“There is nothing natural about information. Information, no matter what it is called—data, knowledge, or fact, song, story or metaphor—has always been designed.” —Brenda Dervin
What is Information Design?
Information Design: History
Information, designed seems as old as the hills. Safety lessons by way of ancient cave drawings remind us of the terrors facing children; a floating zoo crafted of wood that floated in gale storm backs the existence of some superior architectural plans; and the timeless morals clothed in animal form with their attributes highlighted to make them palatable and stick in the receivers craw still resonate today, though they come to us from somewhere in the vicinity of 620BCE.
So information and design – as an intuitive practice – seems to have been around since time immemorial.
But Information Design – as postulated by this course – seems to be taking designed information to another whole level. A level of consciousness.
Information Design: A level of consciousness
Based on the readings it would seem that practicing ‘Information Design’ is practicing the design of information consciously so that every part of the information is active in ensuring its transmission to its intended audience most efficiently and effectively.
As Jacobson says in his introduction ‘that Information Design is the systematic arrangement and use of communications carriers, channels a, and tokens to increase the understanding of those participating in a specific conversation…”(Jacobson 4)
To communicate clearly you have to know your audience, the what, why, who and how of communication. Consciously knowing and tailoring and testing can lead to an effective way to share information.
Information Design: Advertising and Marketing
Canali De Rossi mentions four purposes Information Design fulfill. 1. Simplify 2. Integrate 3. Filter 4. Selectively Emphasize information. He also talks about how colors, shapes, and patterns affect the psyche as well as measuring response to see what works and what doesn’t (2001) It would seem to me this focus the Canali mentions as well as some of the others is most often found in the field of Marketing and Adverting.
Post World War II saw an explosion of market research applying scientific and analytic methods in areas including development of consumer profiles, attitudes and usage studies, and new product concept testing. This research conducted by experts in the field studied each aspect of marketing communication using physiology and psychology, helped manufacturers effectively communicate using color and type, in order to ‘sell’ a ‘product.’ Advertising and Marketing certainly saw the use of Information Design.
Information Design: The Web
But the most unique environment yet for Information Design and the one that may move it quickly along in standardization is the internet which currently is the most efficient and accessible way for most people to gain information. Not only is more data stored on the web but the web provides a way to analyze data. This can provide Information Designers feedback and can allow experts to help Information Designers repeat success by honing in on factors that make for successful information transfer. Perhaps even more vital then data analytics is the real time interactivity available with Web 2.0 that can swiftly indicate the success of Information Design as seen in Viral Marketing.
SKATING BABIES: YouTube Video Ad Campaign Enters Guinness Book. It has 45,166,109 views
Designed information has always existed, with some eras in history richer and more intuitive than others but internet ushers in the Era of Information Design; information designed to make the most out of information in every way.
Aesop’s fables. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aesop’s_Fables
Baer, Kim (2010-02-01). Information Design Workbook: Graphic approaches, solutions, and inspiration + 30 case studies (Kindle Locations 208-209). Rockport Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Communicating at Berkley. Retrieved from http://administration.berkeley.edu/commguide/planning.htm
Jacobson, Robert E. Information Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2000. Print.
SIS International Research. Retrieved from http://www.greenbook.org/GreenBook/index.cfm?ID=integration-of-market-research-and-competitive-intelligence&CFID=7861917&CFTOKEN=93156313&attributes.fuseaction=Print_LibraryItem
United States in the 1950s. Retrieved fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_in_the_1950s