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Sean McBride
3,834 followers -
Working for myself in San Francisco
Working for myself in San Francisco

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Tim O'Reilly with a great post on why the White House's response to SOPA/PIPA is BS.
I was pleased to see the measured tone of the White House response to the citizen petition about #SOPA and #PIPA

https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#/!/response/combating-online-piracy-while-protecting-open-and-innovative-internet

and yet I found myself profoundly disturbed by something that seems to me to go to the root of the problem in Washington: the failure to correctly diagnose the problem we are trying to solve, but instead to accept, seemingly uncritically, the claims of various interest groups. The offending paragraph is as follows:

"Let us be clear—online piracy is a real problem that harms the American economy, and threatens jobs for significant numbers of middle class workers and hurts some of our nation's most creative and innovative companies and entrepreneurs. It harms everyone from struggling artists to production crews, and from startup social media companies to large movie studios. While we are strongly committed to the vigorous enforcement of intellectual property rights, existing tools are not strong enough to root out the worst online pirates beyond our borders."

In the entire discussion, I've seen no discussion of credible evidence of this economic harm. There's no question in my mind that piracy exists, that people around the world are enjoying creative content without paying for it, and even that some criminals are profiting by redistributing it. But is there actual economic harm?

In my experience at O'Reilly, the losses due to piracy are far outweighed by the benefits of the free flow of information, which makes the world richer, and develops new markets for legitimate content. Most of the people who are downloading unauthorized copies of O'Reilly books would never have paid us for them anyway; meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of others are buying content from us, many of them in countries that we were never able to do business with when our products were not available in digital form.

History shows us, again and again, that frontiers are lawless places, but that as they get richer and more settled, they join in the rule of law. American publishing, now the largest publishing industry in the world, began with piracy. (I have a post coming on that subject on Monday.)

Congress (and the White House) need to spend time thinking hard about how best to grow our economy - and that means being careful not to close off the frontier, or to harm those trying to settle it, in order to protect those who want to remain safe at home. British publishers could have come to America in the 19th century; they chose not to, and as a result, we grew our own indigenous publishing industry, which relied at first, in no small part, on pirating British and European works.

If the goal is really to support jobs and the American economy, internet "protectionism" is not the way to do it.

It is said (though I've not found the source) that Einstein once remarked that if given 60 minutes to save the world, he would spend 55 of them defining the problem. And defining the problem means collecting and studying real evidence, not the overblown claims of an industry that has fought the introduction of every new technology that has turned out, in the end, to grow their business rather than threaten it.

P.S. If Congress and the White House really want to fight pirates who are hurting the economy, they should be working to rein in patent trolls. There, the evidence of economic harm is clear, in multi-billion dollar transfers of wealth from companies building real products to those who have learned how to work the patent system while producing no value for consumers.

P. P.S. See also my previous piece on the subject of doing an independent investigation of the facts rather than just listening to the appeals of lobbyists, https://plus.google.com/107033731246200681024/posts/5Xd3VjFR8gx

Phew! Just finished end-of-year donations to 15 organizations. Thankful to have the means to help and an employer that matches 100%. Have you donated to your favorite organizations yet this year?

For those curious, here's my list:
HRC
EQCA
Lambda Legal
Point Foundation
Larkin Street Youth Services
St. Anthony Foundation SF
SF AIDS Foundation
EFF
NPR (KQED)
International Rescue Committee
Planned Parenthood
Olin College
Billings Interfaith Hospitality Network
Equal Rights Advocates
Donors Choose

Many more worthy causes, but those are mine this year.

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I wrote an article for Design Staff about building great products with the people you already have (and are about to hire). At a startup, you can have great design even without a dedicated team of design professionals.

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On the other hand, not everyone is crazy about the new Android Roboto typeface design. Here's what Stephen Coles had to say at Typographica: http://typographica.org/2011/on-typography/roboto-typeface-is-a-four-headed-frankenstein/

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Juciy details on the new font for the next version of Android. Sad to see Droid go, but I'm liking the look of this new font as well. I wonder if it will be available freely like Droid is?
Hello Roboto
When we announced Ice Cream Sandwich I also got a chance to introduce Android’s new typeface Roboto. Today I’d like to talk about how Roboto was born — why we decided to create it, and the design choices we made in the process.

Why replace Droid?
Droid is a great font family which served Android well over the years, but it was designed and optimized for screens that were much lower in pixel density than today’s HD displays. To be legible at smaller sizes, and to avoid turning to anti-aliased grey mush, the letter forms had to be quite dramatic. They had a tall x-height and a very regular rhythm so that they snapped to the pixel grid crisply. The bold variant was significantly wider than the regular text, because when a letter’s vertical strokes are one pixel thick, the only way to be bold is to double! It’s no surprise that on high rez screens, and at larger more dramatic headline sizes, Droid struggled to achieve both the openness and information density we wanted in Ice Cream Sandwich.

