Reading list 1

Reading List

Information Architecture
Information Design
Project Management
Visual Design

Origin of the Phrase, “Information Architecture”

“The phrase “information architecture” appears to have been coined, or at least brought to wide attention, by Richard Saul Wurman, a man trained as an architect but who has become also a skilled graphic designer and the author, editor, and/or publisher of numerous books that employ fine graphics in the presentation of information in a variety of fields. In the 1960s, early in his career as an architect, he became interested in matters concerning the ways in which buildings, transport, utilities, and people worked and interacted with each other in urban environments. This led him to develop further interests in the ways in which information about urban environments could be gathered, organized, and presented in meaningful ways to architects, to urban planners, to utility and transport engineers, and especially to people living in or visiting cities. The similarity of these interests to the concerns of the LIS professions is patent. ”
Link: Origin of the Phrase, “Information Architecture”

CSCA Lecture: Some Ways Graphics Communicate

“External representations are in essence cognitive tools.
Cognitive artifacts (e.g. graphics) are human only. There are no examples of animals using cognitive tools.
A lot of human collaboration goes without words. The dyads in the research produced more abstract instructions than the individuals. However, they also produced less diagrams and more language for the instructions.
Graphics augment cognition. It enables new ideas. Ambiguity helps. When reconfiguration occurs more new ideas were generated. Graphics facilitate collaboration. Externalize common ground.”
Link: Barbara Tversky: Some Ways Graphics Communicate

No Fear

“Every time you worry, you practice to be weak. Every time you act on your strength, you practice to be strong. You practice what you really want to achieve, and you don’t have to live in fear.”
“Fear is raw and primal. Even after eons of evolution, we can still be immoblized by it almost before our brains have processed whether there is any reason to be afraid. But far more often, fear itself is the enemy. Rather than an instinctive response to a real threat, fear has become an anticipation of scary things. We fret; we imagine monsters under the bed; we recall past frights. Now, we simply have a bad habit. We call it “worry” and “anxiety.””
Link: Rethinking Fear

A Simple Classification of Interactive Visual Explainers

“Visual representations have been used since the dawn of human civilization to communicate – to reveal the hidden, illustrate the intricate, explain the complex and illuminate the obscure.
Constructing visual representation of information is not mere translation of what can be read to what can be seen. It entails filtering the information, establishing relationships, discerning patterns and representing them in a manner that enables a consumer of that information construct meaningful knowledge.”
“There is a subtle movement taking shape in online journalism. It is movement that is borne out of the desperate need to engage and excite news consumers in the post-information age. Dissemination of information and news breaking has given way to interaction, participation and involvement of consumers in news making. It is called interactive journalism or visual journalism.”
Link: Interactive Visual Explainers

Models of Collaboration

“The goal of this article is to help you determine which model(s) of collaboration are important to your organization. Figure 1 (below) shows how each of these models relates to each other based on the size of the population that uses them and the level of interactivity. As you can see we go from the Library model, which is really reciprocal data/content that can be accessed by a large number of people and not really inter-active, to the Team and Process Support Models, which usually are used by smaller and more interactive groups of people. Each of the model types is explained in greater detail below.”
Link: Models of Collaboration

Using Colors Found in Nature

Another good article from Boxes and Arrows:

Perhaps no other design element has as much influence on how we feel in a space (a website, a home, etc.) as color.

The World Wide Web is awash with sterile design solutions. Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell, Microsoft, and countless others are virtually indistinguishable from each other (similar layout, similar color scheme). Though one might say that this uniformity makes web browsing easier by virtue of a standardized interface, the reality is such sites create mundane experiences for their users and fail to make a positive connection with their audience.

In a meeting last week I asked the group I was presenting to how many experiences that they had on a web site do they remember the next day, week, or year. Of course everyone replied none. There are a number of factors which would cause this kind of response, web sites are well… only web sites… they can’t compete (yet) with the kind of rich emotional experiences that we have in “real” life. But one the sure ways you can connect with your audience is through the intelligent use of colour. As this article points out few web sites, and in fact off line design as well, seem to do this so it can be an extremely effective means to connect with your audience. I see this on a somewhat daily basis. I work with an artist whose strength is in crafting colour solutions that take an otherwise find design to something special and I think more memorable. Her work is based primarily on instinct as an artist – imagine how effective her solutions would be if paired with the concrete knowledge of what is appropriate for the intended viewer. It’s time to get rid of corporate blue and try something more intelligent.

