What will graphic design look like in twenty years?

Ah, ye ole Zip disk[1][2] circa 1990s. Once the preferred removable storage device for young graphic designers — now, well, . . . these days you will have to scavenge Amazon[3] or eBay to locate a Zip disk. Then you will need to find a Zip drive that will connect with a USB port in order to salvage any data.

Somewhere between the days of floppy disks, magnetic tape and CD storage,[4] the Zip disk was a practical way to transfer files from art department to pre-press department.

There were deadline nights in the art department — back when Friends and Party of Five were on network television. I would scramble with the rest of the design team to print out press proofs for a project. Then we folded all the proofs and color separations into a FedEx Envelope or Box. Next was to save all related files onto a Zip disk —the QuarkXpress document file, native Illustrator and Photoshop files, and fonts — and pack that into the FedEx package. One of the design team was tasked with driving the package to the FedEx dropbox by 7 p.m. pick up.

When I shared this story with an intern several months ago she displayed a perplexed facial expression. I took for granted the evolution of systems and technology experienced during my career in graphic design. It is something she may never fully appreciate. She will experience an entirely different progress of technological applications as she begins her career in advertising and marketing.

I told her that on those press nights a few of us at the office would use it as an opportunity to grab supper together at a favorite Mexican restaurant. Or maybe catch a movie. Some nights we would go play bowling as a team or hang out at the Village Cafe downtown. We were a twenty-something tribe of professionals working in an industry that was rapidly changing.

Kind of a reward for putting in long hours, she commented.

Yeah, I replied.

I wanted to continue sharing details of those days during the digital revolution in design, but stopped. She will have her own stories to share about those days when everyone used flash drives to transfer data. And how easier it was to upload PDF files from a laptop or mobile device to the cloud.

I cannot help but wonder what will graphic design look like in twenty years?



[1]Image originally posted: May 18, 2011. https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2011/05/18/anyone-remember-using-these-old-zip-disks-better/
[2]Christopher Phin, Think Retro: Who else kinda misses their Zip disks?, Macworld, January 27, 2015, accessed April 11, 2017 http://www.macworld.com/article/2875893/think-retro-who-else-kinda-misses-zip-disks.html.

[3]Amazon sells discontinued Iomega Zip disks (accessed April 11, 2017): https://www.amazon.com/Iomega-Formatted-reformattable-Discontinued-Manufacturer/dp/B00004Z83E

[4]History of Data Storage Technology, Macworld, May 5, 2016, accessed April 11, 2017 http://www.zetta.net/about/blog/history-data-storage-technology
A sneak peek at the office

A sneak peek at the office

The challenge with working outdoors is no internet connectivity and barely a mobile device signal. It makes checking emails and updating social media status and blog posts nearly impossible. But, really, the technological detox is quite rewarding. The contract job orders are … Continue reading

Is free is expensive & how much would you pay for a good story?

Ever feel like you are asked to do the work of three people? Ever feel that most of your day is spent reading emails and sitting in meaningless meetings?

I am not sure I have answers for these questions, but it got me thinking about a couple articles I have read. One explores the shrinking size of the original content creators — i.e. newsrooms. The other touches on the devaluation of work hours.

  1. How Technology Can Help Work/Life Balance: http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-technology-can-help-work-life-balance-1414382688
  2. Why Free is Very Expensive: http://www.forbes.com/2011/06/10/forbes-india-why-free-is-very-expensive.html

Years ago, I worked for a news organization. After a meeting, the publisher told me that opinions are cheap to publish because it does not require the writer to do anything but write. But a good story is hard work and costs the company a lot of money to put boots on the ground, staff to interview and research a subject, photograph and edit lead stories. The quality of the content that goes into a lead story suffers when an organization is understaffed. Further, the consumers of the content receive sub-quality work. Is the fault with the consumer that wants free online content? Or the content creator that is unable to provide high-quality work on a limited budget that consumers will actually purchase?

How much would you pay for a good story?

Quote: Most people believe that technology is a staunch friend

“. . . most people believe that technology is a staunch friend. There are two reasons for this. First, technology is a friend. It makes life easier, cleaner, and longer. Can anyone ask more of a friend? Second, because of its lengthy, intimate, and inevitable relationship with culture, technology does not invite a close examination of its own consequences. It is the kind of friend that asks for trust and obedience, which most people are inclined to give because its gifts are truly bountiful. But, of course, there is a dark side to this friend. Its gifts are not without a heavy cost.”

–Neil Postman

Quote: “Technology is…”

“Whether or not it draws on new scientific research, technology is a branch of moral philosophy, not of science.”

