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Articles from September, 2009

Quick turnaround publishing

What’s really remarkable about Strange Light — Derek Powazek’s magazine featuring photography of the Sydney dust storms — is that it was conceived, produced and made available for purchase by one person within two days of the events it documents. Tapping into flickr’s social reach and Magcloud’s on-demand printing and distribution, this is a glimpse into one possible low-cost and community-focused future of magazines.

Told in first person

Documentaries are no longer passive experiences that viewers sit back and watch from start to finish. New approaches are making the user an active a participant and using alternate forms of navigation to add more context to stories.

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Design hacks

Design magazine Core77 have a new feature, Hack 2 Work, offering real-world advice from a bunch of great designers. Some highlights include Pentagram’s Michael Bierut on making the logo bigger and dealing with businesses right through to ergonomics when working with laptops.

The data and the journalist

How is the role of traditional journalism changing as more easy to use raw data sets become available for free online, allowing a greater range of users to data mine the content? 10,000 Words have a good introduction to some of the changes and implications.

Snow Leopard’s gamma shift

Apple have quietly switched the default gamma setting in Snow Leopard from 1.8 — their default for the last 25 years and originally set to match their first laser printer — to the slightly darker gamma of 2.2, which is the default in Windows. John Nack at Adobe has a good write-up on gamma and what’s changing.

Google News lifts the curtain

Google are playing good PR with big news publishers by offering up some detail to explain the crawlers and algorithms that drive their Google News offering, including a 15 minute video. Their tips are mostly existing best practice, but it’ll be interesting to see if this shapes story page layouts in a future where search referrals will play a large part in attracting users.

Creating a week in pictures

MSNBC have published a behind the scenes video of the history and process behind their Week in Pictures gallery, a weekly wrap-up of the best in photojournalism. It’s well worth watching to get a sense of the the amount of editing work involved in producing the galleries. There’s also a brief cameo from Tom Kennedy, multimedia editor at

Principles of perception

Over the past 9 months Andy Rutledge has been composing a series of articles on the Gestalt Principles of Perception. Andy’s articles are well written, easy to read and demonstrate the principles clearly with good examples on how they relate to web design. These are the principles that many designers use, even if they are not aware of it; they are well worth the time to read if you are new to design or just looking for a refresher (also see part 2, 3, 4 and 5).

Wolfram Alpha to offer API

Finding reliable data is often one of the hardest parts of large visualisation projects, so news that “computational knowledge engine” Wolfram Alpha are to open up their datasets through an API is a welcome development. Wolfram Alpha disappeared from the news as it became clear they’re not a rival to Google (in either’s current form at least) but offering an open API should bring a new range of mashups and visualisations by other developers tapping into the range of structured data available, such as astronomy, weather and finance.