October 29, 2009

Searching Through Web Content, Part Two of Three, Twitter

It's not known how many Twitter users there are now. It is estimated to be about 18 million at the end of 2009. That's a lot of information flying around the web. So how do you sort through the tweets about what Ashton Kutcher's doing and what someone had for lunch and find information you can use?

I use HootSuite, but other popular programs like TweetDeck and Seesmic allow you to save a search. Here's how it works in HootSuite. I have the option to save a column in the window. I can have Search Term, KeyWord, or group users together. For example I have a Keyword column called Illustrator|Photoshop|InDesign. This finds all the Twitter feeds that have those Keywords in them. I find tutorials, and advice on the Adobe programs I use.

Search Columns can be very powerful. You can customize your searches to find words, exclude words and focus your searches.

Here are examples of ways to search for information on a company called Luxul Wireless:
"luxul" and "wireless" = searches for tweets that contain both words
"luxul wireless" = searches for the exact phrase
luxul or wireless = searches for one or the other
luxul -wireless = searches for luxul but not wireless
luxul since:2009-02-02 = search for luxul since the date entered
luxul until:2009-02-02 = search for luxul up to the date entered
luxul filter:links = searches for luxul tweets with a url in the post

With these options you can tweak your searches to find exactly what your looking for.

Another way to find info about a certain topic are Twitter HashTags. HashTags are words that follow the # symbol. For example #HomeAutomation is a HashTag used to focus information about Home Automation products and services. The idea is to let people follow subjects instead of people to find what they are looking for, or post to others with their interests. I use the site hashtags.org to find HashTags on subjects I am interested in. I then set up searches to watch Twitter and report to me when someone posts to those Hashtags.

So there you have it, with a little bit effort you can find the information your looking for, monitor what people are saying about subjects your interested in and really keep you eye on Twitter.

In part three I will discuss how to set a web search to deliver content to your inbox.

October 07, 2009

Searching Through Web Content, Part One of Three, RSS Feeds

I'm always searching the web for content for my LinkedIn groups, (In House Designers and Design Job List), Twitter, blog, design inspirations and just to keep up on the latest trends. Trying to sort through all the blogs and websites can be a real challenge. In this first installment, of my three part article, on searching through content I am going to focus on using RSS feeds to help you quickly go through content and find what your interested in.

What is RSS?
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Basically what it does is takes the text from a website or blog, strips all the formatting and gives it to you a text only, (sometimes text and an image), format that is the same for every site. This makes it easy to search the information easily and find what your looking for. This is particularly important for news sites, blogs and sites that have a lot of text that changes often.

How do I find RSS feeds?
Most sites have RSS feeds and make it easy for you to subscribe to it. Look for the subscribe button. The icon usually looks something like this:

Some sites use services because maybe they have multiple feeds. Sites with a feed service may ask what reader your using.

If you can't find the icon you might want to try typing the site address then slash and Feeds, like this:


You might have to search a bit, but most of the time the feed is there.

I set up a list of design job feeds in my LinkedIn group call Design Job List. If you'd like to set up a search for design jobs you can go to the discussion tab of Design Job List and find a lot of sites that have design job RSS feeds. I'm going to use this as my example for explanation purposes here.

Here is an example of one site and it's feed address.

The site is: Talent Zoo

Once you have all the feeds entered you will have a large list of sites feeding you jobs, probably more than you can handle. You can set up searches for used cars, photoshop tutorials, scrapbooking, anything you're interested in.

Setting up a search
I use an RSS feed reader. I am on a Mac, so I like NewsFire. If your on a PC you can use something like NewsGator. You can use web browsers and even mail programs, anything that will track RSS feeds. The reader you use doesn't matter, but I like readers that will do Smart Searches, and/or Saved Searches because I make them do a lot of the work for me. I have a design jobs feed setup in my reader and receive about 500 posts a day, so I have to filter the RSS feeds to get it to a manageable amount.

Filtering the feed
Now that you have all your feeds you'll want to filter them so you can have a more focused search. This is the reason I like feed readers that supports smart searches. Keep in mind I am using NewsFire so my instructions may not apply to the feed reader you're using. The first thing I did was make a group called jobs and drop all my job list site feeds into the group. Then I set up a smart search. A smart search looks at all the RSS feeds and collects the posts that fit the search criteria or filter I've set up. I search for the city I live in, words like art director or graphic designer in the title and content of the post, and the date of the post. After the smart feed is set up I'll have a handful of posts to look through. If the smart feed is producing no results you may need to change the settings. It may require more than one smart search to get everything you want.

