User Experience Designer's Bookshelf

I recommend Bill Buxton's Sketching User Experiences as a important book to read.

It very much pushes on the way both the imagined end result and the tools at hand play a huge part in the success or failure of a design. It has totally changed my mindset.

Tufte has become an icon for me in the space that often gets reduced to infographics, but really has to do with the meaning available through comparisons. 

One of the concepts that came to me from him is roughly "information is all the differences that make a difference." And this title of his, Envisioning Information, explores the way changes and similarities, represented visually makes information accessible in ways numerical abstractions sometimes hide. 

A further extension on this thought, is the way images and the information contained in them can be the heartbeat of a power, convincing and compelling narrative. His Visual Explanations challenges a lot of the notions I had about important and help me refine a key idea for all of my interaction and information designs: salience. 

For the actual work of designing interfaces, Kim Goodwin's Designing for the Digital Age and Robert Hoekman, Jr.'s Designing the Moment have formed the basis for my process, moving from strategies and concepts through user insights to frameworks structures and finally interfaces.

Living Things More Than 2,000 Years Old - Photos by Rachel Sussman

Rachel Sussman‘s Oldest Living Things in The World Book is the result of her near decade long efforts, alongside biologists, which took her around the world and into some of the harshest and remotest climates to document living things that have lived continuously for more than 2,000 years.

The book, which is a passionate and insightful melding of art, science, and travelogue,  includes 124 photographs, 30 essays, infographics and forewords by Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Carl Zimmer, all centered around her quest to capture and share the scientific knowledge that we have discovered about these temporal giants.

There is also at the end of this post a great Creative Mornings talk that Sussman gave about the project while she was in the middle of it (Nov. 2010).

Spruce Gran Picea #0909 – 11A07 (9,550 years old; Fulufjället, Sweden)

Spruce Gran Picea #0909 – 11A07 (9,550 years old; Fulufjället, Sweden)

Welwitschia Mirabilis #0707-22411 (2,000 years old; Namib-Naukluft Desert, Namibia)

Welwitschia Mirabilis #0707-22411 (2,000 years old; Namib-Naukluft Desert, Namibia)

Jōmon Sugi, Japanese Cedar #0704-002 (2,180-7,000 years old; Yakushima, Japan)

Jōmon Sugi, Japanese Cedar #0704-002 (2,180-7,000 years old; Yakushima, Japan)

  La Llareta (up to 3,000 years old; Atacama Desert, Chile)

 La Llareta (up to 3,000 years old; Atacama Desert, Chile)

Ideas, Art, Aesthetics - 5 Books I Love to Share

Sharing books you love with people you like/love/admire/appreciate is one of the most delicious things. You walk around with a shared interior room. You establish an invisible tribe of the heart and head. So, I like/love/admire/appreciate you. Here are the books about ideas, art, aesthetics I want to share with you.

If you want to share with me yours I would be so grateful.

Languages of Art 

by Nelson Goodman

I got this book referred to me by a professor of ancient Chinese calligraphy ( a bit about that experience). It is cerebral and lovely and trusts the reader immensely with discussions of the invisible, the dynamic, the hidden flows that make art move the way it does.

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Kant and the Platypus

by Umberto Eco

With a playful approach Eco gets me to a thoughtful reckoning of the heavy cognitive burden that language bears. 

I have actually bought copies of this book and sent them to friends because I wanted to talk with them about it.

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Twentieth Century Pleasures

by Robert Hass

With a wide range of subjects (from the image/thought of haiku, to contemplations of Tranströmer and Checkov) poet Robert Hass writes clearly and generously about the poetry he has found resources in.

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The Language Instinct

by Steven Pinker

Very much interested in the way we learn and develop language and the way that language overruns the rules we think define it, Pinker puts forth the notion that language isn't a cultural artefact, isn't an invention that set our societies off from their pre-linguistic past through its instrumentality, but instead that language is an inbuilt biological activity that has shaped our evolution as it evolved beside us.

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In Praise of Shadows

by  Junichiro Tanizaki

The way we approach beauty, the things we allow it to say about us, the way it contributes to the moment-to-moment experience of living, this is what Japanese novelist Tanizaki discusses in this brief little discussion on everything from tableware to architecture to space and light.

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