how beautiful it will look as a formica finish on the bar they're building for the living room.

it's the new take on the american male: metrosexual, with beer belly. caveman knocks woman out, throws over shoulder, and takes back to cave to look at paint chips.

in the episode i saw, a tall, tattooed australian, who could easily have skipped prison mere hours before, detailed the level of care he was putting into the aforementioned blue finish; followed by haranguing the homeowner about how slowly he was sanding down that finish; interrupted by the rest of the team tackling the aussie to the ground, removing his shirt, and setting it on fire in the backyard because it "smelled bad;" finished with a group discussion of the relative merits of a certain shade of pastel for the interior accent color.

i seriously want to fuck something up so bad courtney need to call these guys. what can i break that i won't miss?

the last hour of the flight was spent trading shoulder punches with amanda, who was sitting next to me.

[1] the atlantic monthly's now $4.99? apparently they figured out they're the kind of rag that people like me usually buy in airports but don't subscribe to, and priced accordingly.

[2] not that i would know anything about that.