Episode Six: The Short One

by danhon

1. Not Enough Time

When I first had the idea for doing this newsletter (and, I should probably be clear: it was less of an idea and more of a nudge, given that interesting people like Roo Reynolds[1] and Alexis Madrigal[2] and Robin Sloan[3] have been writing theirs, and they’ve been useful and interesting to me) it was more about developing a practice of doing something – which again, I’d seen Ben Terrett[4] talk about recently in the context of Michael Bierut’s 100 days project.

And honestly, there are a few things going on with my life right now: work is super busy (whose isn’t), I have a baby boy (who’s nearly one! Parenting achievement!) and my new anti-depressants (which are awesome – expect some thoughts on mental illness in the not too distant future).

So, I think, in an effort to be kind to myself and to remember why it is that I’m doing this: a reminder that I’m doing this as a practice, to get into the habit of writing something, anything, once a day every week day. And that it doesn’t have to be long.

[1] http://tinyletter.com/rooreynolds
[2] https://tinyletter.com/intriguingthings
[3] http://www.robinsloan.com/about/
[4] http://noisydecentgraphics.typepad.com/design/2014/01/ive-completed-michaelbieruts-100-days-project.html

2. More Thoughts About Her

Look, the thing is this: Spike Jonze did the kind of science fiction film that Sliding Doors is: i.e., one that people who aren’t interested in science fiction films would see, and where a SFnal concept (parallel universes, sentient computing) is explored in a relational way as opposed to a technological way. Or, more subtly in terms of interpersonal relationships (perhaps, a la Moon, but the setting kind of gets in the way – or, more fairly, enables the story) instead of with a hammer over the head, like in Elysium.

Samantha even attempts to explain an *incredibly* complex SFNal trope to Theodore toward the end of the movie and doesn’t do it in any way any traditional, core SF work would do so, because it’s not about the bits, bytes and computational substrates because Theodore doesn’t care about any of that. He cares about his relationship with her, and it’s the effect of the SFNal trope that he’s concerned with, not the root cause.

If I were writing for Fast Company, I’d be pitching an article with a provocative title like “Is Spike Jonze’s Movie The Beginning Of A New Wave Of Humanist Science Fiction In Film?”.

3. Facebook Paper

This is perhaps the first time I’ve spoken about work in this context, and you should all know that in my day job, I’m an (interactive) creative director working on the Facebook account at Facebook’s advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy. Today, Facebook Creative Labs announced Paper[1], their newest app. We had a hand in the design and UX of the site, and concepted (“came up with the idea for”) the film[2].

Now, say what you want about Facebook (and you will, anyway), but I’ve been playing with this app for the last few months, and it’s beautiful. It really is nice the way that they’ve come up with something that feels mobile first and, in a way, moves away from the speed-of-the-feed. Internally, we talked a lot about the way that the realtime nature of social software feels a bit zero sum and racing away from our ability to control it (and this goes hand in hand with the nice find of Greg Egan classifying Kardashian civilizations). So personally, there’s something intriguing in opening up the possibility space of the design of social applications that encourages slowing down.

[1] http://facebook.com/paper – check it out on mobile as well as desktop. Like the Sony site I worked on recently, we’ve tried to do something responsive that isn’t what you might normally think of as responsive.
[2] https://vimeo.com/85421325

4. Something I’ve Enjoyed Lately

Kieron Gillen’s continuing run at Iron Man has been absolutely fantastic, not least of which the Iron Metropolitan storyline which at the very least had me shaking my fist at Matt Jones for his opening quote of the city being a battle suit for surviving the future..

That’s it for today! And it didn’t seem like such a short one in the end, did it.

See you all tomorrow.

Dan