Good consuming

Posted on May 16, 2007


I’ve been dabbling on All Consuming over the weekend and admiring the way the site gets around too much of a sense of obsessive compulsive-ness with some great design (both visual and technical). One of the problems is that it takes a while to add stuff (unless you’ve got some kind of database already in place, which means you should probably be in talks with your psychotherapist) and also that you inevitably have an embarassingly short list of things you’ve consumed when you first start. (“Add this to your site: you have read 2 books”…). But in general it’s a very interesting way of gathering together stuff. And “consuming” as a tagline means it’s open for music, books, whetever else those fellas at 43 things come up with in the future.

Anyway, talking of books…(bit of an Eddie Izzard spurious link there..): here’s an alternative top 5. Books I haven’t necessarily admired because of their stunning plot, but because they really made a difference to the way I think about tech:

Design for Community Design for community: actually, a really good read and not just from the nerd perspective – Derek Powazek writes really well and engagingly about how to encourage community, and what not to do. It’s not often that a tech book still has currency in 2007 when it was written in 2002 (many’s the time I find an old one on my shelf which brings tears to the eyes..), but this one still seems pretty relevant today.

The Zen of CSS design. If you haven’t seen CSS zen garden then go there quick, click about a bit and then pretend you’ve known about it for years. If you don’t you’ll immediately lose any credibility you once had. Most of you will be seasoned visitors and you’ll be aware of the extraordinary focus which this site brings to people dabbling with the possibilities of CSS design. The book is more of the same, but picks a bunch of examples from the site and talks about how and why they work.

Next up is any of the Hacks books. I’ve picked on Google Hacks but most of them are pretty good. These get you right under the hood with many big player sites, delving into everything from URL hacking to API calls. If you’re looking for a better understanding about how Google maps works, or using the Yahoo search developer tools, these are for you…

Web standards solutions is an elegant “real world” look at the various hacks in CSS and markup application, and gives good advice on how these hacks apply to W3C standards. It’s reminiscent of A List Apart in many ways – each end-user problem has several approaches which are then deconstructed with pros and cons.

Last up (for now..) is Designing Interactions, a supremely interesting look at the history and approaches behind some of the foremost thinkers in interaction design, from the genius who first came up with the mouse to menus, Macs, and some other stuff which doesn’t begin with the letter ‘m’. For such a physically weighty (and deeply impressive tome – especially good to leave lying around if you’ve got some geeks round for dinner), this is a really great read.

These are all on a listmania list over here.