Great Dieter Rams interview

Dieter Rams, legendary industrial designer from Braun in the 1950s and ’60s, pretty much invented my design aesthetic. I can’t imagine what the world of technology would look like without his pioneering work. Brilliant.

I especially like his design principle #10: “Good design is as little design as possible.”

I probably didn’t hear of Dieter Rams until about ten years ago, but I’ve seen the world through his eyes since I was a kid. Most of these Braun products were not readily available in the U.S. in those days (the late ’70s and early ’80s), but their designs were so influential that just about everything you could get here still looked like them, or pale imitations thereof.

Jason Kottke also tidily sums up Rams’ influence on modern industrial design:

And hey, I didn’t know that a book had been published on Rams’ work. I bet Jony Ive has at least three copies.

I’ll take one of everything, please.

Source: Monoscope via kottke.org

iPad: Son of Newton

There’s some buzz going around concerning Apple’s new iPad commercial and its similarity to one Apple produced for the Newton two decades ago. Though I’m not the first to comment on this, I have a few thoughts of my own, so here goes…

First, let’s watch both commercials. I did not remember this (apparently) “classic” (in John Gruber’s words) ad for the Newton:

Now, watch Apple’s new iPad ad:

Wow. Homage indeed. I doubt very many people remember the Newton commercial, but the iPad commercial is stunningly similar. This had to be deliberate, but I’m wondering what exactly that deliberateness is supposed to mean.

Well, I’ll tell you this: watching the two ads back-to-back, I’m left feeling that a) the Newton really was way ahead of its time, and b) the Newton ad seems like one of those futuristic concept videos Apple (among other computer makers) seemed to love producing in the 1980s.

Newton was a vision of the future. iPad is the reality. That Newton actually became a shipping product says a lot about Apple’s ability to realize its vision (compared to the long line of never-to-be-made concepts that have come from Microsoft over the years, most recently… well… this). But the Newton was too far ahead of its time. Then again, it ushered in the PDA era, which ushered in the “smartphone” era, which led to the iPhone and now the iPad. So maybe Apple was really seeding (if you’ll pardon the pun) its own future with the Newton.

There are two key lines that for me define the difference between the two ads:

“Newton can receive a page and sends faxes and, soon, electronic mail.”

“(iPad is) 200,000 apps and counting. All the world’s websites in your hands.”

Granted, paging and faxing were still relevant technologies when the Newton was released, but they were already doomed, and the best Apple could say was that “soon” Newton could handle “electronic mail” (even then, using a soon-to-be-antiquated term). In contrast, the iPad hits the ground running, leveraging the existing success of the iPhone, and with forward momentum for future technologies. Newton was about what could be, but iPad is.

Nothing is real…

This fascinating video montage (apparently a promotional tool for Stargate Studios) shows just how much of what you see in outdoor scenes in movies and TV shows is really done with green screen. Surprising, amazing, and kind of disappointing. I’ll never believe anything I see on-screen again. (Not that I ever should have anyway.)

I think it would have been better with “Strawberry Fields Forever” as the soundtrack though, but I suppose they couldn’t get the rights. Maybe they should have used the “simulated live performances” from BlueBeat.com instead. (Source: LA Times)

Via kottke.org, via that’s how it happened.

My favorite Super Bowl commercial

Super Bowl commercials tend to scream at you, both literally and metaphorically. So a quiet, subtle commercial like the one Google aired is easy to miss. (The Focus on the Family commercial, for all the fervor preceding it, was also easy to miss.)

Luckily I didn’t miss the Google commercial. It was simple, and simply brilliant. Maybe it’s because I have a life-changing event in my own past that is at least partially traceable to a Google search, but I think the message here is powerful and moving: in the Internet age, profound events in your life can stem from things you find online. And what better way to find things online than Google?

My favorite moments are “What are truffles?” followed by “Who is Truffaut?” and when the user changes “Long distance relationship advice” to “Jobs in Paris.” It’s silly, I know, but I start to tear up at that one.