Early Failure of CommunicationOver half a decade ago I wrote up a specification for a leading operating distribution entitled "Transition Effects."
From the 19th of August, 2006, I wrote:
"The current existing set of transition effects in omitted are both entirely restrictive, limited, and implemented in a very rough manner. If omitted is to compete on a worldwide level, the entire end user experience must feel polished and contemporary. Establishing a transition effects library, while a larger prospect, would have a high cost-benefit effect, as the results are clearly seen throughout the entire omitted experience, at nearly every user interaction."What happened?
Nothing. Not even an eye blink. Not even a comment.
I have since long removed the specification, and it took a trip through my GMail to even locate the post.
The saddest part of this is that I failed miserably to compel others to action. I failed horrifically in explaining precisely the value of transitions and why I believed they would become a serious keystone in our interactions with computing systems and experiential models. A march from a largely static era to one that, although currently nascent, was begging for an immersive cinematic presentation.
I failed, despite having the agency to communicate the vision to high(est) level individuals at the organization, to shape the vision in such as way to make it clear to the intended audience.
My failure still burns in a latent way when I remember this particular document. A clear and loud "You have failed miserably to communicate my boy!"
I think we all know what happened on June 29th, 2007. It frustrates me that transitions were a key aspect to the overall experience model.
Another FailureAt some point in the past, there was a focus on generating a custom typeface for a leading operating system distribution. At the time, while it was a long overdue moment, I was rather confused by the trend toward a heavily hinted version. Hinting is a technique that bends the lower level math curves of a typeface down to a rigid grid of pixels. In many ways it is a 'cheat' to resolve type onto a lower resolution grid.
My thinking at the time was that it seemed like we were heading toward a high density era. After all, how would our screens continue to wallow at HD when computer displays had, for a long time prior, eclipsed such resolution levels? Further, was it not logical that we would evolve toward the printing density standard of 300DPI?
Technology CreepTechnology creeps in. It can sneak up on us. Every now and then a development might happen that snaps us awake out of our somnambulistic state that makes us go "Wow, we have come quite a ways!"
I still fondly remember the nostalgia of some of the earliest video games on an old Apple desktop computer. Monochrome green. Clunky bleepy bloopy audio. Crusty joysticks.
But damn be I to think there wasn't something there. Something glimmering in the crust while parents chanted the derision of "You'll never make money playing video games!"
I would like to think I hold onto a reminder to always contextualize the technology in front of me. Always try to evaluate it from where it came and why.
(Probably) Another FailureI'm speculating that I'll fail again miserably to make a case for the point of this posting. Part of it is nothing more than a mental journal of where I am at a given point, although I've been thinking along these lines for a while.
The bulk of this post's point goes as follows:
- That computing limitations placed fabricated constraints on our design paradigms in the past. Those historical limitations have become an accepted part of our Eurowestern computing aesthetic.
- That said aesthetic closely parallels a now dated and transitioning phase known as late Modernist. In particular, the rigidity of the Modernist Architecture and Swiss Modernist movement. After all, the Eighties ushered in Postmodernism, which would suggest notions of late Modernism should be on last legs.
- That avant garde artists of the past are often leaned on to provide vision and guidance for alternate visions of our possible futures.
- That there are contemporary ideological shifts potentially within view. Historically, cultural ideological trends are spoken through a culture's art, design, and creative fields.
That rigid, late Modernist grids and lines are a vestige of the past. Ideologically pressured by the late Modernists and echoed through technological constraints.
With the dissolving of those technological traits and the potential for contemporary ideological shift, the resulting question is "Why not now?"
The Brilliance of the Early SovietsLittered throughout this posting are some works from the early Soviets.
I won't go into detail with regards to most of this era other than to suggest that any reader would be greatly enriching their minds by studying the work of the early Soviet imagers, artists, designers, and cinema makers. Lissitzky, Vertov, Constructivism, Suprematism, Mayakovsky, Shukov, Rodchenko, and the list goes on and on. Nor will you find easy links here, as the hope is that you will discover them for yourselves if they are new to you.
The graphic design from this era was so pronounced, so imbued with ideological change, and so emblematic of a new era in imaging design that it is repeatedly referenced as a critical era in graphic design. The design motifs and tendrils linger in the modern publishing we see today.
So, Where Does it Go?In a dream...
Gone will be late Modernist grids, with their industrialized rigidity. The pressure will come from a synergy of technological ability coupled with an ideological shift. Late Modernist's insistence on tiles, grids, and the motifs of such will wane in synchronicity with the ideological constructs of industrialization. Sameness will be equated with the negative connotations of Eurowestern hyper industrialization.
In their place will be diagonals. Perhaps your music application will have a notification that angles in from the corner of your screen. Perhaps we will see more curves, and not just in the dated rounded-corner-identical-everywhere paradigms. A new era of young computer interface designers that re-contextualize precisely where we are now, not where we were. A new generation of brilliant minds that aren't prohibited by the aesthetic hegemony of a bygone generation.
A file manager that illustrates an out of interaction focus by being slid off to the side and angled. A visual communication of "in focus" and "out of focus" via angular vernacular.
Photo applications that generate visual energy by a conflict of lines. Desktops and devices that are vastly less brittle than the current trend of over-organizational uniformity. Huxley's Will to Order dashed wide open with photos that land, drift, and shift akin to pictures resting on a coffee table, complete with the Eurowestern cinematic eye of depth of field, soundscape, and immersion.
Perhaps it will echo those early Soviet Avant Gardes. Perhaps it will be an evolutionary shift where instead of a radical departure, we see motifs and designs that are closely aligned with that early Soviet work.
Further ReadingOne particular Tumblr link that covers so much on the Soviet Avant Garde.
 If you are a keener and want to drudge up the past, you can find the link at someone's site that should be writing vastly more than he currently is. A clever mind that appears to have wandered away from the candle of creation. Perhaps help him relight it...
 I still believe that the erroneous assumptions individuals made with the advent of HD, such as being more resolved than film, led to the stagnation on this front.