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  • Archive for September, 2009

    • Glove Love: Truly, Madly, Deeply Sustainable

      25th September 09

      Posted by Mel Exon

      Posted in creativity, Sustainability

      All you need is glove: yours for just £5 (plus VAT & packaging)

      All you need is glove: yours for just £5 (plus VAT & packaging)

      We like nothing more than a brilliantly innovative creative idea that does its bit for the planet, as fans of iSaw and Papercut will know.  Throw in a fashion angle on top and we’re totally sold…. so when our friends at Green Thing told us about their Glove Love initiative, we were delighted on at least three levels.

      Launched to coincide with London Fashion Week, Glove Love is part of Green Thing’s anti-waste initiative All Consuming and is their first sustainable product to help people do the Green Thing in the physical world.  Very simply, they will take lonely single gloves that have lost their original partners, wash them and then pair them up to create new and unique Glove Love pairs.  You can get involved by donating a lonesome glove yourself and/or buying a pair for just £5 plus postage & packaging.

      Glove Love has received some great support from the likes of Emma Thompson, whose voiceover immediately gives their ‘Glove Story’ promotional film a decidedly Working Title rom com-esque feel:

      YouTube Preview Image

      We particularly like the fact once you place an order a mystery pair of gloves are despatched to you lovingly labelled with their life stories.  And of course you can add comments to the site and as a proud owner you’re invited to upload a photo to the site gallery.

      Gloves Reunited

      Gloves Reunited

      Glove Love is creative, ethical, slightly silly and has the ability to offer that little frisson of surprise life so often lacks.  What’s not to love?  Go donate a lonely glove or even better buy a pair at the dothegreenthing.com shop

    • Work we like – Nike’s ‘The Game is Never Over’

      22nd September 09

      Wonderful lo-fi (yet somehow, strangely hi-fi) work from Nike for their new Patrice Evra football commercial, ‘The Game is Never Over’.

      Everything about it is right. Awesome.

      YouTube Preview Image
    • Will The Web Make Us More Honest?

      3rd September 09

      In a world where it’s too easy to get used to things coming in 140 character-sized packages, everything happening in real time, and thinking about the future and what it might bring means having a debate about whether Tumblr is better than Posterous, it’s always refreshing  to have something more substantial to chew on. A proper three-course meal versus repeated, ultimately unsatisfying, trips to the snack cupboard.

      We’ve been digesting – and debating – a post by Walter Naeslund on his very excellent blog. Naeslund is, in his own words, ‘an internet freedom fighter and CEO of the Stockholm based communications agency Honesty. [He] also give lectures and runs workshops on Internet Trends, Modern Communications Strategy and Social Media.’

      Naeslund’s post, from Tuesday, was grandly-titled “What the World Will Look Like in 25 Years“. The whole thing is worth a read (it’s not long). He offers a range of more speculative thinking around the way the world might be going, and the emerging role of the web within those scenarios; as I said, a welcome contrast to an increasingly myopic focus on the now.

      But what struck me in particular was a short paragraph in which Naeslund speculates on what one might call future ‘ethics’:

      screen-shot-2009-09-03-at-90828-am

      It’s an interesting contention, that there are fewer hiding places in a world of instant access to perfect information, and total transparency. Even if it is likely to never be that flawless in practice (& actually, would we want it to be?), the pronounced increase in sharing of everything about one’s personal life in digital form (what Naeslund characterizes as the merging of physical and digital identities) will undoubtedly bring both costs and benefits.

      It’s the last line of that paragraph that intrigues me and that has stuck with me.

      Is there any evidence of better behavior and less cheating?

      How do we think that might manifest itself, if and when it does happen?

      On one hand it all sounds a little Utopian (and some might argue, less fun). On the other, it does sound rather attractive.

      What do you think?

    • “Do not glorify aesthetics”: a manifesto for Data Visualisation?

