The DB’s

030220_db_db.gif I’ve written about Francis Lam’s wonderful little world at before, about how it’s an impressive feat of Flash engineering combined with some interesting ideas about online communities. Lam has just rolled out a beta release of db-db version 4, and with it he manages to outdo himself.In its previous state, db-db upended the notion of an online community by simply superimposing online chat and an avatar-driven ‘cyberspace’ on top of what would otherwise be merely an expertly-rendered design portal.

With version 4, Lam has added another layer: an inverted portfolio of design noodlings. He’s splayed chunks of unorthodox Flash widgets all over the place, with no apparent regard for conventional information design principles. The result is a crazy kind of sketchbook, where everything happens everywhere at once.

This a triumph for design esoterica, and a real break from most of db-db’s peers. There are plenty of sites that feature esoteric design content, but they follow roughly the same formal information architecture constraints as the Fortune 1000 businesses that contract their design masterminds; i.e., they’re organized along some kind of software-derived hierarchical fashion. That db-db version 4 does away with this almost entirely, and that it does so with a terrific amounts of humor throughout, is a testament to Lam’s uncommon ingenuity.