Sou’westerly

Posted by Steve in the wee hours on Thursday the 6th of March, 2008

Given that I’m sitting [or was, at the time of writing—Ed.] in a large, metal tube at about 35,000ft., and Ben is writing for his blog, I’ve been gripped by the desire to write for mine, too. Miracles, apparently, will never cease.

For the third year running, now, I’m on my way to Austin, Texas for SXSW.

Past

The first year (2006), travelling with Fatty (whom I had met but once before), was an incredible experience. I got to make lots of new friends and, generally, learn a huge amount and have a brilliant time.

Fast-forward a year to 2007 and Fatty and I were joined by Ben, and I got to share a room with the inimitable Faruk. There were lots of complaints, from others, of the conference becoming too big for its own boots, of too many panels with too little content, and so forth; generally, there seemed to be an air of malaise about SXSW.

Socially, for me, it was bigger and better than my first year: I went to more parties, spent time with more people, and generally made more friends than in 2006. It was good.

Present

I fully expect this year to continue that trend given that, at the airport this morning, Ben and I (alas, no Fatty this year) bumped into Stuart Colville before we had even checked in, Paul Duncan over breakfast, Cyril Doussin and Tristan Turpin (who, along with Stuart, are on the same flight as Ben and me) just after breakfast, and Gareth Rushgrove in the departures lounge.

All this, mark you, before we had even left Gatwick Airport.

Granted, this was aided in no small part by the magic of Twitter (and generally being better acquainted with more people in the web scene), but there was also a certain amount of serendipity thrown in for good measure, too.

Near-Future

Compared to the last two years, my aims have ever-so-slightly changed, too. Rather than, as last year, placing the focus on attending sessions and parties, my focus this year will simply be on “am I making the most of this time?”. I intend to be rather mercenary about this, in fact: last year and the year before, there were times when I stayed at a party for fear of not knowing anyone at another. That shan’t happen this year.

Further, I intend to be very much, to use an NLP phrase, “in the moment”. Also, in a change to normal programming, I shall be drinking alcohol (although hopefully not to the levels of excess seen at d.Construct 07).

The biggest change, though, is that I shall, finally, be attending SXSW music. The past two years, I’ve lusted after that extra week of partying and gigs (and envied Keith horribly when he’s stayed on); this year, I get to partake myself (along with Ben, Alex Lee, and Lindsey Mooney). Not only that but, thanks to contacts in Yahoo! Music UK, I may have wangled access to closed recording sessions for Yahoo! Music with Ben, Alex, and Lindsey.

I’m looking forward to it all more than you can possibly imagine.

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Happy New

Posted by Steve in the wee hours on Tuesday the 2nd of January, 2007

Since the day it was launched, nascentguruism was forsaken. When I started designing it, I had a limited understanding of design and so faced a massive learning curve. Because of this, most of my efforts went into working out how to translate the concepts and feelings I wanted to convey into a working site, along with understanding how to achieve what I wanted in the tools I was using (Photoshop).

In hindsight, it’s entirely logical that the first version of nascentguruism’s design would turn out to be everything I made it and nothing I wanted it to be: I was learning about design by observing and experimenting, and so would quickly lose focus on the overall design, becoming preoccupied with whatever details I wanted to introduce at that moment in time.

After ten months’ toil, the site launched with a whimper and, because of the shoehorning that had taken place to include all the extra details, I quickly became jaded: the format of the site didn’t appeal to me, and so I was unwilling to write. As time passed, my interest waned.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Shortly after SxSW in March–around June, if memory serves–I was inspired to play with some ideas for a redesign of nascentguruism.

Rather than pressuring myself to continue working solidly until it was ready to launch–as I had with the initial ten-month design–I decided simply to get all my ideas down on paper into a PSD before taking time to mull over what I’d come up with. After a while, I’d start anew, creating a design from scratch, building upon–or, in some cases, replacing–what I’d done in the last iteration.

This process continued until mid-October, when I finally felt that the design could go no further without transitioning to markup. Throughout, I refused to do any work–design or markup– unless I was compelled to do so.

I think this relaxed approach to the design and implementation has served me twofold: the design and implementation was less forced, and so the final site has a more relaxed, open feel to it, and this design is something I positively want to work with, to the point that I’m practically itching to post new content to it (and have been for the last month). Further, the iterative, throwaway-prototype approach to designing allowed me to incorporate new ideas effectively, without compromising the design as much as I might before.

Typography

One of my primary focuses in this new design was to experiment with typography, using some of the ideas gleaned from reading Robert Bringhurst’s ‘The Elements of Typographic Style’ and working with Rich on Web Typography. I’ve tried to blend more widely used ideas (like working with vertical rhythm using baselines) and more playful ones (like ornamented indentation), and will continue to experiment and integrate ideas put forth in Web Typography.

Some of these experiments are very reliant on using modern CSS techniques, such as generated content and pseudo-elements and, as such, may not display as expected on all browsers (Internet Explorer, I’m looking at you). Further, most of the font-size-related typography has been optimised for WebKit-based browsers on Mac OS X and, as such, there may be sizing issues with other platforms or browsers. Or maybe not. Everything should be usable, at the very least.

Style

As it stands, the CSS is very clearly showing signs of the hap-hazard approach I took to developing it; in the very near future, I plan to rework it–possibly using YUI reset and fonts.

Support

I couldn’t have achieved everything I have in this redesign if it weren’t for the help of a two notable individuals:

These two deserve more gratitude than I can express here–or in beer form–thank-you both.

There are, however, others that have supported me throughout the process, who also deserve thanks:

Fin?

nascentguruism is far from complete–during this redesign, I’ve come up with many, many ideas for future work on the design and implementation. Most importantly, however, I have a renewed excitement for blogging and a few ideas for future posts in mind.

Only time will tell if it lasts, I suppose.

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