Monthly Archives: August 2008

Paper + Time + an Affinity for Small Books

Muji Chronobook

I have a strange weakness for bags and notebooks.

I have far more bags than items to carry in them, and drawers full of yet-to-be-used notebooks.

Some notebooks have a special purpose assigned, and I simply haven’t gotten around to it yet. Some are just too “nice” to be used for mad scribbles and boring work.

My daily books are from Rhodia, a large wirebound sketchbook, and of course my tiny and handy Moleskine cashier notebooks

Oddly, I’m also attracted to datebooks / organizers, despite knowing that I’ll never really use one.

And I always think I need the Action Series by Behance, but apparently, buying them hasn’t made it to my action list yet. Link

Last year I gave out the very cool, Slingshot anarchist/activist organizers to several people (Slingshot, Monkey Wrench Books)

Now I find myself faced with wanting to get 2 different datebooks for 2009. And here I thought was doing well with my little problem.

The Haruki Murakami Datebook is a beautifully designed book, with reference by the Japanese author from his many wonderous books.
Amazon Link

The Muji Chronobook is definitely a lust object. A simple book with a Day and Night side per spread. It’s arranged in a non-linear fashion, with very little in the formal, rigid time-keeping mindset.
as seen on Cool Hunting

The Muji Chronobook is only available at the Muji Store in Soho, so if any of my NYC peeps are in the area, my birthday is coming up.


The Plan

A very long time ago, about 23 years I believe, I had just started college. A young lad of 17 set loose in a small college town at a mid-sized school.

One drunken night, I got in an argument with someone over turning in our design projects on time (which I always did) and turning in something that resembled what the instructor asked for (which I rarely did).

I believe the conversation contained the words “Don’t you worry about your career?!?” (it was college, we used multiple ? and ! points all the time).

Every loser bastard I had ever met was concerned about their career, how to cover their ass and make sure they never rocked the boat enough to get in trouble… and here I was at the spawning of such behaviour. A routine established early on by petty authority to be meek, uninspired and routine. The onset of a lifetime toeing the line, drinking the kool aid and being a good little monkey for spineless assholes who thought that was how the world worked. (I was drunk and I liked to ramble).

So, I scoffed at his mundane and tepid concerns, and on the spot came up with my version, the Life Plan.

The Life Plan
My 20s : Do whatever came my way. Basically fuck off and figure out the world.
My 30s : Decide what I was going to do, and become the best at it.
My 40s : Become famous to some degree.
My 50s : Start my own Justice League, assemble the best people I knew and so something amazing
My 60s : Travel the world
My 70s : Write

That’s it. No, millionaire before 45, no married with kids before 35, nothing. Some things don’t need to be timed, the universe has a way of putting me where it needs me, and I’m good with that.

What’s your plan?

(FYI, watching Mad Men makes me want to swap the 40s for the 50s.)


Mobile. It’s kind of a bitch.

(Although, designing for a platform like iPhone makes it much better).

But here’s what I found to be the biggest problem : Sticking to a single concept

I work for a company that specializes in moving and manipulating large amounts of unique data. My gig is making sure that data is usable, understandable, and mashed up in a manner that end users find valuable.

So, I design products. Some people call them apps, some call them services, I consider them products. They are tangible things that people interact with, and get improved based on that interaction. They’re long term, not a feeble microsite.

Anyways, it seemed like a no-brainer to start moving some of these products to a mobile platform, as one of my main pushes this year is in the saving, sharing and moving of information off a primary site and onto where users feel they need to keep it.

In starting, I uncovered a continuum in design rationale…

On one end is the Encumbered Complexity. Things that are too large, too forked, too unwieldily to be useful on a mobile device. (Unfortunately, most of our primary products fit in this category).

On the other end is Useless Minutiae. Information and features that could be moved to a mobile device, and usually upon first glance, seem like a great idea, but are too detailed to be useful, or replace a real-world activity that doesn’t benefit from being digitized. (Usually, the ideas seem great because my company controls or manages all the data, and no one else could create this product).

So, I’m working in the sweet spot between the two of them, following three pure and simple approaches :


Mobile is one part of a larger experience, and should act in conjunction with other devices and products that are not mobile.


Any mobile product must provide useful content and features that have reason to be mobile… and “because we can” is not a reason.


Kick the Andrew “Ruthless Monk” Method up a notch. One thing at a time, a single Item=Response metaphor. Even more so than the internet, mobile is a conversation, and one that must be streamlined.

I’m showing off the first of 3 Automotive-based mobile products this month at our annual user conference in Savannah. I’ll share them once I’ve done the dog-and-pony.