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Information design

Information design is the skill and practice of preparing information so people can use it with efficiency and effectiveness. (source: Wikipedia)

Why information matters

Philosophy doesn’t mean ‘vague’. It means reflective thinking on important questions, issues and beliefs.

“When we use a computer, its performance seems to degrade progressively. This is not a mere impression. Over the years of owning a particular machine, it will get sluggish. Sometimes this slowdown is caused by hardware faults, but more often the culprit is software: programs get more complicated, as more features are added and as old bugs are patched (or not), and greater demands are placed on resources by new programs running in the background. After a while, even rebooting the computer does not restore performance, and the only solution is to upgrade to a new machine. Philosophy can be a bit like a computer getting creakier. It starts well, dealing with significant and serious issues that matter to anyone. Yet, in time, it can get bloated and bogged down and slow. Philosophy begins to care less about philosophical questions than about philosophers’ questions, which then consume increasing amounts of intellectual attention. The problem with philosophers’ questions is not that they are impenetrable to outsiders — although they often are, like any internal game — but that whatever the answers turn out to be, assuming there are any, they do not matter, because nobody besides philosophers could care about the questions in the first place.”

Luciano Floridi a.k.a. /luciano-floridi | @floridi ~ The New Atlantis (special issue Information, Matters, and Life)

Information in the ecosystem: Against the information ecosystem

Deep thinking on the meaning, impact and context of information a.k.a. info.

“The “information ecosystem” metaphor is widely used in academic libraries and has become nearly ubiquitous when speaking of the information systems that support scholarly communication and varied forms of data sharing and publication. The trending use of this language arises from non-academic applications — for example in big data (the Hadoop ecosystem) or software development (the node.js ecosystem) — and there remains little critical examination of the use of this metaphor. Indeed, the definition of ecosystem as the set of relations between living organisms and their surrounding non-living environment is apparently not directly a part of the metaphor. This paper first describes the emergence of ecological thinking and how it was influenced by early information science and then explores how different ‘ecologies’ are used within the academy, including in the emergent field of information ecology. A short critique of the metaphor is then posed and the paper concludes that the information ecosystem metaphor is useful, yet at the same time there are dangerous elements that render aspects of human societies and natural ecosystems invisible.”

Timothy B. Norris and Todd Suomela ~ First Monday (22.9)

The decentralization of knowledge: How Carnap and Heidegger influenced the Web

In the end, everything connects. The web and philosophers as well.

“Does the centralization of the Web change both the diffusion of knowledge and the philosophical definition of knowledge itself? By exploring the origins of the Semantic Web in the philosophy of Carnap and of Google’s machine learning approach in Heidegger, we demonstrate that competing philosophical schools are deeply embedded in artificial intelligence and its evolution in the Web. Finally, we conclude that a decentralized approach to knowledge is necessary in order to bring the Web to its full potential as a project for the spread of human autonomy.”

Harry Halpin and Alexandre Monnin ~ First Monday 21.12

Changing routines: Designing projects for meaningful work

The more meaning, the better.

“We need a deliberate and constant investment in routines involving learning, improving, and maturing as part of integrated practices and a clear identification of the project roles necessary so that teammates can build trust with one another, help others on the team, and keep the team together over time. This effort may include defining a well-understood, comfortable, open, inviting project language. When a team defines a project’s purpose and artifacts together then iterates them over time and even across successive projects, the learning environment matures iteratively as part of the project experience.”

Daniel Szuc, Jo Wong, Michael Davis Burchat, and Jennifer Fabrizi ~ UXPA Magazine

On information design (.pdf)

InfoDesign is alive and kicking.

“The book you have before you is sediment, an old-fashioned document that registers an event that, in Slovenia, could well represent a utopian or at least an optimistic step into cutting-edge thought, while, in its English version, it contributes important knowledge to the existing, internationally recognized discipline we call information design. In late 2009, Slovenia’s Museum of Architecture and Design began its fourth series of lectures in the theory of architecture and design; like the ones before it, this lecture series was founded on the idea that when talking about professional disciplines on the local scale we need to speak from the experience of what is happening globally and must open new doors and seek ideas more at depth than at breadth.”

Edited by Petra Černe Oven and Cvetka Požar ~ courtesy of @pco_paralaksa

Architects of information

Information intensive environments have not been this popular in Interactions Magazine.

