Godwins Law

Know about Godwin's Law? It's the rule that given any argument about politics, as time goes, the likelihood of someone mentioning Nazis approaches 1 (and that person immediately loses the argument).

Microsoft evangelist August de la Reyes has suggested that in the technology world, the longer a presentation about technology goes, the likelihood of it mentioning the iPod approaches 1.

But the more interesting meme I've seen in the last few months would be: the more important an event is, the more likely a scene from the 2003 Hitler biopic Downfall below) will be resubtitled to satirise it.

According to the Huffington post, it started with Hillary's Downfall, uploaded in 2008 after she lost the primaries to Obama:


One that really hit the airwaves (and in my opinion, is the funniest) was in the reaction to Kayne West dissing Taylor Swift at the VMAs:

More serious matters, are about digital scholarship (“anyone who has ever used Wikipedia, leave now”)

 And just out, his reaction to the iPad:

(As you might guess, there are a whole lot more. The MJ death one is NSFW – or as much as subtitles can be).

What's been interesting with this meme is how easy it's been to add to (unlike literal music videos or other mashups, all you need is the original clip and to make some subtitles). In fact, this trick was a staple of Who's Line Is It Anyway and MXC. Yet the bizarreness of the whole thing – Hitler?! – somehow makes it work. Unlike Rickrolling or Chocolate Rain, there seems to be some sort of weird method to the madness. Or, to quote Churchill “A joke is a very serious thing.”

Good Skills Take Time

So you're a year or two [or five] out of design school. You've trained. You know what good design is. And what you're doing isn't it.

(Disclaimer: 'you' can also mean 'I'. I find myself in this situation a lot, usually after I've done a set of wireframes only to realise that the flow won't work).

Yes, it's frustrating – particularly as according to Malcolm Gladwell, you should have probably hit your 10,000 hours of learning to be an expert. And funnily enough, give a year or two, you'll be experienced enough to call yourself a 'senior designer'.

In other professions that isn't the case – the traditional apprentice would expect to toil at menial and then copying-the-master tasks for a good decade or two, while those in med school or law school don't even make it out of the school gates for at least 5 years (OK, human life and justice probably deserve a bit more traning time).

But one of the most inspiring examples of how long it can take to get good at something came from American radio presenter and producer Ira Glass.

Glass gives some wonderful advice: namely that to commit to a creative career inevitably means that for a period of time the work you product will fall painfully short of your own standards of what is considered good. It's easy to forget this in areas such as journalism and design where there isn't as high a level of mechanical skill learning needed (as say, learning a sport or instrument).

What's more, he not only reveals that he was a slow learner, but proves it. In the clip, he plays back footage from his 8th year (yes, 8) as a radio journalist, to show … that even after eight years he still wasn't very good.

I have to admit that if I wasn't good at something after eight years, I'd probably admit defeat and do something else. But the fact that Glass went on to a national audience is a testament to the power of perseverence. I'll try to keep this in mind when I struggle with my next set of wireframes.

2010: Going Beta

So, it's a new year. A new decade even.

Like many designers (what's that joke about carpenters and their houses again?) my own website stood through most of 2009 sadly neglected as a front page and some blog entries.

Old home page

Then it broke, so even the blog entries weren't that great any more!

 Something had to be done.

Luckily, I found out about a great iniative called Project 52 - 52 weeks, 52 posts (at least). Think of it like a running group for bloggers. Of course, I wasn't going to keep posting on my terrible old site (which needed to have its hosting changed anyway), so this, along with the well-timed NZ Christmas break (and a several months of learning Drupal over the shoulder of a great designer/developer) meant that I could get it going.

Speaking of breaks:

 Arrgh! Issues!

There's nothing worse than having annoying issues on your site. (For the record, my issues started with the hosting – GoDaddy's tricky account setup meant that I uploaded everything to an ad-showing server and had to start again!). That said, there's nothing like having a live issue to make you sort it out. So, I apologise for any bugs right now, but I'd rather have the site up with bugs than not at all. Call it working in beta. Watch this space.