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Friday, February 27, 2004
A few weeks ago, we noticed that MDN Studio had countered our half-hearted response to Ashley B's [grid::brand] project. We said that brands were dead, or perhaps dying. It was, admittedly, a provocation. The folks at MDN Studio didn't agree. We followed up with an email, but I think it must have been lost in the ether, so here's our more considered response to the charge that we confuse brands with branding.

Are brands dead?
The observation that brands are dead is, admittedly, a deliberately provocative one. Brands appear as a kind of cipher, a veil that is drawn across an object, altering its essential characteristics to such an extent that we can no longer recognise what those essential characteristics once were.

Perhaps this isn't a bad thing. But from a consumer's point of view, the boundary between object and image are blurred. MDNís description of how 'groups of brands [are] helping to define the individual' doesn't seem a very welcome state of affairs. Although human beings have always used the production and accumulation of objects as a means of projecting their identity - as any anthropologist will concur - dismissing the importance of individual objects in favour of a series of brands isn't about expression, it's about marketing, and finding new ways to sell things to people.

The reference to the motor industry didnít just mean the way in which ad agencies, designers and marketing departments collude to sell a product after it's been designed and consumed, but the way in which a car is a carefully composed collection of 'trigger points', devices for evoking memories and associations. I spend a fair amount of time reading and writing about cars and car design, and I see the extent to which fundamental design decisions are made at a very early stage in the game in order to steer the brand in new directions; it's like steering an oil tanker as you have to think many miles ahead of where you want to turn.

As MDN observes, brands are about loyalty, a means of ensuring repeat business. A brand has to evolve, but it has to evolve with its consumers or else it risks alienating them (as BMW is alleged to have done with its new design direction under Chris Bangle). This need for customer loyalty has, to a large extent, grown out of increased reliability and the end of 'planned obsolesence' in product design. You don't need to replace your car or washing machine every year, and marketing is no longer geared towards these artificial product cycles. Branding, on the other hand, is free from this cyclical business model. It's about building a relationship, a relationship where the brand holds all the cards.

As MDN says, we all have 'brand databases in our heads,' but how much of that information is based on actual hands-on experience with each product? A tiny percentage, I'd imagine - we know objects almost exclusively through their brands, their ciphers. And as we no longer need to have a physically familiarity with an object to know it, the brand could truly be said to be a distraction, a cipher - a non-existent thing.

So in conclusion, I think it's semantics to distinguish between 'brands' and 'branding'. The latter is simply the means by which the former comes into being. Although MDN is right to say that for now, brands aren't dead, they're surely doomed. As a consumer, I feel under assault from brands and branding and resent the increasing signal to noise ratio that swarms around objects, even around objects we have no desire to buy or use. Surely I can't be alone?

Thursday, February 26, 2004
A poetic yet menacing spam line header - which could almost have been written by Mark E.Smith - clumsy biopsy copywriter. Tonight you can see and here the man at the Newcastle Opera House, of all places. Other things, take some architectural walks in New York. Re-visit Fortune magazine via these cover galleries.

A trashed Ferrari Enzo showed up in a car magazine this week; as you might imagine, itís also a prime exhibit at Wrecked Exotics (only the second one to be written off, apparently). There's a hefty dose of schadenfreude at work here, with page upon page of models from the buzzier and brasher end of the market (thanks Tom).

Subterranean Notes, a weblog / the London Transport Railway Track Map at Rodcorp / grey tuesday. Er, it is now Thursday. Bother / Subterranea Brittanica's Research Study Group on the Cold War is a fascinating place to spend some time (via I like). Related: the CIA Museum, complete with remote-controlled catfish.

Pixel-based illustration and design showcases icons, character design and more. The little book-style presentation (it's the site for an actual book) isn't terribly successful - too small. Perversely, given that the subject is screen-based imagery, the actual book is far more satisfying to look through.

A note about the print edition of things 17-18. A big thank you to all those who have pre-ordered - we haven't forgotten you. However, we've been having ongoing issues with the (new) printers about quality and delivery. At the moment, we're in the rather frustrating position of having an issue designed and ready to roll, but some weeks away from actually turning it into a physical object. Please contact us if you can't wait any longer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004
Diagram, a wondrous poetry webzine (via raccoon) that presents its verse through sound and vision. More specifically, each issue offers up a diagrammatic exploration of its key subject. For sound, you can see these vacuum tube base diagrams, for example, or the horizontal patterns of radiation. This is the visual archaeology of a thousand text books and manuals, excavating the past through the new graphic languages conjured up to propel them forward. Wrong and Right Strawberry Planting.