I can now look through all 500 posts quickly and see if there's anything I'm interested in. This is a lot easier than going to every job list site, everyday and searching for what I am interested in. If I had to do that it would be a full time job in itself.

In part two I will discuss how to use Twitter to search for content.

September 28, 2009

Green is making me Green

I like the idea of Green, who doesn't? But when Green is Green for the sake of PR and not for the sake of the environment who needs that.

I recently had the experience of working with a small company to put together First Article for a large customer. Now for those of you that may not know, a first article is an example of the product exactly as they will receive it when you start shipping your merchandize. The large customer had a lot of regulations on how things had to be put together, labeled, packaged. Much of instructions had to do with their green initiative.

Normal Procedure
Normally the product shipped in a cardboard box with no printing on it and a plain cardboard insert to hold the product. The small screws and cables went in a heat seal tube. The tube got sealed on one side, the products went in and the other side got sealed. Other than when you got to the end of the roll there was no waste. The Quick Install Guide was four pages long.

The Green Initiative
Every piece of packaging had to have a recycle logo on it. The box and its insert had to have two Recycle logos printed on it. Printing is not an environmentally friendly process. When a plastic heat seal tube with recycle logos couldn't be found, plastic zip-lock bags were purchased. The parts are slipped into the bags, the bags are heat sealed and about an inch of bag, including the zip lock, becomes waste. The User guide, after adding all the required legal text, was 16 pages long. In defense of the customer, most of the legal wording was because of government requirements.

It's not all bad news, circuit boards were changed to meet ROHS, (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) standards.

I am not advocating doing away with Green processes, I'm all for them. What I am saying is blindly following a Green Initiatives without seeing if it is truly helping the environment isn't Green at all.

September 15, 2009

If a Font Manager is doing it's job you'll forget it's there

I recently changed to a new font manager. Normally this would not be a big issue, but I am writing about it for two reasons.
  1. The font manager I was using I have used for many years and always loved. I will refer to it as Font Manager A (I really don't want to name names since I am speaking badly of it).
  2. The new font manager was unknown to me, I had never heard of it. Not only do I like the way it works much, much better, but the support staff was really great.
I wanted to write about it is because it works a little different than the Font Manager I was using, which is also the font manager that most people I know use also. I am so pleased with the new one I wanted to explain why.

The Problem:
I have been a Font Manager A user for many years. Recently I upgraded my MacBookPro's operating system to SnowLeopard. A couple of days after that I saw that Font Manager A had a SnowLeopard patch. I installed it and after that when I tried to save a file in InDesign, it not only crashed, but it corrupted the file. This happened three times, you can imagine how frustrating that was.

So I twittered about the problem I was having and got a response from someone that said they used FontAgent. I had heard of Font Manager A, and the Font Manager that had merged with it, Mac's Font Book, and even a free font manager called Font Xplorer, but I had never even heard of Font Agent.

So let me explain some of the differences and some of the cool things.

First I noticed that I could not activate a font temporarily. I could go into the preferences and set it so that any manually activated fonts would open after a restart, but on second thought I didn't want that. Here's why. I have 20 fonts that I want on all the time. When I am designing a logo I manually turn on 50 fonts. If I set it to activate manually activated fonts after a restart all 70 fonts would come on. The way around this is to leave it set so that manually activated fonts turn off after a restart (which is the default), and make what is called a start up set. I made a new set, then right clicked and selected Start up set. Then I dragged my 20 fonts I want open all the time into the set and Font Agent activates those 20 fonts every time I restart. The 50 fonts, I opened for a logo project, get turned off on a restart. It's a different way of thinking about it, but it achieves the same result.

It seems that when I open an Illustrator or InDesign file Font Manager A activated the fonts the files needed and they were all there when the file was drawn to screen. Font Agent activates all my fonts also, but it seems like it does it a little later in the file opening process. I see a window about missing fonts, click okay, the missing font window closes and I see the activating fonts messages. This is so far the biggest problem I have had, and it doesn't really bother me.

On a side note, Font Manager A would deactivate a font of mine all the time after a restart, even though I had it set to be permanently activated. I have not had this problem since I put the same font in a start up group.

