Tablets and Role of Design
March 18th, 2010 by Lex

Just got out of a Chris Anderson talk on the iPad and the future of magazines. There seems to be a recurring theme, from Anderson to Jobs, on the personal engagement with the IPad. The idea is that the different type of interaction one has with the screen, multi-touch vs. keyboard and mouse, will color that experience and redefine the type of engagement that’s appropriate. We have been long aware of the lack of “Pause” in the web , a lack of attention and participation. Tablets may be one way to solve the problem.

An interesting tangent is the role of visual design in this context. Where in Web 1.0 and 2.0, designers are limited to primitive space and focus on technical interoperability, the next media-rich generation provides a much grander canvas on which work can be put together. The online Wired, per Anderson’s demonstration, is a beautifully crafted and curated product. In addition to the resurgence in value of traditional graphic design, a new layer of interactivity and new media becomes important. Advertisements can become virtual storefronts, footnotes can turn into video, and so on. The talent to deliver these things in a discerning and non-offensive way becomes very important.

It is exciting to see the aesthetic take prominence in the next wave of media business.

Digital: Pause.
August 13th, 2009 by Lex

I have resurrected a project done at the Center for Educational Technology at Middlebury College for more modern browsers and screens. See if you have what it takes to PAUSE.


The mission statement is more relevant now than before. This project was completed before Youtube and Twitter were founded, which shortened our collective attention spans to a paltry 20 seconds. A recent Slate article takes on the fallacy of the immediate small reward:

Ever find yourself sitting down at the computer just for a second to find out what other movie you saw that actress in, only to look up and realize the search has led to an hour of Googling? Thank dopamine. Our internal sense of time is believed to be controlled by the dopamine system. People with hyperactivity disorder have a shortage of dopamine in their brains, which a recent study suggests may be at the root of the problem. For them even small stretches of time seem to drag. An article by Nicholas Carr in the Atlantic last year, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” speculates that our constant Internet scrolling is remodeling our brains to make it nearly impossible for us to give sustained attention to a long piece of writing. Like the lab rats, we keep hitting “enter” to get our next fix.

Give it a rest, give it some pause.

Technical Details.
May 5th, 2008 by Lex

We’ve run into some short-term technical issues, so I will be pulling in “best of” from photography. The black border is the give-away; apologies for the disconnect.

I also want to officially welcome Seamus as the sound guru to this website. His music strongly resonates with the ideas of pause and contemplation that Urban Aesthete sees as the key to appreciating our busy world. In the longer term, we will be working on combining abstract sound and image to find new meanings.