April, 2008

Apr 08

May 1 Innovation Conference @ Stanford d.school

[note: the conference is now at Hewlett 201 on the Stanford Campus]

[note 2: crossposting to planet because I’ve mentioned this to many folks at Mozilla, we’ve got a history of doing projects with the d.school, and it’s super-relevant to what we do]

Great conference for folks in Silicon Valley, put on by some of my favorite folks at the d.school, and featuring Huggy Rao (among others), who’s got a very interesting book on the way about market dynamics & how they’re sometimes like political movements. Highly recommended.

Apr 08

heading home

rainy in tokyo

Originally uploaded by John Lilly

great & productive, but fast, trip to tokyo — been raining all day — about to get on the plane from Narita & happy to be heading home.

Apr 08

CSSnite in Ginza featuring Kohei!


As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I was very lucky to be able to see Kohei’s presentation to a room packed with people at the Ginza Apple Store here in Tokyo. And I have to say he did an incredible job. Very comprehensive, entertaining, funny, engaging talk about Firefox 3 and what’s coming next, given to a full house at the Apple Store. Very happy to have been able to seen it live and was blown away by how great it was. (click through if you want to see more pics)

Apr 08


I’ve long been meaning to watch Helvetica, a documentary about fonts, design, and modernism more generally, but also about the specifics of a typeface that many consider a culmination of that line of design thinking, since it so perfectly represents the modernist ideal.

So I finally did, and man, what a beautiful movie. I loved it — couldn’t have been any better in my book. It even had a surprise ending! (No, I’m serious! A movie about modernist type ended by mentioning the new MySpace aesthetic — I was talking about that idea to someone just the other day.)

Among other observations, one is that once you watch this movie, you’ll notice that Helvetica is used for everything around us. I noticed that while I was watching the movie, I was eating food with Helvetica lettering used on the package, the United Airlines material all used it, including the seats, the book next to me was lettered in it on the cover, it’s default for a bunch of my display on my Mac, and of course is all around the UI on my iPhone. It’s just about ubiquitous.

And it’s sort of incredible in its neutrality and versatility — you can use it in almost any context because of that neutrality.

Finally, though, as you watch you just have to appreciate the letterforms themselves. It’s a really monumental piece of work — this typeface that does so much of our hard work in typography but is also so expressive. And I’ve never really looked at the way that the letters in words set in Helvetica bold really, really hold together in an incredibly stable way. It’s hard to imagine a single thing being different about the type.

Beautiful, beautiful movie, and very highly recommended.

[also watched Juno on the flight out, and thought that was a great movie, too, in a completely & utterly different way]

Apr 08

World Without End, by Ken Follet

Giant thousand page novel about 14th century England society & the life of a small town — really a continuation of the story Follett started in The Pillars of the Earth, about building a cathedral in the same town about a century prior. I find Follett’s books a little thin in terms of depth of character and long on plot — so sometimes the longer books like this are a bit tedious — I’m ready to be through with them by the time I finish.

Anyway, this was a pretty good book — really just a study in the various aspects of life in England 700 years ago, and that stuff was provocative & interesting — made me think.

But given that this is a thousand page sequel to another thousand page novel, even one that Oprah likes, I’m pretty sure that not too many people will actually read the thing, which seems fine to me.