The next thing I noticed is Font Agent activates fonts in Illustrator, InDesign, Quark and Photoshop. Font Manager A didn't activate for Photoshop.

It also activates fonts for Safari and Mail. Now this may not seem like a big thing, most web designers use only web safe fonts and all computers have those. But much to my surprise as I surf the web or scroll through email I see Font Agent messages about fonts being activated, (this can be turned off) non-standard, non-websafe fonts. After I saw that I started to pay attention to webpages and they looked different, they looked the way the were meant to, non standard. I was really surprised by this. I think you can put programs into the preferences in Font Manager A to have it activate fonts for other programs, but I had never done that, I never knew I could until I started to write this.

Font Agent's font menu can be set to WYSIWYG so you can see your font names in the font style. I think Font Manager A can do this, but is was really slow on my machine.

Font Agents tools for classifying fonts seems much more comprehensive and the search tools seem to work a little better. Now maybe I will finally get my fonts organized, but just in case I don't Font Agent has something called the Font Player. It allows you to select a group of fonts and quickly automatically scroll through them. I could manually scroll through my fonts with Font Manager A (I can with Font Agent also) but every once in a while it would crash and the font would get marked as a bad font. So far with Font Agent I have not had it lock up and mark any fonts as bad. As I understand it Font Agent does a better job of fixing, and excluding bad fonts during the adding fonts process.

When I dragged all my fonts into Font Manager A I had 9874 fonts. When I dragged them into Font Agent I had 10381.

Both Font Manger A and Font Agent let you make smart sets, set attributes about fonts, make multiple sets, store your fonts in one folder, organize your font folder, and collect for output.

It may not seem like a big deal, but then it shouldn't be. If I am having to think about managing fonts, my Font Manager isn't doing it's job. I hope you check it out, FontAgent.

August 25, 2009

Sharing what you do to develop working relationships

Lets face it, as a designer many people think what we do is magic based on a mood or whim. The challenge is to develop relationships and show people there are reasons we do the things we do. Developing a good relationships is a lot of work, but well worth it.

Here are some things I have done in my career to foster good relationships, help build the brand and explain what I do.

Talk: When I worked for a larger company I would walk around every morning and talk to people. See how it was going, what they were working on and offer to help where I could. This is hard because as an In House Designer I had a full schedule, but I thought it was important. Another advantage is sometimes I could see things coming that I needed to get ready for and spot possible problems, like brand issues. I'd like nothing more than to crawl into my cubicle, put my IPod on and zone out, but sometimes grabbing a cup of coffee and heading down the cubicle rows can be rewarding.

Cheer Lead: I'd love to claim this idea as mine but it was our HR managers. We got an old monitor and computer and put it up in the main hall. I sent emails out asking what people were doing outside work. I got hobbies, baby and wedding announcements and garage sales, etc. I also asked for sales info and new deals the sales team was working on. I used a looping powerpoint show, if I had an old Mac I would have used Keynote. It played on the monitor all day and people would stop and check it out. I also did slides about using the right logo and font, and I made sure the presentation fit the company brand. This gave me contact with all the other departments and helped reinforce the brand.

Push Info: A weekly newsletter is another fun way to get info out and have a reason to make contact with other departments. In one issue I did a story about the new fountain in front of the building that looked like a satellite dish. I retouched a photo of aliens by the fountain and said they were putting a communications device in front of the building. People loved it and would stop by and ask how I did it. It was fun, got people to talk to me and gave me the opportunity to show a little of my photoshop skills.

Communicate: When ever possible tell people what you're doing and if you can, show some science behind it. Color psychology, why you wanted an image facing a certain direction to pull the readers eye in that direction. Share articles about why a strong brand is so important. Make them understand what you do is not just your whim. Show them the method behind your madness.

Pro-Bono: Help someone with a garage sale flyer, or side business, you might even get a freelance customer out of it. I did a logo for a fellow employee that was starting an online storage business. In trade he gave me some storage space, but the people that came by and commented about how they liked the logo, and gave me an opportunity to share why I did it was the real benefit.

Be sure to check with your boss to make sure they are okay with all of these, You don't want them feeling like you're undermining them or being distracted from your job. As crappy as it is, designers have to deal with the reality of office politics all to often.

An interesting post in the Pushing Rock Blog on this topic.

Have fun making new friends and explaining your skills.

