Sunday, April 29, 2007

Designing information at the very basic level is what we should seek to achieve as graphic designers. The more words we use to describe something the better information we get about it. If the system is not self explanatory or is confusing it's likely to lose attention of a potential audience. Some people have a short attention span and tend to get diverted when there is a lot of information put forth while others seek for more elaborate explanation. So as a designer what would be the most ideal way to design information such that everyone is happy and satisfied. Should we as designers accept the conventions and work accordingly or as artists thinkin outside the box and come up with a novelty? Looking at the examples in the book most of the posters did make sense to me or atleast after the book explained it. We are here to make information visually interesting by creating confections regardless of what it is. Although most of us may just end up working 9-5 in front of the computer I really hope that the confections we create as an attempt to most probably sell a'product'be created for a good cause. We are the future of capitalism.

Monday, April 9, 2007

I like this little blog.

I'm gonna miss it. It's fun.


"Ideally, structures that organize information should be transparent, straightforward, obvious, natural, ordinary, conventional - with no need for hesitation or question on the part of the reader."

When I stumbled across this passage early into the chapter, I couldn't help but think "boo-yah." And I never use the term "boo-yah," so this is pretty huge. If you go back to my very first post on this blog, you'll realize that this is an issue that has been nagging at me for the entire semester. What is our role as system designers? Is information design about inventing new, exciting ways to classify information in an attempt to capture an audience's attention to otherwise dull subject matter? Or are we simply to use existing, ever-too-familiar methods of classification to present information with extreme clarity? Just look at these past two sentences for example: I could have shortened them. I could have made them more direct and precise. I could have made them more understandable. But I chose to add small flourishes and rhetoric to add a heightened interest. However, this heightened interest is only accessible to those with a deeper level of education. Not someone with, say, a fifth-grade english background. Though they always win "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," so who knows?

The Myth of Depth, by Mark Tansey, seems to divert slightly from pure information design into fine art theory; reminiscent of the stuff we discussed in Critical Frameworks, as well as the book "Ways of Seeing." I want that painting on my wall.

Babar is fantastic, by the way. I couldn't think of a more delightful way to end this intriguing textbook. Later.


Reading Response

This chapter was interesting. I uses very clear examples and metapohrs to define what designers do. Tufte uses candy as one example of a confection. Confections, as Tufte defines, are a collection of graphic images, and sometimes text that create a clear message or story. He uses candy as an example. Candy is delicious and often the packaging reflects that. When is the last time you saw a piece of candy wrapped in an unattractive, ugly, disfigurd package. You dont! You see bright colors, clean wrapping, and inviting texture. Designers, in comparison, create visual "dishes." We try to create visualy pleasing combinations of text and graphics to give a message, often selling something. So Tufte defining designers as creators of confection is right on the money. Overall the chapter wasn't very helpful, but gave me a few other perspectives on design.

Confectioneers in the Webworld

Confections and compartments. The first thing that Salman Rushdie's quote at the beginning of the chapter made me think of was the interface for Macromedia's Flash program. It was difficult for me to fully grasp the timeline aspect of Flash because there are so many layers that embed themselves into other layers, creating a dense strata of information that seems at times completely astounding. In the same vein, confectionary illustrations are sometimes so information-rich and context specific that, unless one understands the iconography, the implied language of the scene, a lot gets missed.

In this way, I am also reminded of the poetry that was written by the likes of T.S.Elliott, Keats, Yeats, and so many others who wrote, not for the masses, but rather made the assumption that their reader would be educated: would understand Latin, Greek mythology, Biblical references, the lives of the martyrs... In some ways, I think that it's harder to create a sophisticated 'confection' these days, though at the same time, it's easier through web-based technology, so long as the icongraphy is pop-culture based rather than based on an ideal classical education.

we all create confections

As a designer we create confections everday by using our design knowlege to relay messeages through out media. It was intresting to read that as designers we do create these things called confections. But after reading the section it was clear that every design we create we are making a confections by trying to tell our story in the design.

chapter 7 reaction

I feel that the anology of confections in relation to visual design is very relivant. To make confections pleasing to the consumer is basically the purpose of design also. I have previously made connection with design and confection any other time in my life. I have in the past used confections for art works but never thought of the similarites to them with my design work.


This chapter was peculiar. I found it odd and funny how Tufte used a language that is meant for something all together different. As some have mentioned, there are similarities. In both baking and design you bring together many flavors and elements to create something of great taste and aesthetic interest.

A couple of things I took note of, include that speech alone is sometimes inefficient in communicating. The addition of visuals and words make for a much easier understanding.

I was most drawn to; I believe it was called the Constructor. I thought the combination of 3D and 2D worked and blended together beautifully with interesting concepts behind it. I also took note of the text referring to bad confection ties closely with bad concepts.

The idea of confection to me was one of surrealism and seems to establish unreal worlds. This makes for interesting visuals in combination with real facts. I also enjoyed the diagram of the taproot with the different compartments making a very pleasing design.


I thought the book made the excellent analogy of collage is to art as confections are to information design. Collages are visually interesting with their many pieces, just like confections are intriguing, using compartments and imagined scenes to arrange and organize information. I liked the similarity this chapter made of confections being like miniature theaters (page 138), because bringing different materials, images, and text together in a confection is like bringing different people together in theater, and one gets information in an interesting way in both situations.

This chapter really made sense in why confections are used and how they can be very successful. We all want our pieces to stand out to people and make them memorable for someone. Information design doesn't have to be straightforward and cut-and-dry. When images and text enhance each other, and the confection is visually interesting, people will spend more time with a piece, thus making it more memorable. I thought it was interesting to learn that 17th-century law students used confections in their memorization, because (as the book mentions on page 125) recall is enhanced by allegory and bizarre situations. I find myself doing a version of this when trying to memorize art history. I also have used confections in other situations: using compartments for the poster project in this class, as well as making a collage of different parts of people's faces and making them as one face in my Critical Frameworks class. People tend to have a short attention span, so making a confection in information design helps people stay interested, since that makes the viewer in control of what he/she wants to view at what point (rather than giving the person step-by-step direction and not letting him/her view anything else at one time--as pointed out in the book). Confections give people options, and people like to know they have options.

HOLY "candy"

Confections and candies, visualization and design.

Variety of candies and likewise variety of design.

Candies are tempting from how they are designed and packaged and it fulfills the crave most of the times. They portray the meaning of successful visualization. They convey a clear message to the audience, confections as tufte calls them, the same when designers create something using text, graphics and more and are successfully able to convey and communicate.

The varieties of candies and confectioners can be compared with the variety of designs and designers. Just like some of us like jelly beans and gummy bears, while some only like m&m and skitties ... some of us like minimal, some vibrant, some "GRUNGY", some corporate and so on ...

It amazing how designers can relate to anything and everything and with a lot of sense.

Holy "candy"

We are confection makers

Now looking back at this reading, I think it’s sort of funny. Whoever thought graphic designers are confection makers? It really gives new lightings to our profession and makes us think differently—almost conventionally weird. As confection makers—I mean graphic designers, we use both text and graphic to convey a clear message to the viewers of what we want to sell.

It is the same as a piece of candy, it has to look good for people to buy and taste, and if they like what they see, of course the candy shop are going to profit from it. At the same time, it demands us to create something unique, something that have not already been in the candy store.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Confections! Candy and Graphic Design

I used to think of confections as candy, sweet, delicious candy, but after reading this chapter of Tufte I can no longer just think of candy as confection anymore, yet in a way confections in the sense of visual design can be considered to have several characteristics of candy. Candy tastes good, in most cases looks good, and leaves the one eating it craving more and as such one seeks to find or create more. Comparatively confections in visual design while not tasting good, or perhaps they do I've never tried eating them, have a nack of draw the interest of people, visual confections almost always look good, are well composed and thought out and are extremely good at organizing content, and last but not least once one has seen a good confection it leaves one wanting to find and or create their own candy, err I mean visual confections. I enjoyed this chapter as it dealt with a topic that has always been a part of design and especially illustration as it calls on both the artistic as well as the design aspects to produce an image that is literally worth 1,000 words.