Frosted Windows: '300 years of St Petersburg through Western Eyes' . A collection of ephemera and historical documentation associated with the city, as it grew painfully from swampland ('Peter couldn't have chosen a better - or worse - spot on which to build a city.') into the architectural jewel of Soviet Russia. From there, its triumphs and tragedies have passed into memory. things 17-18 contains Tony Wood's Prisoners of Paradise, an epic muse on the city's origins. The print edition has better pictures....

Rennart sells beautiful post-war posters and ephemera - we must check their store out. Another shop with a penchant for beautiful everyday objects from the post-war era is Margaret Howell, home of plain but (very) pricey clothes. They've re-issued the Ercol Chair and also have bucketloads of Poole tableware. You can also visit Retrouvius, or alternatively attend the next Midcentury Modern fair at Dulwich College on March 7th.

Backyard ruins (via tmn). No hint of what or where these might be - there's a strong Art Deco feel coming across. In fact, the ruins reminded us of the wonderful Midland Hotel in Morecambe, Oliver Hill's 30s masterpiece. The hotel is now the property of developers Urban Splash, who have solemnly promised to bring it back to its former splendour.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004
Old Coffee Roasters. The Royal company made some mighty fine, truly elaborate grinders. There's also a page on vacuum pots and 'coffee robots'. More history at Making Coffee by Electricity. We're partial to a cup from one of these, but at the recent Abram Games exhibition at the Design Museum we saw the ultimate solution, his beautiful Cona coffee maker. Buy one here. Gerhard Marcks, directory of the Bauhaus pottery workshop, made a pretty stunning coffee maker as well. More Games: posters, idents.

Eye Control, the photolog of Joey Harrison. Big image sizes but a nice line in urban nooks and crannies. I like shelf neighbourhoods / the work of Loustal, comic artist and illustrator / imomus, the online home of Momus, songwriter and raconteur. Includes a daily photo page and a weblog. I have a happy memory of listening to this song in the bemused presence of one of its name-checks.

All about Le Garde-meuble, a periodical published from 1839 to 1935 and devoted to French style (via life in the present) / tales of giant catfish / great fluorescent tube installation / the Story of a System, Lego history in a poster.

The the Cassandra Pages, a weblog. The name Cassandra now brings to mind the heroine of Dodie Smith's wonderful I Capture the Castle, which I'm reading for the first time.

Monday, February 23, 2004
Leadholder the 'online drafting pencil museum'. In the UK, we call these clutch pencils. Precise tools for precise people - the site's exquisite layout and picture quality certainly bears that out. The catalogs are particular beautiful (all frames-based, so these links destroy the navigation: J.H.Weil, Koh-I-Noor Co., Dietzgen.)

Gum blondes, pin-up art from chewing gum. Related: 'England's streets are increasingly plagued with fast food litter and chewing gum' / make your own Love Heart, or send someone a custom package of the fizzily potent little tablets / terrible look-a-likes / some kind chap has listed and linked all the magazines highlighted in a recent kottke thread.

Satan's Laundromat, photos and more / The Flashback Archive, underground books and magazines and manuals (via Spitting Image) / dirty hotels (via Geisha Asobi) vs dirty hotels / the view from Centre Point - you donít usually see central London like this.

'If there is a car that has no cupholder, it is not safe', from the psychology of SUV ownership (via kottke). Related, the Big Box Juggernaut (via me-fi) / beautiful architecture photos by Carol Bishop / Panopticons Ė viewing platforms / a gallery of entries to the WTC Memorial competition.

A gaggle of collective nouns / media coverage on the day Diana died - a collection (a remembrance?) of continuity announcements and newsflashes, via I like, who also flags up Designing Britain 1945-1975: The visual experience of post-war society,

Me Three, a webzine / xtypa, type focused weblog / a map of active hate groups in the US / evolution of an orc, part of a piece on computer graphics development / Mercury Lines, photos by Jonathan Moore (via featured). Also Spessi, art projects.

