It Gets Better with Age

Tonight I watched Objectified on Netflix—ironically, while ironing—and spent some time contemplating the various man-made things we use on a regular basis. The documentary film by Gary Hustwit is a follow-up to his brilliant tour de force of typefaces called Helvetica, but this time focuses on industrial design and its iconic celebrities.

There was one moment that resonated with me, though. I think it was compelling in its hopefulness. IDEO co-founder David Kelley spoke of objects that get better with age rather than degrade with it, which is a design concept that is becoming more foreign to us nowadays. Using the example of his father’s leather suitcase, the leather breaking in over time, Kelley believes our propensity for flash-bang consumerism is pulling us away from passing objects down through the generations. And I think I may agree.

So how could we design objects that get better with time? What about user interfaces? Websites? How can we apply the principles of classic industrial design—that which was practiced by Dieter Rams, Charles and Ray Eames, etc.—to the intangible world of pixels and code?

Organizing Browser Bookmarks

I like to keep track of good websites and good people. When I find something worth keeping, I’ll add a bookmark so I don’t forget to check back often.

There are many ways to organize bookmarks; I’m sharing my own method openly so that I might get a glimpse into yours. Share with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Overarching Principles

These are my self-ascribed rules of the road when it comes to bookmarks.

  • Only use the bookmark bar.
  • Keep folder names to one word.
  • Default to HTTPS when possible.
  • Rename page titles to be quickly readable.
  • Within folders, alphabetize.
  • Don’t bury a bookmark in a folder if it’s accessed frequently.

Bookmark Folders

Folders are a good way for me to keep tabs on tons of websites without cluttering my bookmarks bar. I keep restructuring these, so you’re seeing a point-in-time compilation.

I either appreciate or closely follow (or both) each of these brands. They are interesting, important, forward-thinking, or influential.
Google is a brand, a tech behemoth, a newsmaker, and a services company. I access a Google-made product nearly every hour of the day, which is why it deserves a folder for itself.
These sites are useful and creative. If I’m looking for inspiration, I go here.
In this folder I compile the websites of “cewebrities” and friends. These may or may not be blogs, so they’re usually dually-present in Google Reader, too.
Some of these could be moved to the Brands folder, but in general, these sell stuff from lots of brands in one place.
I should probably cut back on these. Regardless, I think they’re all interesting and each has its own particular culture.

Bookmark Taxonomy

Here’s how the bookmarks play out:


  • Apple — Iconic, sharp, clever, simple; I am bewildered by the quality of products that churn out of this Willy-Wonka-like tech company.
  • byrd & belle — Beautiful carrying cases for laptops and digital devices.
  • Camelbak — I drink more water when it’s in one of these.
  • Field Notes — Small and simple, easy to carry, great for lists.
  • Gregory — Lots of pockets and completely comfortable for backpacking.
  • Herman Miller — They make the best chairs you can buy, and they’re from Michigan.
  • Incase — Well-made and stylish bags for digital equipment.
  • J.Crew — Good clothing and a step up from my teen brands. I think this contributes to my “chipster” label.
  • LAYERxlayer — Handmade bags from New York that remind me a little of The Village by M. Night Shyamalan.
  • TOMS — Interesting and comfortable shoes with an ethical cause.
  • Trek Bicycle — Sturdy and well-respected bikes from a reputable and USA-based company.






And here are the bookmarks that deserve to be unhindered by a folder:

So, what do you think? Am I a mess? Could I do this better? How do you organize your own bookmarks?

Blogs are not Dead

With the recent addition of Reeder to the Mac App Store, which in its own right deserves much rejoicing, I noticed that my blog reading has substantially increased lately. Some have proposed that Twitter could be slowly killing extended-length written posts on blogs. And while that may be true, there is no shortage of great writers online who carefully cultivate online readerships with wonderful writing and targeted topics.

If you’ve been away from the blog scene for awhile or are simply looking for new material to digest, here are some of my favorite blogs as of late.

  • Oat and About Chicago
    Written by an anonymous and prolific amateur food critic, I have never seen so much attention paid to lowly oats. And the posts are chock-full of hilarious one-liners to boot.
  • American Drink
    Here you will find anything related to classic drinking culture including snarky comments on fancy establishments and expletive-laden attacks on marketing gimmicks. Cheers!
  • Daring Fireball
    Expertly researched, cross-referenced, proofed, and linked, this Apple-slanted blog boasts one of the highest readerships online—and for good reason. John Gruber is a pro at finding newsworthy snippets before anyone else. And goodness gracious, his analysis of the inner workings of Apple are usually spot-on.
  • Subtraction
    This blog will be especially interesting to those grid-based-design nerds. Written by Khoi Vinh, a former New York Times Design Director, you should always expect a precisely written post on current technology and its design choices.

I hope you like some of these sweet blogs. Feel free to send me some of your own in the comments or on Twitter @RyanRicketts. I’d especially like to see some good blogs on hiking…

Forward-Thinking Websites

I have a propensity for creating lists. It’s a curse and a blessing, and every so often it benefits my friends. I’ve been stumbling upon some interesting websites lately, many of which are forward-thinking and quite compelling.
Beautifully designed mixes. It asks the question: “what music fuels your creativity?”
Started by three geeks who love their gear, Bagcheck allows users to share their favorite items for doing what they love. (Let me know if you want an invite.)
Quora is a continuously-evolving wiki-like system of questions and answers. The more people participate, the better the source of information.
What terrible business jargon do you need unsucked? Somewhat of a backwards-translater for terms like “thinking outside the box.”
The Google Think Insights team believes that “data beats opinion,” and their new website graciously shares industry studies and learnings with the public—for free.

I hope everyone is having a great Saturday—wherever you may be!