Given that the day on which Leah, J.D., Jeff, Mayo and I will all be physically present in the studio together on a routine basis is swiftly approaching, we’ll be needing more space in short order. Counting Nurri and the Do projects desk co-located with us, we make a healthy pod of six, and that’s just too many for the cozy little area we’ve enjoyed since January.
Word on the street is that one of the other practices we share the space with may be looking for another situation, and that would be the best scenario of all; we’re happy where we are, and we’d be able to simply grow in place. Nevertheless, we’d appreciate it if you could let us know about any downtown-Manhattan space you’re aware of that would be appropriate for a practice like ours — it never hurts to have other options.
- With a technical framework for Transitflow taking shape in J.D.’s capable hands, it’s clear that there are many things the app can do; the task now is to determine what it should do. To answer these questions, Jeff set out to work out more granularly how people might actually use Transitflow, by generating a series of detailed user flows and relatively high-resolution UI sketches.
The philosophy that’s emerging is straightforward and often-articulated, but seemingly surprisingly difficult for many design organizations to enact: Transitflow should strive, in all things, to provide users with exactly as much information as is actionable and relevant at a given point in space and time, no more and no less.
In practice, this means a map that’s automatically adjusted based on the density of transit options in a given area, so there’s no need to zoom and scroll it. It means providing enough information about what’s happening at the stops and stations it depicts that, once one is selected, users will rarely find themselves hitting a “back” button to look at other options. And it means that if all goes well, once a user is notified that it’s time to head out to catch a bus or train, he or she won’t have to interact with the application again on that trip.
With Leah developing the base cartography that will bind these interactions together, and our friend Ryan Sullivan ginning up some top-notch graphic assets, we’re looking forward to bringing all the moving parts together in a working prototype, and seeing how close to the mark we’ve hit.
- At the tail end of last week, Mayo found himself in the English countryside, at an event called Laptops and Looms. Held in the world’s first water-powered cotton mill, Arkwright’s Cromford Mill, this meeting of thirty or so was billed as a “small get-together to talk about the world of Making, how it might intersect with the Internet of Things and what implications that might have for Futures of Manufacturing and all manner of related things.”
Mayo says he found the event valuable “both as a designer who makes things, and as someone who works for a company trying to get things made,” and notes that it sparked a chain of thoughts about what making and manufacturing — and the spaces and facilities that underwrite them — mean for cities, countries, and regions. You can find a fuller writeup of his thoughts on his own blog.
This week finds him back in London, working on Urbanflow and Transitflow and preparing for the big leap ‘cross the black Atlantic.
- A few upcoming events of note:
First, a reminder that Iconathon NYC is coming up on the 10th September. This New York session is dedicated to generating icons and symbols relevant to the broad theme of transportation; we’ll be giving a short presentation on the use we make of such iconography in our work, as will Jake Barton of Local Projects.
A few days later, on 14th September, I’m giving an all-new talk at this year’s PICNIC, which’ll be my first time in the big room in a few years. As ever, there’s mad beloved speaking at PICNIC — aforementioned Jake, Commodore Matt Cottam, Usman Haque, Ben Hammersley, Chris Heathcote and Beeker Northam of Dentsu London, inter many alia — and if you happen to be in Amsterdam that week, I cannot imagine a context in which you’ll find a denser node of bright, fun people.
The presentation I’ll be giving is called “‘Another City Is Possible’: Dreaming networked urbanism, and doing it,” and it’s basically a reality check as to where we find ourselves, after a solid decade of smart city rhetoric and hype (including not a little generated by ys tly). This will be the first talk I’ve done that’s grounded in the day-in/day-out experience of running a shop dedicated to actually building the things we’ve all been talking about for so long, so it should be reasonably enlightening.
And on October 5th, I’ll be appearing with awesome Laura Kurgan at a session on “Information and the City” (!), held at the offices of Forbes Magazine. Very unfortunately, this particular event is not open to the public…but if you really wanna go, and you ping me earlyish, I’ll see what I can do.
- We’ve heard what you have to say about the limitations of our current website, and have just started a comprehensive redesign intended to give both first-time and repeat visitors to the site a better idea of what we’re all about, who we are, where we are and how to engage us on projects.
This will probably be the last thing you hear about it until we launch the new version, but I thought you should know we were not merely listening to but taking action upon your feedback.
- And that’s about it for now. Hurricane Irene is on its way in, and while the latest forecasts call for the worst of the storm to miss the city, we’re not taking any chances.
New York City just announced a mandatory evacuation of the lowest-lying areas, which frankly feels a little surreal, especially in the wake of this week’s highly unusual earthquake; New Yorkers will want to make sure what zone you’re in, and plan accordingly.
With about 36 hours to go until the first serious wind and rain is upon us, now would be a good time to stock up on drinking water, nonperishable food, candles, baby and pet supplies, and so on. (Jeff was just out getting duct tape for the windows here, and reports that the hardware stores are jammed full of the kind of people who never set foot in hardware stores. Try to go today, because the shelves may well be empty by tomorrow.)
Please take excellent care of yourselves, then, and if we’ve all done our jobs correctly we’ll see you here next week, after all has blown over and everyone is safe and sound.