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Art and Design

Beautiful Flash: Dervish Flowers.Thanks, Reiner Strasser!

The promotional site for Bembo's Zoo features a lovely Flash bestiary with animated letterforms.

At New Media Publishing, wander around in a 3D rendition of Escher's Alien World, a lovely geometrical dreamscape.

(re)distributions, a PDA art show, has opened at voyd. Included in the show are: Mark Amerika, Giselle Beiguelman, David Crawford, GH Hovagimyan, Fee Plumley, Art Ensemble, Institute for Applied Autonomy, Matt Locke, Simon Penny, John Simon, and Joel Slayton, Elise Co, Gregory Little, Tom Kemp, Angie Waller, Gregory Chiapuisat, Chiaki Darcy, and Max Kauffmann (RTMark).

What does music look like? Turbulence announces The Shape of Song, a project by Martin Wattenberg that provides visual representations of Web-based musical compositions. The fascinating archive of still images compares output based on Chopin, Philip Glass and Madonna, as well as "Clementine".

The summer issue of Poems that Go is now available. Congratulations, Ingrid Ankerson and Megan Sapnar!

The latest issue of Australia's Overland Express features a strange, intriguing little Flash piece, Tim Danko's Thump

Check out this Web lava lamp, a Java applet that displays charts and graphs updated continuously based upon text and pixel streams from web sites. From the SFMOMA. Dialup surfers, please note: this is not a low-band item.

Play with a virtual theremin! A free download for PCs and Macs, courtesy of the BBC.

Check out the gorgeous Flash doodles at noodlebox.

PixelImp, an Irish design firm, offers a small site with the content you'd expect, but with unusually fine detailing. Note that the cursor casts a shadow -- a lovely innovation, since the cursor does move over the page -- and also note the smart sound effects used instead of the expected percussion loop.

At Writer's Block, a lovely send-up of current Flash design.

New political satire from JibJab: a Flash movie introducing Rumple, President Bush's imaginary friend and pronunciation advisor.

Pixeltoon's Howard Kamentsky recommends

Lots of great Flash games and applications at Orange Design. Don't miss the Star Wars Starfighter Interface, a Flash application for Playstation2.

Mark Bernstein recommends, a site that sponsors a contest for intriguing webwork under 5K.

A nice (though bandwidth-intensive) Flash promotional site:

Jeff Zeldman and Web Standards have launched a new Browser Upgrade Initiative, debuting in the latest issue of A List Apart, that calls on the Web Design community to promote modern standards by abandoning backward compatability. By designing sites that use style sheets instead of HTML hacks, the Web could be cleaner, more flexible, and much more elegant. abandon your old browser; a better browser is an easy and free upgrade.

The devil's in the details, and the project's opening example -- reimplementing A List Apart -- probably has too many gritty details to start the revolution. Even if we abandon worst and oldest browser, Zeldman shows how tricky things can get to coax new browsers to behave. The results are encouraging -- a nice, liquid layout without messy tables. And it's important to get people to upgrade sooner, not later. It's important to avoid messy mixtures of content, style, and obscure HTML hackery. Join the crusade.

Curt Cloninger's exceptionally broad and insightful review of current trends in Web design: eye candy from the underground, from lab404.

PROTODESIGN has launched a new beta interface, featuring "things to look at, things to read, the two together, sometimes w/audio, sometimes not, design that is sexy, facts that are true, giddy ambivalence, irresponsible speculation, and other unmediated evidence." We particularly recommend the manifesto, Back in the 20th century when everything was dying.

Congratulations to Cauldron & Net editor Claire Dinsmore, whose Ballet Technique, or: is CSS the answer? was included in the 8th Annual New York Digital Salon.

A nicely-wrought travel story with interesting use of photography, especially in the left margin: Derek Powazek's I Like to Travel.

Ends better than it starts; you might begin at "A few hours later."

Hypertext 2000 keynote speaker Scott McCloud begins a new monthly online column on the craft of Web comics.

In his Hypertext 2000 keynote, Scott McCloud argued that it's a mistake to trim the electronic page to paper dimensions. The latest issue of his revived online comic, Zot #3, has an interesting example -- a very, very large frame. (Notice the use of a tiny counterpoint pattern in the sidebar as well)

One of the interesting theoretical questions to ask about any hypertext is whether it is connected -- whether parts of the hypertext are simply inaccessible. (For example, there's one famous writing space in afternoon that is not connected to anything else: is "Jane's space" part of the work, or not? A strongly connected part of a hypertext is a part of the hypertext where every space is (eventually) accessible from any other part: this was studied in the mid-90's by Botafogo and Shneiderman at the University of Maryland, and also by an Eastgate team of Bernstein, Bolter, Joyce, and Levine. Now, the NY Times reports an interesting study (from WWW9) by IBM's Andrew Tompkins, finds that only 28% of the Web is strongly connected. Thanks, John B. Smith, Jr!

