Japanese people use stamps with their names written in Kanji to sign official documents.
The sci.lang.japan usenet group’s FAQ is full of fascinating facts like this. Usenet was the reddit of its day: lots of garbage made up for by plenty of deep, interesting hidden corners.
Link: How do the Japanese sign their names?
Interesting idea about incorporating plants into your work space. I’m not sure I think it’s a great solution, or even that there’s much, well written, reproducible evidence that plants improve the air quality and help you work but it’s certainly an interesting design.
Link: Personal Fresh Air
Absolute gem of a book on Japan. It’s one woman’s summary of her year living in Kyoto through drawings and short pieces of text. It’s a really interesting, obviously very subjective view into Japanese life but is the kind of thing you just can’t get from guidebooks or books trying to be objective about the culture of a city.
Link: A Year In Japan
Ribbonfarm is a fascinating blog to follow about thinking about how we look at the world and how we can change that view. This guest article thinks about user interfaces as a set of manners, a way of civilising the relationship between the computer and the user. His points on the difference in manners between backwoods and frontiers are very widely applicable and a good way of thinking about where you should aim your user interface.
Link: UX and the Civilizing Process – Ribbonfarm
This book really changed the way I think about specification and design. If you’re designing an app or a website, or are involved in asking for changes it’s a fantastic book to read packed full of insights.
Link: About Face 3
Jakob Nielsen has been providing great advise for interaction design for years. This article is useful if you’re considering doing a survey on your website. It isn’t as black and white as the title suggests – you can ask users things that relate to their immediate action (ask ‘Why did you visit this site?’ just after they arrive) but in general you should try and look at what users actually do, not what they say they want.
Link: First Rule of Usability? Don’t Listen To Users
A very clever chair from the Finnish designers Artek. It can be taken apart and each LEGO-like piece and be sloted in facing up or down to allow you to create chairs, benches and tables from the same pieces.
Link: Artek – 10 Unit System Chair