Wednesday, June 02, 2004

John Maeda & Round Web Sites

Are you ready to toss the square and grab the circle?

Can you imagine the circular web ?

A month or so ago, I went to John Maeda's web site ( and saw a round image. I clicked on it and it said something about...

"if computer screens were round, what would web sites look like?"

This has haunted me ever since. I just sent an email to the studio to ask how to access this image again. See, the web site has changed, and now I can't find it.

But...I want to design a round web site.

I'm mildly obsessed with this surreal notion.

I'm always thinking about what that would look like: a round web site.

Imagine an oscilloscope screen with a web site formatted to fit it.

Or an oval, plate-like object containing web sites.

A round web site. Round, I say.

The reason I make this comment is: I see Bandwagon Gloom settling in on the Web. A new design idea is used, then huge numbers of designers rally behind it and start imitating it.

Most recent trend is tiny logos, tiny fonts, minimalistic to an extreme, even more minimalistic than this blog site, tiny graphics that are nearly unnoticeable. I want to steal my Magnifier from my graphics studio program and import it to my browser I can read these nifty, tiny, new web sites that are all the rage. Squint squint.

So I say, let's shake everything up and design "outside the box" and "inside the circle." We can talk in circles, use circular logic, so why not design in circles?

We are so conditioned to square web sites. Even though computer screens are not round, why not act like they are, and design a round web site, just to see how you'd have to configure it?

We'll need round computer screens, even if installed in boxy monitors, to accommodate the round web sites. I don't like thinking of round web sites on square computer screens, but almost anything is better than the old "square web regimentation" going on nowadays.

(While you're pondering this bizarre concept, have fun at John Maeda's web games available at his site. Here's a web game for you, called Vertigo on the home page, but titled Rapid Roulette.

You can also download desktop images, like multi-colored jello, at his web site.)

Now I've discovered a web site ( at which this topic of the round computer screen is being discussed.

What is the Halfbakery ? Ever heard of half-baked ideas? Ever have any? Maybe you can bake half the idea, and someone else can help by baking the other half. Or is it that the entire idea is half-baked and half-raw? Anyway, this is a quote from how they describe the web site:

"The Halfbakery is a communal database of original, fictitious inventions, edited by its users, maintained by a dictatorial cabal of volunteers. It was created by people who like to speculate, both as a form of satire and as a form of creative expression."


I'll quote just a few of the Halfbakery comments about the Round Computer Screen/Web Site here:

"Even when the old CRT's were round, the pictures produced for them were rectangular. There's plenty of historical precedent for rectangular images. Prosceniums of stages are rectangular. Writing paper is usually rectangular. Doors and windows are most commonly rectangular. Most art is rectangular. Display screens have to deal with all this and more, hence they are rectangular."

krelnik, Dec 11 2003

"Round isn't very efficient at displaying the types of things we like to see on computer screens. Windows, for instance. What shape would you make windows in? If square, you'll be able to fit less in a round screen of a given area. Make them some other shape and you won't be able to display text or images very efficiently."

Worldgineer, Dec 11 2003

"But faces are round."

kropotkin, Dec 11 2003

"...when it comes to IE, by which I presume you mean your browser window, I have coded circular and other non-standard window shapes since the dawn of GUIs. You can do it for a browser window, with some jiggery-pokery, but you'll lose the menu bar in the process."

DrCurry, Dec 11 2003

"Other cute effects of a round screen:

- The taskbar could be a circle around the perimeter, and you would rotate the screen to make the upside-down parts of it visible;

- Minimizing a window would turn it into a little round circle; these minimized circles would clump together like bubbles in the middle of the screen;

- Porthole screen savers, as well as radar screen savers, would become much more popular;

- The mouse might be replaced with something that works on *polar* coordinates; for example, you move the mouse to change the angle and slide the scroll button to change the radius."

phundug, Dec 11 2003

"If this were a setting in the operating system, it could compress the visual area into a circular shape, even as a "dome" or "bowl", on your standard CRT or LCD display. Using the mouse, move a viewer tool on the round screen, to "un-distort" sections of the screen.
Maybe it's not a useful feature, but I'm here to help make the ideas work, not to ask why."

Amos Kito, Dec 11 2003


BACK TO VASPERS: I added a comment and a link at the halfbakery site.

It's worth checking out. There is also a discussion at halfbakery on
spherical monitors rather than boxes.

You've heard the expression, "think outside the box." Does this not also apply to computer monitors, those boring boxes?

Why not have spherical computers suspended in mid-air in the middle of your office, viewable from all angles, with the interface being your thoughts, an electro-telepathic modem?

Excuses ring hollow in my ears: "This has never been done before" and "Paintings and books and doors are rectangular, not circular" and "Everything would have to be reformatted, reprogrammed, revised" and "Why would you even want a circular computer screen?"

On the halfbakery site, there is a comment about minimizing a screen, on a spherical monitor, into little spheres that would accumulate like bubbles.

Vaspers likes all these surreal ideas. Even pointless revolutions are more fun than stodgy old status quo "don't rock the boat" traditions.

What the world needs Circular Computer Screens...and Round Web Sites! Amen.

Your humble host is pondering so much, his tiny little head, what's left of it, hurts. It's

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