The reporter, Ian Austen, thinks this a serious problem. It might not be important. Being part of the strongly-connected 28% may not buy you much: if you're listed in Yahoo and you have an outbound link to Yahoo, for instance, you're part of the big component. That doesn't really help people navigate: directories are more important to the graph-theory of hypertext than to the experience of reading.

Yacco offers an interesting experiment with audible hypertext links. The current implementation is essentially a conversation piece, but the idea is intriguing. Thanks, K10K!

New in HypertextNow: Mark Bernstein takes a look at production values in new media and argues that, despite the shadow of AOL/Time Warner and other Big Media plays, the Web isn't (and won't be) Hollywood.

In Mappa Mundi's Map of the Month, Martin Dodge takes a look at information maps -- especially a very nice new visualizaton of the Yahoo index called ET-Map. Other maps noted in passing include Treemaps, Web Squirrel, and other lots of others.

The current issue of Kaliber10000 presents The Line by Chin Hagiuda, a very interesting exploration of scrolling as a writerly tool. Horizontal scrolling, usually a desperate expedient for accommodating readers with small displays, can be an effective device for pacing and progressive disclosure. (For another example of the technique, see Scott McCloud's Welcome Message).

K10K wins the High Five-A List Apart Web design contest.

"k10k blew in out of nowhere and galvanized the web design community in a way no collaborative site had been able to do since the early days of Shift. It raised the bar not only in its own genre, but for all sites, and shows what can be achieved within the often carped-about limitations of HTML, JavaScript, and gif animation.

"Instead of fighting the grid-like nature of the web (table cells, gif images) the site makes a virtue of them; and its game-like interactivity actually works across platforms and browsers. We are also charmed by Toke's mini-illustrations, and the innocent simplicity of the writing."

It's been a strange week in the cutting-edge Web design and Web memoir worlds, which have been riven by disputes surrounding the recent Word redesign (Powazek comments on 1/22: joke? parody? sellout?), allegations of a cat thrown through a window by a business partner, and generally bad mood.

Is it the full moon? A temporal autonomous zone on a particularly bad day?

CoolHomePages.Com is subtitled, "the only known cure for designer's block." Thanks, Kaliber10000!

New in A List Apart: Peter-Paul Koch provides five guidelines for reliably using style sheets with today's browser mix.

Nick Finck writes: "I publish a online design magazine called Digital Web Magazine. We release issues every month to every other month. The last issue has a interview with the K10k guys, a Painter 6 review, an article by Razorfish's Daniel Jenett and lots of good web design resources." Thanks, Nick!

Jakob Nielsen's latest AlertBox discusses "When Bad Design Elements Become the Standard", and urges Web writers to follow conventional usage even if the convention is wrong a priori. For example, blue links are a bad idea, but people now understand blue links and so Nielsen argies that different link colors can be confusing and should be avoided. (For a contrarian opinion, see "Showing Links" in HypertextNow)

New in Jakob Nielsen's AlertBox: Ten Good Deeds of Web Design. The first item -- place your name and logo on every page -- is a good example of a design amenity that's always nice but not obvious. (It's handy to provide the URL for people who print the page and want to find it again, as well as email and phone numbers for people who need to contact you).

Industry gurus Jakob Nielsen and Roger Black critique the new design of FEED. The article's title is "Deconstructing..." but there's no deconstruction here. An interesting comparison of taste and methodology.

A new Hy/Tech award (after a long hiatus) goes to an old site: Digital Moments. An old David Siegel design, this photography exhibition has interesting elements of mirrorworld and montage.


Microsoft has announced an electronic book reader, based on its ClearType font rendering technology. At Seybold, Microsoft VP Dick Brass proposed a timeline for electronic book adoption that begins with the Microsoft press release and ends in 2020 with Webster's changing the definition of "book". The Reader won't ship until sometime next year.

NuvoMedia has announced eRocket, a software emulator of their electronic book reader.

Janus Boy's Time Changes Everything provides a nicely readable, informal introduction to SMIL and competing proposals for describing temporal properties of Web pages. Thanks Deena Larsen!

In an editorial for Web Page Design for Designers, Joe Gillespie discusses why breaking rules is important.

Lance Arthur talks about ways of rediscovering creative spirit in Creative Notions, appearing in A List Apart. Mistakes are good, admire advertising, and other heresies.

Peter Meerholz takes on the accepted wisdom that fast downloads are the essence of good Web design in Wait for It.

Much discussion in Web design circles about peaceful coexistence of style sheets and tables. Style sheets were intended to supplant the (ab)use of tables for page layout, but bugs in the major browsers make life difficult. Eric Meyer looks at practical solutions in Web Review.

Jon Katz explores the ecology of electronic communities in Electric Media part 2. Foragers, lurkers, defenders, and anonymous cowards.

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