Friday, February 20, 2004
The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Magazine Cover: 'You can only have your rib poked so many times, and it doesn't seem to put you in the mood to buy things.' The new issue of Sleaze magazine (formerly Sleaze Nation) has a long piece, 'Celebrity Burnout', about how the current cultural preoccupation with micro-celebrity is getting us precisely nowhere. Their cover design isn't too bad either, although rather blatantly iconoclastic. A backlash would be very welcome round about now.

A photo tour of the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which brags about its Lost in Translation assocation on their website (via LaPetiteClaudine). It seems strange to advertise the fact that your hotel was the central, defining element in a film about ennui, alienation and dislocation, emotions that were just as much a result of the Park Hyatt's globalised impersonal lobby aesthetic, all tinkling lounge singers, muted conversation and shiny surfaces, as by the soporific effects of jetlag.

Miniature Golfer is your online guide to this reduced-size version of a pretty daft sport. Handily, there are galleries of the UK's best and most prestigious courses. They are gloriously banal. Related: I like John Hinde, holiday camp photographer extraordinaire (and still very much a going concern). This is just one part of Anne Ward's excellent I like website, containing old cafes, old pubs and tall towers, coupled with a beautiful layout and a quite wonderful sister site about the books of Miroslav Sasek, children's author and illustrator, creator of books like This is Cape Kennedy. Recommended.

Elsewhere. Classic game remakes / contemporary jewellery by Sarah Crawford, via art for housewives / the clipping of an aluminium orchid, part of Alan's Mojave Weblog / we're flattered that Northumbria University considers us to epitomise their definition of weblog, but it still didn't help things get into the weblog period table.

A place to re-visit - the Old Car Manual Project (via Evenings on the Lake ). It's funny how perceptions of what's classy and chic can change so drastically with the passing of time. Related, Growabrain's auto links, such as Cadillacs of the Rich and Famous / The Word Spy is great - we must visit more often (via Words of Waldman).

The history of Clarus the Dogcow (doesn't mean much to us PC-using heathens) / diary of a printmaker, a weblog / a remarkable image of the Brooklyn Army Terminal at slower (terminal history) / I didn't know that 'Louis Kahn died bankrupt and alone in a bathroom stall at Penn Station in 1973, his body not identified for three days.' / the traffic island art project (via waxy). Some beautiful imagery, far removed from the dystopic vision conjured up by J.G.Ballard's novel Concrete Island (which was also produced as a play).

Well, we're down to our final 200MB of the pocketdrive, and the new computer is on order. 250GB should be enough to stash photos and mp3s for the time being. The photolog will enter recycling mode for a bit too.

Thursday, February 19, 2004
Discover a world of "Burlesque and Side Degree Specialties, Paraphernalia and Costumes" in the 1930 edition of the DeMoulin Bros. & Co. catalogue, loving reproduced on the Phoenix Masonry website. We're not sure exactly where this came from, but it's a real gem. I hadn't previously made the link between Fraternalism and practical jokes, but I guess it was there all along. Sadly, DeMoulin Bros. have foresaken trick chairs, ferris wheel goats, guillotines, sea serpents, electrics stretchers and the delights of the Lifting and Spanking Machine in favour of marching band uniforms. And what is the masonic significance of the Jewish and Swiss naval battle?

It turns out that these pranks and novelty items - most of which seem to depend on explosions and mild electrocution - are intended primarily for use in initiation ceremonies. The catalogue's Suggestions and Directions section includes information on how to perform an 'Electric Branding' ('In order to perform this "feat" with good effect it is necessary to have a fake candidate and pretend to initiate two at once'). One is reminded of the contemporary Skull and Bones ceremony (an alleged video of which can be seen at The Memory Hole), or Jon Ronson's mysterious adventures at Bohemian Grove. Do you think they have a pie table too?

Elsewhere. Whitechapel Editions, limited edition prints by the likes of Raymond Pettibon and Andrew Cross / Ultimate Flash Face (via Novablog) - make your own photofit. Also, a map of the Legend of Zelda. Sort of related, Mr Picassohead, via Unfolio / Melancholy Rhino makes some excellent points about war photography. Who on earth would pay $15,000 for a print of the image in question? (via Conscientious).

