Curation Demands Citation Too

I absolutely believe that success on these platforms as a curator demands damn near 176% ownership of posts. That means making posts look like they came from YOU.

This can look like:

1) RTs without actually adding “RT” or clicking RT button

2) adding logo watermarks to images(even though YOU didn’t hire that photographer or take that picture

3) Not including links to actual source.

While all of these actions have something questionable, it is this last one, not citing sources, that disturbs me most.

Every barber shop and beauty salon from Maine to Mexican borders got a system of vetting information. It starts with:

Was YOU there???

Did YOU see it???

Who was there???

Who YOU hear it from???

Who or what institution YOU get information from MATTERS.

If they do not show YOU or link YOU to their source in some shape form or fashion, it should be immediately tagged as:

1) Bullshyt,
2) Propaganda, or
3)Fake News.

Thank YOU. This has been another OWL’s Asylum public service announcement. For more, hit that Follow button.

InDesign ::: Adding Table Of Contents To Indesign Book, .indb file

1. I created all of the individual files including a table of contents in an .indd.

2. I created a Book (.indb) with all of the .indds in it.

3. I then went back into the .indd containing the table of contents, clicked Layout>Table of Contents and then saw that the “include book documents” box which was not previously available was now available to be selected.


How to export a selection to SVG using Inkscape

  1. Select the object(s) you want to export.
  2. Copy it to the clipboard (Ctrl+C).
  3. Open a new drawing window (Ctrl+N).
  4. Paste the clipboard on the new page (Ctrl+V).
  5. Hit Shift+Ctrl+D to open the document properties panel.
  6. Open the Resize page to content… tab and hit the resize page to drawing or selection button
  7. Save the document (Shift+Ctrl+S) as an SVG file. Select a suitable format:
    1. Inkscape SVG for further editing, or
    2. Optimized SVG for use on a web page.

Blender: Reset position, rotation, size

For example to reset the default view camera to the origin with rotation=0, scale = 1 etc:

ALT G – resets position to (0,0,0) origin (Grab)

ALT R – resets rotation to 0, 0,0 (Rotation)

ALT S – resets scale to 1,1,1 (Scale)

ALT T – resets Tilt to 0,0,0

To reset the cursor:

SHIFT-C= CentreZero View. The 3DCursor is set to zero (0,0,0) and the view is changed so that all Objects, including the 3Dcursor, can be displayed.


On Pretty As Design

Google’s UX Importance Hierarchy Graph

Let’s talk about “pretty”.

Let’s talk about “pop”.

Let’s talk about “dynamic”.

Let’s talk about subjective and fashionable qualities of design. In visual design of communications media(think websites, user interfaces, video productions, billboards, book covers, book layouts, that shirt you wore five times in a row that one summer…), we are tasked with developing a message that considers culture, climate, and criteria.

Disclosure: I did not enter this field for ANY of that above. In fact, my first program at Ranken Tech(Yes, I am a Ranken Man, thank you for asking) was HVAC. I was extremely practical, and focused on my money. And then I met Flash.

Now, sure, these days she is a lot less popular, something something about being poisoned by an Apple, but in those days, she was capable and jQuery was too young for me. I saw a bouncing red ball, and I chased that red ball to my first six-thousand dollar client, and I have been chasing that ball in one way or another ever since. I believe most people in this field have a story that is similar.

We often start out as graphic designers, enamored by recreating compelling images and blending emotionally triggering colors. And then we get a bill. Or we get a quarterly from our supervisor that suggests our creativity is appreciated, but not converting properly to our company’s bottom lines.

“Pretty” became a liability.

So, many of us learned “style”. We applied a modernist and Swiss approach to our layouts. Our images over a digital medium borrowed styles from print mediums. Our animations became “micro-interactions” following a style guide of 12 rules developed by Disney for, yes, another medium. We gave up our easels for analytics.

“Pretty” went from being our objective, to solely being subjective.

Artistic expression eventually gave way to design direction. Our instincts stepped aside for user profiles and case studies. As Flash faded into that shadow of JavaScript libraries, so did our understanding of visual communication.

While this may seem a languish over creative talents gone corporate, it really is not. I am not upset that my reason for a particular color scheme is less reliant on my own internal reactions, more on what that color means to a client and more important, who my client needs to communicate to. In my early days, I attempt to sell a business owner a site with an all red overlay. He became my client, but he also informed me that he was originally from Long Beach, that he had been Cripping his entire life, and that an all-red site would be disrespectful to his base.

“Pretty” is not a language, it is moment
In closing, I think it is important to remember that most of us are inheritors of a craft primarily nurtured by early 20th Century graphic designers. We do not employ sans-serif and grids because they are “pretty”. Ironically, we do not even employ them because they provide symmetry, “pretty’s” scientific alias. We employ them because designers like Jan Tschichold and Paul Renner were involved in a psychological war against Nazi Germany. It was not a “pretty” reason, it was an ideological, and given that price they paid, a noble reason.

Design is about communication. From interface to database, we are tasked with forging messages, not pretty. Pretty is an aroma we bring to our dishes, it is a quality we consider with regard to its offensiveness, that is, its potential barrier to communication. Trendy or fashionable styles are implemented only as they facilitate that conversation we are having with our client’s base.

