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Category Archives: My Musings

31 January Share your
thoughts

A funfair and some fireworks

Under - Art, Inspiration, My Musings, Photography, Photolog

Some photographs from Upton Court Park fun fair and fireworks.








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20 January 3
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I Write …

Under - Art, Inspiration, Literature, My Musings, Poetry, Typography

I write - Words by C. C. Carpenter II / Typography Asif R Naqvi

I Write
I write, I erase
I learn, I forget
I live, I learn
I love, I hate
I come, I go
I sleep, I wake
I do, I am.

Poetry: C. C. Carpenter II, Typography: Asif R Naqvi, Type: Goudy Old Style BT

17 January 2
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More London…

Under - Art, Inspiration, My Musings, Photography, Photolog

A top-up to my existing London photography collection … mostly in colors this time. Those of you who have explored London would know how beautiful the hour-long walk is from Westminster Bridge till Tower Bridge or the other way round. There’s so much to capture that I wouldn’t be wrong to call it one of the most photographed part of London. There are also ferry services that operate in-between these two bridges providing another view of the same stretch.

You can view the complete set at Flickr.








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22 December 4
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I have a confession to make…

Under - Art, Inspiration, My Musings, Photography, Photolog

I had been sitting on a stash of photographs that I’ve been taking since 2005 but never been able to process, upload and share them online. This is partly because I was busy doing everything else and never got the time to focus on photography. This is also because I’ve been inconsistent throughout in pursuing this passion of mine – but not anymore!

As time is passing, I’m starting to feel that the old relationship between my camera and me is reviving … which is indeed very old – nearly 20 years to be precise. This relationship can be divided into three phases:

Childhood
It all started with my father’s Mamiya SLR (which has long been discontinued). The excitement of holding a SLR camera at that time was more than the photography itself and the focus was more towards taking pictures of school friends and family. This was kind of an exploratory phase that resulted in serious consideration of this art for years to come.

Adolescence
This represents the time when I was at the art college. I also call it the golden-time as I had the opportunity to fully explore photography, from still to landscape and fashion to portrait. I was in fact able to earn a reasonable amount of money with my photography to fund this expensive hobby.

But, I can also be solely blamed for putting an abrupt end to this as I had to decide where I wanted to go professionally and, unfortunately, despite all the pleasures I had with photography, it wasn’t my destination as a profession. It was one of those strategic career decisions that one has to make early on, wittingly or unwittingly. My decision to adopt digital media over photography is something that I don’t regret, in fact it is something that I’m proud of, but this brought an end to this particular interest of mine before the potential could fully be explored.

Maturity or Amateur-ity
This is the present that started back in 2005 when digital cameras started becoming a norm for photographers opening up a whole new world of possibilities. Since then I’ve started seeing through the lens again with a serious resolve to make up for the abrupt end.

The pictures you see in this post are from the first batch that I uploaded on Flickr from the set called London. Keep watching the space on Flickr as I’ll be uploading more and more in the days to come.

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23 September 6
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Coloring the ‘Migrant Mother’

Under - Art, Design, My Musings, Photography

Migrant Mother

There were three things (among several) that I really wanted to do for some time:

  1. Colorize a black and white photo (that I’ve never done before)
  2. Give Recolored a try and
  3. Start using my Wacom A5 tablet that I bought a year ago for sketching and never got the time to actually use it

So, having combined all of these into one task, I picked up the iconic photograph of Migrant Mother for this, taken by Dorothea Lange in 1936 during the Great American Depression, which I also mentioned few days back.

The thing that I wanted to avoid in this exercise is to have that artificial look-n-feel that we normally get to see when a black and white photograph is converted into color. Also, rather than just adding colors to make this photograph look like a real color-photo, my objective would be to capture the essence of this photo in colors and retain it. This can be done by using a color palette that is not overpowering and simply complement the original image.

Keep reading …

Culture, identity, and media

Under - Geography, Media, Miscellaneous, My Musings
A young mother and child in Hongtso.

Photo source: Claire (http://picasaweb.google.com/Hattoc/BhutanNov09Top100#)

I was watching a documentary on the telly the other day on Bhutan about the challenges people facing there having their country opened to the world and their GNH (Gross National Happiness) preference over GDP and asked myself a conflicting question: should media be censored or even banned to save cultures and societies?

To be honest there’s no definite answer to this and if so then it can’t be generalised. To me our identities come from cultures that flourish in our societies, and societies form civilisation that changes from geographic region to region with our planet’s curvature.

