Category Archives: Design

A few links about reading, publishing, timeliness, & poems about dogs

Emotional intelligence, improvement of

For Better Social Skills, Scientists Recommend a Little Chekhov

But psychologists and other experts said the new study was powerful because it suggested a direct effect — quantifiable by measuring how many right and wrong answers people got on the tests — from reading literature for only a few minutes.

Does Reading Literary Fiction Make You a Better Person?

(Same story from Publishing Perspectives.) At the end of this article is a link to participate in the study. You don’t have to read any literature, just look at pictures of eyes and determine an emotion. But they do ask you how much fiction vs. nonfiction you’ve read in the past year. (Just so you know, I got 31 out of 36 correct. I think that’s pretty good. But then, I read literary fiction.)

Publishing: Traditional vs. Self (Before we die this will cease to be a story)

Is Publishing Still Broken? The Surprising Year In Books

Self-publishing is a huge and disruptive force in the publishing industry, but contrary to popular belief, it’s largely benefiting publishers.

Bowker Data Offers Surprising Insight into Traditional and Self-Publishing

First, more publishers than ever before signed authors who had previously self-published their books, a far cry from the days only a few years ago when choosing to self-publish was an all-or-nothing choice.

Just in case you were thinking about making a magazine app

Why tablet magazines are a failure

8 apps a day. (Average number of apps opened by mobile users each day. Out of an average number of 41 apps on the device.)

Manners, improvement of

On going over your time

Just don’t do it.

Marketing & Design & Creativity

From today’s Very Short List (@VSL), “the delightful email that shares cultural gems from a different curator each day.” Today’s curators were David Kelley, founder of IDEO and Stanford’s, and Tom Kelley, IDEO partner and bestselling author. One link was to an article titled “Mermaids & pirates take the fear out of hospital scans” about the redesign of MRI scanners.

“I mean, some of the most effective insights we got came from kneeling down and looking at rooms from the height of a child.”

Good news on the one hand, except if you think that this insight is coming after the fact, it’s a little depressing that these machines and the experience for little children wasn’t considered beforehand. Oh well. Better late than never, right?

Curating this edition of VSL was also a good marketing venture for @kelleybros, whose book, Creative Confidence, publishes next week.


Mary Oliver’s ‘Dog Songs’ Finds Poetry in Friends

Hey, I’m a dog owner.

Digital publishing: book as artifact; author as ringleader

Richard Shed's Digital book

Artwork/photo credit: Richard Shed

Seth Godin at his Domino Project blog provided a link to Craig Mod‘s essay titled “Post Artifact Books & Publishing: Digital’s effect on how we produce, distribute and consume content.” It’s a good discussion about how the publishing/authorship world  is being turned sideways and on its head. As for how the world of the author is changing, here’s Seth’s take:

In the first case, the yesterday case, the author has a job. She writes a book. In the second case, the tomorrow case, the author is the ringleader, cheerleader, ringmaster, organizer and jack of all trades of a process that might not ever end.

Craig’s essay reads well and looks good. He has done a nice job of designing it. (I’m referring to the online version. I don’t know if the design translates to the $2.99 Kindle version.) And in a David Foster Wallace-esque moment, Mr. Mod has thirty-two footnotes at the end of the essay. Rich resource there, my particular favorites being those pointers to online book experiments of one sort or another. Of particular note is the link to Frank Chimero’s blog. Frank is working on a book titled The Shape of Design and it’s quite interesting to see that his Kickstarter community has contributed $112,159.00 to keep him working on that project. That’s powerful stuff. (He’s also been very inventive about what you as a donor receive for the different levels of monetary participation.)

Then there’s this guy Peter Armstrong, co-founder of, an online publisher. (He appears in the comments section at the end of Craig’s essay.) Peter’s lean publishing motto: publish early, publish often. Peter’s idea is this:

Lean Publishing is the act of self-publishing a book while you are writing it, evolving the book with feedback from your readers and finishing a first draft before optionally using the traditional publishing workflow.

It’s worth reading the manifesto at Peter’s site, particularly the section called “The Lean Publishing How-To Guide for Non-fiction.” It’s all about writing and sharing what you’re writing with your community, and using feedback from those people as your revise your writing. In some ways there’s nothing new here, since people have always shared their writing with peers and colleagues and writing groups, but now you can reach out to more people more easily more quickly. (One question to consider is whether more/faster equals better, but that’s for another day.)

This all puts me in mind of David Weinberger, who, when he was writing Small Pieces Loosely Joined in 2001-2002 put chapters in progress out on the web and invited feedback. A fair number of people joined in the discussion at the time and David mentions a couple of them in his acknowledgments. All that resulted in a physical book, an artifact in Craig’s terms. One of his points is that now with books going digital you can continue to revise based on an ongoing discussion with your community. But how long will that last really? Any longer than it would with the “artifact”? The author will move on to new ideas, a new book. The community will move on as well. I’ll be curious to see if someone can track the discussions about books and their ideas. Will we something more substantive in the digital realm now available? Will the digital publishing realm result in a longer “shelf” life for ideas?

Social media for books—and the people who read them

Ian Greenleigh, blogging at dare2comment put up a post titled: “Breathing new life into books with official hashtags.” Here’s his first paragraph:

The other day I tweeted out an idea, and quickly received a burst of encouraging responses. I was on to something. The idea I shared was that all books should have official hashtags so that people can discuss what they’re reading as they’re doing so. This would serve both authors and readers remarkably well.

I was pointed to Ian’s site from Domino Project, where they picked up the idea in this “Hashtags for books” blogpost and wherein they claim that in the future all their books will be published with an official hashtag. For instance, Poke the Box would have a hashtag of #ptbDomino and Do the Work would have #dtwDomino. (Looking at those names, though, I wonder if Domino Project is going to publish only three-word-titled books? Okay, it’s early in the game and they’ve only put out two books so far, and of course that is a ridiculously small sample from which to extrapolate, but…)

It seems that some authors have already been toying with the idea, to mixed results. But they haven’t been working with an “official” hashtag and perhaps that can make a difference. I’m looking forward to the day when books have a big hashtag and three-letter (or however many) abbreviation emblazoned on the cover. One new element for book cover designers to deal with.

hashtag WTF

(This image, taken from, could be the official hashtag for a book called Working the Frontlines. That’s a joke, of course.)

A walk on the High Line, New York City

The High Line (and I’m quoting Wikipedia here) “is a 1.45-mile (2.33 km) New York City park built on a section of the former elevated freight railroad of the West Side Line, along the lower west side of Manhattan.” It’s an elevated urban park, tranquil due to its height above the streets.

High Line Park

Photos from my walk

The Wikipedia entry about the High Line

Photos from Joel Sternfeld

Photos from Jonathan Flaum

Interviews over there

My Cool Friend interview with Joy Panos Stauber, creative director & designer for Stauber Design Studio.

Be colorful, be bold

I got a save the date postcard from I want to go to this fair just because of the card they sent out. I’m afraid my scan of it doesn’t do justice to its color and boldness. (Maybe this is a rule to live by as well.)