A gallery of planes landing (far more interesting than it sounds), via comments in kottke / creepy Blythe doll tribute site (via scrubbles) / Peppered is still great / people selling their stuff always throws up a few interesting things / gallery of network images.

The photolog image to the right represents the last in the current set. As threatened, we're going to re-organise the things galleries, and this will mean that an awful lot of images will soon be off-line. So it's your last chance...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004
Leather-bound and lavishly tooled: they must be occult books (via The Cartoonist). One of these publishing houses encouraged us to dig a little more: Mandrake Press. Unlikely to be the same people - 'mandrake' is a suitably witchy-sounding name (thanks to the root). And guess what? These people will sell you spells - just be careful with them.

Some different types of London building stone. Related: beautiful lino prints of London by Paul Catherall. We've noticed that there are a lot of artists out there busy 'manipulating pornographic imagery Ö appropriated from the Internet': Kes Richardson, Thomas Ruff, Adam Connelly, etc. etc.

Kultureflash has an excellent gallery of the Blue Moon Hotel in Groningen, perhaps the smallest work in Foreign Office Architects' impressive portfolio / Grow-a-brain, the world's premier 'real-estate blog' (are there any others? Links please) has moved and redesigned.

A speculative google redesign by Joshua Davis - definitely one for information junkies / a blast from the past: Interior TV, an idea which could have been taken further / Monkeyfilter, a metafilter clone / just what is it about Vintage Airstreams that fascinates us so? (via the daily jive).

Two applications of psychedelia: Tessellations and John Lennonís Rolls Royce (both via Lorbus) / The Crimson Room - a flash-based variation on the classic locked room mystery. Another room to escape from (or not) / evocative photography at the 1095 project (via doepud).

The mysterious men/women machine / the lounge72 2004 pdf calendar (via Designdojo) / great photos taken from a balloon at byrdhouse / Russian images of Venus, re-processed for a more resolution-hungry age / 8W (Who? What? Where? When? Why? on the World Wide Web) Ė a motorsport history page / the Name of the Rose board game, via incoming signals.

Laptop Aesthetics: 'What are the major stylistic trends in current graphic design?' (via Klintronís Brain). Related, some more well-designed weblogs, via Coudal, itself never less than pixel perfect. Coudal also links these responsive letterforms by David Lu, who also keeps Fork in Socket and art and maps.

Ever so Humble, Red and Black, LivingSmall, Cathui, weblogs / the Coachella Festival in California - the line up makes me want to weep / frontal lobe test via the wonderful Ritilan / timeline of A Clockwork Orange / some celebrated miles / fantasy planes (via Muxway) / when films get re-made Ė an analysis of the original Japanese and American remake of The Ring (via BoingBoing).

Tuesday, February 17, 2004
Old German Ads, via iconomy, including ads from during WW2. This one, for Auto Union, shows the fearsome Type D race car (model, toy), as raced by Tazio Nuvolari (a man with his own website, even though he died in 1953). In those days, racing drivers had to watch out for stray fauna. Nuvolari's pre-war team member, Bernd Rosemeyer, died at the wheel during a record attempt in January 1938.

Auto Union, the combination of Wanderer, DKW, Audi and Horch, eventually became Audi, and in this era of intense heritage-awareness, both drivers have subsequently lent their names to Audi concept cars; the Nuvolari, in 2003, and the far more retro Project Rosemeyer in 2000. The big, aggressive radiator grille of the 30s racecars has recently re-emerged as a signature styling feature on the companyís latest models, starting with the V12-engined A8 and the new A6, launched last night.

Related. Audi brochures - I love it when people take the trouble to do this kind of thing. Thereís also a colossal collection of film clips of Audis whizzing past in a blurry fashion. As an aside, iconomy's original post has to be one of the densest, link-filled posts Iíve ever seen (Ďlinkaliciousí). You could spend days going through it all. Whatís most extraordinary is that the links are 99% new to us. Is it all over for iconomy?

Other things. The ongoing restoration of Milan's Pirelli Tower, a classic design by Gio Ponti, following the light plane crash of 18 April 2002, an accident which nonetheless brought out the conspiracy theorists in droves / AnamorFose, a 'photo gallery for art photography collectors' / Rodchenko under the hammer / outrageous automobiles at Barris Kustom Industries, via Papel Continuo, who have a nice way with a bit-mapped image / then again, maybe digital sucks.