      2nd September 09

      Posted by Patricia McDonald

      Posted in data, design

      We’re moderately obsessed with the world of data visualisaton here at Labs for a number of reasons: the ability to generate fresh insight from extraordinarily complex data sets, the ability to trigger radical reappraisal of familiar problems, the ability to put consumers in control of the vast quantities of personal data they generate every day.  Not to mention the extraordinary fusion of technology and creativity it represents. 

      We firmly believe that data visualisation has a wealth of exciting commercial applications, from communicating in new ways to developing new tools, apps and utilities for clients and consumers alike. So we’ve grown slightly frustrated by the rise of visualisations that are moderately pretty but add little in terms of real insight, utility or illumination.

      We’re also, as we may have mentioned,  big fans of Manuel Lima here at Labs. So we were intrigued to see that he has authored an “Information Visualisation Manifesto”, a provocative (but characteristically generous and nuanced) take on the future of data visualisation which tackles head on the thorny questions at the heart of this ever-expanding field:

      • Art versus Science
      • Intrigue versus Immediacy
      • Aesthetics versus apprehension.

       Manuel comes down firmly on the side of clarity of communication versus visualisation for visualisation’s sake, citing the discipline’s roots in the desire “to facilitate understanding and aid cognition” and a growing frustration with the “eye candy” approach to the craft. Many of his principles are rooted in this utilitarian approach, reading almost like a Bauhaus manifesto (and none the worse for that):

      • Form follows Function
      • Do not glorify Aesthetics
      • Look for relevancy
      • Aspire for Knowledge

      It’s a bold, purist and punchy vision yet also acknowledges the power of narrative and the role of intrigue. Indeed the question of narrative seems to lie at the heart of this Manifesto; the need to pose a specific question of the data and to weave coherent themes and stories from it. These themes then drive the aesthetic approach. As Manuel puts it:

      “Form doesn’t follow data. Data is incongruent by nature. Form follows a purpose, and in the case of Information Visualisation, Form follows Revelation

      This is perhaps the key distinction between Information Visualisation as defined here and what Manuel suggests we start thinking of as “Information Art”. Within this approach, artists will freely allow form to follow data, using the random-ness this creates to add texture and interest. Take, for example, Aaron Koblin’s desire to embrace the random-ness of a data set and indeed the richness and texture added to his famous Radiohead video by “interrupting the data”:

      “I think it really gives character, because I think it’s really that kind of intricacy and detail that builds character and in a sense it’s the errors and flaws that make art”.

      Incongruity making art: Aaron Koblin's "House of Cards" promo for Radiohead

      Incongruity making art: Aaron Koblin's "House of Cards" promo for Radiohead

      Both approaches are undoubtedly valid. Within any medium there will be times when we seek immediacy and times when we are prepared to be intrigued and to explore. There will be times when we want to understand our world better and times when we want to turn perceptions of it on its head. I can think of few practical applications of, say, the “Synchronous Objects” visualisation series but it mashes up art forms and messes with my mind in a truly delightful way.

      As ever, then, we need to return to objectives, to ask what we are trying to achieve:

      • Do we want to educate around an issue, making complex questions simple?
      • To shift perceptions and provoke a response?
      • To offer a fresh perspective on an infrastructure question for our clients?
      • To offer our consumers better comprehension and control of their behaviours?  

      Simply put, are we going to offer something that is either very, very useful or very, very beautiful? Either way, greater clarity of intent and greater discipline throughout the industry can only be an advantage in building credibility and engagement. Building that credibiltiy is vital if data viz is going to become not just an entertaining diversion but a vital tool for navigating a world generating more and richer data by the second.

      If what we are building is neither very beautiful nor very useful, to Manuel’s final point “Avoid Gratuitous visualisations”: “Simply conveying data in a visual form, without shedding light on the portrayed subject, or even making it more complex, can only be considered a failure”. 

      Or as William Morris put it: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

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