Category Archives: social design

storytellers vs. searchers

[see updates, below] My brother, Michael A. Clemens, is an expert on issues of economic development and was recently asked to do a book review for the pre-eminent journal of thinking on international politics, Foreign Policy. I am not able to appreciate his work fully, but I know he’s very smart and worked very hard […]

holy f*

Yikes, f8 looks like a monster, either a sea-change or the beginning of one. I guess openness really is built in to the way people want to use the Internet. Now, if only Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google would follow suit… come to think of it, if only the US mobile data market was opened up […]

“What can design do?”

In a meeting last week, I said I wanted to try to involve some other designers in a project, but just got a blank look and the question “what can design do?” — designers can’t really help with the actual making of the product, they meant. Ugh. It’s true: Silicon Valley-type engineers and other very […]

ideal use case for tagging behavior

This screengrab is the list of tags for a Flickr photo I ran across randomly. It feels more like micro (or nano?) blogging than tagging, in fact it’s anti-social! I love casual personal revelations. It feels like there is a great deal of rich meaning in fragments of thoughts and ideas set down semiprivately (in […]

compound meanings through terms and clusters

There are great sites that help to pre-chew a lot of information for you somewhat — search results are sorted by relevance, news feeds are combined into one list by date, tags combine like photos into one page. This is a huge improvement that people are only starting to usefully take advantage of. But actually […]

The Mob vs. the Groundswell

I got a very quick and intense sample of what it’s like to get public attention — now that no one reads my blog again (and I have the numbers to prove it) I can write about it. In this episode, I was just not ready for the fact that in that arena everything is […]


Finally, there is a feed reader at least as good at Bloglines and a bit better: the new version of Google Reader. Whew. As soon as I have five free minutes I will integrate its shared links feed into my blog, and my little information ecosystem will be easier. Still wishing for: a way of […]

mass-observation and the internet

An excellent article in the New Yorker recounts that in the U.K., in the thirties, there was a mini-movement called the “Mass-Observation” experiment. Members gathered as much detail about the lives of everyday people as they could, and synthesized it into a series of books (sample details: when a train goes through a tunnel at […]

glare of attention

So, for someone who gets almost no online attention, I got all kinds today for my post about my stolen cell phone uploading pictures to my Flickr account. Kottke, and then about 50 other blogs pointed to my blog post (my favorite title: “Yo Quiero Your Cellphone“), and I instantly had about 15k 40k unique […]

Oblique Pictures

I’ve always loved the deck of cards Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt published back in the 70s, Oblique Strategies. The koan-like ambiguity is helpful when wrestling with design decisions. I like words, but I thought some of the concepts would be even more usefully vague in pictorial form…