“We live in a world where information is part of our everyday lives, where we don’t dedicate time to “doing computing,” where information is ever present and leaves a digital footprint, and where notions of online versus offline have become almost meaningless. As mentioned, we are heading toward a state where we will stop using computers and instead inhabit interactive and information-rich architecture. Many exciting challenges lie ahead. For example: How will we design the architectural interfaces to information and interaction to create relevant inhabitant experiences? How will we give inhabitants access to how their data is being captured, manipulated, used, and stored? What role can architecture play in protecting people’s privacy and security? What does an interactively augmented environment mean for how we perceive our environment when we already know that mind, body, and environment co-shape this? Given the large number of signposts in both HCI and architecture, we suggest that the only natural expectation is stronger ties between the worlds of information and the design of physical spaces to address the challenges we now face.”

Sheep Dalton, Holger Schnädelbach, Tasos Varoudis, and Mikael Wiberg ~ ACM Interactions

Why is sketching (still) important (to design)?

First visual contours of the design, a sketch.

“(…) if we think of design as a sequence of iterative phases that progress towards final production, we are then able to identify an open or fuzzy phase of design. In this we contrast a divergent conceptual design ideation with a more convergent, specific and detailed design phase. We do this as much to contrast the different aims of design at these different phases of the process, as to highlight the kinds of design work involved or tools used at any given stage.”

James Self ~ Core77

Three powerful lessons I have learnt as an information designer

When you start with three, more will follow.

“Designing information effectively is a wonderful and complex challenge. I feel grateful that in the past ten years I have had the opportunity of working with extraordinary teams of scientists to the end of communicating complex data. These three lessons are among the most precious lessons I have learnt along my journey.”

Angela Morelli a.k.a. /aamorelli | @angelamorelli

How cybernetics connects computing, counterculture, and design

Some really deep and historical thinking on design and systems.

“Beginning in the decade before World War II and accelerating through the war and after, scientists designed increasingly sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems that acted as if they had a purpose. This work intersected other work on cognition in animals as well as early work on computing. What emerged was a new way of looking at systems – not just mechanical and electrical systems, but also biological and social systems: a unifying theory of systems and their relation to their environment. This turn toward ‘whole systems’ and ‘systems thinking’ became known as cybernetics. Cybernetics frames the world in terms of systems and their goals. This approach led to unexpected outcomes.”

Hugh Dubberly a.k.a. /hughdubberly ~ Dubberly Design Office

Towards a definition of serendipity in information behaviour

Finding something unexpected and very relevant is a moment of wow!

“Serendipitous or accidental discovery of information has often been neglected in information behaviour models, which tend to focus on information seeking, a more goal-directed behaviour. (…) By including serendipity in information behaviour models, the frameworks arrived at should help further research in this area. A working definition of serendipity in information behaviour is a starting point for other researchers to investigate related questions in the area.”

Naresh Kumar Agarwal ~ Information Research Vol. 20.3

The design firm is (walking) dead, but design could’t be more alive

Design is finding new territories to prosper. The design firm losts its monopoly.

“I share the belief that design thinking needs to be ingrained in every business we deal with as human beings. Next time you walk around your neighborhood, just take a moment to notice the small service stores, shops and restaurants you depend on to live your daily life. Most of them are not benefiting from service design. Most of them desperately need it.”

Tenny Pinheiro a.k.a. /tennydesign | @TennyDesign ~ Core77

The roots of Minimalism in web design

There comes a time that web design will be part of art history. As a design movement in the early 21st century.

“Many of today’s most popular design trends are influenced by minimalism. This web design movement began in the early 2000s, but borrows its philosophy from earlier movements in the fields of fine art and human–computer interaction.”

(Kate Meyer ~ Nielsen Norman Group)

What does it really mean to design in the browser?

Design with the digital material at hand. The browser interface being the canvas for it.

“Some insist designing in the browser is the only way to design a website. Some say designing in the browser limits creativity and these people don’t want to give up their graphic editors. What’s going on? Why the split? Why so many for and so many against designing in the browser? (…) I think the main reason for any pushback or misunderstanding is that detractors look at the phrase design in the browser literally and those in favor of it don’t.”

(Steven Bradley a.k.a. @vangogh ~ vanseo design)