I just finished a 3.5 day course in the leadership of high performance teams which pretty much blew my mind. It was a great combination of six core principles learned in the classroom and realized outside. The program was taught by Performance Unlimited and Activ8 but the class had the opportunity to participate in every aspect from speaking in the classroom to harnessing up team mates and trusting that they had done it correctly in their turn and would hold the rope when you jumped off the top of a 30 foot pole. Climbing atop high stuff wasn’t about conquering your fear so much as it was about trusting your new skills, your peers and embracing this basic prospective: “You’re going to fall no matter what so you might as well fall going for it.”
The amazing part was that through learning in the classroom (principles we could all take back to the office to benefit the teams we lead) our group of strangers from all over the country geled into a solid team capable of meeting every challenge. In fact, we even got this entire motley crew over a 14 foot wall using no tools or assistance of any kind. With no leader and no instructions we succeeded because we totally believed we could and each of us dedicated every ounce of ourselves to making it happen. That’s not what typically happens in an office setting… I think Seth Godin would be proud.
Check out the Performance Unlimited website (a BrainstormOverload design) to learn more and watch for the next session. Or drop us a line – we’d be happy to chat about the experience.
Despite my excellent introduction to print making at the capable hands of Doug Minkler and Wayne Thiebaud college was a long time ago and I’ve been struggling to remember the accepted standards for numbering and signing a limited edition set of prints. It’s not something people ask about at parties nor is it something that comes up in the course of the interactive design that’s dominated the last ten years of my career so my brain seems to have filed it accordingly. But careers change and I’ve been trying to orchestrate my return to more general design and to print making so I figured I’d better refresh my memory. Enter the interwebs. Faster than I could dig out my old school books I turned up a great explanation that is thorough but concise. In short the edition goes on the left, title in the middle and signature on the right. But, take a quick look at the article on About.com for the nuances and then sharpen your pencil to identify those Trial Prints (TP), Artists Proofs (AP) and limited edition prints I look forward to seeing at the upcoming Artcrank, Artisan Activist and Poster Offensive shows.
I remember enjoying math in school and grew up to become a good little modernist who savors the mathematical implications of layout design. However staring into the headlights of an oncoming deadline is not the time I want to discover an error in the numbers underlying a layout. This is where Gridulator rides to the rescue like a digital cavalry grinding out the hard work so I can enjoy the spoils. This fabulous tool makes it easy to experiment with grid systems you might never have thought to try which can bring a freshness to your work just when you need it most (cue cavalry again). Gridulator is the product of David Sleight – aka Stuntbox which in the spirit of the web I recall fondly from the early days he has generously shared. (Cue anti net neutrality, proprietary, corporate profiteers… who get crushed by the aforementioned digital cavalry in a blaze of righteousness).
Not too long ago The FWA was the primary source of influence for interactive design. HTML has made up a tremendous amount of ground on Flash in recent years with HTML 5.0 promising even more innovation. As The FWA has responded by focusing on the elite an abundance of sites curating collections of excellent css based designs have sprung up to sustain the insatiable appetite of the designers in the trenches. We’ve mentioned here previously MNimal, PatternTap and RefreshStyle and are delighted to ad Screenfluent to the list. We’re pleased to be a part of the collection.
If you’ve seen enough Arial, Times and Verdana to last a lifetime I’m happy to report that more progress is being made on improving the typographic experience online. Google has joined the open source type crusade with the launch of Google Font Directory. While still in beta part of Google’s effort includes standardizing the experience of type across browsers which means not only readers will benefit but developers have something to fall in love with as well. For more on this topic also see post: The League of Movable Type.
The recent (and long overdue) restyle of my portfolio BrainstormOverload has been recognized by the good folks over at RefreshStyle.net. Hopefully you recognize it there in the bottom-left corner. Who’s behind this collection of “refreshingly stylish web design” you ask? In a word – Canadians. While those of you living below the Mason-Dixon Line may be challenged by this notion I can assure you that Canadians love design just like you do. But don’t take my word for it – check out 350 Designs (the makers of RefreshStyle) for yourself. It’s fun to see sites for brands you aren’t familiar with. Oh, and if web design isn’t your thing you’re in luck. There is actually a suite of sites including: StationaryStyle.net, DrupalStyle.net and ArchitectureStyle.net. If you don’t love any of those things seek immediate medical attention.
