"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." -George Orwell

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Designing the swoon, chillaxin' with inventors

In the process of researching professional conferences to attend, two types have caught my eye: those that instruct attendees on how to fill the need for better information design, and those that declare the need for more thorough infusions between media and technology.

First, most people know about information design, thanks to Edward Tufte; we just usually call them "charts and graphs." Or a visual representation of the data you could've read in body copy, if you're a reader first. An effective chart has the power to embed itself deeper into our subconsious and memory, and believe it or not, can actually create appreciable value, according to one paper on Information Design. *As a slight aside, zero visuals or graphs/charts on the organization's website? Hmmm .... do as I say, ....

While Tufte's San Francisco conference in December looks interesting, I'm going to have to keep searching for something a little more germaine to my visual preferences (and skill set!).

AIGA has a terrific newsletter called Transitions that helps people make the switch from novice to student to professional designer. I think most editors who are serious about creating value in their publications and professions should park it here for a spell and learn how to appreciate--and ideally create--the work designers do that makes us all swoon.

Secondly, fewer people know about--or understand--the future of how intertwined information/content/media will be with its technological tools/applications/systems bearers. I discovered that there is an actual acronym for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and these guys plan new communications business models around communications networks and devices. And unless you're Albert Bell and William Randolph Hearst, chances are you will rely on the next inventor and his/her invention to deliver your message.

The Economist, interestingly, is hosting a similar conference in October this year, but this time, they're gathering the techies, the editors and the marketers to find out how to make sure companies are at that intersection, just waiting to nab the next surge of consumer traffic. Marketers are positioning themselves to meet the commerce where it will be. Pretty smart, huh?

So why don't writers, editors and publishers get strategic about where to meet their audiences? Could it be we've spent too long ruminating over the importance of our own messages that we've failed to see the inventors and their tools just waiting to help us get to the intersection? And guess who's at the intersection? Our audiences, who by the way, happen to be our customers, buyers of media. Buyers of content. Maybe if we spent a little more time with the inventor crowd, we'd be positioned to capture the next wave of paid-content consumers ...

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