kottke.org posts about Jeff Veen

Leadership lessons from the dancing guyMay 23 2013

This is possibly the best three-minute demonstration of anything I've ever seen. Derek Sivers takes a shaky video of a lone dancing guy at a music festival and turns it into a lesson about leadership.

A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous. But what he's doing is so simple, it's almost instructional. This is key. You must be easy to follow!

Now comes the first follower with a crucial role: he publicly shows everyone how to follow. Notice the leader embraces him as an equal, so it's not about the leader anymore -- it's about them, plural. Notice he's calling to his friends to join in. It takes guts to be a first follower! You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself. Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership. The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader. If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.

I got this link from @ottmark, who astutely notes its similarity to Kurt Vonnegut's three types of specialist needed for revolution.

The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius -- a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in general circulation. "A genius working alone," he says, "is invariably ignored as a lunatic."

The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. "A person like this working alone," says Slazinger, "can only yearn loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be."

On Twitter, Jeff Veen shortened the three personas to "the inventor, the investor, and the evangelist".

How Typekit serves fontsSep 09 2009

Jeff Veen has a look at how Typekit protects fonts served through the service.

To that end, our Javascript is minified and the fonts themselves are represented as Base64 encoded strings. You may see right through this, but the vast majority of web users wouldn't know what to make of it.

Those Base64 encoded strings are then placed right into the CSS file. And even better than that, the fonts are split up into multiple files and recombined using the CSS font stack. Pretty clever stuff.

Jeff Veen: "Today, a completely redesigned versionMay 08 2007

Jeff Veen: "Today, a completely redesigned version of Google Analytics is launching, bringing a lot of the simplicity and data visualization techniques we learned building Measure Map to a whole new scale." They aren't switching everyone right away (no love for me yet) but you can read this post and get an idea of what to expect. Also: sparklines!

Video: web designers Jeffreys Veen and ZeldmanJan 22 2007

Video: web designers Jeffreys Veen and Zeldman fight in Wii Boxing. More web designer Miis here and an explanation here.

How design worksSep 12 2006

Michael Bierut on his design process, written in plain language that the client never gets to hear (but maybe they should):

When I do a design project, I begin by listening carefully to you as you talk about your problem and read whatever background material I can find that relates to the issues you face. If you're lucky, I have also accidentally acquired some firsthand experience with your situation. Somewhere along the way an idea for the design pops into my head from out of the blue. I can't really explain that part; it's like magic. Sometimes it even happens before you have a chance to tell me that much about your problem! Now, if it's a good idea, I try to figure out some strategic justification for the solution so I can explain it to you without relying on good taste you may or may not have. Along the way, I may add some other ideas, either because you made me agree to do so at the outset, or because I'm not sure of the first idea. At any rate, in the earlier phases hopefully I will have gained your trust so that by this point you're inclined to take my advice. I don't have any clue how you'd go about proving that my advice is any good except that other people - at least the ones I've told you about - have taken my advice in the past and prospered. In other words, could you just sort of, you know...trust me?

It is like magic. Reminds me of something Jeff Veen wrote last year on his process:

And I sort of realized that I do design that way. I build up a tremendous amount of background data, let it synthesize, then "blink" it out as a fully-formed solution. It typically works like this:

- Talk to everybody I possibly can about the problem.
- Read everything that would even be remotely related to what I'm doing. Hang charts, graphs, diagrams, and screenshots all over my office.
- Observe user research; recall past research.
- Stew in it all, panic as deadline approaches, stop sleeping, stop eating.
- Be struck with an epiphany. Instantly see the solution. Curse my tools for being too slow as I frantically get it all down in a document.
- Sleep for three days.

Like I said when I first read Jeff's piece, in my experience, a designer gets the job done in any way she can and then figures out how to sell it to the client, typically by coming up with an effective (and hopefully at least partially truthful) backstory that's crammed into a 5-step iterative process, charts of which are ubiquitous in design firm pitches.

Phil Gyford has posted a demo versionJul 27 2006

Phil Gyford has posted a demo version of HotWired's web site from 1995. See also Jeff Veen's look back at some of HotWired's designs.

Update: Net Surf covers The Spot and Yahoo getting VC and moving off of Stanford's servers. And the background on this story by Josh Quittner, oy vey!

Jeff Veen is posting some old screencapsJul 12 2006

Jeff Veen is posting some old screencaps of hotwired.com on Flickr; this one's from 1994. Early 1995. Late 1995. 1996. 1997 (Packet!). 1998. 1999. 2006.

Update: Jeff has some further thoughts on the Hotwired design.

Rediscovered this while looking for something elseMar 10 2006

Rediscovered this while looking for something else last night: a list of questions from a panel Jeff Veen, Jason Fried, and I did on Design for Web 2.0 in Octobr 2004. Have we made any progress?

Google buys Measure Map, Jeff Veen leavesFeb 14 2006

Google buys Measure Map, Jeff Veen leaves Adaptive Path to work at Google.

The cover for a 2004 novel called I,Jan 20 2006

The cover for a 2004 novel called I, Fatty bears a striking resemblance to that of Jeff Veen's The Art and Science of Web Design from 2000.

Lonely in a packed roomSep 15 2005

I'm sitting in a huge room filled with ~2,000 people at the opening remarks of the AIGA Design Conference and there's no single other person on Bonjour (formerly Rendezvous) in iChat:

Lonely Bonjour

I may be the only person in the entire room with his laptop open. Instead, everyone is listening to the speakers. Like Jeff, I'm torn: is this lack of a back channel a good thing or does the presence of an online component of a conference make the experience more rewarding?

Jeff Veen's The Art and Science ofJul 01 2005

Jeff Veen's The Art and Science of Web Design is 5 years old. To celebrate, he's made a proof of the entire book available for download.

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