United States Department of State Chooses Sweetcron to Power Haiti News Site

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

I thought it was pretty cool when I found out the United States Department of State had choosen to use open source lifestreaming service Sweetcron to power a collective Haiti news site.  The site is hosted on their Office of Innovation Labs site at http://lab.officeofinnovation.org/haiti/.

Haiti Sweetcron

As some of you may know, I used Sweetcron to power my lifestream on my website. There had been some controversy recently when the founder of Sweetcron decided to switch his website over to a Posterous blog.  Many worried about the fate of Sweetcron, but that’s the great thing about open source projects – anyone can pickup the code and run with it. Even though Yong Fook is busy pursuing other ventures, the Sweetcron forums are still active and a lot of people are still developing on it on their own. Some are even talking of creating a fork with several of the dedicated developers.  That’s why, as someone who’s invested in the open source project, it’s exciting to see new and creative ways people have found to use Sweetcron.

HP Forward Thinking — Brand Redesign

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

HP Coronado Redesign

I believe strongly that a redesign can be worth its weight in gold if you get it right. A logo should not be underestimated, it stands as the single most recognizable symbol for your company. Sometimes a redesign can be subtle and simple, and other times it can be a huge re-vamp of a company and it’s goals. Rebranding has helped thousands of companies pick up after a sluggish sales cycle – think about how many times Pepsi and Coca-Cola have re-engineered their logos.

The following article is from Graphic Designer Ramon Coronado from LA. In 2008, HP made a subtle logo redesign when it shed the rectangle. Coronado proposes a brand re-design for HP in 2010. He says HP’s identity is “dated, too complicated and overworked” for our generation focused on simplicity.

HP disconnection with my generation was the key problem I concentrated on my HP Redesign 2010. HP suffers in the market-place when it comes to my generation. My goal was to find the problems, analyze and solve. I designed a new identity with logo, branding strategy, language and an advertisement campaign. My designs are based on connecting HP to my generation.

HP leads in computing technology and is the most advanced in the field. Their products are modern, sharp and well engineered, but they fails to connect to my generation because of their lack of a dynamic identity. HP’s identity is dated, too complicated and overworked. My generation is all about simplicity. We like simple, basic clothes like American Apparel for example. We are a web-based generation that spends hours a day on the web. We e-mail, Myspace, Facebook, chat, we live our lives constantly connected to technology such as computers and cell phones. My generation strives to live a simple and easy life through technology. We are blind to complicated technology, visual noise, overly designed graphics, to much color and design that is dated. We love simplicity.

Logo

Key Concepts

Bag Design

Box Design

Product Application

Poster Theme 1

Poster Theme 1

Poster Theme 2

Poster Theme 2

In Context 1

In Context 2

via HP Forward Thinking — Ramon Coronado.

What Happens When You Unplug from Your Internet Addiction?

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot recently. Came across this article from the99percent.com when Thor Muller (Get Satisfaction – @tempo) tweeted about it (I’ll be reading a lot of articles from this site if their anything like this one). Seems our attention span grows smaller and smaller as we get spread thinner and thinner across the various internet activities; instant emails to our phones, thousands of tweets, thousands of blog postings, text messages, social networks, etc. We begin to only skim through articles, never get around to doing that programming, put off writing that blog post, and offline hobbies get pushed off until we “have time”. You get a constant feeling that “there’s something going on online that your missing out on”.

Guess the lesson is to limit your internet activity around your goals and remember to get offline and step back from it all every once in a while.

Let me begin by saying that I love the Internet more than anybody I know. I love that it keeps me connected, I love that it keeps me informed, and most of all, I love that it helps me blur the lines between business, pleasure, and complete mindlessness. Yet, after a veritable orgy of web browsing over the holiday break, I began to debate the pros and cons of unfettered access. While I was constantly searching for ways to become more efficient at work, I was idling away my free time with trivial eBay pursuits and constant email monitoring. Could an online cleanse be in order?After some soul searching, I decided to take a two-week leap into digital darkness – limiting my internet, TV, and cell phone access to working hours. Here, I document the journey – the acting out, the anger, the eventual acceptance – and a few realizations I had along the way. Not surprisingly, it reads a bit like the journal of a recovering addict…
 
DAY 1: Begrudging Compliance
I awoke in the morning slightly annoyed that I was unable to view those 43 pending emails that glowed red on my iPhone as I was turning off my alarm. But, alas, I had a new life to live! While walking to the subway, I felt great about an undistracted opportunity to soak up the sights. I actually noticed things I had failed to see on the route I’d been walking for a year and a half. Not a bad start.
 
