(re)Launched: Matthew Byrne

After a few weeks of planning, photographing and coding, Matthew and I launched his new site this week.

Built with WordPress, the wonderfully extendable HTML5 theme, Toolbox from Automattic, and featuring  Backstretch, a jQuery plugin from Scott Robbin, to make the backgrounds flex and stretch across the screen.

The site has already been picked up by Design Fridge and The Best Designs. Lets just hope some of the flood of new visitors are music fans!

A junkie in a sea of data

Dave Pell has written about this before.

Just days after he was added to The Deck advertising network, just days after he opened the doors to his house to let in the uncivilized hoards, and, presumably, just days after his crack-cocaine-like addiction to website analytics began, Dave wrote about the plight of a man addicted to quantifying his own popularity.

He wrote eloquently about how this plight would eventually (soon?) be the cause of his demise, leaving him a homeless, lonesome, broken man.

He writes:

If Facebook and Twitter are the recreational party drugs of this era, then realtime website analytics programs are like oxycontin, crack, PCP, meth and uncut Red Bull all blended into a combustible concoction that is self-administered via a slow but constant ethernet-to-intravenous drip.

The article leaves you strangely uneasy as you glance inwardly at yourself, measuring up all of your obsessive, minute-to-minute data-checking behaviours against his.

—”I’m not that bad, am I?”
You pray. But already you know that it’s true.

The real uneasy part of the article, however, comes at the end when Dave admits to us, and perhaps for the first time to himself, that there is no cure. There is no cure, no remedy, no behaviour pattern you can begin to modify. There isn’t even so much as a shred of hope that you might actually be able to beat this thing. By the time you even identify with this article or his, it’s already too late. You’re already checking to see how many hits you’ve had today, how many pingbacks, how many @replies, how many retweets.

By the time you’ve read this, you’re all ready a desperate, ravenous, hopeless data junkie, walking the earth aimlessly searching for your next traffic spike. You’re just another ‘statistic’ if you’ll allow me the pun.

You poor, poor soul.

Old Man Luedecke

Spent a great evening yesterday listening to the environmentally-tinged stylings of old-timey banjo playing Old Man Luedecke. Start (and literally finish) here if you’ve not heard him before.

Good enough

Ira Glass has been haunting me for weeks.

I’ve been struggling with a design for a new project for weeks and weeks. It doesn’t really have a lot of images I could use, nor does it have any major typographical element I could make stand out, nor does it have a central hook that I could play with somehow. It just doesn’t have anything jumping out of the page. Yet, I know that if a better designer looked at the scattered piles of material, they’d come up with something amazing. I just know they would. They’d see something I’m not seeing and make it interesting, make it compelling. It would be great by virtue of its starkness if nothing else.

What you’re left with if you haven’t found that compelling angle to run with is something that’s just good enough. What you’re left doing is just gathering up all the content, styling it neatly with a tidy grid, using nice fonts and a nice subtle, tasteful background, with a nicely crafted menu, and then you sit about and secretly loathe it. You haven’t designed anything at this stage: you’ve cobbled something together. Using bits and pieces of your aesthetic and your style, you cobble. But you don’t design.

The same thing that makes something good enough is precisely the same thing that makes it crap. I really wish Ira had spent more time talking about how we get past this.