August 11, 2009

Tracking Twitter

I must admit, when I first heard of Twitter my initial reaction was, What, 140 characters, micro blogging, how stupid is that. Well that was a about three months, 350 tweets, and 110 followers ago, now I'm hooked, and with anywhere between 2.5 million to 10 million accounts worldwide, (Twitter is keeping this under their hat), you can't afford to ignore Twitter.

Twitter Takes Time

I will be first to admit that twitter has the potential to suck the life out of my morning schedule. Marketing is about the numbers, knowing the effect my message is having, or at least how many people it's getting to is the only way to know if the time I'm spending is worth the effort. So if I am going to give some of my already busy schedule to Twittering I need to be able to see what happens to my tweets.

Google Analytics

I am a designer, not an SEO expert, so I am just going to relay, in the simplest terms, what I have done to be able check my twittering. For a really detailed approach to measuring your tweets check out this blog post by Hendrylee.

The first step is what do you want to measure? You may have a specific goal, driving traffic to your website of blog. You can track clicks from twitter but your going to have to have something like Google Analytics to measure what happens on your site or blog. Here are some links to help you add Google Analytics to your varies web assets.

Google Analytics
Add Google Analytics to your Blogger blog.
WordPress plugin for Google Analytics

Another reason to add Google Analytics to your assets is because you can take your Twitter feed and add it to your blog or website. If people click through a Twitter link from your blog or website you would have no way to track that.

Twitter Tools

There are a lot of ways to send and follow your twitters. I have tried a few and like a couple of them a lot. I have to admit The one I like the most is not the one I use. I like TweatDeck and Seesmic. They look great, work well, save searches, group people you follow, run multiple accounts, and they are AdobeAir programs so they run on any computer platform. The draw back is they have no tools to measure Twitter click throughs. There is a way to measure your clicks though, it's called Bit.Ly. You have to sign up for a Bit.ly account and be sure to use Bit.y to shorten your links in your tweets. This means re-shrinking links in the tweets you re-transmit, if you want to track those. That is extra work, but how serious do you want to be about tracking click throughs? There is a good discussion called, A Simple Way to Measure Twitter Effectiveness, about how Bit.Ly works on the Meteor Blog.

I use a program called HootSuite to monitor Twitter. It does much of what TweatDeck and Seesmic does, but it has statistics about your tweets when you use Ow.Ly, the URL shortener in HootSuite. You still have to re-shorten the links you re-transmit, but that's the cost of knowing. It also lets you schedule when your tweets post so they go out when your followers are online. The thing I don't like about it is it's web-based. I like to keep my Twitter Dashboard, as TweetDeck, Seesmic and HootSuite are called, open all the time, this is difficult in a web browser. The way I get around this is to use a program called Fluid. Fluid is a web browser that uses very little system resources and lets you close all of the navigation and menus so it looks like an application. Unfortunately for some, it is a Mac application.

Other Statistics

Tweet Stats lets you see statistics about what and when you are twittering.
See how your followers are growing on Twitter Counter.
The following sites have some Statistics about Twitter:
Twitter statistics that make you go "hmmmm"

So good luck and good tracking. Remember, knowledge is power.

July 24, 2009

Crowdsourcing – Is it another way to devalue creativity?

What is crowdsourcing?
You can’t hear the word crowdsourcing without thinking of outsourcing which has become the word for shipping jobs overseas. Crowdsourcing has become the term used to describe using as many people as possible to get things done as cheap as you can.

The word crowdsourcing was coined by Jeff Howe in a June 2006 Wired magazine article, The Rise of Crowdsourcing, by Jeff Howe. But the act of crowdsourcing has been around for longer than that.

Wikipedia defines crowdsourcing as a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task (also known as community-based design and distributed participatory design), refine or carry out the steps of an algorithm (see Human-based computation), or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).

My opinion on crowdsourcing?
In my opinion, crowdsourcing is to the creative industry, e.g. Graphic Design, Photography, what Wal-Mart is to small businesses and customer service.

If you’re a Wal-Mart shopper you might think great, crowdsourcing is going to make Graphic Designers more affordable right? If you don’t care for the big box stores you might wonder if the customer service you have come to love from your graphic designer is going away? The answer to both those questions may be yes.

The pros and cons of crowdsourcing are in the eye of the beholder. If your Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia means less sales, but need to know some information quickly on your phone, or you know something and want to share it easily, it’s great. Istock photo is bad for professional photographers, but great to small businesses with a tiny budget. If you’re a designer the big logo design sites take away your logo work, but need a quick cheap logo and they’re great.

