Monday, February 26, 2007
Sunday, February 25, 2007
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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. :)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.