Cressida in Delhi, a 'weblog from the field' / Classic Good Girl + Romance Covers, via La Petite Claudine, via Ashley B, who points out the online trailer for Doug Coupland's latest, Hey Nostradamus / it's a pricey business, seeing the men in black play live. We were, however, fascinated to learn about the Concise Pink Pig Atlas, the ultimate tribute album.

Harry Beck was clearly onto something. The hitherto secret set of Animals on the Underground can only now be revealed (many thanks to nyclondon for the link) / Justin Hankins has a great photolog / GarageBand, 'Usability vs. Hackability', via The Null Device, a weblog / Valentines Day brought out the break-up stories: guardian, tmn / Rachelle B, a weblog / goreyography (via The Cartoonist) / hi-speed photography at Photron.

One more things about Blackfriars Bridge - for Londoners it's most notorious for being the final resting place of so-called 'Godís Banker' Roberto Calvi. Also, an interactive view of Londonís bridges, and a contemporary view.

Sunday, February 15, 2004
A walk along the Thames, captured with a pinhole camera by nyclondon. Strangely deserted, with the empty supports for the old Blackfriars Rail Bridge looking like lost, watery megaliths. The architect Will Alsop once mooted a big red blob sitting atop these pillars, housing, I think, the ICA. The picture here is miscredited to John Outram, who shares Alsop's colour sense, but not his disdain for formalism. These piers (see also this painting by Doug Myers) are the remains of the original Blackfriars Rail Bridge, designed by Joseph Cubitt (who also built the accompanying road bridge). A newer rail bridge, opened in 1886, runs alongside the unemployed columns.

One of the few pleasant things about Blackfriars Station is the wall bearing a list of European destinations, casually mixed in with places in the South of England: Marseilles, Geneva, Vienna, Cannes, Calais, Crystal Palace, etc. Once upon a time, when boats and trains were synchronised, these places were all within easy reach of this now rather unprepossessing structure. Admittedly, you can also get a nice view of the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge from the wind-swept end of the platforms, not to mention the brutalist Lloyds Bank admin centre on the other side of the bridge, immortalised in this bizarre stained glass window in Southwark Cathedral, one of a series of windows created in 1984/5 to celebrate the cathedral's proximity to the hard-headed Square Mile.

Invisible Airports by Bryan Boyer, a Ballardesque 're-imagining' of Foster and Partners' Chek Lap Kok. 'Passengers are allowed to carry with them whatever they like, but they must first pass through the flooded terminal.' A vast megastructure, not just sinking, but slowly turning in on itself, creating journeys that never were. Boyer also has this interesting take on a design for the Villa Savoye that never was.

Kelly Jane Torrance, a culture blog(ger) / punk rock picture sleeves, not just US / UK stuff, but plenty of obscure European covers here as well / animals and insects at Junglewalk / the vast salt city beneath Detroit. 'Some estimates suggest that there is enough salt in the Metro Detroit underground to last 70 million years.' More salt information / last three via memepool.

1926 Fiat Torpedo / Asborn Lonvig paints with a truly zinging palette. We like his landscapes / Atelier Cezanne, via Bifurcated Rivets / also, the nerd watch museum / a box of chocolates from the Soul Food Cafe. Another box of virtual chocolate (related: when did you last use an image map? Read the image map help page) / British railway maps from 1962 / some more London bridges.

What ifÖ there was a neat Apple app called AtticAuthor? (via Raccoon): 'AtticAuthor: Classic literature, your way.' See also 'vernacular creativity' and the ongoing GarageBand controversy.

Just a reminder that we've been having email problems lately. If your missive has bounced back, please re-send it to Many thanks.

Friday, February 13, 2004
Many apologies if youíve been trying to send us an email in the last few days. Weíve just noticed that emails have all been bouncing back to sender, which isnít exactly very helpful when you have a new issue of your magazine to sell. If you want to get in touch, please, try again:

Related to yesterday's musings on virtual worlds, things contributor (read his Letters to Doughboy in things 17-18) has written a short story, 'At Play in Hell's Half Acre', which neatly predicts the impact of a truly immersive, amoral alternative world. It's published in Multiverse Magazine, a new web magazine that aims to publish 'compelling stories with an emphasis on world-building'.

