Conscience Break

Ah, glorious spring break! While I am eternally grateful for not being in school, I still can’t relax as the pressures to finish projects and my portfolio are in lieu of an inebriated week of warm weather and breast exposure. Four years of school and not once have I been afforded the opportunity to have gone wild, but that just might not a part of my constitution, although I do wish there were a few more drinks in me this week. Instead I will settle for a rambling blog post to kill some time and clear my head.

Numerous thought things have been running through my mind during this pseudo holiday. It may just be symptomatic of being kept to myself but, I’ve dwelt on how quite a bit of the things I get passionate about are relatively obscure compared to the people around me. Like, have you ever got the feeling of your heart race and a shiver raises the hair on the back of your neck while looking at an typeface’s character set? Typography is as most art and objects of beauty; appreciation can always be from the surface, but infatuation is deeply intimate and can require an separate education just to know what you’re looking at. I even caught myself skipping class to go sit in the library and read a textbook on design and type. Or what about vintage futuristic concept art? Pulp comics? Old nudie magazines and listening to lounge exotica music (not because I particularly like the music, but because of the culture that surrounds it)? Yes, I have come to love many inexplainable things and I couldn’t tell you why.

I will err to say it is not being esoteric that draws me to such strange things but the ideas that result from the experience. And as I try to write about this conscious dialog with I constantly have with myself about why I do the things I do, I feel a disconnect.. too analytical.. This compulsion to think about such topics is only proof that I have been away from the things I love for too long, whether they are tangible or not. These are the kind thoughts that plague me during breaks and the quiet hours of the night.

And if this was a LiveJournal my mood would be “pensive”..

School has taken its toll and now breaks are spent working and worrying about tomorrow. I can only wish I was one to moon young women from a beach house balcony with a solo cup in hand. But all I really need is for someone to occasionally say, “yeah I love that too,” just to remind me of the things I really care about. But I needed worry. Break is almost over and the misery will begin again.

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My Guide to Wasting Time

I’ve heard people say since ’96, “you can find anything on the internet!” And what joyous occasions we have all spent, surfing the for countless hours and exploring the world wide web. However, most people now get sucked into the same social networking sites and dedicate their precious time to youtube, myspace and facebook. It’s not long before you feel you have exhausted the internet’s resources for entertainment. But when I get bored I just stick out my thumb and hitch a ride on the information superhighway! Well with that aside, here are some things that tickle my fancy and others may find entertaining.

This all began in design school, where there is always a demand for picture resources. Any design student should learn after a few projects that using Google Images is a pretty piss poor way of finding quality and interesting source material to work from. And I say this being guilty of using such a convenience. However, there are great archives of photos, movies, audio and more for you to that have been digitized for all for you to enjoy.. Wait, it’s better than great. It’s incredible, fantastic, splendorous, magnificent!.. The point being, I get really excited about this stuff. So allow me to elucidate.

Many organizations and large universities have begun to digitize their archives of media and make them available to the public. One of the first ones I came across was the Library of Congress’s digital collection. If you have any attraction to US history or primary articles including civil war photographs, daguerreotypes, and some of the first moving pictures ever created. It is easy to get lost in another world. To describe the amount of content would be pointless as it can go on for infinite lengths. They have even taken the liberty to categorize material so that it is easy to browse through.

My second revelation came when I realized the existence of university archives. If you are so inclined, try this Google search: university+digital+collection. In the resulting query lies many years worth of wasted time that can be spent digging. And I should say as a disclaimer, it does require some sifting through some very user unfriendly sites with gobs of boring content. I mean, not everything can be as squeaky clean and easy as Web 2.0 but the payoff is worth it. Part of the fun is finding that one amazing collection of photographs collection hidden under piles of dry, bland, text-heavy sites. You will find your Googling will get more savvy when you aim to find the images that really interest you. But, if you would rather just point and click, you can try the Duke University Library for some pretty interesting collections that are well organized. Also check out the blog Bibliodyssey. In my eyes, this man is truly a god among men. He posts some of the most fascinating illustrations and manuscripts that exist on the internet for all to see. And for that I am eternally grateful..

Just when you get overwhelmed by the amount of material you can encounter from the libraries’ endless repositories, you are just scratching the surface! Archive.org is a precious gem of the internet. If you haven’t already learned of the glorious Wayback Machine or the seen the Prelinger Film Collection, then you must go now! Almost everything is public domain, including movies that have fallen outside of their original copyrights. Check out the movie “Charade” in their feature films collection. It is a hitchcock-like thriller starring Audrey Hepburn. How could you loose? I will leave you to explore.

I am geeking out so hard I just might have a heart attack. There is so much more to talk about but it would be in vain. It depresses me knowing that I have been away from scouring the internet for the things that truly inspire me. My hope is that I can take a small respite from school work during spring break and dig a little deeper into the dark abyss. The internet is the ultimate distraction and, now more than ever, I crave for nothing more. Please share other tips and links if you have them. Now go and be fruitful in your quest..

..Just one last distraction..

Assignment.

There are some inevitabilities in life that we must encounter. School work is one of those big ones. The fact is that the inception of this blog is in part due to a class project in Web Design 101. So, I signed up for a blog, paid my dues, and soon will begin creating a blog of my own design apart from some of those overused templates. As this post stands now, it lives on a page with little CSS styling and is quite hideous with those blue/purple links and serif type awkwardly set all over the page. Thus begins the assignment (I dedicate this to you John).

::Ahem::
Designing a blog has its unique challenge. Their content is user generated, and there is next to no control over the html. That leaves you with your divs, classes, IDs, and text just already to be defined and beautified. However, this still leaves you completely open to formating through that beautiful thing called CSS. Here are some particularly nice blogs that break from the convention of the Web 2.0 style templates usually default with wordpress.

Lewro
This blog does a particularly nice job of disguising a boxy structure by using graphics to soften edges and transparencies to give it a small depth to the page. The additional pages are also floated up to the right and individually colored which looks pretty nice. The more I look at it, the less I like it for personal reasons (like the type choice and some of the graphics), but still, she’s got a custom look and took the time to put the details into everything.. Just before I was about to move on I read here post saying that she has enjoyed the ton of traffic from the bump from Smashing Magazine’s “45 Excellent Blog Designs” but that she’s getting ready to change the design. What a zinger! Upward and onward as I like to say.

Papel Continuo
Creative graphics and I love the use of using two-color gifs to make it look like it came from one of those old continuous ream office printers. Oh man, I used to draw on paper like that for ages when my dad brought it home from work. I hadn’t yet learned to enjoy sketchbooks and drawing paper so I just went for the white stuff and it was good. I can’t read spanish so thats about all I can say about that.

Chris Contolini’s blog
“Google maps dawg.” Enough said but I do wish he could post in other coordinates. For a pedestrian in San Francisco he sure doesn’t move around a lot.

The Rissington Podcast
One of the best and simplest use of illustration i’ve seen. It’s refreshing to see on the web, but the designer still managed to keep the background calm and the type soft enough so neither one interrupts the look he has going on there. Kudos to you.

Hope you’re satisfied with those posts John. As for me, the future of my blog is limitless! I’m going to change the world! CSS here I come!