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Monthly Archives: January 2011

Just finished watching Julian Temple’s film about Ray Davies and The Kinks: “Imaginary Man”.

It’s incredibly tender toward it’s subject – which is at once Ray, his music, the band – and London.

Ray Davies: Imaginary Man

The Turner-esque, painterly imagery alternates with more graphic compositions of Davies’ peregrinations around North London.

Ray Davies: Imaginary Man

It’s a series of psychographic sketches, punctuated by Kinks songs – in archive footage, in cover versions and most affectingly perhaps, hummed, sung and stumbled through by Davies as he strolls.

Ray Davies: Imaginary Man

He’s cast by the film as a flawed-heir to Blake – wandering London, inventing his own sung-systems rather than be enslaved by another man’s.

Ray Davies: Imaginary Man

This blog goes into far more detail and appreciation.

If you can hunt it down online do.

Ray Davies: Imaginary Man

If only to revel in London as Temple and Davies do.

Ray Davies: Imaginary Man

My thanks to both of them.

Ray Davies: Imaginary Man

Ben Bashford’s writing about ‘Emoticomp‘ – the practicalities of working as a designer of objects and systems that have behaviour and perhaps ‘ intelligence’ built-into them.

It touches on stuff I’ve talked/written about here and over on the BERG blog – but moves out of speculation and theory to the foothills of the future: being a jobbing designer working on this stuff, and how one might attack such problems.

Excellent.

I really think we should be working on developing new tools for doing this. One idea I’ve had is system/object personas. Interaction designers are used to using personas (research based user archetypes) to describe the types of people that will use the thing they’re designing – their background, their needs and the like but I’m not sure if we’ve ever really explored the use of personas or character documentation to describe the product themselves. What does the object want? How does it feel about it? If it can sense its location and conditions how could that affect its behaviour? This kind of thing could be incredibly powerful and would allow us to develop principles for creating the finer details of the object’s behaviour.

I’ve used a system persona before while designing a website for young photographers. The way we developed it was through focus groups with potential users to establish the personality traits of people they felt closest to, trusted and would turn to for guidance. This research helped is establish the facets of a personality statement that influenced the tone of the copy at certain points along the user journeys and helped the messaging form a coherent whole. It was useful at the time but I genuinely believe this approach can be adapted and extended further.

I think you could develop a persona for every touchpoint of the connected object’s service. Maybe it could be the same persona if the thing is to feel strong and omnipresent but maybe you could use different personas for each touchpoint if you’re trying to bring out the connectedness of everything at a slightly more human level. This all sounds a bit like strategy or planning doesn’t it? A bit like brand principles. We probably need to talk to those guys a bit more too.

As has become habit for me, I grabbed my end of year charts from last.fm

Last.fm charts 2010: My Top 10 Artists

Eno at the top, Bowie close behind – unassailable by now.

While Eno, and The Black Keys have put new records out in 2010, Four Tet is the only act that can really claim to have dented my 2010 with music from 2010.

Last.fm charts 2010: My Top 10 Albums

“There is love in you” dominated my 2010.

Walking music, working music – dancing-round-the-kitchen-cooking music. It’s a cracker. Best Coast’s debut album “Crazy for you” gets in there too. More of them later.

Last.fm charts 2010: My Top 10 Tracks

“Sing” from that album got heaviest-rotation, and coincidentally right below it is the snappily-titled “OAR003-B” by Oni Ahyhun (otherwise known as Olof from The Knife) which I think I first heard on a mix by Keiran Hebden (Fourtet) in close aural proximity to his track.

But for various boring reasons (mainly how much I listen to music on my phone), the last.fm stats don’t really tell the story of the albums of 2010 that made the greatest impression on me this year.

And, they’re overwhelmingly by female-led acts.

She and Him: Vol 2

A lovely record, associated with driving through Wales to some of my favourite places – Aberdovey, Cardigan, Laugharne – and climbing Snowdon on our wedding anniversary.

Best Coast: Crazy for You

Sing-along slabs of fried sunshine. Seems to be on constant loop in our local, The Book Club.

Sleigh Bells
But I think the crown has to go to Sleigh Bells.

Not only incredible pop, but incredible pop that couldn’t have come from anywhen but 2010. I loved all of “Treats”, especially “Infinity Guitars” and “Riot Rhythm” – but the opening track, and debut single “Tell ‘Em” grabs you with it’s incredible intro: all-together now – “SPUGGA-DUGGA! BEW!!! BEW!!!”

Also worth trawling youtube for the seemingly-ever-multiplying Sleigh Bells Vs … remixes…

Let’s give some too-early-to-tell-honourable-mentions to Warpaint

Twin Sister


.
..and Guards

But, I’ll finish up with two beauties.

Firstly, “Further” by The Chemical Brothers… especially “Swoon”

I’m liking the hyperdrive MBV-ness of your late-period Chems.

Not shoegaze, but… Screengaze?

Ahem.

Anyway…

Finally, probably my absolute favourite album of the year is the beautiful, hauntological post-ambirock soundtrack “Man of Aran” by British Sea Power.

Huge grey oceans, dark arcologies of cloud, massive shear cliff faces and dazzling bursts of sunlight – all in your ears.

“Come Wander With Me” is the one I find myself humming nearly everyday.

I’m cheating – “Man of Aran” came out in 2009, but hey – It’s 2011 already and it’s staying…

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