Throughout Chapter 7 Tufte discusses what confections are. He starts off by describing them as visual elements that are assembled together to tell a story. If a mixture of images conveys a clear message to its audience then it becomes a successful confection. Also, when an artist incorporates text and image together that can be considered a confection because those visual elements placed together can make the message clearer to the viewer.
Then when Tufte started explaining how computers can quickly assemble confections by combining text and image together I realized that what Graphic Designers create can be considered confections. When we mix text and image together in posters, newsletters, brochures, websites, etc. we are using visual confections to relay a message to our viewers in a more appealing way. Therefore, our goal as Graphic Designers is to successfully create visual confections so they are easily understood and interpreted correctly by our targeted audiences.

Together on the Flatland of Paper

Each and every time I pick up this book, I am simply amazed at the complexity of it's contents. I seem to look through the pages of any chapter before I read it, but when looking through this book I seem to get so distracted by it's visual stimulation and wonderful text and image juxtapositions. This chapter speaks about the confection, which is the assembly of many visual events from various Streams of Story, then all brought together of the flatland of paper. These confections present visual comparisons, and combine both the real and the imagined to tell another story. I seem to be enthrawled by how complex the ideas are within this chapter and the book itself. The chapter then travels through what different times and different people have done with confection. However, even after reading the chapter I am still somewhat confused as to it's purpose and point. Of course I am constantly interested in the content that the book holds, but sometimes the ideas seem to go beyond my understanding.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Lines, Number, image, and geometric shape

Parallelism and multiplying goes hand in hand to give a image, lines, or objects a better depth and extraordinarily visual excitement. Scientist, historians, anthropologist, zoologist, biologist, and artist have been adopting this phenomenon for centuries to give a better understanding of their topics or research. Combining science, math and art to represent any subject matter has always been a better and effective mechanism to create visual expression. As talked in chapter 5 how parallel lines, and number have been used to clarify some of the logic and science law that we still read and follow. Understanding the importance of lines, number and geometric shape is essential to create an outcome that has substantial visual effect.

Before the days when Television weren’t invented, how would people represent the motion? The simple solution was the repetition of the object or image. This repetition theory has made the Mankind easier to explore outer and inner space. Visual interpretation becomes more relaxed to our brain and it can capture the image precisely then memorizing mathematical formula. This system of using multiple images and lines have explains complicated subject matter in a easier way and have given us the insight of our universe which would have taken us years to figure it out on our own.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

BTW i apologize for not being able to post this sooner.


5 and 6

Parallelism is everywhere. Especially evident in todays consumeristic society we see a lot of repetition of the same product over and over again pleading in a sense to its viewer to be commodified. It is so funny how we fall into the trap subconsciously. For instance, I was one of those people who like doing exactly the opposite of the masses. It was very disturbing when I realized I found myself vouching for the product with a familiar brand name over something unfamiliar given the circumstance that it was my first time ever using a product of that kind. This would not make sense to a lot of people and I understand that. I guess there are pros and cons of this just like anything else. But looking at a bigger picture I would say that our very own understanding of everything and anything has been a victim of parallelism.
For example, unless we're in a system that defines good and bad we wouldnt really know the difference. It would just be an act. Parallelism has been used over and over again to keep us under control to help us understand the system that was long here before anyone of us; for better or for the worse.
Multiples really help us understand the best of options that are available to us. With a simple judgement of compare and contrast and a little critical thinking I think we can come to a conclusion as to what best suits us. For instance there are thousands of brands of shampoo available to us but which one do we pick? Well eventually we do make up our mind based on what best fits us or so we think. This is a very good pratice at least I believe it to be. However, I am still unsatisfied because I think that we should have been given that option for everything for example which religion we choose to follow other than the fact that you were just born into it. I understand that this may be a very sensitive subject but if you think about it I think it would work a lot better than the mess we are in today. Ironically but not surprisingly I find parallelism to be guilty for our misfortune.

I really hope that it made sense!!!
: /

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Parallelism is funny. I hope.

On page 87, there is a chart that has an uncanny resemblance to Subi's project. And it's found in a scholarly, highly respected book. So we must all give sincere props to Subi for coming up with an elaborate system that is mirrored by the one in Visual Explanations.

Either that or Subi ripped the idea from the book (just kidding, just kidding, bud!).

I found "parallelism" to be highly, highly intriguing. The difference between time-based and adjacent-in-space comparisons especially picked my brain. Comparisons, parallels that are stacked in time - as demonstrated by the before/after flaps - are much more "magical" than comparisons that are side by side. The role that time plays in the scenario adds an element of suspense; what will appear behind the metaphorical flap?! It also allows the mind a satisfying feeling of nostalgia: "Wow, this new idea reminds me of an older idea... that's neat."

For some reason, time-based comparisons reminded me of comedians. No, no, just hear me out. I saw a comedy show with one awfully unfunny comedian, and one spectacular comedian. And I decided I know what the latter was so much funnier than the crappy comedian... he would tie together his jokes with previous ones. He would transist smoothly. He would open the flap into a new story. Eventually, when we forgot about the old, he would close the flap and "boom," the same joke be even funnier.

Let me speak without metaphor: The comedian would kill us with a joke, which we would eventually forget about, and then make reference to it later, thus picking our brains and providing a satisfying connection in time.

Maybe this makes sense, maybe not. But it's neat that a textbook hinted to something I once considered myself.

Anyway, I think it would be intriguing in my second project to do comparisons that are stacked in time. Maybe a movie with comparisons and narratives.

Or I'll just wear a button-up collar shirt and taped glasses and take pictures of myself.

Interesting or Monotonous

Well i guess the title will tell you a little about how i feel about Tufte's text, and the two chapters. I am simply not entirely sure what to think of the book, at first it was somewhat interesting, giving the reader a sense of accomplishment after finishng a section, however, now while reading - for some reason - i was becoming bored with the subject matter. Chapter 5 was intriguing because i have always been interested in comparing and contrasting things and elements. One thing that is exciting about the book and about this chapter was the use of "pop-out" images, if you will. For example comparing the Cottage Altered piece with a tab that could be pulled back, was exciting, it was somewhat unique way of showing a comparison. Also, with my love for type, was interested in the portions of the chapter involving letterform comparisons, i love anything to do with typography, it rocks! Chapter 6, involving space and time, was equaly as mixed with intrigue and confusion. I have always been a sci-fi nerd, so the things involving space and its effect on things was fun to read and try and understand. However, the chapter began to become monotonous and as equaly uninteresting. I guess, even after my short blurb here, i myself am eqauly as confused, as i was while reading, and while beginning my write-up; but maybe that it what Tufte was after while writing this text, surely he cannot expect everyone to always be intrigued with such over-whelming and deep, sometimes droning information...or can he?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Rated PG

I didn't do it yet.

But here I'm exhibiting honesty... can I have full credit for that? You know, like in the movies where there's a little boy that messes up, but is shown grace and eventually learns his lesson in the end? You know, the movie where there's a montage with piano music playing in the background as the boy puts everything together in his head and turns out to be a better person because of his mistakes...

That's my favorite movie.
But the soundtrack sucks.


