My latest field study for IST 659 – Information Design. I put together a couple infographics which I’m hosting on slideshare. Just click the image to check them out.
The elements of my study exist on several levels.
There are those that are apparent and those that are unperceived.
Some elements are tactile, while others are intangible.
Some make sense and others do not.
They are connected and yet, they are not.
There are seemingly whimsical relationships and others that are set in stone.
There are some limitations.
This is a convergence of graphic design, computer technology, software technology, and me (Connolly, 1999) (Wikipedia) (Meggs & Alston, 2006).
Executing this project where everything I do is influenced. (See Supporting Information 1)
The tangible, physical elements include: my keyboard, my mouse, a USB cable, an HDMI cable, a ViewSonic monitor, a Toshiba Satellite laptop, two power jacks, an electrical outlet, and electrical wiring in my building connected to a regional power grid.
The virtual, and somewhat tangible, elements include: the software drivers connecting my keyboard and mouse to the computer, the Windows 7 operating system that runs the computer, the software in the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop® CS5 Extended, Illustrator® CS5, InDesign® CS5, Flash® Catalyst™ CS5, Flash Professional CS5, Dreamweaver® CS5, Fireworks® CS5, Acrobat® 9 Pro, Bridge CS5, Device Central CS5-all of which I’m hugely intimidated by), Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access-only a few of which I’m intimidated by), Google Chrome and Firefox web browsers.
The imperceptible, yet physical, elements include: the greater Syracuse area power grid, connected to an even greater regional power grid that’s connected to, among others, those international thieves at National Grid (National Grid) who are no doubt trashing the environment, to some executives, employees and shareholders who will probably never than me for dutifully paying my utility bill (or introduce themselves for that matter).
And then, of course, there is me.
I work on the keyboard, the mouse and the screen. I sketch out concepts, write down words, draw pictures, eat cashews and drink apricot nectar. I search for meaning, depth, images, content and inspiration.
I am driven by investigation, research and analysis. I am also driven by the brownies I ate as a kid. The woman who taught me how to surf in Los Angeles. Running a marathon. My influences come from everywhere.
I review the readings from class, find new ones, and evaluate the evaluation criteria. Check it again. Look over my last field study. I do not want to get a poor grade.
There are a number of relationships in this system that operates on varying levels. There are physical, mental, social and emotional associations that play a part in enabling, disabling and monitoring of the flow and structure of this information system.
The primary relationship is a three-way convergence between the computer, the software and me. How well I know the software. How comfortable I am with the computer. There are also the relationships I have with the class and the instructor. Do I care enough to try my best? Is there competition between myself and other classmates? The answer to both is yes.
All relationships are influenced by me and my reaction to elements (physical, mental, social and emotional) around me.
The flow of this system starts and ends with me. I’m the conductor of this creativity train. Without me, the computer and software would sit dormant. My influences define the flow. Where it starts and where it stops.
Unfortunately I am not as binary as a computer or software. It is my creativity that fortunately and unfortunately pours out of me at differing rates. It sometimes pours out of me and at other times stays bottled up. When it pours, it can really pour.
An example of an unfiltered thought:
What am I breathing, smelling, eating, drinking, and wearing. Did I eat? Drink? Shower? How long has it been since I last had a really good workout? Called my Mom? Dad? Grandmother? Sisters? Who was that girl who used to live across the street? I barely know Illustrator. We used to play together when we were in kindergarten, but she moved away before we were in first grade. Am I going to be able to find a job after graduation? If I move to Los Angeles, will there be that ‘big end all’ earthquake or should I stay on the East coast? Is blue a good color? Kes likes blue. I used to like blue. I like red more these days. What was that site? The color site. With all the designs? OH yes Colour Lovers. Let me find a good color palette. These posters have great color concepts. How do they do it? Why cannot I do it? I hate the cold. Should I check out everything you love to hate again? Why have not I gotten word on any of the internships I applied for? Google rejected me for the Policy Fellowship program they are offering. That is fine, really. I am listening to Yankee Foxtrot Hotel too much these days. Facebook. Email.
Good thing there are funnels.
Now, after the funnel:
I barely know Illustrator. Is blue a good color? Let me find a good color palette.
