Brain Pickings

PICKED: The Smashing Book #2


Smashing Magazine is among the design community’s most revered online bibles and this month, they’re back with an excellent second book, putting their finest design wisdom in print.

The Smashing Book #2 is a treasure trove of best practices, practical insight and rich visual inspiration for modern web design.

Each of the ten chapters, contributed by a different expert, tackles a specific hot point in design, from typography to mobile experiences to the psychology of web design, and features stunning exclusive full-page, full-color illustrations by Australian artist Yiying Lu, of Fail Whale fame, for a total of 360 gorgeous, insightful pages.

True to the magazine’s social web roots, the book even features the the names of readers.

You can sample its goodness with a free chapter, Visible vs. Invisible Design (PDF), by Francisco Inchauste.

But perhaps most interestingly, for us at least, The Smashing Book #2 was published completely independently and is only available online, through Smashing‘s own site — another sign of the publishing times, adding to the rapid decentralization and democratization of the book business.

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How to Read: Simon Critchley’s Guide to the Great Texts of Humanity


Last week marked the release of How to Write a Sentence — the much-buzzed-about modern rival of the iconic The Elements of Style. And it reminded us of a fantastic series of books by editor Simon Critchley that addresses the other end of the equation: How to Read.

Each of the books tackles one of humanity’s great texts of literature, philosophy, science and religion, from Shakespeare to Freud to Darwin to the Bible, and enlists a leading scholar in that subject to break down the classic in a way that facilitates, deepens and enriches your understanding of it.

The collection includes the following titles, each a treasure trove of intellectual stimulation and contextual fascination:

Bonus points for the beautifully designed paperback covers.

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The Museum of Possibilities


What balloons have to do with civic engagement and open-source cities.

We love public space, that priceless petri dish of human interaction. It’s the lifeblood of any city, and the reason we left LA for New York. Unfortunately, much of it remains un- or underutilized, with cities failing to engage people in interacting with and in public space.

To prevent this disconnect when inaugurating its Quartier des Spectacles, the city of Montréal came up with an exceptionally inspired solution: The Museum of Possibilities — a wonderful daylong pop-up installation inviting visitors to share their dreams and visions for the future of the space by jotting down their ideas on pieces of paper and attaching them to colorful balloons.

Others could then vote on the ideas with stickers, collectively choosing the best visions for their shared space.

More than a mere art installation, The Museum of Possibilities became a playful yet actionable poll of public opinion, turning the possibilities into probabilities as the people of Montréal told their city, directly and tangibly, what they’d like to do with the space — a sort of physical, life-sized version of Give a Minute.

UPDATE: Per the comment below, the team behind the project has kindly stepped up: Melissa Mogiat, Mouna Andraos and Kelsey Snook. Find them and more of their fantastic work at Living With Our Time.

via Jake Barton of Local Projects

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