Online Northwest 2009 presentation materials

Here’s the “meta handout” and the slides from my Online Northwest talk:

(Both are PDFs, of course).


License plates – good for analogy and cool as designed objects

When I teach about Library of Congress call numbers, I like to show a photo of an Oregon license plate – the discussion that results – why do states need to use letters AND numbers? so there are enough combinations so every car gets a unique plate! – really helps to explain why LC is so complicatedly funny looking. It’s not a perfect analogy – license plates are random, LC isn’t – but it works. (I write much more about using analogies in the library instruction classroom here).

Anyway, it’s finally Finals Week so I have some time to tackle the to-do list before my summer break – one of my oldest notes (from, like, January) reminds me to design my own made-up number license plate graphic, just in case my Google-imaged Oregon plate really belongs to a real car. You never know.

Being a typography geek, I don’t want to mess around: I want to use the REAL font for Oregon plates. But who knew the hunt would be so interesting? I found a complete history of Oregon plate design (we’re one of the only states to manufacture plates in-state) and so much more …

Did you know that there is no official US license plate font? Seems weird since there are strict typeface rules for all other road signage. But no: it’s up to states to design their own plates (which makes sense if you’ve ever driven in Virginia).

For a fascinating history of plate design, check this out:

So much to think about here: embossed lettering v. digital (flat) lettering – does it make a difference in terms of road visibility?

I’ll leave you with an international gallery of license plates, including historical designs:

Happy Finals Week! Drive safe!!

Suggestion maps – Gnod and TuneGlue

Here are some really slick tools to introduce you to new entertainment, based on what you already like:

Gnod designs “self-adapting systems” to suggest music, books, and movies:

And TuneGlue does a similar trick for Music, but also links to album info. It was a little bit creepy how closely this matched my music collection, so I’ll definitely be taking them up on some suggestions.

If you know about other sites like this, please comment! I love this stuff. And does anyone know if there’s a collective name for this technology?

Gapminder World – visualize changing trends worldwide

I first heard about Gapminder and its Trendalyzer software from the TED talks by Hans Rosling. Gapminder offers a striking representation of worldwide (or national) trends in population, health, economy, and other indicators.

Check it out:

  • Free: Yes – “A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods”

The folks at have designed a great primer for anyone who wonders what the heck data visualization is and why anyone gets excited about it.

Check it out:

Amaztype – words made from book covers

This is a fun one. Type any word and watch as amaztype renders your word from relevant book covers pulled from Amazon. It’s the relevance that makes this truly cool – try “dog” for a good example.

Check it out:

  • Free: Yes
  • Sign up: No

Issuu – flippable pages from any PDF

I’ve been a proponent of the PDF for years – how can you not love a print-ready file format that also guarantees your graphics will stay where you want them? The folks at Issuu have taken the PDF into Web 2.0 territory by creating a virtual magazine reading experience, where the pages really flip.

Check it out:

  • Free: Yes
  • Sign up: Yes

Also blogged about at: