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PUPPYDOG CLOCK GENIUS UNMASKED

Just a year ago, we wrote: "Some clever computer geek has invented an intriguing 'puppydog clock,' which not only shows the date and time, but follows the cursor around the screen when you move the mouse."

Now,we find that the geek we couldn't identify is Yugo Nakamura, 32, a brilliant Japanese web designer. His achievements are described in interesting articles on the websites of Time magazine and ArtandCulture.com (part of the Art and Culture Network, a not-for-profit project of The Art Council, Inc., New York).

The Time story, Fast Forward: The Shape of Things to Come, by Lev Grossman, reported by Michiko Toyama/Tokyo, offers this advice, which we strongly endorse: "To see what Nakamura thinks a Web page should be, surf to his online gallery at www.yugop.com. (Warning: don't do this on a day when you have to get anything else done. It's addictive.) The Web was designed by scientists as a way to share data, but Nakamura uses it to share something more profound: a sense of playfulness."

The ArtandCulture.com article describes Nakamura's mind-boggling website: "For those of us who are still slightly baffled by the Internet -- and even for jaded digerati -- the MONOcrafts site is magic. It's the bunny that disappears into a top hat to end up squealing in the third row. Magic.

"Even the front page of MONOcrafts' site provides potentially endless entertainment. To the tender sounds of keyboard tapping and computer bleeps, a series of text-filled gray boxes wraps across your screen and grows, shrinks, slows down, and speeds up in perfect accord with the movement of your mouse.

"This inventive, snaky entity is actually the table of contents -- the TOC of the technological revolution. Like everything else at MONOcrafts, it is user-interactive, reacting to both keyboard and mouse. But most importantly, everything on this site is beautiful. Grayscale monochromatic backdrops show macro and aerial views of landscapes. The site displays all the subtle nuances and contemplative atmosphere of traditional Japanese brushwork."

Another website, designboom.com has a portrait of Nakamura, and says "He is one of the most interesting talents of today's digital design field. His work is based on a constant research in the interface environment.

"In July 2000 he presented his work to huge acclaim at FlashForward2000 in nyc [New York City]. Nakamura studied engineering, architecture and landscape design. After graduating he worked as an engineer specialising in bridge design. He now works in interface design with Business Architects Inc. in Tokyo and during his personal time he's involved with MONOcrafts."

If you visit Nakamura's website and find it confusing, don't worry. He told a Japanese interviewer: "At least once every couple of days, I get mail saying 'this site is so user unfriendly!' or 'I've never seen such an unnavigable site' and sure, I completely agree!

"The techniques we're trying out at the moment, they're just not mature yet.There's usability... but there's also joy ... There's that simple fun of being able to touch and feel, that can draw you deeper into a web experience."

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Copyright 2003

Eric Shackle

Story first posted April 2003

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