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Sunday, November 5, 2006

Guy Fawkes Day Fireworks xplosions Out My Hotel Window, London

new design
London Day 4: (sheadding the jag (jetlag))

This being my fourth consecutive stunning, crisp, sunny day in London where the only thing hazy is the indoor smoking, and the only thing dreary is the price of new shoes, I've wisecracked at least 4 times that the myth of gray and rainy London must be a conspiracy to keep the Americans away.

This American has been navigating the narrow, lively streets with huge brooklyn-style headphones on listening to The Beatles White Album ...mashedup with Jay Z's Black Album by Danger Mouse, otherwise known as The Gray Album. I know, you can take the girl out of Brooklyn to England, but you can't take the Brooklyn out of the English music in the girl's new iPod Nano (it's black!)

Compared to the L-train, or any train in NYC, I see few people tuned into headphones on the Underground. I keep my volume low so as to hear which train delays may effect me...

A new yorker's first impression of the Underground 'tube' subway system is sheer giddy glee (e.g. this visitor hasn't experienced proper rush hour yet). Padded seats. Trash free. And most importantly, the system's map is a graphic design execution of brilliance, designed by someone called Harry Beck. The color-coded lines also have proper names for reference, so each line can be referred to by it's color and/or name. This is helpful reading sinage, as well as glancing at routes on a map quickly, without needing to know the route name. (You'll never hear a new yorker refer to the A-C-E Line as the Blue line. -- not that I don't adore our own subway system sinage design by Vignelli &Assoc).

Because the London Underground system map takes shape with an invented graphic geography, each line heads simply East or West, North or South, making it easy to find your way, despite the meandering reality of the actual geography of the routes.

Get This: The poles inside the train cars are color-coded to match that train line's hue! Ohmygod, realizing this on day 4 was thrilling enough to make me grin for the rest of my tube ride back to South Kensington from Spittalfield's Market, a commute which took me to the pink line, accidentally, which led to the purple line with purple poles, and then the blue line with blue poles. I didn't notice the color-coded poles until transferring to the purple line, which means I'll have to ride the Pink Hammersmith and City line again just to see those pink poles for myself.

In closing for tonight (11pm GMT; 6pm EST;) in addition to spending 3 jetlagged yet highly enjoyable and even somewhat productive (if memory serves) days in my company London office, (note for next time: no attempts at wit or even clever function until at least two days past jetlag), the other reason I'm here in London is to attend the Nielsen Norman Group User Experience conference, which starts for me tomorrow, Monday 5 November.

Check out my action-packed User-Experience conference agenda for the week:
Monday: Managing a User Experience team
Tuesday: Getting from User Data to Design
Wednesday: Communicating Design
Thursday: Content Usability 2
Friday: Designing Complex Applications
Saturday: Fundamental Guidelines for Web


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