The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

Something for the Weekend, May 15th, 2009

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The Story of Goddesigner Arthur Cherry discusses his elegant design (which uses Marian Bantjes’ typeface Restraint to such brilliant effect) for the new edition of Michael Lodahlr’s book at FaceOut Books.

A Manifesto — Ted Genoways, the editor of Virginia Quarterly Review, on the future of university presses and journals:

University presidents need to see what articulate ambassadors they have in their journals and presses, what tangible, enduring records they present of the variety and vigor of their sponsoring institutions…[G]reat universities extend well beyond the edges of their campuses. They reach out to the larger world, they challenge and engage the public, and the most effective and enduring way of doing so remains the written word.

HarperCollins Wants to Be Your Friend — Leon Neyfakh looks at publishers and social media in the New York Observer. Ostensibly it’s about the ever so anodyne HarperStudio, but more interesting stuff comes from the other people interviewed:

“I don’t know if it’s a direct response to the fact that publishing is in a very uncertain period right now, or if it’s just an idea whose time has finally arrived, but people right now are really interested in experimenting,” said Ami Greko, a 29-year-old digital marketing manager at Macmillan. “There seems to be a real sense of, ‘Let’s get creative—nothing is set in stone yet, so let’s just try a whole bunch of stuff.’”

Das Buch vom Jazz — The German-language version of The Book of Jazz, illustrated by Cliff Roberts ,  found in a used-bookstore by Today’s Inspiration’s Leif Peng. The black and white illustrations are wonderful.

Moaning Eton-boys & Middle-Aged Hackettes — A great defense of blogging by Nina Power at Infinite Thøught  (via PD Smith on Twitter):

Print media suffers from a lack of space; certainly it is selective, but it is also exclusive — all the stories that don’t get told, the injustices that get covered-up. We may feel we can ‘trust’ print journalists more than bloggers… but the sheer quantity and variety of information online allows for the exposure and discussion of things that might otherwise get ignored.

And finally…

The Tyranny of Data — The New York Times on Douglas Bowman‘s decision to leave his position as top visual designer at Google, and the  limitations of crowd-sourcing design:

“Getting virtually real-time feedback from users is incredibly powerful,” said Debra Dunn, an associate professor at the Stanford Institute of Design. “But the feedback is not very rich in terms of the flavor, the texture and the nuance, which I think is a legitimate gripe among many designers.”

Adhering too rigidly to a design philosophy guided by “Web analytics,” Ms. Dunn said, “makes it very difficult to take bold leaps.”

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