With the advent of VR and AR as a design opportunity I thought I’d try sketching out some new VR designs to test out UI ideas. Surprisingly, the kind of click and draw tools I was expecting to find, don’t exisit. But everyone said Unity was easy to learn and the best tool for the job.

Okay. But the last time I really programmed (i.e., not writing simple JavaScript) was years ago.

After Downloading the tool, I quickly discovered how to add a 360 photo as a background. The next steps were easy:

  • Drag the 360º photo into the “Assets”…

Years ago, before blogging evolved from a series of links, I made actual HTML files that I’d upload onto a single webserver using FTP.

These were typically quickly typed essays—an effort to collect a random idea or two into something a bit more formed. They were rough, unedited, unique, and often too earnest. They almost always drifted to a meandering conclusion punctuated by typos. But these rants were a habit I kept up longer than most things I’ve done online.

As my website sputtered to its end—timed with the rise of Twitter and Medium—I began writing less. My thoughts are…

While creating purely virtual worlds remains the domain of experts, affordable 360º video cameras allow anyone to create immersive experience. Helped by Samsung (which is now selling a 360º camera with its phones), The New York Times launched a daily video franchise built around the experience. I’ve written about these micro-docs before, but the more I watch them, the more I’m distracted by one element The Times normally does best: Text.

Since its first video, the text has always maintained a consisted placement. For every Daily 360, the text will appear in the video’s “north” and “south.”

NYT 360 Video radar (left) compared with Facebook (right)

To determine which…

My perception of the world literally and figuratively changed when I first used Doppler Labs’ Here Active Listening earbuds.

As promised, the wireless audio devices added effects to the music I was listening to, in realtime by altering my open office’s audio landscape. The space transformed from Carnegie Hall to a stadium to a small hallway. Extending the effects further—by adding an echo or reverb effect—I was able to create a near psychotropic experience. Quickly, I began relying on its noise filtering features to quiet my coffice space surroundings.

The more I used them, the more I grew convinced of…

Image credit: Sarah Dea/The Globe and Mail

I met Stuart McLean in three different eras of my life.

Each time, his passion for the sounds of a city and his uncanny ability to find, and tell, a human story unlocked a sense of perspective in me I’ve never shaken.

Somewhat appropriately, I’m writing this in Toronto on transit after seeing news off his death flash across my screen as I stepped onto a subway home.

Necessarily these memories shared are rushed and unpolished, ignoring — again — a lesson I learned the second time we met.

Stuart, at the time, was teaching my class at Ryerson about…

More than any other media company, The New York Times has embraced 360º video. In November 2015, it gave each of its subscribers a free Google Cardboard. That coincided with the launch of its own “virtual reality” app featuring extended documentaries, films, and, of course, advertising.

The early videos spent much of their energy wowing audiences, since most of the viewers hadn’t experienced any kind of virtual reality first-hand.

The videos revealed actors floating in the stars and let people swim with whales or land on Pluto. Offering these experiences was an effective, and memorable, first move.

The most impressive…

Twenty years ago, the first printed magazines began the inevitable move online. If you didn’t peak under the hood (all-cap HTML tags, a plethora of font elements, and textured background images), those first sites would feel familiar today. Sure, they lacked social media links, reader comments and affiliate ads, but the core elements were, and are, still there.

Strangely, the most notable differences would be with the original digital content.

Although lacking the dynamic visuals and video found online today, those early articles, unlike their shovelware companions, were consciously part of a connected ecosystem.

Often, they were bold narrative experiments…

A big part of launching a new and original product is first convincing people you’re capable of having innovative ideas.

Although all companies of a certain age risk being seen as staid, some are particularly vulnerable.

Take, for instance, newspapers.

Toronto’s largest paper received some gentle mocking for a new offering it launched recently. The product was a new category for the company, but even the simplest business model canvas effort would show a market fit. Readership mapped nicely to the desired customer segment and last mile delivery costs are essentially zero. …

A funny thing happened to me when I left The Globe and Mail: After nearly a quarter century, I stopped following the news.

Sure, I still subscribe to, and read, the Saturday Globe and Sunday New York Times, but the ongoing news cycle has become nothing more than a quiet hum mixing with the energetic sounds of the city. The less I focus on the daily machinations produced by an industry desperate for my attention, the more time I’ve found for the healthier things in my life.

All of this has helped me know exactly what I want from from…

Ever since Joshua Topolsky left Bloomberg a year ago to start building something new, I, like a lot of other people, have been curious about his next play.

Given his background and experience, he surely had a plan. He built news companies before. He’d understood the reality of the financial outlooks for both independent publishers and global media behemoths. He knows what worked and what didn’t.

His something, we now know is, The Outline.

The new outlet has $5-million in funding to support an initial staff of 10, who in turn will produce about 15 pieces daily to attract a…

Craig Saila

Designer of things. Builder of ideas. Tearing it up in a hypernation.

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