‘Logo’ is Not a Dirty Word

We live in a brand identity era, where high-falutin’ ‘brand evangelists’ eschew the ‘L’ word in favor of phrases like ‘flexible identity’ and ‘brand story.’ Well, designer Aaron Draplin is here to bring it back old school. Draplin is inspired by an era of corporate design where the logo – a simple, memorable, static mark – ruled the day. I have a deep love of logo design and appreciated Draplin’s heartfelt enthusiasm to the craft, shown in the video below. Sometimes a flexible identity is the right solution to a client’s brand. But as trends in marketing strategy come and go, the traditional logo remains one of the most potent and powerful tools in design.

This Dramatic Shift Will Change the Web Forever

Game developer Sergey Orlovskiy testing the Oculus Rift headset. Photo by Sergey Galyonkin

Game developer Sergey Orlovskiy testing the Oculus Rift headset. Photo by Sergey Galyonkin

Back in the nineties, the World Wide Web was a glorified bulletin board made of HTML. The online environment consisted mostly of static text and images. Then, in the early aughts, the so-called Web 2.0 era came along and the online experience became dynamic and interactive. According to Tim O’Reilly and John Battelle (who coined the term), “Web 2.0 is all about harnessing collective intelligence.” Examples of collective intelligence on the Web include Wikipedia (knowledge database written collaboratively by unpaid volunteers), Twitter (megaphone for revolutions and complaints), and, of course, Facebook (interactive repository of baby and pet photos). The 2.0 version of the Web is a stream of our collective unconscious where any troll, Dick, or Harry can contribute to conversation topics that are trending across the globe. So when will the Web shift to a new ‘3.0’ paradigm, and what might that look like?

Our collective online experience will change in response to a radical transformation in the vessels we use to navigate it. In other words, the next revolution in the online experience will stem from a shift in dominant computing platforms. During Facebook’s quarterly earnings statement in October, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “Every 10-15 years a new major computing platform arrives, and we think virtual and augmented reality are important parts of this upcoming next platform.” Zuckerberg was referring to his Oculus virtual reality technology.

If companies like Facebook and Google are successful, the next dominant computing platform will [Read more…]

How to Secure Your WordPress Site

WordPress Security Tips

Photo by robokow

In the 10+ years that I’ve been working with WordPress, the platform’s security has come a long way. WordPress is less vulnerable than it once was thanks to improvements in the core functionality and code. There are also better security plugins available than there used to be. Back in the day, I had 5–10 security plugins installed at any given moment, all performing different tasks. Thankfully, now there’s one I like that offers a great deal of functionality on its own.

That plugin is All In One WP Security & Firewall. I have no affiliation with the plugin, I just think it’s awesome. What follow are steps for achieving a basic level of security with the plugin; the tool is robust and you can certainly take more advanced security steps with it if you wish. I think this is a good start. Here are my tips for basic WordPress security:

  1. Install the All In One WP Security & Firewall plugin
  2. Go to the WP Security dashboard in your WordPress backend and view the ‘Critical Feature Status’ module. This area includes four features: admin username, login lockdown, file permission, and basic firewall. Activate all four of these features.
  3. There is a fifth feature that I like to activate, and that’s ‘Rename Login Page.’ This feature changes your login page from mydomain.com/wp-login.php to a location of your choosing (preferably a random string). One of the most basic WordPress security tips is to change your username to something different than ‘admin’ so that malicious entities don’t know your username by default. Well, why wouldn’t we apply the same thinking to the login page, so that its location is not in a predictable place? This is a powerful feature that’s easy to set up. Go to the ‘Brute Force’ tab of the plugin and change the location to a random string that only you know.
  4. Now that we’ve gone through the trouble of changing our username and login page to values that only we know, we should make sure we aren’t canceling out the effort by revealing them on our public-facing webpages. If your blog’s author page is revealing your username in the url, you can use a plugin like Edit Author Slug to change it. Likewise, make sure there aren’t any ‘Login’ links leading to the login page on your site (even if there are, the might not link to your newly renamed login page, but these links should be removed nonetheless).

Again, these are just basic steps to get you started. But they will provide a primary level of security to help harden your WordPress site.

The Five Best Rock & Roll Logos of All Time

At its best, a rock and roll logo can embody the exuberance and power of the music it represents. Here are the five best rock and roll logos of all time, with short critiques and historical backgrounds on the designs. Please keep in mind that these are objectively the five best, not my personal subjective biased opinion.

5. Death

Death Logo Schuldiner

The perfect, ultimate environment for a rock and roll logo is when a disgruntled teenager has lovingly scrawled it on their notebook in the back of a halogen classroom. The logo of metal pioneers Death epitomizes that feeling – it is hand-drawn, extremely personal, youthful, even amateur-ish – and I’m sure it has been scrawled and carved by legions of fans.

The logo was designed by band leader Chuck Schuldiner. He refined and edited it over the course of the band’s career, but my favorite version is the early, maximalist version with excessive haunted house effects: dangling spiders, bloody scythe, severed zombie head. This is the kind of forbidden stuff that I noticed on the denim jacket patches of high school dudes when I was still a kid in neon Umbro soccer shorts, and it still represents the essential tantalizing allure of rock and roll to me.

See the logo on Death’s Leprosy album cover in my [Read more…]

New Digital Art Series: ‘Contact the Webmaster’

Contact the Webmaster

I made a bunch of satirical art websites and named the series ‘Contact the Webmaster.’ You can view all of the sites at ContactTheWebmaster.com or here:

The Internet is such a bizarre, surreal environment and it’s fun to use it as a playground. Two sources of inspiration while working on these sites were OfficialWebsiteOfAmerica.com and Cory Arcangel’s Super Mario Clouds installation at the 2002 Whitney Biennial.

Hopefully I’ll have more coming soon. Thank you!

Here’s the Meaning Behind Banksy’s ‘Evil’ Painting

Banksy's Banality of Evil
The Banksy painting ‘The Banality of the Banality of Evil’ was one of the artworks of his October 2013 NYC residency. According to Banksy’s website, this piece is an oil painting of a landscape that was purchased from a thrift store, “vandalized” (Banksy’s word) with Banksy’s painted Nazi seated on a bench, and re-donated to the thrift store. Here are some thoughts on its meaning.

The piece is a ‘collaboration’ between two artists in much the same way that graffiti artists collaborate: the landscape painter’s work of art has been literally painted on by another artist without his knowledge or consent. In graffiti/street art, this style of working with other artists is an inherent element of the medium. It’s a form of shared authorship.

When I first saw this image, I was struck by the contrast of symbolism: seeing a Nazi in a placid American landscape painting is jarring. It’s like seeing Darth Vader in a Norman Rockwell painting.

The phrase ‘the banality of evil’ refers to the idea that ordinary people can commit acts of horror when they are following orders, or following the herd. Naziism is the ultimate symbol of this idea. The Nazi soldier shown here is pictured contemplating a mundane scene. Banksy’s meta title pokes fun at the artwork (and therefore both of the artists responsible for its creation): the scenery and lack of action make for a banal image.

Consider ‘The Banality of the Banality of Evil’ in context: it was made in New York City by an artist whose favorite themes include consumerism and corporate greed. This piece is a satirical riff about man’s ability to blindly follow malevolent orders (be they from a Nazi general or a capitalist criminal). Banksy looks at evil in repose, and has a banal chuckle at its expense.