–Paul Goodman

Quote: “The air itself is one vast library…”

What a strange chaos is this wide atmosphere we breathe! … The air itself is one vast library, on whose pages are for ever written all that man has ever said or woman whispered. There, in their mutable but unerring characters, mixed with the earliest, as well as the latest sighs of mortality, stand for ever recorded, vows unredeemed, promises unfulfilled, perpetuating in the united movements of each particle, the testimony of man’s changeful will.

—Charles Babbage

A library of Babel concealed in the very air we breathe. (via alphacaeli)

[Podcast] When the lights go out

06 June 2014 Podcast Cover

Listen now:


A light breeze from the south carries echoes of a recent place in memory. In this episode, stories about creative space, laptop versus hand-writing and more.

It is warm enough to finally open the windows and let the Spring air fill the house. The first segment touches on that in a story titled “Creative Space.” Recently, the village where I currently live experienced the first tornado of the year. Everyone is fine. Thankfully, the only dangerous weather was thunder, hail, and rain. But it got me thinking of our culture’s dependency on electricity and technology. “When the lights go out” is the second segment. The third segment answers listeners’s question in “An audience of one.” The final segment for this episode is titled “Life is lived as a messy first draft.”

This episode’s unofficial sponsor is The Steaming Cup located in the beautiful downtown area of Waukesha, Wisconsin. For more details, visit TheSteamingCup.com.

Very special thanks to Lee Tyler Post for permission to use his song “Life Without Fences” in between segments. I first heard his music on The Great America Music Hour hosted by Jerry Jodice. Learn how to get any or all of Lee Tyler’s six studio albums on his website LeeTylerPost.com.

Listen on:
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SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/coffeehousejunkie

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Plan on- and offline activities

DSCN1707tiltshiftTheArtistLomoHow do you manage your online and offline activities? Okay, I am assuming you do manage your online and offline activities. For many people, time management is something that is not practiced–especially as it relates to blogging and social media. If you have an idea or thought, you post it on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook or blog it.

True confession: I was one of those who did not manage online and offline activities. When I finally purchased a smartphone, I immediately downloaded all the latest and greatest social media mobile apps to stay connected. Or, at least, that was the reasoning. It was difficult for me to understand why some of my friends (online and in-real-life) were not more engaged in social media. For the most part, I disregarded them off as neo-luddites. Yes, I was a social media snob.

That all changed when I joined the ranks of the mega-commuters.[1] With long commutes to the office, there is limited time to engage in blogging and social media with out planning. Or at least, not a safe way to do it while driving through city traffic and mountains roads. Additionally, with the weight of leadership decisions and somewhere between 50 to 75 tasks per week, I rarely check my personal email or check social networks until the weekend.

So, for the last year or so my blogging and social media posts and updates have been automated. More accurately, most blog posts are scheduled using a WordPress feature and social media posts and updates scheduled using Hootsuite.

Saturday mornings or Sunday nights tend to be the time when I write online posts/updates. However, that doesn’t seem the best time to engage people. A couple articles I read [2] [3] suggest when the best time to post content on blogs and social media. So, I preschedule the posts, tweets, and other social media updates on the weekend. Sometimes I preschedule posts and updates as much as 14 days to a month in advance.

The downside of automating posts and updates as the lack of engagement. Sure, the content gets out there on a regular basis, but there’s little or no conversation taking place. This also means I miss a lot of the activity and conversation that is taking place on blogs and social networks. Some Saturday mornings I will spend a whole hour replying to comments on social media sites from the previous week. The point of social media is sharing and interaction.

In a manner of speaking and due to my present circumstances, I’ve sort of become one of those neo-luddites I used to snarkily snicker at. It’s humbling to realize how much of an idiot I had been regarding social media snobbery. Not everyone has the luxury of being accessible to social media. And, quite honestly, terra will continue her daily rotation speed of 1070 miles per hour regardless of my social media activity (or lack thereof).

[1] Matt Stiles, “Interactive: Compare Your Commute To The Nation’s Longest,” NPR’s The Two-Way, March 5, 2013 accessed April 23, 2013 http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/03/05/173515882/interactive-compare-your-commute-to-nations-longest
[2] Daniel Zeevi, “STUDY: When is the Best Time to Publish a Blog Post?,” Dashburst.com, February 4, 2013 accessed April 23, 2013 http://dashburst.com/report/best-time-to-blog/
[3] Samantha Murphy, “The Best and Worst Times to Share on Facebook, Twitter,” Mashable.com, May 9, 2012 accessed April 23, 2013 http://mashable.com/2012/05/09/best-time-to-post-on-facebook/

Where did April go?

