Design Creates Meaning (中文版)

“我們身處一個‘情報’時代,面對無數的選擇。由於我們獲取資訊的渠道五花八門,越來越多的人開始自己進行研究,進而自己作出判斷和決策,而不再依賴專家和權威。然而,資訊爆炸的另一面是:多達99%的資訊都屬於垃圾資訊,沒有任何意義或不可理解。所以,我們需要反思我們所提供的資訊,因為人們渴望得到更精細、有用的資訊。想要在當今的世界取得成功,我們需要精選出我們所需要的具體資訊,然後把這些資訊應用於我們的實際工作中。”
摘自Richard Saul Wurman所著的《信息焦慮症2》

數據
我們周圍充斥著未經處理的原生數據。儘管很多人都在說這些數據,但它們並不是我們這個時代的驅動力,而只是一些相互關聯的積木塊兒。未經處理的原生內容或數據的意義是極其有限的。
事實上,只有經過轉化的數據才具有實用價值,而原生的數據毫無意義可言,唯一有用的地方可能就是緩解人們生活中的焦慮罷了。

真正的資訊是意義的開端。
真正的資訊是把數據放入某種語境中,同時在表達和呈現中加入思考。從“數據”到“資訊”的過程意味著從“感官認識”到“概念認知”。
如果不對原生數據進行處理和轉換,那它就一文不值。

知識
“知識”與“資訊”的區別在於“知識”的複雜性決定了你需要對它進行學習和研究。舉例來說,一個學生如果想學到某一方面的知識,他就需要通過不同的渠道、不同的角度獲取相同的數據,並且通過自己的實際體驗來學習。“知識”無法由一個人轉給另一個人,而是必須通過個人自己的學習來獲得。

“資訊設計”是一門“將原生數據轉化為資訊”的學科,可以說是“知識構建”的一個載體。


Thoughts on navigating the open sea of knowledge

We live in a world awash with information, but we seem to face a growing scarcity of wisdom. And what’s worse, we confuse the two. We believe that having access to more information produces more knowledge, which results in more wisdom. But, if anything, the opposite is true — more and more information without the proper context and interpretation only muddles our understanding of the world rather than enriching it.

Very well done, and I doubt we get expect any less from Maria Popova. I don’t quit agree with her definitions (few people reach the top of the DIKW Hierarchy) and would have rewritten the above to express that we are in a world awash with noise (data), far more noise than signal, information is scarce, and knowledge and wisdom very difficult to come by. We are constantly fed data, not information.

Data, Information, Knowledge, and then Wisdom.

Information is only the beginning of meaning.

“We live in an age of alsos, adapting to alternatives. because we have greater access to information, many of us have become more involved in researching, and making our own decisions, rather than relying on experts. The opportunity is that there is so much information, the catastrophe is that 99% of it isn’t meaningful or understandable. We need to rethink how we present information because the information appetites of people are much more refined. Success in our connected world requires that we isolate the specific information we need and get it to those we work with.” From Richard Saul Wurman’s, “Information Anxiety 2”

“We are being pummeled by a deluge of data and unless we create time and spaces in which to reflect, we will be left with only our reactions. I strongly believe in the power of weblogs to transform both writers and readers from “audience” to “public” and from “consumer” to “creator.” Weblogs are no panacea for the crippling effects of a media-saturated culture, but I believe they are one antidote.” rebecca blood, september 2000

Data is raw and often overabundant. Despite what many may say, it’s not the driving force of our age. It is, for the most part, only the building blocks on which relevance is built. Content / data en mass has limited value in its raw state.

In fact data is useless until it is transformed — in it’s raw state it has no meaning and is of little value which only contributes to the anxiety we feel in our lives.


Jerry Seinfeld on information design (1981)

They show you the satellite photo. A photograph of the Earth from 10,000 miles away. Can you tell if you should take a sweater or not from that? I have no idea. If I really need to know the weather I watch Romper Room, the kiddy show. They lay it on the line. If the little wooly guy on the wall gets a raincoat, I know what’s happening.

Via Boing Boing.


General Philosophy for Increasing Data Comprehension

Notes based on the work of Edward Tufte.
High density is good: the human eye/brain can select, filter, edit, group, structure, highlight, focus, blend, outline, cluster, itemize, winnow, sort, abstract, smooth, isolate, idealize, summarize, etc. Give people the data so they can exercise their full powers — don’t limit them.
Clutter/confusion are failures of design and not complexity
Information consists of differences that make a difference: so you can “hide” that data which does not make a difference in what you are trying to depict
In showing parallels, only the relevant differences should appear
Value and power of parallelism: once you have seen one element all the others are accessible
Important concepts in good design: separating figure and background (for example, a blurry background often brings the foreground into sharper focus), layering & separation, use of white space (e.g., Chinese landscapes emphasize space, as in the painter known as “one corner Ma”; oriental music is often there to emphasize the silence and not the sound).