I like this book

The first chapter dealt with parallelism, which is connecting two bits of information by a common characteristic. I think this chapter has been my favorite of all the chapter we have read before. My favorite graphs in this chapter were:"Rock 'N Roll is Here to Pay," "The Science of Musical Sound," "Popular Astronomy," and the cosmonauts space map. In fact, the last time I saw the use of the parallelism done for the Astronomy club was for a Simpson's trivia game. Almost every character that had appeared on the Simpson's was on a huge poster, and there was a supplementary sheet with outlines of each character that corresponded to a number and their identity. An interesting aspect that the book pointed out several times, is how many steps it takes to go from a symbol to a number, to another number, to an identity. It's interesting how quickly we breeze through those steps when pouring our eyes over a chart or map.

multiples chapter was informative because it showed what I perceived to be good and bad examples in the chapter. The medical chart on page 111 was extremely difficult to digest for me, because there were two time lines, one vertical and one horizontal. A multiples chart I did find informative was the Pangea continent map. The left examples on that chart use the same grid structure as my constellation map.

Chapters 5/6

Parallelism and multiples enhance design. Multiples and parallelism enhance design.

Two items that are parallel in space and/or time forces one to compare them. The use of flaps in flip parallelism enhances the differences, and I think it was interesting to read that before/after flaps have been used since the early 1800s. Flaps are fun, interactive pieces, but the book stated that comparisons are usually more effective "when information is adjacent in space rather than stacked in time" (page 81). I agree with this because it takes more time and energy to flip a flap open than it takes to look at an image right next to the original. Charts and graphs can be confusing to understand. Codes and keys are sometimes necessary. Visual comparisons in graphs/charts can be misleading if their numbers are represented differently (ex., if one graph goes from 0-60 in increments of 10 and another goes from 0-60 in increments of 2).

Parallelism provides organization and education/learning. Multiples enhance the dimensionality of paper and computer screens--they reinforce the meanings of images and help make distinctions/comparisons. Using parallelism and multiples can clarify information or confuse someone, which is why they enhance design. They bring another element to a design (sometimes the design is supposed to be confusing). They are easy enough to use in today's copy/paste world, and they can add a fun Where's Waldo or I Spy effect. I just played with my nephew this weekend, and we were searching for elements in an I Spy book, which proves that parallelism and multiples are seen in everyday life and work on all ages.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

P 'n M

After reading about parallelism and multiples, I have become more aware of how often these methods are used in information design. These methods are used conventionally and as seen in Tufte's readings, sometimes unconventionally. I have learned that to create an effective parallelism you must think of the images spacially and can be used with time. I compleletly agree that images placed well are much easier to compare and contrast. I found the diagram of patterns of rock music to be quite beautiful. The mound of flowing text and lines created a soothing effect which, can even be compared to some rock music. I was also captivated by the Cyclogram. I enjoyed the human touch in handwriting and the natural human behavior (anticipation/passing of time) that was expressed. The redesign in order to alleviate the passing of time was also interesting. Regarding multiples, I felt that it was pretty self-explanatory after reading of parallelism. Multiples allow for an ease of contrasting and in understanding change.

parallelism and multiples

I thought more about parallel processing done by computers when reading the chapter on parallelism, which is a strategy to process data faster by using multiple computer brains simultaneously. Parallelism itself is a process to analyze, compare, contrast information in a systematic way. It is a way to relate and link information. It can get complex with multiple layers and elements, but it does keep information in an organized space. Another interesting concept was about faulty and inaccurate parallelism in design and language. Disinformation design?

The chapter on multiples was more interesting and easier to understand, understandable illustrations and text. A very useful tool in differentiation, comparison between similars and in depicting change or a sense of motion over time. Also a very bold way to organize information. The chapter reminded me about the first project ( i think it was Heather's) on sandals and how the concept of multiples was used. That justified a whole lot of diagrams that were present in the book. Knowingly or unknowingly, the way that the sandals were classified with respect to coherent features (yet different) is definitely a "multiples" concept.

"Integration of multiple elements into a common field"

Parallelism & Multiples

After reading Chapter 5 on Parallelism I realized that there are parallels all around us. They can be seen in sculpture, science, music, typography, shapes, numbers, pictures, diagrams, etc. Parallels are used to help people learn. They help people analyze, compare and contrast things. Also, parallels create organization, rhythm and balance. As human beings, when things are organized they help people learn more easily because things are orderly and easy to follow.

Similarly, in Chapter 6, Tufte discusses how multiples depict direct comparisons and help viewers analyze and differentiate between things. The advantage to multiples is that it can portray movement when drawn out. For example, when viewing a card trick on paper the hand gestures change in each step along with the card positions, which ultimately displays motion. In this case, space replaces time. On the other hand, the disadvantage to multiples, if displayed incorrectly, can project false groupings. For example, if there are ten images of different landscapes placed next to each other and eight are colored and two are in black and white, your eyes would automatically want to compare the two b&w images to each other, when in reality all the images are supposed to be compared/contrast to each other. It is obvious that multiples are very versatile and helpful when it comes to learning.

Overall, parallelism and multiples are used to create organization in order to help viewers learn, analyze and compare things in their daily lives.

Review of Chapters 5 & 6

Chapters 5 & 6 were helpful by telling you how to execute your ideas so that it can relate to your audience. Reading about parallelism was interesting because there are so many different items that when creating you think of and then there are the little details that come up later on. You are building a connection and when something is created, there are numerous interpretations of what people would think about when they notice. Is the design noticeable? Is it readable? There are so many questions that need to be answered it really gets you to start thinking.

I enjoyed the subliminal message in chapter 6 about multiples and how to keep using them. The first page, each paragraph started with the work "multiples" to get it to stick in your head. It worked for me with the repetition. They also make a good point about good design. On page 115 the author stated, "Good design should take into account how, when, and where the information is used. Just as underwater books should minimize page-turning, cookbooks should lie flat on the counter, directional guides should enable glancing back and forth between the road and the instructions (short lines of type, with content-based linebreaks, will help), maps for piloting aircraft at night should allow for reading by dim light, and charts for recording space-flight data (such as the cyclogram) should fold compactly." They summed it up about design in two sentences. This really got me to starting thinking more and more.

Ch. 5 & 6

The main purpose of information design is to give the information. I find it interesting that information can be presented to a viewer in a comprehensible way, but there might be other ways of making its design more efficient, easier to intake, understand and memorize. Using parallelisms and multiples are two of those better ways. They allow the viewer to compare two or more things to each other; and that is how a human mind knows the world - through comparison. Comparison opens the doors to little things that otherwise could be left unnoticed. Parallelisms and multiples also help express such things as motion and time sequence that are hard to show on a flat 2-d surface. It is important to notice that some tricks make certain information designs work better, as Tufte pointed out the schedule for the people on the spaceship works better when folded, while an underwater guide to differentiation of fish works better on a single sheet, no flapping pages.
In information design the clarity of the system, effectiveness of its construction is most important and can be achieved through different techniques.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Upon reading chapters 5/6, it came to my attention that repetition was the key to defining differences between similar objects. If you were to date someone and they had a twin, how would you tell them apart? If you can’t, it would not be good. Luckily by focusing on all the similar features, the differences will spring right out at you. This same concept can be held true for graphic designs and illustrations.
The other important ideas of comprehension and retention made perfect sense. They go hand in hand. If one cannot comprehend an idea, then they will surely not retain it. For instance if you ever watch any drama show (or anything on the CW for that matter) at the beginning of each episode they will do a recap of what’s been going on so far in the show. Later at the end they will show the preview which helps review the episode you just watched. Contemplating this reading, I think it gives me some idea for my next project.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Chapters 5 and 6 were, for me, a lot of repetition (Pardon the pun) from many other articles and lectures that I've heard, but it was also quite interesting to read about because it is so much in human nature to do these things unconciously without having to think about it. I apprecated seeing the examples that the book provided about parallelism and I particularly enjoyed the example of depicting the 3D cubes as a series of numbers that essentially make up that cube in the opposing panel. The Examples helped in defining what you could use parallelism for and how to approach design by using it. Chapter 6 spoke mostly on repitition and was like chapter 5. Repetition is a very helpful tool to use in design as it makes it easier for us to compare things by basing it off of objects that look similar to each other. Most of the examples provided in the chapter were things that would be common illustrations in instructional guides, which made sense. You never realize how much repitition is happening in an image until you look at it carefully and take notice of it. For the most part your brain does the work without you having to notice. As designers it is especially important to notice it and use it to our advantage.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

One of these things is not like the others...