April - It's been a blue

Where did April go? It’s a blur to me. In truth, most of this year has been a blur. If you journal or keep a diary, you understand the benefit of review. If you blog you know that you should be able to write a blog post in 70 minutes or less[1] and should have five main components including:

  • Lead Paragraph.
  • Relevant Image.
  • Personal Experience.
  • Main Body.
  • Discussion Question.[2]

Make sure you publish your post between 8 AM and 11 AM on a Monday morning[3] and include bullet points. A blog post without images and bullet points is highly ineffective. Yes, I’m a bit sarcastic. But don’t you feel that blog posts seem dehumanized by formulas for effectiveness and templates for success?

I look at my journal pages and see business cards and receipts stuffed between pages. On one page there’s a list of numbers (after deciphering them, I realized they are the CMYK break down of a turquoise color for a book project). Another page has an appointment date and time crossed out. My favorite is an unfinished note at the bottom of one page that simply ends mid-sentence. No conclusion. Random, incomplete entry. Even productivity guru and author of Getting Things Done David Allen tweeted a few months ago:

“Life is messy; that’s why it’s so dynamic.”[4]

May is almost here. Glancing in the rearview mirror of analog and digital review helps me set goals for the horizon seen through the windshield. If this were a highly effective blog post, I would include a discussion question like: “How does journaling help you create dynamic goals for the next 30 to 90 days?” But this is not a successful blog post even though it has bullet points and an image.

[1] Michael Hyatt, “How to Write a Blog Post in 70 Minutes or Less,” michaelhyatt.com, September 15, 2011 accessed April 29, 2013 http://michaelhyatt.com/how-to-write-a-blog-post-in-70-minutes-or-less.html
[2] Michael Hyatt, “Anatomy of an Effective Blog Post,” michaelhyatt.com, January 31, 2011 accessed April 29, 2013 http://michaelhyatt.com/anatomy-of-an-effective-blog-post.html
[3] Daniel Zeevi, “STUDY: When is the Best Time to Publish a Blog Post?,” Dashburst.com, February 4, 2013 accessed April 23, 2013 http://dashburst.com/report/best-time-to-blog/
[4] David Allen, Twitter post, September 27, 2012, 3:11 AM accessed April 29, 2013 https://twitter.com/gtdguy/status/251111806951649280

Why share your work in social networks?

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

One of the book cover designs I promote on the social network Behance.

“Why share our work in social networks?” was a question recently asked on a professional forum. My reply: two reasons: 1) promotion and 2) personal brand. It was a Malcolm-Gladwell-Blink response and I clicked the “add comment” button without much thought (which is not my usual practice). My thoughts still linger on that question, “Why…?”

A few months ago I came across a few articles asking the question “Does social media promote or enable narcissism?” [1] [2] The article that impacted me most was from a source I never read. In the post, the author, Dodai Stewart, reflects on piece in The New Yorker and her comments are stinging and self-revelatory.

Just look around: Between Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, the whole ME ME ME thing has swept the nation. Here are MY thoughts, MY pictures, MY shopping wish lists! We call it sharing, but it’s just egoistic self-indulgence, usually. LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I WANT. But wait: Enough about me… what do you think about me? [3]

Hm, narcissism and self-absorption. Herein rests the lingering thoughts of a week or so ago.

As a professional, promoting my goods, services and whatnot help to grease the gears of capitalism, right? Conventional wisdom (or at least American business wisdom), purports that if consumers are not aware of your product/service, customers will not purchase from ME. So, I am advised by business owners and other professionals to promote MY skills, services, products, etc. And not only that, I need to establish MY personal brand (so that consumers can be more emotionally and psychologically invested in the products/services I provide).

Maybe social networks are not promoting narcissism and self-absorption as much as one might think. There may be a greater systemic issue that only social networks magnify.

NOTE: [1] Tara Parker-Pope, “Does Facebook Turn People Into Narcissists?,” New York Times, May 17, 2012 accessed January 2, 2013 http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/does-facebook-turn-people-into-narcissists/ [2] Steve Tobak, “Social networks and the narcissism epidemic,” CBSNEWS Money Watch, August 29, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57502035/social-networks-and-the-narcissism-epidemic/ [3] Dodai Stewart, “Self-Absorbed Is the New Normal,” Jezebel, June 26, 2012, accessed January 2, 2013 http://jezebel.com/5921468/self+absorbed-is-the-new-normal.