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thoughts and observations about design, information architecture and design history
Wednesday 02|19|03
More on Vannevar Bush

Reaction to the news about Google buying Pyra has been varied and can be found all over the blogging realm. One of these commentaries stood out to me. Dennis G. Jerz, writes about Vannevar Bush and the Memex and the trail that weblogging is creating towards that vision. I find the discussion fascinating and some of the thoughts I had in my article on Bush and the memex for Boxes and Arrows are mirrored here in greater detail. Recent history of the weblogging phenomenon is also covered. Interesting.

Posted by erin at 04:47 PM | in Theory :: | Link

Wednesday 01|29|03
Powers of Ten revisited

I love the Powers of Ten movie by Ray and Charles Eames. I have talked about it several times here in designwritings and on boxes and arrows. boingboing points me to Science, Optics and You which houses an interactive java applet that takes the concept of the Powers of Ten, revisits the idea with current science and optical equipment (think landsat images over the earth and super magnified microscopes) and presents a very cool experience.

While this applet is very cool, it is missing the presentation of information that made the Powers of Ten an information design masterpiece. The website has paragraphs of text to explain the concepts that the Eames displayed with very elegant information design accompanying the images.

Posted by erin at 10:57 PM | in Theory :: | Link | Comments (0)

Tuesday 01|21|03
Golden Mean

An interesting article discussing the Golden Mean and its appearance in art, science and nature.

Posted by erin at 01:25 PM | in Theory :: | Link | Comments (1)

Tuesday 10|22|02
Writing with Images

Terrific hypertext index of George L. Dillon's course at the University of Washington, Writing with Images: Towards a Semiotics of the Web. Persuing through the chapters, I found an extremely rich dissection of the semiotics and symbolism of Image and text as seen on the web. Each chapter shows tons of examples to support the thesis. Dillon takes the reader through the history of image manipulation - first with the discussion of Imagetext - words in images, then he moves to look at photo montage and some of the history of that communication form. He then moves to collage with examples by Rodchenko and others. The next section is about Viewing the viewing, where the artist/photographer is part of the image and we the viewer are viewing the scene. Next he discusses art history, net art and overall contexts for imagery. Chapter six dives into maps and diagrams as they are used to represent information and discusses at length semantic space and the Visual Thesaurus and ultimately thoughts about hypertext and its visual representation. Dillon concludes with an overview of the evolution of semiotics and how those systems change over time and with the improving technology.

This looks like a terrific class and overview of semiotics in a very applicable and relevant context. I like how he goes back to the essence of semiotics: signs, symbols, signifiers and the nature of a visual language. He moves through the different type - studying the work of Magritte and Moholy Nagy and eventually moves into forms many of us are familiar with - site maps, hypertext diagrams etc. and speaks to those as communcation and imagery in and of themselves as much as what they represent.

Posted by erin at 10:51 PM | in Theory :: | Link | Comments (0)

Tuesday 08|13|02
Notes on the Golden Mean

There is a very rich and interesting project that walks through the concepts of the Golden Mean and the ideas of proportion. Robert Charlton puts together the site from selections from "Looking and Seeing 3 - THE SHAPES WE NEED" by Kurt Rowland ©1965 (out of publication).

Presented in a small, nicely proportioned window, this is a great primer to understand the ideas of proportion and the base mathematics behind the numbers as well as how these ideas can be seen in nature and how these ideas have been used in architecture

Posted by erin at 09:19 AM | in Theory :: | Link

Thursday 11| 8|01
Fibonacci = Golden Mean

Really beautiful flash thought about the Fibonacci series from textism. thanks

I really have an affinity to this set of numbers and resulting visualization of the golden mean. I studied this a lot in graduate school - particularly as a device for spearating and organizing information on the page - be it print or online. I have used the resulting spiral in several photo montage illustrations over the years. It feels good. It feels right and whole in a way I can't really explain.

I talked about this in June.

Posted by erin at 12:04 PM | in Theory :: | Link

Thursday 10|18|01

Melanie, of points me to more writings by Jessica Helfand. This Manifesto was originally published in Eye Magazine 10:38 (Winter 2000), and makes some very strong statements about the role of design, the importance (self-importance) of design and other issues in New Media.

My favorite quote is, "Information Architecture is Not Architecture. ...My view then was the same as now: as long as we’re choosing new titles, I’d like to change mine to “brain surgeon.” Much as we’d prefer to think otherwise, design, unlike architecture (and for that matter, brain surgery) remains an industry in which one need not—indeed, can not—be certified to practice. Architecture is architecture, information be damned. What we design, as novel and revolutionary as it might seem at the time of our designing it, is still just design. Simply stated: Graphic design is probably not going to kill you if it falls on your head."

This simple statement does alot to push the air out of the self importance and fluffiness that we have been making of IA. While what we do is important - to our companies, to our clients, it is not rocket science.

The Manifesto goes on to make more interesting points and refers to other interesting manifestos throughout the course of art and design history. As always, we have much to learn from our predecessors. I have to wonder what would MY manifesto say? Who else would agree with it? Would anyone notice? Would anyone else sign it and uphold these beliefs?

Other manifestos:
the dadaist manifesto
the surrealism manifesto
dada and surrealist texts
futurist manifesto
cluetrain manifesto
Bruce Sterling's Manifesto

Posted by erin at 02:00 PM | in Theory :: | Link | Comments (2)

Wednesday 03|21|01
Thinking About Philosophy of Design

I have been thinking about what it means to be a "designer" lately. All this discussion about IA vs. Interaction design vs. graphic design vs. usability has stimulated a lot of good conversation and has prompted me to think about what is means to design in the first place. What is design?

Posted by erin at 03:39 PM | in Theory :: | Link | Comments (1)

Saturday 03|10|01
Some more thoughts on Self Organizing

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of self organizing sites. So far what I have read - spurred by the launch of and its outgrowth from Slashdot - has been primarily about sites full of Editorial. Sites for and by writers like: The Vines and Theme Stream and sites that are message board like allowing members to post and rate other members and their comments - Plastic, Slash. The self-organizing concept has had some application in Amazon - books bought by others, and Google. These applications are still in their infancy and are generally transparent to the end user.

Posted by erin at 06:21 PM | in Theory :: | Link | Comments (1)

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DUX—Five Lessons Learned

Coloring Outside the Lines

Modeling the Creative Organization

Coming of Age

Talking With Jesse James Garrett

The Tool Makes the (Wo)man

AIGA Experience Design Summit #5 - Recap

AIGA Experience Design - past, present and future: An interview with Terry Swack and Clement Mok

Summit Beginnings: Saturday

Chicken Run: Summit Closing: Sunday

design history articles
Foreseeing the future: The legacy of Vannevar Bush

Learning from the Powers of Ten

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