July 19th, 2011

Update: Wreck this App just made USA Today!!! Wow!

Just around a year ago now I received a really flattering email from a designer in Britain. He had just read “How to be an Explorer of the World” and really resonated with my ideas. I responded instantly to his writing. Part of the email read like this:

“’I am Chris from Citrus Suite. I’m 39. I’m lucky to be alive. I live with my wife and two young children in Liverpool UK. There is a kitten in the world who will be moving in with us next month. I want the next collaborative project I work on to be remarkable. And fun for all involved.”

I think he had me at “remarkable”. Because lets face it, who doesn’t want to be remarkable? He explained that he wanted to do a project together based on Explorer. The beautiful part of the story is I had just received an email that week from Penguin asking if I knew of any app designers that could develop “wreck”. Do you see how my life works magically at times like this? The universe hand delivered someone who totally gets my ideas and was ready to jump right in! I love it. It was a match made in heaven. Working with Chris has been fun and easy (my part anyway, I’m sure his part was much more complicated). All of this happened when I was busy teaching and being pregnant (read: extremely nauseous).

It has been many months in the making, but the day is finally here. We have had many rounds of trials and testing and playing and reworking and tweaking. As this was my first foray into a new medium, as you may know I am a book girl so moving into the technological realm was completely uncharted territory. I was a bit nervous about how my book would translate into a new environment. My main fear was, how would the concept work in losing the “artifact”, (the book itself becomes something you really bond with over time and takes on its own life.) How would it work with the ipad?

Many years ago I made a promise to myself that I would never do “product for product’s sake”, meaning I would not put out things just because I can (i.e. the world does not need another t-shirt with my designs on them, or a watch, or a mug). There has to be a reason for it to exist, the piece has to be unique, it has to have its own inherent meaning. My favorite designer Charles Eames said that designers should always ask themselves “why should this exist?” So with wreck this app my intention was to create something that worked with the same premise as the book, (allowing people to deal with their fear of the blank page, and not have to think too much about whether what they are creating was good or bad, but instead just to make a mark), but hopefully making the sharing part of it much more accessible. What I love about the new medium is that, like the book, it goes with you everywhere. And when I saw what people were creating with it in our test runs it made all my fears about it disappear. This app is successful in making the concept much more shareable (you can share completed pages instantly with anyone or any social medium), and also more immediate (you can take a photo and be drawing over it in seconds).

As you may already know about me, I am actually about less technology not more. I’ve always seen my books as offering an antidote to too much screen time. My beliefs about that have not changed. But if I am going to be someone who is on the end of shaping culture via my releasing my ideas into the public realm, I believe it is important to work to create things of value. As our culture progresses more into the technological realm I would like to be one that helps it to retain some meaning. And as always there will be those who see my work as nothing more than a frivolous time waster. But I can assure you that there is a lot of research, thought and experimentation that goes into all of my books. To explain the thinking behind “wreck” I often refer to this quote by John Cage in which he describes his music as,

“Purposeless play—this play is an affirmation of life—not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest improvement in creation. But simply a way of waking up to the very life we are living, which is so excellent once one gets one’s mind and desires out of the way and lets it act of its own accord.”

The exercises in “wreck” are designed to “get your mind out of the way”, “a way of waking up to this life” and just experiencing a moment of play. Using the idea of “creative destruction” we can learn to release our control of the outcome and be more in the present moment letting things “be as they are”.

And if that doesn’t work for you then just follow Sol Lewitt’s advice…

“Relax, and let everything go to hell!”

Read more about “Wreck this App”…

Get it at itunes.

Penguin created a really cool page for Wreck This App.

While you are there you can enter the Wreck This App Sweepstakes for a chance to win the app for free!

We already got a really sweet write up at Publisher’s Weekly!

I have been flooded with email from readers who are requesting other versions of the apple (android, etc.) At this point it is only available on apple products. But I am told they are working on other platforms for the future, so I’ll keep you posted.

July 13th, 2011

(actually my husband and son did. I watched and held an adorable newborn.) idea found at imagine childhood (I wrote Ida instead of idea, guess where my mind is right now).

July 9th, 2011

meet “Ida Marion Smith Pitcher”. born at home at 8:10pm thursday july 7th. mom and baby are healthy, and the whole family is basking in this beautiful arrival. the name “Ida”… the hill our house is perched upon is called “Mount Ida”. also from a Hindi poem called Kamayani, “Ida was the sister of the gods, giving consciousness to entire mankind”.

We are deeply in love with this little human. she has a calm and very sweet sweet soul.

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