Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Information Design: A new field perfecting the visualization of dense, complex information

Forum Leader: Mari Hulick, Associate Professor, Chair, Department of Communication Design Cleveland Institute of Art

Definition of Information Design - how is this practiced?

Mari is originally from NY and used information design around mapping and mapping ideas - systems where people could share information and with the web being so complex how do you management information.

Ben Fry at MIT - Working on Opti project - way of tracking information. One computer going from one type of internet setup to a similar type of internet setup in one day. Huge amount of information. Genome Valence. Human genone - Visually display DNA in visual. Go to website and see visuals. Valance maps information. Processing a way to convey complex visuals more simplistically. Looks at visuals from the standpoint and quality of information rathern than quantity.

Inform - critical part of design - what does it mean to be informed. What are we using? Traditional - newspapers. NY Times has taken traditional way and brought to Web.

1950s most literate period in world history.

Question of ethics - what kind of info are we getting and what is impact? One of biggest issues is knowledge - what does it mean to know (inform to information to knowledge) andimparting that knowledge - wisdom. Is there a linear progression. The power to inform is massive - but does this mean we hve the power to know and what is the wisdom behind this.

Building a global mind. E.O. Wilson upcoming book about "Impact of World Poverty on Ecology".

Statistics based on best estimates. Looking at world population GDP (gross domestic product - wealth) concentrated in Asia (South Central) & North America. In some areas, economic ability to make money dies off (Australia). Looking at population North American and East Asia producing wealth. Africa diminshes. Looking at gross national income & dividing by popoulation, US, Canada and Mexico dominates the world. If you take Mexico out of the mix, North America would get bigger. Looking at subcontients, if you divide by population by individual income, North America drops down and Australia and Western Europe jumps up. Lots of money in America but looking at population, quality of life goes down in NA and goes up in Western & Northern Europe, East Asia. Because there is so much information we need to sift through it all to get meaning and understanding. (Fry does it through visuals and they are visually wonderful but how do people get meaning out of them.

Wealth is concentrated in very few areas in comparison to the world. When you look at population and wealth, NA growing and South Africa is shrinking. South America GNP doing okay but still a great amount of poverty. At one time, Africa was growing cocoa for a particular company but no biodiversity and product died out. Has a huge poverty population. Individiuals are suffering in this country (poverty) but it is not as bad in Western Europe.

Communication and intercommunication. Information Design: Thought process for research - conception, purpose, intention, create, plan, project (some examples).

NY Times: History of hurricane Katrina online. Shows all players and what they did on each day. Showed satellite images - shows different pieces of information; see what is being proposed. Shows everything you need to know about hurricane. Design is figuring what to convey - information through facts and showing visually.

Studying design information could help with economic decisions. Example: McDonnough sold Ford on redesigning one of its plants to green building and they saved money because of it. McDonnough's book "Cradle to Cradle" is about green artchictecure & creating things that are reusable. Cradle to cradle means a product is born, use it until it is not relevant anymore, take it apart & reuse it and it is born again.
Most look at Cradle to Grave - product is born, useit and then it dies.

First person to speak about information design is Edward Tufte (Edward Tufte.com). His book is: "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information". He realized the value of design about complexity. Started self publishing and get it produced the way he wanted it. "Envisioning Information" - another book. Superb dislays of high-dimensional complex data. Information disign is also experience design. How a book is made, what letter forms to use, color, how it holds up, the smell of the paper, etc. We remember things that are immersive. We remember things that hit our senses. Visibility of book design - so many text books are so hard to read.

Mari thinks all communication is information design.

Interesting websites:

Tag cloud: list of tags where size reflects popularity

xplane.com/cases/ - information design firm that develops visual maps & stories to make complex business issues easier to understand.

http://babynamewizard.com/namevoyager - will tell you statistics and history of your name.

http://jkevinmchugh.com/ - Clear a path to truthful communication


Post a Comment

<< Home