Hot Topics in Information Design

I have accepted to work for the Information Design Journal as Special Interest Editor.

I want to think in the open about this:

What is a “hot topic” anyway?

In my view there are four criteria for any topic to be “hot”:

  1. the news value
  2. actuality
  3. amount of discussion in the community
  4. touching “high-level aspects”

The news value

The news value is a very hard to identify aspect. Some topics may be news to some and outdated to others. There is no “topic map” that shows the age of topics – hardly even an identified list yet (while there is a list of research fields and areas of expertise). So the news value pretty much comes down to a statistical evaluation of demand and interest in certain topics.

Actuality

In contrast to news value the actuality can also be high for older topics that have regained some attention recently. It can also be interesting, because it is reflecting about new developments and “game changing” or disruptive topics.

Amount & intensity of discussion

To define “amount of discussion” one needs to look at two things: the quantity of participation (e.g. the postings in discussion forums and mailing lists) and the level of dissent above consensus. Both values are hard to track.

Touching high-level aspects

Any submission in the “hot topic” section should focus on the identification and reflection about the topic itself — and its location in the overall topology of topics. So the direction of a submission should be “looking from inside out” or trying to define a bird’s eye view onto the subject.

Possible candidates

I went through some monographs, magazines, conference sites and journals and tried to identify an initial list of hot topics. This list is nothing more than a starting point – a first step.

  • Multi-touch user interface design
  • Making sense of the mobile technology
  • Visualizing complex matters
  • Visualization as political propaganda
  • Open government
  • Aligning sound and visuals in UI
  • Improving public transport
  • Intercultural communication

More steps will follow and this list will change.

Do you think there is a “hot topic” not in this list? I am constantly collecting material — do not hesitate to e-Mail or twitter-message me.

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