On designing an iconic bomb

Legendary icon designer Susan Kare recently gave a great and amusing talk at EG8.

On her icon set for the original Mac:

"I designed this image [unhappy Macintosh] and this bomb because I was told they would never be seen by anyone! So I thought I could be a little irreverent. But unfortunately, that was not the case.

"The programmers truly thought at the time that they would be deeply hidden. I know that right after the Mac shipped we were in our software area and a call came in fielded through Apple and it was a woman who was using MacWrite, and it had crashed, and she was afraid her computer was going to blow up! So, I felt kinda bad!"

The computer didn't explode. But Kare's icons did.

Instead, the bomb icon and the rest of the set took on lives of their own and can be seen all over the world, including in a subway station in Sweden.

Kare later worked at Microsoft, but as far as I know she didn't design the Blue Screen of Death.

Kare's icons are infamous — I have one of Kare's signed happy Macintosh prints in my office. 

Simplicity is evident in Kare's designs. Her advice: "Just enough detail."


AEDs as public art

AED art exhibit at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, shot March 22, 2014.

AED art exhibit at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, shot March 22, 2014.

Walk through the concourse of Philadelphia's 30th Street Station and you may find yourself walking through a larger-than-life AED.

It's an art installation that is part of the University of Pennsylvania's Defibrillator Design Challenge, a contest to build awareness for Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) .

The Philly installation from the multidisciplinary team at Penn is a simple see-and-touch exhibit, meant to give you a place to sit and contemplate the value of AEDs — they are safe, easy to use and can be used by anyone.

The design challenge ended April 6, but designs are still being accepted for the AED art gallery.

Bill Gates doesn't need Powerpoint to shine! #stopthemyth

Bill Gates has proven he knows something about philanthropy. And now marketing, promotion and donor communication.

The 2014 Gates Annual Letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a masterpiece of philanthropic communication — an immersive online experience that very solidly makes the case for global assistance.

The digital "letter" has everything you would expect from a fundraising report and appeal — prose, facts, charts and compelling stories. It also sprinkles in videos, photos, charts and motion graphics, interactive polls, infographics and slide decks. The site's design is inclusive — it automatically translates into six languages, is responsive and looks great on mobile devices. And there's a downloadable PDF for those who want a more conventional annual report.

The "ask" comes in the form of a hashtag (#stopthemyth) that links to partners who are doing the work supported by the Gates Foundation. 

The letter focuses on three myths that keep us from *really* helping the poor. Bill and Melinda Gates are the authors of the three sections — they squarely attach their names and reputations to the content.

The three myths:

1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor. 

Bill Gates:

"When I was born, most countries in the world were poor. In the next two decades, desperately poor countries will become the exception rather than the rule."

2. Foreign aid is a big waste. 

Bill Gates again: 

"Health aid is a phenomenal investment. … A baby born in 1960 had an 18 percent chance of dying before her fifth birthday. For a child born today, the odds are less than 5 percent. In 2035, they will be 1.6 percent. I can’t think of any other 75-year improvement in human welfare that would even come close."

3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation. 

Now Melinda Gates: 

"The planet does not thrive when the sickest are allowed to die off, but rather when they are able to improve their lives. Human beings are not machines. We don’t reproduce mindlessly. We make decisions based on the circumstances we face."

Finally, the letter ends with an affirming "Looking Ahead" section. The call to action isn't just about giving money — it's about busting the myths (remember the hashtag #stopthemyth) and showing that the "bad news" most of us hear every day can be replaced by the "good news" that comes out of global togetherness.

We hope you will help get the word out on all these myths. Help your friends put the bad news in context.

And to spread that news, Bill Gates asked Jimmy Fallon for his help in making a viral video.

What your card calls out about you

2014-0123-JR biz cards.jpg

"Ooh, letterpress! That's first class!"

That was the reaction recently from a client when I handed him my "calling card" (an appropriate name when you actually have it printed on a vintage letterpress press!). 

Everyone wants their card to make a statement (aside from your stunning design and important personal info). I also wanted it to reflect the care and thought I put into my own work.

Hence, letterpress — a craft that is making a resurgence in the creative world.

So, thank you to Hoban Press in Centralia, Wash., and printer Evan Calkins for these wonderful cards.

You have to hold and feel them to appreciate the craftsmanship!


What wind-blown data look like

Data should drive every business, especially health care. And how we interpret and use data is evolving rapidly.

Now even the way data are presented is evolving, thanks to collaborations like Hint.fm, which brings together artists, designers and technologists to rethink how we look at data.

Hint.fm's Wind Map is a great example. Click and watch. 

While Wind Map, created last year, is a "personal art project," its concepts can and should be applied to the presentation of data in the business world so more people, in more levels of an organization, can better understand — and apply — important data.