Simpsons Stamps


Getting pretty excited about these new Simpsons stamps coming out in May! You can pre-order now, there is even a fancy “Framed Art” version (pictured above), and you can vote for your favorite Simpsons character too! I guess occasionally some (semi-private) government agencies can get it right!

Friedman and Nilekani @NYPL


Last night, I attended another NYPL Live event. The evening was, once again, stimulating and a good way to learn some new things about the world. Thomas Friedman was in conversation with Nandan Nilekani. Who is Nilekani? I didn’t know either, but after the evening was over I was surprised that I was so ignorant before.

For one, Nilekani is the one who gave Friedman the idea for the title of his book, The World is Flat. For another, he is someone who came from modest beginnings to being a founder of a huge multinational corporation, and a personal net worth of over 1.3 billion. A great American success story if I ever heard one, except all of this took place in India, and the company is headquartered there. I think Nandan may be something of national hero there because of this.

Maybe it’s just PR but I was surprised by how honest Nilekani was about what it takes to run a business in the 21st century, especially in light of the recent global economic and climatic changes. For example, he was very clear that companies can no longer afford to do business with the kind of disregard for the environment, that companies in the west, had up till now. He has many ideas on how to make India competitive in today’s world. He seems very pragmatic and he doesn’t overlook India’s many problems but is instead very aware of them, and seems to have solutions for them.

We should all pay attention because, as John Stewart said while interviewing Nilekani on the Daily Show, India will probably be our new overlord soon.

some interesting facts from the evening:

  • india has one sixth of the worlds population, about 1.15 billion people
  • infosys, nulakani’s company, gets 1.5 million job applications a year
  • there are only about 25,000 positions
  • India has more cellphones than the US has people
  • India is very diverse religiously but these religions are able to generally coexist peacefully.
    Nilekani hopes India can become a role model for other countries in this regard.
  • a demographic dividend is a good thing, India has one right now
  • global climate summits are essentially unfair for developing countries like India, because developed countries got to reap the benefits of not worrying about polluting and now they want to share responsibilities in the repercussions
check out Imagining India, Nilekani’s book
or check out future NYPL LIVE events

Newspapers (NEWScan)


Reading the paper is very important. Any newspaper will do as long as you get a healthy helping of international events. It’s important to know what is going on in the world. Alfredo Jaar was very adamant about this when he instilled this bit of wisdom in me at a workshop. How can you be mindful of your place in the world if you don’t know what is happening around you. How can you make it better if you don’t know what is wrong.

I love reading a physical paper, but in today’s digital world it’s hard to find the time for the dead tree version. It’s true the digital version is much more convenient, accessible, and even more current, but I find it hard to read, hard to browse and casually look for what catches your eye. The whole thing is just not as visually appealing, not to mention the ads that are constantly vying for your attention, distracting you, and sometimes literally covering the very content you are there to see.

All of this is why I find NEWScan so appealing (actual front pages from the print versions of 14 major papers) . For a visual person like me this is a great way to get your daily headlines. So much information in one quick visual browse.


I’ve been seeing and hearing a lot about the death of the Newspaper lately on the internets. It is very disconcerting. I’d much rather live in a world where I can read something that has been edited, researched, and generally vetted as newsworthy than a world where a video of some ten year old farting on his grandmother’s cake is deemed by the masses to be the content most worthy of my time.

However, right now, that seems like exactly where we’re heading. Every week a new previously unsinkable behemoth of a paper or magazine closes shop, unable to provide content in physical or digital form. What is going on?

Once again, I turn to my favorite internet pundit Clay Shirky. I think he may have the answer: “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism.” Maybe even if newspapers don’t exist in the future, a new yet un-thought-of form will have emerged that will give me the edited, researched, and generally vetted as newsworthy content I seek. Maybe old fashioned papers, and people like me who enjoy them, just have to accept what is happening because as Clay says ” ‘You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!’ has never been much of a business model.”

NEWScan and Shirky links
both via Kottke

Scott McLoud


If you haven’t read Scott McLoud’s Understanding Comics you should. This guy is really a master of his craft. If you are a graphic designer, artist, or do any kind of visual expression this book will really expand your understanding of visual communication. Reading it put a lot of things into a new perspective for me.

I found a Ted Talk video, it doesn’t do his books justice, but it does give you a glimpse into his mind:

Wow he looks totally different in real life than his comic alter ego! (I guess the checkered shirt is the same.)


I almost forgot, Today, January 10th is Tintin’s Birthday! Happy Birthday TINTIN!

I love Tintin. Of course anybody who loves him has to be a little conflicted. I think acknowledging the not so positive parts and celebrating the rest, which are so great, is the best path.

I also heard more chatter that a movie might finally get made. Can’t wait for a movie version.

Attention to Detail

I came across this article, and it made me think. In the image above the dotted line is the old MoMA logo and the solid line represents a new design. If you set the two designs side by side someone could “stare for some time before detecting the slightest distinction.” The cost for these tiny changes was in the “low five figures.”

First things first, this is not a typography rant, I am a typography noob, in the above image I have no idea what font that is, and if I was looking at the two designs, I too would probably have a hard time seeing the difference. However, I love the idea that MoMA would spend a lot of time and effort to figure something out that at first glance would seem trivial. I love the idea of people paying attention to details, little tiny, seemingly insignificant, the things other people miss, details.

Designers and artists (usually) understand the importance of details. A line off by a millimeter, a speck of dust, a smudge, something off-center by hair, all of these things make a huge difference. Creative types obsess over these things, I am one, and I understand this need intuitively.

But I am also conflicted. I’m sure a lot of people would read this article and think that is a lot of money to just adjust some lines! Are they just being super anal? Is this a huge waste of resources? Can spending money just to make something beautiful be justified? Shouldn’t you put in something ugly and cheaper, or not re-design something that looks just fine and put the difference towards charity? This is the same argument that plagues art in general: We should cut spending on the arts (what a waste!), and use it for important things.

Well, whatever happened to “God is in the details”? Little things matter and make a difference. It’s hard to quantify the impact of a more legible, less ugly font, or to quantify the inspiration that a particularly great work of art brings. The marketing department will have a hard time figuring out the ROI, but a more beautiful logo can make the brand more memorable, more familiar, and an inspiring work of art can help boost morale or productivity. And it all starts with the details, they really matter. And us creative types, will have to keep fighting, to make them important and to bring attention to them, because, inherently, we know how important the details are.