Design titan Bill Moggridge has formidable credentials — designer of the world’s first laptop, director of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, co-founder of design innovation powerhouse IDEO, and celebrated as a pioneer of interaction design.
His new book, Designing Media, is exactly the kind of ambitious, compelling volume you’d expect from his reputation.
The book explores the evolution of mainstream media, both mass and personal, looking closely at the points of friction between old and new media models and the social norms they have sprouted. From design to civic engagement to the real-time web, Moggridge offers a faceted and layered survey of how our media habits came to be, where they’re going, and what it all means for how we relate to the world and each other.
To be fair, Designing Media isn’t exactly — at least not only — a book: The tome features a DVD containing 37 fascinating interviews with some of today’s greatest media innovators, including This American Life‘s Ira Glass, Pandora founder Tim Westergren, prominent New York Times design critic Alice Rawsthorn, Twitter founder @Ev, statistical stuntsman Hans Rosling, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The laws of narrative are the laws of narrative. What engages us is what engages us.” ~ Ira Glass
What bad writing has to do with war casualties and traffic over North America.
It’s no secret we have a data visualization fetish, but that’s not just because we like looking at pretty pictures; it’s because we believe the discipline is an important sensemaking mechanism for today’s data deluge, a new kind of journalism that helps frame the world and what matters in it in a visual, compelling, digestible way. Stanford’s Geoff McGhee, an online journalist specializing in multimedia and information design, tends to agree. His excellent Journalism in the Age of Data explores data visualization as a storytelling medium in an hour-long film highlighting some of the most important concepts, artists and projects in data visualization from the past few years.
Journalists are coping with the rising information flood by borrowing data visualization techniques from computer scientists, researchers and artists. Some newsrooms are already beginning to retool their staffs and systems to prepare for a future in which data becomes a medium. But how do we communicate with data, how can traditional narratives be fused with sophisticated, interactive information displays?”
I think we’re still in the early stage. I think a lot of the artists and journalists are still very much exploring what the capabilities of data visualization are for communicating both the context and the narrative elements of a story.” ~ Jeffrey Heer, Stanford University
One of the most noteworthy aspects of the film is the distinction it draws between data visualization as smart storytelling and data visualization as an aimless aesthetic playground.
I think that ‘data visualization’ is becoming a phrase that doesn’t mean as much as it should do. All it means is looking at numbers, which is what a lot of information graphics are, as far as I’m concerned. Now, it seems, ‘data visualization’ means visualizing a whole lot of data. And that’s given rise to a trend that I think is damaging. Because you can do beautiful things with computers and lots of data that look very, very nice and are almost completely incomprehensible.” ~ Nigel Holmes, Information Graphics Designer
I think there very much is a craft in this field. And if you do it wrong, you can get very bad results, just as there’s a lot of badly written stories out there.” ~ Martin Wattenberg, IBM Research
Can bad news become a self-fulfilling prophecy? That’s exactly what motion graphics trio Bastian Boehm, Felipe Lima and Tom Duscher explore in their graduation film, Bad News – A Media Fiction. Through the metaphor of a 1950′s newspaper that self-destructs as it reports on an apocalyptic comet, the film offers timely cultural commentary on the potential sociocultural consequences of today’s media negativism and sensationalism. Is Rupert Murdoch the Dorian Grey of our worldview?
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