Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Liz Danzico
Image by Faruk Ates.

Liz Danzico

Designer, educator, editor

Posted in designer, editor, mac, writer

Who are you, and what do you do?

My name is Liz Danzico. I'm a Brooklyn-based designer, educator, and editor. I'm chair of an interaction design program in New York after co-founding it last year. I consult with companies of all kinds, specifically on intentional organization. I write and edit, and have been involved in a number of information architecture endeavors over the course of a decade.

What hardware do you use?

In order of frequency:

An iPhone 4. Because it's always with me, it's my best camera, favorite mail app, best to-do list, preferred Twitter app, and most frequent place I get work done when I'm in review mode.

At the studio, a Mac Pro 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel with 4 GB of extra memory. A couple years back, I started using a 30-inch studio display monitor, which I contest has increased productivity, if not overall happiness, exponentially. I have an Logitech HD webcam for Skype calls.

All other times, a MacBook Air 1.6 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, which I adore when it's in my bag in transit, but less so when it's in use. It might be better as a travel accessory than a go-to remote device, I've found. I've never gotten past the feeling that I'm going to either snap it in half or throw it out by mistake. Oddly, I don't feel this way about a most recent purchase, the iPad 16GB 3G. I'm wondering if it's because the latter is not as necessary.

I also couldn't live without: my trusted Nikon D40 (although have been borrowing a Leica C-LUX 2 for the better part of 2010 and looking for an upgrade), MD notebooks from Midori Paper, minimizing the amount of unnecessary paper in my life with NeatReceipts, and my Apple TV at home, which gets most use for watching TED Talks, YouTube clips, and streaming iTunes from my still handsome and strong white iMac 2.16 GHz Intel Core-2 Duo via AirTunes. And a family tradition: My father has always given me old hardware to see if I can bring it back to life. This summer's latest: a Zenith Trans-oceanic Multiband AM/FM Shortwave Radio. I don't have it working. Yet.

And what software?

In order of use throughout the day:

First thing in the morning, Google Reader and Google Calendar, then mail.

I use Adium all day long, both at the studio and home. It's not perfect, but is quite close. Groups, if you'd like them (although I feel it's a bit limiting), and the all-important Invisible Mode. I've often wished for an audio version for the car, and was cheered to see this recently.

For writing, I use TextEdit. I've tried fancier setups with version control and music soundtracks. Ommwriter, for instance, is rather interesting and does a nice job of keeping things simple. But for me, TextEdit is magic as there's nothing extra, nothing you have to remember not to do, or to do. It's honest. If shared, either Google Documents or Writeboards.

For sketching wireframes, talks, and now some even short documents, Keynote. OmniGraffle lost me when they upgraded to version 5 - too complex. There are some pretty powerful things we can do with Keynote and prototypes now.

For managing content, I use a combination of ExpressionEngine, WordPress MU, and PmWiki for the program, and I couldn't live without tumblr for my personal site. They've really figured something out from both a content producer and a reader's perspective.

For reading and remembering, Instapaper Pro and SimpleNote on and off the desktop; I'm using them interchangeably on the phone and desktop, and Instapaper on the iPad is near perfect. TextExpander for faster responding and helping me remember what I had said better at another time. While I'm a diehard Google Reader user, I do love what Reeder has done for the iPad. I've found myself using it, and wouldn't be surprised if I switched over at some point.

For managing new music, I aggregate all the music blogs I read with Peel, then use a number of Smart Playlists in iTunes to tell me which album I should purchase based on skip rate and play frequency. I have it down to a science - or at least one that works for me.

What would be your dream setup?

I dream about having an iPhone and now an iPad with a built-in pico projector. The iPad has mitigated part of what I'm looking for, whereby we can be more social with our screens, passing them around, sharing a browser, a moment. But that's good for only as many people can crowd around its periphery. When can we throw that image on the wall? Talk about what's on the screen writ large? Argue about it there? That's the stuff of dreams. Until then, I'll keep on typing in TextEdit.