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Break Conference

Last Thursday I attended Break Conference, where content, graphic, product, UX and web design practitioners took to the stage in Belfast’s Assembly Buildings. As the spiritual successor to Build, organiser Christopher Murphy hoped the event would remove the artificial barriers erected between these different specialisms.

The Pursuit of Laziness: Thoughts from Responsive Day Out

Last Friday I attended Responsive Day Out 2. The format was the same as last year, but the tenor was a little different. Gone were the theoretical presentations, talk of trying to sell responsive web design to clients and fears of embarking on responsive projects. Instead presentations focused on the actual doing; getting into the nitty-gritty.

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‘FIFA is a comically grotesque organisation’

John Oliver’s new weekly late-night HBO show Last Week Tonight has seen him deliver a number of cutting satirical observations on current events. His thoughts on net neutrality perfectly encapsulated the blatant corruption surrounding the FCC’s proposed regulatory changes. But on the eve of the World Cup, his comments on FIFA are worth sharing:

[Football] is an organised religion, and FIFA is its church. Just think about it, its leader is infallible, it compels South American countries to spend money they don’t have building opulent cathedrals, and it may ultimately be responsible for the deaths of shocking numbers of people in the Middle East. But, for millions of people around the world like me, it is also the guardian of the only thing that gives their lives any meaning.

Spot on.

Designer Duds: Losing Our Seat at the Table

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Mills Baker:

Much of the work for which we express the most enthusiasm seems superficial, narrow in its conception of design, shallow in its ambitions, or just ineffective.

A necessary critique of the state of design emanating from Silicon Valley. It would seem its best designers are putting lipstick on pigs; adding gloss to products that most people outside San Francisco neither want or need. Also, this:

Design is about solving problems that humans have, not problems that products have.

Fuel-Careful F1 Less of a Guilty Pleasure

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John Leicester provides a considered view on the new energy-conscious regulations governing Formula 1:

F1 wouldn’t be F1 without excess. Fans worldwide wouldn’t tune in for world champion Sebastian Vettel driving a Prius. F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone got fabulously rich with the sales pitch of bigger, faster, costlier, noisier equals vroooom… But as road cars become more fuel efficient, with electric and hybrid-engine technology making increasing inroads, F1 needed to reconnect with its time or risk becoming an anachronism, racing on regardless the costs to the environment.

I’m loving the new-look Formula 1! Last season had become too predictable, not helped by the leading team favouring one driver. This year we have midfield teams challenging for podiums, and Mercedes allowing its two drivers to battle for the top step. As for the loudness, the squeal of locking wheels and the roar of expectant crowds more than makes up for the lack of growling V8s, however much the new engines sound like a dentist’s drill.

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Cennydd Bowles on the Ethical Designer

Possibly the most important design talk you’ll hear this year:

For decades, the spaces we live in have been built by consensus. Planners, architects, councils, consultation; and always the watchful eye of the regulators and elected officials. But the world’s favourite digital spaces are largely in the hands of people like you and me. We have to oversee ourselves – and it’s not going very well.

Are we focusing on the right problems? Or just aggrandising the mundane? How do we know what the right problems are? How can we guide ourselves to appreciate the cultural and personal impact of the decisions we make?

It’s time for our industry to become ethically aware, if we’re to have a chance of doing the right thing.

British Government Identity, Revisited

With the British government now able to count itself among the few countries sporting a coherent identity programme, a follow up to my 2009 post on the subject.

Landmark Olympic Websites, Where Art Thou?

Whereas the world’s foremost architects, graphic artists, typographers, iconographers and illustrators are asked to create their best work to celebrate each Olympic Games, still we wait for the Olympic movement to give equal consideration to the design of its websites.

net Awards 2014

The net Awards return for their fifteenth year, and I’m more than a little surprised to be a nominated for Designer of the Year.

Classic Web Articles

Vasilis van Gemert asked me to curate a list of classic articles for the Daily Nerd, but what constitutes a classic?

My Intention Is This

Goals, resolutions, call you what you will, here are a few ways I intend to become a better, more productive person this year.

Why I Want Bitcoin to Die in a Fire

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More on Bitcoin from Charlie Stross:

BitCoin looks like it was designed as a weapon intended to damage central banking and money issuing banks, with a Libertarian political agenda in mind – to damage states ability to collect tax and monitor their citizens financial transactions.

Bitcoin, Magical Thinking, and Political Ideology

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Alex Payne on Bitcoin:

Most charitably, Bitcoin is regarded as a flawed but nonetheless worthwhile experiment, one that has unfortunately attracted outsized attention and investment before correcting any number of glaring security issues.

To those less kind, Bitcoin has become synonymous with everything wrong with Silicon Valley: a marriage of dubious technology and questionable economics wrapped up in a crypto-libertarian political agenda that smacks of nerds-do-it-better paternalism.

Such criticism – that of the selfish logic behind the libertarian ideology prevalent in the Valley – will only grow louder in the coming year. Time to disrupt the disrupters, I say.

Redesigning 24 ways

The tail end of this year has been rather hectic. If moving house and changing jobs weren’t enough to be getting on with, I was also busy redesigning 24 ways.