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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Design, random musings, and the Web. Since 1977

Archive for July, 2006

MySpace: Now not quite as ugly

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Update: I was a little too quick hitting the “Publish” button, and forgot to include a link to my profile (duh). The text has now been updated, or you can go directly there »

If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about MySpace, you know how I despise it with a passion unequaled by possibly anyone else on the planet. OK, maybe not anyone else, but certainly anyone who has a MySpace account. Except Mike D., he hates it more than I do (but for the same reasons).

Most of that hatred comes from its piss-poor (technical term) user interface design, which doesn’t seem to be (and never has been) a priority for Tom and pals. It’s been described as “ghetto design” by some, and that’s just the crap you can see on the surface (web standards junkies, like me, cringe when looking at the source code, but enough about my level of über-geekness…).

I was really planning to dig into the bowels of the profile code myself, to see what could be done, but after wasting half a day on it earlier in the year, I put the project on the back burner. This week, I decided I’d had enough, and with the help of Mike D’s “Extreme Makeover: MySpace Edition” kit (my name), and a few minutes in Photoshop, my profile page is now sporting a new, exfoliated skin (mmm, smells like oranges…).

And if any of you know Rupert Murdoch, put him in touch with me, I have a plan to help him “fix” MySpace, and save some money, without alienating his precious users…



WebVisions 2006

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Well, it appears as though there’s nothing better than immersing myself in a web conference to get me in the mood to write. Perhaps this is a sign that I’m spending too much time working in isolation. Or maybe I’m just more of a social animal than I once believed. Either way, I’m compelled to write while surrounded by like-minded individuals of high intelligence and complimentary personalities.

A few important things have changed for me since SxSW in March, the most intriguing being my newfound awareness of my “place” within the industry, what that means to me as a designer, and how that affects my approach to design as a field and as a lifestyle. I’ve also become busier, taking on more responsibilities and deadlines (more to come soon on the writing projects underway for Apress/Friends of Ed, along with the technical reviewing for Simon Collison’s new book, and of course my duties as Bryan Veloso’s co-host of Live from the 101), and I’ve starting thinking more seriously about moving away from Florida, to somewhere on the West coast.

The change in my thought process has surprised me, and I think that’s what happens when you fall into a “thought-rut” without being aware of it. Something (or someone) slaps you in the face and makes you aware of what you have or haven’t been doing, and if you’re smart, you use that sudden awareness to your advantage, and take a fresh look at everything you do. In my case, SxSW made me happy to be a designer, and reaffirmed many of my personal beliefs regarding design, and interaction with design on a daily basis (not just my own, but users, family members, people walking through Starbucks — I watch people in an entirely different way than I did before).

Realizing the importance of the face-to-face interaction and conversation (sitting down to dinner with a few smart folks trumps IM, phone or email any day), I decided to continue attending conferences as often as possible, and while I had hoped to make @media a reality (scheduling and budget played a part in my absence this year, but not next), WebVisions 2006 has been my first opportunity since March, and the four months could not have passed too quickly. Not only have I enjoyed the company of people I met in person at SxSW, but I have once again made the acquaintance of people I’ve known online but never met (Dan Cederholm has been my personal highlight), and people I’ve never interacted with before, but hope to again and for some time.

My opinions are also becoming stronger. I’m beginning to have a general sense of “fuck everyone else’s ideas, this is what I think” — this isn’t to say I disagree with any and all existing theories, concepts or best practices, in fact I agree strongly with many people in the industry on many topics; it’s more that I find myself forming my own opinions and thoughts without basing them on someone else’s ideas first (at least not consciously — nodes of inspiration exist, everything has been done or thought of before in some way or another, but there is a big difference between conscious and unconscious inspiration, mainly that the latter is comprised of information that has been completely assimilated into the automatic thought process).

Life has been changing for me on many levels over the last few years, and much of my evolution in my professional life during this time has been (and still is to a great extent) clouded by the difficulties in my personal life. You cannot separate creative from emotional, and I would be lying if I said it’s been easy to focus and be creative over the last few years, and the last year in particular. But it’s slowly getting easier, and spending time with fellow designers/developers and free thinkers (Bryan, Jeremy, Garrett, Keith, Jonathan, Mike, Erin, Megan, and everyone else I met, talked to, or drank with this week) helps chip away at the emotional restrictions that have been a constant distraction.

I’m done making promises about blogging more (it will either happen or it won’t, good intentions aren’t worth the time it takes to voice them), and I’m done caring so much about what people think. Risks are ahead, and I’ll either have success stories to share or failures to learn from.

Either way, I’m already starting to have more fun.