Mr. Tufte’s chapter on parallelism, comprehension and retention made a lot of sense to me, and served to reinforce what I already knew about the way we, as human beings, learn. When I was twenty-three I spent a summer teaching reading skills through a private school. My students ranged in age from four years old (reading readiness) through adult (speed reading, strategies for better reading retention). Altogether I learned the curriculum for seven different class levels. Though the materials differed, and the techniques, one thing that remained consistent throughout was the method of delivering the information: organization and repetition. At the beginning of each class period I would explain what we would cover that day, and then relate it back to what we had already learned. I would then return to the present lesson in more detail. Each new idea was explained in terms of how it related back to the broader concept. At the end of class I again reiterated everything that had been covered during our time together. What I learned from this uber-structured teaching method was that by defining the context for each new piece of information, the minutia became much easier for my students to understand and retain. It comes as no surprise that this holds true for visual information as well, as Mr. Tufte discusses in Chapter 5. Creating a well-defined structure for the information being presented allows the designer to empower their audience with the necessary parameters to evaluate new data, whether or not the data replicates or deviates, increases, decreases, or ceases.
Chapter 6 was interesting. Using a baseline similarity to highlight variations reminded me of a type of visual puzzle that was around when I was a child. Two almost identical drawings appear side by side. The idea is to spot the differences between the two: stripes instead of polka dots, buckles instead of bows, a spoon where there had been a fork. Drawing #1 is the control. Without it, the variations in Drawing #2 are meaningless. The details that remain constant serve to highlight the differences, and together the two drawings are much more interesting than either one would be on it’s own because searching for “same” and “different” is intriguing. The same concept, when used to express other visual information, is compelling because it engages our analytical, puzzle-loving intellects.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Design Accurately?

At first, when I was reading chapter one I was thinking to myself who came up with the concept of designing maps in proportions. But I guess as humans we tend to define everything around us and it wasn't just satisfactory for us to have maps rather we seeked for a way to to depict it in relation to reality. nonetheless the idea of mapping a 3D into a 2D plane almost serves as a normality to us today. However, as GD students in this age we have so much technology out there to convert our ideas into reality. And this got me thinking into how I could represent my classification into 3D. Would it have a certain set of structure that it would follow or would it just be too obvious. Would it be more effective to have a 3D model or a pocket sized 2D literature with some pictures. As a conclusion I think that it is the idea or the flow of information which is the most important. Although I do agree that there maybe more effective ways of conveying an idea or information but as information designers we are more than obligated to find the most efficient way to reach the masses be it depicting it as a 2D or a 3D.
I found the content of chapter 3 to be more interesting. I asked my self if propaganda and magic had anything common to them. I think we tend to think again as our previous reading that as long as it's in an authoritative format we tend to believe it. This is probably because we have no means of verifying the information.....or so we think. Once again every individual has their own way of understanding matters. Although we may get a general idea we have different emotions or ideas that come to us. So, I see this as a challenge to us (information designers) in validating what we are communicating no matter how true or flase it maybe. The challenge lies in convincing the masses or maybe even leaving them doubtful so that they attempt to seek the truth. I say all of our designs should be like a subway map........nobody thinks twice.

Monday, February 5, 2007


So far I have been enjoying Mr. Tufte's world of information design. Chapter 1 was especially enlightening: before I read it, I had never really thought about the evolution of information design, nor had I paid much attention to three-dimensional representations of information a' la storm analysis. I do think, though, that Tufte is a little hard on the folks at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. After all, they created this videotape (!) in 1990, and even seven years later, when Tufte's book was published, quite a bit had changed in the world of technology. Which is not to say that the missing metrics are necessarily excusable, just that the movie itself represents a leap forward, and should be cut a little slack. I was also quite interested in the sly ways in which information can be manipulated. This is not a new concept, but even so, I was left with a lot to mentally chew over.

Chapter 3 was engrossing both for its content in and of itself, and also for the fact that I would not have thought to compare illustrations for magic tricks to what, it my mind, is the fairly dry world of information design. (My views on this have no doubt been unconsciously shaped by the limits of Microsoft Office) Now that my horizons have been broadened through both Ch.1 and Ch. 3, with my thoughts awash with opportunities for showmanship and misdirection, I find that I have even more ideas regarding how I might frame my information for this semester's projects.

Tufte Ch1&3 response

In chapter one Tufte examines three techniques for visually depicting quantities: direct labels, encoding, and self-representing scales. Also examined is interpreting 3-dimensional information to a 2-dimensional plane: the paper, computer screen, etc. This is accomplished effectively through perspective and motion. Something that results in disinformation design is inaccurate usage of scaling. In information design, if you are using scale you should make it apparent to the viewer and use accurately so as not to distort information. In our case we are to present information in such a way so that even if it is untrue it appears to be truthful and accurate through the proper usage of format appropriation. The usage of commonly accepted to be credible formats to display our information such as graphs, maps, charts, etc. will allow for the realization of this goal.

In chapter three of the reading Tufte explores how illusion allows for the belief of false or hyped up data. Use illusion to "regulate optical information available to the viewer" to do this use disguise/suppression of context and attention control/prevent reflective analysis. I think in our project we use the credible format to emphasize the viewer's attention to how credible all our information looks to distract the viewer from how inaccurate/false/exaggerated our information truly is. The chapter says that disinformation design can be achieved through the method of display and/or the actual data ("thoughtful/technically well executed designs may skillfully present false information") itself.

Design in general:
bad design=disinformation design="the triumph of decoration over information"-Paul Rand

wonder vs. knowledge

Humankind floats between two aspects - knowledge and lack of knowledge. On one hand, a collection of knowledge from various sciences, laws, and history gives us many difinitions of what is real and what is not. On the other hand, much of collected knowledge is only theoretical, thus it leaves room for wonder. Wonder can be something that does not follow established rules or follows other set of rules that have yet been undiscovered.
The book talks about different wondrous things that look magical only in realm of physical space. I found author's comment on impossibility of expressing magic in still-land and video-land very interesting. It is very true that for something to be felt as magical and unbelievable a person needs to perceive it in full spectrum. Partial dimensions don't do the trick.
Graphs, images, charts, and scales however help people make sense of the world. It is a way of attaining knowledge without having to see things with own eyes. It allows to picture things and compare them to familiar measurements. In this case a person can have a good understanding about what that "thing" is, provided graphs, charts, etc. were calculated and presented properly.

Data & Diagrams

This reading was more helpful to me and got my mind thinking more about how I can represent the data I collect for this project. I did think that some of the explanations got a little wordy, but I liked the quote on page 26 that says, "Although we often hear that data speak for themselves, their voices can be soft and sly." One must be careful in how he/she represents information, choosing to tell the truth or manipulate it somehow and give the audience an illusion. One can get a better sense of scale/size if an image is representational and is depicted in its actual surroundings, not cropped to fit just the piece itself. Having spatial depth can really get the viewer involved in a piece, rather than being purely 2-D. The chapter on magic showed the power that diagrams can hold. Animating words with use of variations on text/font has a great effect, like the word "GONE" in the disappearing water glass picture. I was surprised at how many aspects to an image can signal motion. I see it all the time in the informational design that I see every day, but reading about many at one time in this chapter really got me thinking about representation and how often we DO see it. Varying angles, ghosting multiple images, and dotted/dashed lines can signal motion very well. As I was looking at the labels for the Automaton Chess Player, I was reminded of house and apartment layouts--how one must collect information about the built-in aspects to every room and scale it down to represent something that someone looks at quickly and decides, "Hey I'm going to check out this place. It has a neat layout." I think a house/apt. layout would have been a nice addition to the diagrams I read about.


