Fast Company: Is Information Visualization the Next Frontier for Design?

This article asks wether or not Information Visualization is a field on its own in Information Design:

If we’re going to live in a world driven by data, the thinking goes, we need a simple means of digesting it all. We are increasingly a visual society, and our understanding of the world is increasingly made possible by this new visual language.

… and …

Designers have historically excelled at finding insightful ways of looking at complex problems. Visualization will likely play a prominent role as design evolves beyond the consumer economy (selling $2,000 poufs and other high-end furnishings) and helps create efficient new forms of buildings, food distribution and transportation.

Copenhagen UI concept

Via blogblog: Here is a user experience concept study that is a mockup of a new Windows UI – and it is not designed by Microsoft but by a guy named Cullen Dudas.

Looks good. Would love to see more. I hope Microsoft comes up with some UI innovations in Windows 7 that really serve the user.

Two Red Dot Design Awards for Hobnox

I forgot to post this here: Hobnox won two Red Dot Design Awards for the website and the Hobnox Audiotool. Unfortunatly the Red Dot website does not list the achievement – and there is no statement from the Jury either.

The Audiotool also recieved the Flashforward Award 2008 – which is rewarding the best Flash projects worldwide.

BTW: There will be an major Update to the Audiotool as soon as Flash Player 10 is released. New features of the 10th player allow a more reliable Java-free playback and – this is big – the possibility to record sessions to MP3. Saving a work for later continuation is following soon.

Design podcasts

As there are more and more programs offering podcasts I think there is more interesting content appearing in this subscription format that is interesting for design:

  • DESIGNsuisse
    A german/swiss language series from swiss television mostly with portraits about designers and/or design agencies. These are spotlights about design processes and help to demystify design as a service instead of an artform.
  • Cool Hunting
    Cool Hunting is a daily update on ideas and products in the intersection of art, design, culture and technology, and features weekly videos that get an inside look at the people who create them.
  • Elektrischer Reporter
    This is a “more or less experimental” podcast by the german news magazine Handelsblatt. It features stories about internet culture.
  • Diggnation
    A weekly “boulevardesque” commentary of two guys about the weekly top stories on Running for over 2 years now.
  • Icon-o-cast
    This audio podcast is presented by Lunar Design. Explore and demystify the world of design.
  • School of Visual Arts New York
    A series of different podcasts from the SVA NY.
  • UIE Brain Spark
    This site features several podcasts (e.g. “The Josh and Jared Show”) related to “User Interface Engineering”.

There are much more for sure. I’ll just leave it here now. If you know a podcast of interest for designers, let me know.

Luke Wroblewski on Design thinking

On the »SHIFT« conference Luke Wroblowski presented his ideas about »Design thinking« (see his post here).

I think there is a lot of refreshed awareness in die business community about what »design thinking« might be and if it can help to improve business processes, services and products.

Right now it seems there is a lot of very hypothetical talk about that. And as Luke Wroblowski shows by quoting other designers, it is also a very open what »design thinking« is. But there are some prominent figures propagating the concept, so I expect business people and economists will start to discuss what (or what not) »design thinking« may be good for.

Design and organisations

I had a phone conversation with a friend who works in a planning department of one of the largest corporations in the world. We were discussing the experiences of many employees in large organisations (she is a fan of Dilbert therefore).

I was reminded of the »Design and organisations« seminar I did five years ago. I love to browse the accompanying weblog once in a while. Everytime I do, I am confident, that I will offer another seminar like this one day. I still think that there is a huge potential for designers to work on “inhouse communication”. Many corporations employ designers only when it comes to communication with outsiders – mostly customers. Many don’t sense a strategic possibility for design when communicating to their own employees. Ironically – whenever I talk about that with people – most people agree that inhouse communication is an issue.

Dave Pollard wrote a fabulous and brilliant post last year about the psychology of information and why people often do not share information within an organisation. Designers really have (or should have) the skills to implement and operationalize many of the “effective workarounds” he proposes.

Simplicity in Linz

Tobias, Tim and Konstantin visited the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz. The topic was »simplicity«.

They have provided some insightful comments. With the exception of a presentation of John Maeda (video, website) there seemed to be little progress in the discussion about the notion of simplicity.

Obviously the term »simplicity« is a term that can’t be defined in itself. Its meaning depends on what you apply it to. It is a term that qualifies a relation between activity, the skill and the required effort to perform or learn a task. It is not the object in itself, that is simple, but it is the usage that can have a “simple” quality.

The develmopment of the web in the last five years is a good example: there is an increase of activities users can do with no or only minimal effort or skill. Web applications are toolisations of data creating options for users to perform.

The Flickr Map (see my post yesterday) is a perfect example: The designers of that application have really thought through almost every possible interaction detail and provided clear interaction styles (e.g. How can I split a group of photos at a given spot? How can I add a group of photos to an existing location? How can one see that location on a given photo?). For the developers of the Flickr Map application this meant a lot of programming, testing and debugging. And this development cost was rewarded: 1,3 million photos were geo-coded in the first 24 hours.



Tobias Jordans finally finished his diploma thesis: ScoutPress. It’s a system based on weblog software (WordPress) that allows foundations and fragmented organisations to effectively communicate and organize the scattered and distributed information. Tobias used the German Scout Association (DPSG) as a live example (therefore the project name) but it is in no way limited to this interest group. He really did go beyond setting up a weblog system and remain waiting what emerges. Her identified driving factors and success stories and thus designed a publishing practice that meets the need of the individuals throughout the organisation. In this sense his approach is a model for any kind of large-scale weblog utilization.

Screenshot of Scoutpress

The system is in use and will officially launched in September 2006. Tobias developed some Plug-Ins that make WordPress even easier to use for not-so-blogging-savvy users.