We've just published Blythe House, what'll probably be our last photo gallery for a while - bandwidth constraints are running tight. Blythe House is one of the main stores for London's Science Museum. It's a vast treasure trove of items familiar and unfamiliar, models, potions, medical anomalies, votive objects, tools, machines and medicines. You can tour the V&A's Archive of Art and Design, in the same building. things is hugely grateful to the Science Museum's David Rooney for organising the tour. David will be doing a webcast next week at the museum's Dana Centre on Sinful Things extracted from the collections.

Some other things. A city tour of Pyongyang, with particular emphasis on the ghastly, oppressive concrete presence of the RyuGyong Hotel, a 330m high ziggurat that is the architectural centrepiece of a thoroughly nasty regime / the Element Naming Controversy at the tail end of the period table (via Design Observer) / Brianís Culture Blog / magazine covers, via The Cartoonist. This page is good / metafilter has been down for days now, so there's nowhere to plagiarise links from....

The photoblog seems exceptionally sunny at the moment, quite at odds with the real London weather. This is probably a good thing.

Thursday, February 12, 2004
More melting into air. Has the success of the world's new virtual economies (such as Gaming Open Market) led to the creation of virtual sweatshops? 'End MUDflation' comments someone at Terranova, a weblog devoted to 'the economics, law and culture of game worlds'. It already watches thirteen 'worlds'. First link via making light. Related: imaginary places, via the map room. Also see the Virtual Worlds Review, which has a Virtual Worlds List.

You can judge a nation's political stability by the number of armoured cars used by its domestic police force. An idle thought that arrived while perusing the Royal Malaysian Police Museum. Polish armoured cars, unusual technical drawings of WWII, Land-Rover in Northern Ireland. Hans Haacke realised this with his A Breed Apart series.

In the future, even armoured cars will be obsolete. Confronted with the steely indestructability of iRobot's Packbot, Plasticbag starts to fear the future (related: AkuAku's comment ('it's only murder if you look them in the eyes') links the comprehensive Calvin and Hobbes at Martijn's page, complete with an explanation of C&H in other languages).

Other things. Yet another take on the venerable London tube map (via rogue semiotics) / the sound of silence - how you used to be able to download Ciccone Youth's 'beatbox' (i.e. speeded up) version of John Cage's epic 4'33".

Theory of the Daily, ever so humble, two weblogs / have we mentioned this before? Walta Vista's photoblog / Unfolio, a weblog with an architecture/urbanism slant / the Truman Chryslers, a president and his cars (via Plep).

gallery of computation via haddock / the worst coffee in the world / Life in the present has moved / edgy valentine cards / wonderful photograph of frozen contemplation / share pictures in real time with Flickr.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Big Dead Place, 'a site devoted to Antarctica and thinking about Antarctica', with a special section on John Carpenter's The Thing, which the site describes as 'the first important film about industrial American life in the Antarctic'. One of the essays points out (rather obviously, I would have thought) that 'In the actual USAP, employees are forbidden flamethrowers.'

Slushkiller, or the pain of the rejection letter writer at Making Light (via Apothecary's Drawer). We most especially like the woefully misundertood response to the editor who parodied William Carlos Williams This Is Just to Say (do a page search for 'sweeter').

'In 1950, the area of living space per occupant was 290 square feet. In 1997 it was 800 square feet'. Just one many statistics concerned with the environmental impact of our homes, the changing nature of consumerism and what this is doing to nature at The Tofte Project. Very elegant flash, via Coudal.

William B. Tabler Sr., the architect of Hilton Hotels the world over, has died. Christopher Stocks wrote a review of Annabel Jane Wharton's Building the Cold War: Hilton International Hotels and Modern Architecture in things 16. The book charts the role Hilton played in rebuffing communism (more on the book). Got $5.9m? If so, a fabulous slice of American modernism is waiting to burn a hole in your pocket (via ArchNewsNow).

Dynamap, super novel fold-out map design (via Gizmodo / the Museum of Useful Things (via Sachs Report / Steps: I would like to see this in some kind of diagrammatic form, I think. Also via tmn, Cinema Redux by Brendan Dawes / Plep has redesigned.