Reading and looking at the visuals in these two chapters really help me visualize my project. Before I read any of this, I was having a hard time coming up with sketches that would help illustrate my ideas. My project is more about content and research rather than visual. History of Languages is not an easy task to chart, but from these chapters, they help me understand that my project doesn’t have to be boring to look at. One example I like is Herbert Matter, Thirteen Photographs because even it is just a bar graph, it gives out a visual appeals. This graph inspires many of my sketches, though the concepts are different.

From chapter one, I have collected a lot of information because there are so much and too many to remember. But from the first page the visual techniques that are in sync with my project are to direct labels, encodings, and self-representing scales elements that would help my visuals.

And in chapter three, all the chart and visual of magic tricks seem so simple and easy to follow (though they might not be when come to actually trying it). But the simplicity really appeals to me as in the Distraction Display because in just three panels they explain everything you need to know. This idea gives me more ideas visually of how to illustrate my ideas, but I only wish my project is that simple.

A Response from Nathan S.

Chapter 1 of Tufte’s book examines the relationship of information is presented relative to what the information really is. One of the most telling examples Tufte gives is how insignificant giant works of art are portrayed in art history books. The Roy Lichtenstein painting in the book has much more importance when we see ‘lil Roy on his step ladder at the very bottom. And how cool was the little flap covering him up? In regards to Tufte’s examination of the severe storm system, I feel that Tufte’s reinterpretation is valid, but a little preachy and unnecessary. It’s not that he didn’t do a good job with it; it’s just that it is something you only need to see once to get. And being that it is part of a video, the stills don’t really do it justice.

I enjoyed chapter 3 because as a kid, I checked out every book on magic tricks our local library had. I would spend hours just looking at the diagrams so I could understand how to do the tricks and oddly enough, I had no intention of ever performing them. I just wanted the information to see how they were done. Tuftes goes farther with this notion by examining how effective the diagrams are in giving the information. The little arrows the show motion, the ghosting of fingers behind objects, and the step by step instructions try to give as much information as they can without being overbearing. I remember seeing magic books with lengthy paragraphs next to each step and I am glad Tufte acknowledges how unnecessary they are. Keep it short and sweet so the budding magicians can run out and perform their tricks; or not.

Tufte's intriguing analysis

Throughout Chapter 1: Images & Quantities Tufte discusses how maps can be misleading if not represented correctly and accurately. When transferring actual sizes of 3D objects onto paper, a 2d surface, one needs to maintain a consistent relative scale or else misrepresentation comes into play. This chapter reminded me of art history books in which all artworks are scaled down to size so as to fit into the book, but if you actually went to a museum to see an artwork you quickly realize how hard it is to accurately interpret those images in books. Therefore, it is crucial to describe images, displayed in books, as accurately as possible, so as to not misguide the viewer from the real size of the images.

Secondly, in Chapter 3: Explaining Magic Tufte uses magic as an example for describing disinformation design, which in essence is described as providing misleading information. In relation to magic, it means to create illusions. I thought it was crazy how even though this chapter gave a detailed description of how certain magic tricks work I still could not go out and perform any of them myself. Even though it revealed certain illusions that magicians use to stun their audience, I still would be amazed if I saw it performed. Just as Tufte described, the drawings don't do justice to the actual stunt being performed.

Tufte also said that tricks are actually simplistic but are made to look complicated. I disagree with that because magicians need to remember certain techniques, depending on the trick at hand, in order to make the trick look believable. Also, timing is crucial. Magicians need to practice, practice, practice otherwise they might reveal the wrong information to their audience and spoil the trick. They also need to know how much information they should reveal to the audience without giving away the surprise. In conclusion, a lot is placed on the magician's plate when it comes to performing tricks accurately and effectively. Magic is a complex thing and the smallest slip could cost the magician the satisfaction of amazing their audience.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Response Tufte Ch. 1, Ch3

After reading the assigned test the assignment just keeps getting clearer and clearer. I am finding all the readings helpful and aiding my ideas for my project. Looking at the diagrams I am finding that the presentation, not necessarily the content, is very important. Many of the diagrams show things in a very convincing manner, yet if you look deeper you see that some of them are utter nonsense. It's back to the challenging authority. In magic, you convince the viewer by distracting them from the truth and in our projects we aim to create a system of authority by using standard means, but they aren't true and it tricks the user to question all forms of authority.

It all makes me think people who are considered authorities in scientific communities. Honestly, if I went and listened to a lecture of some authoritative figure on a topic I had never heard of and probably could never understand, he/she could probably say anything and I would believe it. That's how much trust we put in these people. I mean when is the last time a car repair man said "You've got a unicorn in you exhaust and its been jumping around poking holes everywhere... it's gonna be $500 bucks to fix it." I know that's a little extreme, but allot of people would just nod and pay because they want a working car and they know nothing about auto repair. I think allot of people just nod to authority because they that what society tells them to do. I think it is going to be exciting to challenge that authority in this project.

Enough of my rant. The reading was very helpful. Many of the illustrations have given me ideas on how to display my work, not only in 2D but 3D as well. I just hope I can pull it off exactly what I want in one semester. :)

Intriguingly Confused

What is truly being said within the Tufte text?

Pictures, maps, tables, typography analysis, paintings, drawings, graphs, and instructions. All of these topics are rolled together into one big pile of information. At first, the readings seemed to overwhelm my mind; I was bombarded with information, I was confused by content, but then I began to realize that this is the nature of the text. The content is ordered to make the reader think, and to create a confusion that will result in an understanding.

I was most intrigued by the diagrams and instructions within chapter 3. Since I was a child I have constantly been interested in magic and how it is achieved. The diagrams became a way for me to relate to the chapter more deeply. I believe that diagrams are a key factor in some classification topics. This has also made me conscious of possibly including some sort of diagrams within my classification project. I believe that Tufte has created a text that is confusing, but I believe that the purpose of the book is to make readers think and understand a deeper meaning.


"...if someone is willing to do the work." (p71)

They are representations. Representations = portrayal

Has anybody tried to use the campus map of SCSU? Now that's a misrepresentation and it is infact inaccurate as well. I think there is no right or the wrong way to represent information, but there are ways that we can make it work, and then ways that don't work. We try to adapt ourselves into a system that has been created to "portray" a real system. For some it works, for some it doesn't. That is why some people find it easy to navigate through some complex website, whereas some people just can't.

Today is the generation of step-by-step instructed DoItYourself generation. If you get a furniture from IKEA or even Walmart, it has visual representations and instructions on how to assemble a piece of furniture, much like the steps shown in "Explaining Magic", but some manage to pull it off and some just can't.

Perhaps the signage in the highway, is the best example, and we still get lost. And this trend will always continue. There is no right or wrong. Just like the water trick, something can be made to be true and maybe if that piece of illustration circulated in the NY Times for once at least, many people would believe that it is achievable, even though they try and fail in doing so. Many times it also depends upon the authority that gives us information. Its something like the alien figures portrayed in ET or other Spielberg movies. Whenever we think of aliens we think that green thing with a large head and big bold black eyes. Now has anybody ever seen the alien? I doubt it. But somebody portrayed aliens to be like that, and it was repeated, and modified and plagiarized and now, when anybody thinks of aliens, we all picture it to be the same thing. Isn't it question worthy? Something that none of us has actually seen in real life, but then, everybody pictures it to be the same ! ! ! Now that is what i call EFFECTIVE and SUCCESSFUL disinformation design.

real or unreal

I found reading chapter 1 very informative for how images and photographs fail to indicate a sense of the size of an object. I find myself creating the 'right' size for what I'm seeing. Like with the Lichtenstein piece, without reading the caption and seeing the artist on the ladder I had assumed that the piece was like 3 x 8 ft. I guess its like my mind playing a magic trick on me.
It's weird because magic is tricking the eye, making the unreal seem real, which is really what is going on with the photos of most art work, but they are real and the photos are making them unreal.

