Browser Tab Amnesty #3

Perverse incentives’ are incentives that have unintended and undesirable results that are contrary to the intentions of its designers. 
Also known as unintended consequences, or the cobra effect, or by a whole number of other names and stories. Whatever it’s called, whenever I hear these terms, my mind goes to UX design-related cases, specifically, and the situation we’re in with Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram and so on. None were originally designed to be as incendiary and harmful as they’ve become, but they’re only getting worse with every single tweak or ‘improvement’ that’s made. Would it actually be possible to make any of them better?


Paper Airplane Designs. A database of paper aeroplanes with easy to follow folding instructions.
A brilliant resource. Saved for the kids, though really for me. 


Hedonistic sustainability. An oxymoronic feeling term that I think we need a little more of, if sustainable practices are to stick.  
That said, it’s an old term, from the lofty side of the architecture world, and from a practice that doesn’t really seem to have sustainable or accessible practices at its core. But then, what do I know about practical sustainability or architecture? Opinions only, really. Still, IMO, I like the idea of making the sustainable desirable. 


Bernard Rudofsky’s 1940 illustration of the number of buttons and pockets that a “fully-clothed man carries”.
Pretty sure I heard about this via Season 1 of Articles of Interest. I love the documentation of the mundane. It feels like this observation was made just as the fashion that dictated such excess was ending though. Nice to have captured it when he did. 


Insta-repeat: A meta-Instagram account, compiling 12 different photos of basically the same thing. 
A sobering and perhaps slightly depressing collection of images, reminding us that nothing is original. Woohoo! 


Stelarc. Integrating robotics and technology into his body since the 80s.
I’ve thought about this guy countless times since seeing him talk in the early 2000s. He came to mind every time someone did something body-tech; when Bluetooth started being used to identify us around the place or unlock our devices automatically; whenever I saw new forms of prosthetics; every time people started talking about wearables as some sort of ingenious new possibility. Every time, I wonder why he isn’t being referenced as an originator or prophet of this technological melding. Still wondering now. 


The Oatmeal. How to use a semicolon. 
Something I always have to search for to check, before deciding ‘I don’t care I’m just going to use them’. This time an Oatmeal page came as the top resource. Pretty impressive for a page that’s not including alt text or even captions as far as I can see. Bit of a shame. 


Tomas Sciskala treehouse (log cabin) images.
I’ve found these images several times on various sites over the years, and always marvelled at the amazing structural glass. How is that clean angle even possible? One reverse image search later, I discovered that the work was CG. It’s still a great image though, and for me, a surprisingly long way out of the uncanny valley. Easier to spot flaws in the larger versions of the image, but really, that glass should have been the giveaway. I must have been thinking about transparent aluminium… 


How French animator Kévin Gemin taught himself to animate on the Nintendo DS.
Magically characterful and nuanced animations, created with the most basic and clunky of tools. Silly, yes, but wonderfully so. Do yourself a favour and trawl his Youtube, then dig deep here and support him. Watch one of his gifs for a while and revel in the tiny subtle movements and details. 


Animated gifs made easy.
Easy online tool for editing animated gifs without watermarks or bonkers file sizes. An essential tool as I slowly extract myself from Adobe apps. Photoshop schmotoshop.  


Bernard Rudofsky’s 1940 illustration of the number of buttons and pockets that a “fully-clothed man carries”.

Tomas Sciskala treehouse (log cabin) CG bedroom
Tomas Sciskala treehouse (log cabin) CG kitchen

Pigeons by Kekeflipnote aka Kéké on Pateron

Milk Cat by Keke

Browser Tab Amnesty #2

I finally updated my phone. The old iPhone 7 had a damn good 5-year stint, and hobbled across the line with a tired battery, a broken microphone (an issue that plagued the iPhone 7, so I read), and a case with all its silicone worn off. Worst of all, in the last weeks, the glass cracks expanded to the point of being able to see the insides, which is a tad gross when you anthropomorphise objects as I do. 

This time around, I decided not to copy everything across to the new phone. It’s a tidy iOS trick to restore all your previously backed up states and settings, but I wanted a fresh start. Back in the UK, setting myself up anew, looking at potential opportunities. It’s a new chapter. A new start. 

That said, the old 7 was also a bit of a mess inside too. Weird settings I changed and shouldn’t have, useless apps in folders that I couldn’t be bothered to sort through, cookies and caches that I can likely do without, and most of all, an enormous Safari tabs debt that I couldn’t face ignoring any longer. 

I couldn’t just delete it either though. I’m a bit of a tab hoarder. First self-diagnosed when the iOS tab limit was just 33! I like to use them as a soft reading list, reference file, idea jogger, and even a sort of serendipity engine when I stumble upon a long-forgotten reference that for some reason resonates, even more, many months later. 

So here we go again, following my first Browser Tabs Amnesty from long ago, with another, which will be followed by many more as I finally make my way through the now rather increased tab limit (which is 500 apparently, and I think the old phone was near it 😬). 