As prices are forced lower by crowdsourcing designers have to spend less time on each task to make the same amount of money. The time it takes to design and build a file won’t change much; so personal contact with the customer is what will suffer.

So how does crowdsourcing affect design?
When I design a logo I talk to my clients, I ask questions to get to know them, the personality of their company or product, and learn whom their target audience is. I consider where the client is in their market, leader or just entering. I consider color psychology and the nature of shapes. When you go to a logo box store site the main question you’re asked is how much do you want to pay? As a designer for big box logo site you have to churn out logos like a machine to make any money. You create a bike shop logo with a bicycle rim in the middle and the next week you swap out the bike rim for a car tire and present it to the next client. I am not saying these are bad designers, on the contrary, I have seen some great logos come out of these shops. However with little to no interaction with the client they are just creating good-looking logos, not necessarily the right logo for your company or product.

What happens from prolonged exposure to this level of design, it becomes normal; just like the lack of customer service and personal attention we have come expect from a big box store. So while crowdsourcing is a great way to get design work done cheap, it may not be a way to get great design work.

Some examples of when crowdsourcing works:
Crowdsourcing News: The Guardian and MP expenses investigation into the MP Expense Scandal in the UK. The newspaper created a system to allow the public to search methodically through 700,000 expense claim documents. Over 20,000 people participated in finding erroneous and remarkable expense claims by Members of Parliament.

Timeline: Steve Fossett disappearance. The search for aviator Steve Fossett, whose plane went missing in Nevada in 2007, in which up to 50,000 people examined high-resolution satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe that was made available via Amazon Mechanical Turk. The search was ultimately unsuccessful. Fosset's remains were eventually located by more traditional means.

The ESP Game by Luis von Ahn (later acquired by Google and renamed Google Image Labeler) was launched in 2004 and gets people to label images as a side-effect of playing a game. The image labels can be used to improve image search on the Web. This game led to the concept of Games with a purpose.

SETI@home is a scientific experiment that uses Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads and analyzes radio telescope data.

Other things writen about crowdsourcing:
Phantom Captain:
 Art and Crowdsourcing
, by Andrea Grover
The Rise of Crowdsourcing, by Jeff Howe
Is Crowdsourcing Evil? The Design Community Weighs In, by Jeff Howe

July 02, 2009

What's in a name change.

I was listening to the radio and heard a story on the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and how they're thinking of changing the name of the state to Rhode Island. Yes the full name of Rhode Island is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It made me think about company names and changing them.

I have developed a strong brand and, I think, a rather unique and recognizable, though sometimes difficult to use, logo.

Now that I have developed a brand I find that sometimes I need a simpler logo and name. I use YAD, Your Art Director's acronym, and a YAD button.

Now I don't have the resources, or brand recognition, to change my company name like International Business Machines, IBM, did and because YAD* has another meaning, I make sure that when I use YAD it is always in conjunction with Your Art Director in some way.

In these days of texting and twittering LOL, RT and @, 2 ur friends, when is it right to make the switch from your full name to a shortened name or acronym?

Some things to ask yourself before you make a switch.

  • Do I have a strong brand, would I be giving up brand equity to make a switch?
  • Do people have an emotional attachment to my companies brand?
  • Is anyone using the new name or acronym already?
  • Is there a problem with the new name, it's acronym or URL?
  • Does my new name work internationally?
  • Why do I need to change the name?

A strong brand - Kleenex® and Band-Aid® wouldn't think of changing their names, they have actually had to sue people to not use their name. An interesting article about just that: American Red Cross Sued For Using a Red Cross

An emotional attachment to the brand - McDonalds® and the Golden Arches® have many childhood memories attached to them for a lot of people, using Mickey D's may be okay in more playful marketing targeting younger customers, but the loss of an emotional attachment to your customers could prove devastating.

Is the name or acronym already used - In many cases people base their company name on the availability of a URL. I think you should choose the best name for your company then figure out the URL. That said, be sure the URL that matches your company name isn't being used by your competition, or something worse. An article on acronym problems in the Credit Uunion industry

Is the new name a problem - It's easy to think that the company American Sprinkler Systems (I made this up, not affiliated with American Sprinkler) could use it's acronym, but it might not be in their best interest. Sharing expert information online is a great idea, so who wouldn't like the Experts Exchange, well some spam blockers might not, expertsexchange.com. The top 10 unintentionally worst company URLs

The new name internationally - When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova in South America they didn't know that "no va" meant "it won't go." After the company figured out why it wasn't selling any cars, it renamed the car in its Spanish markets to the Caribe. This is a horrible website, but it has some fun international marketing mistakes, well, I'm sure they weren't fun for the marketing professionals in charge.

