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Dan Rubin's SuperfluousBanter

Suffering from chronic idiocy 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.