Some very quick and basic math shows that the post funnel data is roughly 8% of the pre-funnel mess (I took the word count and divided it – 16/210=.076). This part of the flow of the information analysis and response process clearly can have varying results depending on where my mind takes me.
This thinking closely parallels a recent string of television commercials extolling the benefits of the Microsoft search engine (they call it a ‘decision’ engine), Bing (Microsoft, 2009). In the commercials, an actor make a statement such as ‘bail-out’ (referring to the recent bail out of the financial services industry), another actor repeats the word or phrase, but with a different meaning, say, ‘bail-out’ of a sinking ship, while another references a bale of hay. The commercials continue in the fashion until everything gets so distorted you forget where you began. It similarly parallels the ‘organized, but not really’ style of blogging by ‘lifestyle for digital natives’ expert Nalden (Nalden, 2002).
The function of this system is simple; it is the analysis and interpretation of information prepared for evaluation. Its purpose is similarly straightforward; to develop a greater understanding of the information studies presented in IST 600 – Information Design as well as the material presented in other courses that are a part of the Syracuse University Information School program.
Requirements of the assignment. The need for sleep.
The need for food. Intelligence and knowledge (or lack thereof).
Physical limitations. Length of the assignment.
My willingness to write a short field study. A long field study.
In the greater view of the system (in this case my approach to work), viewing boundaries –however interpreted – fit a vital, and perhaps underappreciated or even unrecognized, role in the flow of the system. If there were not a form to the English language, this assignment could be written in an incomprehensible manner. If there were not limitations to my own abilities, I could conceivably write, edit, rewrite and research this field study forever.
Limitations help to frame the system and put some order to it. Having boundaries help to define the structure of the field study. Though they can be unseen and ambiguous, they are, perhaps, ‘the most crucial determinant of the system’s behavior’ (Meadows).
The circumstances that form the setting for this field study is the culmination of my life and experiences (see Supporting Information 1) joined with the boundaries set forth in the field study requirements. My influences create answers to the questions posed: be it physical design of paper layout, design of supporting information or interpretation of facts, data and information.
In comparing my system with a human-only or machine-only system, there are both similarities and differences. They both set out to achieve a task or set of tasks to the best of their ability. They both have parameters that define the project or task to achieve as well as expected outcomes. The most glaring difference is that when you throw a human into picture, the likelihood for consistency can be greatly diminished. However, when a system requires analysis of an intangible, for instance emotion, a machine-only system will fail.
Unlike machines, humans are incapable of being programmed and have lower limits to output. For instance, to expect a human to sew 10,000 socks in a day is completely unrealistic while a machine could conceivably handle that task plus many others.
If a part of the human-only or machine-only breaks, there will, providing the parts are available, be a much greater chance that the machine-only system will easily be fixed. If a human breaks down physically, they will often be able to repair themselves or get help to repair them. If, however, the human is experiencing a terminal or psychological breakdown, the pieces will be either much harder to repair, or unable to be repaired at all.
This field study is about my influences and that space in between things. There actually is not any space to speak of physically, just a shifting, amorphous area between concept, execution, review, analysis and acceptance. How to pull these pieces together and make sense of them varies with the project and my mood and how I feel will best convey the points I’m trying to get across (Tufte, 1997). This field study is as much about the analysis of a human-computer system as it is a dissection of my habits, influences, limitations and understanding (Norman, 1988).
In my own egotistical way, this field study is all about me and my influences and how they affect my work operations. It is not just what is playing on the radio this moment, or that slice of pizza from lunch or the vitamins I gulped this morning. What is governing my work is 38 years of ups, downs, challenges, triumphs and experiences. The way in which I act and react to information will profoundly impact the project.
Things are clear yet can easily be distorted. The way of filtering information through my own personal lens and gaining more arms in the arsenal of information helps in the edification of what is around me (Tufte, 1997). The more my eyes are opened, the more information there is to see (Lester & Kohler, Jr., 2007).
For me, this was a journey. I came to Syracuse University to pursue a Library and Information Science degree. Thirsting for more technology, I added Information Management to the mix. Curious about design, I took IST 659. Now, especially after this project, all I want to do is be an Information Designer.
Timeline of Kitlas
Please go to page 11 Here:
Key moments in graphic design history
15,000 – 10,000 BC The first known visual communication, with pictographs and symbols in the Lascaux caves in southern France.
