Tag: <span>Information Design</span>

Inspired by John Zeratsky although I seem to have headed off with my own train of thought.

Part 1 of 2

INFORMATION DESIGN – Sounds ominous, right? But it’s not. In fact it’s so everyday you probably don’t realise it’s affecting you every single minute of every single day.

First things first though. What is “information design”?

One of the best explanations I’ve come across is by Nathan Shedroff who states:

The processes involved in solving problems, responding to audiences, and communicating to others are similar enough [across differing communication tools] to consider them identical …

These issues apply across all types of media and experiences, because they directly address the phenomena of information overload, information anxiety, media literacy, media immersion, and technological overload — all which need better solutions. The intersection of these issues can be addressed by the process of Information Interaction Design.

Sounds simple enough, to me. He goes on to say that:

“In other circles, it is called simply Information Design, Information Architecture, or Interaction Design, Instructional Design, or just plain Common Sense.”

From this we can make the simple statement that the core aim of Information Design is to make information as effective as possible. So in order to understand Information Design, we need to understand the types of information with which it is concerned.

Writing

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This has been languishing in draft status for a while – given Jason Kottke’s recent news (see next post) I thought now was as good a time to post it as any.

I’ve been pondering, amongst other things, the recent Bloggies, and the whole “A list” bloggers thing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never join the upper echelons of the blogeratti, nor will I receive a Bloggies nomination because I’m not focussed. I waffle about too many things in too disjointed a fashion. Lack of consistency possibly (but you could never fault me for lack of content).

WHY am I pondering this?

Well, at this very point in time I have three rather lengthy posts in draft state. Two are centred round Information Design and the Web, and one is titled “Why we write”. I’ve been adding to and tweaking them for the past two weeks and they are getting to the stage where they could be published. But what then? Do I revert back to the usual miscellany or do I push on for greatness, honing my writing further, creating a unique(r) voice and becoming the site for.. er… ah problem.

What IS the focus of this site? Well obviously it’s me, but then again it ISN’T me as I don’t really talk about myself in that much detail, and I’m painfully aware that my life just isn’t that exciting, certainly not enough to warrant an entire website. I’m not the funniest writer, nor am I particularly insightful, so I’m left with a myriad of topics to deal with, and that’s not to mention the many grammar and typing errors which I’m prone to.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy posting this nonsense but I’m naturally competitive, and have a constant need for adoration (and money) so it piques me a little that I’m not “up there”.

I want fame and glamour, dammit. Who do I have to sleep with to get it!

But, as with most things in this life, I’m getting out what I put in. I’ve made some ‘friends’, met some people, and had the chance to help some others on the way. I’m slowly getting more involved in projects I enjoy and having spent a few days trawling my own archives it’s fairly obvious that the content here is both more frequent but (usually) better considered.

Recently I feel like I’ve been starting over, like the New Year is still influencing my thinking. It’s prompted a few changes, both in my approach to this site and my approach to others, and I think it will continue to do so. It’s a cyclic thing with me, and something I’ve mentioned before. Change and chaos seem to both excite me, forcing me to consider new options, new directions, and depress me, the fog descends again (don’t worry I’ve got a big shiny fan to blow it away with).

Either way, the funk seems to ebb and flow, but it’s providing great moments of lucidity at times, and at least these days I’ve learnt how to see through the fog.

So you A-listers, keep on doing what you are doing, and just remember one thing. WHY you are doing it.

Writing

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A quick glance at the posts I currently have in draft reminds me that I’m kinda busy at the moment. Most of them are almost finished, a couple are still in the idea stage.

  • Information Design and the Web – two part article
  • Simplicity Achieved? – a pondering on the flock of new simple applications, possibly heralding a new cycle in software usage?
  • Firefox Experience – one year on, how is it?
  • Thunderbird – I’ve installed the Mozilla email client, some initial thoughts
  • Fairies – probably never to be posted, a few thoughts on bigotry
  • Orwellian – my take on why we write
  • Z-list – Prompted by the Bloggies
  • Attention Deficit Disorder – can this be acquired?

Fascinating, stuff eh. In the meantime I’d suggest you head over to mike’s place and join in the fun over there. “Which Decade is Tops for Pops?” is back!!

EDIT: Blogrolling.com appears to be having a few issues at present. You should be able to read the content but the entire page may not load properly. (Time to ditch the blogroll?) Sudden realisation that WordPress can handle the list. Et voila!

Blogging

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No one tells me anything. If I was 13 years old again I’d probably stomp my way upstairs and slam my bedroom door. Twice.

Except I’m now a mature 31, already up the stairs, and if I slam the door I’ll wake up my beloved wife and she’ll castrate me.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes. It’s seems that Meg has decided to ‘come back’. OK, I know she wasn’t ever ‘away’ but I have to admit that her last relaunch didn’t sit with me, all that lovely content hidden away behind a myriad of options. I like things simple me. Anyway, she’s back so you can all stop wasting your time here and enjoy her.. well lists at the moment.

