Twitter Swaps the Default Avatar Egg for a Gumdrop

How writing differs from content creating.

Harry McCracken, writing for Fast Company’s Co.Design, goes “Inside Twitter’s Obsessive Quest to Ditch the Egg

Quote:

“Starting today…the egg is history. Twitter is dumping the tarnished icon for a new default profile picture–a blobby silhouette of a person’s head and shoulders, intentionally designed to represent a human without being concrete about gender, race, or any other characteristic. Everyone who’s been an egg until now, whatever their rationale, will automatically switch over.”

I’ve been known to mock coverage of logo redesigns at large technology companies; especially those projects that end up with something looking like clip-art from a stock service. (For instance, that time I explained how Hammock Inc.’s logo was designed.)


In an era when “content creators” are judged by the number of keywords they can pack between commas, it’s nice to read the way Harry demonstrates the craft of writing with both wit and insight.:

Quote:

Instead of defaulting to the perfectly spherical head of a restroom-signage figure, the designers began playing with other approaches. They gravitated toward a gumdrop-like shape and found it had Rorschach Test-like qualities. “The second you start playing with head shape, you start thinking, ‘Oh, this might not just be a single gender,’” says Cotton. “Is that a man with a beard? Is that a woman with a bob?” Rounding off the shoulders, they found, also helped them create a symbol for “human being” that wasn’t freighted with any specific characteristics.

That said, I don’t think this is going to be one of those days that people will recall and feel the need to tell their grandchildren where they were the day they heard the news that Twitter got rid of the egg.

via: Techmeme

 

This Interactive Chart is Great, Except for How it’s Not

I really want to love this epic interactive chart on NYTimes.com as much as I’ve loved previous ones.

It certainly succeeds in what it set out to do: present data in a visual form that comes as close as possible to demonstrating the unequal distribution of economic impact during the period in time popularly called, “the Great Recession.” I want to love it because it is so rooted in principles I appreciate as a reader: the use of devices such as “sparklines” that enable a vast array of datapoints to be displayed together, in one cohesive, easily comprehensible block.

Read more “This Interactive Chart is Great, Except for How it’s Not”

Learning by Doing Always Beats Talking About Theory

I’m also constantly amazed at how “not knowing what you don’t know” leads you to do things that don’t work…but provides you insight into what might.

We just flipped the switch on SmallBusiness.com’s first major technical and design upgrade since launching its daily-content Main Page section last November. (We call the new section, the “flow” side, to balance with the “know” side of the site, the 29,000 page SmallBusiness.com WIKI.)

The design changes are various, depending on what size screen you’re viewing it. However, the technical changes are all about increasing the speed of the site. And they worked. So long, little engine that could, but we know there are plenty of bugs that will show up.

Read more “Learning by Doing Always Beats Talking About Theory”

Designing the impossible – a simple chart that interprets a mountain of data

Artists Shan Carter and Amanda Cox created the interactive chart in the video I’ve embedded below. (Added later: There is now a permanent spot for the graphic on NYTimes.com: here.) It is appearing this afternoon on the front page of NYTimes.com and interprets exit polling data from the entire Democratic Party presidential primary campaign. My video is a quick screencast (a video screengrab) of me clicking through the tabs of data that are displayed in the graphic. (What I didn’t show was how a cursor-hover reveals data related to each state box.)

I believe it’s an impressive (dazzling) use of subtle interactive-animation and information design that effectively translates a mountain of incomprehensible data into an understandable statistical narrative. I’m especially struck by the way the NYTimes artists eschewed colors and relied on the animation and the relative placement of data to interpret the statistics. For a chart junkie (I confess), I’m impressed that it is strongly visual, yet at the same time, is very “un” info-graphic. This is serious information design porn, in other words. (For future readers, today is the last day of the marathon 2008 Democratic Party presidential primary campaign.)

Credits that appeared with the graphic: Source: Edison/Mitofsky exit poll Design: Shan Carter and Amanda Cox