The Return of the Blog

After a lengthy hiatus, I have decided to again blog.  Since my last post, I have worked in professional environments for two years, have married my kind, loving, sweet, gentle husband who is the love of my life, and have born our first child.   Now I stay at home with our darling daughter, and I am attempting to return to the art of writing regularly.

I know that I want to write, but with so many ideas and interests swirling about the grid that is my brain, I am having difficulty deciding on a focus.  Thus, in the next few months I will be writing about various topics to hone my interests.

My Current Interests

Making Bible study a priority in my life is one of my current goals.  I know that I must be knowledgeable about the Bible in order to guide my daughter through life.  Furthermore, I need to focus on Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World to borrow the phrase from Joanna Weaver, author of the course I am currently studying.  You will see posts about what I am learning during my Bible study, prayer time, and probably life applications.

Along those same lines, the making of a family-oriented home is also a top priority right now.  I cook for my family with fresh vegetables from the local farmer’s market.  Trying to keep my family as healthy as possible and maintain a budget-friendly home takes a lot of time, energy, research, and experimentation.  So I will be writing about my recipes, health tips I learn, DIY projects, and my own personal garden growing adventures!

AllisonMy background is graphics and video, so naturally these topics are of great interest to me.  However, with an infant in the house, my time devoted to creation is slim to none.  However, I may occasionally create a graphic or review a book or a movie and post it here and on my other blog, Boutwell Productions.

So without further ado, expect my first post before the day turns Saturday!

Allison L. Goodman

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Typeface Perception

People see typefaces all day long, but the ones they actually perceive are unique in some way.  Helvetica is boring and overused, so people don’t notice it.  Some typefaces are associated with store brands, other types lend themselves to what they are selling or have a logo-like quality, while still others are used for emotional impact.  Typefaces oftentimes immobilize a person’s perspective.

“There’s a Starbucks!”
That’s what some people can automatically figure out from seeing just two dark green box-like letters.  While a lot of stores use free or everyday fonts, some have fonts created just for them.  These are the most memorable because they are seen in one context, the context of the particular company.  These fonts especially trigger memories when color is associated.  The Snickers font is another good example.

Look-Alikes and Faces
Sometimes typefaces look like what they are selling.  Like one of the critics mentioned in the documentary, Helvetica, grunge fonts are popular for out-of-the-norm, subculture, or counterculture music (Helvetica).  Interested buyers can look for the grunge appearance and know that they are buying what they like.  Other typefaces truly become a kind of face.  These types are a kind of logo in which the font is used for the title of the company, but an image is included with the typeface as a kind of extension.  The Unique Landscaping truck exemplifies this concept through its use of the open sun as the dot on the “i”.  If a palm tree is attached to the font or is an extension of the font, the viewer automatically assumes one of a few things: the company is about the beach, landscaping, or vacations, or otherwise has calm and happy implications.

Chills up Your Spine
Typefaces can positively or negatively affect a viewer’s emotions.  Take Chiller for example.  It is often used to imply something scary, but it could probably be used to resemble something chilly (cold).  Robin Williams uses Pious Henry as an example in her book, The Non-Designer’s Design Book (160).  This decorative font doesn’t seem like it would work for a serious adage, but it actually mimics long tree trunks (160).  The same thing happens with the flyswim decorative font (150).  Williams writes that “the entire piece of prose has a more exciting visual attraction and a greater energy due to the contrast of type (150, emphasis added).  Flyswim is also decorative, but it copies the movement of emotions in the solemn work.

Differing Type
The use of differing typefaces is another matter altogether.  Headings in a different typeface from copy often draw attention.  Unreadable type may trigger negative perceptions of a company.  If a company uses more than one typeface, it can turn customers away.  Or if a company changes their typeface after so many years and customers dislike the new appearance, customers may boycott the company over type!  Certain types and type format are associated with different things, such as IRS forms or other legal documents. 

Type Conventions
Type conventions immobilize or jar perceptions of a specific text.  Seeing Times New Roman or other serif fonts may trigger thoughts of academic work or narratives.  When Times New Roman is used outside of essays or novels, viewers may wonder why that typeface was used.  Certain typefaces are used for certain things: Helvetica is used for street signs, Times New Roman for heavy reading, and other sans serif fonts for legal documents (Helvetica).  If a typeface is used out of the convention it is ordinarily presented in, a viewer may be momentarily thrown off.  Conventions cue the reader about the type of subject they will be reading about.

