Franz Aliquo has been holding flavortripping (sic) parties in NY. The evening begins with passing around a small red berry called ‘miracle fruit’ which messes with the taste buds, and makes everything taste sweet, working especially well with sour flavours.

“He ushered his guests to a table piled with citrus wedges, cheeses, Brussels sprouts, mustard, vinegars, pickles, dark beers, strawberries and cheap tequila, which Mr. Aliquo promised would now taste like top-shelf Patrón.”

From a New York Times Article

Unclephil and the thousand images

Well done to unclephil for passing the 1000 images mark. He’s been a long time supporter of the visual dictionary, so a few months back we interviewed him:

  1. How did you first find the visual dictionary?
    My friend Paul Burgess, the illustrator, sent me the address, knowing I had an abiding interest in recording lettering.
  2. I assume you’re into photography?
    I have always enjoyed photography, but this is more about the word itself. My earlier interest (still ongoing) is in finding and recording interesting and unusual examples of lettering from wherever, especially examples of vernacularity, such as hand-made signs.
  3. What keeps you coming back to the visual dictionary?
    The challenge of finding new words. Now that I am a contributor, sometimes the most ordinary word will jump out at me from the midst of a sign. Yesterday, while my wife was buying a ticket at the railway station, I spotted ‘approach’, ‘stay’ and ‘disabled’ all in the space of two typographically unremarkable signs.

  4. You and minorbug are going head to head at the moment. Have you any strategies for domination?
    That would be telling. I am flattered that minorbug’s contribution remained dormant for about a year until I began assailing that third place in the pantheon. It all helps in the finding of words, though. I am sometimes less likely to go for words than I should be, simply because they don’t make interesting images: I will have to get over that.
  5. What is your favourite word and why?
    Palimpsest. I like the way it bobbles around the mouth and engages many parts of the speaking process. I also like what it means: a re-used parchment, erased and containing a new message. This notion of a second layer of meaning within a sign or a word is a crucial one to me as a typographic designer.
  6. What is your favourite image on TVD, and why?
    I have many. A favourite among my own is ‘bookseller’, painted on a silver globe in a bookshop window in Brighton. In the TVD as a whole it is a difficult question to answer, but I enjoy the contributions of scannedinski, particularly his commentary. I made a comment on his ‘grand’, but I think my favourite of his images is ‘pain’, about which he says: ‘I love France: you can buy ANYTHING.’
  7. And finally, anything you’d like to see the visual dictionary do as future functionality?
    It does bug me that somebody is daft enough to enter 38 images of the word ‘Madrid’ and they all get put onto the site. Perhaps there could be a block on multiple images of ‘exclusions’ only (multiple images of every other word is a good thing). Although on reflection, it does make the look of the A-Z ‘cloud’ more interesting!

Thanks to Unclephil for his time chatting to us, and of course, his effort in building up the dictionary.


Hardly anyone knows that a secret tunnel runs deep beneath the Atlantic Ocean. In May 2008, more than a century after it was begun, the tunnel has finally been completed.

This is such a beautifully simple yet well executed idea. I’ve seen the concept a dozen times before, yet this is on a global scale, and with Artichoke‘s delightful exuberance and finesse, it makes something just that extra bit special. I’m planning on going to see it this week in London, and in a few weeks from the New York side when I’m visiting the US. I wonder how many people have looked in from both ends?

Quit for cash.

“If you quit today, we will pay you for the amount of time you’ve worked, plus we will offer you a $1,000 bonus.” If you’re willing to take the company up on the offer, you obviously don’t have the sense of commitment they are looking for.

US etailer Zappos have a number of positive and refreshing approaches to running a business, being an employer and customer service. Their take on “you’ll love working here, or your money back” is an interesting method of weeding out those who just aren’t right for the company. Filling your organisation with like-minded (and that’s in terms of passion, enthusiasm not picking people who agree with you) people or even just individuals who have excitement and energy is a hard task no matter what your group does. Being open like this is just one of many ways to help find the right colleagues.


I’ve mentioned on this blog before about barriers to entry for innovations like opensocial or openid – and how some things are just too technical to become interesting to the mainstream. here is something which is lowering that barrier – and possibly (until tonight) the most anticipated 404 page i’ve ever bookmarked – http://www.google.com/friendconnect.

FriendConnect promises to offer social tools through basic embeds and snippets of codes, allowing content developers who aren’t necessarily the most technically savvy, to still enable their site with the power of social networking.

David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google, explains “Many sites aren’t explicitly social and don’t necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard. Fortunately, there’s an emerging wave of social standards — OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making ‘any app, any site, any friends’ a reality.”

Watch this, and many other spaces.


Occasionally I remember how much of a geek i am, and worry myself. This is one of those times, normal people don’t/shouldn’t get so excited about web analytics tools. However, i’m not normal, so http://piwik.org/ has made me sit up and say ‘oooh’. I’ve long wished i could do something more with the data *inside* google analytics, and piwik seems to solve that problem, not to mention using open source and non-prop software. I’d worry a little about constant hits to a db, and its scalability (as i’ve seen with slim‘s implementation of mint) – but its certainly worth a punt on a smaller site, and the API is worth looking at. Watch this tiny space.



A new product from the innovation masters, Schulze and Webb, supported ably by my good friend Amy T. and her team at BBC Audio & Music Interactive R&D.

Olinda is a prototype digital radio that has your social network built in, showing you the stations your friends are listening to. It’s customisable with modular hardware, and aims to provoke discussion on the future and design of radios for the home.