Linotype days (via Catfunt). More type-related things (both via The Cartoonist), rare books and the history of type. Also via The C, Hollywood Diecast - pocket versions of vehiclar stars from the big and small screen / the photography of Takako Kido / a pricey speeding ticket.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Comparing the iPod to the mix tape - which is better? Is the iPod great or is it just incredibly irritating? (both via me-fi) While the two linked articles both comment on how the device is changing the way people are listening to music, and also talking about how they listen to music to their friends, neither of them mention the rapidly approaching evaporation of music into something virtual and ethereal, wrenched from its traditional physical container.

At the same time, Wired comments on how Garageband is leading to a revolution in people creating music. More and more music - too much to listen so, so it can only be graded, sorting the wheat from the chaff. Grades and ratings are replacing packaging, which used to be a way into a band's mindset - the fonts, illustrations, comments and photography indicating a direction, inspiration or emotion. Are these new musicians putting the same time and effort into creating the things that accompany music - t-shirts, posters, flyers, logos, button badges, demo covers, record sleeves?

Elsewhere, a grab bag of everything and anything. Vintage electronics at Enrico Tedeschi's World of Old Radio: see the items for sale for images / online art projects at Radiant Slab / reliable time-wasters: IQ at AskJeeves and Metaspy Exposed at Metacrawler / Who Would Buy That?, auction monstrosities.

Outdoor sculpture at the Storm King Art Center, New York State / Seeing with sound at Visual Prosthesis, the latest development of the vOICe java app - which converts pictures into sound / Car Models Museum (check the thumbnails) / obsessive collecting (via me-fi) / the virtual design museum at Delft University (via Dublog).

Ian Teh's The Vanishing, a photographic journey along the Yangtze River, post-Three Gorges dam / 22 panels that always work - a comic artist's lexicon at Poptown / the world of Asian Lomography / the photolog at Polar Inertia / Age maps by photographer Bobby Neel Adams (via Christopher Hill) / a new issue of Flaneur is always call for celebration.

Saturday, February 07, 2004
Have a great weekend. Posts will return to (more or less) normal next week.

Friday, February 06, 2004
Feel inadequate by the names conjured up by your imagination? Stunned by the exotic-sounding contributors to your daily intake of spam? Try using the Random Name Generator, Behind the Name or Chris Pound's Language Machines. These were all culled from Lisa Napoli's piece 'Adding spice to spam? Phony names pique interest' in the IHT. The piece uses quotes from me-fi, I think - fast becoming a journalistic stand-by for useful argument-supporting opinions.

We visited the Batu Caves last night, in the final few hours of the Hindu festival of Thaipusam - an extraordinary experience, and one which photos, while spectacular, don't really do justice. What's missing is the noise - of thousands of people, amplified music and chants - and smell of people, flowers, food, etc. Thaipusam is famously the festival of ritual piercing, as Vels are pushed into the fleshy bits of the body by devotees seemingly oblivious to pain.

Big page of images of the splendour of Moscow Underground, in the wake of this morning's bomb attack. In other global news, a good lady in Tennessee is sueing Janet Jackson (although she's not doing it just for herself - it's a class action: 'Although the exact number of class members cannot be ascertained, they are so numerous and geographically dispersed that joinder of all class members is impracticable. Plaintiff believes that there are over eighty million members of the Class.'). You can probably guess why.

Thursday, February 05, 2004
Nothing much to report today, I'm afraid. Some things culled from five minutes surfing: FabPreFab, all things bright and beautiful in the instant housing market / mundane photos / nuisance, an indisciplinary art zine, including the series Freudian Extracts by Melanie Absolon / Amp, irreverent webzine / Sleepy City, urban exploration photos from Australia (via me-fi) / miniature tribute band / what else was Lost in Translation.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004
Back from a trawl around Imbi Plaza, KL's extraordinary electronics boutique. Software (and DVD) piracy is ingrained here - practically nothing is legitimate. Storeholders shrug their shoulders and say that real software just cost too much. Far better to spend 5RM (just over a dollar) on a package containing Encarta, say, or Alias, or Photoshop, or any number of thousand-dollar packages. Naturally, the government is opposed to this blatant thievery, but it seems there's little impetus for authenticity (example: a boxed 'special edition' of Finding Nemo, expertly packaged by the pirates, sits side by side with Disney's official DVD, costing many times more).