As you are no-doubt well aware the internet currently resembles the imagined offspring of a mad love affair between your attic and your garage. We all know whatever we are looking for is in there somewhere we’re just not sure where. Hence the current explosion of sites like notcot.org and materialicious.com that simply aggregate cool stuff. They don’t editorialize much – if at all. They don’t even provide much context beyond the central organizational theme. As such they are like a dresser – simultaneously no big deal and amazingly useful.
For those of us in creative fields there are many excellent portfolio sites like behance.net and design:related.com that provide lots of organization along with tools, community, rating systems and the works. However, there has been an open niche for a super simple mechanism for simply finding cool stuff when “cool stuff” equals portfolios and “finding” means in a specific city. In another stroke of minimalistic brilliance 37Signals has come to the rescue by launching a new tool called sortfolio.com.
Here you can browse for web designers and companies by city and budget range. There are larger, paid modules followed by smaller, free modules. I am digging the way new modules automatically load as you scroll down the page. Check it out and get yourself listed so the wide world can find you without having to go through all that stuff they’re saving for when Antiques Roadshow comes to town.
The navigation design for the new BrainstormOverload portfolio site has been accepted into the jurried collection at Pattern Tap. There are many sites that agrigate beautiful designs but Pattern Tap takes a more utilitarian approach that is actually quite useful. Well designed user experience components (headers, forms, login functionality, etc.) can be browsed as collections and serve as inspiration to help overcome your own design challenges. It has proven to be a valuable resource so I’m excited to have contributed something in return. Thanks again for Jeff Zerger and Colin Petit for the development on the bsol site.
At last there is a tool that enables cyclists to map their route from point A to point B while preferentially factoring in bike paths and bike lanes – Cyclopath. Now I’ve been to point B quite a few times and know the way but I’ve never gotten there from point C. Cyclopath allows me to map the route, adjust it, get a sense of what I’ll be in for and print directions. You can use any address in the Twin Cities and surrounding region the map covers and even map to points of interest like parks.
Maps can be viewed as street layer or aerial photos and the system indicates distance, allows you to make and save changes to maps, share them and even lets you interpret your route using several filters of special interest to cyclists like “byway type”, rating and even by slope so you can embark on the pleasantly futile task of trying to plan a route that’s down hill both ways.
There are many more features and it seems like a pretty powerful new tool but one with a little bit of a learning curve. Fortunately the folks at Cyclopath have taken this into account as well and are offering a lecture about how to use the system. Not only are the tool and the lecture free they’ll feed you breakfast so stop by as you ride your bike in to work tomorrow (weather should be pretty nice). The lecture is Thursday, November 12 from 8:30 – 9:30 at the UofM. More info available here. Can’t make it to the breakfast? View it live online at 8:40 am.
Who would take on this heroic and altruistic effort you ask? Well that is the beauty of having a large land-grant, research oriented, university in your town. The University of Minnesota’s Institute for New Media Studies did all the heavy lifting. Now all you have to do is enjoy the ride.
The web is now so full of astonishing content the challenge has become locating the most amazing bits that are most relevant bits to you. Several angles are available here. Subject oriented aggregators like NotCot.org, Core77.com, and Materialicious.com for instance can each get you started on fascinating creative explorations. Despite the proclamations by many that the new paradigm will revolve around these “communities of interest” there are those seeking to bring the good ol’ fashion community defined by location into the information age. So to take a different kind of slice through the interwebs check out websota.com and minnesota.com where you’ll find this blog along with many others on a wide range to topics with relevance to you as a Minnesotan. Communities of interest but at times it’s just nice to take a stroll through the neighborhood and see a few familiar faces. Enjoy.