Online privacy has been the hot topic of the minute for quite a while now; It seems that many people are distrustful of the internet, and the ability of shadowy figures lurking at some far off computer to peer into their hard drives most intimate secrets. But the truth is, people are infinitely more vulnerable to identity theft from the papers they leave lying around, and the contents of their wallets. Luckily, this is precisely where designers can help them out.
Tell Us What You Really Think
After a long hiatus, and lots of cursing and wading through PHP code, we have controlled comment span to a point that we can handle. So dig in you guys. We know you've been dying to comment on some of the last few week's stories. In fact, why not give us your two cents on these favorites:
Trading Up and The New Design Middle Class
After our post on Wednesday about the widening design middle class, we got some great E-mail responses with what you all thought (Incidentally, we think we finally may have the spam trouble under control. Look for comments to be back up next week). Particularly interesting was John Jenson's comment about the concept of "trading up" to selectively chosen luxuries. We thought it was worth a closer look.
The Growing Design Middle Class
Much of the recent history of the developed world (And probably a lot of the history of design) is built around the emergence of a middle class. This social structure gets a lot of hype, probably because so many people consider themselves a part of it. But this group has given rise to a phenomenon within products that is similar enough to be called a "middle class of design". And its effect on the world is just as profound as its social twin.
Music To Your Ears
Every once in a while, it's a good idea to think a little about how there's always more than one way to skin a cat. In fact, in most cases, there are an unbelievable number of ways. Lately, we've been reading up on experimental musical instruments, and as you might imagine, the problem of making sounds that appeal to people has found answers that have to be seen to be believed.
Built For Breakdown
You learned it as far back as 6th grade -- recycling is the coolest. And if you're trying to recycle a soda can, or glass bottle, it couldn't be easier. But pop bottles and plastic grocery bags are quickly being outpaced by consumer electronics and household accessories as the dominant waste stream in the developed world. Since these new waste sources are complex assemblies that do not lend themselves to reuse or recycling, simply planning end-of-life strategies are not enough. We need to develop products which acknowledge that they will someday die.
Search Me. Then Check Me Out.
Social software made a giant splash about a year ago, and then it sort of tapered off. Maybe people got so many friendster contacts, and just couldn't make use of all of them. But even in the lull after the initial hit, socially connected software and hardware are poised to be the next big internet experience.
Oranges Are Good For You (And The Earth)
Two of the top stories of the last year have been that world oil production is peaking, and that climate change is real, and human-caused. And interestingly, this week, Cornel University researchers announced a new type of plastic which is a first step toward addressing both problems. Thank your lucky stars for oranges.
Don't Be So SAD
The utter gloom that falls over Chicago this time of year reminds us that SAD -- Seasonal Affective Disorder -- is a significant, and growing problem for people in far northern latitudes. But, despite our current SAD induced funk, this sickness is one of the many that insightful design is helping to make less of a burden.
Working For The GNH
By now, you've seen the giant book put together by MIT prof. and photographer Michael Hawley about the Himalayan country of Bhutan. But you might not have heard that recently this last remaining Buddhist kingdom made a major decision to focus it's government on raising the GNH -- Gross National Happiness -- of its people. This sounds like a joke, but they are completely serious. And that has to make the concept interesting, right?
Facing the Muzak
You've probably seen the newest thing in bar technology. It's not those giant "Yard of ale" novelty cups, or even Movieoke. Nope, it's the good old jukebox... Except now, this bubbling lightbox can play you any of 150,000 songs upon request(around 2 million in Europe). And that has bar and club owners weighing the merits of freedom to choose verses the danger of freedom to ruin.
If You Can't Beat Em, Raise Your Prices!
In the wake of Apple's Macworld announcement of the pared-down Mac Mini, you might not think you would see lots of PC makers jumping the bandwagon going the other way. But sure enough, this morning's news trawl had this little nugget
Really Emotional Design
How do you feel right now. Are you happy? Bored? Maybe a little angry? How do those emotions effect your ability to make toast? Or work? Or drive a car? What if you were an airline pilot and your work was delivering 300 people safely to their destination, and you were having a snippy day? Emotions can have a profound influence on how we interact with the objects and people. And soon designers may be able to respond to that.
Piracy Goes Big Time
Well, it had to happen eventually. Normally restricting their efforts to cheaper consumer products and DVD's, Pirates at low-wage factories in the orient have gone after the big fish. Wanna buy a car out of the back of my van dude?
Kick That Wicked Funk
Aromatherapy is one of those fringe practices that we could never quite get our heads around. You're supposed to sit in a room with a candle... And it makes you better able to do your homework, or feel happy, or whatever? Kind of on the same level as Tarot cards for us. But maybe not for long. New twists on the same old tree are bringing scent closer and closer to design.
The End Of Place
Visitors of Motorola's newly updated website are greeted by a huge banner than proclaims "The end of there is here". It's a cute little phrase, and it fits with Moto's new strategy of connecting you in all situations. But it's also a huge idea, and if it's really happening, is it something that designers, and the consumers they sell to should be having a little more concern for?
Wearable Computing Mishmash
If you've been following the recent developments in children's tech ware, you've probably seen the Hoodio from Gap kids and Wild Planet toys. This hoody-radio hybrid is being touted as a fore-runner of a new wave of wearable technologies that will seize the market in the next decade. Call us skeptical, but we don't see it going down like that. The future of wearables is niche.
New Year, New RSS
If you're an RSS reader, then the New Year is kind of like your birthday... Or something. That's because we've finally fixed the feed so you get full first paragraph + image previews instead of some ridiculous garbled business. Sorry for leaving you hangine for so long, and thanks to all the readers who let us know we needed to improve. And, if you're not on the RSS train yet, climb a-freaking-board.
Don't Overlook Denmark
Oh sure. Scandinavian design is huge. But it's mostly because a certain Swedish somebody, has expanded into every major market worldwide (with the exception of Japan, Africa and Latin America). Some of the first Scandinavian design to captivate the world was Danish. And the ideals of those first Danish designers run so counter to Ikea's flat-pack, short-life, high fashion design, that it's interesting to see how Denmark, through no real fault of it's own, paved the way for particle board and "clean rectangles" to dominate the public's idea of what constitutes modern design.
Down, But Not Out
Our host was having huge problems earlier this week (something about a DOS attack) and the site has been inaccessible, even by us to upload a little announcement page. But we're back with a vengance now. A brand new story will be up tomorrow, but for now, take a look at the awesome interview with MIO Culture's Jaime Salm below. And, if you're looking to enter Bonfire #3: Clip-n-Seal It!, you're just in time.
Interview: Jaime Salm, Sustainability Designer
Jaime Salm is the founder and Creative Director of MIO in Philadelphia, PA. Started in 2001 following the success of the Fibrid line of molded paper stools and bowls, MIO now produces a line of five furniture and decorating products for the home. The atelier continues to focus on sustainability, not only of materials, but also of community. By partnering with local manufacturers, its products help to ensure that jobs and income are kept local, and manufacturing waste is kept out of landfills. We caught up with Jaime and got the low down on his design style.
Help In The New Year
There's virtually no way that you could have missed hearing about the tragic tsunami which struck the coasts of the Asian sub-continent over the holidays. But, if you're still in the dark...
Burning New Year
The team will be back to post on Monday, but we wanted to wish all our Fuelers around the world a happy new year, and remind them that there's still time to get their Bonfire #3: Clip-n-Seal It! concepts together. Make a resolution to come up with something awesome, and let us know about it.
Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team