We are not paid to do “pretty”, we are paid to converse, to communicate.

Design Accountability

As an adult, I too shamed those who are naive.  I too lost a certain respect for lofty words anchored in hope. I also sought a religion of concrete and substantive vows.

Until I ran out of options.
Some dreams have substance. 

Some dreams have mass.

They exist at that turning point. They grow in patches of fire that burn our fears. They are watered by tears that do not fall. 

There is a physical form to those dreams. Those dreams we pull on like rope when that waking hour work jeers at us. Those dreams that we lean in on like that rope pugilists square their fortunes in. Those dreams that sound like a familiar voice on our side of rope tugging along with us.

No, our world is still made of blood and those thirsty to taste it. But there are dreams that can silence heart beat if listen.

Big ideas with purpose and sweat nurturing have depth and volume. There is a weight to dreams we design with accountability.

Dreams big enough to sail to moons on. If only we trust them enough to sacrifice our small steps towards them.

Chladni Figures: Amazing Resonance Experiment

I was watching that new Rings of Power show, and the opening credits have these abstract shapes forming and reforming in sand. They seemed strangely familiar, and I suddenly remembered I'd seen them before, they're Chladni figures! (1/x)

Because Tolkien's legendarium has all those fictional writing systems, you might think they're just, y'know, magic runes or whatever. And some are sort of familiar, like this tree maybe? But most are abstract, and strangely organic. (2/x)

But I somehow remembered seeing these before, in Ernst Chladni's 1787 classic, Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges! I saw it for the first time when the @PublicDomainRev featured it- (3/x)

And they are organic, because it's a natural phenomenon! Sand really will form these patterns when the surface its on resonates at the right frequencies, which is what Chladni was studying (building on an earlier discovery by Robert Hooke).

It's really magical to see it happening live, these complex shapes seem to just form out of nowhere. Here's a real Chaldni figure produced with a violin bow:

As I understand it, the sand gets jostled around by the vibrating sections, but along 'nodal lines', it doesn't vibrate, so the sand settles there. You're sort of seeing a cross-section of the wave vibrating the plate.

But so yeah compare that video of the real Chladni figure forming with the show's credits (here's a sample), and I think it's clearly what they're trying to evoke-

I think this is a surprisingly cool deep cut, and spot-on thematically. In Tolkien's legendarium, the creator god Ilúvatar sort of creates the world out of music. The beauty of these figures is just a physical manifestation of the harmony of the 'Music of the Ainur'?

I'm honestly amazed something so symbolic and thematic made it into production past the Amazon studio execs, who presumably were like "we're thinking something Game of Thrones-y? Maps and all that?"
So, well done to whoever was responsible for it!

Well, now I *do* know who was responsible for it! The studio Plains of Yonder put the sequence together, the creative director was kind enough to respond. And their site provides some background as well, check it out-

It seems the prompt they received was "simple, stark and beyond anything we would have thought of" and not, as I alleged, "something Game of Thrones-y, maps and all that". But I was right about the music of the Ainur at least!

Originally tweeted by Alexander King (@LiterallyAKing) on September 11, 2022.

On Manipulation, Art, & Designing For Emotions

The premier question in any contest in the United States will eventually always boil down to numbers. Typically, with the number on your bank account balance trumping all others.


In the movie, “love jones”, (and yes, it is spelled with the lowercase type for the initial letters), we find an exceedingly immature couple of artistic types on a romantic roller coaster across the country for the spell of one-hundred and ten minutes. If you are still reading this after I made that particular assessment of one of the most compelling and influential romantic movies of my generation, then I am probably a more respected writer than my PayPal account suspects. No, all jokes aside, in the movie ‘love jones’, the character, Darius Lovehall(played by Larenz Tate) makes a statement regarding artists and definition when he is written to say:


“The true goal of an artist is to create the definitive work that cannot be surpassed”


And like many, I took that particular sentence to heart. In it, and mainly in the ideal of “definition”, and most importantly, in the ideal of that which is “definitive” or “that which defines”, I believe as humans that enjoy creating and have found a voice or an identity within the community of creators, we tend to find the most enjoyment. Until, of course, we begin to pair up with the hustlers and business men, and learn the ideas that drive successful capitalists. Either that, or a bill is late. Whichever comes firstly, of course.


Creation can be easy. Creation can be simple.


For some, it is a matter of reproducing with a canvas. For others it is molding the spark of an idea into an exploding explanation of pain. Regardless of which metaphor best suits one’s particular experience, one thing holds true for us all: food, clothing, and shelter will ultimately be a consideration at some point in our day. As a given coupled with a society of people programmed to glorify the wealthy, to celebrate the most sold above the most well crafted, it is utterly impossible to avoid the cliché in art.


To master a craft demands that techniques be developed and honed in order to not have to recreate wheels everyday. Those techniques that are found to produce the most sought after works(read: purchased), will of course become the techniques that everyone wants to use. This is even– and mostly– from those that have no love for the craft beyond its financial and political usefulness. Even those persons that love the craft can find them Selves mired in consumerist practices to pay bills yielding commercially successful, yet overly formulaic pieces.


