2x4. I love the simplicty of the site design, the finesse of the navigation and the beauty of their work.
The first issue's featured articles include:
I can't wait for my issue to arrive.
As a sidenote I'd be remiss not to mention just how badass I think the Rapha site is in and of itself. If you are a fan of cycling or web design take a minute out of your hectic day to enjoy the pleasure of their products, features and about pages. They really evoke the drama and beauty of cycling through their simple and lovely design and copy.
Business 2.0 is running a good article about the recent increase in attention being paid to pre-fab houses, which is largely being driven by the Dwell Home concept. I still think something like this would be a great, cost-effective housing solution for New Orleans.
More details are emerging about the NAI Newer Orleans project. These ideas all sound really amazing and radical. This is the kind of visionary planning we should be formulating. If we don't embrace some sort of detailed plan soon though, we will end up playing out this terrible prophesy:
Aaron Betsky, the U.S.-born director of the Netherlands' Architecture Institute, said that while the Morphosis idea sounds extreme, there is also a danger the city will be rebuilt with little funding or planning.
"In that case, you'll see people building on cinder blocks stacked six feet high," he said.
"That will be the concrete nail in the city's architectural coffin."
In related news of a more personal note, I have finally started working on my Mardi Gras costume. It's called "New Orleans Nederlander" and the underlying concept is "Design = Survival".
The Netherlands Architecture Institute together with Tulane's Architecture School and Artforum International asked six architectural practices from Holland and the USA to develop "visions for symbolic and shared spaces for the New Orleans metropolitan area". The invited firms include MVRDV and West 8, two very adventurous and visionary offices.The work is currently on display in the Netherlands and there have been debates organized by the NAI and Artforum in Rotterdam and New York on water management and other relevant issues. It's great that innovative firms like these are thinking about our problems. I'd really like to see the work.
In accordance with my holiday tradition of publishing concise annual "best of" lists I have again decided to divide this year into five categories; The Web, Music, Books, Film and Life Experiences. Here's the first, Best of The Web. I'll publish the others over the next two weeks.
1. Web 2.0
This year everyone was talking about what Web 2.0 is, what it isn’t and what it will be. To me web 2.0 represents the next step in web technology as web sites become active web applications. Web 2.0 sites typically use XHTML, CSS and maybe Unobtrusive Rich Application techniques like Ajax or other XML/JS combos to empower users to publish and/or interact with the application seamlessly. Almost every site on my list this year is some sort of 2.0 application and the web in general was filled with 2.0 talk so how could the #1 spot go to anything else?
2. Google Maps
I LOVE Google maps! The sweet dynamic zooming/dragging action was one of the first times I saw Ajax employed this year. When they opened the API, a slew of great applications flooded the web, my favorite being the Gmaps Pedometer. Their Katrina map was also the first place where I saw my house inundated with water.
Typepad continues to offer a great blogging service at a very agreeable price. I use it to keep notes, publish my thoughts, and to log my fitness/nutrition program. It’s become an integral part of my life.
I was late to the game with Flickr but I finally signed up in January. Flickr is a great way to store and share photos but my favorite feature is their tags. If you want to see what’s happening at a specific event or in any given location in the world you can enter in a relevant tag at Flickr and see images almost in real time. This was another great tool when I was evacuated during Katrina.
37 Signals’ personal productivity tool is a great addition to their family of web applications. I use this tool everyday to keep track of work and to share images and notes with my colleagues.
1. Signal versus Noise
Jason Fried’s presentation at this year’s SXSWi on working with small teams and "getting real" was one of the best talks I saw there. This is a fantastic blog that documents the evolution of his “Getting Real” business manifesto, along with product updates and great usability & design commentary/critiques from his cohorts at 37signals.
2. New Orleans Met Blog
This is the single best source of Post-K commentary anywhere, written by regular folks who are here in the shit. This is funny, inspiring, passionate stuff and reminds me every day of why I chose to stay here.
3. Dispatches from Tanganyika
Poppy Z. Brite is a writer who has lived long enough in New Orleans to be called a native. She typically writes great daily entries about food, writing & New Orleans and her Post-K writing is hilarious and engaging. I can’t wait to see how she treats our new reality in her next novel.
Cory Doctorow & Co. produce what has become the standard index of general geekery on the web. Also, Xeni’s Katrina coverage was some of the best anywhere in the immediate weeks following the storm. There was all kinds of crazy stuff in there that I wouldn’t have seen anywhere else.
This year, Jason Kottke quit his real job and solicited donations from his readership to blog full time. He thanked them in the form of great daily entries on web 2.0 developments, a ton of cultural commentary and travelogues from adventures in Europe and Asia.
2. Coudal Partners
I can’t get over this site. I visit it every day to read the log entries and to admire its designed simplicity.
This is simple and wonderful design at its best. Just a very elegant display of their applications with a few other links. Very usable, very efficient.
Where would we be without Google? I wish I had Google Implant™, so that I would have the ability to run queries anytime, anywhere.
2. NOLA.com & 3. WWLtv.com
These two news portals were my link to the city while I was evacuated. No one had more coverage. They also continue to provide the most informative coverage of the evolving Battle of New Orleans 2.0.
I’ll just repeat what I wrote last year, “The price, quality and great selection of the iTunes Music Store compels me to buy music here instead of just downloading it for free from somewhere else. Of course, if I can't find it on here there is a 95% chance that I'm going to look for it via a P2P application. Record execs, are you listening?" I would add that Kompakt & Warp also offer fantastic music services. I supplemented many purchases through those sites this year.
I love the response time and control over selection that I have with Netflix. Now, if only the Postal Service would start operating properly again down here.
My wishlist beckons…
This weekend my friend Will and I constructed a site for the Bring New Orleans Back Commission Education Committee. This site should go a long way towards creating transparency in at least one of the BNOBC projects and I'm really proud to have played a part in that. Check the site soon for student/parent/teacher blogs, a community forum, and town hall meetings conducted via chat & streaming video.
Metropolis is running a great essay that explores 20 ideas for rebuilding New Orleans. There are some really imaginative ideas including this one, which is by far my favorite:
13) Build a System of Community Aquaculture
Most New Orleanians, black or white, rich or poor, love seafood, and many of them make live-caught fish and shellfish part of their regular diet. They put down crab traps, crawfish traps, or slat traps for catfish or they fish, net shrimp, dig oysters or otherwise forage in the waters of bayou, river, lake, and marsh. Designing a network of managed nurseries for a variety of kinds of marine life, which can be harvested by ordinary people with ordinary tools, could make New Orleans a model for a sustainable city in a difficult place. Use the place, don’t fight it. The people of New Orleans always have.
I LOVE the idea of neighborhood crawfish and catfish ponds!