I think it is starting to make sense

When I was reading Tufte's book, I finally realized what possibilities I can do to make these upcoming projects can work. Along with reading this book, I am also researching and when I was reading both at the same time (not literally) I started to picture the approaches I can take.

Chapter 1 was interesting seeing all the maps, charts, etc. come alive in 2-D or 3-D format. When to execute, it all comes down to the grid. It did not matter if the grid was non-existence but there is a starting point and it leads to where we are in the end. It did not have to be obvious. Look at Humphry Repton, Designs for the Pavillon, there is not a grid but there are three people holding a ten foot poll in three different locations. The grid is the center of any layout whethere it is visible or not.

Chapter 3 was also interesting. I never would think that magic was the center of creating an illusion (just kidding). This is what I found interesting. Going back to the first post of creating a classification map and mocking it, it really is the same thing here. Magic is an illusion and so is our creativity. We see things that are not in reality there but we say they are and thus people start believing in it. I am not saying this because I watched the Ghost Hunters marathon on SciFi before I started writing this.

I really liked the six points about retaining your projected audience. It is similar to what you learn in business school, but the difference is if you keep bombarding your audience with information they will keep listening to you and eventually understand what you are saying.

This is starting to make more sense as I start reading more and more. Both with required reading and research. I think I now know what I want to do with the projects.

Hand me that towel, please.

 Before I begin, I have to say I was a little disappointed with some of the information provided by the book.  It was completely misleading, and I am thoroughly embarrassed for putting my faith in a certain pictorial instruction.  I'm talking about the instructions on page 54 - the "Two Amusing Water Tricks."  I tried 50 to 60 times to pull a glass up while twisting, leaving the water standing (which apparently works about 80% of the time), but ended up getting soaked each time.  Now my hardwood countertop is stained, and my pride soaked with deceit.  Fortunately, the "cutting the water and making a loop" trick worked on my first try.  In fact, it flowed for a solid five minutes on the table by itself.  One for one ain't bad, my friends.

On a more serious note, I found the book to be fascinating.  I was especially intrigued by the term "Disinformation Design."  As quoted in the book, "To create illusions is to engage in disinformation design, to corrupt optical information, to deceive the audience.  Thus the strategies of magic suggest what not to do if our goal is truth-telling rather than illusion-making."  This is fascinating, indeed.  If disinformation is the equivalent of deception, than information is the equivalent of being as accurate and truthful as possible.  This leads me to believe that the most important aspect of information design is to be as clear, concise, and complete in getting the truth across.  It is more important to add the necessary details, notes, and additives that help the "audience" understand more fully than it is to clutter that space with neat looking designs or unneeded, extraneous information.  I believe that when, and only when a message is at its most precise state (as intended by the designer or person giving the information), can the actual design or "look" of the chart or map take priority.

"Work before play," my dad used to say.

I also found chapter two to be equally interesting.  That stupid Broad Street pump.  I'll stick to bottled water, thank you. 

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Tufte Is Deep

I finally picked up the book today and I must say WOW, I am blown away. Chapters one and two clearly illustrate the scrutiny and examination of two-dimensional displays. Throughout learning especially, I have come across many a drawings for educational and quantitive purposes. I have been subjected to good and bad illustrations. I remember being frustrated with the bad, as it was usually bad due to lack of labeling or was confusing in general.

Some points to be mentioned from chapter one include photographed art and its scaling, as well as misrepresentation in illustrations. I thought it was interesting that Tufte brought up the topic of art being photographed and later the scaling and how it affects the original art. This is commonly discussed in Art History classes, as the photos can be deceiving. The whole meaning behind a piece can be altered or even lost due to incorrect or misleading scale. I also took note of Tufte's comments on the misrepresentation of images. I agree with the author and believe it is important to not only show designs/redesigns but also to show the original source along side it, as a bibliography of sorts. I think this is key because it lets the viewer decide if the design suits the source and information.

In chapter two, I saw how difficult it could be to display three-dimensional acts on paper. Again, I was amazed at how closely the illustrations were examined. I feel that the topic and information was interesting, but the amount of text was cumbersome. Mainly, what I gathered was that just as in magic there are tricks to illustrating.

Again, the book blows me away and I enjoy flipping through. I was very amused by the flaps and old feel to it.

Chapters IN Focus

I found chapters 1 and 3 to be quite interesting. They presented some good information on paying attention to details that I think we should all be aware of as we start to design the imagery for our systems. Chapter 1 was a bit more helpful in giving background into the wide range of ways we can use visual information to present all sorts of information, as well as the visual elements that should be combined with those visualizations in order for all the viewers to understand fully what is being depicted.(The developing storm example) Chapter 3 was interesting as it talked about how to illustrate accurately, the "magic lessons" was less pertinent in a way, but I suppose one must know how to do the trick in order to understand what is trying to be depicted in the illustrations. The supporting information in chapter 3 was very useful to consider when illustrating anything.

On a side note:
I found chapter 2 to be of interest as well beacuse my system deals with data that could be taken and portrayed in some of the same ways as the Cholera outbreak Map.

Overall it was a good read when combined with thinking about how to illustrate my own system.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

yay for systems

I enjoyed reading the responses to the articles. It sounds like most people have a grasp on some of the issues that classification can bring up. As many of you mentioned, it seems humans have a natural desire to gather information, organize it, and draw unambiguous conclusions. Yet simultaneously, we're energized and intrigued by ambiguity and mystery. I hope that this project will offer an opportunity to explore these seemingly incongruous sides of human nature, not to mention a unique and thought-provoking portfolio piece.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Classify Classify Classify

After reading both of the articles I have a better understanding of the world of classification but also has posed many questioning thoughts for me. Both excerpts have shown me that you can classify anything in your life, in the world, etc that brings forth questions, ideas or wonder. I think it is a natural practice in humans. I have collected and sorted Trolls, shells, stamps, etc as a child and persona.

I am intrigued with the idea of the chambers of wonder or curiosity and the process of collecting and treasuring. Over time, these chambers or rooms have become known as Museums. I am curious if there will ever be another level or change in Museum or the act of taxonomy. An example within the texts is the motion to box nature, couldn’t be done due to its vastness. Someday there is a possibility it could be done.

Appropriating too, can evolve. In “Appropriation,” I think by putting your ideas into a known and authoritative format become a parody is a parody in itself. Appropriation works, it grabs the viewers attention, is effective in getting your point across, and is often funny because of the relationship to the known and the new.

Being that you can classify mostly anything with reason, I also ponder are there any boundaries or lines that shouldn’t be crossed. An example I learned was of the young infants being preserved and in some ways made shrines. Just as in art, there may be blurry lines, but as always who is the judge.