Unfortunately, for my Self, these are the very thoughts behind art as design, and writing as blogging. The techniques of the artist: color schemes, closure, continuation, and the like, are used to manipulate the emotional body of the viewer for the purpose of clicks, reduced bounce rates, and increased conversion percentages. In my trade, design is touted as “communication”, but it is not just communication. It is a certain form of communication. When we are speaking of graphic design, the implication is sales.


The ideal of web design is not to just get a response regarding the aesthetic of a site or banner ad, but to elicit an action toward purchasing or returning with a desire to be a part of a community. When someone says,”by design”, they mean something done with the intent to yield a desired result. They mean manipulation. It is art as objectifying tool. Design is the intentional use of “ahs” and whatever onomatopoeia that fits there to change behavior.


And I understand the semiology behind a symbol or cue such as the word,”manipulation”. It has a “bad” connotation. It makes us feel less humane. We begin to itch as the greasiness of the symbol’s expressed meaning vibrates through our nervous system, echoing its perceived sentiments throughout the epidermis. But what is purpose if not manipulative? The very techniques of onomatopoeia, hyperbole, rhyme scheme, and metaphor used by poetic engineers throughout the ages have been with a desired purpose of eliciting a certain response from readers and listeners.


Do we think that AT&T just put a camera in a very well lit daycare center and accidentally arranged their spokesman in the middle of precocious children? Do we not think that at some point prior an assessment of the “cute factor” and its emotional tug on the viewer’s mind had been made by those that must place signatures on lines to signify the authorized permission to spend money on such things as cameras, cameramen, lighting, and well placed witty spokesmen?


And yet, although I probably will not be signing up to AT&T because of a few really entertaining pre-schoolers(my gawd, the “more is better/we want more” girl should be in the advertising history books next to Mikey), I was thoroughly delighted, and more importantly, I am writing about AT&T. That means it was effective and had impact. Yet, the more they attempt to rehash that technique, the more I compare the new batch of children’s responses and exchanges to the ones I was tickled by the most. Design techniques have to be used carefully, no matter how much we think we have something mastered.


Mastery of a few techniques that have worked over time will either lead one to develop their own language(signature style), or it will lead them to be regarded as formulaic. We are all users. It is when we are abused that most of us begin to take security measures. As we should, no doubt. Yet, in being used, in having my senses manipulated, I do want something in return.


I enjoy watching Aaron Macgruder’s The Boondocks. I think his series of cartoons have become a staple in the US Black culture, if not US culture en totale(which brings up a good design discussion: you know, US Blacks historically never saw an all-White cast performance and assumed it was “just” for White people;and hell, even if we did, we would just figure out away to disrupt the Jim Crow policy!). What makes his brand so compelling is that he has found a signature that is not formulaic, but if mishandled could easily be. He has not just blended adult humor and children’s animation, he has fused hip hop and anime, two very distinct cultures of art with rich contextual histories. That is Aaron being creative;but there is also a method, a purposeful use of the creativity. For The Boondocks is satire, and it is effective satire. Not only is it entertaining visually, and sonically, it adds another element of social commentary, that actually deals with critically salient topics.


I look at the Boondocks’ use of anime and its score in the same vein as I might look at a web site that uses a nationalistic motif for its color scheme. The colors red, black, and green immediately elicit certain reactions in certain people. I look at the topics discussed in the Boondocks as the content of the web site. No matter how great the design, and how masterful the designer utilizes certain techniques, if the content is garbage, well, garbage in, garbage out. I do not mind being used, I mind being taken advantage of. I do not mind a person needing to recognize what emotional strings they should be pulling to get me to something I find valuable. I mind you doing such and your overall product is that bullshyt.


When it comes to money, there are great advantages to possessing a great product as well as great advantages in being able to be accessible. I do not want anyone to think I am against earning money, or convincing others to give me money. I support the art of design. I support the formulation of techniques and the study of semiology for the purpose of understanding how symbols and cues work within the cultures that they work within.


I do not support mediocrity well hyped, although I might be inclined to applaud the hype and its practitioner. I do not mind being used;I use the oxygen and the plant life as well as meat of sentient beings to further my own physical and biological existence. Life is the only ecosystem, and I respect my place in it, and realize that something or someone must use me in order to exist in the same manner that I MUST USE others to exist.


I do not mind creative means to capture my attention created by someone that must use me. I, too, create means using cues and symbols that evoke emotional responses for the purpose of eliciting certain behavior for things that I need. Michael Jackson was a master at capturing my attention and with good purpose. A masterful entertainer that provided me with good entertainment, and insightful content with which I was pleased to give my money and attention towards.


Michael Joseph Jackson is not history’s greatest entertainer because he made a lot of money;Michael made a lot of money because he was history’s greatest entertainer, there is a nuance there that must be taken into consideration. And I do not want to give my attention to those that just want a lot of attention without being also great at their craft. Design how you need to appeal to who you need to, but please be ever mindful of what you are offering as content. Do not design the greatest titles for links that lead to lackluster bodies of content. It is a waste of my time, and it only serves to weaken your brand.