The Dawesome Digest #10
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The Dawesome Digest

Hooked.

As I write the last Dawesome Digest of 2014 The Rolling Stones' Miss You is playing on the stereo. You know the one - the one that goes "Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh Oooh oooh oooh". When that bit comes on you have to sing along doing your best Jagger impression. It's the law. It's also the hook that makes that song so fantastic and it got me thinking; hooks are important and should be present in everything we make, whether that's a piece of music, an app, a website or anything that is designed. Often times these little hooks will be an afterthought or an accident, but they're the wonderful, beautiful little details that for one reason or another resonate with people and become remembered and loved.

Personally I'm yet to make anything to the level of Jagger & Richard's three minute piece of hooky genius, but as long as I have the idea of The Hook in the back of my mind then maybe one day I'll get there.

Now were was I? Oh yeah, "Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh Oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh Oooh oooh oooh".

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Kennedy Is Almost Beautiful

I was really pleased to hear that Kennedy, my app for capturing the now, picked up a silver at the Information is Beautiful awards in London. Also a complete surprise was picking up Best Individual Contribution as well. Not sure what I did to deserve that but it was lovely to receive it. Big thanks to everyone who voted for Kennedy.

Spurred on by the awards I spent December working on a new update which brings much requested iCloud syncing plus lots of interface and graphical tweaks. It's kind of the directors cut version! 

One thing worth mentioning, especially if you make iOS apps yourself, is that I removed all the bitmap graphics from Kennedy and replaced them with vectors that are generated in real-time using the brilliant PaintCode. Doing this shaved off 10MB from the app size and also means the graphics are now resolution independent and nicely future proof. Highly recommend you check it out.

The update is currently awaiting approval by the lovely people at Apple so should be available in the next week or so.

You might also be interested in this little Medium post about one year on from Kennedy too.

Find out more about Kennedy.
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Cinema Redux Installation for New York Boutique Hotel

Take the lifts in The Paul – a brand new boutique hotel in New York – and you'll find two Cinema Redux installations adorning the elevator walls.

When The Paul got in touch and told me where they wanted to site the two pieces I thought it was such a perfect place; a few seconds in the lift allows people to peruse Cinema Redux nice and close, picking out scene after scene. I'm hoping it will also be a great conversation starter.

You can find The Paul in Manhattan, 32 West 29th Street. 
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Thoughts on Designing Information

Talking of Cinema Redux, it's one of the pieces shown in the new book Thoughts on Designing Information by Inge Gobert and Johan Van Looveren.

The book is a beautiful compendium of interviews with various designers known for their information design work including Morag Myerscough, Mark Porter and fourteen others.

Published by Lars Muller Publishers and available from the usual retailers.
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When APIs Go Bad

The first app I ever made was The Accidental News Explorer. Its core idea was that of serendipity in respect of discovering interesting news articles to read – articles you had no idea you were looking for. As you perused a news item you could then look at related news subjects which then brought up more stories and so the journey would begin, chancing on great things to read and share.

All this was powered by an API provided by a company called Daylife. For a long time I had a great relationship with them and they loved the things I would make with their APIs, often using them as case studies for their service. Then about a year ago they got acquired and everything changed. Gone were the developer relationships and instead it was replaced with a subscription service costing many thousands of dollars a month. To be fair to them they did allow me to use the API for free for a quite a while but then a few months ago they finally killed the API I was using and that was that - my app was dead.

Such is the danger of using third party APIs; at any time they can simply turn it off. After all they own it and can do what they want with it. That's the risk you take when using such things.

So I thought maybe this is an opportunity to completely redesign and recode the app from the ground-up using another API – yes I get the irony. This time I'm using one provided by The Guardian and am pleased to say it's working great, complete with a new look and whole new codebase. Should be available in January.
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Last Talks of 2014

November saw my last talks of 2014 including one week were I had talks in Manchester, Bueno Aires and Amsterdam in the space of five days. 

Wunderman Bueno Aires asked me to speak at an event to launch their new initiative, Wunderman Innovation Platform or WIP for short. Myself and two other speakers spoke about prototyping, creating physical things and quickly iterating on products. Having never been to South America before Bueno Aires was a wonderful place to visit especially being looked after so well be all the lovely people I met at the agency. Whilst it's great to see these new places the thing I really love is meeting such smart people and the conversations that then ensue.  And yes, there was much consumption of steak.

Then it was on to a flight via Rome to head for my first ever Internet of Things conference, Thingscon in Amsterdam. Having seen the photos from the one day conference I have to admit I looked rather wrecked having stepped off the plane and gone straight to the event. The event itself was fab - really interesting array of speakers all trying to make sense of the so called Internet of Things. Have a look at the summary if you get chance.

A Box Full Of Happiness

The National Centre for Craft and Design kindly featured The Happiness Machine in their recent exhibition all about data. After it was all over they sent the Happiness Machine back complete with every receipt that had been printed over the course of the show. There was a lot. 

It was a great taking a few moments to rummage through them, reading these very random mentions of happiness from complete strangers from across the web. I  really don't think reading these things on a screen would have had the same effect. 

2015

I was recently asked by a magazine what was my New Year's resolution. I really wanted to say that I never make them but I answered by saying "I want to continue to learn things I know nothing about".

This year has seen me do a lot of that; doing things I know how to do is to my mind quite boring. On the other hand discovering something new is always exciting. There's the geeky stuff I've learned this years like new strategies I now employ in data visualisation work all the way over to learning this thing called Node.ja and really loving it. And then there's the other stuff like learning that it's not the best policy to do a knee jerk tweet to a load of students you've just lectured too, saying how disappointed you were in their seeming lack of enthusiasm. That didn't end well. I later realised that actually my talk was a bit shit - I was being lazy, rehashing old stuff, doing what I had done countless times before. Those students were right. In the end I was thankful to them.

The beginning of the year I'll be able to talk about a project I've just finished for a new client that certainly involved doing things I didn't know how to do. Really pleased with the end result and can't wait to see what people make of it. On top of that is some other data visualisation work with new clients including one involving beer, exhibitions in Munich and Madrid, a multiscreen installation in Paris and an exciting collaboration with one of my favourite designers / illustrators. Plus there may even be a new product launch. Maybe.

Thanks for reading and have a wonderful end to 2014!

Elsewhere

A few things I've bumped into since the last issue...
Learn to code with Anna and Elsa from Frozen, Aaron Draplin takes on the logo deign challenge, Richard Feynman presents Quantum Electrodynamics for the non-scientist, nine year old prototypes his own prosthetic arm, the 25 most admired typefaces by typographers, Lego instructions from 1974, loved Enchanted Objects by David Rose.
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