I love weird side projects.
A little inspiration, late hours, coffee and whisky, and a new side project gets added to the list.
You can send me your dumb tweets and I'll inscribe them into a clay tablet and send it to you in the mail. Really, I will. I'll even transliterate it into Old Persian cuneiform.
The oldest written messages from humans are utterly banal: receipts, accounts, nagging and beefs. I loved reading some translations of ancient cuneiform tablets and I thought: this is just like Twitter.
The project got a good bump of press when it launched - dozens of articles, The New York Times, a public radio interview in Canada, and a million tweets.
In 2008 some friends and I started a series of parties that examined the California ballot propositions. We made a site to share this good idea for other elections since. After 2016's results, however, it seems like maybe our efforts should have been spent elsewhere.
I designed and published really nice copies of semi-obscure books.
As an outgrowth of my involvement with the Charles Williams Society, I got funding to design and print collector's hardback editions of Williams novels. They're really great, despite their esoteric reputation.
The books-as-objects themselves are fun: they're exactly the version I always wanted to buy but never existed.
Look, we've all wondered at some point in our lives: is my house built on top of an ancient Native American burial ground?
The site is a joke, of course, based on my astonishmment in discovering that there is a real business based on a similar fear-mongering idea.
The Charles Williams Society is an incredible group of scholars, readers, clergy and fans that supports an overlooked author. I helped with our website and eventually joined the board. Williams himself was literary friends with C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and wrote novels, poetry, plays and more.
I managed the website for a while, got to visit the society in Oxford a few times, and now run an infrequently-updated newsletter and an occasional book series.
I spent a few years fixated on a historical figure that never existed and everyone forgot about: Prester John, King of the Indies. He's mentioned in Shakespeare and Maro Polo, but somehow we've collectively forgotten about him.
I ended up giving a few talks on the man, which included doing some extremely overwrought slide designs
Samuel Johnson wrote some killer blog posts 260 years ago, but he published them in a newspaper. I helped him do it right this time.
This project time-shifted hundreds of essays, and ran over a six-year time span. I wrote a summary of the experience here, but you can read for yourself. It's used now as a reference by a few college courses, which seems weird.
A while back, I was trying to get my head around the Westminster Shorter Catechism, a series of theological questions-and-answers. I tried my hand at designing my way thru the series, with mixed success.
It was also an excuse to rip off some Sagmeister.
When I first became a 'professional' product designer, I was very interested in the mechanical workings inside those articulated stuffed animals that can sing and dance. So I took some apart.
The resulting little microsite, which got a lot of coverage at the time, ranges from 'Huh' to 'OK, a little weird,' to 'NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE.'
It's more obvious than ever that our country would be better off if we split the union into smaller, more functional nations. Ex Unum, Pluribus! is my grassroots movement to do just that. I started the site in 2004 and people are STILL submitting proposals.
You can peruse maps that others have proposed, or you can download a template to carve up the US.