Edits Quarterly is not only a good e-zine* about film and photography. It has probably the best webdesign I’ve ever seen. Period. (Hat tip to Wired Webmonkey — it seems the same authors launched an e-zine about baseball.)

* Do people still make these anymore? This is so 1990s!

Lifestreaming, endless tweaking

If you are a frequent visitor to my website or subscribe to its RSS feeds you'll notice that my weblog / lifestream / whatever you call these things these days is now, ahem, polluted with my tweets. Consider this a feeble attempt at making my website seem fresh with updated... stuff, rather than an alternate style for my Tumblr with the limited-edition extra pictures thrown in.

Anyway, this is a positive change. I'll be extra motivated to post proper blog stuff in order to prevent tweets from overrunning the place and making my website's homepage look like a rather ugly list of short and poorly formatted text entries that will make it even harder to convince anyone there is really interesting stuff lying underneath, accessible through the menu (really, there is! you should try it someday). And also, the list-of-tweets' essential ugliness presents a really interesting design problem, many horrible solutions to be considered and discarded: should I replace those Twitter logo bullet points with tiny thumbnails of my Twitter profile picture? Should I make tweet lists collapsible? Should I present users unrelated random images of kitty cats in order to make the homepage look, if not better, at least cuter?

Expect some bad design ideas to be tried out. Meanwhile, enjoy — there's interesting stuff here, I promise.

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.

Harry Truman, a United States president, said that. Now it seems everybody is after getting credit, patents, intellectual property: such greed, not ‘fiscal insolvency’ will be the undoing of Western civilization, much like the authoritarian fear of photocopiers left Soviet science irreversibly behind and was one of the factors leading to its demise. (Rules for my Unborn Son gets the credit)

Misc. links Apr 5th - May 1st

Bruce Sterling’s essay on the New Aesthetic. This is an interesting read, even if it did nothing to counter my ambivalent feelings towards the New Aesthetic. On one hand, I like it, the idea. Even if the ‘official’ blog — which I follow — feels a lot more random than a ‘movement’ should (but perhaps I’m mistaken in expecting something like a ‘movement’). I like to think that at last we figured out an aesthetic for the early twenty-first century, that it is our generation’s Futurism, this time centered in CCTV-obsessed Britain rather than in automobile-obsessed Italy. On the other hand though, I may also believe the New Aesthetic is just a bandwagon, a neatly packaged brand for journalists and lazy curators and critics. Consider John Whitney. BEFLIX. The demoscene. The comparatively long history of Glitch art. Software art. Consider Thomas Ruff’s eroded JPEGs touring the world’s art museums (museums!). Cory Archangel’s tweets about 1990s ‘New Aesthetics’. From this perspective, the New Aesthetic seems like a brand invented by the same kind of savvy people who came up with concepts such as ‘creative industries’ and made a killing living off artists and craftspersons. But then again, most art ‘movements’ didn’t ever exist as such.

Journalist Alexis Madrigal calls for a post-Facebook future (mind you, what the article is really about is the increasingly diminished returns of social and mobile software). I’m all for new things, but the current situation was expected after the initial push to develop applications that leverage ubiquous broadband internet and mobile hardware with built-in sensors (mainly camera and location/GPS) pretty much consolidated. I think that now is time to take a deep breath and start figuring out what happened, what worked and why, and what it means. Bring in the academics.

One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age. The authors, Olia and Dagan, blog interesting stuff found in the Geocities torrent rescued by Archive Team. Funny I can’t even remember what was my old Geocities address.

PHP: a fractal of bad design is a very thorough critique of everything that is wrong with the programming language. However, I don’t believe it is constructive to attack PHP developers (such as your truly) as an horde of illiterate, masochistic fools that refuse to use proper tools. Such attacks grossly underestimate the pull of PHP’s being a good enough language for web development — incredibly easy (eg. XAMPP) to get into, well documented, and widely supported by cheap web hosting providers. It’s flawed (eg. I must reemphasize the ‘well documented’ aspect of PHP’s success, given how unintuitive its function names are sometimes) but allows me to do a quick ‘sketch’ of a webpage, hit ‘refresh’ and (often enough) voilá!, it works. And it is this ‘sketching’ (a word I’m borrowing from Processing) aspect that I find vital. To go with the author’s carpenting analogies, most people are building small houses — maybe a shed, maybe a greenhouse to keep the flowers. They don’t need complicated ‘scaffolding’ like in Ruby or Python frameworks. They just need to be able to sketch.

Wired’s piece on deciphering Stuxnet, a real-life spy technothriller.

The Blackmagic Cinema Camera. That Canon 5D Mark III is so last year.

An economist’s Six Rules for Dining Out. Some of his tips seem pretty universal: seemingly strange dishes at fancy restaurants must exist for a reason and are probably quite good; listening to lots of conversation means people are waiting a lot more than eating (so loud restaurants should be skipped); and dining establishments in very good locations (eg. with lots of tourists) afford to be bad and expensive, and should often be avoided.

The Brain on Love: what happens.

Procrastiworking: is what I do. As for the “creative success” part, the jury’s still out.

The World’s Longest Invoice. I’d have a couple of submissions for the Portuguese version. Just saying.