But if you don’t come back you’ll miss TWO posts about Information Design, one post about my first year with the Firefox browser and my attempt at answering the question “Why I write”. Ohh and maybe a bit about “A list” bloggers. I bet you can hardly wait.

In the meantime you’re stuck with the usual waffling as those posts aren’t quite finished yet (and every time I look at them they seem to grow) .

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Well looks like the server upgrade went OK. Everything should be back to normal.

Anyway, I’ve got a numb lip (and a new filling) at the moment, and need to concentrate on some Information Design stuff I’m working on (part of which will get posted here later).

So I’m afraid you’ll have to amuse yourselves again today. I’m sure you’ll cope.

Or you leave pleading comments begging me to post.

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That bloke Sevitz sent on a link to the following article: The Dangers of Judging Web Designs Superficially. It’s an interesting article which I’d recommend you all read. It’s as much a look at how we react to visual stimuli as it is about web design… or maybe not, but that’s what I took from it..

And that gives me two topics to think about:
1. Prejudice – how we react to “something different”.
2. Information Design – hitting the “sweet spot” of content and design.

I have a simple theory about prejudice. Everyone is prejudice. It’s natural. We ALL judge a book by it’s cover, we can’t help it, human nature has had thousands of years of experience of this (“whoa, that big green thing looks angry, best run”). The key thing is how you react to the initial judgement, the initial reaction, the initial blast of information. Our senses thrive on providing information to our brain, with so much information being passed that our brains have become quite skilled at ignoring large chunks of it, only dealing with the bits (bytes?) we feel are pertinent.

“We judge everything, and we do it as quickly as possible.”

For example, if I were a racist, I would want to process the information about the colour of a person’s skin. As I’m not my brain registers the fact that their skin is a different colour to mine then moves on to something I consider more important (like am I about to walk into that person or what it says on their t-shirt).

The same principle can be applied to websites. Take, for example, Screaming Seed. Peter mentioned it yesterday and my initial reaction was… WHOA my eyes.. too much contrast. On a second visit, the content starts to creep through (and the content is very good) but I still find myself dealing with that initial reaction.

Now I fancy myself as a “not too bad” web designer type person, so anytime I view a website I choose to analyse the design. It’s the way my mind works, the way I have formed it and as, professionally, I have some idea of Information Design, I think I have a fairly good grasp of the basics of the design/content sweet spot. That is my mindset and my prejudice when I look at websites, or user manuals, or any form of instructional document (yes, even posters for events zip across my critical eye). That is my prejudice, and I have to live with it.

Ohh and naturally, as it is my prejudice I can’t apply it to anything I’ve done so feel free to critique this site, or anything else I’ve done (although as this site is changing soon there’s not a lot of point..).

My point is this, we all have our own prejudices, some major, some minor – whether about ‘real life’ issues or something as trivial as choice of font. It’s how we deal with them that is key, how we communicate our reactions a fundamental skill that every living human being should learn.

Anything we say is everything we say.

The article is about web design, but it’s amazing how easily those same principles can, and should, be extended across a whole facet of human topics.

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Prompted by Peter asking: “What changes would bring greater freedom into your life? What situation or persons would you happily shed if you only could? Make a start here. Use a false name if you want.”

What changes would bring greater freedom into your life? What situation or persons would you happily shed if you only could? Make a start here. Use a false name if you want.

So, for this post, I’ll be Constantino..

So, what would I change. The first one is easy, my job profession. I kind of fell into this whole Technical Authoring thing and I do enjoy aspects of it but having explored most of them, it is somewhat limited. Information Design is an area I’d like to get into a whole lot more, but the realities of business typical quash any thoughts of ‘researching theories’. What would I do instead? I’d love to be a proper web designer, write books, go to conferences. I’m guessing the only thing that is stopping me, is me.o

Although that’s not true. One thing that would bring greater freedom is money. I’m past the materialistic excesses of my youth, to be honest, other than the odd CD here and there, a few gadgets and the like, the whole shopping thing leaves me cold (admittedly that might be due to the restrictive budget). To have no, or at least less, money worries would change a lot of facets of my/our life.

As for persons, I wouldn’t shed any as I’m quite a private person with few real friends as it is. Admittedly there are certain members of my family that could do with a good clip round the ear now and again but then you don’t choose your family.

Situations? I don’t think I’d shed any. We are what we become and the situations, good and bad, in our lives shape us. Around 5 years ago was an all time low for us, but we both agree it has made us stronger and we are almost at the point of it becoming part of everyday conversations (as opposed to late-night, heartfelt discussions).. almost but not quite.

Is it really that simple? Will my happiness be improved simply by changing jobs/professions. Probably. But how easy is it? Given that I have debts that will need to paid, I can’t just chuck my job and go work in a zoo. So I’m guessing that it isn’t easy at all, or is it purely a matter of attitude?

Question: If I declare myself bankrupt, can I start over?

(Apologies Peter, somewhere in the middle of all that I appear to have hijacked your question).

Related:
Unlimited Choice = Genuine Suffering (via)
More young people choosing simpler life
Changing Careers
Simple Living Network

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