[design] Redux: interface, truman, etc

To: design-l
Subject: interface, truman, etc
Date: Thu, 29 Jul 1999 13:01:14 -0400

[the following letter was first sent to Brian Carroll yesterday, and I'm
posting it here now with some addendum. It's basically an eclectic
composition of ideas. Take them for what there worth, if anything.]

hi Brian,

The recent activity at design-l is getting very inspiring. It's actually
hard for me to keep up with it all. There are a couple posts I'd like to
make, but I have to get other things done first.

I've been busy the last week or so trying to come up with an 'interface' for
Ichnographia Ottopia (the longest series within s+a) and it has been
interesting to see the coinciding posts at design-l. I have finally come up
with the design I like the most and that will (hopefully) offer me a large
'canvas' to play with. The first ich. otto. page (of 446) is at xxx.htm [and
now up to 1180.htm, but these may still change slightly]. I'd appreciate if
you'd take a look, and let me know if it come up ok for you (also take a
look at the difference between what the page looks like on netscape versus
microsoft explorer if you can; the page is designed for microsoft explorer
[I did it on a PC, 17" monitor, 1024x768 res., browser font setting at

I am also struck by your recent forwarded post re: the truman show and
matrix -- I just saw THE TRUMAN SHOW for the first time on Monday night, and
I saw the movie PI the night before. [Two close friends of mine just rented
PI and it reminded them of my Timepiece work, so when I went to rent PI I
also got THE TRUMAN SHOW as a second movie for free.] I have actually been
preparing a post for design-l [this is that post now] about my reaction to
the two movies, and thus it was uncanny to find your forwarded post this
morning. My reaction may not represent the most popular opinion, but I think
it will be much more insightful than Smith's observations. Here's a brief

Like Truman, I have lived in the same place my entire live. [My family moved
to the house I still live in in 1958 when I was 20 months old; I'm now here
41 years -- the rest of my family now lives elsewhere.]

I am not a prisoner here [although hearing alarms often going off is now a
way of life], but something almost indescribable is making me stay here [--
I think the best answer is classic inertia, i.e., a body both at rest and in
a (relatively) constant straight line (actually orbital) motion].

My neighborhood 50 years ago was very much like Truman's town (Seaside)
today [but nothing, like a place of value, lasts forever].

My neighborhood today is exactly what the average white American seeks to
escape [or, more precisely, what the average white American has fled, and it
seems the act of escaping continues even further].

Seaside today is the manifestation of middle class America's escape
dreams -- a clever and ironic twist I see in the movie itself. [I assume
that others have already noted how the programmed life of Truman's town is
conceptually similar to what New Urbanism proports.]

Unlike Truman, I have been able to gleam a very wide perspective -- among
other things, I have gone as far away from my home as possible -- I actually
have been to Fiji! [I landed twice on Fiji during my 1987 round trip to
Australia. BTW, the two most obscure things to strike me about Australia
are: 1) although not played or broadcast, I nonetheless heard music
constantly, 2) Australia's firmament is ever so slightly softer to the foot
than the firmament of what I'm used to in Philadelphia, USA. These were
realizations made once I returned home, not immediate sensations upon
arriving there.]

Is Quondam and s+a and my letters to design-l my own sort of TRUMAN SHOW?
[Or, in light of scanning through the PBS-Johnson interview, is Quondam my
virtual "Glass House"?]

Should Quondam (and others) begin to think hard about clever 'product
placement'? [$$$]

As for my reaction to PI, I saw the lead character as weirdly portraying
both me and my brother -- patterns, god, computers, schizophrenia,
isolation, lobotomy....create and destroy, create and destroy...(actually
when Euclid, the computer in the movie, burned out, I immediately thought of
you) [Overall, however, I think paranoia was used too much throughout PI,
and since I always enjoy movies that have good colors, I liked THE TRUMAN
SHOW more than PI.]

Hopefully, I'll get my ideas formalized soon and send them to the entire
[so I can make them all think that I may be in some serious need of help].

Hope all is going well with you.


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