Overall, the many paths of the complex classification process have been shown through these articles. I feel that you can go anywhere with classifying.

human wonder

If to talk about wonders, the first wonder that should be mentioned is a human being. Fortunately or not, they possess ability to think and reason, which easily allows them to think superior of themselves in comparison to the rest of living creatures on the planet. With the superiority in mind it is only natural that humans desire control. Classification of all living and non-living things into systems is an easy way to establish hierarchy and to keep things in order.
However, human mind does not exist on its own, but follows common biological organization of many other mammals, and maybe it is in this animalistic beginning where the answer to human fear lies. Humans have a lot of knowledge and over time acquire more and more but they fear the yet unknown. People’s imagination runs wild coming up with possible things of existence. Of course made-up things do not follow the familiar patterns, and therefore are scary. It is comforting to take a working system of classification and plug the unfamiliar in it. Faking familiar system’s elements makes the content of it look believable. It is now wondrous but not alien. Such approach to “wonder” satisfies both a hungry desire for knowledge and inferior feeling before the unknown. The two articles show that this approach was happening during Renaissance and Post-Modernism times. In my opinion it doesn’t matter what time the “wonder” happens in or whether it touches the field of science or art, people will continue creating methods of classification because it is the way they have been making sense of the world for ages.

Classification is a System of its own.

After reading the two articles, system of classification becomes more interesting and complicated. Classification has always been interesting because everything that exists right now is been classified with certain term to give a better understanding of particular substance or a living being. In the article “ Cabinet of Wonders” there were collection of rare substances and materials but didn’t have the classification because it was unique. So, a collection becomes unorganized for the fact it doesn’t have any classification and at some point it didn’t make sense. As time passed by, collectors with lot of research and study, started classifying those rare, and unique substances, which now has a greater value because of its classification.

Since the evolution of earth the system of classification was very vital. The Name given as “Earth” to our planet among the solar system is a example of classification. Who wonder the color black is classified as “Black” not “White” and sky is “blue” but not “yellow”. This are all the simple example of system of classification and its importance and I think it is very important to know the system of classification in order to have better understanding of our existences and environment that surround us.


Reading these articles I cant help but think of different things that I have read from a past anthropology class and especially the experiments that were done on human bodies especially ones that were not "normal". If I remember correctly anglosaxtons (sp) would take skulls from there fellow whites and skulls from non whites and fill them with marbles to see which had more room implying brain capacity which obviously makes no sense today but during the Renaissance when things were being collected to gain as much knowledge as possible probably made sense to people who wanted the whites to be scientifically smarter then the rest of man kinds.
I the way I see how this relates is that or assignment is to be just orginized by pure thought and what we think and maybe not correct at all as long as it could be correct.


From these two articles, I’d come to the questions of “what was really true,” and “was it creditable?” Both Poynor and Weschler state countless historic facts about the credibility arose from writings/theories such as Mandeville’s tale of the foreign land. His credibility was in question because everyone thought it was only a fable, and in the end he was branded a liar. Then like Greenblatt has noted, “since the East Indies were discovered, we find his relations true of such things as heretofore were held incredible.” This point is proven again and again throughout the two articles with the credibility from the ancient times, discoveries, facts, etc. Suddenly everything becomes logical and creditable overnight.

Of course doubts still linger, but it nonetheless makes us think critically and logically. In turn it leaves us open-minded and somewhat enlightened—it opens our mind to the vast possibilities out there. From this class, we are suppose to create a classification system of our own, and after reading these articles, I really want to create one that would seem logical and creditable in a sense of theory.

Authoritative formats, wonder and truth

The first article explained how artists have used recognized, authoritative formats like charts, graphs, maps, encyclopedias, etc. to present their own ideas and/or to mock the authority of certain formats. To create parody, insert fictional content into an authoritative format. From this it is possible to spread out in many directions of thought and commentary, for example an evolution chart starting with a monkey and working it's way up to man with "your political figure of choice" as the graphic of the man--you can be commenting on your personal ideas of current political climate, etc.

The first article also tells techniques in successfully appropriating formats to convey your own ideas. Appropriate the same conventions of detail, typography, graphic elements, structure, and layout as the format you have chosen. For example, a newspaper has columns, headlines, bylines, dates, etc.

The second article on cabinets of curiosity and wonder

In the age of wonder people made up their own truths about strange new objects, everything was new so anything was possible, no one knew otherwise. Since now we do know otherwise the parodies/commentary that we chose to make in this assignment will likely be apparent to our classmates if we successfully appropriate the format of our choosing to convey our own ideas.

"the alternative to doubt is authority" -Feynman


Classification seems to be a very interesting topic now that I have read the articles. Isn't it so normal of us to not question the authority anymore? We just seem to give the benefit of the doubt to the system that we live in. Sometimes I wonder if the rules that we have in this system were written out to function a robot it would simply not work at all.
From the day we are born we are brought into this web of language and then the rest is history. Language seems to have an enormous influence upon us interms of the way our brain works. Different languages generate different kinds of thoughts. So to be able to classify something we have to be in some kind of a system that validates it. Language is that system. It is really interesting how when people were just discovering the world there was a possiblity of existence of anything. And in some weird way there still is. But we give the benefit of the doubt to the system.
It might have been difficult for the early discoverers to convince the massess of foreign elements but today that has been made very much easy due to the advancement of the technology and we pretty much seem to believe everything we see on TV as long as it's shown in a format that we see as being authoritative.

Interesting world we live in!


Systems always undergo transformations. They evolve, as a result of continuous study, research, critical thinking and of course "WONDER". If it did not, we'd still believe that the earth is in the center of the solar system and everything else revolved around it. There are many other systems of classification that have undergone changes, but in a span of time.

Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder talks about a lot of things, a lot of which was trying to tell me that same thing.. about "breaking the order", "the problem of continuity", "problem of credibility" and how different people found a way to tackle those. They need not always be accepted, and they haven't in many cases as well.

In reading both of these selections, I am bombarding myself with questions.. like "Isn't it the "SYSTEM" that creates the logic, that tells us that it is necessary to think and act logically?" If so, When does a group of classification become odd? How do we know that what we know is real? What is real? Am i making sense at all?

I try to understand why language is such an important infrastructure. How did we adapt ourselves into the system of semantics? How can we know that what I am typing on this screen right now, is actually what I am really trying to say? How did something like alphabets and words come into existence and became the voice of our mind? How did we manage to adapt ourselves in a such a complex system? A system where we even try to assume what someone is thinking without that person actually saying that thing. How often have you said "I know what you're thinking" ... How hard would it be to devise a system that did not use letters or alphabets, but just symbols. Is it even possible? And then my mind gets diverted to all the programming languages, C, C++ and so on ...

It will be a challenge to let go of the way we've been "TAUGHT" to think, but we all will practice it one way or the other.

Wouldn't it have been nice if i could have said all this in 10 symbols?

"Impossible ! ???" -- says the system ! ! !

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Street Signs and Specimens

"...Specimens in one corner were grouped by type of defect..."

This made me grin inside.

The exerpts of the articles, I felt, tended to emphasize the appeal of a lack of direction (or as exhibited by the quote above; an unconventional direction) versus a coherant classification system. In a "standard" system of classification, we would expect specimens to be grouped into their respected species. Or, if visiting the Minnesota Zoo, we would expect specimens to be categorized according to their respected climates. We've grown accustomed to certain systems of organizing information.

I think there is wonder in the unexpected, in the out-of-the-ordinary. The Anatomical Museum in Leiden could have followed a more logical method of organizing their specimens. Instead, they were grouped by the type of defect. That's interesting. Interesting enough for me to stop and reread it, at least. The specimens are classified systematically, but possess a hint of wonder and curiosity due to the odd choice of classification.

Which leads me to ask; is the goal of our project to classify a subject with:
a. The most logic (the best system to help a person understand).
b. The most originality/creativity (the best system to keep a person's attention).
c. The most design/aesthetic appeal (the best system to catch a person's eye).

I have a feeling this class will challenge my preconceived notions concerning information design. What can classifications provide for us as information consumers? Maybe a street sign could do more than just tell me what road I'm on in a complex grid of other roads. Maybe it could indicate what type of neighborhood I'm in; how wealthy it is, what the crime rate is like. Maybe not.

