Although I can't prove it, I'm reasonably certain that Nikelab.com made me type faster. Of course, it could have been all the coffee and fast techno music coming out of my computer speakers. I do know one thing--the beautifully designed website that fetishizes speed the same way recovering meth addicts do, brought my pre-9/11 G4 to a shudderingly slow crawl, and I spent as much time staring at the whirling circle of my stalled-out cursor as I did actual Nikelab content.
Nikelab.com is a remarkably polished website--you might even say it's a state-of-the-art website designed to "create an immersive experience that interprets product benefits through digital storytelling" (so says designinteract. com). I readied myself and began to download the main "Art of Speed" video clip. By the time it finally loaded, I was ready to see something as cool as the ill-fated Beastie Boys laser show at the planetarium 10 years ago. Sadly, the art of speed was not licensed to ill. It consisted of super high bpm, Red Bull-macho techno jams as the viewer "flies" over a sleek, skate-park-looking digital landscape where monitors occasionally spring up, showing Japanese psychedelic animations and hot bodysuited models in a two-second dream sequence. The muy rapido music and strobe light flashing of generational signifiers had me waiting for the "The Feature Presentation is About to Begin" lady.
Short films by artists like Greg Brunkalla followed, most of which were as clever and easy to watch as any better-than-average TV commercial. It was impossible not to think of my friend, about as non-Nike of a human as I know, who recently accepted a fat wad of cabbage to develop a whole promotional gig for the company. Self-justification is an ugly process to watch, but I'll put it on the record now: if Nike, McDonald's, or even Halliburton needs a young photographer or copywriter to freshen things up a bit, my number is in the phonebook.
The Restoration section of Nikelab.com is comprised of a Flash site where tiny digital construction workers restore an enormous Air Trainer One like a Richard Scarry foot-fetish scene. Videos pop up that explain what each worker is doing, but once you hear a sentence about "shank plates and what they do to stabilize the foot…" you realize it's time to shut the computer down and get a life.