Space and Culture is the weblog of the International Journal of Social Spaces (Anne Galloway is involved). Further to Monday's musings on Manufactured Bohemia, we're intrigued by this proposed study, The Cappuccino Community, subtitled 'cafes and civic life in the contemporary city.' One of their links is to Truck Stops and Transport Cafes, a virtual 'caff' for the UK trucking community. This leads us to this fascinating page of trucking mishaps in Scotland.

Some links. A history of Movable Books (via evenings on the lake - a most evocatively titled weblog, don't you think?). 'Movable' essentially means 'pop-up', and some of the items on display are delightful - there are even animations to give you a sense of depth. There's not enough on the great Jan Pienkowski for our liking, though. This Japanese site, Popbookmania, has plenty of pictures of his work and more.

Give yourself a a sense of scale (via Lorbus) - a journey in bar graphs from fermis to quasars / Lady Lucy, a weblog (see also Being Lady Lucy) / Traffic Island Disks, 'a radio programme about music, people and spaces' / March Design goes medieval and links to the beautiful illustration of William Andrew Pogany (more) / making these lists more magical (thanks to tmn).

Tuesday, February 03, 2004
Although the pictures on the right were taken recently in Spain, things is now coming to you live from Kuala Lumpur, a very high tech place with no facility to get photos off a digital camera and onto another computer.... it's all to do with cables, or lack of. Frustrating. We're constantly lagging one week behind.

Just outside Kuala Lumpur lies the 'silicon suburb' of Cyberjaya. It's pretty much a building site at the moment, but the country is hell-bent on bringing the very best companies out here to make it their Asian base. What's jarring is the juxtaposition of empty highways, empty building sites and, presumably, thousands of kilometres of cable just waiting for data that hasn't yet arrived.

We're also practically sitting on top of the Suria KLCC, one of the capital's largest shopping centres, which calls for a bit of exploration. Of course, anyone with any top tips of what to do and see is more than welcome to add a comment or drop us a line.

Seen elsewhere. Living Machines, at Wired (can we breed out spam, for example?) / messy desks, an online exhibition / a gallery of automata, via Caterina / and I guess that's it, for now.

Monday, February 02, 2004
Apologies for the absence. things will be off again this week, but hopefully it's a place where we can update at least once or twice. In the meantime, a few of the usual things, culled from here and there. World electricity standards: plugs have never been so interesting. How can the world function on so many standards? Steve Kropla is here to help. Talking of travelling, we love the concept of the Drift Table.

Manufactured Bohemia: do 'cool places' really still exist? Or is gentrification a one-way cycle that snaps up the lofts, whips up the lattes and melds up and coming affluence with the 'edgier' parts of town. The piece makes an interesting point: 'designers are second-wave Bohemians. Designers come after artists, who come after musicians, who come after junkies, who generally live in transitional neighborhoods of first-generation immigrants, who have lived in neighborhoods abandoned by the middle class as they moved to the suburbs in the middle of the century.' So what's next? Boho Suburbia? (via stamen).

The solipistic gazette has become notes from the dovecote / artbots, robots in popular culture (like comics and arcade games). Via muxway. We like the Victor Tin Cat. I doubt it would make me sneeze, but it would probably sort out our mouse problem / cut and paste? / back to Merzhase, a weblog with a strange world attached.

The Morning News is really on a roll at the moment. First the epic IKEA walkthrough and now this, Martha's Big Day / Prism-Escape, extreme music magazine / 'Exploding Cinema 1992 - 1999, culture and democracy', a PhD thesis on South London's premiere avant-cinema experiment. We went to one Exploding Cinema screening, in an old church in Brixton some time in 1992 or 93. The audience noticeably recoiled from shorts with high production values. Low-budget schlock seemed to be the most popular genre; Peter Jackson's Bad Taste was still hugely influential.

bitter-girl reminds us to re-visit the tawny hues of The Daily Oliver / The Modernist re-visits the work of Piero Fornasetti / AXIS magazine, design from Japan / make your mark on the world / Milhouse font / the art of Stella Vine / nineteenth century advertising from Harper's Weekly.