Typefaces can be displayed different ways, and they mostly cue the readers on the emotions or content of text.  Some fonts are company-specific; others have associated images; decorative fonts give off emotional cues.  Type conventions organize typefaces and help readers sift through content.

Works Cited
Helvetica.  Dir. Gary Hustwit.  Perf. Michael Bierut, Neville Brody, Dimitri Bruni.  Swiss Dots, 2007.  Streaming.

Williams, Robin.  The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice.  Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press, 2008.  Print.

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Usability, Affordability, and Duration

As I was watching Objectified, I realized for the first time that everything around me is designed.  One part of the film talked about the design of a potato peeler and how designers took women with arthritis into account.  At that point, I wondered “Then why am I using that lousy potato peeler that isn’t big enough and hurts?!”  If good design is out there, then why are poor designs purchased?  Good design depends on many variables which Objectified talked about, such as usability, affordability, and duration.

Good designs are often more expensive.  The film even mentioned that society is led to believe that good design is more expensive (Objectified).  If something is designed, products must have good designers, and the better designers charge more money, but Target (also mentioned in the film) seems to have great designs at affordable prices (Objectified).  According to an article entitled “Expensive?” by Ricability,

A Phoneability study which looked at the cost of adding accessible features to telephones (see reference 21) found that 20 of the 44 features identified could have been added at no or minimal cost.  Most peoples [sic] needs can be met by simple adjustments which use standard and easily available technologies (“Expensive?”).

The same article later said that,

The US has mandatory standards for the accessibility of electronic and information technology products bought by federal agencies. Estimates of the additional costs of making products accessible (see reference 22) were calculated to be between 0.2 and 2.8 per cent of the amount spent on information technology. This extra cost was expected to be recouped through consequent savings (“Expensive?”).

Product duration is another issue that must be taken into account with designs.  Again, pricing comes into factor here: many times longer-lasting items are more expensive because of higher quality.  The documentary points out that everything designed ends up in a landfill, but how long does the design last before it gets there (Objectified)?  Good design should last a long time.  However, what may constitute design aesthetically may not be designed well in quality or duration.  Take laptops for example: laptops are designed to be portable, and they also look very sleek.  However, laptops usually last two to five years, whereas desktop computers last longer.  Why?  Better design for duration leads to longer lives for desktop computers, but better size and aesthetic design evidently leads to a shorter lifespan for laptops.  ArchDaily’s article, “Dieter Rams 10 Principles of ‘Good Design,’” describes each of Rams’ 10 principles, including this principle: “Good Design Is Long-lasting: It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated.  Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today’s throwaway society” (Rosenfield).  This point is interesting because many objects that users think “have good design” are fashionable and trendy, Target being a good example of this fashionable design.  Rams would say that such designs are trashed sooner.  As these examples show, design duration depends both on durability and appearance, not just on one factor exclusively.

Objectified covered many aspects of design, but usability, affordability, and duration stand out as major issues affecting design.  According to the film and other sources, usability and duration do not have to affect pricing very much, yet in society such factors do affect pricing.  The main concept to be learned is that good design can be affordable.  Just go to Target!

Works Cited

“Expensive?”  Ricability.  Ricability, Research Institute for Consumer Affairs. n.d,  Web.  01       April 2012.

Objectified.  Dir. Gary Hustwit.  Perf. Paola Antonelli, Chris Bangle, Andrew Blauvelt.  Swiss     Dots, 2009.  Streaming.

Rosenfield, Karissa.  “Dieter Rams 10 Principles of “Good Design.”  ArchDaily. ArchDaily, 09    Jan. 2012.  Web.  01 April 2012.

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Trust and Contentedness

Trust in God doesn’t come easy, especially in a culture that teaches you to trust no one.  I’m in the midst of my job search.  At times it seems to go really well, and other times it seems…kind of…impossible to find a job in my career field.  I was reading Numbers 21:1-9 today and realized that I am just as bad as the Israelites.  For at least the past 5 chapters the Israelites have been hot-cold, hot-cold in their attitudes toward God.  They complain and blame Moses, Aaron, and God, then God sends a plague, fire, serpents, or other bad things, and the Israelites repent.  It’s an endless cycle of blame-repent, complain-repent.

