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May 28, 2009

Google Wave is here to blow your mind

Google Wave: What Might Email Look Like If It Were Invented Today? - O'Reilly Radar

From the same team that made Google Maps we have Google Wave. It's a complete re-invention of email and instant messaging. Details are cloudy at the moment, but here is the pitch:

"We set out to answer the question: What would email look like if we set out to invent it today?"

That is exactly the right question, and one that every developer should be asking him or herself. The world of computing has changed, profoundly, yet so many of our applications bear the burden of decades of old thinking. We need to challenge our assumptions and re-imagine the tools we take for granted. It's perhaps no accident that this project, carried out secretly at Google's Sydney office over the past two years, had the code name Walkabout. That's the Australian aboriginal tradition of going off for an extended period to retrace the songlines and learn the world anew.

In answering the question, Jens, Lars, and team re-imagined email and instant-messaging in a connected world, a world in which messages no longer need to be sent from one place to another, but could become a conversation in the cloud. Effectively, a message (a wave) is a shared communications space with elements drawn from email, instant messaging, social networking, and even wikis.

How Book Design Affects Readability

How Publishing Really Works: Guest Post: How Book Design Affects Readability

A typographer’s first obligation is to the reader.

This holds true for all printed media from newspapers to billboards, but nowhere is it as crucial as in a book. How many times have you picked one up, only to find yourself putting it back on the shelf and wondering why? Perhaps it was by your favourite author or had glowing reviews; maybe it was a bestseller with a gorgeous cover and a tantalising blurb on the back. But when you opened the book and began to read, you changed your mind.

Why?

More than likely it was the text design. Something about it got in the way of readability. It could’ve been an inappropriate font, not enough leading (space between the lines), or a visual distraction such as a page number halfway down each outside margin. There are numerous ways for the appearance of a book’s page to turn off a potential reader.

A book’s design (I’m talking interior page design here, not covers) has one major purpose and that is to make the words on the page end up in the reader’s mind as effortlessly and as seamlessly as possible. Doesn’t matter if the book is a novel, a textbook, a dictionary, or even a car repair manual, the principle is the same. If the reader is motivated to absorb the information but finds himself unable to do so, the design is not doing its job.

May 26, 2009

How To: Build a Swingset That Generates Electricity

A Swing Set that Generates Electricity