As the day wore on, I frantically switched between my Google Reader, personal mail, IMs, and Twitter, and pit of dread began to settle in my stomach. What exactly would I do after left the office? And how could I possibly leave all of this work unfinished?
 
The evening seemed to drag along in slow-mo. Although I had a stack of books at my disposal, I was unable to focus on them. I flitted between several activities: rearranging the apartment, dipping into magazines, and exercising. None of them seemed satisfying or complete. Had years of blog-reading ruined my attention span?
 
DAY 2: Depression & Defiance
On the second morning, I became quite frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t access my computer for simple, non-browsing reasons. Needing to grab a document I had recently digitized, the only thing I could do was lug my laptop into work and view it at my desk. That cool new band my Dad told me I had to check out? Ditto on the lugging. Computers and the Internet are useful, important tools. This we know. I start to feel like my experiment has veered from an exercise in self-control into extreme Ludditism.
 
The evening was the worst. I pouted, I whined, and I’m fairly certain that at one point, I cried, “A life without the Internet is not worth living!” Instead of doing anything offline, I settled for bed at 9:30pm.

While I was constantly searching for ways to become more efficient at work, I was idling away my free time with trivial eBay pursuits and constant email monitoring.
 
DAYS 6-8: Acceptance & Insight
As my withdrawal symptoms started to subside, I settled into a nice pattern of dinner-workout-household project-reading during. I hadn’t been this productive or at ease in years.

Even so, I concluded that a tendency to procrastinate is not a symptom of Internet use. While technology can certainly amplify and enable a tendency to dawdle, every online time-waster has and equally effective offline cousin. Gossip? Grab an US Weekly. And what’s the true difference between a water cooler conversation and an IM session?

The trick is to identify which activities are truly important to you, and proactively shape your schedule around them. Then the activities that are not truly fulfilling just fall away. Admittedly, this becomes much easier when the lure of instant gratification on the Internet is off limits.

DAYS 8-10: Backsliding & Disillusionment
Since I’ve decided that weekend access is OK, I literally spring out of bed on Saturday morning to see what digital glories await. TV on, Internet up. Puzzlingly, I become bored after 45 minutes. Suddenly, I have begun to analyze my surfing tendencies. Is this information really enriching my life? Do I need to spend four hours searching for the perfect shoes, or can I settle on 30 minutes? The rest of the weekend was spent disconnected.
 
With the fortnight nearly complete, I’ve become much better at delegating my work hours. Now, I’m less apt to waste time, and I’m settling into a zone of focus more naturally. I’ve also become much more exacting in my personal communications – my Twitter feed was refined and useless newsletters were unsubscribed from.
 
I found that I was spending an inordinate amount of time on things that didn’t seem important when processed in small doses, but became a substantial time-suck when aggregated. I’ve definitely become more aware of what truly requires attention urgently, and increasingly, it isn’t much.
 
DAY 14 (and beyond): Surrender
As I wound the experiment down, I found myself dedicated to pursuing a myriad of new activities, and pleasingly I was able to devote attention to all of them. Being mindful of really investing yourself in whatever you are doing at that moment – whether it’s checking emails, reading a book, or lazing around on the couch – is a huge step. When you’re doing something, do it fully, and when you need to move on, do it consciously. You’ll be surprised by how little you “need” to complete a particular task at a particular time. I’ve found that most of the deadlines and time constraints I had been stressing about were pretty arbitrary.
 
It’s hard to imagine another two-week experiment that would offer so many lessons. A quick summary of the most notable revelations:
 
TAKEAWAYS:
 
1. Attention is elastic. Spending all my time online seemed to have narrowed my attention span. When I started spending more time away from my computer, I found I could focus for longer periods of time more easily.
 
2. Computers are actually quite useful tools, when used moderately and sparingly. As with any relationship, absence makes the heart grow fonder. When that relationship is with a computer, I would say absence makes the time spent together grow more productive.
 
3. The Internet doesn’t waste time, people do. Procrastination knows no bounds. It’s just as easy to waste time offline as on. However, I did find myself more likely to pursue enriching activities (e.g. reading, exercising, and catching up with family) when forced to spend time away from my desk.
 
4. Not everything is urgent. Connectedness helps breed a constant sense of urgency. When you take some time “off,” you realize that many of those pressing items can, and will, wait.
 
5. Mindfulness is important. It’s easy to drift through your workday (and beyond), sailing along on a steady stream of emails, web links, and phone calls. Remember that you call the shots, and spend your time (consciously!) according to what you want to accomplish.

via the99percent.com