When we talk about preserving something we accept the fact that it is in danger or endangered. In my 36 years of life I’ve seen the impact of globalisation (along with some positive aspects) eating up people’s individuality, their identity, their cultures, beliefs, languages and their whole way of life in general from Australia to America and from Africa to Europe. As human beings our cultural differences are like our faces that are different from each other for a reason – to mark our physical identity and individuality. Our differences are the colours of this world.

Through the blessing of the media in our age we see popular cultures heavily influencing not so popular cultures by all means and, if a culture tries to protect itself by distancing itself from the mainstream then it is very negatively branded. I fail to comprehend why it is an issue? Why accepting someone’s individuality is difficult as long as it is not intrusive?

Political mumbo-jumbo aside I’d support the idea (if it actually exist anywhere) of screening the media – not to deny it access, but to preserve its intended and unintended audience from its negative influences especially when we see how polarised and politically influenced it is. I’m not the one to define media’s negative influences here but, like any medicine, there are side effects therefore the target audience is the one to decide about it freely and we need to accept and respect it.

29 June 6
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The future of web design

Under - Design, Media, My Musings, Technology, Usability

First, I’d rephrase the title to ‘The immediate future of web design’. Second, I’d like to clarify that this article is not about design trends, typography and 100 best sites of futuristic designs.

Having visited FOWD this May in London the question that kept popping in my mind was how rapidly the digital media landscape is changing (like always!) and how quickly we can deal with it? Paul Boag from Headspace shared his thoughts around this subject that left me scratching my head. The focus of FOWD conference this time was around CSS3 and HTML5 along with many other ‘hot’ bits and bobs of design and marketing that we all love to read and discuss. The talk however that was missing is ‘What is the future of web design?’.

The capabilities of latest and smart browsers coupled with the introduction of more robust and user-friendly technologies such as HTML5 and CSS3 with JS frameworks etc are definitely affecting the design and usability in a very positive manner. But, these are not the only factors determining the future of ‘web design’ – rather, it is the introduction of new hardware or ‘new categories’ of hardware that are going to shape the future of web design this time. I see web design splitting into two major sub-categories that I call ‘Clicks’ and ‘Taps’. We would soon find designers setting their course for specialization in either of the two (no one stopping us doing both though!).

So what’s it about?

Here I would define the two categories I mentioned above:

  1. Clicks – conventional web design on PCs where interaction is achieved with cursor movement (rollover/rollout) and on mouse press or release
  2. Taps – web design for multi-touch gesture browsing on handheld devices such as:
    • Smartphones – iPhone, Palm Pre, HTC HD2, Else Intuition, Nokia N900 etc, and
    • Tablets – well, this is the redefined tablet category that iPad created. This category is ‘now’ about devices that fall in-between a Smartphone and a laptop computer such as iPad, and all the iPad-killer devices such as joojoo, WeTab, HP Slate, Google Tablet and a dozen more here.

Now, how on earth is this categorization going to affect the future of web design?

The answer lies in the hardware and OS capabilities of these devices, in the refined mobile usability experience and in multi-touch gesture browsing that we are getting accustomed to. These elements are going to drive the future of web design and would heavily affect the ‘Clicks’ side of it.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to us, if we look closely at the development within the Smartphone industry and what these iPad like devices are trying to achieve, that our PCs are going to be offloaded with the Internet that we’d be carrying with us in the form of Smartphones or tablets. This major addition in web design serving platform would trigger a shift in our overall design approach which is governed by the medium and its capabilities – isn’t it?

Photo source 邪恶的正太 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/juehuayin/4556617846/)

Clicks – conventional web design or web on PC

The immediate future on this front apparently seems to be overrun by new browsers (or browser war) and their capabilities in supporting and rendering HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. These technologies are going to change the web and interaction design landscape forever, but the best thing that is going to happen is the amount of unprecedented focus to usability and accessibility (this – mostly for handheld devices!). Web design would ‘seriously’ have to act like an interface between business/communication and technology, and technology and people. A designer can only perform these functions by being part of all of them!

Now, without going into web 2.0 vs. web 3.0 argument we can see that user behaviour has changed within the past few years especially with the introduction of social media, information accessibility on mobile devices and cloud computing. Still, it is changing rapidly with higher expectations as limitations are falling away within digital arena. Such demanding user expectations mean shift in design approach from inside out (function follows design) to outside in (design follows function).

So my dear fellow web designers, to get ready for the future, we have to take seriously what business and market analysis is and how online business strategies are formed. How projects are conceived and KPI’s outlined. How perceptions are changed and online brands are built. How technologies are decided and information architecture is laid out. How user journeys are developed and usability testing is done. How our designs perform functions and deliver results. How we market and measure it.

