For this issue of PJIM we have selected three articles that vary in both the kind of information and the informational approach to conveying knowledge. Topically we are dealing with methods of application, theories of semantic and semiotic, and information resources, particularly as they apply to archiving and understanding the recent past of the consumer digital world. Our topics usually center around aspects of process, example, history, definition (taxonomy), and comparison within the fields of information design writ fairly broadly. With the articles presented here we’ve embraced all these areas: the deepest undertaking is a first of two parts article considering the evolving meaning of the word, “signal”—in essence, the author considers image and time against a background of emerging technology and scholarship, it is a deep read that will yield some fresh insight on what is meant by “signal” in contemporary context. How information design students develop concepts, or more precisely how students may better organize the creative process toward effective informative outcomes underscores the process brief on methods. This is a short paper from which every instructor of information may glean some valuable practical points. Our third paper addresses the critical issue of preserving a fast evaporating history of early on-line life: where have all those keystrokes gone, and what were they doing? As social media has exploded and changed it behooves us to understand this near past—Geocities was once a metropolis of activity, it is now a memory for some; what was its purpose?, why did users populate it?, what did it convey? Archiving and interpreting such recent digital past provides speculation about future and the how human time and interest evolves with technical and opportunistic social re-mixes.
Jihoon Kang, Publisher, and William Bevington, Editor-in-Chief
Parsons Journal for Information Mapping
by Michael Filimowicz
by Maria da Gandra, MA PGCE HEA, Maaike van Neck, MA HEA
by Richard Vijgen
Affect, movement image, percept, periodicity, postphenomenology, semiotics, signal, time image
In this extended essay (the first of two parts), I reconsider the semiotic concept of Signal. I wish to update the meaning of the term Signal updating it in relation to postphenomenological perspectives on the technical extension of human perception by mediation. I define signal as periodicity and trace the structure of “regular recurrence” from wavelength, to percept, to memory. The discussion is situated as an “expansion” of semiotics towards cognition, applied science, and postphenomenology. Deleuzean and Peircean engagements are developed with some further comment on Ihde, Simondon, Massumi, Kant, and Heidegger in connection with the status of percept in relation to affect and concept.
Michael Filimowicz is an interdisciplinary media artist working in the areas of sound, experimental video, creative writing, net art, public art, and digital photography. As a writer he has published poetry, fiction, and philosophy, and as a sound designer he has mixed soundtracks for film and television. He is on the faculty in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University.
Communication design, graphic design, information design assessment, information design education, information design planning, Information design process, pedagogy
In this paper we will discuss the pedagogical methods in curricular as well as extracurricular environments that encourage a student’s familiarity with the theory and practice of information design. Information design is a field of study as well as a practice. For it to be applicable during the educational process, facilitation of a knowledge-empowering approach is key. This is particularly relevant in today’s information age, where the potential for the learners to find themselves in an irrelevant study environment may elicit apprehension, fears, and misconceptions surrounding the comprehension of a particular subject. This surface approach is further stimulated by the range of references on the subject which may primarily focus on the aesthetic quality of information design output, as opposed to effective handling of the design process and complexity of the information.
We will be referring to the output and opportunities created through the recently initiated platform and publication entitled InformForm. InformForm examines how we generate, understand, organise, and give shape to data and information. The first issue of InformForm specifically looks at the process, properties, and scope of producing charts, schematics, and diagrammatic displays. InformForm documents and explores students’ learning process through informed and empowering workshops, briefs, and other means of knowledge transfer. We will examine processes of information gathering, research methods, creative thinking, visual experimentation, and conceptual development.
Mwmcreative is a London-based design & research studio founded in 2004 by Maria da Gandra and Maaike van Neck after they met via the MA in Communication Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Mwmcreative’s ethos is informed through a dialogue of reflexive practice, teaching, and research. In addition to undertaking client-driven work the studio initiates and produces research projects, workshops, and publications, some of which have been featured in various publications including Eye Magazine and Creative Review.
One such initiative is InformForm launched in 2010 and an international platform for information design students and their tutors. InformForm celebrates and explores both the practical and theoretical experimentation within the field. Currently Maria and Maaike are working on the second issue of InformForm which will focus on the visual languages and processes employed in pictorial design in a wide range of contexts such as wayfinding strategies, signage systems, instruction, and data visualizations. For this, they are collaborating with tutors and students from a range of international institutions.
Similarly the publication ‘Fog & Conflict: exploring cross-disciplinary and methodological positions in information design’ (da Gandra, Moret, van Neck 2010) is an inquiry into the designer’s and social scientist’s methodological position and its influence on visual languages.
Alongside studio and research practice, Maria and Maaike have been involved with various institutions as visiting lecturers; these include Tsinghua University, University of Chester, University of Brighton and Sint-Lukas Brussel. Maria previously taught at Central Saint Martins MA Communication Design for 5 years and Maaike at the University of Portsmouth BA (Hons) and MA Graphic Design for 7 years. Maria currently teaches BA (Hons) Graphic Communication at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham and Maaike at Ravensbourne, London, BA (Hons) Graphic Design.
Data visualisation, digital archaeology, interactive, internet as a city, metaphors for the internet, net-art, net-culture
The Deleted City archives Geocities, a proprietary digital archaeology of the world wide web as it exploded into the 21st century. At that time the web was often described as an enormous digital library that you could visit, or contribute to, by building a home-page. The early citizens of the net (called “netizens”) took their netizenship seriously and built home-pages about themselves referenced to subjects they were experts in.
These pioneers found their brave new world through a free web-hosting provider that was modelled after a city and where you could get a free “piece of land” to build your digital home: Geocities. In such a digital world one’s neighbourhood was based on the subject of the homepage. “Heartland,” one such neighborhood, was—a neighbourhood for all things rural—by far the largest, but there were neighbourhoods for fashion, arts and far east related topics to name just a few.
Around the turn of the century, Geocities had tens of millions of “homesteaders,” as the digital tenants were called, and was bought by Yahoo! for three and a half billion dollars. Ten years later (2009) as other metaphors of the internet (such as the social network) had taken over, many of these homesteaders had left their properties vacant after migrating to Facebook, Geocities was shutdown and deleted. In an heroic effort to preserve 10 years of collaborative work by 35 million people, the Archive Team made a backup of the site just before it shut down. The resulting 650 Gigabyte bit-torrent file is the digital Pompeii that is the subject of an interactive excavation that allows you to wander through an episode of recent online history.
Richard Vijgen (1982) is a information designer/artist living in the Netherlands. His Studio for Object Oriented Information Design & Research initiates projects that visually explore contemporary data culture.