Archive for September, 2008|Monthly archive page

Redux Rant

This was originally posted on my Tumblr site, on second thought it seems more appropriate for this weblog:

Andy Rutledge is a talented and insightful designer and opinionated critic. I consistently enjoy his work at the Design View weblog, particularly the long-running “Redux” series ( where Andy provides a step-by-step analysis of a well-known website as well as his version of a redesigned user experience).

Sadly, his latest redux leaves much to be desired. Andy turns his attention to the US government’s information portal USA.gov which he describes as “poorly designed and often confusing.” Unlike his previous redux articles, Andy brings his political views to bear on this redesign.

It’s unfortunate that Andy decided to politicize this site design. It’s also surprising, given that Andy called out popular design blog Design Observer for using their site to further a political agenda.

Andy could have provided a serious look at usa.gov (a site in desparate need of attention) instead he went for a cheap shot at the Democratic presidential candidate.

Can Microsoft remake it’s image?

Seems as though everyone is talking about the Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld Microsoft ads. Especially now, with the rumors that the campaign is being scrapped in favor of a new approach.

I wasn’t a fan of the first couple of ads. They came off as Microsoft trying desperately to be “quirky” and “cool”. The ads are so obtuse and odd. Though, honestly, I was willing to give them time to find their bearings. This was obviously the start of a much longer and more involved campaign. Two may not make sense, but a dozen or more could tell an interesting (compelling?) story. Which makes the news of their demise all the more strange.

And I don’t believe for a second that this change was intentional. Microsoft got some negative responses to this effort and yanked it, as a form of damage control. It’s a kneejerk reaction to some bad (confused?) press.

As for the new “I’m a PC” spots, they strike me as an odd response to Apple’s “Get a Mac” ads. Too fluffy and not nearly hard hitting enough. Taking the “I’m a PC” live from Apple and trying to own it (or wear it as a badge of honor) could prove to be a good thing in the long run. But for now it’s still Apple’s game and Microsoft is playing defense.

Zeldman’s “Modest Proposal”

Jeffrey Zeldman, designer, blogger and web standards advocate, has some very salient things to say on the topic of political advertising. His idea is one that holds political advertisers—and by extension television networks—accountable for the “truthiness” of the ads they run. Impose steep fines for ads that contain false statements, in other words, lies. He makes his moral comparison thusly:

If networks refuse to accept cigarette advertising, how can they readily approve dishonest political advertising? Cigarettes kill individuals, but lying political ads hurt the whole country. No democracy can afford this, let alone when the country is at war, and under existential threat from terrorists, and in economic free fall.

Unless someone stands up to sleazy, misleading, mudslinging advertisements and instead of saying “That’s just politics” declares, “That’s enough” our political discourse will continue to put slander and cult of personality above the issues.

If we can’t count on the networks (or other neutral parties) to keep the political exaggerations in check the voting public is going to have to keep looking out for ourselves.