But maybe it could.


What creates wonder in the human mind. This is the idea that became most intriguing to me while reading the selections from Rick Poynor, and mostly, Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder. The human mind is so wide and vast, ideas are constantly flowing in and out. It is interesting to think about how the mind handles these actions. How a satirical newspaper can become something of intense wonder, while an ancient artifact from India can have the same affect.
In reading these selections I began to understand more about what sort of concept or idea I may decide to do for the class project. I though about wonder… and what wonder was and is to me. And in my opinion I believe that wonder is what is most important about the selections that there chosen for us to read. I also thought that these projects laid before us this semester are possibly about not following conventions, and digging deeper inside ourselves to truly create something that is artful with wonder, yet scientific in it’s delivery.

What is Real?

What I get out of the article "Appropriation," by Rick Poynor, is that the Postmodern artists described are taking familiar subjects/systems of classification and are breaking them apart and taking a step back. By this I mean they are using their creative imagination to add new fictional/satirical meanings to something that already exists. The purpose of this is not necessarily to change reality, but to pose the question what if this were true?! Similar to our project in class, they are making up their own logic for certain systems of classification.
On the other hand, in "Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder," Weschler writes about what wonder is and uses the New World as an example. To the Europeans the New World was "new" and "different," which was intriguing and made people wonder what was truthful about this new place. Until the period of Enlightenment, when science took over, artists drew pictures of what they thought the New World entailed. Throughout this period, organization was necessary in order to categorize systems of classification. Through organization, logical conclusions became factual. Therefore, in order for our class project to be successful we need to organize our logic in order for it to seem truthful.


These articles made me think more critically about the truth, rather than clear up classification themes. I enjoyed the attention brought to the fact that not everything one reads about and hears is the truth. Many times we get caught up in the story and not the facts. We would rather hear and talk about what we enjoy, what we can laugh about, and steer clear of the truth, thus creating almost a Utopia around us. Simply put, facts can get dull. Expressing ideas differently and new classifications bring about new styles of storytelling, which...let's face it...we all love. :-)
At times, I wonder if what we know now and our theories today will be completely debunked in the future, or will our facts and knowledge continue to evolve and be told? The Cabinet article made a very good point about how our grandparents disproved their own grandparents in myths and creatures thought to exist. There is and always has been a "problem of continuity" (Cabinet article, page 83). I believe this is why classification schemes are interesting to study, because something always evolves into something else (thus, the continuity problem). I am curious as to what classifications our class can come up with and intrigued to see new theories.

I Don't Need A Title

Another piece of "art" that could be included in the first article is a printed newspaper that follows the guidelines of an authoritative source. I am referring to "the Onion." It has the same look in printed form and in online form as many large and reputable sources such as the NY Times. It isn't until you start reading and digesting the information that you realize it is satirical, which is similar to the examples presented in the first article.

I remember reading Mr Wilsons Cabinet of Wonders for another class (critical reasoning perhaps?) and the one thing I remember about it was how matter of fact Mr Wilson was. He was almost a exhibit himself because he presented exhibits or models as if they really could exist. He was not about to let the facade deteriorate no matter how unconvincing or convincing his objects were. He stuck to his guns and there is something commendable about that. So what if the object is not real, his descriptions lend the possibility that could happen.

What can we believe in?

In science classes, you learn that a theory is a fact by means that it can be proved by anyone. After reading these articles, you have to rely on fact, but you do not know what to believe in. With an imagination, you can come up with the most ridiculous ideas but as long as you can prove it and make your case, others will start believing in what you say. For example, the Print magazine cover. It was a complete mockery of diagrams, maps, and charts. Paula Scher's idea parody proved that charts can be used in design. An even better example is from the Television show Twin Peaks. Richard Saul Wurman and the producers from the show created and published a book that made the fictional characters from a television show come to life. It was made to believe that the characters lived an everyday life like you and I.

In Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonders, I came to the conclusion that hierarchy persuaded your decision. Early Europe to even past the Renaissance, rulers had their own collection of wonders that included tons of paintings, and artifacts that were obscure. A lot of these legends came about while discovering the new world in which we live in today. Also, the The example of the unicorn. It's "I found a horn and it is from an Unicorn." when we now know it is from a rhino. To best sum it up is a quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance,"When the legend becomes fact...print the legend."
1. the act of distributing things into classes or categories of the same type
2. a group of people or things arranged by class or category
3. the basic cognitive process of arranging into classes or categories
4. restriction imposed by the government on documents or weapons that are available only to certain authorized people
From reading the articles I found myself gaining more from the definition from the dictionary than the articles themself.

Excerpt Response

At first I didn't know where this project was headed, but after reading the two excerpts I have an understanding. Classification systems are a structure that is considered the law in science. And in both of these short readings people have challenged that idea. Richard Feynman wrote, "Teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed." The idea of this assignment is to push authority asside and challenge it with no fear.
It was interesting to see how museums evolved into what they are today. During the discovery of America it seemed almost any kind of animal could exist. All the new animals created a great deal of displays almost freakshows of endless creatures. I remember reading about Mr. Wilsons Cabinet of Wonder in another class. The museum is filled with real and fake taxonamy but some are so convincing you can't tell the diffrence. It's interesting how they make you question yourself and how it sparks you imagination.
These articles were informative. I think overall I understood the Cabinet article a little more because it had a basic background and explained the reasons and roots forming the basis of constructing systems and in general how systems were formed. At times however the reading got a bit too wrapped up in history I think. Overall it was helpful in understanding the beginnings of systems. The Poynor article was helpful in the area of presenting images and examples of systems which answered alot of questions I had about the forms and functions a system serves, as well as some of the known designers that have experimented with and have used them.
I personally found that the use of the encyclopedia as a classification system opened my eyes to what was being explained in class on Monday. Now with a better understanding for what is intended for the class I am interested to explore the possibilities of classification. I personally had more difficulty getting through the “Cabinet of Wonders” reading, maybe because it was referencing a time that I am not real familiar with, or it just didn’t catch my attention. I was really more drawn to the Poynor article because it emphisized the alternative use of classification. I too had a connection between that of the Frederik Ruysch descriptions and the Body World exhibit. While I feel that we have made leaps and strides since the time of Ruysch, I do believe that as humans we have a have a burning need to be surprised with what is presented. If the Body World exhibit were just plasticized body parts it would be a human anatomy book in 3-D. But to show the bodies in activies that you or I could leave and do, it puts a new perspective on what is being viewed.

Merely Pastiching Stylistic Fragments?

Reading these selections back to back was interesting in that they offer two different aspects of organization, both a practical need for it, as illustrated by the Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders excerpt, and the self-conscious repurposing of it, (organization as a confidence game?) as discussed in excerpt from Rick Poyner's Appropriation piece. It seems like the first challenge of the semester will be for us all to wrap our minds around the possibilities of creating our own unique systems of classification and organization—to grasp the concept of evolving metrics and proofs to categorize something in a new and different way. It’s a little boggling, but exciting, too.

The “Cabinet of Wonders” excerpt was thought provoking in its own right, and I wanted to mention a few things that came to mind:

1. Is innocent wonder really such a bad thing? So what if people used to collect random oddities without much regard for their place in the grand scheme of things. The confines of kingdom, phylum, class, and order are just an illustration of humankind’s need to make the infinite possibilities and variations of our world small and digestible.

2. The description of the works of the anatomist Frederik Ruysch, who positioned human skeletons into bizarre tableaux, reminded me quite vividly of Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds exhibit, which just closed at the Minnesota Science Museum, and which contained a legion of plasticized human corpses in many different positions, including riding horseback, skateboarding, and playing chess. Perhaps we haven’t come quite so far as we might think.