An old definition of Information Design

Information design is concerned with transforming data into information, making the complex easier to understand and to use. It is a rapidly growing discipline that draws on typography, graphic design, applied linguistics, applied psychology, applied ergonomics, computing, and other fields. It emerged as a response to people’s need to understand and use such things as forms, legal documents, computer interfaces and technical information.
Information designers consider the selection, structuring and presentation of the information provider’s message in relation to the purposes, skills, experience, preferences and circumstances of the intended users. To do this they need specialist knowledge and skills in graphic communication and typography, the psychology of reading and learning, human-computer interaction, usability research and clear writing, plus an understanding of the potential and limitations of different media.
A definition from seemingly one of my most popular articles.
Years ago, I used to eat and breathe information architecture but alas it’s hard to live in theory forever. This kind of design practice had been and still is a hard sell in Taiwan. The evidence of which can be found in just about any government website or intranet.


Richard Etter’s Melodious Walkabout

A project quite similar to my proposal Guidebot which unfortunately I couldn’t get enough interest in the project to get some budget to take it beyond a simple exhibition poster. It’s great that Richard Etter was able to take something similar, and likely more capable, and make it real. His project is likely a far better fit for the the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology than mine was for where I was working at the time. Fraunhofer investigates human-centered computing in a process context.

A variety of navigation systems have been developed that use a GUI-based interaction style. However visual navigation systems are often inappropriate in the dynamic mobile context since the user has to watch the device and cannot keep his eyes on his surrounding environment. Auditory navigation systems are more convenient, mobile users can easily interact with the system and are not visually distracted. But most auditory systems navigate the traveler by using precise spoken instructions and speech requires high attention.

Read: Melodious Walkabout – a new approach to navigation – Richard Etter


Audio in the Computer User-Interface

“A number of studies have shown how audio contributes to the interaction process in order to provide a richer, more robust environment than with mere graphic feedback. Auditory feedback can present further information when the bandwidth of graphic information has been exhausted, as is often the case with the present emphasis on graphic presentation. By expanding conventional interfaces in another dimension, sounds make tasks easier and more productive. Other studies have even shown certain types of information to be represented better by sound than through graphics or text. Additionally, audio feedback may complement graphics and text to create valuable redundancy, reinforcing or reconfirming a concept in the user’s mind.”
Noise Between Stations: Audio in the Computer User-Interface


Representing Content and Data in Wireframes (ba)

“Sample data can make or break a wireframe, whose purpose is typically to illustrate architecture and interaction. Poorly selected sample data can end up clouding the wireframe or distracting stakeholders from its purpose. By codifying the types of sample content they employ in their deliverables, information architects can create a coherent narrative to illustrate a website’s functionality.”

Read: Representing Content and Data in Wireframes. Found viaxBlog.


Checklist for Building the Ideal News Web Site

“Here’s a list of ideas for how news sites could do things differently. Some of these notions are mine (based on years of covering this industry as a journalist, researcher and occasional consultant); others come from top consultants and academics who I’ve enlisted in this advice-fest. (I avoided asking people who currently manage or work at online-news operations; this column is about ideas that are out of the current industry mainstream.”

Some good points in this article yes but I don’t really understand why some people still go on about scrolling on the homepage. After all these years it is an issue that still causes such consternation.

We have design needs that state we need to display a certain amount of information on the homepage in order to allow an efficient start to wayfinding through a site. Newspaper homepages usually need a huge amount of content, while portals often require much more navigation. We have business needs that state certain items must be on the homepage. We have political issues which fight for position and a place on the homepage. All these come together to form a compromise which must be viewed on a low resolution display. A high level of information density is ok if designed properly and we need this information. We need more than simple titles for the latest articles. What’s so wrong with the scroll in the BBC news site?

What would improve the homepage would be to remove the garbage that users typically ignore: all types of promotions, site identity, and bullshit filler clipart, as well as pixels that are literally unused (I don’t mean whitespace). Get rid of those large banner ads and replace them with targeted text ads and use more of the available horizontal space.

Read the article.Thanks to WebWord Usability Weblog for the link.


Paul’s Interactions: Spit-Not-So, or What’s in the Layout?

“Many tasks involve the processing of information from different sources. Some information needed resides in the memory of the person. Other information is in physical things: dials, screens even the position of objects. Physical (and similarly virtual) objects act as memory aids. Is that all they do?”
“Physical objects do not just act as memory aids. They allow information to be directly perceived without any explicit interpretation being applied. They physically afford or prohibit behaviours and they change the very nature of the task for the user. Noughts and Crosses is not just easier because the square provides memory cues, it is easier because the cognitive processes involved in spotting winning sets has been changed, for example to ones involving direct perception based on location. Take the representational effect into account when designing interfaces and you can actively simplify a task.” (courtesy of InfoDesign)
Read: Paul’s Interactions: Spit-Not-So, or What’s in the Layout?


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