Design of the Times: Khoi Vinh and NYT.com

Why does the Web version of a newspaper look so different from the print version? It may sound like a simple-minded question, but the answer cuts to the heart of the difference between the print and the online experience. According to Khoi Vinh, design director of NYTimes.com, many people still consider print "canonical": solid and tactile and official in a way that the Web is not. On the other hand, the Web allows for a dizzying variety of user behaviorsforcing Web designers to be nimble in predicting and reacting.


In his Big Think interview, Vinh describes one of the most successful features he's introduced to the Times website, as well as a few features that were mysteriously and unexpectedly unpopular. He also expands on the subject of modern design more generally, describing it as a "conversation" between designer and user rather than a declarative statement which, once published, cannot be easily retracted.

Vinh ventures into personal territory as well, suggesting that the family disruption he experienced as a result of immigrating to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1971 sparked his desire to "put the world in order" through design. Finally, in a lighter moment, he explains the design-geek sport of "layer tennis," a spirited game of which he recently played through his blog, Subtraction.com.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less