Our role as a web designer is one of the driving forces behind this web evolution where we have to rediscover our niche every two years or so – or we are simply outdated. We don’t design websites anymore – we are required to design businesses, functions, systems and measurable performance with solid results. This might be the only profession in the world where one can enjoy a successful career by being a generalist than a specialist!

Taps – web design for multi-touch gesture browsing

Mobile computing is the other side of web design that is fast becoming a norm where web interaction is faster and smarter than ‘Clicks’ with less or no bells and whistles attached. Where everyone (business/service) has to redefine (separate websites, widgets and apps) themselves because of the medium itself, its usability and user behaviour.

Apart from a few, all those new handheld devices are coming with their own OS nowadays or adopting new operating systems which may look a bit chaotic right now but within a few years when dust is settled there are going to be a few winners. The most common element in the development of modern multi-touch handheld devices is that they all are focusing on innovation and usability. Usability is universal hence making all these devices look and perform more or less the same in the end! Additionally, these devices are all multi-touch that we run by tapping and swiping fingers on screen with one or both hands. This gesture browsing means that we cannot use conventional ‘Click’ designs or the design approach effectively (where interaction is performed by additional devices such as mouse etc) for this medium.

This fundamental difference in the usability of web design would split it into two categories that I highlighted above. Web on PCs or ‘Clicks’ is where interaction is performed by a mouse so the design would follow conventions set for that medium whereas for multi-touch devices we would be confined (but not) within the capabilities of this medium. This segmentation is creating a whole new exciting conversation. If we look at what Bonnier and BERG has done in the form of ‘Mag+’ for Popular Science magazine the point here would be easier to understand. It was a prototype that they conceived and iPad has actually done it.

Photo source Bonnier R&D (http://www.flickr.com/photos/bonnier_rd/sets/72157622918954909/)

If you have used iPad or watched this Mag+ prototype video, you would agree that this kind of user experience cannot be developed for the web on PCs where user interaction is indirect (though exceptions are there but their practicality is in question!).

We have to come out of ‘Web on PC’ state of mind to be able to conceive the presentation and interaction design for these new mobile devices. This requires extensive research and dedication that would result in unique apps, interface designs and interaction.

Conclusion

I would highly recommend young designers to build skills and/or understanding in frontend development, and keep a close eye on the advancements within this area. If you already have frontend skills then polish them and acquire knowledge in other areas to get ready for a multifaceted role that you are going to play in the coming days. This time, it wouldn’t be a choice to stick to ‘design-only’ excuse.

I shared my thoughts around the ‘Future of Web Design’ here and what it holds for us. It would be interesting to know what you think about this subject so please feel free to share it below.

28 March 2
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LivingDesign.info – Site of the Day at The Css Awards!

Under - Miscellaneous, My Musings

LivingDesign.info has been selected as Site of the Day by The CSS Awards. Please click here to cast your votes.

LivingDesign.info

13 February 2
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Where did You Go?

Under - Art, Inspiration, Literature, My Musings, Poetry, Typography

Where did You Go? by C. C. Carpenter II / Typography Asif R Naqvi

Where did You Go?
You were here a minute ago.
Drinking soda and
Laughing out loud
And loving the wine
And making eyes
In love.

There were two of us then.
Now there is one.

We were having so much fun…
I only shut my eyes
For a minute
And you
Slipped
Away.

Poetry: C. C. Carpenter II, Typography: Asif R Naqvi, Type: Garamond

29 January 1
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iPad – actually it is an e-book reader …

Under - Industrial Design, My Musings, Technology

… disguised as a netbook or may be a formidable hybrid of both! But, with iPad Apple has defined a new category of products that many going to follow in coming days. With the revelation of iBookstore, it is foreseeable where the whole game plan is leading to.

Apple iPad

iPad is an amplified version of iPhone but without a phone that is going to run all iPhone apps. It is an excellent alternate to netbooks and thin enough to be used as e-reader. As an e-reader, iPad is way advanced than what we are currently familiar with in the form of Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader. As mentioned earlier in a different context, this device has the potential of becoming an ultimate e-reader and PMP.

Apple iPad

Smartphones are excellent but still small enough to be used as practical devices for everyday use. With iPad, Apple has successfully combined several products in one. Many would struggle to fit this product into the current hierarchy of consumer electronics but I see it clearly replacing conventional laptops, tablets and netbooks.

What future holds from Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader – I don’t know but I’m sure for one thing that iPad, when wrapped in leather, is a clear invitation to Microsoft Courier to enter into the ring with caution.

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