Tom Gauld draws lots of lovely robots.
I did this image search a looong time ago while daydreaming about a little philosophical comic strip project. I’ve long loved Toms work, ever since seeing what I think was his first exhibition at the old St. John Street offices of SEA. In later years I was lucky enough to share a studio with Tom and got to witness his work and processes first-hand. Since then though, an occasional image search of his work is all I have to scratch the itch. Lovely stuff, as always. 


Oat The Goat. An interactive, browser-based kids story from some very smart folk in New Zealand.
This was limit-pushing browser-based work when it first came out, so much so, that my browsers (iPhone and iPad at least) could hardly manage. Thankfully it’s still up and working, and on revisiting, it’s as impressive as ever. Simply beautiful animation, illustration, storytelling and voice work (listen to it being read, it’s magical). All that, on top of the brilliantly crafted build. Just look at these resources. 😍


DSM-5, aka. the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, aka. The ever-expanding project to catalogue all human traits for classification as ‘conditions’.
A weird reference to have kept, opened after reading The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson. I think I was fascinated by his descriptions of what it is and what it represents. That the manual is both essential in helping to diagnose and treat serious illnesses, as well as a tool for pharmaceutical companies to use as a shopping list of new conditions that they can possibly push helpful drugs for. I may have misunderstood all of this, however, but the manual remains very interesting nonetheless. I’d love to have a browse one day. 


Itty bitty sites are contained entirely within their own link. (Including this one!). 
I remain to be fascinated and impressed by this project, while still unable to imagine a use for it, personally. Have a look at the length of the link once it’s open in your browser. That’s all the ‘code’ for the page and its contents. Clever, huh! Feels like something for nocode.tech, which I only just stumbled across today (see, a serendipity engine, I told you). 


An effective 60+ year-old responsive design guideline from Coca-Cola.
I refound this image when teaching about responsive website designs a few years back, when such ideas were still proving difficult for many to get their heads around. It feels like an ideal explainer for print designers to understand the notion that what they design for the screen cannot remain fixed, and instead must adjust in interesting ways. 


The Future Library. A newly planted forest, for paper, for a book to be printed in 100 years time.
And no one will read the book before then. I adore this project. It touches on so many ideas and speaks clearly to so many issues. Even just the fact that I will never live to see it be produced. Just brilliant. 


A nice recycled leather handwoven herringbone rug. 
Quite a change of pace to the previous link, but there’s an ecological theme running through. Mostly, it’s just a nice looking rug.  


Steve Jobs resisted third-party apps on iPhone.
An old reference, even for an old set of browser tabs, but it’s as useful and valid as ever when explaining ideas of iteration and pivoting to students (who are often wedded to the feeling that their ideas and work are ‘done’ or ‘finished’ or simply beyond improvement). I still marvel at it myself, that Jobs didn’t want third-party apps on the iPhone, meaning that he didn’t envisage the app store, or have any real inkling of the estimated $41.5 billion 2021 value/revenue (🤷‍♂️) of the Apple App Store. For me, this one example illustrates the really exciting prospect, that ideas are out there, waiting to be tried, tweaked, and developed, into potentially unimaginably valuable things. 


I want an artist made mechanical automata, please.
These things mesmerise me for some reason. Take a visit to the Southwold Pier Under the Pier Show for large scale real-life examples (or visit timhunkin.com). Maybe it’s to do with how utterly analogue and in-person these objects are. So far from anything web, app or tech-based. Oh, and I found another tab with a site selling nice automata kits too.  


Control Panels. In praise of dials, toggles, buttons, and bulbs.
Look! This one’s so old, it’s a Tumblr! Again, I’m slightly mesmerised by control panels and don’t really know why. I loved the Lego ones as a kid, and always take a ton of photos when I come across some in real life. I just need to be careful that the fascination doesn’t let loose at teenage.engineering/store (where I need nothing but want everything). 


Lovely robots by Tom Gauld
Oat The Goat
Coca-Cola advertising manual at Letterform Archive: Vertical and Special Treatments
Lego control panels
Cafeteria La Termica Museo Nacional Energia Ponferrada Spain, by me.
Teenage Engineering pocket operator modular 400

Browser Tabs Amnesty Day

As per my post the other day, about browser tabs being used as sort of ‘to do’ or ‘come back to later’ lists, I’ve decided to actually go back through mine and properly free up the space and do some filing. I’m calling a Browser Tabs Amnesty Day. 

It’s a chance to exorcise all those tabbed intentions and actually make notes and actions where needed. Here’s what I’ve got (that was actually relevant when I went back through all 33, in chronological order from the top / oldest), minus a few that were no longer really relevant, and some others that were a bit private:

1. Curiosity Depends on What You Already Know. This was ‘read later’ for sure but I can’t remember now how I came across it. I do sometimes leave a tab open rather than sending to Evernote with a ‘read later’ tab as I know I’m even worse with getting back to those things than tabs. Maybe the reason for leaving tabs open is to deliberately annoy ourselves, like writing on the back of a hand. 

