Main

December 14, 2006

Design Matters

Something to think about...
I was listening in the background today to a recent speech by Jonathan Kozol to Carlton students. Jonathan Kozol is a former teacher that now writes about public education -- especially the inequality and segregation of today's schools.
In his speech, he describes the stark differences in the quality of school life of the all-black schools he visited compared to the suburban all-white schools of privalege he is familiar with. He describes in detail the differences in atmosphere -- the way the lunch rooms, classrooms, and study rooms compare in aesthetic -- and he makes this point:

"...Here's what I think: I happen to believe that aesthetic counts. Beautiful surroundings refine the souls of children. Filthy settings coursen their mentalities. It's one of the most absolute and dramatic ways by which we draw the line of race and caste within American society..."

The atmosphere we provide for people to learn, work, and live communicates to them how much we value them. What kind of difference do you think it would make just to have a beautiful or even just "nice looking" atmosphere to learn in?

I have more to write on this later...

January 26, 2006

Current and Upcoming Exhibits and Lectures

Some items of interest:
graphic noise
MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) is hosting an exhibit of band posters. The show is titled "Graphic Noise." I was really sad I didn't find out about the opening party until the day after, but there is some coverage of the party on Minnesota Stories.
Dates:January 15th-February 19th
Gallery Hours: Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: noon to 5 p.m.

Some interesting lectures at the U of M through the TEL seminars:
"THINKING WITH OUR EARS": LEARNING WITH DIGITAL AUDIO
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
402 Walter Library
East Bank, Twin Cities campus
Description:
The panelists will discuss how they use digital audio for teaching and research.

WEB 2.0: PROMOTING COLLABORATION AND STUDENT-CENTERED LEARNING
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
155 Peters Hall
St. Paul, Twin Cities campus
Description:
The panelists will discuss using disruptive Web technologies, including blogs and wikis, for teaching and learning.

TRANSFORMING EDUCATION: ENGAGING STUDENTS WITH TECHNOLOGY
Wednesday, May 3, 2006
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
402 Walter Library
East Bank, Twin Cities campus
Description:
DMC faculty fellows will demonstrate uses of technology that fundamentally change teaching practices and learning experiences.

It looks like there is an interesting exhibition of portraits at the Minnesota Museum of American Art. It is called "Only Human: Exploring Contemporary Portraits." Jason complains a lot that there is little new and interesting to do with photography right now, especially portraits. I'm honestly not even 1/5 as educated in art as he is (even though my BA was in Art), so for better or for worse, I am still in awe by several of the "contemporary" portrait artists. While the movement is small, I am still inspired by some of the aesthetic innovations. I guess you'll have to judge for yourself.
The show runs January 21 through March 26, 2006. I couldn't find their hours on the site, so I guess you'll have to call: 651-266-1030.

blue-art-shanty
Art Shanty Projects on Medicine Lake
I've always has this special fascination with traditional hard-core winter Minnesotan activities like ice fishing, snow shoeing and dog sledding. Maybe because my family only went camping once and that was about the extent of our outdoor adventuring. Anyway, I love the idea of this project and its tie to Minnesota roots. Here's the schedule of events for this weekend:
Jan 28th Saturday
New! Kari Reardon's Lure
come take your picture with the biggest lure in Minnesota.
and send it to k_reardon@hotmail.com
10-4pm The Science Shanty will be open, come find out what Limnology
is and see plankton from Medicine Lake!
11-5pm Knitting Shanty open for knitting, bring your own or learn to knit on
the Shanty Scarf.
12-3pm Jesse Hemminger and his incredible robot will be carving the
surface of the ice!
12-4pm Mike Hoyt's Norae Shanty will be open for singing.
12-4 Seamus Leonard invites musicians to a noise jazz improv on the
ice . Musicians need to bring instruments, a chair, or something to
sit on, and some type of cheap recorder.
1-5pm Vista Shanty open for tea and games
1-5:30pm Rendezvous cafe will be open serving hot drinks and snacks in
exchange for stories.
2pm Author Gretchen Legler will read from her book, "On The Ice" about
her experiences at McMurdo Station in Antartica, the per capita
lesbian capital of the world, on the ice of balmy Medicine Lake.
3pm Fish House Fashion photo shoot, Mary Johnson with Kristen
Abhalter, Helen Franzen, Nikki Schultz, Kelsey Myron, Annie Hanauer,
Brittney Carapezza.
6pm 'After the Fall' a canastoria perfomance by Soozin Hirschmugl
7-10pm: Movies will be shown on David Pitman's CineShanty. (please
note that the movies are not drive-ins at this time so dress warm.)
Jan 29th Sunday
12-4pm Knitting Shanty open for knitting, bring your own or learn to knit on
the Shanty Scarf.
12-3pm Jesse Hemminger and his incredible robot will be carving the
surface of the ice!
1-5pm Vista Shanty open for tea and games
1-5:30pm Rendezvous cafe will be open serving hot drinks and snacks in
exchange for stories
3pm knot tying (or maybe the phonetic alphabet) seminar by Peter
Haakon Thompson in the Think Tank

P.S. and yeah, I totally stole this picture from Rich's blog. :) It was prettier than the other pictures I found.

I'm excited to announce I'm going to the South by Southwest (aka SXSW) festival in Austin, TX in March! Work is sending me to the interactive portion with a colleague, but I've decided to stay on my own for the film and music parts too! Drop me a line if you'll be there or know anyone planning to be there and we'll hook up.

December 20, 2005

Searching By Color

A while back, when I was searching for stock photos for a project, I noticed this little tool as part of the search interface on istockphoto:

istock1.gif

I clicked one of the color swatches and recieved this result:

istock2.jpg

Very cool, an innovative and useful tool. I don't think I've seen the ability to search a photo database by color before. I can't even count how many times I've tweaked an image's overall color to better fit a design - to create more contrast or better match the tone of the rest of the colors in the design.

As I was writing this post, I noticed another helpful part of the search function:

The search returns the keywords most commonly attached to the pictures in your results to help you brainstorm additional terms you could search on. Your search can also include limiting to horizontal or vertical orientated photos, photos/illustrations/vector drawings, and images with people only.

In general, I continue to be impressed by istockphoto -- in addition to reasonable prices and a useful variety of photos, they seem to excel at usable interface design and they foster creativity and interaction in their user group of graphic artists, designers, and photographers. I love the articles, forums (which are always very active and interesting), and artist-of-the-week profiles. This is a great example of a site that nurtures communication with their users and takes their feedback and suggestions to heart with great success.