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William Drenttel
Essays | Biography | Contact

Archive: August 2006


What Ever Happened to Half.com, Oregon?


Photo via Project Guerrilla

I love buying books, especially online, especially through Amazon or Bookfinder or ABEbooks. (And yes, on eBay.) But the site I really love is Half.com. In it's early days, Half.com was an innovator and a Wall Street darling, a narrow service (no groceries, just books and music) that used a simple driver (ISBN), and, through its simple interface, promised a commitment to speedy delivery. Sadly, it was bought in June 2000 for $312.8 million by eBay, who wanted its customers (but not its fundamentally different business model)...

READ MORE | COMMENTS (28)

Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS)

Last week, the London airline liquid-bomb threat elevated the Homeland Security Advisory System to red, the Severe Risk of Terrorist Attacks zone. This week we're back down two stages to Elevated Risk — or yellow. We have Tom Ridge to thank for this graphic innovation (he copyrighted the color-coded alert system back in 2001).

For now at least, the risk of a worldwide pandemic from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus has been momentarily retired from active duty: it is, at least temporarily, off the front pages of our newspapers. Only this week, wild swans in Michigan (one is reminded of Yeats' "I have looked upon those brilliant creatures/And now my heart is sore") were infected with a strain of the bird flu virus...

READ MORE | COMMENTS (13)
William Drenttel is a designer and publisher, and editorial director of Design Observer. He is a partner at Winterhouse, a design consultancy focused on social change, online media and educational institutions, and a senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management.


Recent Video


National Design Award Trophy

National Design Award Trophy

In October 2011, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum unveiled a new trophy for the National Design Awards. Originally designed as an asterisk in silicon carbide by Winterhouse in 2000, the new glass trophy is by Corning GlassLab.


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