3600 BC The Blau Monument, the oldest artifact known to combine words and pictures.
105 AD Chinese government official Ts’ai Lun credited with inventing paper.
1045 AD Pi Sheng invents movable type, allowing for characters to be individually placed for printing.
1276 Printing arrives in Europe with a paper mill in Fabriano, Italy.
1450 Johann Gensfleisch zum Gutenburg credited with perfecting the system for printing type in books.
1460 Albrecht Pfister the first to add illustrations to a printed book.
1470 Nicolas Jenson, considered one of history’s greatest typeface designers, sets news standard for Roman type.
1530 Claude Garamond opens first type foundry, developing and selling fonts to printers.
1722 First Caslon Old Style font developed, later used for the printing of the Declaration of Independence.
1760 Industrial Revolution begins, setting the stage for advances in graphic design production.
1796 Author Aloys Senefelder develops lithography.
1800 Lord Stanhope invents first printing press made of all cast-iron parts, requiring 1/10 the manual labor and doubling the possible paper size.
1816 First sans-serif font makes a subtle entrance as one line of a book.
1861 Williams Morris, who became a highly influential figure in design history, sets up art-decorating firm.
1880 Development of halftone screen allows for first photo printed with a full range of tones.
1890 Art Nouveau movement begins and changes design, making its way into all types of commercial design and utilizing all types of arts.
1917 James Montgomery Flagg designs famous “I Want YOU for the U.S. Army” poster. The poster, a self-portrait, was actually an American version of a British poster by Alfred Leete.
1919 The Bauhaus, a German school, is founded, eventually providing the framework for modern design.
1932 Stanley Morison oversees design of Times New Roman font, commissioned by the Times of London.
1940 First issue of Print Magazine printed.
1956 Paul Rand designs IBM logo using City Medium typeface.
1957 Max Miedinger designs Neue Haas Grotesk font, later renamed Helvetica.
1959 First issue of Communication Arts printed.
1969 Douglas Engelbart develops first computer mouse, setting the stage for the future tool of graphic design.
1984 Apple releases first Macintosh computer, featuring bitmap graphics.
1985 Aldus, formed by Paul Brainerd, develops PageMaker software. Brainerd coins the phrase “desktop publishing.” In the same year, New York firm Manhattan Design creates the MTV logo.
1990 Photoshop version one released, and physicist Tim Berners-Lee develops the World Wide Web, along with HTML and the concept of website addresses.
Source: (Meggs & Alston, 2006)
Cohn, D. (2010). Evolution of Computer-Aided Design: How we got to where we are, and where are we headed. Desktop Engineering.
Connolly, M. J. (1999). Solaris-Adobe Products (a little long).
Lester, J., & Kohler, Jr., W. C. (2007). The Impact of Information in Society. In J. Lester, & J. W. Kohler, Fundamentals of Information Studies: Understanding Information and Its Environment (pp. 1-37). New York: Neal Schuman Publishers.
Meadows, D. H. (n.d.). Chapter One The Basics. In D. H. Meadows, Thinking in Systems: A Primer (pp. 11-35). White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
Meggs, P. B., & Alston, P. W. (2006). Meggs’ History of Graphic Design. Fourth Edition. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.
Microsoft. (2009, June 3). Microsoft Bing TV Commercial. Retrieved from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy7Grx3fb2M
Nalden. (2002). Nalden. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from Nalden: https://www.nalden.net/
National Grid. (n.d.). Our Business. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from National Grid: https://www.nationalgridus.com/aboutus/a2-1_business.asp
Norman, D. A. (1988). The Psychopathology of Everyday Things. In D. A. Norman, The Design of Everyday Things (pp. 1-33). New York: Doubleday.
Tufte, E. R. (1997). Visual and Statistical Thinking: Displays of Evidence for Making Decisions. In E. R. Tufte, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative (pp. 27-53). Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press.
Ware, C. (2008). What We Can Easily See, Chapter 2. In C. Ware, Visual Thinking: for Design (Morgan Kaufmann Series in Interactive Technologies) (pp. 23-42). Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann.
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Adobe Illustrator. Retrieved February 28, 2011, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Illustrator