Beautifully Briefed 1.24: Optimism, Hopefully

In this installment, Honda’s new(ish) logo, the Travel Photographer of the Year 2023 winners, and the Macintosh turns 40. Plus, one more thing. But first:

My Favorite Book Covers of 2023

In case you missed it, the annual favorite book covers post is up — all 78 items (plus some extras). It’s best viewed large, so click and enjoy.

Honda’s New Logo: Not a Zero
Not a zero — an “H.” Clever(ish).

As car manufacturers go, Honda’s tiny. As a result, they’re way behind on the electric push: they’ve got some hybrid stuff, a hydrogen fuel-cell item only available in California, and a new battery vehicle build by GM. Not where you want to be in 2024.

So they’re trying to make a splash. And to their credit, they’re doing it in an attention-getting style. Introducing the Honda Zero series, starting with the Saloon:

Futuristic indeed.
There’s no mistaking this for an Accord — but then, that’s the idea.

And the Honda Zero Space Hub:

Not minivan, Space Hub. (The no-rear-window thing is becoming a trend, alas.)

Other Zero Series cars will follow, and of course, being concepts, details are scarce. Both concepts, however, highlight a new logo for Honda’s EV effort:

Yeah, not earth-shattering. (And distinct from the Zero-series logo, above, which does not seem to appear on the cars — only marketing materials.) Here’s a history, for reference:

It’s worth noting that the non-electric cars will retain the current logo they’ve used since 2001. Read more at Motor1 or The Drive. (The latter has more on Honda’s Zero cars, too.)

2023 Travel Photographer of the Year (Contest)

Disclaimer up front: it’s another pay-to-enter photography contest, which seem to have proliferated. The problem here is the outstanding quality of output — perhaps I should just get over it and move on.

The rules of this one require both prints for final judging, no composite images, no AI, and a RAW file to check results against. All of which mean, to me at least, a higher level of achievement in order to enter. Okay.

Shout out to the BBC for bringing this year’s winners to my — our — attention.

Travel Photograph of the Year 2023 overall winner: AndreJa Ravnak, Slovenia

Slovenia is a beautiful country, and AndreJa Ravnak’s winning portfolio of photographs absolutely reflects both that and its hard-working agricultural nature. But there’s more:

Nature, Wildlife, and Conservation Portfolio Winner: Martin Broen, USA

A “ray of sunshine” joke here . . . .

Leisure and Adventure Winner: Andrea Peruzzi, Italy

Certainly a lesson in how not to enjoy the wonderful city of Petra, in the Jordanian desert — but an attention-getting photograph.

Landscape and Environment Portfolio Winner: Armand Sarlangue, France

Seriously amazing stuff: moody, dramatic, and yes, fluvial morphology. Nice.

See more at the Travel Photographer of the Year website. (Also via PetaPixel.)

The Macintosh Turns 40

1984 seems like so very long ago — and let’s face it: 40 years is a long time. Indeed, these forty years of technological progress has been unrivaled in human history. But the Mac is not only still with us but better than ever.

A Mac Plus, circa 1986.

There are a stack of articles that’ll retrace the history, tell a story, cite unusual examples of the breed, or even come up with the original press release:

We believe that [this] technology represents the future direction of all personal computers,” said Steven P. Jobs, Chairman of the Board of Apple. “Macintosh makes this technology available for the first time to a broad audience–at a price and size unavailable from any other manufacturer. By virtue of the large amount of software written for them, the Apple II and the IBM PC became the personal-computer industry’s first two standards. We expect Macintosh to become the third industry standard.

— Apple Computer, January 24, 1984

My first Mac was the one pictured above: a 1989 Mac Plus, with an external 20MB (!) Jasmine hard drive. (I even still have the case, although mine was a black Targus item.) It didn’t last long, though, because I’d been bitten by the graphic design craze and soon traded it for a Mac called a Quadra, with its separate 256-color monitor.

A preview of the future: 2000’s PowerMac G4 Cube.

Such was the pace of technology those days: that one was replaced with another, then another. (Including one of the Macs pictured at the top of the post. Bonus points if you know which it is.) I did not have the G4 Cube, pictured above, because by then I was rocking a tower and scoffed at Apple’s first attempt at desktop miniaturization — not to mention the inferior quality of the first generations of flat screens.

All-in-ones were — and remain — the domain of Apple’s iMac.

But less than ten years later, the computer had become part of the flat screen, and these days, I’m still using a 27″ iMac. Sure, its days are numbered, but I love its ability to get huge book and photography projects out the door with a minimum of fuss — all in a simple, elegant package with very much more than a passing resemblance to the original Macintosh.

Here’s to another 40 years, Apple. Congrats.

Special Bonus: There are few folks more “Mac” than John Siracusa, who has penned a thoughtful piece on AI: “I Made This.” (Via Pixel Envy.)

One More Thing: Word of the Year, 2023

From none other than Cory Doctorow: “enshittification.”

Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

— Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic, 21 January 2023

He’s specifically referring to TikTok, and cites Amazon and then Facebook as further examples, but oh, so many, many other items apply. I’ve not read something that represents where we sit — in America, sure, but beyond — at the start of 2024.

And this year promises to be a doozy.

“‘Monetize’ is a terrible word that tacitly admits that there is no such thing as an ‘Attention Economy,'” he writes. And yet, “monetize” is where business, education, and perhaps society is at. Ug.

The whole thing is fantastic and very much worth a read. But, “[n]ow that [they] have been infected by enshittifcation, the only thing left is to kill [them] with fire” might be taking things a bit far. Let’s hope — and work — for a better solution. For all of us.