Why change the name - Changing a name and logo is the quickest way for a marketing profession to put their mark on a company, but is it the best thing for the company or just their portfolio? There needs to be a good compelling argument to make a big change to your brand. Sometimes through no fault of it's own a company finds it's name has become a bad thing. You wouldn't blame a company with 911 in it's name for feeling like it needed a change. Sometimes a company outgrows it's name. Apple Computer® changed it's name to Apple® after the rise of the Ipod.

What can you gain from making a brand and name change? In many case's a lot but whatever you decide to do, be sure to build some matrix to measure the effect the brand change is having.

Some more information on naming companies.

Entrepreneur.com's naming rsources
Why Companies Change Their Name, Name Wire
The 10 Commandments of a Great Business Name, About.com

As for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, in my opinion, changing the name is a waste of time and money. No one refers to it as Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, I've only ever heard it refered to as Rhode Island, they also have the distinction of having the longest state name and it's going to cost a lot of money to change all the documents and signs.

*A YAD (Hebrew: יד‎), literally, "hand," is a Jewish ritual pointer, used to point to the text during the Torah reading from the parchment Torah scrolls. It is intended to prevent anyone from touching the parchment, which is considered sacred.

June 27, 2009

Missing Plug-ins CS 4, a bit of a Rant

You know when your working and in the zone and something brings it all to grinding halt? It happened to me yesterday when I went to use Contact Sheet II in Adobe PhotoShop CS4. It's always been in PhotoShop for as long as I can remember, ->File/Automate/Proof Sheet II, like a friend ready to help me do my work. Why would they get rid of a tool that collects all your images into proof sheets automatically and saves them to any file format you want so clients can easily pick photos.

Adobe decided that you need to use another program to do this. Adobe Bridge will now handle the Contact Sheet duties, and Contact Sheet II would be an optional install for Photoshop. You have to change your Bridge CS4 workspace to output, and a panel will appear to let you go through many more steps than you used to, only the Panel didn't appear. What did appear were peoples comments on forum pages asking why the Panel didn't appear.

It was then I decided to do the optional install of Contact Sheet II and found that Adobe felt other things were optional as well. Bigger Tiles, ContactSheetII, ExtractPlus, Layer Comps to WPG, PatternMaker, PhotomergeUI, Texture presets for Texturizer, TWAIN, and Web Photo Gallery (WebContactSheetII) were all optional now. Twain, the plugin to run many scanners and input devices, is now optional, go figure.

Apparently they are on one of the install disks that came with CS4. I also found them here:

The install locations are all over the place, so be sure to read the file OptionalPluginsReadMe.pdf to make sure you get them in the right place, then take a deep breath, grab a fresh cup of coffe, restart your timer and get back to work.

June 17, 2009

Orphan Works Legislation

As a designer and artist this legislation scares me. Before I get into why, let me give you some info about both sides.

This is what Marybeth Peters, Register of Copyrights has to say in favor of the legislation.

Based on the recommendation of my office, as published in our 2006 Report on Orphan Works, the legislation would allow good-faith users of copyrighted content to move forward in cases where they wish to license a use but cannot locate the copyright owner after a diligent search. It has benefited from many months of discussion, reflection and fine-tuning under the leadership of Senators Patrick Leahy and Orrin Hatch and Representatives Howard Berman and Lamar Smith.

Here's a bit of the side against the legislation.

If the Orphan Works Act is passed, all of your copyright holdings will be retroactively “orphaned” and lose their associated protections. You will have to register each of them with the federal Copyright Office in order to regain said protection. In addition, any future work of yours will have to be registered as well. This registration will cost a fee, and will likely be too expensive for most individuals to pay.

Here are some links to others with an opinion on the Orphan Legislation.

My opinion.

What if someone sees an illustration on my portfolio site and innocently copies it for their vacation blog. They shouldn't do it, but we all know this happens. They stop updating the blog, time goes by and they change their email. Someone looking for a picture for their project comes across my image and can't find contact information for anyone connected to the blog? They send a few emails, maybe look up a name, no luck. As I understand this law they can now take my image and do anything they want. I don’t think someone should be able to do that after a feeble attempt to find the creator. What if they put it on a product and sell it, worse yet, what if they take the image and use it in connection something I don't agree with?