2. Benefit Management. I left this Google Search open as I was intending again to read more after wondering if the term was a thing (when thinking how risk management feels a tad short sighted and pessimistic to be focusing on alone). Turned out that benefit management is indeed a thing, that I wanted to read more about.

3. The case for free Money. I wanted to reference this in relation to an old idea we played with at With Associates. Also out of genuine interest in the pending reality of there needing to be a universal basic income. Saved for later. 

4. Geert Hofstede and how values in the workplace are influenced by culture. Interested here just in his research into cultural difference in the way we think and see the world. This in relevance to calling myself an ‘interaction designer’ with awareness that I only ever really design for the ways that I think and perceive. I’m interested to see if it’s possible to make something truly universally understood. I think that finding this came along the same time as wondering about the old “You can’t please all the people all the time” saying, and thinking if the more truthful thing to realise is just that “You can’t please all the people.” Pick and group and please it. 

5. The More You Know, public service announcements. These sounding interesting and I wanted to know more! Sounds along the lines of the ‘inform’ part of the BBC’s mission. Makes me think too of the public safety adverts that they used to have on British TV in the 80s. I remember a cartoon about a man and his wife eating and swimming. A kid retrieving his Frisbee from a power station and in the Westcountry we had the Tufty Club and a jazzy 

6. How breakfast became a thing. One for read later and for point people to when they say I’m odd for not really doing breakfast. It’s just a made up meal!

7. Professor A C Grayling’s letter to all 650 MPs urging Parliament not to support a motion to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. I had hight hopes about all this a while back. Clearly this tab was left open for wishful thinking. 

8. Tim Harford the Undercover Economist. I just meant to read more of his writings after quite enjoying his books and radio work. Actually I think I planned to subscribe to his RSS. 

9. Romney Hythe and Dymchurch railway. Was planning to find out more about this and take my kids. So good when you can enjoy and are keen to indulge their interests!

8. Michael Crichton: Why Speculate? Odd source of a transcript from a talk he gave in 2005 that mentions the ‘Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect’ of which I’m so fond. Kept open to read on holiday. 

9. The National Autistic Society’s position on the MMR vaccine. Interested to see their take on it. Nice to see it so clear. 

10. List of Dyslexic Achievers: Andy Warhol. I saw some his old work on holiday and was struck by some familiar looking spelling mistakes, wondering if he was dyslexic I found this, suggesting that he was. Another one for the team. Dyslexics Untie! 

11. The Dyslexic and Creative Mind. After reading about Andy I meant to read more and come back to the subject again. I’ve not researched it for a few years and wondered if there were any new takes of theories about it all. 

12. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Researching researching techniques while looking for more ways to assess the quality of research (again, see point 9 above and know that there is a lot of “research” that still thinks otherwise. 

13. The Basics – How To Write A Science Experiment, Chemistry or Biology Report. More on point 12. 

14. SWT Fence Post – 3.6m 100mm x 100mm (12ft 4×4). Planning to build something in the garden for the kids. These looked big and sturdy.

15. Infrared camera conversion. Been looking into UV camera conversions.  

16. Auto Bottle Opener Safety Seat Belt Buckle Clip Insert Alarm Clasp Stopper. Take a while to read that and take in what it means. People are making and selling a device that is designed to stop seatbelt alarms going off, so that people don’t have to wear a seatbelt, and it doubles as a bottle opener, for beer presumably… The existence of this is one of the single saddest things I’ve seen in a while.

17. Winchester 12ft x 8ft (3.65m x 2.50m) Large Garden Room. Been looking at sheds for my Mum.

18. Steven Novella. Learned about him and the skeptical movement and wanted to read more. 

19. Understanding Health Research. A tool for making sense of health studies. Back again to points 9, 12, 13 and 18. There is a lot in science reporting and understanding, and understanding in general that I’m intrigued by at the moment and this new tool looks perfectly placed to help what looks like an epidemic of people not understanding the things that researchers are researching. Re-reading Bad Science has been a big part of this thinking also. 

20. The Man in Seat Sixty-One … Heard about this before but forgot to check it out. 

21. More bad science in the service of the discredited idea that vaccines cause autism. One last one of them.

22. Ben Goldacre made this Radio 4 documentary on randomised trials on government policy. And I’ve been meaning to listen to the end. 

This felt quite good. Think I’ll try and do it again, or at least find a way to better document pages and what I’m interested about in them. Feels like it could be an ‘easy’ Evernote thing but that’s too bloated as it is.

I did also give Mail to Self a try as recommend by teaim after the Browser Tabs post but it didn’t seem to forfill my need to make notes about the links. Also it just moved the multiple tabs problem into my inbox, where I have a whole other issue with to do list organisation.

Well, if Inbox Zero isn’t going to happen, at least tonight I managed Tabs to Zero. 

Comment, discuss or reply on Twitter / @mathewwilson

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