Natural Selections: Colors Found in Nature and Interface Design

6 methods for analyzing any image

Images carry messages
A gut reaction to the work based on subjective opinions
A determination of the work based on the mediums timeline
The relationship between light, the recording medium used to capture the work and the medium used to present the work.
Moral and ethical responsibilities that the producer, the subject, and the viewer have of the work.
An analysis of the symbols used in the work to convey social meaning at a certain time.
The issues that transcend a particular image and shape a reasoned personal reaction. Not synical.
Tien-Chun Chang

Nine Ways to Think More Creatively

Most people can tackle problems at work and home more successfully by overcoming common obstacles to creative thinking, according to a noted business consultant.
“In creativity, effort counts,” writes Alexander Hiam in the October issue of THE FUTURIST magazine. Hiam has identified nine barriers to thinking creatively that can be surmounted if people are willing to form new habits.

Read the article

Creativity Models

Analogous to the various models used in business to guide strategic planning, quality improvement, problem solving and other activities, there are models to guide creativity and innovation. In this working paper, we will explore the various models for creative thinking that have been suggested in the literature over the past 80 years. We will extract common themes from these various models and present a composite model that integrates these themes.

Read the article

Advice to a young graduate student

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang has some excellent advice on her weblog for the young and I guess in my case not so young graduate student. I’ll quote a few of the best tips from the two entries:

  1. Start keeping a notebook, or research journal, or whatever you want to call it. It’s the place you’ll write down library call numbers, the names of interesting-sounding things that you come across in footnotes, impressions of what you’re reading, research paper ideas, etc., etc.. I started doing this when I was writing my dissertation, and was dogged the sinking feeling that I was looking up stuff, then having the same idea two weeks later. You’re going to be thinking about a lot of stuff. You need a way to keep track of it.
  2. Go to the gym, or go running, or something, every day. It’ll give your mind a break, and your mind will need breaks. (Every now and then you’ll find that your mind just turns off for 24-48 hours. Don’t fight it. Just do laundry until your brain comes back online.) Every Saturday or Sunday, do some reading in the morning, then take the rest of the day off.
  3. Realize that it is a job. It can consume you or you can manage it. I spent every moment reading stuff, and I can honestly say it was the wrong approach. So make sure you have a life in grad school.
  4. Only work on things that interest you , not the things that interest your advisor. I cannot imagine anything worse than working on something that is of little interest to me.
  5. Publish. Publish crap. The one thing I learned from [name of institution removed] was that writing great essays or articles is a waste. All that matters is the number. As far as I can tell no one reads anyway, so it doesn’t matter what you say.
  6. If you really want to do this, then do it right. That means avoiding some of the earlier advice, especially about having much of a life. Read, and read alot. Spend time with the journals, find authors you like and read them. Find people who write well and emulate their style. And start doing your own research early.

I wish I had read some of the advice when I started grad school a year and half ago. Of course everyone has a different experience. I started my current program working fairly regularly with a professor and devouring a great deal of written material. The second semester was devoted to course work and projects. This past semester was probably the least productive with absolutely no interaction with faculty and little with fellow students. Now faced with starting my thesis and feeling a little removed from the whole process I feel a certain sense of panic setting in. Hopefully I can use this feeling to jump into action.
Link:Advice to a young graduate student, Advice to a young graduate student (2)

Ten Rules for Success in the Creative Economy

From my inbox:
1. Invent yourself.
Create a unique cluster of personal talents. Own your image. Manage it. Build momentum. Leave school early, if you want, but never stop learning. Dance as if no one is looking. Break the rules. Be clear about your own assets and talents. They are unique. And they are all you have.
2. Put the priority on ideas, not data.
Create and grow your own creative imagination. Build a personal balance sheet of intellectual capital. Understand patents, copyright, trademarks and other intellectual property laws that protect ideas. Entrepreneurs in the creative economy are more worried if they lose their ability to think than if their company loses money. Think about it.
3. Be nomadic
Nomads are at home in every country. You can choose your own path and means of travel, and choose how long you stay. Being nomadic does not mean being alon; most monads travel in groups, especailly at night. Writer Charles Handy says leaders must combine ‘a love of peoploe’ and a ‘capacity for aloofness’. Nomads apreciate both the desert and the oasis; likewise creatives need both solitude and the crowd, and thinking alone and working together.

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