If an illustration, photo, story, song, blog is found on the web and the owner can't be located it should not be used, it should be assumed it is protected and left alone. If someone really wants to use the work they should hire an artist to create something that will fit their needs. This law will cheat the creator out of control of their work, and cost other artists work because people can just find images, do an unsuccessful search and then use the image as they see fit. When in history has it ever been okay to find something someone has used their talent to create and just take it.

We are at time in human history where technology has made the ability to be creative and share that creativity in ways that are unprecedented, and now we are going to make a law that not only will cost us to be creative with government fees, but also let our creativity be stolen legally.

Please do something to help stop this legislation from becoming law, send a message that creativity is valued.

Learn more about current copyright law,

May 20, 2009

Can I wear tan socks?

It occurred to me this morning when I looked in the sock drawer and saw nothing but tan, I don't wear tan socks, black socks and black shoes are what I wear, part of my brand.

I started to think about clients calling and saying, I need to change things up, generate some excitement, I want to change the colors of my logo for this project, ad, or whatever, can I do it? Sure you can, it's your logo, but before you do I want you to think about branding. Branding lets your audience know it's not only you, but the you they are comfortable with. Your brand is more than just colors. It's a collection of expectations about a product, company or person. You go to McDonalds® and it's always the same, Golden Arches®, food that tastes the way you expect. Starbucks® too, it isn't just a logo and green color, it's music, people, a feeling, the taste. Think about Coke®, when you see a Coke ad you know it is Coke, even when it's real people or animations, an iPod® ad is an iPod® ad, even if the Apple® logo is on colors, or black. Why? because of branding. 

These examples are big companies, they have a very well developed brand with teams of people managing it. Most of my customers are smaller, the brand is still forming and may not be able to handle something as simple as a color change, but maybe it can, if the rest of the presentation is consistent and meets the audience's expectations of your brand.

Read more about Branding.

So think about what you want to do, and be sure whatever it is that you are being true to your brand. Tan or black socks are a trivial matter in my overall brand, (unless I wear them with sandals) but I'm going feel more comfortable in my brand, more assured. Let me look in that drawer one more time. Ahhh, one last pair all the way in the back. I really need to wash clothes.

May 05, 2009

Social Networking

Social Networking is all the rage. I have succumb to it myself. But why should you do it? Keep in contact with business associates, stay in front of clients and meet new ones, keep up with friends, meet new people, learn about new trends, for fun?


Social Networking is not going solve all your marketing issues, fix communication with clients, and make your world a better happier place, 

Where should you start?
I have some I like, but you need to think about a couple things. What are your customers, associates and friends doing? Ask them, then take a look at these links and see how many people are using social networking sites.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted on March 31, 2008 by Steve Dale in Social Media, Software


What should you do?

So can you measure your results? See what Brian Ellefritz says in, Is Social Media Held to a Higher Standard?

Time spent per month 32 hours average.

April 26, 2009


I went to see The Soloist last night. The main character in this movie, Nathaniel Ayers, played by Jamie Foxx, is a schizophrenic classically trained musician who talks about his heros, famous classical musicians, through out the movie. At one point he asks the character, Steve Lopez, played by Robert Downey Jr., if Steve thought about writers, like he thought about musicians? Steve Lopez, a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times, replies that when you're a writer for your career it's different. It occurred to me as a professional designer I don't think about my design heros like I did when I was young, and in school.

When I was in school my design heros were Milton Glaser, best known for the I Heart (Love) New York logo and campaign and Saul Bass, who I remember as the designer of the sixth AT&T logo (1984) but he also designed the Bell System Logo (1969). He's also known as the master of film credits because of his work on Otto Preminger’s movie, The Man with the Golden Arm.

These days I don't think about my early heros, or new heros, of design. Sure I look at what's current in design, but it's the design I look at, not the designer. Is Steve Lopez right, it's different when you do it as your career, or as adults do we find inspiration in sources closer, more personal, to us, or are designers becoming so specialized that standing out in the larger design world is increasingly difficult?

That's a question for someone smarter than me, but for me the next time I see a design that really inspires me I'm going to take a second and try and see who is behind it, and maybe find a new hero.