John Niedermeyer is a Brooklyn-based design manager and internets enthusiast at <a href="http://buzzfeed.com">BuzzFeed</a>. Previously, he was a digital designer and editor at <a href="http://nytimes.com">The New York Times</a>.
In a recent broadcast, the resident propagandist at Fox News takes Rockefeller Center’s vintage public art and architecture to task for promoting Communism and Fascism through murals, friezes, and engravings bearing symbols that subliminally project vile values.
Politics aside, just watching the video, what is Beck’s point? That oil money funds communist revolution? That he is as good a propagandist as the communists?
Time.com has a nice video interview with Shepard Fairey, designer of the HOPE and PROGRESS posters of Barack Obama that were nearly ubiquitous during the ’08 presidential campaign. Time Magazine named the President-Elect Person of the Year 2008, so it seemed only natural to hire Fairey to do the cover.
In the video, he shows the process used to create the piece – techniques learned from his days as a screen printer.
Well, that didnt’t take long – given the success of Barack Obama’s digital and design strategy in our recent presidential election, someone was bound to, ahem… completely rip him off, sooner or later.
Surprisingly, the most recent example is the campaign of Benjamin Netanyahu, the conservative Likud leader running for prime minister of Israel. The Times reports:
The colors, the fonts, the icons for donating and volunteering, the use of embedded video, and the social networking Facebook-type options — including Twitter, which hardly exists in Israel — all reflect a conscious effort by the Netanyahu campaign to learn from the Obama success.
Silver uses data analysis to track and weight polls, based on their historical track records and methodologies. What’s interesting is that he rightly predicted the outcome of the Democratic primary race, while commentators at the time were talking about a Hillary Clinton comeback.
Design critic Steven Heller looks at poster design this presidential election cycle, and the unprecedented outpouring of support for Senator Barack Obama:
So, do these posters have any impact on voters? Not the specific images or messages but cumulatively they are a grassroots effort that excite through the show of collective support. What’s more, posters often appeal to personal needs and emotions, not all rouse in the same way for everyone. Having many options allows partisans to engage as they choose. This show of support goes in the plus column for Barack Obama.
The Times has an interesting (if not completely pointless) infographic on presidential height and weight, in recent history. I like that the silhouettes are all mostly recognizable – Jimmy Carter’s smile, Harry Truman’s spectacles and William Howard Taft’s belly… funny.
I couldn’t resist – Lisa and I are hosting a V.P. Debate party this Thursday night, so I whipped this invite up. The idea was to play up two of the more striking elements of the candidates’ appearance: Sarah Palin’s beehive and eyewear, and Joe Biden’s abnormally large teeth.
The result is kind of awkward but fun. It looks like an elongated John Kerry-sized head, but it’s not worth fussing with the proportions at this point. Just go with it… I did.
UPDATE: The always charming Emily pointed out a rather obvious spelling mistake in the design above. Can you find it?
Twitter found another interesting thing to do since acquiring Summize this past summer: they launched an Election 2008 feed, which displays Twitter users thoughts on the election in real time. The scroll goes dizzyingly fast, but the pause on mouse-over is a nice touch.
It will be interesting to keep an eye on it during the first presidential debate tonight, as I’m sure there will be lots of insightful, thoughtful comments. ::wink, wink:: Though I wish that the list was curated down to a select bunch of journalists or commentators.
Flickr revamped their slideshow feature, and the results are stunning. The full-screen mode is especially nice, and videos are now integrated:
One of the main improvements we’ve made is that you can watch videos as they appear in a slideshow. When we come to a video in a slideshow, we’ll play it before we move on to the next item.
The slideshow above is from the Democratic National Committee, showing what the stage will look like at for the party’s convention in Denver, which starts Monday. It’s just about the cheesiest Deal or No Deal thing I’ve ever seen, but perhaps it will play well on TV. (The Caucus has a photo of the Republicans’ stage, as well.)
Or, if kitties are more your speed, here is a gallery of our cats Katya and Mouse…
Can a typeface truly represent a presidential candidate? Yesterday on the Times’Campaign Stops blog, Steven Heller invited several designers and critics to comment on John McCain’s use of Optima for campaign collateral.
Is it dated? Classic? Does it convey strength? Or, quirkiness? The replies run the gamut; many of them funny or tongue-in-cheek. Michael Beirut notes the font’s resemblance to the one used to carve the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and Matthew Carter muses about how the typeface will hold up with the addition of a running mate this summer. But, my favorite judgement comes at the end, from Rudy VanderLans:
What does Optima say about Senator McCain? Nothing. It probably says more about the designer than anything else. Who, except designers, would judge a candidate by the typeface?
Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a law enforcement official and a person briefed on the investigation.
There are a lot of unanswered questions at the moment, but that pretty much says it all.
Slate points out the irony that Spitzer’s was brought down by the same investigation tactics he pioneered as a prosecutor. And, the Smoking Gun pulls an interesting tidbit out of the complaint:
…the affidavit notes that after her appointment with Client-9 ended, “Kristen” spoke with a Emperors Club booker, who said that she had been told that Client-9 “would ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe…” “Kristen” responded by saying, essentially, that she could handle guys like that.
“Barackula is a short political horror rock musical about young Barack Obama having to stave off a secret society of vampires at Harvard when he was inducted into presidency at the Harvard Law Review in 1990.”
If you’re going to vote tomorrow on Super Tuesday, consider documenting your experience for all to see. The Polling Place Photo Project, an experiment in citizen journalism that “encourages voters to capture, post and share photographs of this year’s primaries, caucuses and general election.”
“Persepolis” is a simple story told by simple means. Like Marjane Satrapi’s book, on which it is based, the film, directed by Ms. Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, consists essentially of a series of monochrome drawings, their bold black lines washed with nuances of gray. The pictures are arranged into the chronicle of a young girl’s coming of age in difficult times, a tale that unfolds with such grace, intelligence and charm that you almost take the wondrous aspects of its execution for granted.
I loved Persepolis… the Iranian Revolution was a curious thing to study, in college. Throughout the middle part of the last century, with the Cold War raging, the expectation for “Revolution” was nearly always a marxist concern. Even little Marjane’s relatives in Persepolis expected the Proletariat to prevail. What was new and unique in Iran was the rise of a reactionary, religious authority – that no one in the West, (and also the liberal elite in Iran), saw coming…
But as interesting as the politics in the film are, this is still primarily the story of a young girl, and her personal journey. I loved Ms. Satrapi’s depiction of her anarchist friends in Vienna, (where she attended French boarding school). These Europeans embraced her in part because of her experience with revolution and war, but they had no clue about the personal cost of this experience. Teenaged Marjane struggles with her identity, while they laugh behind her back. And in the end, we’re not quite sure that she comes out on top.
Persepolis is a journey worth taking, and the animation really is wonderful.
It’s New Hampshire Primary Day, (already?!), but I’m not going to make any predictions. Hillary? Obama? McCain? Huckabee? The polls have swung dramatically in the past week or so, in both parties. And, it seems that the country is coming to one of those cultural tipping points that only occur once or twice per generation.
Some have compared this cycle to the election years of 1992, 1980, 1960… But, perhaps it’s more like the first months of 1968, before the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. derailed all hope, as well as the campaign of Eugene McCarthy. We find ourselves in an unpopular war that nobody knows how to get out of, saddled with an lame duck President with low approval ratings, and no sitting Vice President in the race, and we’re facing some economic uncertainty ahead. Still, there is hope on both sides of the aisle.
Is it a generational tipping point? Are we as a nation heading toward a year much like that annus horribilis of 1968? Nobody knows at this point, but maybe it’s best not to look back for comparisons – everyone across the political spectrum is eager to move forward.
The Iowa Caucus results last night got me thinking about the many competing political cultures present throughout American history. Individualist vs. communitarian, rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural… but, at the core of our national psyche is this tension between the lofty ideals set forth by the Founders, and our attempts and failings to live up to them. For every shining example of Lincoln, FDR, and Martin Luther King Jr., there are generations of back-sliders who prey upon fear in order to gain political advantage. Sure, to everything there is a season, but I’m glad to see that the voters in Iowa embraced hope and rejected cynicism, on both sides of the political spectrum.
History is written by the winners, which is why Americans tend to think of our colonial past and democratic beginnings as built upon and in reaction to English institutions alone – but the story is a little more complicated. It’s not often that I do book reviews, but I just finished re-reading The Island at the Center of the World, The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America [excerpt] by journalist historian Russell Shorto, and wanted to recommend it to anyone looking for some interesting reading on the origins of this country.
The traditional telling of colonial America focuses almost exclusively on the English colonies in Virginia and New England. But, Shorto reminds us that the Dutch were the first Europeans to settle the island of Manhattan, and built some of the most lasting ideals and institutions into the fabric of American political and cultural life.