What were we looking for?
Most important was to create something that matched our ambitious design goals for Ice Cream Sandwich. Emotionally we wanted Ice Cream Sandwich to enchant you, to be attractive and eye-catching. Our new typeface had to be modern, crisp, and structured to match our new emphasis on open layouts and rigid grid alignments, but also friendly and approachable to make Android appealing, and a little bit more human.

Interactive display is a new and still evolving medium and what it demands from type design is subtly and uniquely different from print. We wanted to take maximum advantage of ultra high density screens like that of Galaxy Nexus, yet still be crisp and legible on lower resolution displays like that of Nexus S. Because Roboto would be used for the UI we wanted to make the bold very similar to the metrics of the regular weight, so that text could gracefully switch from bold to regular (like when you read emails in your inbox). We also wanted to include tabular figures (numbers that are all the same width) so we could display times, dates and other counters without having the characters jump around.

Finally we wanted Roboto to make a design statement in and of itself, in the same way that we wanted every screen on the device to have a strong and unique design point of view. Yet, just like the rest of the UI, Roboto is ultimately a medium for your content. We wanted Roboto to have a design character that made it recognizable, to be distinctive when you were paying attention, but never be overbearing or distracting.

How did we make it?
We realized early on that we needed something with a strong geometric backbone to hold up to our new open “Magazine UI” layouts. When we got rid of the boxes and bevels, dividers and other structural crutches, the more humanist fonts of our legacy felt uncomfortable and a little chaotic. Naturally we looked at some of the circle based geometrics like Avenir and Futura, but they’re very demanding in the rhythm of their metrics and ultimately were a little too soft for the crisp corners that we were using in the UI. The breakthrough came quickly when we settled on a straight sided grotesk.

Roboto’s straight sided capitals and distinctive racetrack-shaped rounded letters turned out to be perfect for our needs in a system font. It is space efficient and and holds its own for the short terse messages that are so common in UI. It has a high degree of compatibility with legacy designs created for Droid, because in almost all cases the same size Roboto sets in the same amount of space. Yet because of Roboto’s more structured forms we can actually set it smaller and with tighter line spacing, allowing us to put more information on the screen without inducing claustrophobia.

One of the potential drawbacks of a grotesk font is that the structured evenness of the type can make it more difficult to read. We started by softening up the lower case letters, and then experimented with opening up some of the glyphs to get a more diverse rhythm. We found that by adding a little more diversity to the lower case the font become more readable. In particular, we opened up the ‘e’ and ‘g’ while keeping the ‘a’, ‘c’ and ‘s’ characters closed. The rhythm starts to compare more to book types and makes for really nice reading over longer spans of text.

In the end we were iterating ceaselessly on minor details of the letters, extending the character set to Greek and Cyrillic, and tweaking the rendering so that Roboto would look just as good at all sizes and resolutions. In fact our work is not yet done as we continue to extend the character set and begin to hint Roboto so it works as well on computers as it does on Android devices. Still, I’m terrifically proud of the work the team and our lead typographer did in an ludicrously short amount of time. Roboto is a new foundation for Android and the team really deserves kudos for their accomplishment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little ‘behind the scenes’ peek at Android’s evolution. I had fun writing it, so let me know if you’d be interested in hearing more.
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Goodies delivered to the Typekit office today from Mandy and Jason of A Book Apart. If you haven't yet checked out their short books for people who make websites, you should! Even if you're already familiar with the topics, they're energizing and entertaining reads.

http://www.abookapart.com/
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Want to quickly find out which versions of which browsers support that shiny new bleeding-edge HTML5/CSS3/JS feature that you're trying to use?

Check out http://caniuse.com/

I find myself using it more an more frequently lately. It has good data presented in a nice table format and it's really easy to quickly filter to the one feature you're looking for.

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Interested in hearing me speak at SxSW about using CSS3 and @font-face to achieve classic looks from print and the web? Then go vote and comment on my proposal here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/ideas/view/9682

Here's the full description:

A rounded sans-serif with a letterpress look? A chunky slab serif in three-dimensional perspective? Grungy, patterned, or even blurred text? These effects (and more) used to be the domain of print designers or gigantic, inflexible PNG images. But no more! Using CSS3 and @font-face, I’ll show you how to get these looks with live demonstrations and take ideas from the audience.

With growing support for @font-face and CSS3 in all of the mainstream browsers, advanced typographic and visual effects are now possible on the web (and sometimes even easier to pull off than in Photoshop). Even better, the text remains SEO friendly and easily editable and translatable as well.

In this session, we’ll take a look at some well-known (and little-known) examples of great typographic and visual style from print and online. We’ll delve into the typographic origins of these looks to help us understand why they work, and we’ll explore exactly how you can use web standards to get the same look on your site.

Hello members of the public who have me in circles! I'm somewhat curious why each of you put me into a circle of yours, and what kind of stuff you expect or would like to see me post publicly. So, I figured a polling post like I've seen some of lately would be the best option.

Of the comments that I've added below, which types of things are you interested in seeing me post? Hit +1 on all the comments that apply, or feel free to comment if I didn't hit something that you wanted to see.

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