I thought about how I complain a lot, and haven’t been trusting God with my job hunt.  God showed himself holy through the Israelites’ complaints (Numbers 20:13).  The Israelites should have just trusted God.  So should I.  Then I thought of Elspeth in my short film, Deployed.  I’m just like the Israelites, and I’m just like Elspeth when she throws down her Bible and blames God for not saving Jason and not providing her a job.  Philippians 4:11 came to mind: “for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”  I thought I should just be content, but when I looked up the verse, I had not realized there was a section that comes before: “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.”  This verse is speaking in terms of needs and wants, not just any situation.

I continued reading.  “12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.  13I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).  I had never connected verse 11 with verse 13 before.  I need a job, and “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”  I will find a job.  But it’s up to God what job I get.  Proverbs 16 says, “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord,” and later “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:1, 9).

While I am searching and waiting for a job, I’m trusting in God to provide the answers.  Meanwhile, I will be content with what he has given me.  It’s a blessing in disguise, really.

Blessings:

  • Time off
  • Rest (Psalm 127:2)
  • Time to actively search for a job
  • Time to do personal projects
  • Time to volunteer
  • Time to spend with friends

and ultimately,

  • Time to spend with Him and grow spiritually.
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It’s No Longer Sci-Fi

Google Glasses could be like wearing an iPhone in front of your eyes.  The sci-fi look could be “in” by the end of this year if the technology is released and catches on.  Gizmodo says that the Google team in charge of the prototype has “opened it up to the public to solicit ideas about what people actually want from a set of augmented reality specs.”  The following video shows what this “reality” will actually look like.

These glasses allow for hands-free conversation and information search, but the question is, are they socially acceptable and safe?  Distractions are inevitable in local conversations and could endanger drivers.  In addition, people don’t like to talk sometimes, and the glasses respond to verbal commands.  On top of that, surrounding people could get confused and think a user is talking to them.

These glasses are not much different than having the internet or apps on mobile phones.  The main difference is that they provide hands-free access to information.  Google glasses exemplify convergence with their ability to take photos, create reminders, and talk to others via text or video.  While they would make life easier, they could be even more distracting than cell phones posing problems for drivers.  Not to mention, users must wear them.  The long-awaited future of wearable augmented reality has come.

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Google Doodle and Stop Motion: a Curious Mix of Old and New Media

Old media celebrated by new media.  That’s what Google Doodle does occasionally as they immortalized Eadweard J. Muybridge.

Muybridge was a photography pioneer.  According to the Los Angeles Times, he invented the Zoopraxiscope.  The article also mentions that Muybridge is famous for using over 12 cameras to photograph a horse in motion, likely his most famous contribution to mankind.

New media, like the internet, has enabled other ways to view and alter such old media as photography, film, and television.  Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising when Google remixes Muybridge’s original photographs with the shapes of Google’s letters on the internet.

To take it a step further, Muybridge’s horse contribution would be considered a stop motion video nowadays, something that could be considered new media.  Stop motion is viewed as video even though it consists of photographs.  It mixes two media to form a new medium all its own.

Google Doodle immortalized the old medium inventor, Muybridge, and repurposed his pre-period creations within the new medium of the internet.  And who knew that stop motion was invented in the 1800s!

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When Brick-and-Mortar Meets Online

Few stores do not have websites, and technology retailers, such as Best Buy, are shutting down stores in part because of the internet, digital downloads, and lesser demand.  Video game discs, for example, are on their way out as the digital world ushers in downloadable games, leading to the decline in brick-and-mortar retailers.  Mark Gerhard, CEO of the game company Jagex, said that he thinks disc distribution of video games will significantly decrease in the next 10 years.  Instead, companies will distribute games in digital formats.  Downloads could lead brick-and-mortar stores to fail unless they use digital means to satisfy their customers.

Internet downloads make shopping easier as people purchase items with a couple of clicks instead of consuming gas and time to visit physical retailers.  Also, online stores, like Amazon, are offering competitive prices compared to physical stores.  As a result of decreased purchasing of tangible products and because of competitors, brick-and-mortar stores will decline unless they move toward the internet market.

Best Buy is simply trying a different business strategy, but some physical retailers are using the Web to keep customers via their iPhones: according to NPR, “Retailers could use this technology to build apps to guide customers through their store aisles to specific products, or even deliver discounts and coupons based on where people are standing in any particular store.”  The NPR report below provides more information.

http://www.npr.org/v2/?i=149463201&m=149480693&t=audio

Brick-and-mortar retailers could use apps to increase in-store purchases, or they could offer more products on their website to attract and maintain customer loyalty.  The internet and digital world can work for brick-and-mortar retailers if these retailers embrace the new technologies, like apps, surrounding them.

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